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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with Juan Williams; Interview With Kathy Bates

Aired October 21, 2011 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: He says he was just being honest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUAN WILLIAMS, AUTHOR, "MUZZLED": When I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think they're identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried, I get nervous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: But NPR fired Juan Williams and then FOX hired him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: You haven't exactly been gagged.

WILLIAMS: Well, when they take the microphone away and they take away an audience that I absolutely loved at National Public Radio, I think in essence what they're saying is you're Muslim.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Tonight, I'll go one-on-one with him to check that honesty.

Plus, Kathy Bates, her amazing career.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHY BATES, ACTRESS: In that moment, I just knew when Daniel Day-Lewis came on stage that my name was in that envelope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: A passion of politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BATES: And that's what I'd like to say to my president whom I'm so proud of, but I want him to stand up on his hind legs and fight these rat bastards.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And what happened in that hot tub with Jack Nicholson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BATES: You know, he was still in the tub and I climbed down and he reached up and shook my hand and looked right in my eyes -- nowhere else -- and he said that was beautiful, honey.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

(MUSIC)

MORGAN: Juan Williams made headlines when he was fired from National Public Radio after making controversy comments about Muslims. Now, he's written a book called "Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate," and he joins me now to have an honest debate.

Welcome, Juan. How are you?

WILLIAMS: Thank you, Piers: Good to be here.

MORGAN: So, an honest debate, you feel you've been muzzled?

WILLIAMS: Well, once they fire you, Piers. I mean --

MORGAN: You've gone on to bigger and better things, Juan.

WILLIAMS: I agree.

MORGAN: I mean, you're fabulously successful, rich, writing best selling books. You know, it hasn't gone too badly, isn't it?

You haven't exactly been gagged.

WILLIAMS: Well, when they take the microphone away and they take away an audience that I absolutely loved at National Public Radio, I think in essence what they're saying is you're muzzled. In other words, they're cutting you off. They're saying I violated their journalistic ethics and standards by saying what was the truth, my feeling that I get anxious when I'm in an airport and I see people in Muslim garbs given what happened on 9/11.

MORGAN: Well, let's play -- let's play the exact offending quote --

WILLIAMS: Good.

MORGAN: -- in real time because it was a year ago this week.

WILLIAMS: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAMS: When I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think they're identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: OK. So here's my thought of that. Is that I would have steered clear of saying that. So you went further than my -- I instinctively would have gone.

WILLIAMS: Right.

MORGAN: I would have thought you're into murky territory because what you're basically doing is saying, hey, look, these people look a bit threatening. And you're labeling an entire race, you're saying --

WILLIAMS: Oh, no.

MORGAN: Yes, but that's how it could have been taken.

WILLIAMS: No, I think not at all.

In fact, this and again in the course of trying to advance honest debate, I think it's necessary to say to people, I'm not playing politically correct games with you. I'm not going to dodge, I'm not going to be evasive. Let's go straight for it. I'm going to tell you how I genuinely feel.

And in saying so, then I'm going to go on to make the larger point which is -- and again speaking to your point, Piers -- it's not legitimate in this country given our history of internment of the Japanese and the like to then stereotype any one group of people and I made the point at the time, not subsequently, not as an amendment but at that time, that in fact, we don't stereotype Christians based on the behavior of Timothy McVeigh or the Westboro Baptist Church that engages on those offensive rants at military funerals.

So you don't want to do that. You don't want to encourage people liking that minister in Florida that wanted to burn the Koran.

MORGAN: I totally agree. How would you have felt, honestly if a Muslim commentator on NPR had said you know something, this had been after say an African-American had committed some terrible crime. And said you know something, every time I get on a plane I see an African- American, I feel uneasy.

How would you honestly have felt?

WILLIAMS: I think it was being ridiculous. I think he was being sort of tendentious that they're trying to stir an argument. They're being a provocateur in that sense because they're no such legitimacy. In other words, stop and think about it.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: So, are you saying you were ridiculous?

WILLIAMS: No, I'm saying they would be ridiculous to try to draw such an analogy, because remember, there is a reality after 9/11. There's a legitimate connection in this world given what happened in London, Madrid between radical extreme Islam and terror. If you're telling me that black people who may have committed some crime, you could say, oh, look, an African-Americans are in terms of percentages more likely to have committed some sort of crime, more in jail and incarcerated in the United States.

And therefore -- but that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about people who used airplanes as instruments of terror and that connection --

MORGAN: You're talking about a very small number of people.

WILLIAMS: Correct and that's what I'm saying. And therefore --

MORGAN: But you didn't say that at the time. You didn't say when I get on a plane, I worry it may be one of the 20 people that will are likely to ever do anything to this plane. What you said was Muslims, when I see them in Muslim garb.

WILLIAMS: Yes, what I said was people who are first and foremost identifying themselves as such. And I might add that I have run into people who say to me, the people who attacked us on 9/11 weren't dressed in Muslim garb. They were dressed in ordinary Western clothes. I take that to heart.

But my point is that the feeling, the visceral response, the gut is to say, oh, I know these people are Muslim and they're making a point of celebrating their Islamic faith at this moment as we're getting on this plane. And you know what, Piers?

MORGAN: You still feel uncomfortable.

WILLIAMS: I do. That's just a feel can, it's the truth. But, again, one of the things that

MORGAN: What do you do when you get on a plane and you see the Muslim in a Muslim garb?

WILLIAMS: Nothing. I mean, exactly -- that's exactly the point. It's not a matter of them advocating some policy or separate treatment. And I must say that so many people, I mean, one of the things I take away now a year later, is first, you know, I was kind of shell shocked that people would make this accusation against me. I mean, I've written books like "Eyes on The Prize," America's Civil Rights, the biography of the first Supreme Court justice, African- American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, that I would be called a bigot, that I would be said to be a bad journalist, just incredible.

But then you get beyond yourself and what happened was I realized this resonated with so many people who said they've had a similar experience in an airport or even on a larger scale felt that there's so much now in this country given the way the extreme, the far left and far right dominate conversations, that you're not supposed to say this. Bite your tongue. If you do say this, you're not a good Republican. You're a RINO. You're not a good Democrat, you're a DINO.

You're not a good Jew if you have questions about Israeli policy, vis-a-vis the Palestinian. You're not a good black guy if you're talking about some problem in the black community. You're not a good woman if you're having -- you're not a good Christian if you're saying -- people are saying, you know what? There's just too much of this and it inhibits -- it hamstrings honest discussions. Just tell us what's on your mind.

MORGAN: What was the honest debate you hoped to have by saying you feel uncomfortable around Muslims on planes?

WILLIAMS: It's right there. Go to the videotape as they used to say on the sports shows because what I was saying is you know what, we need to be cautious. America is a country founded on religious liberty and we don't want to in any way put Muslims in a box and treat them in such an inferior way or go back to the history.

MORGAN: I'm playing devils advocate. Isn't that what you were doing?

WILLIAMS: No, absolutely not.

MORGAN: Exactly what you were for -- putting them in a box.

WILLIAMS: Not in the least.

MORGAN: When I get on planes, these weird people in costumes makes me feel uncomfortable.

WILLIAMS: No, not all.

MORGAN: You're not putting them in a box?

WILLIAMS: No, and here's the thing.

MORGAN: You have no regrets, seriously?

WILLIAMS: No. In fact, it's one of these things -- I'm glad you put it that way because you know, it's one of those things where the business we're in, there are times the next morning when you're waking up and you're in the shower, you said, I wish I had said it this way. I've never had such a moment here. And I tell you why -- because it's all said there at the time. And it's said in the spirit of building an honest debate.

In other words, I'm making a point of saying I understand, I'm not playing politically correct games with you, but I want you to know I'm hearing you and I acknowledge the truth that the people who attacked us in the planes were Muslims and they cited their faith and talked about being in jihad. And therefore, I want to go on to make this larger point. And I ask you to understand and listen to me, which is America is a country of religious liberty and we do not want to stigmatize people by speaking about them in some negative way.

MORGAN: Why didn't you say this on your own show on NPR?

WILLIAMS: I would have, that's the thing, you know?

MORGAN: You didn't.

WILLIAMS: No one asked me.

MORGAN: Part of the problem it seemed to me was you said it on FOX.

WILLIAMS: No, no, that's the problem for NPR.

MORGAN: You say it on a right wing network. You're automatically brackets you into that kind of mind-set. Doesn't it?

WILLIAMS: Not at all. In fact, it wasn't any kind of right wing conversation. And it wasn't -- I was on with O'Reilly. And O'Reilly was asking me, he said to me, what's right wing, he says to me, "Juan, tell me where I'm wrong." He was opening himself up to a real conversation.

And I'm saying, "Bill, I understand your concern in saying that in fact, the people who attacked us and everybody says don't be so insensitive. It's not politically correct to say that."

MORGAN: I think the issue for you is that you were working at NPR. That's the problem. NPR ought to have I think better standards perhaps than some of the cable --

WILLIAMS: They can have any standards they like.

MORGAN: CNN, I think, would be pretty upset if I had said what you said.

WILLIAMS: I don't think so.

MORGAN: I think they would have actually.

WILLIAMS: No, and I'll tell you what?

MORGAN: It would have seen it as a form of racial stereotyping.

WILLIAMS: No, they won't have. I don't think so. If you look at what has happened subsequently in the year that's passed and you see that these executives, when they brought in their own law firm to do a review of this, that their own law firm came away saying, you know what, we don't see there are any such standards in place, and subsequently you see executives leaving NPR, then maybe understand.

This was not what you're saying. This is not a case of people who then said, you know, you really did violate some standards and CNN would say, I don't know, CNN may have its own standards. Excuse me. But there were no standards in place at NPR at the time that would have justified such an action. MORGAN: The other standard we have here is you're not allowed to throw drink on my desk.

WILLIAMS: I caught my hand on the water glass here.

MORGAN: Trying to cool you down there, Juan.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Let's go to I an break. Clean-up the horrific mess you caused as usual.

WILLIAMS: We got Michigan in the middle here.

MORGAN: I will come back and we'll talk Herman Cain.

WILLIAMS: It's a deal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with my guest Juan Williams. Interesting point before you started smashing my desk to pieces with the water.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I know.

MORGAN: The interesting point about the political correctness in America right now. I spent an hour with Herman Cain, very charismatic man. But very determined to say, you know, I'm not going to play is the normal political game here. I'm not going to talk in the way that I'm supposed to talk. I'm not going to hide away from opinions that I genuinely have, nor am I going to ram these opinions down the public's throat.

And he was all for free expression.

I'm not sure you can do that though if you're going to be the president of the United States.

WILLIAMS: You know what, I think people are hungering right now for honesty from the politicians and they're not getting it. And they see they're not getting it when it comes to difficult conversations.

Just take a range -- immigration reform, Congress paralyzed. Can't get it done. Conversations stop. People stop talking about terror babies, anchor babies, building walls.

Herman Cain with electrified wall and he says it's a joke.

MORGAN: I think he genuinely does think it's a good idea to have an electrified fence on board. I think he means it.

WILLIAMS: You're talking about you're willing to kill people who are trying to come into the country. And it's really -- again, it's a diversion from the real conversation. Talk about an assault on honest debate, which is the sub title of this book. The real conversation is if you want to say there are 13 million illegal immigrants in the country, most of these people do not come by scurrying across the border. In fact, they fly into the country -- I think it's almost half of them -- come into the country and overstay visas, and we have a situation in Arizona, Alabama, where even the Chamber of Commerce, the business community is saying we need workers, especially low wage workers.

Let's have an honest conversation. But you can't have it when you're -- everybody's saying build an electrified fence. It just suggests (INAUDIBLE).

But immigration is one issue. Guns is another issue. Budget is another issue. Race relations another issue.

MORGAN: Is the Tea Party racist? I mean, Herman Cain said to me again -- he said there are probably racist elements within the Tea Party but he doesn't believe that the party itself is inherently racist. If it was, what is he doing as the standard bearer for the Tea Party now?

WILLIAMS: I would agree with him. I don't think it's inherently racist. I think there are elements that have popped up when they're making monkey cartoons about the president or I think those signs that have the president as the joker, some of the kind of very personal attacks and then you know, it gets so closely linked to people who are involved in the birther movement, people who say Obama is a Muslim, that he's a communist, a socialist.

At some point, you feel like they're trying to define him as the other and you think is this race related because the fact is he's the first African-American president.

MORGAN: So what Herman Cain is not racist. Is there a danger for him also being a black American, that he is being used in some tokenist way as if to say look, we're not racist. Look, we've got Herman Cain.

WILLIAMS: That's the critics' point. In fact --

MORGAN: Do they have a point?

WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know they have a point because they haven't proven it. The fact is Herman Cain is doing more than a sort of token performance on the Republican side. In some polls, he leads the pack. That's no -- oh, we'll make a gesture to this black guy in order to excuse our racism or the elements of racism that exist in the party.

To the contrary, Herman Cain is outperforming any projections. If you would have asked me early on, does Herman Cain have a chance of leading this race in the late October, I would say absolutely not. And I would say that you know, this 9-9-9 plan is going to be mocked.

And I think he's coming in for heavy fire -- but you know what? Lots of Americans like him. I was down in Florida after the straw poll. People said to me, you underestimate Herman Cain. This is a Republican. MORGAN: I liked him because actually he made me laugh. He's a funny guy. He's self-of aware.

WILLIAMS: Right.

MORGAN: And he knows where he's come from. You know, part of his I didn't agree with him, for instance, about his attack on the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters.

WILLIAMS: Right.

MORGAN: I think he's wrong to say the bankers aren't really to blame and blame yourselves and go and blame the White House.

Can Herman Cain win the nomination? Could he win the nomination? Can we be in a situation come January where you have a black American as he likes to call himself --

WILLIAMS: Right.

MORGAN: -- against -- as he calls President Obama -- an African- American?

WILLIAMS: I wrote just such a column, just such a column for foxnews.com.

MORGAN: I know, I read it.

WILLIAMS: And yes, I think this is possible and I'm telling you why it's possible -- because as we sit here, you've just come from this Republican debate. You realize even as they become more combative and high energy, it's in large part a deal where Mitt Romney has a substantial bankroll and he has been consistently performing getting about a quarter of the vote.

But the other side of that is there ever, three quarters of these Republicans and especially the Tea Party folk who are so behind Herman Cain don't like Mitt Romney. They see Mitt Romney as the establishment. They consider him a flip-flopper, all the rest, and don't so much respond to the idea that he among all the Republicans would do best against President Obama.

MORGAN: Because the thing I discovered about Herman Cain is beneath the smile, there's pretty extreme views. You get him on homosexuality for example, abortion, whatever the issue of the day may be, he's pretty far right.

WILLIAMS: Yes. You know what I think, people forget not only is it the case that he was a successful businessman, federal reserve chair, even a rocket scientist at some point in his career but he's a radio talk show host. I think a lot of this -- and we come back now to the book -- a lot of this kind of thing that drives the base politics in the country comes from people who exercise this provocative language, this rhetoric that really just excites the base.

And when you're watching the Republican primary debates right now, you're watching a very limited slice of conversation on the American political scene. It's red meat from Republican candidates who are trying to appeal to the far right, the extreme base of the party in order to win that nomination.

And that's basically Mitt Romney's problem is that you know what? If he gets in there and starts doing it, then he's going to lose his largest calling card which is that he could appeal to independent voters and pull them away from President Obama.

MORGAN: Let's take another break and come back and talk about the state of America. How do you think Obama is doing? I'm going to presume you were very proud as a black American to see him elected. Are you as proud today as you were two or three years ago?

WILLIAMS: We'll talk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with my guest Juan Williams.

Juan, America is in a pretty rough state right now, isn't it? Why is that? I mean, I've asked every guest in the last few months what's going on with America. I get a variety of answers. What do you think?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I think there's no question we're not solving our problems, that we are not taking action, that we are stuck, we are paralyzed politically. The leadership of the country is ineffectual.

And if you ask the American people some basic questions in polling like do you have a sense the country is on the wrong track or right track, 80 percent now wrong track. This goes back to what it was at the time of President Bush leaving office and the disaffection with him. We're back to that point again.

You ask them about Wall Street -- the "Occupy Wall Street" people, they think that Wall Street's leadership is basically made up of thieves and liars.

MORGAN: People say what are they protesting about? My answer would be probably everything. I mean, there's not much not to protest about.

I'm amazed there hasn't been protesting before in America in the last year. I've been amazed people have just been taking nearly 10 percent jobless figures, massive foreclosures of property because bankers got greedy. I'm amazed there hasn't been more of this.

WILLIAMS: No, I think the American people are pretty persevering and optimistic, tough people. But you know, the thing I think that prompts the protests is the inequity involved, the sense that these guys are coming in, we're going towards Christmas, they're getting their big bonuses, they're getting their big paychecks.

MORGAN: Well, that's when Herman Cain began to backtrack. I said, come on, you defend Wall Street and yet, companies like Goldman Sachs bailed out by the taxpayer.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

MORGAN: The very first thing they do having been bailed out is noses straight in the trough snorting bonuses again.

WILLIAMS: And, here, from the political perspective, Piers, here's something that's incredible. They're furious with the Obama administration and you think wait a second. Didn't the Obama administration help to bail these guys out? You would think that they would be -- but now they're mad and they're talking about, oh, no, we think that you are vilifying us and we want less regulation.

The American people not only want Dodd-Frank. They want more regulation of Wall Street, but somehow Wall Street is absolutely tone deaf to this reality.

MORGAN: How is President Obama doing? I mean, as a black American, what did you feel the day that you had your first -- not you -- America had its first black president?

WILLIAMS: Well, I'll tell you two things. One thing is in Iowa, I was there for FOX News when he won the Iowa caucus and I said, this is the most incredible moment that I've ever lived through as an American. I mean, I just --

MORGAN: Emotional for you personally?

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. And then, of course, when he was inaugurated -- when he won, let me just say the night he won when he went into Grant Park in Chicago, I was on the air and I started to cry. For me, that's you know, nothing --

MORGAN: What were you thinking when you were crying.

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, look, there's so much -- I mean, my parents you know, were both dead but they could not have imagined. Literally subsequently all the headlines on magazines were couldn't believe in our lifetime. It's just an amazing moment when the you can see people you know who have gone through so much as an American minority and had to overcome so much.

And so, here is a child of this much maligned minority oftentimes said to lack intelligence, patriotism, heart, leadership capacity -- and all of a sudden, here the American people black, white, Asian, Hispanic affirmed this man is our leader and put such hope in him at that moment. It was truly to me -- I said on the air, I said, you know, this is not just one for the history books, this is the cover of the history book.

MORGAN: Has he been disappointing?

WILLIAMS: I think the whole situation's been disappointing.

MORGAN: Has he personally do you think? WILLIAMS: Well, I think personally he's been trying. If you look at again -- you know, I hope you're not going to lash at me, but, you know, if you look at the numbers, the American people still like President Obama. His personal approval numbers are pretty high. It's when you come to actual job performance that you see the numbers dip. And there I think what's you're talking about earlier, when people say, look at the foreclosures, look at the employment --

MORGAN: Yes. But I tried to be fair.

WILLIAMS: Look at the failure to go across party lines.

MORGAN: Yes, I think you can like him to a certain degree, but then you have to give equal credit to things like the way he saved the car industry, for example.

WILLIAMS: Right.

MORGAN: So, it's not all bad. I mean, he's inherited this terrible economic hospital path and he probably hasn't lived up to the wild expectation that he came in with. But nobody could have lived up to that. So, there's been a realty check.

But as we stand, the Republicans still I think -- despite all the poll numbers -- have a tough job to oust Barack Obama I would imagine.

WILLIAMS: I think it's very tough. I mean, as we sit here tonight, I would say if you had to place a bet, you're just back from Vegas, I would say you would bet on Obama. Why would I say that? Because if you look at the numbers head to head, no matter which of those candidates on the stage you put up against Obama, pretty much they lose -- except for somebody this mythical creature called generic Republican and there is no such creature.

I mean, you can say let's run John Kennedy or Ronald Reagan against him, but that's -- they're not here.

So, and the second thing to say is --

MORGAN: Who is the Republican who right now do you think would have the best chance of beating Barack Obama?

WILLIAMS: Mitt Romney.

MORGAN: Do you think he could beat him?

WILLIAMS: "Could" is a very strong word.

MORGAN: I mean, for everything on the economy.

WILLIAMS: Yes, as has to a certain degree Herman Cain. And what I do like about Herman Cain is you may not agree with the nitty-gritty of 9-9-9, but it's a great thing to throw out there. I read a "Wall Street Journal" op-ed piece yesterday, very praiseworthy by a big financial expert. I was like it's a good debate to have, the simplification. WILLIAMS: This is the Arthur Laffer piece?

MORGAN: Yes.

WILLIAMS: OK. Well, Laffer, of course, is behind Herman Cain's 9-9-9, the whole flat tax idea.

MORGAN: Of course. But when you read it, there are two ways of reading it. The simplify indication of the code as a starting point for the debate is not a bad place to have, is it?

WILLIAMS: But no, and it resonates with the American public that's absolutely fed up with the idea of so many loopholes, deductions, tax credits and the like, and the idea that G.E. and others, these large corporations pay no taxes while you and I are looking at the bill and screaming bloody murder.

So, the American people want simplification. The thing that's going to hurt Herman Cain and this comes from his peers in the Republican Party is -- wait a second, how come this is such a regressive tax? This is making people pay more taxes, especially low income folks. How do you justify this?

Tea Party people, especially the older folks who are so concerned about health care and having to pay more taxes in order to generate coverage for those who are uncovered, they're not going to want to pay more taxes simply to satisfy and say we have a flat tax. That's going to go nowhere fast.

MORGAN: Would you like to see Barack Obama unmuzzled himself? Do you feel like he's allowed himself to be muzzled.

WILLIAMS: Love it. Yes, and I think this is what I think has been missing for President Obama. He's gotten caught in this theater of the absurd with the political extremes dominating the conversations, Republicans locked in, in terms of intransigence, saying to him, you know, we're not going to support anything you do, Mitch McConnell famously saying I'm here simply to prevent this man from having a second term, not to serve the interests of the American people, just a wild statement.

MORGAN: Juan Williams, thank you very much.

WILLIAMS: My pleasure, Piers. Good to be with you.

MORGAN: Thank you. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Oscar winner Kathy Bates is literally the 50 million dollar woman. She's made over 40 films grossing two billion dollars combined. And that translates to 50 million a picture. Pretty impressive figure, and so is Kathy Bates, who joins me now. What a remarkable statistic.

KATHY BATES, ACTRESS: Yes, it's lovely. I didn't know it until this morning.

MORGAN: Fifty million dollar guaranteed star.

BATES: I love hearing that. I think I'm going to get more business thanks to you.

MORGAN: Your agent uses that. That's an amazing thing to say.

BATES: She will now.

MORGAN: When you look back over this extraordinary run you've had, what do you think of your career?

BATES: Well, I think the first thing that pops into my mind is I'm happy but I want more. And --

MORGAN: Is that the secret, to always stay hungry, do you think?

BATES: I think so. You know, back when I did "Fried Green Tomatoes" with Jessica Tandy -- God rest her, I loved her so much. When I first saw her on that set at a nursing home in this little town in Georgia, she was 84. She had on jeans and a jean jacket. And she looked 16-year-old -- like a 16-year-old girl out of drama school at her first part.

And she had such a bright light coming out of her. And I thought wow, I've got to find that. When I had my first opportunity to direct a little tiny piece for PBS, she agreed to come and do one of the six monologues. But that was the summer that she was dying of ovarian cancer. And she called me a couple of weeks later and she said, I'm on the downward slope. I have to pull out.

And two weeks later she called back and said, do you need help finding somebody? I mean, it was extraordinary, really, when a lot of actresses in Hollywood at that time wouldn't even return my phone call. She's always been my beacon.

MORGAN: You yourself have survived ovarian cancer, didn't you?

BATES: Yes.

MORGAN: Interestingly, you kept it quiet. You decide -- you took advice I think from a physician, but you decided not to tell anybody in case it damaged your work potential I guess. Is that right?

BATES: Exactly. I was -- I had been contracted to do a film that fall, "Little Black Book." And I was very concerned. It was a good pay day. And I have to work, you know, like all of us. And I was very concerned about being well enough and fit enough. And I just didn't want it to get around.

MORGAN: How did you feel when you first heard the bad news?

How old were you, if you don't mind me asking?

BATES: It's been eight years, so I would have been 55.

MORGAN: Wow.

BATES: I remember -- not to be too graphic, but I remember being at the gynecologists being examined, and hearing her go, oh. And my head whipped over. And I looked at the sonogram or whatever you call it. And she said you have a mass. And I began to shake.

MORGAN: I mean, that is the moment everybody dreads, isn't it, just right there?

BATES: I just began to shake just nonstop all afternoon. She sent me right away to get all these tests to find out, because she couldn't tell. You know, they had to do all the diagnostics. And it took several hours. And it was terrifying. I just kept shaking.

Somebody recognized me. I was in my gown in the waiting room. And somebody went aren't you -- I was like I can't talk right now.

MORGAN: If you had your time again, would you go public, do you think?

BATES: Yes. But, you know, after I went through mine, I saw Melissa Etheridge come out. I don't know if you remember that moment.

MORGAN: I do.

BATES: and she played this amazing song and she had a bald head. And she just knocked it out of the park. And I thought, gosh, I wish I had done that.

MORGAN: What impact did it have on your life, the whole experience?

BATES: Well, I lost my hearing a little bit.

MORGAN: Permanently?

BATES: Yeah, from chemo. As a matter of fact, I was online reading about that last night on the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance site, which I did my PSA for. And apparently Taxol and Carboboplatin (ph) some of the things that I was on can damage the hairs on the inside of the ear and that's it.

Either that or I've been listening to too much rock 'n' roll music.

MORGAN: You can hear me perfectly well, right?

BATES: Oh yes. And I didn't wear my hearing aids today. But when we work in the courtroom, I can't hear a thing.

MORGAN: Really? You wear aids on the set then, as well as microphones and stuff?

BATES: Yes. MORGAN: That's quite complicated.

BATES: It's OK. They're so tiny now, it's -- but I get vain about it. It took me years.

MORGAN: Are you completely clear of the cancer?

BATES: Yes.

MORGAN: How did it change your outlook on life?

BATES: It sounds corny to say -- and it took me awhile because right after it, I went through a depression, which I'm hearing now is more and more common. As more and more people survive, it's more and more common for people to get through that and, for some reason, go through a depression. I don't know if it's a reaction to the chemo or whatever they've been through.

But now it's sort of like OK, I am going to survive. Life does come rushing. Life becomes very simple when you're facing just the one thing. Then when you have to go back to the complexity of life, it's a bit overwhelming. Then you get through that period.

Now I feel younger than I did before, more grateful, more relieved to be here, more aware of how much time I have left, more aware of how much I want to give and do. And I'm just -- just as we say (FRENCH)

MORGAN: Let's take a short break. When we come back, I want to talk to you about your glorious nude scene. Instantly you know what I'm talking about. And also about your thoughts on President Obama, because I hear they're quite lively.

BATES: I do have some things to say.

MORGAN: Excellent.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BATES: It will just be you and me while the kids are out on the slopes. Here we are, a divorcee and a widower. Sounds like a perfect match to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was Kathy Bates in her Oscar nominated role in the 2002 movie "About Schmidt." What a scene that was, Kathy. Glorious.

BATES: Thank you.

MORGAN: When you watch it back now, how do you feel?

BATES: Like I wish I had another cosmopolitan.

MORGAN: How many did it take?

BATES: It took a couple to get in the tub. I'm telling you.

MORGAN: When you see that in a script -- because your sister came out with a great line. She said look at your accomplishments. At your age, your size, your gender, et cetera, et cetera, you've done an amazing job, which is typical sister thing to say.

BATES: Yes, exactly I was like" --

MORGAN: False flattery really. But to see a script where it says right, at this point, Kathy, you're going to get naked and get into a hot tub, what is your first thought when you see that?

BATES: I'm glad I did it now. Originally, it was written much more graphic. And I felt that both the author of the book and that maybe Alexander Payne, who directed it, were having an agenda about older women's bodies and trying to make a comment about it. And in fact, there were a lot of e-mails between myself and Alexander. We had never met, and here we were talking about intimate parts of the body and what I was willing to show and would I wear a merkin (ph), which is to cover your pubic area.

And I just said wait a minute, wait a minute. So there was a negotiation that went on with the e-mails, because I felt very protective of her. And I didn't want them to make fun of her body.

MORGAN: Were you also being protective of yourself?

BATES: Oh, I'm sure. I'm sure.

MORGAN: A little part maybe.

BATES: Yes, a little part. You know, I mean -- and the day we shot it, I lit it. I'm telling you, I got behind the camera and I watched my stand-in and I said all right, all right, OK. All right. That's it. Clear the set. We'll do it.

MORGAN: What did Jack make of it all?

BATES: He was very cool. He was lovely. We had our bathing suits on, you know. And when it was all said and done, you know, he was still in the tub and I climbed out. And he reached up and shook my hand. He looked right in my eyes, nowhere else. And he said, that was beautiful, honey.

So, it was worth it.

MORGAN: Are you friendly with Jack Nicholson?

BATES: No, I must say I'm not.

MORGAN: He is my absolute hero.

BATES: Is he really? MORGAN: Yeah, he hasn't done a TV interview in about 50 years apparently. If you're watching, Jack, it's an open invitation. What's he like to be around, to work with?

BATES: He's an enigma really. I didn't get to know him very well. There is that moment when we kind of looked at each other and said, I can't believe we're doing this. I said we're making film history, come on, Jack. And you know, that kind of thing.

And we mainly just sort of sat there for five hours and turned into prunes, you know.

MORGAN: I want to play a clip now from "Misery," because it was, in many people's eyes, your greatest role. Very hard to choose I think which one was. But this was certainly one of the greats. Watch a bit of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank God.

BATES: Shh, darling, trust me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For God's sake.

BATES: It's for the best.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please!

BATES: Almost done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was terrifying.

BATES: Well, thank you. Thank you, Piers. Now you've just knocked out another 20 years of no dinner dates. Thanks for broadcasting that.

MORGAN: That was almost like a female version of Hannibal Lecter. It was that terrifying.

BATES: You know, Anthony Hopkins told me -- because I gave him -- I had the privilege of handing him his Oscar. He told me that he watched "Misery" six times.

MORGAN: Really?

BATES: Yes.

MORGAN: That's where he got it from.

BATES: Obviously.

MORGAN: How did that impact on you, your life, your career, "Misery"? Because it was such a huge hit? BATES: It was. Everywhere I go, people remark on it. I have an RV. I was traveling to Canada at one point. Friend of mine, young man was driving me. We were crossing over to get in the ferry and the guy that was guiding us looked up at him and said, man, I don't know how you sleep at night.

So it's followed me everywhere. But it certainly opened doors for me. It was amazing to me that I won that year, because the field was so --

MORGAN: It was amazing that year.

BATES: Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, you know, Angelica Houston.

MORGAN: But what a moment. An as your name is read out, that's a moment every actor must dream of, best actress, boom. What are you feeling in that second?

BATES: I think I closed my eyes and thought, here we go. And I said to my husband at the time that night -- I said do you think I'm going to win. And he said no. I think he was trying to protect me from being terribly disappointed. And I said I think I'm going to win.

So in that moment, I just knew when Daniel Day-Lewis came on stage that my name was in that envelope. I know I forgot to thank my husband that night.

MORGAN: Did you really?

BATES: I did. I walked of stage. I said, I forgot to thank my husband.

MORGAN: No wonder you're not together anymore.

BATES: Exactly.

MORGAN: I need to have a break, because that's such a shocking thing to have confessed. When we come back, I want to talk to you about President Obama. Like you said, you have got strong views. I just don't know what they are. So I'm fascinated.

BATES: OK.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BATES: She is the tip of the iceberg. Our Jackie has done some pretty stupid things in our live. He has poked us in some sorry trash bins. We got to stop them before they stop us. We got to crush them and sweep them up.

From now on, you can call met the dust buster. You know, honey child, I'm stronger than dirt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That is Kathy Bates in 1998's "Primary Colors," a ruthlessly brilliant satire of political life, although probably very close to the real thing, I would imagine.

BATES: So close to the real thing that the movie didn't do well. Everybody was focused on the real thing in Washington. That was much more interesting.

MORGAN: What do you make of what's going on now in Washington, President Obama, the whole political shakeup at the moment?

BATES: Well, you know, I have to kind of go back and say that I -- I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. I grew up in a segregated town. When I went back my first year in college, that spring, I had my first black friend. I wanted to bring her home. And my father said, are you crazy? You want to start a race riot?

I was like -- I didn't understand it because my parents were from another generation. My dad was born in 1900, my mom in 1907. I came very late in life to them. Long story short, that was the spring that Martin Luther King was slaughtered in my hometown.

Fast forward now to, what is it three -- two years ago, I'm in Paris, I'm on my computer watching these election results, because I've gotten so inspired by this man -- and I'm so apolitical. And for the first time in I don't know how many years, I was just galvanized by this election. It was so emotional to me.

The last two years, I want to go back, something my father said to me -- he always said, stand up on your hind legs and fight. That is what I would like to say to my president, whom I'm so proud of. But I want him to stand up on his hind legs and fight these rat bastards. And he has got do it.

MORGAN: Who do you mean by the rat bastards?

BATES: Well, I think he has got to indict these guys from Wall Street. Somebody's got pay for that mess. And I don't think it's the American public. . MORGAN: Because you believe that basically that was the catalyst for all the problems that are going on now?

BATES: I think it was the catalyst for many. It certainly was the catalyst for our loss of faith.

MORGAN: It does seem extraordinary not one of them has ever been put in jail. Not one. The biggest financial crisis in history. It came out of pure greed and wanton irresponsibility and nobody has ever carried the can.

BATES: It is like Steinbeck said in "Grapes of Wrath," who's the bank? When everybody was losing everything, who is behind all of this? Who's really running the country? Who's really pulling the strings?

And I think we have all lost faith. And we don't know what to do. And there are no jobs. And we are looking at a lineup, in my opinion, of Republicans like --

MORGAN: Do you feel alarmed by what you see?

BATES: I do. I do feel alarmed.

MORGAN: When you see the Tea Party who are very polar rising, but they're increasingly popular. When you see the Tea Party candidates ant the views that they espouse, what do you think?

BATES: I don't espouse their views. I'm not that conservative. I do feel -- I guess I'm more of a Democrat at heart, although I've never affiliated myself with a particular party.

As you can tell, I'm not very politically savvy. It is very emotional for me. And so I am may be not speaking very well to this point.

MORGAN: Au contraire, to use the French that you used earlier. I think you have made your views very eloquently played out there

BATES: But I just -- I had just such a moment of hope.

MORGAN: Do you still have it? You think Obama has it in him?

BATES: I think he's that in him. It seems to me that the GOP has been out for him ever since he took office.

MORGAN: That's true. But then they would be. I think is a certain naivete. Of course they would were going to. They'd just been thrown out of office after eight years. Everyone is blaming them for everything. They are going to hammer the new president for as hard as they can.

BATES: Ruthless, at the expense of the American public, in my humble opinion.

MORGAN: I agree. But don't you think, playing Devil's advocate, when you watch back "Primary Colors," it has always been ruthless?

BATES: It's like in my hoe, we have a guy in "Harry's Law," Tommy Jefferson. We just had a scene about this, when she said you have got to play dirty. .They are playing dirty. You got to play dirty.

MORGAN: Talking of "Harry's Law," Emmy nominated, very exciting.

BATES: Unexpected. And I hope our audience is going to follow us to a second season, because I think we are going to knock it out of the park.

MORGAN: Let's take a little look from the new season.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BATES: I'm in charge. We all agree?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dying to know what made you say yes?

BATES: I was married to two pricks, but one thing they can't do is lie convincingly. Your boy's telling the truth. I'll defend him. Be in touch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: It's great character. It's a great part, isn't it?

BATES: Yeah.

MORGAN: You must love playing it .

BATES: She is who I would love to be.

MORGAN: Really? I think so. I think everyone would love to be her, huh?

BATES: Yeah.

MORGAN: Kick ass. President Obama should be watching this.

BATES: Oh, well.

MORGAN: Kathy it has been such a pleasure.

BATES: It's been my pleasure.

MORGAN: Thank you so much.

BATES: Thank you so much, Piers.

MORGAN: : I hope we can do it again.

BATES: Me too.

MORGAN: Take care. That is Kathy Bates. That is all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts right now.