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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Double Agent in Terror Plot; North Carolina Votes on Gay Marriage; Interview with Jon Lovitz
Aired May 8, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Breaking news tonight on the foiled terror plot against the U.S. airliner. We're learning the -- the would-be suicide bomber is a double agent under the control of the CIA and Saudi intelligence. More on that sensational development in a moment.
Our big story, gay marriage on the night North Carolina voters are considering a constitutional ban. Conservative activist Tony Perkins says that it's God's will. We will discuss that with him a little later.
Also a man with very strong opinions. The last time things got pretty heated with Jonah Goldberg.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONAH GOLDBERG, AUTHOR, "THE TYRANNY OF CLICHES": I think the debate tactic of getting -- sort of sitting on a soapbox and waxing poetic about how much I think this operation cost is cheap. That said --
MORGAN: We're not criticizing the cliched ideology of the liberals here. And I'm playing devil's advocate. I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'm saying when it comes to cheap ideology, chucking out statements like $50 million is cheap.
GOLDBERG: Well, I didn't chuck it out. You pried it out of me. You begged me for an answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Well, we both enjoyed that so much we decided to have round two. So I'll have the author of the "Tyranny of Cliches", Jonah Goldberg coming up a littler later.
Plus Jon Lovitz, ever since his days on "Saturday Night Live" he's been, shall we say, outspoken? Take a look at this latest rant of President Obama which I call the ABCs of "SNL."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON LOVITZ, COMEDIAN: This whole thing with Obama saying the rich don't pay their taxes (EXPLETIVE DELETED), and I voted for the guy and I'm a Democrat. What else? (EXPLETIVE DELETED). (END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: My no holds barred interview, hopefully there will be something in between the bleeps tonight, with Jon Lovitz.
And "Only in America." Concerns the land of the free becoming the land of living large. A fat epidemic to end all epidemics is striking the nation.
But we begin with our breaking news. The latest twist in the foiled terror plot against a U.S. airliner. Law enforcement source tells CNN the would-be suicide bomber was actually a double agent under control of the CIA and Saudi intelligence.
Here with more CNN terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank, and Michael Hastings, correspondent at the BuzzFeed and "Rolling Stone" contributor.
Let me start with you, Paul. A dramatic twist in this story, it was already a huge success for the CIA, now we find out this guy, the suicide bomber, would-be suicide bomber, was working with the CIA.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, that's right, Piers. This is a big intelligence success. It's not easy to get an agent like this, into a group like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni affiliate of al Qaeda in Yemen. This is a group which is very paranoid about being penetrated, especially by the Saudis. The Saudis have a big informant network in Yemen and they penetrated the group before. So it would have been very difficult for the Saudis and the CIA prepares to pull this off.
MORGAN: Here's the big question I was thinking. Was this guy a sleeper put into al Qaeda in the Yemen by the CIA or was it another twist?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, that's not clear at this point, or we just don't know those details yet. But to get into a group like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, this individual would have to have walked and talked like a jihadist, like someone who would want to become a suicide bomber, like someone who they would give this device to and allow into the inner sanctuary of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
So it's possible that this individual had some connections to radical networks, someone to vouch for him so that he could gain entry to the group, Piers.
MORGAN: Let's turn to Michael Hastings. I mean it's a massive coup for the CIA, great coup for President Obama, another big victory in the war on terror.
MICHAEL HASTINGS, BUZZFEED CORRESPONDENT: Sure.
MORGAN: What do you make of two things, I guess, one, the more sophisticated bomb that they were working on, but secondly, this whole notion, potentially of having sleepers, agents inside al Qaeda now? HASTINGS: Well, first I think you look at it, Yemen has become the hot new battleground in the war on terror. The CIA is expanding its drone program there. And clearly there's significant intel -- they could have even pulled off an operation like this. I -- put on my skeptical tinfoil hat here for a second, and just say, wait a second, you know, all this information is coming from anonymous intelligence officials, we don't really know the full story yet.
Was this double agent someone who infiltrated and came up with the plot to get the bomb? Or did he sort of disrupt the plot that was happening? Was it more of an entrapment situation, or was it a situation where he kind of intercepted something that was already happening? And I think the other question is about the success of it and -- for President Obama, why are they advertising this plot now? Why are they sort of making all these details public in this way?
And I think we don't quite know the answer to that, but I'm just going to put on my skeptical hat and just say, it seems like a success but often with these intelligence things the story will evolve very rapidly over the next few days.
MORGAN: Yes, I mean, Paul Cruickshank, I mean I have a guess. The reason they're advertising now is that this was planned apparently to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden, and it clearly has backfired and has become a victory for the CIA and for America. Why wouldn't they reveal all the details?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, it's clearly a big intelligence success for the Americans, for the Saudis. But there's a limit to their success as well, Piers. And it's possible that they were trying to get this agent into the group to go off to the chief bomb maker, Ibrahim al- Asiri. In past plots, Ibrahim al-Asiri, this bomb maker, was actually meeting with the would-be suicide bombers, training them, and so it's possible they were trying to get this agent in to try and track al- Asiri 's movements, to maybe launch a drone strike against him.
Now they were able to take out Fahd al-Quso, who's a senior operational planner in the group, but they were not able to take out this very dangerous bomb maker who's ingenious at making bombs.
MORGAN: Paul, tell me about the device itself. This was an escalation in the kind of device we've seen with suicide bombers on planes. Tell me exactly what it was.
CRUICKSHANK: Well, we're learning details slowly about what the device was, but it seems to be some sort of underwear type of a device which they were trying to get eventually on to an airliner going into the United States. We obviously saw that before on Christmas Day 2009 with Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab who is Nigerian recruit into al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula and trying to blow up an airliner coming into the Detroit.
Now that was a very close call. The initiation mechanism in that device actually worked. But that's NATO work. It was just the main charge, a substance called PETN which didn't detonate, and the reason probably that didn't detonate is this underwear bomber in 2009 had been wearing the underwear device for three weeks. So it's possible the main charge have become desynthesize. But Ibrahim al-Asiri, this master bomb maker, is someone who has learned from his mistakes, he's grown more sophisticated so the concern is he's still out there and he's making more and more sophisticated bombs which are difficult for these scanning technologies for their attacks, Piers.
MORGAN: Yes, Michael, let me bring you in.
MORGAN: I mean, I actually want to ask one -- a sort of broader question, which is the nature of al Qaeda has always been that it's not really one entity.
MORGAN: It can be a number of disparate terrorist groups that operate under that mantle, often in totally different ways. What would you imagine is going on now within al Qaeda as an overall organization?
HASTINGS: They must have been in a state of panic. I mean that's why I mentioned why we're making this public now. I would just also guess that the -- the bomb maker or the mastermind bomb maker must have found out that this guy was an informer or that this cover had been blown.
I would say that they're panicking, they're probably shutting down and changing all their different kind of communications at the al Qaeda. And this was sort of how they would talk to each other. And basically trying to go under ground.
I mean they just lost the guy who we killed on Sunday was one of the people involved in the USS Cole attack back in 2000.
MORGAN: But could it be more dangerous for America in the short- term, in the sense that if there's no head, if there's no group running the al Qaeda show then is there more danger of splinter groups thinking we have to now operate on our own.
HASTINGS: Yes, the lone wolf situation is always the most dangerous, right? Because with the network, you can penetrate a network. How do you -- how do you get -- stop the one guy who has his own crazy idea like we saw with this kid in Connecticut, drove into Times Square, tried to blow up a bomb there. He's acting all his own. I think it might in fact be a rarity to have these plots now that are so well organized because of the damage that has been done against al Qaeda.
Look at the week they're having. We had the anniversary of bin Laden. You know, a huge -- the biggest success that we've had in the war on terror. And then you have this case, you know, that they have, you know, caught this other bomber who was again trying to attack the United States, so the CIA officials say.
MORGAN: Yes. Certainly as well. Michael Hastings, Paul Cruickshank, thank you both for now.
Now we're going to turn to our big story, the gay marriage battle. And breaking news on that. North Carolina has voted tonight on a referendum to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage.
Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council. He's opposed to gay marriage and he joins me now.
Mr. Perkins, tell me why are you so implacably opposed to two loving people getting married?
TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Well, Piers, it's not just me, but North Carolina, as it looks like 60 percent of the voters there are poised to adopt the state amendment. That will make 30 states that have adopted amendments that preserve the state of marriage as being between the union of one man and one woman.
MORGAN: Why do you personally care so much? I mean the example I throw you is, if you look at heterosexual marriage, look at Kim Kardashian's marriage, which lasted, what was it, 72 hours? Isn't it ridiculous? Day like I remember.
When you look at a marriage of 72 days, look at a marriage that lasts that long, where clearly the respect for the sanctity of marriage is absurd.
MORGAN: And then you have a gay couple who've been together 20 years, who love each other, who actually really want to get married and who want to observe and respect the sanctity of marriage, isn't it better for society that we let people who are in the second category take precedence over those in the first category? You treat it as a celebrity bag extension?
PERKINS: You know, Piers, I think that's a really question and I think a lot of people will ask that question of themselves, because quite frankly, marriage from -- among heterosexuals has not been good, when we see a divorce rate around 50 percent. Of course my beginnings in public policy as an elected official was to do just that, to strengthen marriage, I authored the nation's first covenant marriage law. I've been working on marriage law for over 15 years.
And the reason it's important, Piers, quite frankly is because public policy shapes the culture. And when we're talking about -- what we're talking about here is not shaping policy or creating policy based upon an individual here or an individual there, but what the social science tells us is best for society as a whole. And it's very clear that children --
MORGAN: Let me -- let me ask you about the social -- let me ask you about the social science aspect.
How much more damage can a gay couple do if they're married to the damage they can do to civilization if they're unmarried?
PERKINS: Yes, again, Piers, you're asking great questions because I think those are the questions that are going through people's minds. I think what we have to do, though, is look at the --
MORGAN: Yes, but I'm asking you because you're so opposed to it.
PERKINS: But I'm -- and I'm going answer.
MORGAN: Answer the question. Rather than telling me how great all my questions are, answer some of them.
PERKINS: Well, no -- I am if you'll give me just a second. We've got 40 years of public -- of social science research based upon public policy change. No fault divorce was a public policy adoption, and what that created was a spike in divorce which is leveled off in the early '90s and then created cohabitation. That was the result of a public policy adoption no fault divorce. We can't think that we can tinker with the definition of marriage and say, it's no longer between a man and a woman which 5,000 years of human history has shown.
MORGAN: Right, but just -- but just to --
PERKINS: I'm going to effect even further. It's going to -- it's going to results in more children growing up without moms and dad.
MORGAN: You personally -- I hear you. Yes, but not really answer. Just to press you on the question, what more damage could a gay couple do to civilization --
PERKINS: It's the gay --
MORGAN: -- and society if they're married.
PERKINS: It's the policy, Piers. It's the policy.
MORGAN: To if they're just living together.
PERKINS: Further redefining marriage, the reason we have cohabitation at skyrocketing rates is because we have redefine marriage in a way through no fault divorce making it almost meaningless to many, but to the further step of redefining it completely and saying marriage is whatever you want to make it to be. If you're two people and you love each other, that's all that counts.
The reason society has recognized marriage with certain benefits is because marriage between a man and a woman that creates children or raise his children, in most cases that benefits society. That's why society --
MORGAN: You have -- Mr. Perkins, you have -- (CROSSTALK)
PERKINS: -- automatic benefits of marriage.
MORGAN: You have five kids, right?
PERKINS: Yes, I do.
MORGAN: What would you do if one of them came home and said, dad, I'm gay?
PERKINS: Well, we would have a conversation about it. I doubt that would happen with my children as we are teaching them the right ways that they are to interact as human beings, we're not allowing them to be indoctrinated by the education system.
MORGAN: So you -- so you would imagine it would be -- right. So just to clarify, you would imagine it would be a personal choice they would suddenly make, they would wake up one day and decide they were going to be gay.
PERKINS: No, I didn't say that. I think it's -- I wouldn't say --
MORGAN: You implied it because you said it was -- you said that they have been brought up in a way that meant -- it was unlikely they would be gay.
PERKINS: That's right. The environment. The environment in which I'm raised --
MORGAN: My argument to you -- my argument to you as somebody who supports gay marriage, is being gay is not a choice? Being gay is not something you suddenly wake up and decide to be. So one of your children could be gay. It's not only a question of the way you brought them up. It's just --
PERKINS: Yes, it is, it is environment, it is environment, Piers. I would agree with you that I don't believe most people choose to be homosexual, lesbian, gay or whatever you want to call it. I don't believe that's a choice they wake up one morning and make. I don't think that it's genetic, I don't think = the evidence is there to support that. I do think that it's a product or a happening of environment and events, things that they're exposed to.
So I don't think it's a choice. I don't think somebody who wakes up and says I want to be this way. I think in most cases it's the result of the environment.
MORGAN: OK, well, Tony Perkins, we will agree to disagree. Thank you very much.
PERKINS: All right, Piers, good to be with you.
MORGAN: Coming up next, talking about agreeing to disagree, I will be welcoming back Jonah Goldberg. He's the fastest ever re-visit to the show.
Are you ready for round two, Jonah?
GOLDBERG: I'm struggling to contain my excitement.
MORGAN: I'm trying to contain my screaming liberal side tonight. I might come out a rabid fascist after the break, who knows?
GOLDBERG: Who knows.
MORGAN: Breaking news tonight. CNN projects that North Carolina is voting for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Want to turn to other big story, the return of Jonah Goldberg. We last spoke eight days ago. He apparently enjoyed the interview so much -- well, that's one way of putting it -- that he's come back for more.
Jonah Goldberg is the author of "The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas." He's also editor at large for National Review Online and joins me now.
Welcome back, Jonah.
GOLDBERG: Thanks for having me.
MORGAN: I feel we got off on the wrong foot the other day. I think it got a little heated. We went off on a bit of a tangent on to the issue of the day, which was about the apparent political exploitation by President Obama of the bin Laden. And we didn't get to round two, the reason you came on the show then, which was your book. So I have done I think the gallant, very British thing of inviting you back and we can have round two, talking predominantly about the book this time.
GOLDBERG: Yes, invited, implored, you know, these are distinctions with a difference, but that's fine, I'm delighted to be back.
MORGAN: Here's the thing that I find quite ironic, I guess, which is after our last exchange, which I kind of enjoyed, actually, but there was an assumption made I think by you and then by your army of supporters online, which becomes like a kind of -- like a new invading Twitter, Facebook online Roman army, crashing towards me. And the general consensus was I was this screaming wet liberal who had been basically defying the right, which I found in itself a very cliche presumption. Because I'm not a screaming wet liberal at all. I just happen to disagree with you on that particular story.
Now here's where I'm spin back the premise of your book. I promise you were coming to this in detail but on the premise of liberal cliches, is it not a right-wing cliche to assume that anyone that disagrees with you on any kind o matter automatically has to be a screaming liberal?
GOLDBERG: I'm glad you brought this up, because the one question you asked me on the last show about my book, I gave you the answer, and I said look, liberals and conservatives are like our ideological but conservatives admit it. And they talk about their ideology openly. It doesn't mean they don't use cliches and buzz phrases and bumper stickers. They do. But they -- you know where they're coming from because they admit their ideology.
Liberals don't admit it. They don't even admit it to themselves. You said, right, and then we went on to talk about the bin Laden ad. And meanwhile, from my -- by my likes and my Twitter army, my alleged Twitter army, you seem to be carrying more water for Obama than (INAUDIBLE). And you seem to be proving the very point that I had made at the beginning of the show.
And so subsequently on this point, and I think it ties into the book and it ties into your question, I went back and I looked at the interviews you did over the last week with other guests on your shows, with actual newsmakers, not just some guy with a book that you clearly didn't know who I was beforehand. You had Dan Rather on, you had David Axelrod, and the way you interviewed them, it seems to me, again from my cliched conservative perspective, it seemed to me that the way you interviewed them was far less prosecutorial, far less adversarial, sometimes bordered on a level of sort of dictation taking, where you didn't question their premise --
MORGAN: Don't be so ridiculous. Jonah, now listen. Listen. I'll put up with this to a certain degree, but let's just --
GOLDBERG: That's very gracious of you.
MORGAN: -- get it in perspective. I have interviewed far more Republican politicians, for example, this year than I had Democrats. Far more.
GOLDBERG: Yes, OK.
MORGAN: I've interviewed Rick Santorum maybe a dozen times, Newt Gingrich, six or seven times, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney. None of them have ever accused me of having a liberal bias against them. I like to give it a fair crack of the wood. I can't vote anyway. I don't have a horse in the race.
What I was reacting to was the fact that you came on with a very provocative book, "The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas," and I will concede, if you read the book, you say look, Republicans do it, too, the right do this, too. But it's the hypocrisy of the liberal that you're attacking.
But on that particular day there happened to be a story about Barack Obama going to Afghanistan celebrating the anniversary of the death of bin Laden, bringing out this commercial with Bill Clinton, and I happen to believe quite strongly not from a left or right perspective, or a screaming fascist or liberal view, I believe quite strongly he was perfectly entitled to do that. I didn't give a spiking -- I felt anybody who is president of the United States, Republican or Democrat, who had taken out bin Laden, a year on was entitled to remind people of that fact.
GOLDBERG: Piers, here's the thing. I agreed with you. More than once on this point. But you seem to want to put me into a box, turn me into a strawman that I am not, and say that somehow I was arguing he had no right to do it.
My objection was with how the Obama ad treated the question of Mitt Romney. And what I tried to convey to you more than once was the fact that what you were quoting Mitt Romney out of context. You were -- the point Mitt Romney was trying to make when he says you don't spend billions and move heaven and earth to save Osama bin Laden, is the same thing that you would say you don't fight World War II just to kill Adolf Hitler. You fight World War II to win World War II. You fight the war on terror to win the war on terror.
The next day in the Republican debate, Mitt Romney as asked about this in a follow up question, and he said, of course you take your chance to get bin Laden if you have it. My objection was with your characterization -- you didn't even mention the Mitt Romney part in the ad, and you trying to bully me into saying that I didn't think Obama had a right to gloat about it. I think he has every right to -- if I were bin Laden -- I mean if I were -- if I were Barack Obama --
MORGAN: Jonah, you don't strike me --
GOLDBERG: I would tell him go ahead and campaign on this. It's a very impressive thing that he did.
MORGAN: Then you must be -- you must be the least bulliable person ever created, aren't you?
GOLDBERG: I said you tried to bully me, I didn't say you bullied me.
GOLDBERG: But you kept interrupting me, you wouldn't let me answer questions. You asked me these sort of faith filled question on false premises and then you wouldn't let me answer them or clear the air. And I think that's --
MORGAN: Let's switch --
GOLDBERG: -- for people who watch the actual video.
MORGAN: Well, certainly to your supporters. Let's move on to today's issue, because funny enough.
GOLDBERG: Sure. MORGAN: Here again is an (INAUDIBLE). If we'd only met tonight, and this was the first interview we'd done, and we were talking about the raging issue of today, which I would argue is this issue of gay marriage, I suspect we'd have a lot more in common about this issue than people may suspect. But secondly I would be very critical of Barack Obama. I would say it's simply not acceptable to be president of the United States and to pretend that you are wholeheartedly behind gay rights but not to endorse gay marriage in the way that your vice president has.
I think that is (INAUDIBLE) hypocrisy and I think he needs to work out this evolving situation very quickly before it damages his reputation further on this. So if we'd had that debate tonight, you wouldn't be calling a screaming liberal, would you? That's why I come back to --
GOLDBERG: No, you keep saying I called you a screaming liberal --
GOLDBERG: I have never once called you a screaming liberal. All I've said is that you proved the point of -- that I made at the beginning of that interview which is that you were very one-sided. You kept saying, I don't believe in ideology, I don't have an agenda, I'm not partisan, and then you kept carrying water for the Obama perspective in a way that struck a lot of people as sort of one-sided and unfair, and you weren't listening to the actual answers I was giving. That's all. I've never called you a screaming liberal, never called you a fascist, I've never done any of those things.
MORGAN: Let's talk about the gay marriage thing.
MORGAN: I'm going to come to the book properly but let's talk about the gay marriage issue. Because you have got an interesting perspective on this. Tell me exactly what your personal view is of gay marriage.
GOLDBERG: Well, you know, my position is actually a lot like Barack Obama's except I'm not lying about it. My position is evolving. I was for civil unions 10 years ago when it was a pretty controversial position for a conservative to have. I think it is not the most incredible or dire threat to western civilization if gays are allowed to marry. At the same time I do not consider opposition to gay marriage to be some sort of wholly bigoted and outrageous position to have.
My ideal solution if we could keep it as a -- this way, is leave it to the states. If California -- the people of California wanted to vote to legalize gay marriage, it would be absolutely fine with me. And if the people of North Carolina would want to vote to not have it, that would be fine with me, too.
MORGAN: See, this is where I think you're quite a contradictory figure, because again reading the book, you constantly come back to the fact that the problem with liberals is they don't have an ideology, they talk in cliches, they talk in sound bites, none of it really means anything. They don't have an ideology underpinning here.
And yet when I ask you about your view of the issue of the day, you don't really have an ideology, do you? You're not really sure what you think. You're happy for whatever happens to take its course. But that is not an ideology. If I was a liberal responding to the allegation that essential to your block, I'd say, come on, Jonah, where is your ideology about gay marriage?
GOLDBERG: Look, I think we have a misunderstanding about ideology. My view of ideology, and this is something that contradict some conservative thinkers and a lot of liberal thinkers, too, is I don't consider ideology to be this hide bound dogma that you're locked into and I see it in -- sort of a checklist of your priorities. What are the thing you're favor of? Are you for limited government or expanding government?
Are you for expanding freedom or limited freedom? Private property, all of the rest. So almost every serious question about principles is an ideological question. On this one of my key principles, and I've written piles on this, is the value and importance of federalism. Push all of these issues as to the lowest Democratic level possible. Let people live, they want to -- the way they want to live in their own communities.
I'm a 10th amendment guy. And so -- but at the same time, just because I have an ideology, I'm a proud conservative, doesn't mean I have to have this sort of dogmatic lockstep black or white position on every single question. I think homosexuals are people. I think that they have a right to sort of pursue happiness.
I think that a lot of the times the way we talk about gay marriage gets it wrong. You know, gays are allowed to have whatever relationships they want. The argument of gay marriage is really the argument about whether or not the state is going to treat these unions as if they're the same as heterosexual marriage.
It's a complicated question, at the end of the day, my guess is we're going to get around to gay marriage, and it will not be the end of the world. But as a Berkian, you know, Burke, he is one of your guys, you know, I think a lot of things take time.
MORGAN: Well, Jonah, we've got to take a little bit of time out here, we're going to come back after the break and talk about the book. I want to ask you about things -- with the JFK's quote, nothing to fear but fear itself. Is this another cheap bit of liberal cliche riddled nonsense?
GOLDBERG: It was FDR --
MORGAN: FDR. I'm sorry.
GOLDBERG: A lot to talk about it.
MORGAN: FDR, not JFK. JFK is coming, too. I've got them all ready for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Clinton, remember he said the era of big government was over. President Obama brought it back with a vengeance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Candidate Mitt Romney earlier today blasting President Obama. Back with me now is Jonah Goldberg, author of "The Tyranny of Cliches." Jonah, let's get into the book here. What really compelled you to write this book?
GOLDBERG: Well, one of my great frustrations when I speak on college campuses, in particular, is how so many kids are taught to be deeply skeptical of ideological statements, but they'll let these cliches just sort sail right through. They'll say things like, Mr. Goldberg, I may defend to the death your right -- I may disagree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.
Or better ten guilty men go free than one go to jail. And then they'll sit down as if they've said something provocative or interesting or they've made an argument. And as you look at the --
MORGAN: Well, what is wrong with those two -- what is wrong with those two statements?
GOLDBERG: In terms of better 10 guilty men go free, right, if you look at it as an ideological statement, I have no problem with it. Right? The principle is that society should err on the side of the rights of the accused, that we should go the extra mile not to put innocent people in jail.
I think everybody agrees with it. That's the point. Everybody agrees with it. It's not an interesting observation.
MORGAN: But everybody doesn't agree with it though. That's where you're wrong. Not everyone agrees with it. If everyone agreed with that, there wouldn't be the death penalty, because now we know from endless DNA tests that many people who have been executed in America turned out to be innocent.
GOLDBERG: I'm not aware of an evidence that a single innocent person has ever being executed. There have been a lot of innocent people -- I'm not aware of a single innocent person ever being executed. A lot of innocent people have been on Death Row.
GOLDBERG: It's an important distinction. I don't want to kill innocent people either. Look, I don't know anyone who's against the reasonable doubt standard in a court of law.
MORGAN: Jonah, on that point though, we now know -- I can't remember the latest figures on the number of people on Death Row where DNA has proven they haven't, but you have to assume -- I think it's like 19 or 20 at least who have been on Death Row, later had it overturned.
But if you take that as a premise, you have to assume that people have been executed in America, surely, who have probably not committed the crime. The law of averages suggests that. My point is if, as you say, everybody agrees that one innocent person, the ten guilty people theory, you wouldn't have the death penalty.
And yet you have got states in America that still have it.
GOLDBERG: No. I would say that if you have a standard that you can never have error ever, the expression would be better seven million people go free than one innocent be punished. Right? If the standard was that caution has to be an absolute principal, the guardrails on highway would be 50 feet high and we would have a speed limit of five miles an hour. You have to have some tolerance for the possibility that you'll make a mistake. That's why we have layer after layer of appeals in the system and all the rest. Again --
MORGAN: Here's the thing, when I read your book -- by the way, it's a very entertaining book and it's very well researched. You have a great sense of history. And I applaud you for that. I think under normal circumstances, we would probably get along absolutely fine.
What I felt though, in terms of its details, in terms of the cliches that you illustrate, aren't we missing the sort of more difficult point, which is in modern politics, you don't have the time you used to make a well constructed speech that will be aired in the "New York Times" in two days time or whatever.
We are now living in a sound bite generation. We're all on Twitter. You and I Tweet abuse at each other and we thoroughly enjoy it. You have to get a message over in 140 characters. And isn't that by definition the new society we're in? Doesn't the politician have to play that game? Doesn't he have to communicate very quickly? And doesn't that inevitably lend to a more cliche ridden game?
GOLDBERG: Sure, absolutely. I agree with that entirely. It's the nature of politics. Even before Twitter, there was bumper stickers and soundbites and all of the rest. And that's the nature of the beast.
But a lot of these cliches, you go back to Orwell. Orwell is writing about this in the politics -- in "Politics and the English Language." Some of these arguments come, as he calls it, as prefab hen houses, that people just sort of accept things that we all know are true, which in fact are not true.
So the idea is like social Darwinism and social justice, and these phrases that are thrown around, people think they know what they mean. And they think that -- who's against social justice? It's social and it's justice. Who could be against it? Left out of that is it's kind of a Trojan Horse for a whole slew of deeply, sort of social democratic or just outright socialist ideas.
MORGAN: But to sum up, Republicans are as bad at this as Democrats, right?
GOLDBERG: They can often be just as bad about as Democrats. The difference is at least the Republicans or conservatives will admit where they're coming from. We know that conservatives have this world view. Liberals will leave you out of it. People like Barack Obama, they say I don't care about ideology. I only care about what works.
And if you think Barack Obama doesn't have an ideology, you haven't been paying attention.
MORGAN: Well, I'll try and pay more attention. Jonah, it's been good to have you back. I hope you come back again soon. I enjoy our little bouts.
GOLDBERG: I don't know if I can, but if I can, I will.
MORGAN: Take care, Jonah Goldberg. Coming up, the "Saturday Night Live" star who is taking on the president of the United States. John Lovitz on why he is blazing angry at President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON LOVITZ, COMEDIAN/ACTOR: So I got on a jet and I flew to Switzerland, with my wife, Morgan Fairchild, whom I've slept with. We were going to hide -- deposit the money when my plane crashed in the Himalayas. That's it. And to stay alive, we ate the survivors, because the dead ones were rotten.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: "Saturday Night Live" alum Jon Lovitz in character as the pathological liar. But now he is playing it straight with his explosive and surprising comments about President Obama. And he joins me now.
It's quite difficult interviewing a pathological liar. I may have done it before with people without realizing it. But can I assume what you're about to tell me is out of character?
LOVITZ: Yes. Yes.
What's ironic about that character is I hate lying. And so I was actually making fun of people who lie. And you know, what happened was I have a comedy club that's called Jon Lovitz Comedy Club and Podcast Theater. It's at Universal City Walk in Los Angeles. We do standup shows and podcasts. And Kevin Smith, the director, he has a whole podcast network. I do that and I have a -- there's another one, Toad Hop Network, I do one with Lovitz --
MORGAN: Are you just trying to win the record for the most plugs in one minute?
LOVITZ: Well, I am here. So what happened was -- so that's the context of it. And in a podcast, the whole thing is about being just totally honest and being yourself. So I'm onstage in a comedy club, talking about --
MORGAN: Kevin Smith's with you, right? Let's watch the Obama clip. Because I want to put it into the right context. Let's see this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOVITZ: This whole thing with Obama saying the rich don't pay their taxes is (EXPLETIVE DELETED). And I voted for the guy and I'm a Democrat. What a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). The rich don't pay their taxes? Let me tell you something, right?
First they say you're dead broke. The United States of America, you can do anything you want, go for it. So then you go for it and then you make it and everyone's like (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I mean, you're pretty strong worded. I understand that you're in a podcast and so on. It's all a bit of fun.
LOVITZ: It's a comedy club. There's no language restrictions.
MORGAN: But did you mean what you said without the bad language? Did you mean what you said about -- why do you feel so exercised about this tax issue?
LOVITZ: Because it started off with -- I believed in him. I agreed with everything he was saying when he ran for president. I was listening to what he said. I go, this guy thinks like me and I agree with him.
Now he's changing. He's saying things that people in the one percent -- I should have said don't pay their fair share of taxes. The reality is the IRS, anyone can look it up, 2011 tax bracket, if you make 388,000 dollars or more a year, you pay 35 percent.
He said -- first he said, well, it's the 15 percent on capital gains. Then he stopped saying that. All he keeps saying is millionaires and billionaires don't pay their fair share of taxes.
MORGAN: Well, it's the Warren Buffett argument, where he says that Warren Buffett pays a lower tax burden rate overall than his secretary does. LOVITZ: Right, his secretary is paying 18 percent on her salary. Warren Buffett is paying 15 percent on capital gains, meaning money that he already paid -- earned money on as income. Now he's been investing it forever. And on that capital gains tax he gets 15 percent. It used to be 30.
MORGAN: Why shouldn't the one percent, in times of great economic crisis for America -- why shouldn't they pay a bit more than people who have been thrown out of jobs, often as a direct result of some of the actions of the people in the one percent?
LOVITZ: Well, I don't agree with that?
MORGAN: You don't think people that ran Wall Street are responsible for a lot of the economic meltdown this country had to suffer?
LOVITZ: Maybe some of it, but not all of it. Some people, they got housing loans, and I think they're responsible for taking a loan they didn't qualify for?
MORGAN: Who is more responsible, the very, very smart people who know exactly what they are offering or the people who are perhaps not so smart, not so well versed in the property market, in loans, in finance generally, who get seduced into accepting these and then lose everything?
LOVITZ: Well, that's wrong, yes. You're saying if you're being conned into a loan.
MORGAN: I'm not saying they conned them. I'm saying they --
MORGAN: They knew a hell of a lot more about it, what they were doing, than I think a lot of people on the receiving end. The people who lost their homes in this huge crisis should never have been allowed to have these gigantic loans.
MORGAN: Yes, but whose fault is that? They shouldn't have been allowed to have them.
LOVITZ: I think it's the bank's fault for making them and I think it's the people's fault for taking the loan.
MORGAN: But who is more responsible?
LOVITZ: I don't know. You have to go individual by individual.
MORGAN: If you're going to take the argument -- (CROSS TALK)
MORGAN: My argument is a lot of the people in the one percent are the people that ran Wall Street. That's the very point of this argument, is that shouldn't they be giving a bit back now, rather than stuffing themselves like Goldman Sachs bankers with million dollar bonuses again, sometimes 10 million dollar bonuses, given they've been bailed out by the taxpayers?
Shouldn't there be some kind of giving back process? And what is wrong with taxing the super rich a little bit more then the super poor?
MORGAN: But you think there is.
LOVITZ: No, I don't.
MORGAN: That's what Obama wants.
LOVITZ: No, what I was saying is he's saying they're not paying their fair share of taxes. And if you talk to people, the neighbor goes, what's wrong with paying one percent more, I said nothing. But you are saying they're only one percent off of paying that?
And the reason capital gains tax is at 15 percent -- it used to be 30 percent -- is they realized that at 15 percent, they'll reinvest more money and it creates more taxes.
MORGAN: Hold that for a second. We're going to come back after the break.
LOVITZ: Let me answer your questions, for God's sake, Piers.
MORGAN: There's more meat on this bone to be gnawed at.
Are you trying to impersonate me?
MORGAN: I'm not trying, I'm succeeding, mate.
MORGAN: Back with my guest, Jon Lovitz. Now before we go to the break -- well, actually during the break, you said to me, come on, let me answer the damn question in the right way. What do you actually want to say about this whole one percent thing that I haven't --
LOVITZ: First of all, this whole idea of this one percent versus the 99 percent, it's a false static. There's nobody that is wealthy saying, let's go get the people that aren't. First of all, there's no versus. He's creating a false class warfare in a country where there is no class structure. Anybody can be going from being broke to being wealthy, as I did.
I grew up very nice. But after college, my father said you're on you own. So I was dead broke for years. So I know what it's -- I lived on 600 dollars a month for six years. I know what it's like to be dead broke. I feel bad for people who are struggling now.
But it isn't the fault of the one percent. The whole -- it's the economy's bad. It's bad for everybody. I have my own comedy club. I opened it three years ago in a horrible economy. I created jobs. And we just started breaking even after a year and a half, barely. For that entire time, I have had to pay the difference of what we owe in rent and taxes and everything out of my own pocket.
So -- and it's just not true. Instead of divide and conquer to get -- say the 99 percent -- to get votes, you know, it's like let's all work together. I don't have a problem if he goes, if you just pay one percent more to help everybody, I'm like fine. But don't tell me I'm not paying my fair share, when between federal, state, property tax, FICA, everything, I'm paying at least 50 percent.
Then you have legal deductions, not loopholes, legal deductions that the IRS allows. Do you think everybody is fooling the IRS. It's ridiculous.
MORGAN: How many of your Hollywood showbiz mates agree with you? How many are disaffected with Obama, do you think?
LOVITZ: A lot, a lot more than they're saying.
MORGAN: A lot more than were in favor of him before.
LOVITZ: Yes, and he's hypocritical when he's saying like -- he goes, this one percent, they don't understand us. Obama is in the one percent now. He made 4.3 million dollars the year he was elected. He said 300,000 dollars, that's enough money for anybody to make. Is he putting a cap on success now?
He is getting paid 400,000 dollars a year as president. Is he giving back 100,000 dollars. When he leaves office, he's going to make millions.
MORGAN: When the country is in 13 trillion dollars in debt --
LOVITZ: No, it's almost 16 trillion.
MORGAN: Right, so it's rocketing all the time.
LOVITZ: It's online. Look it up, going up, up, up.
MORGAN: When a country has that level of debt, the money has to come from somewhere. It can't come from the eight percent of unemployed in America, many of whom have lost their home.
MORGAN: Why shouldn't more money come than was coming before from the super rich, from the one percent? Why shouldn't it?
LOVITZ: Yeah, but I didn't argue that point. I said you want to raise it --
MORGAN: -- like we all have to help here. Those who have got more help a little bit more than those who've got nothing.
LOVITZ: Yes, that's fine, but that's not how he's phrasing it.
LOVITZ: Everybody would say terrific?
MORGAN: Would they?
LOVITZ: Yes, but he's putting people on the defensive.
LOVITZ: By Jove, Piers. You've got to let me answer your questions.
MORGAN: Actually, I'm glad you did my impression, because I want to play you very quickly --
LOVITZ: Everybody in England has the same problem.
MORGAN: This is the Taryn Killum (ph) impression of me on "SNL," which I haven't played before, but here.
LOVITZ: All right, then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not the words I say. You'll think I'm quite intelligent. The Trayvon Martin case continues to rock the state of Florida, and I continue to cover the case by talking to lesser officials and tangible celebrities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: He doesn't look anything like me and he sounds even less like me.
LOVITZ: Who's the actor in the Sherlock Holmes, the last one. He comes out. He's very tall. He looks like a caricature of you. What's his name? Do you know who I mean? Colin somebody.
MORGAN: Colin Firth.
LOVITZ: No, not Colin firth. Nice try. And I look like Clark Gable.
MORGAN: I have to leave it there.
LOVITZ: By Jove, you won't let me answer the question.
MORGAN: Come back. You did answer the question.
LOVITZ: I'm saying we should work together and don't set people against each other.
MORGAN: The original question, when we came back, you answered for so long, we have no time for any more questions. But it's been a pleasure.
LOVITZ: Bloody hell.
MORGAN: Good to see you, old chap.
LOVITZ: Thank you.
MORGAN: Come back again soon.
LOVITZ: Thank you.
MORGAN: Jon Lovitz, he's as mad as hell and I love him for it.
Coming up, Only in America takes on the obesity epidemic and a sure-fire way to stop it. My plan for eliminating obesity.
MORGAN: For tonight's Only in America, red, white and way overweight. If Lady Liberty were given a 21st century makeover, she'd be holding a box of doughnuts instead of a torch, and wearing an enormous mu mu. Let's face it, America is bursting at the seems with a fat epidemic that, if the experts are right, will only get worse.
It's truly awful now. A third of adults with kids in America are obese. But a new study says these figures will balloon to 42 percent by 2013. Imagine that, 150 million Americans obese and therefore at risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, the list goes on.
But it's not just the calories, it's the cost. Nearly 200 billion dollars in health care goes on the fight against fat. The fact is as clear as the grease on a plate of fries. Fast food, processed food, super sized portions, all that sugar, all that butter. We all know it. Everyone has advice. There's been so much hand wringing about how to solve it. Talk to parents, talk to teacher, let's have some town hall meetings, the usual baloney that normally ends with a dash to the buffet line.
I have two ides for you. The first is the Piers Morgan diet plan that can be summed in four easy to swallow word. You ready? Eat less, exercise more. There you go. You can have that one for nothing.
As for the push for supplements and self-help products, I'm all for it. But only if you follow the orders of a very smart friend of mine from the U.K. who used to say he discovered a pill guaranteed to make you lose weight. What you do is you take the pill, then you go to your local park and you throw the pill down a hill and you run after it. You repeat this 20 times, three times a day. And boom the obesity epidemic is all over.
There you are. You can have that one for nothing, too.
That's all for us tonight. "AC 360," who is very trim, by the way, starts right now.