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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

"Pawn Stars'" Father and Son; Politics and Religion with Joel and Victoria Osteen; Country Music's Dynamic Duo; Being Gay in America

Aired September 23, 2012 - 21:00   ET

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


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight America's guilty pleasure, "Pawn Stars." Their take on the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK HARRISON, PAWN STARES: Bureaucracy is the number killer of business. If government could just do something about that. But then again government never likes to get smaller. Just likes to get bigger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And the secrets of the rich and famous.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COREY "BIG HOSS" HARRISON, PAWN STARS: Most billionaires are actually pretty cheap.

(LAUGHTER)

They're not going to go to Rolex and buy a watch brand new. You know, especially when they can come to us and get it for half price.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And I'll ask two of America's favorite pastors what would Jesus do about politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICTORIA OLSTEEN, CO-PASTOR, LAKEWOOD CHURCH: I'm not going to tell you who I'm going to vote for but --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And the Middle East.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL OSTEEN, PASTOR, LAKEWOOD CHURCH, AUTHOR, "I DECLARE": The foundation of our faith is based out of Israel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Joel and Victoria Osteen.

And they're split down the middle, just America. One is Republican and one -- well, it's just hard to work out what the other one is. Country duo Big and Rich on their music and their politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIG KENNY, NEW ALBUM, "HILLBILLY JEDI": We debate about as tough as any two guys can but we end it always with a cold beverage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And the moment I genuinely never expected.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

For five seasons now, "Pawn Stars" has dominated cable television averaging six million viewers per episode which I can tell you is TV's gold. And these guys know a lot about gold.

Joining me two men who make the show tick, Rick Harrison and his son, Corey "Big Horse" Harrison.

Welcome to you both gentleman. Tell me the secret of your success. Is it because, in fact, ironically, America is suffering economically? When that happens a business like yours tends to do well?

R. HARRISON: That's sort of a misnomer. Just because the economy is bad doesn't mean a pawnshop does well. Remember all those things I buy, I have to sell. So it's a catch 22. When the economy is really well, I'm not getting enough -- enough merchandise to see and when the economy is bad, I'm getting too much merchandise, not -- enough buyers. So --

MORGAN: So the optimum time for you is probably when the economy is OK.

R. HARRISON: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: People still want to sell then you can get rid of it?

R. HARRISON: Yes. That's probably it.

MORGAN: Corey, who comes in? I mean is it literally anybody? Is there a dynamic of rich, poor, black, white? I mean who comes in your store?

C. HARRISON: I mean it's everybody, especially our store. I mean the typical pawnshop is a little different than others. I mean we're on the Las Vegas strip, so, I mean, we've had -- everybody from billionaires come in and shop, to, I mean, your average single mom who just isn't getting her child support check and needs some money. MORGAN: Why would -- I get the second one. Why the billionaire come to a pawnshop?

C. HARRISON: People don't realize, most billionaires actually pretty cheap.

(LAUGHTER)

C. HARRISON: And -- no, they're not going to go -- you know, they're not going to go to Rolex and buy a watch brand new. You know, especially when they can come us to and get it for half price.

MORGAN: What has been the most surprised you've been? I know there must be a lot of surprises, but when you look back what have been the moments, you go, wow, when somebody brought something in that's really knocked your socks off?

R. HARRISON: That happens actually a lot. I mean like that right there. That's --

MORGAN: Well, this is quite incredible. You brought some stuff here that you've had brought into you. This is actually the battle plan for Iwo Jima, is that right?

R. HARRISON: Yes.

MORGAN: Incredible. I mean, I've never seen anything like this. Who brought this in?

R. HARRISON: It was a person who's father had been on Iwo Jima. He was a -- one of the boats that brought the troops in. This was the battle plan he was given. And he thought it was really neat but he had a daughter who was having a very expensive wedding and he figured let grandpa pay for it.

MORGAN: So what did you give him for that? How did you assess the value?

R. HARRISON: Well, this was a few years ago. I don't remember the exact price. And that's the big problem for things like this. It's really hard -- when you have one-of-a-kind, there's nothing to compare it to. You know, if you have a coin, you can look up on the Internet what this coin went for last time. But --

MORGAN: But do you remember even the ballpark?

R. HARRISON: I think it was right around $3500, something like that.

MORGAN: And what is it worth? I mean, presumable what --

(CROSSTALK)

R. HARRISON: I'm assuming, you know, 10, 12 grand? I'm not really selling it. One of the reasons I get so many people in my pawnshop is because I have all of this weird stuff on the wall. So -- right now that's one of the weird things on the wall. MORGAN: What would be the offer you couldn't refuse to get it off your wall? Is everything for --

C. HARRISON: I'll sell it in a minute for eight grand.

MORGAN: Really?

(LAUGHTER)

C. HARRISON: Yes.

R. HARRISON: This is our difference in --

MORGAN: The younger turkey talking. So eight grand, it's coming off the wall, right?

C. HARRISON: $8,000 or an Iwo Jima plan, I'll take the eight grand.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Do you have any soul or love for these things or is it more money to you?

C. HARRISON: You know what? That's what he taught me since I was a little kid. This is just stuff, man, and, you know, thank god these people had stuff that they could sell to get the money they needed to get whatever they needed to do because this is just --

MORGAN: I mean some -- some of this is quite sad. I mean, these, for example, are Olympic medals. They were from Atlanta in '96 and Barcelona in '92. Joe Green, who won two bronze medals for the long jump, he brought them in himself, presumably he'd hit hard times. I mean nobody would give up --

R. HARRISON: Yes.

MORGAN: -- bronze Olympic medals for nothing. So do you remember his story?

R. HARRISON: Yes, I think his story was basically that he -- you know, he got injured, wasn't able to compete in 2000 and was doing some other things. And the way I look at it is thank god he had these to get him by the hard times and because a lot of people don't have things to get them by the hard times. And in the end, I look at it, it's still just stuff.

MORGAN: What were they worth? How do you quantify an Olympic medal?

R. HARRISON: That's a very difficult thing because they rarely if ever get on the market. Being won by an American makes it worth more. You know we're in the American market, people are going to want an American one. And also the Atlanta is pretty neat, because it was an American game. So I think it would be worth more.

MORGAN: So what -- do you remember what you paid him for it? R. HARRISON: Actually I gave him a loan on it and we're not really allowed to tell what I loaned somebody. If there's -- more of that paperwork thing --

MORGAN: So is it a question of he hopes to come back and --

R. HARRISON: He never redeemed them. He defaulted on the loan.

MORGAN: Right. So he'll never get them back?

R. HARRISON: No. But --

MORGAN: Sad, isn't it?

R. HARRISON: It's sad. But --

MORGAN: Do you ever feel sad or --

R. HARRISON: No, not really.

MORGAN: -- is the lesson you handed down to your son, you can't afford to get emotionally involved?

R. HARRISON: One of the things is a pawn broker with a heart is usually a pawn broker out of business.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: So your heart was (INAUDIBLE) apparently.

R. HARRISON: I mean, you know, I mean you do have to look at it, I hope it got him by that rough spot.

MORGAN: Now you're the man with no morals and scruples for stuff.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Is there anything you would turn down?

C. HARRISON: Yes. I mean, there's --

MORGAN: Have you ever turned anything down?

C. HARRISON: We won't take any German World War II items.

MORGAN: Really?

C. HARRISON: You know, I won't do it. It's just -- you know, it's the creepy factor of it where, you know, people will come in the store and they're instantly offended by seeing it. And it's not really a moral thing, it's a money thing where if someone is mad the second they see something in the store, they're not going to spend any money.

R. HARRISON: Well, you know, I just -- me, I just think it's got bad mojo and things like that.

MORGAN: So your interest really is more to do with the fact that other people might be annoyed if they see it?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Just be honest, it's not your personal morals kicking in here. I was getting worried that you have gone soft.

Anything else? Is there any other sort of thing you just feel strongly you wouldn't want to be party to?

R. HARRISON: I mean just anything in that area. I wouldn't taking any from Saddam Hussein or anything like that. You know, there are some really disturbed people who collect things like that murder- abilia and things like that. I just don't take it.

C. HARRISON: And there is a -- there was a gas mask from World War I for a kid. We passed on that one. It was just way too creepy to have there.

R. HARRISON: Yes.

MORGAN: Weird sort of things that come in. And I suppose the obvious question, what is the most expensive thing you've ever bought?

C. HARRISON: It's a real easy one. We buy -- you know, we buy and sell gold a lot. And we're -- one of the places that you can bring your gold bars down and we'll give you cash for it so --

MORGAN: So do people actually walk in with gold bars?

R. HARRISON: Oh, yes, every day.

C. HARRISON: I mean so --

MORGAN: What's the biggest -- what's the biggest chunk of gold you've ever had to deal with?

C. HARRISON: I can't remember what it was, I just remember we gave him 500 grand for it.

MORGAN: $500,000?

C. HARRISON: Yes.

MORGAN: Really?

C. HARRISON: Yes. And believe me, I was in my car selling it to the guy I sell it to immediately after.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: And what is the -- if you're smart what is the markup if you move quickly on something like that?

R. HARRISON: Actually, in our shop, it's weird. I mean when we buy something like art, it's going to sit -- maybe sit around for years, we're going to pay you a lot less. If you bring us a gold coin or something like we don't mind making 1 percent. So --

MORGAN: On that kind of thing?

R. HARRISON: Yes.

MORGAN: That huge amount of gold.

R. HARRISON: Make 1 percent, I'm happy with.

MORGAN: Really?

R. HARRISON: I mean, it's a lot of people I don't understand who are in business will say, I'll never do that for 1 percent. Well, 1 percent of 500 grand is 5,000 bucks. Five thousand bucks is is a lot better than no bucks.

MORGAN: Yes. And is that -- is that the attitude and strategy really?

R. HARRISON: Yes. I mean --

MORGAN: Take the cash when you can?

R. HARRISON: Yes, I mean, you have to -- I mean, it's business. I mean there's some things you're going to make a lot on, some things you're going to make a little out of.

MORGAN: The worst thing for you is a fully stocked store presumably?

R. HARRISON: It's a tough struggle, you know, I mean, because you're always wanting to buy stuff, you know it's tough to sell the stuff. So we try and keep it level but it never works out.

MORGAN: Well, it's a fascinating business. It's an amazingly successful show. I congratulate both of you, it's a really interesting world and I hope it continues to thrive for. Thank you both very much.

"Pawn Stars" airs on Monday nights on the History Channel. I'll be tuning in. I have a few dodge -- I mean, I -- here's my BlackBerry, I mean, given that it's been owned by me, is it worth more or less than if it hadn't been owned by me?

R. HARRISON: I think it would be worth a little bit more on you.

MORGAN: What kind of markup?

R. HARRISON: God, it is a BlackBerry.

C. HARRISON: I'll give you 50 bucks for it.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Which is, just for the record --

(CROSSTALK) R. HARRISON: You can put it on --

MORGAN: -- about 2,220 bucks less than it costs. Thanks. No wonder you're so rich.

"Pawn Stars."

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

J. OSTEEN: And I declare every person under the sound of my voice is blessed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Joel Osteen in Miami in 2010. He and his wife Victoria speak the language of millions of Americans when it comes to matters of faith. But what about politics?

The Osteens are co-pastors of Lakewood Church in Houston. And Joel Osteen's new book is "I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life."

Joining me now exclusively, Joel and Victoria Osteen.

Welcome back.

J. OSTEEN: Hey, Piers.

MORGAN: I feel like we're old friends now.

J. OSTEEN: I know. It's good to see you again.

MORGAN: And the worse I treat you, the more you come back for more. I like that.

J. OSTEEN: Everybody thinks you're mean. I said he's the nicest guy. He just seems mean.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Don't ruin my reputation.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: I know what you're going to say to my first question. You're going to say, look, I never get involved in politics.

J. OSTEEN: I know.

MORGAN: It's your -- your pat answer. But given that the Evangelical vote is so important to both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, what do you say to your flock when they come and see you, and say, look, Joel, I can't work out who to vote for? What do you say to them? J. OSTEEN: Well, Piers, I just -- I go back to a central theme of encouraging everybody to vote, to search their own heart, because it's interesting, good people of faith can read the scripture and interpret it differently. I mean I have Democrats and Republicans in our church that love the Lord, that, you know, couldn't be any better people, but they just, you know, they -- different issues speak to them.

MORGAN: The president, though, is a conventional Christian. Mitt Romney is a Mormon. And there are fundamental differences. I mean the Holy Trinity definition in both is very, very different. The Mormons believe that there are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Obviously, the Christian faith believes they're all the same thing.

How do you deal with that? I mean surely your natural leaning would be toward the guy that believes the same that you do?

J. OSTEEN: I think you're right in that -- in that instant. I think, also, though, you look at the whole totality of the person and not -- not just their faith, although their faith is important because it tells me their values and their characters. But I think it's -- you know, as practical Americans and practical followers of Christ, we'll look at their business experience and, you know, other areas, as well.

So, you know, I like that saying that we're not just -- we're not electing a pastor of the nation, we're electing a leader and who can best lead.

MORGAN: Victoria, who do you prefer more? Who's more charismatic to you?

V. OSTEEN: I think they're both -- I think they're both amazing men. And that's, you know, just going to have to -- people who are not -- undecided, I would say to them, watch the debates. Learn as much as you can and then vote. And I would definitely say vote, you know, because everyone needs to vote. That's what makes this country a great country.

MORGAN: Will you be voting?

V. OSTEEN: I will definitely be voting.

MORGAN: So you're undecided?

V. OSTEEN: Am I undecided? No.

MORGAN: You've decided.

V. OSTEEN: Well, I'm going to really enjoy watching the debates --

(LAUGHTER)

V. OSTEEN: -- because I think it's going to -- it's going to enlighten --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: You've been learning lessons from him.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: You're like a couple of politicians, no? Come on, Joel. It's obvious she's a Republican.

J. OSTEEN: No.

MORGAN: What are you?

J. OSTEEN: Well, here's the thing, Piers. We -- I know I give you the same speech every time and you give me a hard time, but, you know, we're trying to reach the whole group. So for me going here and say we're a Democrat or a Republican, then 50 percent of the people are going to say I'm going to --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: No, I get it. I get it. Let me pin you down in about --

J. OSTEEN: Sure.

MORGAN: -- what you said about leadership.

J. OSTEEN: Sure.

MORGAN: Because you alluded there to business leadership.

J. OSTEEN: Sure.

MORGAN: Mitt Romney clearly has a standout record of being a very successful businessman. But with that came allegations he was too ruthless, too hard, that Bain Capital, in particular, they broke up companies. They tossed people on the woodpile, if you like. What do you think of his record as a businessman? Are you concerned about that?

J. OSTEEN: Well, you know what? I just see the ads and what I read. I think a lot of what we see, on both candidates, not just him, are tainted, are, you know, inflated. I think, when I look at President Obama and Mitt Romney, they're hard-working, good people that, you know, I don't -- I don't fault Mitt Romney for his success or the --

MORGAN: Do you think it's wrong in modern-day America that someone like Mitt Romney, who's made hundreds of millions of dollars and, you know, probably not quite as much as you have, Joel, but he's done OK for himself, but -- that he gets lambasted for his success, lambasted for making that money, that somehow it's become a bad thing to be rich and successful in America?

J. OSTEEN: I do. I don't think we should look down on people that are successful. I don't think that's healthy. And, you know, I see somebody like Mitt Romney helping others and think so, I want every -- you know, I -- you know, the goal -- it's not going to happen, but it's for everybody to be successful and everybody to be blessed and healthy and not just with money, but yes, I don't think we ought to look down on somebody that's been successful.

I -- I want somebody successful running the country, you know. President Obama, you know, went to Harvard and he's doing pretty well and, you know, you see Mitt Romney, as well. I don't --

MORGAN: But Mitt Romney is (INAUDIBLE). Well, I've interviewed him a few times now. He seems a perfectly nice, kind, well-intentioned guy. I think on the principle front, a little bit flip-floppy. You're not quite sure what he really stands for. But the real problem comes with what he says when he doesn't think the cameras are on him. And we saw this yesterday with this video that came out, when he was pretty harsh.

Forty-seven percent of Americans, half the country, are victims, living off the state, not paying tax, and completely disingenuous. Most of those people do pay payroll tax or they're the elderly or they're veterans. It was a very clumsy thing to have done.

You must feel offended when you hear him say something like that, don't you?

J. OSTEEN: Well, Piers, I'm -- here I go again, but I'm for mercy. I'm for seeing the best in people. I think, you know --

MORGAN: Are you feeling merciful towards Mitt Romney?

MORGAN: Well, I think in a presidential election, every sentence is scrutinized. I mean they were knocking President Obama the other day for the, you know, you didn't build it or whatever it is that, you know, that's not the heart of what they meant. So, you know, I'm -- I probably have way too much mercy for -- than some people, but I just -- I look at him and say it's admirable that they're trying to win this election and to do good for our country, because that's -- that's not an easy job. That's -- you know, that's getting right over to (INAUDIBLE) calls everything you say.

MORGAN: I'll be back with the Osteens in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

J. OSTEEN: Heavenly Father, we thank you for this time with Mr. President. Lord, we just ask for your peace, for this nation, for your strength, for your wisdom, for the leaders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Joel Osteen with Israeli president, Shimon Peres, in January of last year. And Joel and Victoria Osteen's influence is felt around the world and are back with me now exclusively.

And certainly, because I went back to London, all I could see was your grinning mug everywhere, Joel, with copies of your books. How many books have you done?

J. OSTEEN: I've done four. This is my fourth major book.

MORGAN: And how many tens of millions of copies have you sold?

J. OSTEEN: I don't know. I've sold a lot, though. It's been -- I've -- I feel very blessed.

MORGAN: You're not denying tens of millions, I noticed.

J. OSTEEN: No, I don't know about tens of millions but --

MORGAN: Well, the first one sold 10 million.

J. OSTEEN: It did. It did.

(LAUGHTER)

J. OSTEEN: But, you know, I'm -- I I write the books to hopefully help people, you know. And people get inspired by them and, you know, there's a lot of things pushing people down. So our ministry is about lifting people up, saying, hey, you know, don't get bitter, don't get discouraged. You know, stay in faith. Stay positive. And I -- and, you know, people are drawn to that, because there is a lot of negativity in the world.

MORGAN: But you see, I would say -- see, you do have this effect on me. Every time I interview you I go away and I actually feel happier.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: I feel better about myself. Although I feel deeply resentful you're selling more books than I ever do. But what I wonder is when you do a book called "I Declare," and it's a very smart premise. You take a -- it's really a sort of statement for every day of the month.

J. OSTEEN: Yes.

MORGAN: And it's very positive driven and it's very like get up and be glass half full, not glass half empty. But people will say it's a lot easier for you, mate. I mean you're selling tens of millions of books. You're making hundreds of millions of dollars. You're married to this beautiful woman. Life is pretty damned good for Joel Osteen.

What about if I've lost my job, my house, my car, I can't feed my kids, as tens of millions of Americans right now are going through that? What do you say about that? How do you convince them to take your lead?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I think that's hope the big part of the ministry is that, you know, and we face difficulties, too. But our hearts go out to people. Americans are hurting people all over the world. But I think it's so important, Piers. If you get up in the morning and think, oh, man, life -- life is lousy, there's nothing good in my future, I don't want to go to work, I don't feel well, you're just going to draw in more negativity.

You're going to get bitter on life. You're going to sink down into depression and you're going to miss your purpose. So it's hard. I'm not saying it's easy, especially when things are coming against you. But you've got to get up. You've got to find something to be grateful for.

MORGAN: When we saw the video there of you talking to Shimon Peres, it was pretty controversial, because it caused -- it's a very sensitive thing out there, isn't it? And Mitt Romney himself got into more trouble today when more of that video came out and it was basically him saying he doesn't think there can be peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis and pretty well blaming the Palestinians.

You, obviously, into -- interviewed there Shimon Peres. Did you get flak from the Palestinians? Did you worry about dipping your toe there into a very hot political situation?

J. OSTEEN: You know, I didn't because, Piers, the foundation of our faith is based out of Israel. And the -- you know, the scripture tells us to pray for the peace in Jerusalem. So I went over there not certainly as a political leader, just but as a friend to the Israeli people, and we're a friend to all people. We don't shun somebody that's, you know, the Palestinian people or anybody else. But I just happened to be there holding an event there. And so I felt very honored to get to pray with him.

MORGAN: Now we've got a picture of Joel on a beach, which we thought we'd show Victoria. There we are. Now pretty damn impressive, Victoria. Is he into this P90X thing?

V. OSTEEN: Let's see --

MORGAN: The Paul Ryan, you know, machine -- did you do that?

(CROSSTALK)

V. OSTEEN: Just the whole natural.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Really?

V. OSTEEN: No, he works out.

J. OSTEEN: Yes, I love working out. I don't know --

MORGAN: Every day?

J. OSTEEN: No, I don't work out every day. But I like to work out. I grew up playing sports. And so I like to run, lift weights, play sports, just -- it's natural to me.

MORGAN: But I mean not bad. I mean another reason to hate you.

(LAUGHTER)

J. OSTEEN: Well -- MORGAN: If you weren't such a nice bloke, it would be so easy to hate you.

J. OSTEEN: Well, thank you.

MORGAN: When people go to vote now, at the -- in November, what is the key message you would -- if you were, perhaps, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney here and you wanted them to declare things, what do you want them to declare, truthfully, to the electorate, to make a decision about them?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I can give them advice. I mean the book is about declaring, you know, declare God's faithfulness in my life, declare God's wisdom in my life, declare, you know, that I have favor from God to make the right decision. So --

V. OSTEEN: And those are great things for them to declare.

MORGAN: Sure. But when you see them taking out ads, for example, which are deliberately negative, often flagrantly untrue, just really unpleasant, nasty attack ads, do you think that should stop in this country? Do you think it's just poison?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I would love for it to, but it seems like as long as I can remember, it's always happened. And I -- you know, from what I hear, the negative seems to work. And it's a shame, but, you know --

MORGAN: Would you like it to stop?

J. OSTEEN: Oh, I'd love it to stop. I'd love it to stay on a -- on a higher level. I don't -- I don't know if that's practical, but I think it'd be great if it would, because I think things are taken out of context and, you know, amplified and, you know, it's not necessarily, like you said, the full truth.

MORGAN: Well, it's been a pleasure to see you both again. Unfortunately, I have to declare this interview over, but I'm sure we'll meet again very soon for the next book or whatever it may be. "31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life."

I'll go away and read this tonight. I know I'll feel better tomorrow, so tomorrow night's interviews will be a lot happier all around than today's have been.

Joel, lovely to see you.

J. OSTEEN: Thanks, Piers.

MORGAN: Victoria, lovely to see you again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: My next guests are side by side with the country music charts, but when it comes to politics, they couldn't be further apart. They're Big and Rich, close friends and polar opposites, one liberal, the other conservative. My -- BIG KENNY: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

MORGAN: Yes?

BIG KENNY: I mean, where are you coming from so -- how do you know that?

MORGAN: Are you or not -- are you not?

JOHN RICH, COUNTRY MUSIC ARTIST: That's a lot to assume.

MORGAN: Are you?

BIG KENNY: That's a lot to assume, brother.

MORGAN: Well, we'll come to it in a minute and start of the interview yet.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BIG KENNY: I mean, a man from the great state of Texas there.

MORGAN: You're -- you're --

BIG KENNY: A man from Virginia and --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Mr. Rich has done the show before. You clearly haven't. This is my gig. My stage...

RICH: Yes.

MORGAN: And I will finish the introduction.

BIG KENNY: OK. OK.

MORGAN: Before you open your mouth.

BIG KENNY: Finish your introduction.

MORGAN: But after going their separate ways for several years, they're back together, musically, anyway, with a new album, "Hillbilly Jedi." And Big Kenny and John Rich, as you might have gathered, join me now.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Welcome, gentlemen.

RICH: Yes, hi.

BIG KENNY: OK. Now, whoa, whoa, whoa. Where did you go --

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Let me ask you about it.

BIG KENNY: Where do you get your facts?

MORGAN: Let me ask you a direct question.

BIG KENNY: Go ahead.

MORGAN: Are you or have you ever been a liberal?

BIG KENNY: I don't know what that -- what that is. What I know --

MORGAN: Well, then that may cause a confusion.

BIG KENNY: What I know is I'm a farm boy, raised in Virginia to a dad who is a hard-working man and a mother who taught me music and gave me great lessons in life. And that I feel like the sky is our ceiling, the ground is our floor and the world is our one big happy home and we ought to just love everybody.

(LAUGHTER)

BIG KENNY: How about that? Yes.

RICH: So there you go.

MORGAN: There's no room for that kind of thing in this --

BIG KENNY: Well, people say that about John and I constantly. And we debate about it as tough as any two guys can. But we end it always with a cold beverage and a laugh.

MORGAN: Well, let me phrase it. How often do you agree with him about any political issue?

BIG KENNY: A lot.

MORGAN: How often do you disagree with him?

RICH: A lot.

BIG KENNY: A lot.

MORGAN: All right. Let me ask you --

RICH: Quite a bit. I mean it's vigorous --

MORGAN: He says he's struggling with his political identity. Are you a conservative?

RICH: Yes, I'm a conservative.

MORGAN: Would you -- would you categorize him as more of a liberal?

RICH: I would categorize Kenny as an independent, actually, a really --

MORGAN: Have you both --

BIG KENNY: I like the word statesman.

MORGAN: Do you vote?

BIG KENNY: Yes. Absolutely.

MORGAN: Do you vote?

BIG KENNY: I think everybody should vote.

MORGAN: Who do you vote for normally?

BIG KENNY: I've always voted for the best person, what -- the one that -- that moved me, that I felt would inspire me and would inspire everything else around me. But I don't --

MORGAN: Did you vote for Obama?

BIG KENNY: I don't think that's proper for you to even ask that.

MORGAN: What?

BIG KENNY: No, I don't -- I don't think it's proper for you to ask that.

MORGAN: Why?

BIG KENNY: I really don't.

MORGAN: You just told me --

RICH: Go behind the curtain.

BIG KENNY: Because then you go back -- you kind of -- you know, it's odd, you know? You need to go back and go back and go back. You can't make an index based on one thing. You need to go --

RICH: But in all fairness -- in all fairness, Piers can't even vote.

BIG KENNY: Yes. Well, there you have it.

MORGAN: Exactly.

RICH: It's a little aggravating to you. It's got to be.

BIG KENNY: Matter of fact.

RICH: Right, Piers.

BIG KENNY: Let's see that card.

RICH: See, that was good.

(LAUGHTER)

BIG KENNY: Huh? Let's see that card you've got.

RICH: Careful. You know.

MORGAN: I feel like we're getting off on the wrong footing here.

BIG KENNY: What? No. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.

RICH: Do you guys need to get --

BIG KENNY: You look like you need a --

(CROSSTALK)

RICH: Give Piers a hug.

BIG KENNY: Come here. Give me love in the house.

RICH: There you go.

MORGAN: Why do I feel --

(CROSSTALK)

RICH: Look at that. Yes.

MORGAN: Why do I feel I'm losing control of this interview?

RICH: Ladies and gentlemen, Piers Morgan received a hug. My god, is that the first time anyone has hugged you in your life?

BIG KENNY: Probably.

MORGAN: Is it time for a commercial break, so I could cry desperately?

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: John, since you and I go back --

BIG KENNY: I'm not ever going to be afraid.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Kenny is loud.

BIG KENNY: Say what I want to say.

MORGAN: Kenny, you're on CNN, not MTV.

RICH: You see what I'm talking about?

BIG KENNY: I love CNN, by the way. And I told you I love the -- your staff, the colors, everything.

MORGAN: The interesting --

BIG KENNY: You rock.

MORGAN: Thank you. You rock, too. Quite literally. Now let's politics. John, I want to talk to you about this for a moment because the interesting part of your dynamic, I think, is the fact that you do disagree about politics and you're not afraid to express opinions. Harking who you actually vote for to one side, what are the issues that you really are divided over, would you say?

RICH: Well, I can tell you that the issues that we hear, we -- you know, we tour like crazy, 60 some odd cities this year all over the United States. And so the people that come to our shows, what's really great about making music is 20,000 people out there, it's not a political crowd. These are music lovers. So you've got every walk of politics out there. And what we're hearing across the board is I'm going to vote for whoever I think can get my job back.

I mean just these real basic principles that people, I think, are firing on right now, is how do I get my job back, what gets our country back on track, how do we make this a better situation? And I think, to Kenny's point, you've got two completely different ideologies as to how to do that. Everybody knows that. I mean Barack Obama has got his way of doing it. Romney's proposing a different way to do it. And everybody is in the middle going OK, what are we going to do?

And I actually think people that voted for Obama are really being hard core with him about where he's coming from and people that have voted for Republicans in the past are going I don't know, I've got to really take a look at this. To be honest with you, I'm ill, ill and weary of politics. I mean to turn on the TV --

BIG KENNY: We agree.

RICH: -- I just -- I just almost --

BIG KENNY: We agree.

RICH: It just almost gives me a headache to think about turning it on. I'm just weary of it. And I think Americans in general are, no matter what's your affiliation with it. Honestly, I can't stand most of them, regardless of the party.

BIG KENNY: You can take subjects that you would think would start out as John and I are completely far apart and then once we start discussing it, then you find out how much, honestly, we're both kind of saying the same thing.

MORGAN: Who do you think would do a better job with America in relation purely to jobs come the next presidential election?

RICH: I mean if you're asking me that, I think a businessman does, because a businessman creates jobs. He knows how to run a business. The question is now, do we -- do we need the business of the country straightened out? Yes, everybody agrees with that. Then the question is, which guy's business model is the right business model? And I think that's where this thing is going to come down.

MORGAN: Kenny?

BIG KENNY: Well, I think that it's up to each of us. I mean each of us Americans, we're going out -- John and I are trying to expand everything we can and put more entertainers to work, put more musicians to work that we know are talented and all the support staff that go with that. So I kind of come from the theory of no one man can handle so much in their mind, that many details, and be responsible for that much, although that is that calling. But it's up to each and every one of us.

And, you know, John and I, you know, one of the things that's been really important to both of us is children, you know, making sure children everywhere gets something to eat, making sure they've got a little health care, St. Jude, places like that, make sure they get an education. And if we focus right there, then the future becomes a better future, as it's supposed to be. And we believe in better days, brother. We believe in better days.

(LAUGHTER)

BIG KENNY: You've got to believe in better days, man.

MORGAN: Well, we're going to take a short break and come back with even better days after the break. I want to talk about guns and gun control.

RICH: So do I.

MORGAN: Because I reckon you disagree about that. We shall see.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with me now are Big and Rich, together again after a five-year break.

So, gentlemen, we left on a cliffhanger. Let's talk about guns, because you, I am guessing from what I've read and heard about you, are pretty pro the gun lobby. You believe Americans' right to bear arms and all --

RICH: That's the Second Amendment.

MORGAN: I get it. I get it. What is your view?

BIG KENNY: Well, in my home, there on our family farm, seven generations of my family has been on this -- stewarded at this farm in Virginia. But in my home, there is a large chest in this little 1500 square foot house that has every gun in it starting from a BB gun to a pellet to a .22 short to .22 long rifles, to a .410, to all the way up.

I want my children to grow up understanding how to handle those firearms.

MORGAN: Why?

BIG KENNY: Because I want them to understand the safety of it. I know that one day they might grow up to be -- they might like to enjoy the outdoors and hunting and stuff like that, like I grew up hunting and fishing.

MORGAN: But a number of your family went to Virginia Tech, right?

BIG KENNY: Yes.

MORGAN: Well, there was obviously, a --

BIG KENNY: Yes.

MORGAN: A notorious massacre.

BIG KENNY: Yes. My parents actually met each other at Virginia Tech from an extension service meeting that both their fathers were part of. My father went there before he was drafted. My brother --

MORGAN: But when that happened --

BIG KENNY: My brother was there.

MORGAN: Right.

BIG KENNY: When that happened, it broke my heart. I remember the day we're going on a photo shoot.

(CROSSTALK)

RICH: Yes, he came on my bus crying. He was crying. On my bus.

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: And you --

BIG KENNY: No, it's not the gun that hurts.

MORGAN: It's the person. I've heard this --

(CROSSTALK)

BIG KENNY: So do you see -- hey, listen, I could take this bad --

MORGAN: I hate this argument.

BIG KENNY: Brother, these are --

RICH: Why do you hate it?

MORGAN: Let me explain why I hate it.

BIG KENNY: These are concealed weapons right here.

(CROSSTALK) MORGAN: Let me explain --

BIG KENNY: I put them in my pocket.

MORGAN: Hopefully you'll (INAUDIBLE) to it. The reality is this. I have a lot of debate about this on this show. And my position is I don't understand why, when you have, as we saw in Colorado, a young, deranged guy, able to get the kind of ammunition and armory that he could get perfectly legally, without any checks picking him up at all and is going to slaughter a load of Americans, the worst ever single gun incident in the country. Nobody wants to change anything.

BIG KENNY: I don't think you can stop that, though --

(CROSSTALK)

BIG KENNY: Back in the mind.

MORGAN: But, John, but John --

RICH: You can do it with fire.

MORGAN: Right. But worse than that, in Colorado, there's a 44 percent spike, increase in gun sales as a result of it because people bought in to this theory that had everyone in the movie theater been armed, one of them would have shot him. Rather than my guess, which is it would have been even more carnage.

RICH: Even more of a mess.

MORGAN: If they all pulled out guns and started shooting each other. It's the wild West. So I respect the Constitution and the -- Second Amendment. I respect the right of an American to defend themselves in their own homes. I don't respect the right of Americans to go into movie theaters and blow people away --

(CROSSTALK)

BIG KENNY: Absolutely not.

MORGAN: No, because I think if you don't --

RICH: Who respects that? That's not a right to do that.

MORGAN: If you don't do anything --

RICH: That's a crime.

MORGAN: -- to tighten the laws to make it --

RICH: I I would --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: It's not a crime but if doesn't -- RICH: Well, I would liken that to an underage person that scores some alcohol and drinks a fifth of vodka and gets behind the wheel of a car and drives over a bunch of people and kills them. I mean are you going to outlaw alcohol and cars?

MORGAN: Now see, I find that --

(CROSSTALK)

RICH: I mean that the -- that's the deadliest --

MORGAN: I think it's a fatuous argument.

BIG KENNY: I was 16 years old --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Guns are very different.

BIG KENNY: -- go get wood if it hadn't been for 22, we wouldn't eat.

RICH: I can tell you this, as a guy that has a 2-and-a-half-year-old son and a 11-month-old son and as a guy who's high profile like me, a lot of people know who I am and I have people following me down the road sometimes. And I'm putting gas in my car and shady people come up and go, you know who that is? And I hear them talking.

I can tell you, if anybody ever breached my home and came in, they -- I would be unloading on them. I would never apologize --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: You would shoot them dead?

RICH: Absolutely. I would unload on them out of protecting my family, protecting what's most important to me. It's my right. It's my duty as their daddy to protect them from evil and violence that comes to the world.

MORGAN: How do you stop the kind of thing we see in --

RICH: You understand me? I will never apologize for that, for defending my family, ever.

MORGAN: No, I hear this from a lot of Americans. And they say keep your --

RICH: I don't know how there's a debate --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: They tell me --

RICH: But how do you think you could tighten the laws up?

MORGAN: -- keep your limey Brit nose out of it. But here's my problem, I love America. I love the American people. But when you have 11,000 to 12,000, on average, murdered every year compared to 35 in Britain, from guns, I say, come on. Wake up. Smell the coffee. Do something to at least try and stop the explosion in the number of firearms --

BIG KENNY: Is the total murder rate --

MORGAN: -- of people using it.

BIG KENNY: Is the total murder rate that different?

MORGAN: Yes.

BIG KENNY: Total, though, from any kind of --

RICH: Well, from guns. They're killing each other with knives and bats.

BIG KENNY: Yes.

MORGAN: Well, they're not, though. They're not. That's not true.

BIG KENNY: So it is a drastic difference. What would you -- what would you suggest, Piers?

MORGAN: I think that you've got to bring in new gun laws which prohibit the purchase of assault weapons, for example; the purchase of 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet, as that Colorado assassin was able to get perfectly legally.

Most of the gun outrage since I've been doing this show on CNN, in America, have been by people perfectly legally purchasing their guns, even though most of them are clearly mentally disturbed.

BIG KENNY: Yes.

MORGAN: And I say you've got to try and do something.

RICH: I would like to dig one level deeper on what you said. And I'm glad you brought it up, because there are things out there like that massacre in Colorado that you just -- I don't care what your politics are or what your views are on anything.

BIG KENNY: That hurts.

RICH: You shake your head at the -- at the inhumanity --

BIG KENNY: My hat's off.

(CROSSTALK)

RICH: -- of what that is. And so this song that we have out, it's called "That's Why I Pray." And it talks about all the things that we're talking about right now, how off the chart they are. As human beings, you can't even get your head wrapped around it. It's so big that all you can do is pray for better days. And the power of prayer is real. We believe in it. We pray. We pray for better days and hope that other people do, too. That's what -- that's what this song that's out right now is about. That's why we're talking to you, because this song has taken off across America because of the message of it, because of exactly what you're talking about.

MORGAN: Well, your new album, "Hillbilly Jedi" --

RICH: Music.

MORGAN: I have no idea what you were on when you came up with that title.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: But I want some of that.

RICH: Do you know what a hillbilly is, Piers?

MORGAN: I know what a hillbilly is.

RICH: OK. Do you know what a Jedi is?

(CROSSTALK)

RICH: George Lucas gave us permission to use this --

MORGAN: I never met a hillbilly Jedi.

RICH: Thank you, George.

BIG KENNY: Yes. Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Guys, it's been a pleasure talking to you.

RICH: God bless you, Piers.

BIG KENNY: Absolutely.

RICH: Thanks. Appreciate it.

MORGAN: I thank you, John. I thank you, Kenny.

BIG KENNY: Absolutely. God bless you, Piers.

MORGAN: Thanks for the hug and the kiss.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: "Hillbilly Jedi" drops on September 18th.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When things really began to change, it was the social culture changes. I think "Will & Grace" probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody else has ever done so far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Vice President Joe Biden on NBC's "Meet the Press," crediting the hit sitcom "Will & Grace" for changing the conversation in America on being gay. And since then, President Obama made his support of same-sex marriage public.

Joining me now the Emmy-winning creators of "Will & Grace," David Kohan and Max Mutchnick.

What a moment that must have been. I mean I was watching it live when they -- when they aired the interview. And all I could think when he said it was -- I wonder how the writers of "Will & Grace" feel about that, because what an incredible affirmation, really, of what I guess you were trying to achieve with the show.

MAX MUTCHNICK, CO-CREATOR, "WILL AND GRACE": Yes, I mean, personally, I nearly fell out of bed. I mean I -- I heard --

And it was 2:00 in the afternoon.

(LAUGHTER)

MUTCHNICK: You know, we heard the vice president talk about this at a private fundraiser about a week earlier and thought that that was the end of it, and then to turn on the television in the morning as we do to watch "Meet the Press" and to see that he still was talking about it, I just -- I couldn't believe it.

MORGAN: It was. It was an amazing moment, wasn't it?

KOHAN: I wanted to -- I wanted to hire his speechwriter, quite frankly.

(LAUGHTER)

KOHAN: It was. It was. I mean it was never something we had set out to do to change any conversation, we just wanted people to like the show.

MORGAN: I wondered that. What do you feel about President Obama's position on this? He came out with this big statement and everybody went, wow, that's incredible, endorsed everything to do with gay rights. He hadn't really. All of it was language.

MUTCHNICK: Yes.

MORGAN: I mean in the end of it, does it come to legislation? Is that what you want to see?

MUTCHNICK: I actually feel totally responsible for where he's at. (LAUGHTER)

MUTCHNICK: I feel like our -- we made this happen, right? Really for the United States. No. All I can hope for is that partners does for President Obama what "Will & Grace" did for the vice president, because it's just been amazing to hear such a high-profile figure talk about a television show.

I mean, you know, it was -- it was similar to listening to Dan Quayle talk about "Murphy Brown." You know? It's just doesn't go on in the world. And to think that these -- you know, these comedies that we're writing, you know, in the valley are getting the kind of eyeballs on them. It was just a remarkable thing for us.

KOHAN: Talk matters. I mean it does the -- it's more than just lip service because it's coming from the mouth of the president of the United States, but ultimately, yes, legislation is what really counts. We have a writer in our room who was talking about selling his house. He's a man who's married to another man in a state that recognizes that, and could not get the tax break. I mean it's a little thing. But it is -- but it's a thing, you know. And -- and we're this -- you know, if there was federal legislation in place, he wouldn't be talking about that.

MORGAN: And obviously if we get a Republican administration, with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, I mean they've both made their opinions on gay rights pretty loudly clear.

MUTCHNICK: Yes.

MORGAN: They're not going to be friends of the gay community at all. I mean quite the contrary. Are you nervous, do you think? I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

MUTCHNICK: Oh, it scares me quite a bit.

MORGAN: The good work that has been done could just evaporate.

MUTCHNICK: I mean they are in the process of trying to take away rights. And that's what scares me about that ticket, you know. They are very clear, you know, about wanting to put something into the Constitution that would limit rights, and that's not going to be good, and I feel like when you go into that booth and you vote, you have to think about that, you have to think about your son or your -- you know, your doctor, or your postman.

And are you comfortable with the idea of bringing in a group of people that want to take away their rights. And I'm concerned.

MORGAN: The most unusual partners because it's been incredibly six years since "Will & Grace" was last airing new shows on American television. It seems like it's always on. It just seems like -- you know, like you've never been away. That you have been away and you come back with "Partners." Tell me about that. KOHAN: We -- you know, it -- we wanted to do a story about our relationship. It was a gay guy and a straight guy, and we've been friends since we were kids. And it seems --

MORGAN: What, 30 years?

KOHAN: Yes.

MUTCHNICK: Yes.

KOHAN: More than that, actually. Yes. Probably about 35 years. And we're only 37, so --

(LAUGHTER)

KOHAN: That's amazing.

MUTCHNICK: Remarkable.

KOHAN: But we -- not even thinking of it in terms of the next step, because it's not the next step. It just seemed to me that it was an interesting dynamic and one that we hadn't seen on television before.

MUTCHNICK: I think it's out there. I mean I think that it exists, it's just that nobody has -- nobody has written about it yet, and so we live it and why not --

MORGAN: Well, let's take a -- let's a little watch of a clip from "Ours."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's been really stressed out lately because the store is in trouble and she has a lot riding on some buyer that's coming by to see her today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this story isn't about you or me in the next 30 seconds I'm going to kill myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyway, she had a couple of glasses of wine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mean four?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was three.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was four. Girlfriend likes her liquor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And out of nowhere, she tells me she wants to get married, and she wants kids now, like now, so does this play me or trade me ultimate on the table and I'm just -- I'm not ready for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I mean it's got that kind of pacey (ph) rhythm. I loved "Will & Grace," inevitably you'll get comparisons. But it's a very different kind of show, a different premise to it. But what do you -- I mean given that you have led the vice president on your last show making the comment of the effect you had on the American society, is there anything about this show where you can imagine in 10 years' time somebody is saying something similar? Is there a point to it that could really resonate?

KOHAN: I -- my hope would be that it -- that it actually -- that society is so receptive to the idea that it doesn't make a point, you know? In 10 years, if -- if this is -- if it's not something that is worthy of public discussion, I think that's hopefully a good thing. I don't see it happening in the next 10 years.

MORGAN: Well, listen, I can't wait to watch it, it's called "Partners," It premiers Monday, September 24th on CBS.

Been a real pleasure.

MUTCHNICK: Looking forward.

MORGAN: Been big fans of yours for a long time.

MUTCHNICK: Thank you.

KOHAN: Thank you.

MORGAN: Thank you for coming in.