October 22, 2009 CNN Gore Vidal gives Joy Behar her best interview to date! Transcript via Nexis Lexis: BEHAR: This man once said once that his gre
October 23, 2009

October 22, 2009 CNN

Gore Vidal gives Joy Behar her best interview to date!

Transcript via Nexis Lexis:

BEHAR: This man once said once that his greatest achievement was not killing anyone. Let`s hope that doesn`t change tonight. I`ve been an admirer of his for years, celebrated essayist, novelist, playwright, satirist. We don`t have enough space on the prompter to fill in everything that this guy has done. His new memoir is titled "Gore Vidal snapshots in history`s glare". Welcome to the show. It`s a pleasure to have you on the show.

GORE VIDAL: It`s a joy to me, Joy, to be on your show.

BEHAR: Now, I started with you wanted to kill somebody. You have anybody in mind right now?

VIDAL: Yes. Of course I do. Nobody present.

BEHAR: Nobody present that`s good.

VIDAL: We have to go to the district of Columbia where I go to work to cleanse the Republic.

BEHAR: OK so you don`t want to name names?

VIDAL: No, I won`t name names.

BEHAR: All right. Now let`s talk about -- I`ll name a couple of names. Barack Obama.

VIDAL: I like him. I wish he knew more about the United States because I was for Hillary at the beginning on the grounds she knew how to be President. Having sort of done the job as a spouse. And -- and I realized that he`s to intelligence for the job.

BEHAR: Obama is --

VIDAL: Well of course. The worst educated population of any first world country. And I hope you`re listening and I hope you know that your lack of education is the joke of the world. It`s not a very nice joke.

BEHAR: You`re talking to the Americans now.

VIDAL: The Americans, yeah.

BEHAR: Do they make fun of us in Italy where you lived for all those years?

VIDAL: No, cause Italians are kind.

BEHAR: But I think you have a point. He`s a little too smart for the country in a certain way. I mean after Bush, I don`t know if the country could take the shock of such a smart guy.

VIDAL: Well he didn`t. What happened was, for the first time the American people are people. We`re listening on primetime to a President of the United States duly elected officially, anyway -- duly elected president who is speaking as one intelligent, well-educated man to his fellows. Well, they never heard anyone like that.

Now since I`m president, you got that. I`m a wartime president. And he`s marching along there. And let me tell you, if we don`t fight them over here, we`re going to have to fight them here. I`m all for fighting them right here at that moment, you know? But I couldn`t jump into the screen fast enough to kill him off. That`s one murder that I missed not committing. yeah, too late anyway.

BEHAR: Yes well, it`s too late anyway.

VIDAL: Right.

BEHAR: So Obama, the other thing about him is he`s always trying to be bipartisan. You know?

VIDAL: It don`t work.

BEHAR: It`s not working.

VIDAL: No. And I think he realized it`s not working. And feels like he`s been President, you know, since McKinley. And I wish him well. And he comes up with nice ideas. But this health care thing has me in knots. My brain is in knots. Well when I think about it I can --

BEHAR: It does?

VIDAL: I don`t know what it means.

BEHAR: None of us understand it.

VIDAL: No I think it`s to our credit that we don`t. I mean we aren`t working for the banks that we got - what was this $700 trillion or something?

BEHAR: Yeah.

VIDAL: From the previous Administration? Which was, god, they were generous to a fault.

BEHAR: Oh they loved to give money to the rich in this country.

VIDAL: Oh well the rich deserve the money. You see, if you`re a Protestant, I suspect you might be catholic -- we Protestants Italians are Protestants and Protestants firmly believe if you`re a good person, you`re rich.


VIDAL: If you`re a poor person, you`re poor.

BEHAR: And you deserve to be -

VIDAL: Otherwise, God wouldn`t have made you that way.

BEHAR: That`s right. That`s Calvinism.

VIDAL: Oh, honey, I knew you`d drop his name. Are you still dating him?

BEHAR: No. You know what he -- he wasn`t that good in bed.

VIDAL: Well, I don`t know, everybody swore by him. But Washington and the old days. But it`s the new regime now.

BEHAR: Last night at the Y -- or the night before whenever it was, it was interesting. We were talking about comedy cause you`re very funny and you`re a satirist. And I`m in the comedy business myself even though you can`t tell from this interview.

VIDAL: I can tell.

BEHAR: Anyway, you said something interesting. You said comedy is cruel. Now, that would make Dick Cheney funny. And he`s not.

VIDAL: Well come on, Vice President of the United States, a working sadist? Who`s trying to get more prisons to lock up people to give them the water treatment? I mean come on. I can`t think of any higher comedy that we`ve had.

BEHAR: It`s a riot, all right.

VIDAL: Wow. That`s about as funny as it gets, you know?

BEHAR: And so, that`s -- the other thing I want to ask you, so many things I could stay here all day. But you -- you have a long-time partner, Howard - I read you said the secret to the success of the relationship was no sex.

VIDAL: Well of course.

BEHAR: Ever.

VIDAL: I thought it was clear.

BEHAR: I`m not sure if it petered out like everybody else`s.

VIDAL: We were virgins.

BEHAR: That`s a platonic relationship. No? Or do you call it a love match?

VIDAL: Well I never knew what Plato was up to. We only have his word for it.

BEHAR: So, that`s interesting. So you were able to really stay together, because there was none of that sexual jealousy going on.

VIDAL: Oh no.

BEHAR: None of that.

VIDAL: Imagine being jealous of anybody over sex of all things?

BEHAR: It happens all the time.

VIDAL: I know it does which reminds you if you just go out into the street and grab something passing by - you know you`re just off because you were -

BEHAR: That`s true

VIDAL: Because you were there looking out.

BEHAR: That`s a good point. And I presume from that, that you`re not interested in gay marriage in any way, it doesn`t interest you?

VIDAL: Oh, no. Both put me to sleep.

BEHAR: Okay. We`ll have more with refreshingly and brutally candid Gore Vidal coming up.


VIDAL: I don`t think that novel it`s our tradition anymore. I think our tradition now has shifted in my life time we were at the center stage novelist. Poets have been pushed out there to one side. In my lifetime, I`ve watched the novelists being push off to the periphery and what do we have at the center, we have the film auteur. Which is one of the most ridiculous expressions on earth because of the movie culture.



I happen to believe that the United States policy is wrong in Vietnam and the Vietcong are correct in wanting to organize their own way politically. This happens to be pretty much the opinion of Western Europe and many other parts of the world. It is the novelty in Chicago that is too bad, but I assume that it is the point of the American Democracy --

Shut up a minute.

No, I won`t.

Some people were Nazi, and I`m for ostracizing people that egg on other people to shoot American marines and American soldiers.

Listen, stop calling me a Nazi. You [bleep ] you stay plastered.


BEHAR: So you got along nicely with him?

VIDAL: He was all girl.

BEHAR: You know, after he died, you said, "I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place as he joins those who applauded their prejudices and signing their hatred." You didn`t like this guy, did you?

VIDAL: No, I didn`t.

BEHAR: Before we go, first of all I love the book. It`s beautiful. Everyone should buy this book. It has beautiful pictures of you and your family and your mother, who I read that you really loved your mother.

VIDAL: Just an adorable person, yeah. I saw that little boy, the one in the balloon -- no, I will not talk about him. But the balloon boy. And he`s giving an interview afterwards and he can`t stop throwing up.

BEHAR: I know.

VIDAL: Well, I was like that, not at 6, but at 10 years old. Every time I had to -- my mother was a mad woman, and she was raging all the time. And happily she was drunk most of the time. And I can remember every time I had to say something to her, which was not very often, if I could help it. I would start vomiting

BEHAR: Really?

VIDAL: Yes. If she were a modern mother, she might have said, there`s something wrong here.

BEHAR: But she didn`t?

VIDAL: No, she changed the cook. Who was actually quite good.

BEHAR: Okay, there`s one more quote I want to run by you. This is something that I read a long time ago, from Da Vinci and it always keeps me thinking, maybe it won`t be so bad after I`m dead because he said " a well spent day" - just says "a well spent day brings a happy sleep. So a well spent life brings a happy death." And I thought what a great thing to believe. Do you believe that?

VIDAL: Well, we have an old Italian expression for it in Italy. It means, he`s just whistling dixie.

BEHAR: So much for the great Da Vinci.

VIDAL: Lenny was cool.

BEHAR: Lenny was something. Thanks for doing this with me. I always enjoy watching you. I interviewed you years ago on the radio. You told me last night I looked different on the radio. That was good.

VIDAL: Superb while you were there. I thought just wise.

BEHAR: OK thanks everybody for joining me tonight. And thank you for watching. Everybody, good night and good luck. Who said that?

VIDAL: Edward R. Morrow.

BEHAR: Oh, yes.

Can you help us out?

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