Jay Leno phoned up the LA Weekly's Nikki Finke to talk about media and politics after she wrote about him and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Weekly put the resulting sit-down interview up on the website earlier today, she let the Drudge Report know it was there, and apparently the servers crashed under the load. It's available now.
Some excerpts of their conversation:
Do you think if you were perceived as bashing Bush, you would get as many corporate gigs as you do?
Um, if I were perceived as bashing anybody, I wouldnít be a comedian. You know I did the White House Correspondentsí Dinner this year, and this is the most partisan crowd. You do a joke about Bush, and half of them sit like this [his hands are in his lap] and the other half are applauding. And then I do Kerry jokes, and half the people are like this [his hands are in his lap again]. Itís like the most juvenile atmosphere you could possible imagine. And every now and then you do a joke that will cross both sides, so they both laugh. Did I give you the Nancy Reagan example? Years ago, I did a White House Correspondentsí Dinner, and it was when Reagan was in office. I said Nancy Reagan had won the Humanitarian of the Year award. Iím so glad she beat out that conniving little bitch Mother Teresa. Well, everyone applauded because itís so ridiculous. Even people who were Republicans laughed at it.
But Iím not the only journalist who has perceived for a while that you seem to be bashing Clinton as if it were back in the Clinton administration instead of bashing Bush.
Now when you say bashing Clinton, I never questioned his patriotism. If you take doing the occasional sex joke, to me thatís not bashing. I will never denigrate or make fun of John Kerryís service record. He is a true hero who served his country. I may make fun of the fact he mentions it a lot. But I will never call his character into question. I heard some guy on talk radio the other day going on about Kerryís medals being phony. Now, I wonít even do jokes about that because I donít want to plant that seed.
I suspect that Letterman is more anti-Bush than you.
Does he show his dislike maybe a little more than I do? Probably. But to me, Dave is a TV broadcaster. I am a comedian. Itís just different. My job is to get laughs. For what Iím doing, sometimes sarcasm and irony do not work as well as a joke. But I donít think our politics are probably much different. Iím also at a disadvantage. Because you know you can never ask Dave to answer any of these questions.
People always say that you canít stand it if people donít like you.
I donít mind that people donít like me. I donít like them not to like me for the wrong reason. If someone says, ďI donít like Jay Leno because heís a conservative,Ē I call him and I go, ďIím not conservative. Iíve never voted that way in my life. Where do you get that from?Ē I explain my position, and thereís not much more I can do. When my wife got involved in helping the women in Afghanistan, I took a lot of flack for that for my obvious left-wing leanings. ďLeno and his left-wing buddies helping Afghanistan rather than the children here.Ē I got beat up for weeks for that. Just like the Arnold thing. But enough time goes by and people forget that. Arnold was the last thing to happen, so people are still on that.
Post edited 3:10 p.m.