On Larry King’s last show, you said you were in the Leno camp in the whole Leno-Conan situation. That surprised some people.
The whole idea that Leno was taking away Conan’s dream—it’s Jay Leno’s job to safeguard his dream? This is show business. It’s cutthroat and competitive! I thought it said so much about that younger generation that is Conan’s fan base—their issue of “the baby-boomers took everything good and there’s nothing left for us. There they go taking all the jobs!” Somebody who got a $32 million payout was a peculiar person to put up as a victim.
Your show, more than any other, has given voice to progressive frustration with the Obama administration and feckless Democrats, which was once again stoked during Obama’s December cave-in on tax cuts for the wealthy. Do you agree, as many in the mainstream media have said, that the disillusioned left just needs to live in the real world?
I like Obama a lot and appreciate the difficulties he’s had to work with. And I know he knows things that I don’t. But when he was talking about giving in to the Bush tax cuts and said, “This reminds me of the fight for the public option,” I wanted to say, “Yeah, exactly! You blew that one, too.” People say they miss Rahm Emanuel; I say this administration needs Ari Emanuel, an agent who knows how to negotiate. Unlike the Republicans, the Dems don’t get that you have to start negotiating from a far-end position. Right after I read about Derek Jeter’s deal, I thought, Now here’s how the Republicans would have played Jeter—just like his agent did. They asked for $24 million for five years for a guy who is in the twilight of his brilliant career. Ridiculous. But Jeter’s agent knew the Yankees would come back to what they got, $16 million for three years. Obama would have asked for $16.5 million and gotten $450,000 for one year.