BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Jim Hightower, author of "There's Nothing In The Middle Of The Road
But Yellow Stripes And Dead Armadillos." What's an armadillo?
Mr. JIM HIGHTOWER ("There's Nothing In The Middle Of The Road But Yellow Stripes And Dead Armadillos"): It is a prehistoric critter
that is kind of the state critter of Texas.
LAMB: Where did you get this title?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, it actually is something that was said to me
after I had gotten elected agriculture commissioner in the state of
Texas. There's a phenomena, Brian, in Texas politics called `getting
well,' those lobbyists who opposed you when you ran come around and
try to make amends. And a particularly a smarmy one, who had opposed
me with a vengeance came up and said, `Well, Hightower, we can get
along with you, I guess, if you'll move over to the middle of the
road.' And I was laughing with a farmer friend of mine from out west
Texas about this later and he said, `Oh, hell, Hightower, there's
nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead
armadillos. So get out there with your friends and let's fight the
LAMB: Does anybody else use this--that saying or is it--is it yours
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yeah, this is pretty much mine. Yeah, mine and this
farmer's. I owe this farmer.
LAMB: Where--where did you grow up?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Grew up in Denison, Texas, north of Dallas, right on
the Oklahoma border. We considered ourselves the first line of
defense against the Okies back then.
LAMB: And--and what kind of a childhood did you have?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: It was just typical idealistic, little--growing up in
a middle-class family and my mother and father were small
businesspeople. Ran--ultimately ran the Main Street newsstand there.
And--but they were folks who constantly were hav--having fights with
the powers that be. So the populism that I express in this book and
in my radio work and politics comes honestly. It's not something I
learned in college. Daddy was always having to fight the downtown
crowd and deal with the bankers--go hat in hand to the bankers to get
his business loans. Then the chain stores came in. So instead of
dealing with a--a--a grocery store owner or something there in town,
he'd have to send forms in triplicate to Dallas to--to get his
So he was always having to--to fight against the--what he considered
the--the power establishment at the time. Then also, Brian, the
culture was full of this as well; the kind of mainstream Methodist
church I went to--fairly bland, actually. But--but the minister, more
often than not, had that kind of radicalism of Jesus, you know, being
taught in the sermons. The likelihood of a rich man going into heaven
as likely as a camel going through the eye of a needle. That kind of
thing was taught. And then a sense, too, of--of the music, which was
country music and blues music that had a--a working-class attitude
against the powers that be.
LAMB: What is a populist?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, it's really somebody who believes in the power
of the people as opposed to some liberals who will look at a problem
and s--say, `Well, we've--we've got to create some bureaucracy to deal
with this problem,' or the conservatives who will say, `Well, that's
the way it works. Tough luck.' A populist tries to empower people to
be able to--to help themselves. But it's also--its focus is to take
on c--economic concentration, not just look at--some of these other
radio commentators, right wing, will say, `Well, the problem's
Washington. You got to do something about Washington.'
Well, the problem is Washington but it's--you--you've really got to
look at who's pulling the strings of those puppets here in the capitol
city. And more often than not those are strings of money leading up
to Wall Street.
LAMB: Why do you think we have so much concentration?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I think today--well, al--we always--we go through
these cycles in our history because it's the nature of--of a
capitalist system for power to concentrate. You play that game of
Monopoly--you know, the objective of the game of Monopoly is to
control everything. And that's pretty much how it works in the real
world as well. The difference has been that periodically we have
people's rebellion when the powers that be reach too far--the
corporate interests go too far.
There is a political rebellion and there are parties that fight to
control the excesses of--of that corporate power. And that's what's
missing today. And that's what I talk about in this book. And it's
why I reserve my most heated verbiage for Bill Clinton rather than
Newt Gingrich. I mean, to me--yeah, Newt Gingrich is wacky as can be
but he's doing what he's supposed to do. H--his party is supposed to
represent the corporate elite. My party, the Democratic Party, is
supposed to stand for the working stiffs and for the environment, for
old folks and children. But instead they've taken off those Sears
Roebuck work boots and strapped on the same boots Guccis and Puccis
that the Republicans are running around in.
LAMB: Now Bill Clinton called you in 1994 for what reason?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, I had a radio show at the time, a--a weekend
show, that was on ABC. And he was getting beat about the head and
ears by Rush Limbaugh and other--and other commentators and talk show
hosts and he was getting very upset about this and--and not knowing
what to do. This was a new thing. And he feel--felt very beat up on.
And so some of his folks said, `Well, call Hightower. He's got this
show and he's on the air.' So he called and said, you know, kind of,
`What should I do about this?' And my recommendation was that he go on
the radio show with them. Indeed, that--instead of doing that
Saturday morning kind of stiff, informal--What is it?--five minutes, I
guess, that the president gets on radio on Saturday mornings--that was
started by the Gipper, by Ronald Reagan who was very good at those
presentations, but for Clinton, he would be much better to do an
hour-long Saturday morning talk show.
He's a talky Southern kind of guy, you know? He--I think he would do
very well on the radio. And--and then I thought, you know, maybe
talking to Tom in Tupelo might kind of loosen him up a little bit,
might even make him a Democrat. And so--so I urged him to do that.
But, of course, instead, tighter minds in the White House got around
him and said, `No. What we need to do is to attack the talk radio
show people,' not understanding that if you attack the hosts, you're
also attacking the 40 million people a week who are listening to those
LAMB: Did he go on your show?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: He did. For--for one time we had him on. And--and
it went very well. He loved it, in fact. And I thought maybe, you
know, it would develop into something, a--a kind of p--positive
offensive on talk radio rather than a defensive posture. But it shows
how much influence I have in the White House.
LAMB: Where do you live now?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I live in Austin, Texas. I broadcast a daily radio
show out there, "Hightower's Chat and Chew." We literally are coming
from a restaurant in Austin called Threadgills. We broadcast, Brian,
from Threadgills' world headquarters on the top floor from the Chat
and Chew. Th--it's a one-story building, but it's radio, so...
LAMB: Well, who hears it?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: We're all across the country, 86 markets by the
latest count, Maine to Maui as we like to say. And it's--is available
also on the Internet at jimhightower.com through real audio you can
get my program.
LAMB: But you write in the book, of course, about the episode you had
with the ABC networks.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yes. Right.
LAMB: When did that happen?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: That was in 1995 and that's in the section there
where I'm dealing about the conglomeratization of our media and the
concentration of our media, which is a little more important than
automobiles and--and even computer chips because you're talking about
people's access to information through which we're supposed to have a
democratic process. Things are going swimmingly with ABC. I had a
weekend show Saturdays and Sundays; was all across the country in good
markets, adding markets.
ABC had just been down to visit with me and say, `Well, things
are--we--we're--really like the show. We think it's going to work.
And we're in it for the long haul. It's going to be a slow bill but
we're with you on it.' And then on--I believe it was August 1st, it
was announced that Disney Inc. was taking over ABC. And that same
week the telecommunications bill passed the US Senate, an issue we'd
been following and criticizing. So I went on the air on Saturday
criticizing both the ABC merger and the passage of the
telecommunications bill as being a shrinkage of American democracy,
something that was detrimental to our society, and allowed as how I
now work for a rodent and--and even had a little Mickey Mouse
character. It turns out Mickey didn't have a real sense of humor
about this. So there was a chilling of my relationship with ABC, not
really over that show but over the notion that--in--in my view what
happened is that the powers that be decided that the one thing they
don't want talked about on their network was big money interests, and
that was essentially what my show was about.
Their radio ownership is willing to have liberals on and--if they'll
talk about welfare and immigration and people fighting each other.
But once you all begin to look up and say, `Wait a minute. There's
the powers that be and we've got to talk about that,' that's one thing
that they don't want discussed on their air. So I was punted.
LAMB: What did they tell you?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: They told me that--that we weren't getting stations
fast enough, that suddenly, af--after having just a month before said,
`We're in this for the long run. There'll be a slow build but it's
going to work. We are adding stations,' now they came in and said,
`Well, it's not working. We're not getting the advertising,' even
though I had suggested advertisers for them, some of whom they had not
approached, and others who had approached them. For example, some
labor unions had wanted to advertise and ABC rejected that on the
basis that it would be advocacy advertising.
LAMB: Go through the populist issues. What are they?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, fundamentally the--the big one today is class
war--the fact that we have a class war being waged and has been for
the last 20, 25 years but not as is classically imagined, the--the
masses rebelling, but, in fact, the elites from their bastions of
power and privilege in Washington and on Wall Street lobbing bomb
after bomb at the people. The massive layoffs and downsizings, taking
g--jobs out of this country, exploiting Third World workers, paying
just abysmally low wages even by the standards of those foreign
nations, those impoverished countries, and then using those wages to
come back here and say, `Now we're going to knock your wages down,
too, because you've got to compete in this global economy,' just
all--all kinds of economic bombs being fired at the people themselves.
The--the welfare reform bill, which said to a million welfare moms,
`Get a job' when they knew there were no jobs out there and they also
knew that putting a million welfare moms on the--into the workplace at
the same time was going to further depress the wages of people who
were trying to get jobs out here. So th--that's what I mean by class
war and the rebellion of people willing to--to take--now is
being--beginning to take place, that people are saying, `Hey, we're
going to start fighting back in the class war.' And we've had some
recent examples of that.
LAMB: In that section where you talk about class warfare, and "How Do
You Spell Boss" is the title of...
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yes.
LAMB: ...this essay, you say CEOs now average $4.3 million in pay,
225 times what workers down on the factory floor are paid. What's
wrong with that?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: It is--well, what's wrong with it is it goes against
a fundamental principle of our society and that is that we're all in
this together; that what's happening today is that the gain is being
generated by the many--and even the CEOs admit, indeed, worker
productivity is up. The workers in this country are doing a great
job. But, hey, adios chump. They're taking the money. Virtually all
of those economic gains have been hauled off by the CEOs and the
largest investors at the top. And then they turn and fire h--hundreds
of thousands, even millions, in a year's time, the people who produce
So it's not--it's not that CEOs are making money, as I point out in
another section, Brian. Some people say, `Money is the root of all
evil.' But that's not what the Bible says. It says, `The love of
money is the root of all evil.' And those who love money are having an
orgy today. It's the greed that I am against, certainly not making
money. I'm--I'm with Mark Twain on that, who said that, `I'm opposed
to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.'
LAMB: Th--you say this is one reason that so many at Disney and
elsewhere have noted that boss spelled backwards is double S-O-B.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Indeed. Well...
LAMB: How do you get those little sayings?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I steal most of them. I read--I get a bunch just by
being with people as I travel around and also on the radio. I--you
know, people are full of these kinds of--of witticisms and--and offer
'em to me and I very carefully tuck them away in recesses of my mind.
But also if you read the funny pages, if you read sports pages, if
you're just kind of out there with the popular culture, these are the
kind of things that ordinary folks actually say.
LAMB: If you were to get your political heroes in a room...
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Mm.
LAMB: ...how many would be in there and who would they be?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, quite a few. I mean, at one level, it's--it's
everybody who sort of has a fighting spirit in this country and who
fights back against these abuses. But it's--I--I am of the
pamphleteer tradition in this country; Thomas Paine for me, Daniel
Shays and the Shays' Rebellion, and then moving forward into Sojourner
Truth and Frederick Douglass, the--the Populists and the Wobblies,
Socialist Jerry Simpson and Mary Ellen Lees, on into Huey Long and John
L. Lewis and more modern day--Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez.
These are the folks that--that I admire, people who extend democracy.
LAMB: Can you in today's world make it with that kind of an approach?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I think so. I mean, somebody's buying my book. It's
amazing. We're on our third printing, so there are actually people
out there buying the book. And my radio show is out there and
expanding markets. I see myself as a--as a messenger of this
particular viewpoint but also a messenger who tries to connect people
up. It's my belief that we don't have to create a progressive
movement. It's out there. Just about every place that's got a ZIP
code has somebody who's taking on the powers on--fighting on
environmental issues, fighting for neighborhood schools, fighting for
living wages, you know, those kinds of fights, but they're not
connected up. People in Portland, Maine, don't know that people in
Portland, Oregon, are fighting the exact same powers and usually over
many of the same issues. And they don't even know that across town
there are other people who are doing--in these same kinds of fights.
So I see my role as trying to literally connect them up as I do on--on
the radio show when I can literally be on the air with 'em, but then
also through my words to be able to--to give that some perspective and
some value system that's attached to it. And that's what I say in my
speeches, Brian, is that whatever battle you're fighting, if--if it's
about wages, if it's about farmers, you know, getting a fair break,
being able to sustain the family farm, whatever, it comes down to
basic values--things like economic fairness, social justice and equal
opportunity for all people. I think those are the founding values of
our country. And so we need to speak in that language and that
is--those are values that people have in their guts and in their
hearts that--people will respond to that. They will identify
themselves within it. And that's what I've tried to do. I tell a lot
of specific stories in the book and I do talk about outrages, but I
also talk at length about people who are fighting back and who are
winning. There are some wonderful stories in there.
LAMB: You have a quote in here from John Teets of the Dial
Corporation, who says, "I am retiring in a couple of years and I've
got to be thinking about what I'm going to be doing. We're talking
about futures here."
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yes.
LAMB: What was that about?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, this is a man who has laid off quite a few
thousand employees through the Dial Corporation, which is a consumer
product manufacturing outfit, a man who has been very parsimonious
with his employees. I mean, literally scolding memos going out about,
you know, `Don't make any phone calls. Don't you dare take a paper
clip home,' and etc. But there was an incident in which some $10
million of the company's money was invested in the
Diamond--Diamondback Rattlers baseball team that Teets is an owner of.
So this company that's supposedly supposed to be very parsimonious
suddenly is putting $10 million into a baseball team that--that this
guy owns; and that was his response when he was asked by reporters
about, `Isn't there a little hypocrisy here?' He said, `Well, we're
talking about futures, my future.'
LAMB: You also have a whole scenario here on--on a CEO that used to
be involved at Time Warner by the name of--of N.J. Nicholas Jr. who
was ousted in 1992, you say, as president and chief--co-chief exec of
Time Warner, and then you lay out what kind of severance he got.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, it's--it's not like just getting the pink slip,
which is what ordinary working folks have been getting and maybe, you
know, th--three weeks, four weeks severance pay. But he's getting
a--a--a major payoff just straight up front, a...
LAMB: A lump-sum payment of $15.8 million...
Mr. HIGHTOWER: There you go. That's just to start with.
LAMB: ...a $600,000-a-year pension; continued health-care coverage;
stock options worth $8 million; another $5 million worth of Time
Warner stock; an office, a secretary and $6 million of life insurance
policy for two years after his firing; $250,000 a year through 1999 as
Mr. HIGHTOWER: And he's not even the--the golden winner of the--of
the firing game 'cause Michael Ovitz who got fired--or some say fired,
he says quit--from Disney Inc. as number two, having been on the job
barely a year, and by s--many accounts having been quite inept at the
job, he got fired and I believe his payoff was to the tune of $140
million. And so there's a joke going around at Disney instead of
having--putting a sign on somebody's back saying, `Kick me,' you know,
that old joke, people were--executives were putting signs on their
backs saying, `Fire me.' It's a better deal.
LAMB: Why--these are public corporations.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yes.
LAMB: Does that mean anything?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, it means that they're supposed to have a
governing body called the board of directors. But the problem with
that theory is that the chief executives of these companies turn up
putting their golf buddies on their own boards of directors and
people--and executives from other companies on their boards of
directors. So they're--they've kind of got a sweetheart setup to
start with, but then they go further by lavishing benefits on the
boards of directors, so they are loathe to do anything that would
maybe cause a cutback in their actual benefits. And by benefits, I
mean, actual pay that in many cases--above $100,000 a year for a few
hours work a year to come to a board meeting, and then other special
bennies. I know that General Motors gives its members of its boards
of directors a new Cadillac every three months just so that new-car
smell doesn't disappear.
LAMB: You also say that IBM fees for board of directors members,
$91,000 for each; General Electric, $132,000?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Oh, yeah. Astonishing. Yeah.
LAMB: How do you--but if--if you wanted to stop it, how can you stop
it, or should it be stopped?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, it should be stopped, of course. Well, one
thing you can do is stop the tax deductibility of this giveaway. I
mean, it's one thing if they really want to spend their own corporate
funds on this, if the--if the shareholders themselves want to allow
this, though there is a--a--I will say, a rising shareholder rebellion
against these kind of sweetheart deals. But the other thing is, you
know--and if--if boards of directors and shareholders want to pay a--a
chief executive $100 million, which is, you know, not uncommon these
days, that--that the top-paid executive in the country makes that
level of money--fine. But I don't think they ought to be able to
deduct it from their income tax, to shove that burden back on the rest
of us taxpayers. So that's one way to stop it.
LAMB: You quote from time to time, Abraham Lincoln.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yes.
LAMB: And here's one I want to use, "My father taught me to work, but
not to love it. I never did like work and I don't deny it. I'd
rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh, anything but
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Not generally known about the president, but what I'm
talking about there is the--the whole issue of happiness. And, today,
happiness is defined for us as consumption; the amount of toys that
you can amass. Essentially, the American citizen is asked to go to
work and buy. That's pretty much the expectation. And I'm asking in
this book, `Whatever happened to the third inalienable right that was
talked about in the--in the founding days?' which was quite a full
debate because it was life, liberty and property was the--the
contention point. Some wanted property in there. But the one that
carried the day was life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And
that happiness had a very broad meaning. It didn't mean get a job and
buy stuff. It meant being able to have a full life, you know, your
cultural sensibilities being satisfied as well as your financial
needs. That was the pursuit that our country committed itself to back
then. But now that's not even on the table. You do have politicians
come out and ask, `Are you better off than four years ago?' But when's
the last time one came out and said, `Are you happy?'
LAMB: Are you happy?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I am happy because I am doing--I am getting that
enrichment. I'm getting that sense of doing something that is--that
is not only worthwhile in my view and able to reach people in a rather
significant way, but--but also having fun. And my credo, Brian, is
`You can fight the gods and still have fun.' That's very important to
me--to me to be able to enjoy it.
LAMB: Where was this picture taken?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Isn't that handsome? Mm. I'm concerned, though,
Brian, because, you know, I try to--I'm making serious points. I've
got funny and good stories in here, but with that picture I could--I
could be dismissed as a sex object. What do you think?
LAMB: Where was it taken?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I don't even know. HarperCollins came up with it
somewhere. I don't even remember. But it would have been--it's not
a--it's not a--taken for this book, so it would have been in the last
six years or so.
LAMB: Do you have a family?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: No. I'm not married, but I--I have an extended
family that I am very much a part of and very committed to.
LAMB: Go back to the--wh--what day were--did they tell you at ABC
that your show was over?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: That was, like, September of 1995.
LAMB: The next show, with your 86 stations, how did you do that?
What was it--what was the first thing you did when they said it's
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, I got to do nothing because they not only said
it was over, they did not let me go back on the air because they were
afraid of what I was going to say. So that was the--the crude and
rude aspect of it was...
LAMB: And wh--wh--go back and tell the exact story of when it
happened. How did it happen?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, it--it happened a--a--again because,
LAMB: I mean, what--no, what--I'm sorry. The day--somebody call you
on the phone and said it's over?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: No, they--they showed up. A--a vice president of ABC
radio appeared ostensibly to--to talk about some of the show's
promotion and that kind of thing, and--but, basically--and he--and he
did it in a--you know, he was a friend of mine. He's the guy who had
brought me onto the air, and--and said, you know, `We're pulling the
plug on it,' just that straightforward. I mean, this...
LAMB: This was in Austin?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: This was in Austin. He did--you know, took me to
lunch, but even before we ordered, said, `By the way, we're pulling
the plug on the show.' He di--not a guy to beat around the bush, which
I actually did appreciate that.
LAMB: Did you have any inkling that this was coming?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: No. No. B--again, because the show had been doing
well and we had just recently received a--a positive report from ABC
on the performance of the show.
LAMB: So what did you do to--to...
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, I was...
Mr. HIGHTOWER: ...I was in some shock and had to talk to the
people--I mean, there are other people besides me who were involved in
the show, so they were going to have their futures changed very
dramatically, so I had to deal with that. And then I--I wanted to
deal with the way this information got out. I wanted it to go out and
ask that it go out in a joint kind of communique between myself and
ABC, but that is not what happened. Very quickly--they agreed to
that, but very quickly word was leaking out from ABC that--that I was
being punted and there was an effort to put the blame on me, that
Hightower just--it wasn't working, he just wasn't very good
and--and--and the--the--we weren't getting affiliates--we weren't
getting sponsors. So that kind of stuff began to get out. So then I
fought back by putting out my own statements and talking to the media
about, you know, what had actually gone on there. And the good news
was that within a year's time I was back on the air through United
Broadcasting Network with a--my "Hightower's Chat and Chew," and--and
even a better format because instead of it just being weekends, I'm
every day for two hours.
LAMB: Now how did you do that?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, it--they actually came to me, in part, because
I did have an audience out there. I mean, there--and there were--you
know, we did a good show and there were people who liked the viewpoint
and clearly a--a listenership for that viewpoint. So a couple of
networks, actually, were approaching me to--to do another show, but
this particular one, United Broadcasting Network, came along and they
were very entrepreneurial and had the kind of feisty attitude and even
to some degree the politics that I had. So I--I'm--I had less fear
with them that the same s--scenario was going to be repeated that I
went through with ABC, in part because among the other ways
that--including advertising, that United Broadcasting Network gets its
revenue is it's kind of like a home-shopping channel of radio. You
can call an (800) number and get a catalog that has `made in the USA'
products. Everything in there made in the USA, 70 percent of 'em
union made. So it's a--a lot of people search for that, so it's a
niche in the marketplace, a very clever way to--to find a way to
finance a--a broadcast that takes a--an anti-corporate viewpoint,
since they're usually the advertiser.
You know, my momma taught me years ago that two wrongs don't make a
right, but I soon figured out that three left turns do. And--and that
seemed to be a three-left-turn kind of cleverness that United
Broadcasting Network came up with, so I joined with them.
LAMB: And who owns the network?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Several different investors are in it, but among
them, that's another point, is the United Autoworkers. So th--it has
ownership that is also supportive of the kind of anti-global greed
politics that I talk about on the show.
LAMB: And how long has it been a network?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: It has been a network for a long time. It has--it
was previously called the People's Radio Network and then changed
ownership about a year and a half ago, if I got my dates right here,
and I've been on the air about a year and three months now.
LAMB: Is this the old Chuck--Chuck Harter home?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yeah. The old Chuck Harter station. And--and
Chuck's still on the radio on another network.
LAMB: And what time of day are you on?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: East Coast time would be noon to 2. And then time
zones work it across the country.
LAMB: Wh--what have you learned about what gets people's attention?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, radio is, as L--Rush Limbaugh keeps saying, and
he's right, and as basically all program directors say, radio is about
entertainment. I mean, people do ten--tune in to get information, but
it's also got to be presented to them in a way that they might want to
receive it. And so I've learned to have fun. You know, the show--the
PBS show, "Car Talk," Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers? There's
apparently actually been some timing done of their show that shows
that a third of their hour broadcast is them laughing. You know,
so--so we--we don't go quite that far, but we have a lot of laughter
on the show and a lot of fun stuff. It's all very pointed. Even the
light and fun topics that we deal with still have a political point
that's--that's within them. But, again, back to that credo, that,
`You can fight the gods and still have fun,' that's what we try to do
on the show.
LAMB: How much preparation do you do for every show?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Quite a bit 'cause we're very information loaded and
we deconstruct the news every day. As Bennett Cerf once said, `You
gotta learn to read between the lies,' and that's--that's what we try
to do for folks. So we'll take the news story of the day and--and
say, `Here's what's really going on and here's who's getting what out
of that,' for example. But it takes--I've got a producer who spends
two hours in the wee hours, early in the morning, going through the
papers and listening to some broadcasts. Then I write in the
mornings, then I come in usually at 9:00 and I spend a couple of hours
preparing, then we go--go on the air with the show. So it does take a
lot of work, but we also tie in to a lot of grassroots organizations,
public interest groups who have wonderful, wonderful information that
usually is not getting out. So we also provide a service, I think,
in--in making sure that that's--those kinds of issues get on the
LAMB: Senator Yarborough.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Ralph Yarborough, my man. I worked for Ralph
Yarborough, a great fighting people's Democrat from the state of
LAMB: What year?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: ...back in 1967, '8 and '9. He--when he was a
senator, I was a legislative aide to him...
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Here in Washington, yeah.
LAMB: How old were you?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Twenty-four, I think, when I first started there
and--and was really--I mean, I was amazed 'cause I was just a couple
of years out of college then--went to North Texas State, now
University of North Texas, then a small college in Texas. And here I
was suddenly in the big city, city of power, Lyndon Johnson,
president--so much going on at that time in our history--the civil
rights movement, the anti-war movement beginning, just gigantic
issues. All things seemed possible, the world could be saved; and I
saw myself doing that, and here I was hired by an actual United States
And on that first morning of my first day, I walk into that office,
and as a legislative aide, among your other duties, is you--you
han--you--you have to handle the letters of constituents who write in
about your areas of--the topics that--that you're responsible for. So
I reached into my first folder on my first day and pulled out my first
letter, thinking, indeed, this worthy citizen has written to his
elected representative to--and I will give him the best I can, and the
salutation was `Dear Peckerwood,' and I realized that--that not all
was going to be gigantic statesmanship in politics right there.
LAMB: Was Senator Yarborough a populist?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yes, he was. He d--he didn't like the term himself
because there were--ba--back when he was first getting into
poc--popul--politics, some so-called populists back then were actually
racists, and Ralph Yarborough didn't like that connotation. So he
didn't like to be called a populist, but he certainly was in terms of
the policies and ideals that he fought for.
LAMB: What did you learn about Washington for those three years?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I l--I learned that power is not here and too much of
the progressive movement of my generation at that time was trying to
speak to the country nationally and generally--corporate power is a
problem--rather than speaking to them locally and specifically, which
is where people live. And--and as--as good as the public interest
movement is, it still fundamentally is predicated on using--borrowing
the power of people who've been elected from around the country to
That's why, after 10 years in Washington, in Yarborough's office and
public interest work, I knew it was time to go back to Texas because
that's where power was. If I was actually going to have power, then I
had to be on the ground level, where--where the power fight is going
on. And I did that both as a journalist and then made the only
downward career move you can make from journalism. I actually went
into politics and amazingly got elected.
LAMB: Who are the Monsons?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: The Monsons are th--symbolic of the establishment
everywhere, and there's the establishment like Wall Street that has a
national connotation, but in every little town out there, there--there
is a family or maybe a small group of families that--that is the
establishment, that have powers. And the Monsons were the ones
that--that my old daddy and--and his small business and working-class
folks always were having to--wanting to beat, wanting to have a
politics that addressed them. And the Monsons had a s--the park in
the town was named after them...
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yeah, in Denison. And they had the power, and Daddy
and his friends would say of the reigning patriarch of the Monson
family at the time, `He can strut sitting down.' I mean, they--they
didn't th--there--there was the--an aloofness and a superiority that
was given off by--by this family. And then came my first race
for--for office, and the Monsons supported my opponent.
LAMB: What year was this?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: This was in 1980--supported my--I'm sorry, 1982,
'cause this was when I was running for agriculture commissioner--and
s--brought my opponent in, who was the incumbent agriculture
commissioner, got this grinning fool's picture made with them on the
front page of The Denison Herald, raised money for him and just--my
daddy--they--you sh--you could've stuck him in the eye with a sharp
stick and caused less pain than that would cause 'cause my mother and
daddy were the--were my campaign coordinators in Denison. And so he
was outraged and he--he got to doing even more organizing as a result
And on election night, when I had won a statewide victory over this
incumbent, I called my family--it was about midnight--expecting,
`Lord, they'd probably be to bed,' but instead, there was this raucous
party going on. They were celebrating this victory, and I got my
m--my mother answered the phone, talked to her, and then she got my
father on the phone, and instead of him saying, `Way to go, boy,' or,
`I'm proud of your statewide victory,' he said, `We beat the Monsons.
We beat the Monsons.' And that's the kind of politics I think people
want. They wanna beat the Monsons. They wanna take their country
LAMB: You--you dedicate this book to William Fletcher Hightower.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: That's my daddy, known as `High,' so if you wanna
know where I get these little witticisms and kind of crazy things,
start with the fact that my daddy was named High.
LAMB: And you say he's no longer with us.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Died four years ago.
LAMB: How about your mom?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Still kicking and al--al--alive and more than well up
in Denison, Texas.
LAMB: What a--what were they like?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: They were--they were folks that, I think, as a
r--that remarkable generation that so much changed in their lifetime,
change that they wrought. Both of them came off just dirt-poor tenant
farms. My mother raised on a s--a subsistence farm, they made their
own soap. They made everything. And Daddy's mother, when he was just
a boy, sh--graduated from high school, she said, `Get off the farm.
You gotta get off the farm,' and--and he's very ambitious, hard
worker, believing in the middle-class dream. And they connected up
and came together in Denison, Texas, and raised a middle-class family.
And--and they believed in that notion of the common good, and
that's--that's what's missing in our politics today. My last essay
is--I call "Daddy's Philosophy," and my daddy didn't know he had a
philosophy, but it was expressed to me a number of times by him. He
said, `Jim, everybody does better when everybody does better,' and
that's what's missing. And wh--in fact, that's quite the opposite of
what is being pursued from Wall Street and from Washington today.
LAMB: What was his newsstand like?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: It had a little bit of everything. You could buy
cigarette paper and you could buy magazines and newspapers, you could
buy school supplies, you could buy a little bit of hand lotion, so it
was kind of a--kind of a general store. It was really a--a magazine
and office supply store, is what it was, but he had a little bit of
everything in there. And, of course, he was the chief BS coordinator,
and every morning around 9:00 or 10:00, the l--some of the local
clerks and delivery men and that kind of thing would show up and--and
they would drink Dr Peppers or Coca-Colas from his--he had a cold
drink box there, a Dr Pepper box, that he considered the--he bragged
had the coldest soft drinks in the Greater Denison metroplex. You
know? And--and--and they would shoot the breeze and solve all the
world's problems, you know, in 15 or 20 minutes, and that's where I
really got my humor, was, you know, just listening and later being
able to participate with these folks.
And--and that's when I realized that--that the real political spectrum
in our country is not right to left, it's top to bottom. Right to
left meant my father had to say he was a conservative. If your choice
is liberal or conservative, then he would've said a conservative. But
if you'd stood there with him at the Dr Pepper box and heard him
and--and his friends talk about what bank holding companies were doing
to small towns like Denison and to small businesspeople like them, if
you talked to them about the power of the lobbyists in Washington and
Austin to--to squeeze out the working people, you could talk to him
about the pollution that the big corporations are doing, why, you--you
would've scratched William Jennings Bryan--I mean, just a--as--as hot
a--a progressive as you ever wanted to be in front of.
The real spectrum--right to left is theory; top to bottom is where
people live; that's experience. And as I argue in this book, 80
percent of us who've had our incomes knocked down over the last 20
years, the eight-out-of-10 majority that don't have a four-year
college degree, the eight out of 10 who make less than $50,000 a year,
they're nowhere in shouting distance of the powers at the top anymore,
whether they--those powers call themselves Republican or Democrat.
And that is a--the kind of bottom-up politics that I'm advocating
we've got to have in this country if we're going to be a United States
LAMB: How much did you work in the store?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Quite a bit. I worked--as a boy, I worked Saturdays
at the cash register, you know, just selling the goods, and then--and
then in the summers and on--and then often on the weekends, too, would
work in the magazine distributorship that Daddy also had. So we
distributed the magazines around, so I--from--from the time I
was--that I outweighed a bundle of magazines, which was about 12 years
old, I was a--was working. It was a real mom-and-pop operation.
LAMB: Did you read the magazines and newspapers?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I did, and got great exposure to--to reading, and I
think--and--and even to the classics, you know, because it w--also the
pocket books. Back then, you could buy a pocket book for 25 cents,
so--so began my exposure to--to literature and ideas and--and a bigger
world than Denison, even though it turns out the world has a lot to
learn from Denison.
LAMB: How big is the town?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Now it's probably a--back then, it was 17,000, when I
LAMB: Any industry around there?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yeah. There's light assembly industry, that sort of
thing. Used to have a Levi plant--it's gone now. Safeway had a oil
plant there. There--those kinds of light industries.
LAMB: What's it look like?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Just kind of idyllic. It's on the rolling hills, the
rolling plains going down to the Red River and, you know, lots of
trees and just single-family homes for the most part, small downtown,
a main street literally called Main Street and--and had a good, strong
feel of it. And I even--you know, we used to--pre-television--I grew
up pre-television, so I was 10, I guess, before we had a TV. So doing
the Main Street promenade in the evening was something that I actually
experienced, kinda window shopping and stopping off at the local ice
cream place and getting a cone and saying howdy to folks and that sort
of thing. It was...
LAMB: Right after the dedication, you say that--you have a little
saying on the next page: `Speak the truth, but ride a fast horse.'
Mr. HIGHTOWER: That's an old cowboy saying from out in--out in west
Texas, and--and that's--that's what I feel that my politics is about,
my--my messenger service is about. It is to speak some truths that
the powers that be don't really want us talking about. And it
involves that--the fact that corporatism is taking over our society
and our globe, that there is a class war being waged, that our
democracy--the dialogue that we have in this country is being shrunk
as a result of conglomeratization of the media, that there are some
real truths that ordinary people know are happening but that the
political system and mostly the establishment media are not discussing
but people do wanna talk about it.
LAMB: So you were here for 10 years--'67 to '77--you went back and
ran for agriculture...
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Went back to take over the Texas Observer. I was
editor of the Texas Observer for...
LAMB: For how long?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Three years.
LAMB: And then you ran for office?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Then I ran for political office, lost my first race,
which was for an o--weird little office called railroad commissioner,
which has very little to do with railroads and a lot to do with
utilities, and oil and gas, in that state, and--and then turn and two
years later ran for agriculture commissioner, which I--I won, and
served two terms there.
LAMB: Y--you have a chapter under the media section called The Day
K--Ted Koppel Left Town.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yes.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, it's indicative of the `all--all the news
that's fit to print' mentality of establishment media today. The day
Ted Koppel left town was in August, I guess it was, of 1996 at the
Republican National Convention in San Diego, and Ted Koppel, after two
days there, covering it from the convention hall, announced, `There's
no news here. I'm leaving town,' packed it all up and off he went
with his entourage off to wherever they went. Of course, there's no
news inside a convention hall because they're totally scripted,
orchestrated television extravaganzas.
But had Ted really wanted to have some news, he could've gone two
blocks from that convention hall to a marina, where Tom DeLay, the
third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, was hosting
a--a fund-raiser with all the lobbyists gathered around and Tom, in a
aquamarine shirt and--and white shorts, rubbing up against the money
powers in this country. Or he could've gone to another yacht--or--the
previous day where he held yet another fund-raiser or he could've gone
to another yacht where he had a breakfast fund-raiser the day after
that. It was a money orgy, a wonderful media opportunity to show
the--the synergy between big-money interests and influential members
of the Congress. That would've been a wonderful TV moment, but
instead, Ted was busy packing.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I don't think that reporters today are--high-level
folks like that I'm talking about, your big byline reporters at major
newspapers and newsmagazines, the on-air television network
people--are any more in touch with the American people than the
politicians that they cover these days. It used to be that
reporter--reporting was a working-class activity. You were a worker
and you h--had a rumpled trench coat maybe and after work you went to
a place called Shorty's and then you went home to, you know, a
subdivision that was a working-class kinda--kinda place; and that's
who you were in touch with.
Now instead of going to Shorty's or going to the Headliners Club or
some place like that, they're dressed in Guccis and Puccis. They are
going to the same gated and guarded ca--compounds that the elites live
in--not, again, anything conspiratorial, but it changes the--the world
view of the news that we get because those folks are--for them, for
example, NAFTA, fast-track, these kinds of international trade deals,
that's an interesting after-dinner conversation, but it's not about,
`Hey, what about my future? Am I going to have a job? Are my kids going to
have a job?' So that changes the way that--those kinds of fundamental
issues get covered. And it's why a lot of folks look at the TV set
and say, `Lord have mercy, I have no idea who they're talking about,
much less who they're talking to.'
LAMB: In your essay "Tales of the Tube," I just got this underlined:
`Rather than speak here, Jim'--no, let me read it again--`Rather than
hear Jim speak, we were able to tape the show that "60 Minutes" ran on
him recently and we're going to play it for you.' What--what was the
Mr. HIGHTOWER: This was a little fund-raiser for me up in Paducah,
Texas, I believe it was, a little farming community, and one of my
local supporters had a $25-a-head gathering at their home. Twenty or
30 folks showed up, and doing the usual--you know, having a cups
of--cup of goat's milk there, a beer, and--and getting ready to--to go
in to--for me to say a few thousand well-chosen words, you know, to
demonstrate my dynamic vision for the state of Texas. Instead, as I
walk in behind the hostess, she turns to the assembled and says that
line, that, `Instead of hearing Jim speak, we saw the segment that he
did on--that "60 Minutes" did on him recently and we taped it, so
we're going to show that instead.' So the whole room turned from me, the
human being, and watched me, the virtual person, on the television set
and were, I would daresay, much more impressed by the fact that I was
on television than that I was actually in the room with them, and...
LAMB: Did it bother you when you were in Washington?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: It--it amused me at the time, but it bothers me in
terms of what politics has become, that--that the virtual image is--is
more important politically, not to people but more important in terms
of--of what politicking has become than actual standing for principle,
enunciating a program and being willing to fight for it and going out
among the people. Now we have actual US Senate campaigns where
the--the candidates do not campaign, they do not go to people. They
spend their time on the telephone and then that money goes on the--on
the--the money that they raise on the telephone then goes into
television advertising, and that's all the campaign is.
LAMB: You mention that Frank Greer was your media coordinator?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yes.
LAMB: Same man that was a media coordinator for Bill Clinton.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Right, but this was a--this was the pre-Clinton Greer
and s--and still is in his heart. Frank then headed the Public Media
Center out in San Francisco, California, and we recruited him in the
Fred Harris campaign for president back in 1976--a good populist
campaign, by the way; unsuccessful. I was the national coordinator
and, as I like to brag, made Fred Harris what he is today, a professor
LAMB: And you also supported Tom Harkin back in--whi--which race was
Mr. HIGHTOWER: That would've been the '82 primary for president.
LAMB: Eigh--for president.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Right.
LAMB: Dan Perkins--who is he?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yes, Tom Tomorrow, otherwise known as, the great
LAMB: Why is he in your book?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well--well, he is, along with--he is--couple of
reasons he's in my book: one, generally I talk in this book about
getting access to real information. If you're fed up with the little
that you are getting from the establishment media, then there are
alternatives that are out there, including this very network, C-SPAN,
but there are also all korn--all kinds of feisty publications and
newsletters and radio broadcasts and even television broadcasts. But
the ones that I admire the most really are the editorial cartoonists
in this country 'cause not only do they get it, not only do they
express it in one panel, but they draw you a picture of the thing, and
I--I greatly admire their skill. I think they're the true
Tom Tomorrow--Dan Perkins, his real name--was at the great debate,
presidential debate, between Bob Dole and Bill Clinton, in 1996, the
debate in which Ross Perot and Ralph Nader and the other third-party
candidates were deliberately excluded, and he gave a report about the
media covering this event.
LAMB: I can read it if you've--I got the actual words. The quote
here is: "As the cr"--and this is Dan Perkins speaking?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Right.
LAMB: Did he--is this--was this printed?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yes.
LAMB: "As the crush of people around me begins to lighten, I see that
there are now reporters interviewing reporters. Someone from a local
radio station interviews me. I realize I have fallen to the belly of
the beast, the strained, self-contained world of political reporters
who travel around in packs, are spoon-fed press releases, spend a
frenzied hour gathering sound bites like children on an Easter egg
hunt and call it all news."
Mr. HIGHTOWER: And that's why, you know, people have about as much
respect for the media these days as they do for politicians.
LAMB: Will that always be the way it is today, you think?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I don't think it has to be. I think we've got to
build a new politics in this country, and we have to build a new
media. I think that media is being built already because the people
want information. People find you and they find me on the radio
because they are seekers of--of truth as they see it. And so a--as
long as--as we have spunky, feisty outlets a--and then even new ones
coming along, like the Internet, which I suspect will become the radio
of the future, will actually be the Internet.
But fundamentally, we've got to create a new politics that is based on
those folks that I mentioned are out there in the countryside, not a
need to create a progressive movement--it's already out there, but
it's not connected up. And those are the folks who are mad as hell
about the--the `globaloney,' as they see it, otherwise called global
competitiveness--that is, same old global greed that's knocking them
down--and that's, again, the 80 percent majority. And if we--we
cannot as a country have a--a United States of America and a healthy
political system that excludes the 80 percent majority of the country.
So that vacuum will be filled. The questions is, is: Is it going to be
filled in a positive way and a--and a--and a progressive way? It
could be filled in a very ugly way.
LAMB: Are you going to run for office again?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I promised not to do that. I've been cured. I've
taken the waters and I have found ways, Brian, to run my mouth and
have a lot of fun doing it and have, really, a greater impact. I
mean, I'm reaching millions of people every week on the radio, able to
do the books and I've got a political newsletter that I'm putting out
called The Hightower Lowdown, so--got the Web site, so I'm finding
plenty of ways to run my mouth and get my message out, which I think
is the most important role for me right now.
LAMB: Why did HarperCollins buy off on this book?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Good question. Rupert Murdoch being the owner of
HarperCollins--this is one of the big conglomerates and I do get asked
that question. As I say, Rupert Murdoch would probably moon the queen
of England if he thought there was a dollar bill in it for him, so I
think he's willing to publish anything that might sell. But also, I
had a great editor there, Adrian Zackheim, the very guy who edited
Newt Gingrich's book, by the way, so Adrian is a little schizophrenic.
But--but he understood what I was trying to say in this book and also
the humor that was going to be in the book, and--and he wanted the book
and that's why I'm at HarperCollins.
LAMB: On the back, Molly Ivins, Al Franken, Michael Moore, Pete
Seeger, Paul Wellstone and Studs Terkel endorse this book. Did you
ask them or did the publisher ask them?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: A little bit of everything. Some of them asked to do
it. The publisher asked a couple of them and I asked a couple of
LAMB: Who do you know on that list well?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I know all of them.
LAMB: You do?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yeah.
LAMB: And--and do they all--are they all populists?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Yes, absolutely, all--all good voices for this
political message, all very different. I mean, o--obviously, Al
Franken essentially is a humorist but with politics. Michael Moore is
a political animal with humor. And then Molly Ivins is just, you
know, possibly the most wonderful Texan alive.
LAMB: Well, she says this: `If you don't read another book about
what's wrong with this country for the rest of your life, read this
one. I think it's the best and most important book about our public
life I've read in years.'
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I owe Molly a dinner.
LAMB: Is--a--any hyperbole in that at all? A--a--an...
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, I--I certainly can't--not going to say that
there is, but--but it--Molly understands that in addition to this
being a series of essays and--and having my Texas humor in it, that
this is--as the subtitle of the book suggests, this is a very
important book in terms of what it takes on, what it challenges. The
subtitle of the book is a work of political subversion.
LAMB: It is clear from reading your book that you don't care much for
Mr. HIGHTOWER: No, I--I don't, and there's nothing personal in this.
I don't care for Bill Clinton, the political leader, because I feel
he's led us astray. As I say, he's a quisling in the class war, a
LAMB: Let me read a line: `Having Clinton as a Democratic president
is like getting bitten by your pet dog. The bite will heal, but you
never feel the same about the dog again.'
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Right, and I think that's happening to him right now.
He's bitten the constituency that should be the Democratic Party's
constituency: working folks, people concerned about clean air and
clean water, old folks and children, poor people, the middle class.
He's bitten them again and again and again, turned his back on them,
betrayed them. And, you know, if he's not standing with them and his
party is not standing with them, why should they stand with him and
with that party?
LAMB: What happens to Jim Hightower if he makes lots of money?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I--I will just keep running my mouth and--and finding
maybe even more microphones to use. I would put that--a--any money
that I make basically goes into my work anyway 'cause I live pretty
LAMB: Would you ever worry that you might just get, you know, caught
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Embarrassed by riches?
LAMB: Yeah, or caught up in this and s--and see why others in the
media have gone off to live a different lifestyle?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: No, I don't worry. I think it's too late for me.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, I'm--I'm really committed to this cause. I've
spent my lifetime--this isn't, you know, a book I've written and--and
my radio show isn't a radio show. I've--from the time I got out
of--well, really, from the time I was a mature person beginning to--to
understand issues around me, I have been involved in the--in the
political issues of our day and--and fighting back against those that
I see running over the--the people I really care about in our society.
So, you know, that--that is deeply ingrained in who I am, and--and
finding another dollar bill in my pocket is not going to make any
LAMB: Does it ever worry you--because you say some strong things
about a lot of people in here--people in the media, people you have to
deal with, if you want your word out.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Right. Right.
LAMB: Does it worry you that they'll?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, to--I think to some degree, they--they--they
may ha--may already have rebelled in terms of, you know, supporting
this book, of--of--of allowing it to--to get an audience in some of
their forums. But--but that's the nature of the game. If you--if
you--and that's what I wish politics would be. I mean, say what it is
you're actually thinking and--and tell the stories and let people know
what is going on, and I don't do this in a mean way, even with Bill
Clinton, who's the one I do take on most in the book, because I think
he has the most responsibility for the collapse of our politics in
LAMB: Has--ha--has any of the--have any of the media folks ignored
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Well, certainly ignored, I think, because, I mean...
LAMB: I mean, but on purpose, do you think?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: I--I--I can't say that. I mean, I don't--I don't
know that yet and I'm still trying to get on their shows, so--you
know, the book's been out a month, so we'll see.
LAMB: There's a last thing I wanted to ask you about because we're
running out of time. Well, I can't remember. You--you mention--in
our last 90 seconds, you mention that Buchanan and Perot were
populists but not your kind of populists.
Mr. HIGHTOWER: No, they--they used the--the populist message, I
think, and they--and they used the populist history to try to gain
political strength, some of that with integrity, some of it not. But
the issue was not who they were, it's who their voters were. The
media tried to say, `Well, Perot and Buchanan are using the people.'
That's not what I find in my discussions on the radio with people and
traveling around. People were using them as a two-by-four to whack
both political parties upside the head and say, `Hey, both of you are
horse hockey and you better be paying attention to the majority.'
LAMB: When are you going to see your side win?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Down the road. It's--it's a long-term building
strategy and that's what I point out in this book. You gotta quit
looking to the next presidential election. You've gotta build at the
grass-roots level. Who's going to be state rep? Who's going to be county
commissioner? And then down the road, you worry about the presidency.
LAMB: Have you ever owned a pet armadillo?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: No, I've not, but I've actually been to an armadillo
LAMB: How many armadillos are there in the world?
Mr. HIGHTOWER: More than you would like to know. They're--and
they're moving north, by the way. Beware o--you know, in your own
back yard, Brian.
LAMB: Our guest has been Jim Hightower and this is the book cover
that you're looking at, "There's Nothing In The Middle Of The Road But
Yellow Stripes And Dead Armadillos." Thank you very much for joining
Mr. HIGHTOWER: Thank you, Brian.
Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 1997. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.