Hunter S. Thompson: surprised he's still
Bankrate: Is there anything
you wouldn't bet on?
Hunter S. Thompson: Well,
I don't do much betting when I go to Las Vegas. I don't like the machines.
You know what's going to happen when you go in there, on the numbers.
If you bet every roll of the dice, if you can live through your bad
times, the odds are you'll come out pretty close to even, but if you
don't bet on all of them, you never can tell how you're going to come
out. You bet on, well, not hunches; I've been in this business a long
time, you're bound to learn something.
(At this point, Thompson takes another call, also on
speakerphone, from a friend who tells him he just saw Hunter's appearance
on an old episode of "To Tell the Truth.")
Hunter S. Thompson: Holy
s---! No, that was my second appearance. I was on an earlier afternoon
show, really early, like 1961, and Johnny Carson was the interviewer.
I thought I was pretty cool; I saw an ad in the New York Times. It
was a show where you paired up with a strange woman, in my case, but
the point of it was, you made $50. If you have a good story and you
want to tell it on TV, come on.
Bankrate: Sounds like
"Who Do You Trust?"
Hunter S. Thompson: Yeah,
that must be it, I guess. And when the cameras came on, my knees began
to knock. I had read about that and heard about it, people's knees
knocking, and goddamn they actually were. And I looked over at the
host, and I didn't know Carson from Jim Baker, and he saw that I was
trembling and shaking and he calmed me down. But I still lost the
Bankrate: Among your
many bizarre encounters, your limousine ride with Richard Nixon during
the 1972 presidential campaign was surely a high point.
Hunter S. Thompson: Oh,
boy. The Raiders were playing against the Packers, which was Nixon's
team, and nobody else on the press bus could talk about it, they were
afraid of Nixon on football. He was known to be a hard rocker and
very involved. And (press secretary) Patrick Buchanan -- I've always
liked Patrick Buchanan -- he was looking for somebody to ride with
the boss and talk football, and these other guys, political wizards,
nobody volunteered. I was the only one on the press bus who volunteered.
Bankrate: You've been
pretty outspoken in your dislike of our current commander in chief.
Hunter S. Thompson: I
was candid about Nixon, too.
Bankrate: Yet you say
Nixon pales in comparison to George W. Bush.
Hunter S. Thompson: Oh,
yeah, he looks almost like a liberal. You look at the Clean Air Act
and several others back then. Nixon was a crook but at least he operated
off of an individual base. But this yoyo, this stupid little ...
It's cheap opera. Take a look at your pocket. Take a look around you.
It's a hold-up, a looting of the national treasury, and that's what
they're doing. The combined spending of the Kerry campaign is far
less than $5 million for advertising. Five million dollars, that's
like a goddamned Susan Anthony dollar compared to $60 billion that
is just routine going out to Halliburton. We might lose if we went
to war with Halliburton.
Bankrate: You are neighbors
with Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador and longtime Bush family
friend featured in Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."
Hunter S. Thompson: I
can see him from my front porch. He's been a pretty good neighbor;
that counts for a lot out here. He will shoot some skeet now and then.
I don't want to say anything really ugly about him. He's an enlightened
plutocrat, I guess you call it. Michael Moore is dead right on that,
and it's even worse than you think. Bandar. All kinds of roads cross
out here. Networks and wires.
Bankrate: The Bush Administration
seems to have lit your fuse. Are you angry again?
Hunter S. Thompson: Very
angry. I'm very angry. That's why I guess I have to write this (campaign)
piece for Rolling Stone. This is the darkest hour that I have seen
in my long experience as an American. This is evil.
Bankrate: As a betting
man, what to you think of John Kerry's chances?
Hunter S. Thompson: If
there is an election on schedule -- if -- I would say 60-40 Kerry
right now. I think if we can get the sportswriter's vote, the dope
fiend's vote and the Grateful Dead vote, that would make a big difference.
Hating Bush is not enough. You've got to vote now in self-defense.
If we have another administration like this, it will be so bad that
what's happening now will look like a small breakfast for what's coming
Bankrate: Are you surprised
at where you find yourself in life?
Hunter S. Thompson: No.
Not at all. I mean, the fact that I'm here at all, yeah. But since
I'm here, I'm not surprised. If you're going to be crazy, you have
to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up.