Ben Stein

What a day. Where is it in Shakespeare that someone (Richard III?) says, “Tomorrow, lords, is a busy day.” I think, hey, I think it’s Richard III before Bosworth Field. But maybe it’s Richard II.

Anyway, today, lords, was a busy day.

Up in the morning to be interviewed by Sam Donaldson for the ABC Web site. I had a fabulous Filipino driver. We talked about visiting the Philippines so I could see the white sand beaches and Bataan and Corregidor. I also happen to love Filipino women, who all seem to me to sell real estate and be terribly clever.

Then Sam interviewed me. He’s a lively, engaging fellow. Carl Bernstein called in, and we all laughed and giggled, tee-hee. Sam shocked me by telling me he sometimes sells short, a maneuver far too risky for me. Anyway, I like him and he said kind words about my father, and that made me like him more. He’s a sort of equal-opportunity torturer of politicians.

Off to home, where Tommy and Alex, son and wifie, are both sick and sleeping. Yaniv, my sometime bodyguard (he guards me from being told the answers on my quiz show) came over to install my new stereo system. A perfect example of my delusional self. I buy it all and then lack the energy to even assemble it. I already have an old system. But new and bigger and better is my way once every 10 years or so.

I talked to the carpenter/contractor, Mike; to the dog walker, Blythie; to the assistant, Tina; to the other assistant, Julie; and then realized I have to be locked up to keep myself from spending so much money. I really am on the road to ruin. On the other hand, I’ve thought I was on the road to ruin for about 50 years now. (Maybe I am, but there’s a lot of ruin in a nation, to paraphrase Adam Smith—or maybe just to quote him.)

Then, off to be interviewed by Paula Zahn on Fox News. She was pleasant. Her prior guest was Cybill Shepherd. I have zero in common with her, but she is lovely. I heard her say there was talk of her running for president. I sure hope so. Every vote she takes away from Gore is golden.

Thence to the airport to fly to Vegas. The damned computers at America West were busted, so I had to stand in line forever while we were checked in manually. On the plane, I sat next to a race-car driver named “Vasser” or “Vassar.” He was a handsome, charming rogue who could not have been more deferential about his courage. Maybe I should have said “self-effacing.” What do you think?

A vast limo took me to the Mirage, my favorite Las Vegas hotel. They took me to my vast, decadent room that I love a lot, and then I looked at out the window at a gaudy but great fake volcano. I kept thinking of Dr. Evil saying to Scott Evil, “You forget, Scott. We’re in a volcano. Surrounded by liquid hot magma …” That’s from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, my favorite movie of all time after GWTW. Mike Myers just happens to be the smartest, most creative movie-maker of the decade by far. He also is the best actor and should have gotten the nod over Kevin Spacey with his eyes closed. In my family, we worship Mike Myers.

Anyway, then to give a speech to the Anti-Defamation League in the home of a pretty woman whose dad owned the Las Vegas Sun. My audience were attractive and totally cheery. I talked to them about how great life was for American Jews, how we lived it up on the shoulders of the Holocaust victims who shocked many Americans out of racism, and on the graves of the civil rights workers slain in Mississippi (where I have many in-laws) who made a nation enact civil rights laws. I also gave credit to Israel, whose bravery and success at arms made the whole word respect Jews more.

I said I thought the danger now was a linkup between white racists and black racists. Frankly, the night was so beautiful and my audience so charming that anger seemed far away.

Then, back to the Mirage and a change of clothes and a walk along the Strip to the Venetian, which I loved, with its fake canals and perpetual fake blue sky all night long, and to the Bellagio, which was a tad disappointing. Just too much marble.

Then, to watch the volcano again, and think how blessed I am. Maybe I should just live in a hotel room by myself. Where I can’t overextend myself. Of course, what would I do with all those houses …?