Ambassador Duke

COON RAPIDS, Minn., Sept. 12. 2000—I know I’m occasionally accused of embellishing the truth, but you have to trust me on this: There is no significant difference between doing Larry King Live straight and doing it on acid.

There’s roughly the same color scheme, the same sense of dislocation, and in both cases, Larry’s face appears to be melting. Fortunately, Larry and I have always hit it off, drawing on a close personal friendship that reaches back 40 years to when we were both lifeguards in Duluth. Even then, Larry was true-blue. He never laughed at my dream of becoming a porno kingpin, never mocked me the way the other lifeguards did, and as a result, I never had to hurt him. He’s repaid me with a thousand kindnesses, always taking care to invite me to his hospital room for his latest surgery or baby. The last time, I remember I was standing in the intensive care unit at Mount Sinai with Andre Agassi and Burt Reynolds and Jane Fonda and Boyz-II-Men, and I turned to Larry and said, “Hey, big fellah, not a bad turnout for a kid from Duluth, eh?” Larry just smiled serenely, having been heavily sedated, but that smile spoke volumes about Duluth and the smell of chlorine and girls who would put out if you drove the right car.

With that kind of history behind us, preparing for my appearance on LKL next week, as I am right now, is nerve-racking as hell. Even with his friends, Larry’s prone to playing gotcha, and last time I was on the show, he hit me with a zinger. Right out of the gate, he asked me my position on the economy, which is the one area besides foreign affairs I know absolutely nothing about. So here I am holed up once again at the E-Z-Rest Motor Court, wishing I were at the Dew Drop Inn across the street, but instead, humping the briefing books stolen by one of my staffers from the campaign headquarters of a local congressman whose views are roughly similar to mine. All to keep from humiliating myself on TV! All so I can sit down in a studio 3,000 miles away from my friend of four decades, look directly into the camera, flash a cocksure smile, and say, “Let’s light this candle, Larry.”

And they wonder why so few people want this job.

I know why I want it. I want it so I can restore dignity to the White House, or failing that, good hygiene. I want it so I can arrive at my high-school reunion in a motorcade. I want it so I can invade France, becoming the first president with the guts to do it in 60 years. I want it because the hottest issue in the country today is prescription drugs, an issue I just happen to own outright. I want it because I was years ahead of Al Gore in speaking out about violence and sex in popular culture, albeit in support of both. I want it because I was years ahead of Ralph Nader in supporting the legalization of marijuana, but not because I’m in the pocket of the big marijuana interests, but because I want to fight for the small family grower. I want it so I can restore the infrastructure of our crumbling racetracks, once the envy of the free world. I want it so that concealed weapons are welcome in every church and hospital across this country, and not just in Texas. I want it to prove that it’s actually possible to monetize a richly featured Web content site (click here). And lastly, I want it because it’s part of my personal American Dream®, and if I have to go through Larry to reach it, then so be it.

Bring it on, big guy.