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Exclusive! Outgoing Miss USA Tara Conner

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," March 20, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: The reign of Miss USA, Tara Conner, is almost over, and we got a chance to sit down with her before she hands over her crown:

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: And joining us now, Tara Connor, Miss USA. How are you doing?

TARA CONNER, MISS USA: I'm very well! How are you?

HANNITY: We love having you here.

CONNER: Happy to be here.

HANNITY: You know what's stunning. I was reading about you. You have you been competing in pageants since you were 4.

CONNER: Fourteen.

HANNITY: Fourteen? They got it all wrong. It said...

CONNER: See, what did I tell about these?

HANNITY: She told me about that before the program. How are you doing? You've been in the public eye so much. How are you doing now? Is it going well for you?

CONNER: You know, everything is going very, very well. You know, I'm happy today. It's been very hectic. You know, I got in from Los Angeles at 3:30 this morning and I've done so many interviews today already. But you know, everything is going so well. I'm on a really happy high right now.

HANNITY: All right. Now when Donald Trump, when you went into that meeting with him, that day, what were you thinking was going to happen?

CONNER: I thought I was going to lose my job. I honestly thought I was going to lose my job. But for some reason I had this sense of peace about me.

And when I went to go speak to him, he asked me, "What do you think we should do?"

I said, "Well, obviously I think you should let me keep my job." I mean who's going to walk in there and say, "You should fire me", you know?

HANNITY: Exactly.

CONNER: He said, "I think that you need some type of a rehab." And I was like OK.

HANNITY: And so it was that quick?

CONNER: Yes. I think, it was basically like a 10, 15 minute conversation. Done.

HANNITY: Did you think up to that point that had addiction problems?

CONNER: No. Absolutely not. I was in complete denial. I even said it during the press conference. It's nothing to call myself an alcoholic. I don't think I would call myself alcoholic. That's pushing the envelope, you know.

HANNITY: Now you think you are.

CONNER: Absolutely.

HANNITY: You were drinking since age 14 or started at 14. I got that right.

CONNER: Yes.

HANNITY: But would you drink all the time? Would you drink and not be able to stop?

CONNER: It's one of those things like alcoholism and addiction. There are so many conceptions about it people think that if you're a alcoholic you live underneath the bridge. You're wasted all the time. You have no control. Blah, blah, blah.

I was a functioning alcoholic addict. You would never know when I was using. And it doesn't mean that I used every day. You know, there was a time I didn't touch anything for two years. There was also a time where I didn't touch anything for six months.

HANNITY: Would you drink to relieve pressure while you're doing some of your duties.

CONNER: Not during any of my duties, no. But when it came time to my down time, you know I didn't care but to sit down with a glass of wine or two or sometimes three. You know, but I got to the point where I was just suppressing all of my emotions. I couldn't even feel anymore.

HANNITY: Do you think you can't have a drink for the rest of your life?

CONNER: Absolutely.

HANNITY: Not at all?

CONNER: Not at all.

HANNITY: And you have used some drugs and you've been very open about that. Why did you feel the need to be so open? I was watching one of your interviews.

CONNER: So many fingers pointed at me. And so many people saying you know, she has been said to have done this, and this that, and the other.

And I thought, "You know what? I might as well just tell them, tell the truth, and get it off my chest, because it freed me from all of these things anyway."

HANNITY: Yes.

CONNER: And I thought the more open and honest I am about it the less I'm going to be held accountable for.

COLMES: Do you see yourself — the word role model is always used. Do you — is that an accurate description of what you are, based on everything?

CONNER: At first it was hard for me to say yes, I'm a role model. But now it's completely different, because I want to be able to be a role model for people who are wanting to seek treatment for drugs, alcohol, gambling, whatever.

COLMES: Yes.

CONNER: You know, we all have our imperfections. No one is perfect.

COLMES: If you're an addict it can be anything.

CONNER: It can be anything. I mean, even I have to be careful because I could turn into gambling addict or, you know, I could turn to a food addict.

COLMES: It could become something else?

CONNER: Yes. That's what I have to keep myself in check.

COLMES: How are you a different person today?

CONNER: Well, I'm honest.

COLMES: You weren't honest before?

CONNER: I never used to be honest before.

COLMES: Really?

CONNER: You know, I have a very free spirit. I'm not scared. I'm fearless. You know. I used to be scared of everything.

COLMES: When you say you weren't honest. In what ways were you not honest?

CONNER: I would lie about the silliest things. You know, like when I was younger and I had never picked up anything, you know, I had alcoholic addict tendencies way before. I would spill something and I would say I didn't do it or I would make up this huge story about, well, I tripped because I was tired and the light was off and then Josh pushed me.

And you know, now I'm just straightforward.

COLMES: Actually, I say Hannity pushed me — usually.

HANNITY: I probably did.

CONNER: Best to be impactful with your words.

COLMES: You said on a previous interview, you said that you've faced your demons. You hinted at problems you had as you were a child, but you didn't want to fully go into them.

CONNER: Right.

COLMES: Is that something you feel any more comfortable talking about?

CONNER: It's something that I faced. It's really nothing that I feel that I have to share with the world. I think I've given everyone enough. You know, so maybe later on down the road if I decide to open up more about it, there's no need to bring anybody else into it.

COLMES: Are you surprised — I thought it was great what you were telling in the Green Room, what Donald Trump did.

CONNER: I was surprised but very pleased, you know.

COLMES: Yes.

CONNER: He and I speak to each other once or twice a week. He calls me and checks up on me. We do events together. You know, he's really — he put a lot of faith in me. And I will always be grateful for that.

COLMES: He kind of gave you the encouragement, the desire to live up to that faith that he put in you.

CONNER: Yes. Right.

COLMES: So he really helped make you get better.

CONNER: And even after, you know, doing all the interviews and stuff that I did after coming out of rehab. It's probably not a good idea to do a huge media sprint right out of rehab, but it held me accountable.

HANNITY: What do you think about Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears?

CONNER: They're seeking treatment and they're doing what they can for themselves.

HANNITY: Have you reached out to them?

CONNER: I don't really have a way to reach out to them.

HANNITY: If you could, would you?

CONNER: I don't know. You know, I think they have their things that they're dealing with. I'm dealing with mine.

HANNITY: You might be able to help them. I mean, you have now built a track record.

CONNER: I may be able to learn something from them, as well. You know what I'm saying? We all learn something from each other.

HANNITY: All right, so what's next for you? Where are you going next?

CONNER: Everywhere. You know, I've been out in Los Angeles for the past week. I have to actually leave this afternoon to go back because I have to go finish up for the pageant. You know, I crown the new girl on the 23rd, which is Friday.

And the sky's the limit. You know, I want to have a book written in a year and a half. And I want to...

HANNITY: About addiction?

CONNER: Just kind of about, you know, my year as Miss USA. The events leading up to that and then a little bit of the aftermath. You know. And then I want to do some correspondent work. I want to do some radio. I want to do some singing and some acting. All kinds of things.

HANNITY: Your faith is very important to you.

CONNER: Absolutely.

HANNITY: You're a Christian. You're very religious.

CONNER: I'm very spiritual.

HANNITY: Spiritual. OK. Well, listen, all the best to you. I'm glad things are going well for you.

CONNER: Thank you so much.

HANNITY: It's very nice to meet you.

CONNER: Very nice to meet you.

HANNITY: We appreciate it.

COLMES: Thanks very much. Nice to meet you.

CONNER: Nice to meet you.

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