Penn Jillette, Libertarian Nut

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," May 19, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham seems to have a little problem with libertarians. At the South Carolina Republican Convention over the weekend, he said — and I quote — "I am not a libertarian." No! Go on! He said if you are, you're welcome to vote for me — now I'm tempted! And build this party but we're not going to build this party around libertarian ideas.

I know, I hate that old-fashioned freedom thing. He went on saying, quote, "Ron Paul is not the leader of this party." True. True. Actually, it has been people like Lindsey Graham who have been leading the party. You remember when Batman, you know, used to drive into the Bat Cave and the rock wall would open up? That's like the Republicans now except the rock wall is just down. Maybe it's just me.

Here with me now is comedian and magician and libertarian Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller.

Are you going to vote for Lindsay Graham?


BECK: You're free to.

Video: Watch Beck's interview

JILLETTE: I appreciate that from him. But I'm not going to.

BECK: No, really?

JILLETTE: I would like to, you know — we say this every time: We always say that we agree on so many things, but I just think less government might be a better idea, and I wanted to ask you something.

First of all, I want to say I'm not going to eat any Chinese food, because I just didn't think that Ben looked good with grease on his chin.

BECK: You've got a little bit...

JILLETTE: They've covered it up but a think a little bit of chow mein hanging from the beard. I don't know if...

BECK: I would actually like to see you eat M&Ms with chopsticks.

JILLETTE: I don't think that is possible, but I was a juggler. Let me give that a try. If — this is good television. This is very good television. This is very good television.

BECK: Can I tell you something? Remember when the "Today Show"...

JILLETTE: Shut up! There you go! There you have it! An M&M with a chopstick! Yeah! You're not playing with kids here! You are not playing with kids. Now I will have peanut hanging from my beard. Peanut.

BECK: I think that was an uncomfortable moment in television.

JILLETTE: Peanut hanging from my beard. Didn't want that.

BECK: So, you were saying, right before you went for the M&Ms.

JILLETTE: I was going to say, you know, you always say these are the things that government shouldn't be doing and we always agree on that. Where are you with what the government should be doing?

Are you schools, roads, that kind of stuff?

BECK: No, not schools. They should be doing the roads. They should do infrastructure thing and provide for the common defense. But I don't think that means — we shouldn't be over in Germany and we shouldn't be over in South Korea. We need to — and we can't turn this around now. It's taken us 100 years to do it. We need to start pulling back instead of expanding.

JILLETTE: What about social stuff? Do you think the government should have anything to do with marriage?

BECK: I think you should have the right to have your civil unions, et cetera. I don't care what you do in your personal life. I don't really care.

JILLETTE: I'm totally against straight marriage — even though I'm married. I don't think heterosexual marriage is any of the government's business. I think you make any contract you want, you know, if you want to marry several women, several men, you want to marry another man, another woman, anything — make a contract, make a civil union and get the government out of the business of who we have sex with.

BECK: You and I agree on this. The problem is once the country turns and says, OK, let's start doing freedoms, then I would be for that, but right now, what happens is they will say well, we just want this and then it's all game. It is the Republicans or the Democrats controlling the power. They're not talking about more rights. They're talking about what that would turn into then is a limitation of rights for religious groups.

JILLETTE: I'm just checking on you, because I come on this show and I always like you and then liberal friends of mine, always say, well, you know Glenn Beck is anti-gay, he's this, he's this. I always say I don't think he is. I hear these things. I think they are taken out of context from your radio show. Do you have any problem with gays having sex with one another?

BECK: I have several gay employees. I have no problem. I mean, I hire my friends. I have no problem. Why would I?

JILLETTE: You have got to push that more, because the freedom thing — they often say about...

BECK: Make a commercial. Hi, I'm Glenn. Gays are OK.

JILLETTE: I think that's a good idea. I think it's a good idea.

Because, they often say about libertarianism, if you can convince the gun nuts that the potheads are OK and the potheads that the gun nuts are OK — everybody is a libertarian. I think just push for freedom right across the board.

BECK: Exactly right, but the problem is it's always being used, one side or the other trying to polarize it so they can grab control. No one should have control. The individual should have control.

JILLETTE: Absolutely.

BECK: But here's the problem with libertarians, you go into this, for instance, what I said about, you know, military expansion will hack a lot of conservatives off because they will say well, we've got to have it. No. We — right now, you can't just create a vacuum and pull everything back on the day after election. You need to slowly move it. It has taken us 100 years of building this colossal nightmare of a bureaucratic empire.

JILLETTE: When would you feel good about coming out of Afghanistan, coming out of Iraq? How is that...


BECK: I'm ready to come out of Iraq. I think we needed to stabilize it. Look: You break it, you buy it. We went in, we broke it, we bought it. OK, good. Now stabilize the situation and pull yourself out.

JILLETTE: You don't really think that Iraq would be just groovy — you don't think Iraq would have been groovy if we hadn't gone in? You don't think all that damage is stuff that we did. That's a part of the world that has been having problems for thousands of years. It's not like our fault.

BECK: Last night we were talking about that.

JILLETTE: So blaming us for screwing it up seems crazy. Just go away. Also, when someone screws up my life, I often want them to go away instead of fixing it.

BECK: We'll be back in a just a second.

JILLETTE: Chopsticks, I picked up M&Ms, you saw that, you saw it!

BECK: Back in just a second. By the way, time for our free...



BECK: I'm hoping that he's bleeding from his nose and butt shooting blood. I'm hoping that's he's really. No. I'm sorry. Jesus wouldn't have done that joke. But you didn't pay to he see Jesus, now, did you?


BECK: That's a clip from the Mid-Life Crisis Comedy Tour I did a couple of years ago. This time, Common Sense Comedy Tour — kind of Thomas Paine and a little Sam Kinison fused together. June 1st through June 6th.

JILLETTE: That was humble.

BECK: I didn't say it was good...

JILLETTE: Tom Paine...

BECK: Denver, Phoenix, San Diego, Kansas City, Houston and Richmond, Virginia.

JILLETTE: Penn and Teller is like Jefferson and Houdini. We're kind of like a Jefferson and a Houdini together onstage. It's that kind of thing. Just so you understand what we're doing.

BECK: Go to for all the details. And you also learn how to be a Glenn Beck insider.

JILLETTE: Jeans and an open shirt. You're a wild man, Glenn.

BECK: I'm crazy.


BECK: That's when I was a little lighter. Now I have gravy all over me. Let me talk to you about California. Here you are a libertarian.

JILLETTE: Here I am.

BECK: We're going to bail out — any doubt in your mind we are going to bail out California?

JILLETTE: It seems like we're going to do that.

BECK: Because they're too big to fail. You'd let them fail, wouldn't you?

JILLETTE: I certainly would. I've watched a lot of them fail individually.

BECK: Just trying to apply principles of common sense, do you think before you would cut a police officer off the streets you might want to cut the Californian Indian Basket Weavers' Association? Yes, you would. How about $2.3 million for green chemistry?

JILLETTE: That could be done privately.

BECK: Do you believe in the global warming thing?

JILLETTE: I don't know enough. But you have to remember that global warming is all lumped together and it breaks down into many things. Is it happening? Did we cause it? If we caused it, can we stop it? You and I can start pushing a truck down a hill. That doesn't mean we could stop it.

BECK: Right.

JILLETTE: If it's happening and we caused it and we can stop it, is it a bad thing? If all those things are true, is the way to stop it by conservation, and then the other thing is, if all of those things are true, is the way to do that government power? And that all this gets thrown into one question.

BECK: You never hear that conversation.

JILLETTE: As one question.

BECK: Everybody shuts you down. You can't even discuss that. Are you are amazed at how many things we are doing right now that are gigantic, that nobody is even really talking about?

JILLETTE: It always bothers me that when you say there is some more thinking to do on global warming, they deal with you — in some cases — I have been called this literally like you're a Holocaust denier.

BECK: I have been called that, too.

JILLETTE: Because you say you have questions about it, but the truth of the matter is we have never solved anything with conservation.

In the '50s, there was a huge shortage of tin, and we tried to conserve tin and then aluminum came along. Now there is more tin than there ever was. It will always be technology. It will always be moving ahead. It probably won't be conservation. And that's if you take all of those others as given.

I think the world probably is heating up, but I don't know how much further I'm willing to go than that.

BECK: The president is coming to your town. He's coming to Vegas.

JILLETTE: Because we love him there. He's not taking a business trip. He's not spending money there. No, he's not taking a vacation there. He's not enjoying himself there. He's going there for political reasons and that's OK.

But if you're living in the United States of America, don't you dare go to Vegas to have fun or to have a convention just because we have fun and conventions. Stay away from there, because it shows you're a bad American if you come to the city where I live.

BECK: What else does anyone need to say?

More with Penn Jillette, next.


BECK: I just had to share this.

JILLETTE: This just handed to him!

BECK: This just in: Arnold Schwarzenegger's people are watching the program:

"Glenn has said a number of times today that we're seeking a bailout. No clue where he's getting that. Here's what the Governator said on your channel a few hours ago, 'We have a problem in California.'


JILLETTE: Throw in Rich Little, too.

BECK: If we work together and we can make it through. I have got to have Teller on.

JILLETTE: You'd do much better.

BECK: We need assistance no, bailout. We don't want a bailout. I didn't come for a bailout. We're going to make the necessary cuts. We need to be physically disciplined.


BECK: They need to be "physically disciplined."

JILLETTE: It does say "physically disciplined."

BECK: I think he needs a spanking.

JILLETTE: I think he means that. I tend to agree!

BECK: I think there are a few people that would give him one.

JILLETTE: For free.

BECK: Coming from a guy who lives in Vegas, that's disturbing.

"We still need to work together to move forward and make everything functional in our state." Blah-blah-blah.

Who do you think you're fooling? That's like Barack Obama saying "I don't want to run the car companies."


JILLETTE: Is that your Obama impersonation?


JILLETTE: You're doing voices.

BECK: I don't do impersonations. I could. I could.

JILLETTE: That's the next tour. That's the next tour — and his cast of thousands. Glenn Beck in Beckville!

BECK: How much time do we have? Thirty seconds.

JILLETTE: Then I'm done.

BECK: Penn Jillette, thank you very much. Appreciate it. We didn't get to a single answer today.

JILLETTE: Good to see you. Freedom! We did, too.

BECK: Penn and Teller on tour right now, appearing in Atlantic City this week at Harrah's...

JILLETTE: Foxwood on Thursday.

BECK: Or you can just go to for all the details. Sign up for the free newsletter at and you'll get Penn Jillette's fantastic article, "Why I am a libertarian nut instead of just a nut" free at

JILLETTE: Thanks a lot.

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