Last Tuesday, America Now hosts Larry Kudlow and Jim Cramer welcomed rock-and-roll legend Ted Nugent to their CNBC studio. In a fast and loose interview, Nugent commented on guns, hunting, anti-hunting, George Bush, Ozzy Osbourne, Janet Reno, high-protein diets, and his new cookbook, Kill It and Grill It (just reviewed by NRO’s James Swan). Here’s the transcript of what turned out to be quite an informative and “gonzo” exchange
Jim Cramer: He’s a rock-and-roll legend. A maverick who is as well known for the weapons he carries as for the Gibson guitar he plays. Ted Nugent is the music world’s most controversial and contradictory performer. He’s an outdoorsman, an avid hunter, a master marksman, he’s a writer, a publisher, a director of the National Rifle Association. He’s an anti-drug activist — yes. And an outspoken advocate for personal freedom — yes again. Now Ted Nugent, who sold more than 30 million records, is selling this book called Kill It and Grill It, a guide to preparing and cooking wild game and fish. If you ever had a hankering for barbequed black bear you need this book. Welcome. Ted I got to tell you something.
Ted Nugent: Yes sir.
Cramer: You’ve accomplished the impossible. In my house . . .
Nugent: Am I having a riot or what?
Cramer: Yeah. You are. In my house my wife is just this anti . . . look, anti-handgun.
Cramer: And I told her I was having you on the show and you’re pro gun and she said, “No it’s okay. You see, he’s a libertarian and he believes in not telling other people how to lead their lives.”
Nugent: Jim I get a lot of that. At tednugent.com, I have this wonderful electronic campfire and I get people coming from every imaginable social strata and they all celebrate common sense and the self-evident truths that this wonderful country, this experiment in self-government, celebrates everyday. And I’ve brought an awful lot of people over to the hunting and the gun side because they see that it’s sensible, it’s natural, and it’s good. And look what venison does to a goofy guitar player from Detroit? I’m going to be 54 this year and if I had any more energy I’d scare you.
Cramer: That is a fact.
Nugent: I really, I really celebrate the gift of life by feeding at the pure fuel that game gives me.
Larry Kudlow: Well, we’re already in the Kudlow house. We’re already pro-NRA.
Nugent: God bless you.
Kudlow: I want to ask you a lofty question because I read your book and enjoyed it. How much deer and wild game do you and your wife give away to the needy and to charities? Because I thought that was a very interesting take in the book.
Nugent: You know, and it’s been going on for a long time so I’m proud to get that good work out on MSNBC, because the truth is that the hunting community literally is responsible for having more deer, more turkey, more elk, more bison, more mountain lion, more bear, in America now than in over 150 years. Many of those species are higher populations than in recorded history. And with that surplus every year during the national season of harvest my own organization, Ted Nugent and the United Sportsman of America, our camp for kids, safari club international, hunting organizations across this great land, have donated tens of millions — yes, tens of millions — of high-protein, pure-venison meals to the homeless shelters and to the food banks. And we won an award from the Salvation Army because our organization, along with other hunting clubs, had donated so many quality meals. And these homeless people need protein and there’s no better, more delicious protein in the world than venison.
Kudlow: I noticed on the flap or somewhere in the book that President Bush endorsed the book. He endorsed the book or endorsed you.
Nugent: I gave our president Bush a bow and arrow down in Crawford, Texas.
Kudlow: Well, there you go. But as interesting to me, on the donations to the needy and so forth, you know that Bush in one of his early speeches — it might have been the speech to Congress — he said, in this war we need people who will go into voluntary action. And it just strikes me that that’s exactly what you’re doing.
Nugent: And it is. And you know, I’ve done radio programs since the beginning of rock and roll, talk radio back in 1967 in San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, when there was a more open format for talk radio, for a lack of a better description. And do you know that whenever I donate a hunting trip for the Children’s Leukemia Foundation, Ronald McDonald Cancer House, all these children’s charities, I offer the anti-hunters an opportunity: if you donate more to the children’s charity than the hunters donate we won’t go hunting.
Cramer: There you go.
Nugent: Well, they are not only dishonest, but I believe spiritually vacuous, because every time, raising top dollar for a hunting trip with Ted Nugent, [donations are made by] hunters, fisherman, and trappers across this country. So we know the know the good guys and we . . .
Cramer: Well, I’m pro-hunters so I can’t kick you on that, but I want to ask you this. . . . There’s a lot of wisdom in this [book]. But this sentence I thought [was important]: “Today, much of what we ingest has been loaded with chemicals and toxins which eventually wreak havoc on our digestive systems and the basic healthy blueprint for the human body.” Talk about what we eat and how wrong it is.
Nugent: Well, certainly my wife Shemane, who’s not with us now but she’s waiting for me downtown — she wrote the good stuff in this book. We co-authored this book. And Shemane is a professional fitness and health instructor. And also, though I’m just a guitar player, my parents taught me discipline and to respect God’s gift of life, which means I have to put quality fuel into my system. And I salute the farmers of America. They are feeding the world. There’s room for upgrade with the E.coli and Salmonella and some of the practices that we have to address, and they are being addressed. I happen to work with the Ag department in the state of Michigan. But I’m an activist, and I think it’s important that if guitar player like the Motor City Madman can figure out what’s good for his soul, his belly, and his spirit, that there’s an upgrade available to everybody in America today to eat smarter and eat less. But there’s no more quality protein in the world than venison and goose and duck and turkey — and that’s what the Nugent family eats exclusively.
Kudlow: Away from the immediate issue of protein, I have a question. You have a great, in my judgment anyway, you have a great message against drugs.
Cramer: (interrupts) An optimist message he gets out.
Nugent: Well, you know it’s the same discipline that taught me to be a good hunter and respect my level of awareness. That’s what makes me a good guitar player, and a good husband, and a good father. That level of awareness also told me to turn down the drooling, puking, dying punks with their drugs and their alcohol and tobacco. My idea of fast food is a mallard.
Cramer: Why can’t we get him to do the anti-drug ads?
Nugent: I have busted more hippies’ noses than all the narcs in the free world. I hate drug abuse.
Kudlow: Question.Are the other rockers moving in the same direction now with these values or is it a struggle?
Nugent: I guess I can sum that up . . .
Kudlow: Because a lot kids see this . . .
Nugent: I see a lot of cleaning up and I salute it and I’ve been very instrumental in challenging my friends. You see, a lot of the great performers — like Aerosmith — they’ve really cleaned up, and they’re sending a very positive message that you can’t party and rock and roll like this if you’re drooling and puking. But ultimately I’d like to deliver the horror story of rock and roll and drug abuse and I bring it to you in the words of Ozzy Osbourne: [Odd sounds and grunting]. Man!
Kudlow: A friend of mine told me that you are not a strong supporter of Janet Reno, who’s running for governor of Florida.
Nugent: Mr. Janet Reno? [Laughter] I think Mr. Janet Reno . . . I think he’s one of the best hunting dogs in the world.
Kudlow: Ted, we love you. You’re a centrist American. Our thanks to Ted Nugent. I, of course, have been a fan since “Cat Scratch Fever,” but I like you even more now that I’ve met you and heard your views.