The Boston Globe
Comedian Dennis Miller has been both cheered and demonized for his post-9/11 shift toward conservatism. His hawkishness has puzzled some of his fans, and today's 10 p.m. debut of Miller's seventh HBO special, ''All In," may confuse things further. In one rant, he takes a passel of Democratic senators to task, then follows it by expressing admiration for Bill Clinton's intelligence and John Kerry's principles. For his part, Miller doesn't think he's changed that much. Most of all, he just wants people to know he's only joking.
Q. You say in this special that these are just jokes. Is it hard to say ''these are just jokes" when you're being more political?
AI. I don't think of it that deeply. They are mostly jokes but also what I believe. But it's not like I'm looking to lead people into the street or anything. I'm a comedian, for God's sakes.
Q. You said your change of heart was because you weren't as sure of your guesswork anymore. What were you guessing about that conservatism provides concrete answers for?
A. There's just action on that side. The left seems to be spending a lot of time trying to assure me that there was never any sort of hookup between the secular state of Iraq and Al Qaeda. That very well could be the case. I don't think anybody's ever going to prove that.
Q. As a satirist, have you taken Bush off the table?
A. I speak about being at loggerheads with him about a few things during the special. I don't know. I don't feel any rush to say he's dumb anymore. Anybody who's still saying he's dumb has really missed the point.
Q. At the end of the new special, you compare John Kerry to George W. Bush and say that Kerry is more of a chess player, and the world needs a checkers player who's quick to act.
A. No. I say that's what I'm looking for right now. See, that's the thing about a lot of these politics. They literally stop at the end of my fingertips for me. I think the world wants to change people to the way they think. I'm doing these jokes, these are my beliefs. Al Franken is a good friend of mine. I admire Al immensely. I talked to Al yesterday and he told me the funniest idea. He's living in Minnesota now, and he might run for the Senate, which has been oft-rumored. And he says if he does, he wants to do ads with people like Ben Stein and I where we talk about how we get along and we're friends and we admire him and he's a really bright man, and at the end of the campaign ad it's both Ben and I looking into the camera saying, ''Having said that, I would never, ever, ever vote for him." And then we'd come up with the ''Al Franken for Senate" campaign. I said, Al, that is exactly why I'm interested in you. That's the funniest campaign.
It's funny, but it also takes a little bit of the venom out of it.
I really do think that this country now believes the little ''D" or ''R" after your name on Fox in parentheses tells you everything about a person. And I'm of the feeling that it tells you the least about a person.