Adam Carolla is a podcaster extraordinaire, a Dancing with the Stars alum and a creator and star of numerous TV shows. He’s also the newest pundit on the Fox News Channel, where he’s usually seen bantering with Bill O’Reilly on the top-rated cable news show, The O’Reilly Factor. He spoke to The Hollywood Reporter’s Paul Bond about the presidential election, wine, race cars and his new gig on Fox.
The Hollywood Reporter: What will you be doing on Bill O’Reilly’s show?
Adam Carolla: I just show up on Mondays when there’s nothing going on and he throws the topic at me and I answer the questions, or try to make something funny out of it. They give me a couple of hours notice on the topic and I try to come up with angles and jokes.
THR: Sounds like what Dennis Miller does on O’Reilly but on a different night. Who’s better, you or Miller?
Carolla: I'm gonna go with Dennis Miller. Who we kidding? He’s really good, and I'm just pretty good.
THR: What political party do you belong to?
Carolla: I used to be a Democrat, now I’m basically a Republican.
THR: Why did you switch?
Carolla: First off, I got tired of the whining and the name-calling. If you say you want to beef up the border, they say you’re anti-immigrant. If you want people to show I.D. before they vote, then you’re for voter suppression. If you want women to pay for their own contraception, then you’re anti-women. If you’re for traditional marriage, then you hate gay people.
THR: So how’d you vote on Proposition 8 a few years ago?
Carolla: I didn't vote, but I'm for gay marriage. Somebody asked me once for my Top 5 reasons why I'm for gay marriage, and I said: No. 1 is they pay taxes, No. 2 because they're Americans, and numbers 3 through 5 is so that they’ll shut the hell up, because I can’t take anymore gay-marriage conversation. My gay spittoon is full – and I know that might sound homoerotic.
THR: Why do some conservatives in Hollywood feel they have to stay underground?
Carolla: Because the left has done such a good job of demonizing the right. They’re for voter suppression, they’re anti-immigrant, they’re anti-women and they hate gay people. Who wants to be in that group?
THR: Any other reason you switched parties?
Carolla: Yes, because I live in California and run a business. Everyone in Hollywood thinks like a Republican fiscally by leaving town to shoot everything; they just don’t vote that way. And I hate this notion of throwing more money at problems. I’ve had enough of teachers and firemen telling us to pony up more money. They have unions that are bankrupting the state. And by the way, not all teachers are heroes. Some of them are losers who can’t do other stuff. I’ve had some of them.
THR: What teacher did you have that’s a loser?
Carolla: Mr. Gregory at North Hollywood High School. But I have trouble naming the good ones! Most of them sucked. They weren’t in love with the notion of teaching and changing the future, they were there for a good paycheck and for not having to work in the summers. Do roofers have to be in love with roofing? Are parking-enforcement personnel in love with traffic? We just accept that they do it for the money. Why not teachers?
THR: So you disagree with Matt Damon about teachers, then? He says they deserve lots more money and benefits.
Carolla: They make enough. They’re fine. Look at what they make in Chicago. If they don’t think they earn enough, they can do something else. It’s not about the teachers, it’s about the kids and their parents. Where I went to high school we had blacks, Mexicans, whites, Asians, Jews. All my Jewish friends ended up at Stanford and UCLA, and my white, black and Hispanic friends ended up working with me on a construction site. All you sanctimonious people who think you’re doing the Lord’s work and think I’m an ass-wipe, answer me this question: What was the difference? Was it the teachers, even though we all had the same ones at the same school, or was it our families? If you’re gonna study this in a lab, you have to remove North Hollywood High as a variable, because we all went there. But the Jewish kids had parents who were together and forced their kids to study, and the rest of us had divorced families with parents who didn’t give a shit.
THR: Any other reason for switching parties?
Carolla: I’m tired of Democrats asking, "Who’s going to pay for the children’s lunches?" You know what, let the parents pay for the f--king lunches. And, by the way, because I want parents to pay for their kids' lunches, it doesn’t mean I’m anti-kids.
THR: What did you think of the election?
Carolla: It's one of those things where you go, "Man, I don’t remember it being so exciting and interesting." But it’s like with the Super Bowl when I say, "Man, this is the best Super Bowl ever." I said that for three years in a row. But I think it’s pretty funny how passionate people get about their politics, and it seems even more so this year.
THR: What’s your reaction to President Obama’s re-election?
Carolla: I’m waiting for the hope and change to kick in. He was working the body for four years like in the mid-rounds, but now we're heading into the championship round and he's going to step up and go for the knockout. Except that’s never going to happen. It will just be more of the same, and for your family, it won’t matter. If you locked someone in a closet for the last four years, pulled them out, had them check their 401(k) accounts, their schools, their property taxes, the wars in the Middle East, the price of gas and Guantanamo Bay, then asked them: "Who won four years ago, McCain or Obama?" Do you think they would know?
THR: Then what don’t you like about Obama?
Carolla: He basically figured out that there’s a growing constituency of people who, as long as you give them everything they need, then you’re going to win their vote. He says asinine things like: "You think that guy started his own business? You think he’s smarter than you and works harder then you?" And people cheer, and they yell, "Nooo." Well, I’m here to tell you, that guy is smarter than you and he does work harder than you, because every guy I know who is successful works every weekend and they bust their ass to build their business. So why are we demonizing them?
THR: You’re a wealthy guy. Do you pay your fair share?
Carolla: Whoever brought up that terminology is an idiot. There’s 100 million adults paying taxes, so my fair share is 1/100 millionth of the total. I pay 20 times that. I pay way more than my fair share.
THR: Why would you have preferred a Romney victory?
Carolla: Obama has basically flatlined for four years. But I'd have been happy just to see the hysterics from the Obama supporters, like the world’s coming to an end. It's really not about politicians. If you want to have a good life, you should focus on your family, on your business, on your dog, on your fun, and you'll have a good life. If you're asking a politician what he can do for you, the answer is usually, "nothing." All's the government should do is keep the taxes and regulations at a manageable rate, keep a decent standing army and get out of the way.
THR: What’s your opinion of celebrity political activism?
Carolla: You know, if Darryl Hannah wants to chain herself to a tree, I'm all for it. But when Russell Simmons heads to Occupy Wall Street and tells the driver to leave the Bentley around the corner, then goes back to his 53,000-square-foot house, that seems like showboating. So some of it is noble, and some is misguided. I remember back in the day when Martin Sheen was running around saying, "no nukes" and chaining himself to bulldozers. Well, great, so now we have more coal-fired plants. How many Americans have died in coal-mining accidents and black lung disease in the past 30 years compared to the zero who have died in nuclear power plants? You got a body count? Nice work, Sheen. Keep it up. Hey, next time chain yourself to your son. Do a better job there. Not that he didn’t believe in what he was doing, he just happened to be screwing things up. When a celebrity grinds everything to a halt because of some endangered spider, I’m sure they have good intentions, it’s just that they’re not the smartest people. A lot of them are pretty high, and uneducated. But I really do love all the philanthropic causes, it’s just that when the PETA guys throw blood at people, it becomes a little much. There are bigger fish to fry than what a lot of celebrities are doing.
THR: Did Bruce Springsteen or other celebrities endorsing Obama matter?
Carolla: I don’t think it hurt. Bruce is a working-class hero. You know, a lot of people are out of work, and factories are closing, and all that junk that he talks about before every song he sings. Go get em, Bruce!
THR: How about an endorsement from Sean Penn. Does that help?
Carolla: I appreciate guys like Sean Penn because of their energy. It’s like they have a motor in them that’s insane. But drinking brandy with Hugo Chavez isn't a great idea. I think of him as a tyrant, not a hero. But I admire him for going down to New Orleans and getting a shotgun with an oar on the end of it and going to town with it. I appreciate the calories burned.
THR: What do you disagree with Republicans about?
Carolla: I would like a morning-after pill on the nightstand of every teenager in America. I’m looking to thin the herd. Also, I own a home and pay taxes on it, so I’d like to grow a pot plant in my backyard, and many Republicans wouldn’t support my right to do so. I look at it the same way as my right to own a handgun. If I haven’t used it in the commission of a crime, I should be able to own it. So until you see me going down to the park and selling pot to kids, I should be able to grow pot plants, or run my own still.
THR: You have a habit of irritating feminist groups, and other activists. Anything you’d like to clarify?
Carolla: No. I meant everything I said. Some activists are doing the Lord’s work, and some are angry and kooky, and we live in a country where you're allowed to be angry and kooky. Look, when I see Elizabeth Warren get up there and say the system is stacked against you, that just makes me want to throw up in my lap. I’m just like, "Sweetheart, how'd you get there as a 1/32nd Cherokee, or whatever you claim to be?" Don’t tell people that it’s stacked against them but if you vote for our side we will unstack it. Did Bill Clinton stack it against you? Or did he unstack and Bush restack it? Then why didn’t Obama unstack it? How is it still stacked after four years of unstacking? How did Elizabeth Warren make her millions with the system stacked against her? Imagine if she had a penis and wasn’t 1/32nd Cherokee – she could take over the world!
THR: You think you’d get more offers in Hollywood if you weren’t outspoken about your politics?
Carolla: I never think about it. I see situations, and I comment on them. It’s what my fans like about me. And there’s nothing Hollywood can do to me because I built my own pirate ship. I have a podcast in the studio I built. I bought the equipment and hired the employees. I play theaters, I sell books and I sell my Mangria online. There’s nothing NBC or CBS can do about it. They can kiss my ass. I create my own work – oh wait, I didn’t do that. The government created this really cool podcast for me and built me a cool studio and staffed it.
THR: You’ve done radio, acted, been a reality TV star, written books and run your own podcast. What’s most fun?
Carolla: Vintage car racing. I have a couple of Paul Newman cars. But in the business, being a guest on other people’s radio shows is my favorite thing to do. Doing my own show, there’s too many nuts and bolts.
THR: You have more than one Paul Newman car?
Carolla: I have five cars raced by Paul Newman or his team.
THR: What does a Paul Newman car cost?
Carolla: It depends on how many races it ran and how much Paul drove it. Right now, about $250,000. But for a few that aren’t for sale, close to $1 million.
THR: What did you spend?
Carolla: I bought them a while ago and I got some odder stuff, not the high-end stuff. I spent at least a few hundred grand on them.
THR: So you’re making good money on the podcast?
Carolla: Yes. It’s a good business.
THR: You’re one of the few who can say that. What’s the secret?
Carolla: That question has always bothered me. I used to get it with Loveline, too. I was nice at the beginning, then I’d just say, because I’m good, and Drew is good. Look, there are restaurants crowded every Saturday morning for breakfast. What’s the secret? They make good eggs, and they do it everyday. I have to put out a good podcast everyday or the fans ain’t hanging with me. They won’t be fans if they hear four crappy podcasts in a row, and they certainly won’t tell their friends to listen. Hey, aren’t you going to ask me about Mangria?
THR: Sure. What’s that? Your Sangria for men?
Carolla: It’s Sangria for anyone who wants to catch a buzz. It’s delectable and you can get it at BuyMangria.com, and it’s selling like hotcakes. And for the folks who don’t think I’m paying my fair share, guess who’s going to get 37 percent of every penny I earn selling Mangria? I came up with the product, I researched it, I hooked up with a guy in Sonoma, I bottled it, I labeled it and I sold 10,000 bottles so far, and the government will get its fair share.