Evan Smith: Thanks for agreeing to talk to me. I know you get a lot of requests.
Ted Nugent: Why not? When you have the word “Texas” in your magazine’s name, you deserve me. And I’m here to decide whether it’s the real Texas or if you brought that New York dog shit with you and you’re trying to change this great republic.
ES: Oh, boy! We’re getting off to a good start here.
TN: It is a great start—an honest start. Honesty is excellence, by the way.
ES: Listen, before we get into the Texas stuff, I want to go back to our last phone call. I mentioned that my recording device wasn’t set up to do the interview, and you said that you’re not big on technology.
TN: No, I’m not. I need it, I crave it, I fondle it, and I beat it up with every nontechnical crowbar I can muster, but my greatest joys are primal. As an earthling and as an American, even in 2007, I believe that my campfire, both literally and figuratively, is as raw as the original burp. This cold, freezing morning I was out hunting in the mist of Central Texas, and I encountered a magnificent, stunning, adorable two-hundred-pound wild boar. I put a razor-sharp rod in right through its heart at about thirty yards, and you’d think I’d just gotten my first piece of ass. I mean, it was as glorious as the first ricocheting power chord from that amplifier that I decided was a lot better [with the volume set to] 10 than 2. It was as pure as sitting in a broom closet jamming with Jimi Hendrix or watching my first child squirt out. I call it “the mystical flight of the arrow.”
ES: The rumor that you like to hunt is true.
TN: Yes, that’s one of the rumors that’s very true. A radio guy yesterday asked me about some of the rumors. I said, “All the really neat ones are true.” And he goes, “Well, can we confirm or deny a couple?” And I go, “Sure. Go nuts.” And he goes, “Did you ever [urinate] on a nun?”
ES: That one you denied.
TN: Uh, yeah! But believe me, had I the opportunity, I probably would have, and I would have roared with enthusiasm as I hysterically acknowledged such an occurrence. God knows many of them deserved it!
ES: I’m assuming that another of the rumors he asked you about involves your appearance at Rick Perry’s inauguration. What exactly happened that got you in the crosshairs of those “media punks” you like to refer to?
TN: What happened is, I’m a stream-of-consciousness guy. I’m so organic that I should be found on the shelf of a Whole Foods somewhere. I don’t consider what the recipient of my communication may or may not take from it. I just speak, and I’m sincere—I’m too sincere for politically correct, scared-of-their-own-shadow punks. I have become too effective at explaining the truth about the Second Amendment, the truth about the natural, pure instinct of self-defense, about the reason our Founding Fathers put that in there, in a cultural war where everybody on the other side of the fence—that would be the media 98 percent of the time—hates guns. They hate me because I do thousands of interviews every year, and I do them with a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, historically irrefutable tsunami of statistics and current evidence, and it drives them batty. Instead of someone condemning me because of what I do, they should look at me for what I am. And this brings me to the question you posed. If I was any more PG-13 that night, onstage at the inaugural ball for my good friend and valued employee Governor Rick Perry, Barney would have dry-humped me. I adjusted my halo. I never mentioned [requiring people to speak] English. I never mentioned immigration, illegal or otherwise. I never mentioned these things.
ES: Not a peep.
TN: Not a peep. But I’m not angry. This is better than Richard Pryor on fire. I have to wear a girdle to keep from busting a gut laughing at these idiots. A few years back a newspaper put quotation marks around the following sentence and attributed it to me railing at the audience at the Houston Parklands, or Timberlands, or Gomerlands, or whatever it is: “All you dirty, stinkin’ Mexicans should go back to where you came from.”
ES: That’s not what you said?
TN: Never, never. If I were to express that sentiment, I could make it much more colorful. What I said was, “If you can’t speak English, get the f— out of America.” I didn’t say that because we were in Texas. I say that in Des Moines.
ES: You say it every place.
TN: I’ve said it everywhere! Because it’s appropriate!
ES: There are people in this country who don’t speak English. Are you questioning their worthiness in being here?
TN: I don’t question their worthiness. But if you don’t put forth the effort to be an asset to the country you almost died getting to, get the f— out. That’s exactly what I meant. And guess who else means it? Only a day or two after the newspaper intentionally and viciously misrepresented, in the most abrasive of fashions, my statement onstage that night, there was a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal about why we’re more inventive, productive, safer, etcetera, than the rest of the world, and they attributed it to a variation of “If you can’t speak English, get the f— out of America.” It’s because of our united language. You know, Evan, I never went to college. I was too busy learning shit. I didn’t have to go to a class or a course to determine that neighbors, if they want to be a benefit to their neighborhood, might want to be able to speak the same f—ing language. Wow. What a concept. The people who are here but can’t speak English, those who are of decency and goodwill, stop me on the streets of San Antonio and Albany and Abilene and Waco, and they agree, because if you want an American dream, it will not be accomplishable if you don’t communicate effectively. That’s not a Ted-ism. That’s not racism. That’s a true celebration of mankind. If you no comprende, eat shit and die.
ES: Okay, that’s a very clear answer.
TN: And, dare I say, untouchable. There can’t be a force in this nation that takes the opposite approach to that, which would be, “Come to America and don’t speak English.” Nobody believes that, do they? Can you find someone who will sign on to that philosophy?
ES: I think there are probably people who’d hear that and, despite your saying that you’re not a racist, find it pretty inflammatory. But you’re not afraid of inflammatory.
TN: No. You know what? I’m an extremist. I actually believe in the U.S. Constitution. I believe in self-defense. Instead of calling 911 when someone breaks into my house, I actually am willing to shoot the m—f— dead. Aren’t I something? I’m so extreme that if some kind of tyrant or emperor or slave driver attempted to dictate my religion, I would not only get on a boat and go across a wild piece of water to an unknown area, I’d probably shoot the m—f— first. I’m so extreme that if a bunch of brownshirts tried to herd me and my Jewish neighbors onto a train, I would organize a Luger takeover, and there would be many dead Nazis. I’m out there, Evan.
ES: Hard to disagree.
TN: I defy you, smarty-pants, to nail down what point you and I would disagree on. Let’s take the thing we’re talking about. Do you think that in order to be a good American, the English language is essential?
ES: I think you shouldn’t require people to speak only English.
TN: Do you think you can be an asset to your neighborhood in America if you cannot speak English?
ES: I think there are probably cases in which you can.
TN: If there’s a flood coming, I don’t want someone screaming in Spanish through a megaphone. I want someone clearly stating, “The f—ing dam burst! Everybody head for high ground!” Political correctness really is a mental disorder. If I have to bring my crowbar to this wrecked axle and straighten it out, I shall. Anybody who gets in my way is going to have to eat my vapor trail.
ES: Guns are another thing the politically correct go after. I know you’ve been on the National Rifle Association board since 1995. You feel very strongly about this.
TN: Yes! Yes! I would ask you, what’s more tip-of-the-spear in this culture war? What is more abrasive and spine shattering to the left than gun ownership and killing food? They want to ban hunting. But it can’t be stopped. I’m recruiting more and more people to our side every day. It’s just beautiful.
ES: But there are people on the right who support gun control. There’s Rudy Giuliani. You have no use for such a person?
TN: I have no use for him.
ES: So if somebody is with you on everything else but wrong on that one issue, you write him off?
TN: I don’t write him off. It takes more honest and intellectual scrutiny than that. For example, I cannot properly convey my adoration for the men and women who charged up the stairs of the Twin Towers. And you know who ran up those stairs? Guys who liked porno. I think porno’s sick. I think people who like porno are sick. But guys who ran up those stairs liked porno. You know what I think? I think you have to be slightly retarded to smoke or chew tobacco. Guys who smoked or chewed tobacco went up those stairs. There were probably a bunch of gay guys who went up those stairs.
ES: There are gay soldiers fighting right now on our behalf in Iraq.
TN: I know there are. I’ve cooked meat over campfires with them in Kandahar. You see, I look for true love, for perfect relationships with every imaginable person of every imaginable choice. But when it comes to representing the people, I have to look at what I consider the barometers of goodwill and decency and freedom, and that certainly includes the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Ten Commandments, and the Golden Rule. We’re all imperfect, even the old perfect bow hunter. I’m such a perfect human being because I’m so imperfect.
TN: So Giuliani is a hero. He is a warrior. But his logic has been tainted by his time in Manhattan.
ES: And so for that reason, you could not support him for president.
TN: I’m not so sure.
ES: Is there somebody else in the race you like better? John McCain?
TN: McCain is much like Giuliani. He deserves our reverence—I don’t just use the word “respect,” because that’s not powerful enough. After 9/11 Giuliani showed some of the finest leadership since Patton, and certainly McCain’s service to the country puts him on an earned pedestal of reverence. But I think that in order to be a politician today, your logic has to be compromised in a feeble and, I believe, soulless attempt to placate voting blocs.
ES: It sounds to me like you don’t placate anybody.
TN: I placate conscientious, historically aware, hands-on experimenters in self-government.
ES: Is Rick Perry more in the mold of the kind of person you’re comfortable supporting?
TN: Very much so. I don’t agree with everything he’s done. I think the Texas education system is out of control. I thought he was too late in securing our borders. But in the world of politicians in 2007, Rick Perry stands in the top one percent of those who accurately represent “we the people.” He’s an inclusive, understanding, thoughtful, intelligent, and decisive person, and if more and more states had Rick Perry at the helm, the pimps and the whores and the welfare brats would be stopping at the next Help Wanted sign real soon.
ES: Have you talked since the inauguration?
TN: Many, many times.
ES: What does he say about all this?
TN: It’s hard to get words back and forth to each other amongst the uproarious laughter over the telephone. He thought the whole brouhaha was just adorable and that I am just precious. I don’t think he used the word “adorable” or “precious.” I think there was more-intense street vernacular from the good governor, none of which could be reprinted. Maybe in Texas Monthly. I should start reading that magazine.
ES: I don’t think everybody understands why you were at the governor’s inauguration. You’ve been living in Texas for more than three years.
TN: We first lived in the greater Crawford area, just an arrow’s shot from the president. Then we moved out to Waco for Rocco’s education. Rocco is my sixteen-year-old son. He’s an honor student, thank you very much, and a varsity basketball wizard. Just a wonderful young man.
ES: Why did you move to Texas?
TN: The reason is because we went through our own little Katrina hell in Michigan, in that our beautiful dream home was infested with the black killer mold. It was making us extremely sick, especially my divine wife, Shemane. We lost our home and everything in it, and the clinic that was literally saving her life was in the Dallas area. Because of her medical demands, we decided we’d better stay here to make sure that she became healthy and that Rocco had a consistent environment for his pivotal high school years.
ES: And you like it.
TN: We love it. I’ve come to Texas every year to rock and roll and to hunt since the sixties. I have great friends here and a great relationship with the state.
ES: It’s turned out to be a good place for you to live.
TN: Except for the fact that Texas has the worst drivers this side of Ontario.
ES: You have another problem with Texas, apparently, if a quote I read is accurate. On the topic of drug use, you said, “I’d never seen so many retarded people in my life when I got to Texas. You have a huge dope problem here. You have a methamphetamine epidemic. You have a cocaine epidemic.” Do you really believe that to be true?
TN: It’s an accurate quote, and I defy anyone to show me evidence that it’s an inaccurate observation. Just the chewing tobacco epidemic alone is enough to make me vomit. I will actually pull over to the side of the road if I see a cowboy with a turd in his lip to try to save his life, okay? They hate that, by the way.
ES: What’s going through my mind right now is, I’d pay money to see you interacting with the tree huggers down my way.
TN: I know what you mean by the tree huggers. There’s a mentally deranged tree hugger who sat in a tree in an attempt to save trees while I’m planting millions. That’s a true story. Butterfly, I think her name is. She sat in a California red sequoia for, like, two years. I shook her hand on Bill Maher’s show, and I told her, “God bless you, you little brat, for the sacrifice you’ve had to make for something you believe in. Unfortunately, what you believe in is stupid.” Because while she was sitting in a tree, my Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of America, Kamp for Kids, and the [National] Arbor Day Foundation planted ten f—ing million trees. So I said, “With all due respect, Butterfly, smoke some more dope and see if you can’t come back to the reality that planting trees is probably more effective in saving the trees than sitting in one, you f—ing chimp.”
ES: Yeah, you’d be a big hit in Austin.
TN: Oh, I am. It’s an absolute hoot. You know, I remember the Armadillo World Headquarters. It was quite a hangout.
ES: I bet you fit in very well there.
TN: I played it every year. People rocked out! Even the drool-master hippies still dance with much fire when Uncle Teddy erupts into their favorite love songs.