Louis CK to Donald Rumsfeld: Are you a Lizard Person?

Donald Rumsfeld is the former Bush-administration Secretary of Defense who approved the use of torture on prisoners and was integral in creating the environment necessary to push the US into the war on Iraq. A spokesperson for the UN suggested he be tried for war crimes.

And now he’s doing the publicity rounds for his new book, which includes never-before-seen documents that he’s okay with you seeing (don’t worry, the Internet has gathered the documents he doesn’t want you to see). Last week he called into the Opie and Anthony Sirius/XM show while genius comedian Louis CK happened to be on. Amidst Opie and/or Anthony’s (who can tell the difference) relentless ass-kissing, Louis offered the only confrontational questioning to be found in the interview. Audio, partial transcript and more after the jump!

LOUIS CK: Are you a lizard person?
DONALD RUMSFELD: [anecdote about someone paying for his dinner at a restaurant] LOUIS CK: But you didn’t answer the question.
OPIE AND/OR ANTHONY: He’s not going to dignify an answer to that
LOUIS CK: Why not? . . . There is plenty of evidence that this guy is a well-decorated and appreciated American . . .
OPIE AND/OR ANTHONY: . . . a patriot . . .
LOUIS CK: . . . and he has more credibility than anyone . . .
OPIE AND/OR ANTHONY: . . . exactly . . .
LOUIS CK: . . . but I just want to know if he’s a lizard.

You may not realize that Louis is actually correct – not that Rumsfeld is a lizard person, but that there are people who really believe that the world is controlled by a cabal of lizard aliens who can disguise themselves in human form.

The biggest proponent of this “theory” is David Icke, a British broadcaster who sincerely believes in the lizard people despite decades of public mockery and condemnation from Jewish groups who believe that when he says “lizard” he really means “Jew.” My good friend Jon Ronson made a documentary about Icke called The Lizards and the Jews, which happily you can watch in full:

And to end, a few more choice bits from Louis CK interview:

LOUIS CK: . . . and these are great questions and they’re questions that Mr. Rumsfeld can answer better than anyone in the world, but I still want to know if he’s a lizard, and if he’s tasted human flesh. I just want to know! . . . If he’s a lizard who has eaten people . . . it will stop the second I get a denial.
DONALD RUMSFELD: Tell Louie my grandchildren are listening.
LOUIS CK: They have a right to know, too!
. . .
LOUIS CK: What would be hurt by denying that you’re a lizard? That is fascinating to me that saying “I am not a lizard” might be dangerous. I want to know how would it hurt your credibility?

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

23 Comments

  1. Well mistake #1: inviting a stand up comedian that you don’t really know that well and putting him on air with a politician. LOL

  2. “Would you sacrify France to save Texas and Arizona ?”
    Not a smart move, sacrifying our wine and food to save some deserts.
    Please Mr Rumsfeld, at least wait until California is threatened too.

  3. I’m no Rumsfeld fan, but that was just rude.

  4. @bouletcorp: I first read it as “dessert”. That would be a tough one.

  5. Why did they step on Rumsfeld’s answer to the unions question, which he wasn’t answering anyway. He was clearly talking about the Obama administration, which he was criticizing for lack of people with a business background. (BTW, what is Rumsfeld’s business background? From his bio at the beginning, he went to work for a congressman after he left the Navy, and has been in Washington ever since.) I’m sure the question was about the union-busting in Wisconsin.

    My niece would definitely buy dinner for a lizard. (Insert multiple skink stories here… Why does my spell checker think that skink isn’t a word?)

  6. as for the David Icke video, I’d say he’s a very good poe laughing all the way to the bank.

  7. Sad that the most direct and confrontational questions anyone in that administration will ever be asked in public are jokes from a brilliant comedian. The guy was responsible for wars in two countries. Literally millions of lives hinged on his decisions for decades. He should be able to handle it.

  8. Louis CK is a fantastic comedian. It may be rude but… he’s a comedian. I would expect nothing else. Not to mention, Opie and Anthony is very much a comedy show. You don’t go onto a show like that unprepared for questions of a comedic nature.

    O+A have had Louis CK on many times as well as Stephen Lynch (a comedy musician), Bill Burr, Patrice O’Neil, Rich Vos… clearly, it is a show that is no stranger to comedians and if Rumsfeld was really shocked at having gotten a question like that, he stepped into it.

    Same as you don’t go to a Frankie Boyle show without expecting to hear some wonderfully edgy lines, you don’t call in to Opie and Anthony without expecting to deal with comedians and the way they conduct themselves towards authority figures.

  9. @davew:

    Rude? Really?

    How exactly should we treat people who order torture and lie us in to war?

  10. @spurge: How exactly should we treat people who order torture and lie us in to war?

    I can imagine two ways: You can argue with his policies (but I doubt this is going to happen on that radio show) OR you make make jokes with a little more wit. Repeatedly asking the same moronic question while Rumsfeld was talking is not polite and not funny.

    If this were a just world Rumsfeld would be in prison for the rest of his life, but this is not a reason to abandon courtesy when talking to him.

  11. I lost some tea during the credibility question. Seriously, that is the only Rumsfeld interview worth listening to ever. And it might have been rude, but at least it was funny. The both rude and unfunny alternative would have been listening to Rumsfeld lie repeatedly.

  12. I am of the opinion that “you’re rude” is not a valid criticism and that “you breached the geneva convention” is a valid criticism.

    I think something is fundamentally wrong when a person can even think that the problem here is that a comedian made fun of someone and not that Donald Rumsfeld is being given free publicity to promote his bullshit spin about all the horrible things he did so that he can both make money off them and lie to people until they believe he is a good person.

  13. @davew: Ah, davew, the authority on comedy writing. Can’t wait for your HBO special.

  14. Actually, I do find it odd that he was unwilling to even dignify it with an answer. Obviously Louis CK finds the whole thing ridiculous, and he wasn’t trying to mock the man at all. He seemed, at least initially, to genuinely be respecting the man and his work and pointing out the absurdity that despite all of that there are people who believe he’s a lizard, and he gave him the opportunity to publicly state that he’s not. All of that, to me, seemed respectful.

    And yet, strangely, he wouldn’t answer it. And I think Louis found that surprising and strange. To give him the opportunity to just clear the air on something absurd, and have that opportunity ignored and avoided. Did that make him suspicious? Of course not. It just struck him as odd enough that he wanted to get past it. It’s an easy answer to laughingly give and move on from, and yet he refused to even touch it. It doesn’t help his image to the crazy people who do believe in it, and it doesn’t hurt his image, especially when he’s going on a comedy-focused call-in show to begin with, to acknowledge the crazy and deny it.

    I saw nothing wrong with the line of questioning based on how it started, nor how he decided to keep it up, and I found it both funny and strange. Not, “oh my god, maybe he’s a lizard” strange, but wasted opportunity strange.

  15. The ONLY possible explanation for Rumsfeld not laughing it off and saying, “No, I’m not actually a lizard” is that he IS a lizard and didn’t want to get caught in a lie.

    I never believed in the reptiloid conspiracy stuff before, but now I am forced to concede that Rumsfeld, at least, is probably a lizard, at least until he issues a proper denial. It’s just prudent.

  16. Courtesty?

    COURTESY?!?

    Why should anyone dignify this man with a courtious discussion of his policies? Why would rudeness, absurdity, and a complete and utter lack of respect NOT be a good way to confront this man every single fucking time he is placed in the public eye?

    C’mon people. And Louis knew exactly what he was doing and he didn’t start out respectful. More people should follow his example.

  17. I thought it was funny. Considering Rumsfeld called into the show of two “shock jocks” notorious for playing an April Fool’s prank falsely reporting the death of Boston’s mayor in a car accident AND broadcasting a couple having sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I’m not sure in that context anyone could have an expectation of a serious policy discussion. Plus, the hosts, despite their protests, were laughing as well.

  18. @mikerattlesnake: Why should anyone dignify this man with a courtious discussion of his policies? Why would rudeness, absurdity, and a complete and utter lack of respect NOT be a good way to confront this man every single fucking time he is placed in the public eye?

    For the same reason we should treat non-skeptics with courtesy.

  19. @davew:

    “For the same reason we should treat non-skeptics with courtesy.”

    Non-skeptics only recieve respectful courtesy from me until they show themselves to be amoral, evil, lying megalomamiacs.

  20. @davew: This wasn’t an issue of courtesy or respect.

    Donald Rumsfeld is more than unrepentant of his acts and actions; he is proud. He personally engineered wars and orchestrated international unrest, in order to both create a domination over the political and economic landscape of a single ideology as well as to enrich himself, working for these goals since the late 1970s.

    Louis CK didn’t take him as a “serious man” because he isn’t; just a dangerous one. Louis CK is a comedian and he properly did he is job: he stated aloud, pointed, and poked (ew) that the Emperor has no clothes.

    “Are you a lizard person?” or “Are you human enough to acknowledge and accept that, no matter what your intentions were in the past, mistakes were made and things turned out being very bad, at least now in the present and the foreseeable future?”
    “My grandchildren are listening.”
    “They have a right to know too!”

  21. @Joshua: I was thinking that maybe Rummy was refusing to deny he was a lizard person because he is in fact a lizard person, but when has not lying been his MO?
    @davew: Dude, Rummy is not deserving of courtesy. He’s kind of like Ken Ham or Ray Comfort; he’s one of the kings of shit heap and deserving of more than what he gets. IMO.

  22. @davew:
    I don’t even know where to start, you have left the realm of skepticism far behind you but I’ll try and summarise what the rest of us are getting at.

    1. Politeness: There is not One Correct Way To Communicate. Politeness is a good general idea but that does not mean that everyone everywhere must be polite under all circumstances. For example on a comedy radio show someone might be rude in an attempt to make a joke. They are not Wrong just because they were rude. There may be other times and other places where being rude, or abrupt, or mocking, or angry, or cursing might be appropriate.

    2. Goals: It is alright for people to have different goals, you can’t demand that everyone accept and start working towards your unstated arbitrary goals. For example in this comment I am not trying to convert you to my way of thinking, it is clear that you have abandoned skepticism in this case however others may read this and I want some of the major points against your position spelt out for them. In this case the speaker is trying to make a joke, that is his goal. You may not find it funny but you have no grounds to demand that instead of making jokes he enter an in depth discussion of policy. I personally found it funny.

    3. Logical fallacy: you need to provide a reason why politeness is so important. The strength of an argument does not depend on how polite it is nor does it’s impact. A discourteous argument can be more convincing depending on the circumstances. “It’s rude” is never ever a valid argument by itself; so you could say “it’s rude, you may offend the listener, you should not say it if you wish to avoid offence” but you can’t merely say that all rudeness must be avoided.

    Lastly I quote from Pharygula wiki:
    A tone troll is “a pompous blowhard who, lacking such frivolous accoutrements as an actual argument, attempts to distract attention from said deficit by complaining that their opposition uses dirty words and ought, really, to have some strict nanny figure—possibly Mary Poppins—to wash out their mouths with soap. It depends on whom you ask.

    More specifically, it generally depends on whether you ask the tone troll themselves.

    Note that the presence of actual ‘dirty words’ in the traditional sense (notwithstanding that this is not uncommon on Pharyngula) isn’t particularly necessary for the use of this gambit. It is also acceptable to complain your opposition is being shrill. “

  23. I’ve been thinking about putting together a SITP talk about the origins of the conspiracy theories of people like David Icke and Lyndon La Rouche. A lot of them come from a paper that turned up on a Fido network in the late 80s. It turned out that it was written as a practical joke designed to expose one particular ufologist as a plagiarist, but after the hoaxers confessed he still insisted that it was all true, even the really batshit crazy stuff, and continued to spread it.

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