updated 3/11/2004 11:01:01 AM ET 2004-03-11T16:01:01

Guests: Tommy Thompson, Michael Jacobson, Kate Betts, Michael Dominguez, Christine Hansen, Jerry Lewis

DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  Obesity.  It is out of control and about to become the country‘s No. 1 killer.  We‘ll size up the super size problem tonight. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER:  DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT. 

Are Americans eating themselves to death?  Confronting a lethal epidemic: obesity.  How did we get so overweight and what‘s being done about it?

Plus, super sized America.  How food portions and clothing sizes are expanding.  You may not be eating or wearing what you think you are. 

The military‘s top gun, under fire.  Air Force servicemen accused of rape.  Their superiors admitted to widespread crisis.  Can the U.S.  military keep its female soldiers safe?

For decades he ruled as the clown prince of puns and pratfalls.  So who would have guessed that while he was making us laugh, Jerry Lewis was battling depression and chronic pain. 

JERRY LEWIS, COMEDIAN:  How I got this way.

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight, Jerry Lewis on the 40-year torture that almost led to his suicide and why life is looking bright again.

DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.  From Studio 3-K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NORVILLE:  And good evening. 

We begin tonight with the distinction our country should not be terribly proud of.  Obesity, it‘s so out of control in America that if this country doesn‘t start losing weight, obesity will pass smoking and become the nation‘s No. 1 killer.  This is frightening.

The Center for Disease Control says obesity is now killing 400,000 people a year.  Of all the preventable causes of death, 16 percent of them are due to poor diet, to obesity and physical inactivity.  That is just behind the 18 percent whose deaths are due to smoking and tobacco use. 

In response, the government today began airing public service announcements trying to get people to lose weight.  This one is called belly. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It looks like someone‘s belly.  Probably lost it walking on the beach. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Who is to blame for the fattening up of America?  Well, in the past, lawsuits have been filed against fast-food places. 

But today, the House of Representatives passed the so-called Cheeseburger Bill.  It goes on to the Senate now.  It‘s a measure that would protect restaurants and fast food franchises from lawsuits seeking to blame them for obesity. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RICK KELLER ®, FLORIDA:  Most people have enough common sense to realize that if they eat an unlimited amount of French fries, milkshakes and cheeseburgers without exercising, it can possibly lead to obesity. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  And with an estimated 64 percent of Americans either overweight or obese, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced today the Healthy Lifestyles and Disease Prevention Campaign.  But is this like shutting down the restaurant after all the food inside is gone? 

Secretary Thompson is with me tonight from Washington.

Good evening, sir, nice to see you. 

TOMMY THOMPSON, HHS SECRETARY:  Deborah, how are you?

NORVILLE:  I‘m great.  And I looked at potato chips that I passed by and feeling good about myself. 

Why the campaign now?

THOMPSON:  The campaign is so important, because the problem is getting even larger than we had anticipated.  And it was only 10 years ago that 300,000 people died because of obesity-related diseases.  Now it‘s over 400,000, an increase of 33 percent. 

And we just need to realize that it‘s costing America a great deal of money, a loss of lives, loss of productivity and poor health.  And what we need to do is recognize that. 

And every single one of us can look himself in the mirror in the morning and say, “You know, I‘m a little chunky.  I‘m going to do something about it.” 

NORVILLE:  Well, there‘s really only one way you get fat, and that‘s put more food in your mouth than you burn off every day.  Why don‘t people get this?

THOMPSON:  Well, I think, you know, it‘s just been a way of life for way too long and way too many people. 

We stopped doing physical education in a lot of schools.  And we have so much access to fat foods.  And we have the opportunity, you know, to go home and watch TV or play on the computer and not do any exercising.  And it‘s just become a way of life. 

And now we‘ve got to recognize that we have to change that.  Human habits are hard to change.  But I think you can—using the funny ads, the kind of information that we‘re getting out there, we have a good chance to turn this around. 

Twenty-five years ago it was the same way with tobacco.  Nobody—

Everybody was smokers or a just a good share—a large share of the people were, and people stood up and said it‘s time to do something about it. 

Now it‘s time to do something about obesity and overweight.

NORVILLE:  I wonder with the government being so proactive about this campaign, is it possible that in the future some who would want to sue because they were obese would not be able to or be blocked in that effort because the person on the other side of the legal table would say, “Hey, you know, back there in 2004, Tommy Thompson and the rest of the government told you you were going to get fat if you didn‘t eat”—and this is a way of stopping that in the future? 

THOMPSON:  Well, I think that lawsuits really don‘t accomplish that much.  I think what we need to do is we‘ve got to start educating America about bad habits and trying to get people healthy again. 

NORVILLE:  Well, one of the ways you‘re doing that...

THOMPSON:  I think that‘s a much better way to do that, Deborah.

NORVILLE:  And one of the ways you‘re doing that, Secretary, is with some of the funny ads.  We saw a snippet of it just a second ago.  I want to roll another one that you‘ve got out there.  It‘s called “Love Handles.”

THOMPSON:  I like that one. 

NORVILLE:  Let‘s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can I help you, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I found these over by the stairs. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, thank you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What are they?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Love handles.  Lots of people lose them taking the stairs instead of the escalator. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NORVILLE:  The guys on Madison Avenue will tell you that humor is always a great way to get the message through.  What is it you want people to do after they finish chuckling over the commercial?  How do you want them to change their lives?

THOMPSON:  I want them to do simple things and take small steps. 

When they get home at night, I want to get them off a block earlier off the subway or off the bus and walk home. 

I want them not to eat as big a portion at dinner.  Don‘t take a second helping.  Eat only half the dessert. 

Then take the children out and walk around the block, get a chance to know your children, know your neighbors.  When you sit down in front of the television tonight, do some sit ups, do some push-ups.  If you can only do one, fine.  Then tomorrow night, do two.

And you‘ll be surprised, the small steps are going to make a difference in the future. 

NORVILLE:  And you always say don‘t skip breakfast, that breakfast really is, as your mom used to say, the most important meal of the day. 

THOMPSON:  It really is. 

NORVILLE:  You know, one of the things that surprised me when I was doing research in anticipation of talking to you, is that when you look at the statistics, in 1994, Americans on average consumed 40,000 more calories than they did just four years earlier in 1990. 

Most of us don‘t know how much we‘re putting down our faces every day. 

THOMPSON:  And that is true.  And that‘s what the department is also going to try to do, is get better information on labeling.  So when you go in to buy food, you know what you‘re buying.

And make them easier to understand.  A lot of the things you buy you‘ll look at the labels, you really don‘t understand them.  What we‘re trying to do, make them simpler, make them easier to understand and allow people to buy food and then be able to compute, you know, the calories they‘re taking in. 

NORVILLE:  Can I give you a suggestion?

THOMPSON:  Because it‘s the calories you take in, you have to burn them off. 

NORVILLE:  Absolutely.  And it doesn‘t do me a whole lot of good to look at the grams and the HDLs and the sodium and stuff like that.  I know I should know, but I just can‘t keep it straight. 

What would help me a lot is if on the box that the Big Mac came in, if you told me I was going to going to have to go and run for 45 minutes or an hour and 10 minutes, I‘ve got to tell you, I‘d take about three bites and then put it away. 

THOMPSON:  That‘s a good point.  That‘s what we should be doing. 

NORVILLE:  Can‘t you mandate that?  You‘re the federal government. 

You‘ve got power.

THOMPSON:  We‘re trying to do that.  And we‘re trying to get companies like McDonald‘s and other fast food companies to do it and be able to get more information out on their menus. 

NORVILLE:  But you can‘t force them, can you?  I mean, there‘s an interest in them not giving that information, because I‘m not the only one who‘s going to push half the Big Mac away if I find out how many laps I‘m going to have to run to burn it off. 

THOMPSON:  I want to tell you, we‘ve called the fast food industry, and they‘ve been starting to respond.  The restaurant association has been in several times to see me, and I‘ve been very direct with them. 

And they are putting, as you will find in your restaurants, a lot more items on the menu that are heart-healthy and low-cal and low carb.  And this is going to be, I think, something that‘s going to really come into the forefront of the future. 

We‘re also handing out these walkameters, these pedometers (ph), that you put on and you‘re supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day.  I‘m religious about it, and I‘m trying to get other people to be as religious about it as I am. 

NORVILLE:  Well, I know sir, that you walk the walk.  You‘ve actually lost 15 pounds in anticipation of launching this campaign.

THOMPSON:  That‘s right.

NORVILLE:  How did you do it?

THOMPSON:  By walking, by doing push ups in the morning as well as sit-ups, watching my diet.  Don‘t take that extra helping and push away the desserts and then do a lot of walking. 

And it‘s been helpful.  And I‘m going to lose another 10 pounds.  I‘m going to get down to 185 pounds.  And I haven‘t been there in many, many years, but I want to be healthy. 

NORVILLE:  We‘re envious of you, and we congratulate you.  And I‘ll tell you what, we‘re going to go to the commercial break.  Secretary Thompson, thanks for being with us.  But in honor of you, we want to ask our viewers to do 15 sit ups while the commercials are playing, because when we come back we‘re going to talk about more of our super sized society. 

Secretary, thank you so much. 

THOMPSON:  What a great program.  Thank you, Deborah. 

NORVILLE:  Well, we love that plug.  Thank you, sir.  Say that again on camera, will you?

THOMPSON:  I think it‘s a great program.  Thanks for having me on there.  Keep doing your push-ups, your walking and your sit-ups. 

NORVILLE:  All right.  The secretary is giving you your exercise campaign.  We‘re going to tell you what we‘re going to talk about in just a moment.

We‘re going to talk about what we eat, from the clothes, how they‘ve been super sized, to the portions on your plate, after this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  Coming up, legendary comic Jerry Lewis recalls the pain and suffering he endured for nearly 40 years, how it almost forced him to take his life. 

LEWIS:  I have a 9-millimeter Beretta.

ANNOUNCER:  And how he finally found relief. 

But next, the U.S. Air Force has a crisis on its hands.  Rape charges against its servicemen are running rampant and the military may not know how to stop it.

DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT is coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  Obesity cost taxpayers $75 billion in medical experience expenses last year.  And while a lot of Americans do try to cut the pounds, they‘re often being tricked into thinking they‘re doing the right thing when, in fact, they‘re not.

Food portions can be so big that even if you‘re following the government‘s nutrition guidelines from the USDA food pyramid, you could be eating seven times the recommend amount. 

And here‘s something else to keep in mind.  You may think that all that dieting and exercising you‘re doing is paying off, but what if it turns out the size 8 you‘re wearing really and truly is a 14?

Joining me now from Washington is Michael Jacobson.  He‘s the executive director for the food watchdog group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  And with me here in New York is “TIME” magazine‘s style and design editor, Kate Betts.  She‘s also a former editor of “Harper‘s Bazaar” magazine. 

Welcome to you both.

Michael, I‘m going to start with you first.  Who‘s to blame here?  Is it the people who are just simply eating ad nauseum?  Is it the government because they haven‘t stepped in the way they appear to be doing now?  Or is it the food companies, who have just made it so enticing, how could you say no?

MICHAEL JACOBSON, CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST:  I think there‘s enough blame to go around. 

We live in a society that is totally conducive to obesity.  Everything is automated.  Nobody does hard labor any more.  And there‘s tempting, delicious cheap food everywhere we go.  We‘re only human.  You know, if we can avoid exercise, eat all we want, that‘s pretty normal. 

So I think we have our society to blame.  Individuals need to take some responsibility.  It‘s our own bodies.  But, I think we need to look at what the food industry is doing.  McDonald‘s alone spends a billion dollars a year on advertising and encouraging people, often young children, to eat food that is not good for their health. 

NORVILLE:  Well, you know, it‘s funny.  When we go out to take the pictures of the fat people walking up and down the streets, we don‘t have to stand on the sidewalk very long.  They‘re everywhere you turn.

And one of the things that‘s interesting is when you look at how food portions have changed over the years, we‘ve really gotten snookered. 

A food portion—we‘re going to put up a picture of a food portion from a few years ago to compare what a food portion looks like today.  Hamburgers are 25 percent bigger, Mexican foods 27 percent bigger, soft drinks 32 percent, and a sack of potato chips is now 60 percent larger for the same price. 

It‘s no wonder we‘re eating more.  They‘re putting more in front of us. 

JACOBSON:  That‘s right, and if they put it in front of us, and if it‘s cheap, we‘ll eat it. 

But I didn‘t touch on—you asked about who is to blame, and I think we need to look at government.  I greatly respect Secretary Thompson for his sincerity in dealing with this problem.  Four hundred thousand premature deaths a year because of overweight and obesity.  These are people we love who die earlier that we need to. 

What is the government‘s response?  I think the Bush‘s administration is fighting the war against obesity with pop guns.  Public service announcements.  You know when they get on.

NORVILLE:  What would you have them do instead, sir?

JACOBSON:  Well, you touched on one thing earlier.  The government could pass a law requiring chain restaurants to list calories on menu boards and on menu.  It would be cheap for the restaurants.  It would give people vital information. 

The government, Congress could ban junk food advertising aimed at young children.  It‘s terrible that we encourage, that our society allows the industry to tempt kids to buy food that‘s going to rot their teeth, clog their arteries, make them fat when they‘re 5 years old. 

NORVILLE:  I want to bring...

JACOBSON:  That‘s crazy.

NORVILLE:  I want to bring in our other guest, because she knows from the other side of the coin just how much of an impact this is having. 

Kate Betts, A lot of women go to the store, they feel really good.  “I‘m in a size 8.”  But they‘re not, really.  Sizes have changed in the same way portions have. 

KATE BETTS, “TIME” STYLE AND DESIGN EDITOR:  Yes, it‘s funny, because sizes are getting bigger and bigger.  Yet, there‘s also an inverse thing happening in the fashion industry for high fashion, where the fit models are getting smaller and smaller. 

So you really—you think you‘re a size 8, but you might really be trying on a size that‘s much larger than that because the designers are trying to adjust to this discrepancy. 

NORVILLE:  Let‘s look at the how the sizes had have changed over the years. 

Back in 1945 when men were coming home from World War II, a woman—

1941.  A woman‘s bust was 35, a waist 27 and hips 35.  My gosh.  Look how we have porked out in 60 something years.  What is going on here?

BETTS:  Well, I don‘t know.  I mean, it‘s strange, because you always hear about in the fashion industry especially how people are exercising more and more, how there are all these diet fads. 

And yet, designer clothing, designers are adding more sizes...

NORVILLE:  Are they part of a conspiracy, then, to keep us lulled into thinking that we‘re fit and slim when in fact, we‘re not?

BETTS:  I don‘t think so, because I think there is also the inverse argument in fashion that there are people who are too thin and that the magazines are promoting thinness too much. 

But I think that there is a strange thing happening with the sizes where the designers are sort of confusing the consumer and nobody really knows what a size 8 is anymore. 

NORVILLE:  And less anybody think it‘s just the women‘s sizes, let‘s throw up the graphics so we can see how it‘s changed for men, too. 

In that same time span, back then, a 40 regular was a 34-inch and 40 hips.  Now it‘s a 38-inch and 42 hips.  I thought guys were just, sliding the waist down and putting it under their stomach.  But they actually made the pants bigger as the waists have gone bigger, too. 

The clothing manufacturers know what they‘re doing.  It‘s not in their interest to say we‘ve increased the sizes, because then people aren‘t going want to go out and shop for clothes, are they?

BETTS:  No, but by the same token, if they want to sell clothes and more and more people are larger sizes, they‘ve got to make the larger size.  Because otherwise people are kind of coming into their stores and not find anything that fits them, which is the case usually, I know.

NORVILLE:  Michael Jacobson, just before we started broadcasting tonight, the house passed the so-called Cheeseburger Bill, and it will now go to the Senate.  Do you think that will be effective in any way?  Or is that just a smokescreen on this whole obesity issue?

BETTS:  It‘s just to protect the food industry against the odd lawsuit.  In the whole history of the United States there has been one lawsuit pertaining to obesity.  You know, it‘s just—it‘s ridiculous legislation, and I hope it fails in the Senate. 

But if the government could do something about obesity.  It‘s a tough problem to deal with, but it could get junk foods out of public schools.  Sponsor physical education programs.  It ought to tax junk foods and use the revenues to subsidize the cost of healthy foods. 

NORVILLE:  That‘s an interesting idea. 

JACOBSON:  There are tons of thing the government could do, but this government won‘t do anything that costs money or offends a single industry. 

NORVILLE:  And finally, Kate, should there be a standard in the industry so people really know what size they are?

BETTS:  Yes, I think the standard should start with the fit models that the clothing is being fitted on in the beginning of the process, making fashion.  And that should... 

NORVILLE:  So that woman who is a 2, the rest of us are like 22s. 

BETTS:  Right.  But that should remain the same and should not decrease as the years go by. 

NORVILLE:  All right.  We‘ll let that be the last word.  Kate Betts, thanks for being with us.

Michael Jacobson, our thanks to you as well. 

JACOBSON:  Thank you.

NORVILLE:  And before we head to break, just more proof that fat is not where it‘s at. 

American soprano Deborah Voigt has been dropped from a starring role by Britain‘s Royal Opera because she‘s too heavy.  Apparently, too big to fit into the little black dressed designed for the part. 

She‘d been scheduled to play the lead in Richard Strauss‘ “Ariadne on Naxos,” which is her signature role.  But the casting director decided she didn‘t look right in the dress. 

Boyd was given the heave-ho, and a slimmer singer has been brought in.

When we come back, another shocking report.  More rape in the ranks.  This time, it‘s the Air Force under scrutiny.  The secretary of the Air Force responds, next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

NORVILLE:  With more allegations of rape in the U.S. military, there are serious doubts tonight that the armed forces can keep its own female soldiers safe. 

The Air Force has ordered a major study about how the service handles rape and sexual assault cases in the wake of a report which found 92 case of alleged rape involving U.S. Air Force personnel throughout the Pacific from 2001 to 2003. 

Seven attackers have been court-martialed and convicted of rape. 

Most of the cases involved assaults by Air Force airmen against female service members.  The Air Force and the Pentagon insist that sexual assault will not be tolerated. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  One cannot read the kinds of reports you are referring to and not have a deep concern about the armed forces because we do hold ourselves to a higher standard. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  The commander of the Air Force in the Pacific has ordered changes in training and new methods of assistance for victims. 

And tonight we‘re joined by Michael Dominguez, the assistant secretary to the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. 

And sir, thank you for being with us.

MICHAEL DOMINGUEZ, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF AIR FORCE:  I‘m glad to be here.  Thank you.

NORVILLE:  How long has the Air Force been seriously looking at this issue of sexual assault among its ranks?

DOMINGUEZ:  Well, it really started with our look at the United States Air Force Academy beginning in January of 2003. 

NORVILLE:  And if the Air Force has been looking at it for the past year and seriously trying to address it, how is it possible that just in the f first month of this year another six women report having been raped within the Air Force?

DOMINGUEZ:  Well, sexual assault is a crime, and it‘s intolerable.  And it‘s inconsistent with the values of Air Force.  We‘re going to do everything we can to eliminate this. 

But we know that we need help.  We‘re not as good as we have to be.  We‘re not as good as we‘re going to be.  And that‘s why we‘re doing this major assessment across the Air Force now, to find out how our policies and practices are work and what we need to do to be better. 

NORVILLE:  I know one of the things the report has already said is there is simply not an adequate system for even reporting sexual assault cases.  You literally had to go in the Pacific, your people had to go page by page, hand filing through all the documents.  And that there is an equally lax system of support when a woman does report having been victimized. 

These are things that don‘t require major policy decisions.  How are they being addressed right now?

DOMINGUEZ:  Well, right now, what you have with the report from the commander of the Pacific Air Forces is one of the inputs from our nine major commands. 

The other eight major commands are right now in the process of assessing their own systems, identifying best practices, but also identifying places where they can improve. 

And they‘re going to bring that to us and we‘re going to put all of that together here at the headquarters, Air Force, and working with our major commands.  And then we‘re going to be moving out quickly on implementing the changes that are necessary across the Air Force to get us all onto the same page. 

NORVILLE:  It‘s admirable that the Air Force has even agreed to be interviewed on this, because you know you guys are going to get slammed.  And people are going to say you‘ve known about this for a long time. 

You saw the thing at the academy was a year ago.  And there were 150 cases of sexual assault.  And yet in all of that time only one person was court-martialed, and he was acquitted. 

It‘s difficult for people to put a lot of credence, no matter how sincerely you as an official say it, that anything is ever going to really change. 

What you‘ve said is, “We‘ve looked at one branch; we‘ve got eight more to go.”  And people are thinking, “OK, policy,” you know.  It‘s going to take forever.

What assurance can you give anybody that a woman in the service, the ranks of the Air Force, is going to be safe?

DOMINGUEZ:  Well, we care very deeply about our people.  People in the Air Force are the key to combat power in the Air Force.  And they‘re what fight and win the nation‘s wars.  And our commanders are responsible for their health and welfare.  And our commanders, people like General Beggart (ph), who did the study.

NORVILLE:  Right. 

DOMINGUEZ:  And who initiated, who caused the rest of us to move out, smartly, and catch up with him.  Our commanders are taking an initiative because they are determined that they are going to attack this problem.  They are going to take care of the people in the Air Force. 

NORVILLE:  How will you define success, in your opinion? 

DOMINGUEZ:  Well, I don‘t know.  I think we‘re going to need help from the outside.  That‘s part of what this assessment process is going to be. 

And one of the things we‘re going to be doing is, as we amass that data this spring—this is not a forever exercise—this spring, we‘ll be reaching out to experts outside of the Air Force, outside of the military to help us understand this problem and to help us understand what we have to do to be better.  We‘re serious about this. 

NORVILLE:  Mr. Secretary, we have here in the study one woman who I think will be part of one of those groups you are reaching out to.  We want to thank you, sir, for your time in speaking with us about this very real problem and the steps you‘re taking to address it. 

And we also want to be sure to note that the Department of Defense just today created a new toll-free phone number for anyone who wants to contact, to give information, or to make a report to the task force on the care of victims of sexual assault.  The number is there on your screen.  It‘s 800-497-6261.

And now we turn to one of those women who very well be a part oft groups that the Air Force reaches out to.  Christine Hansen is the executive director of the Miles Foundation.  It‘s a nonprofit organization that works to support military personnel in times of crisis. 

CHRISTINE HANSEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE MILES FOUNDATION:  Correct, Deborah.               

NORVILLE:  Including sexual assault. 

HANSEN:  Particularly sexual assault and domestic violence victims. 

NORVILLE:  The numbers that you have just heard the secretary share with just the Pacific theater for the Air Force, does that ring true to you or do you think it‘s an underestimate or pretty much on the money? 

HANSEN:  I think we may be at a low rung on the ladder, actually. 

These are reports that would only be garnered by military authorities. 

There is within our society generally under-reporting of sexual assault.  And there is a great deal of fear of adverse career impact that may preclude victims from reporting to military authorities. 

NORVILLE:  But you have also done a comparison of apples and apples and tried to compare incidences of rape and sexual assault within the military community and in the civilian community.  And I gather it‘s a lot worse this the military. 

HANSEN:  In the Air Force alone, a study that will soon be published in the journal “Violence Against Women” indicates that it is twice as high in the Air Force itself as it is within the civilian community. 

And when you talk about apples to apples, we‘re talking about using protocols for the protection of human subjects, using specific data and methodological issues, so that you can arrive at apples to apples. 

NORVILLE:  So it really is a legitimate comparisons of the two situations. 

HANSEN:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  How does the Air Force, the Marines, the rest of the branches compare? 

HANSEN:  Unfortunately, we don‘t have a full comparison at this point in time, particularly when it comes to sexual assault.

NORVILLE:  One of the things that is very frustrating I think for women within the services is the sense that they are not being supported.  I know that is something your organization has found.

And the night before last, we had a young Army lieutenant on with us, Jennifer Machmer, who talked about a sexual assault that she experienced a year ago in Kuwait.  And what she had to say about the action taken against her assailant was chilling.  Let‘s give a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. JENNIFER MACHMER, SEXUALLY ASSAULTED IN KUWAIT:  I trusted the brigade commander to do the right thing. 

NORVILLE:  And what did they do to him? 

MACHMER:  I didn‘t find out until February that he received a Field Grade Article 15, which for an NCO of his rank really doesn‘t do much and a little bit of pay taken. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

NORVILLE:  The guy sexually assaulted her.  He lost some money.  That was it. 

HANSEN:  Regrettably, Deborah, we see that in the sexual assault cases in the military, only about 2 to 3 percent are actually court-martialed. 

NORVILLE:  And you say that only three-quarters of the women—three-quarters of the women who are being assaulted are just keeping quiet about it.  They don‘t want to make waves. 

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  What is it about the culture within the various branches of the military that is creating this code of silence among the part of victims and also a sense of enabling maybe among the part of the aggressor? 

HANSEN:  I think, on behalf of the victims, what the two primary issues—that of privacy and confidentiality.  Once you do report to military authorities, it then becomes mandatory reporting and may lead you down a path that you‘re not be prepared to go down as a victim at that point in time. 

NORVILLE:  So victims don‘t have the option, as they do in the civilian world, of pressing charges?

HANSEN:  Correct.  Exactly. 

NORVILLE:  So that‘s an impediment.

HANSEN:  The other impediment is that fear of adverse career impact.  How will this impact my ability to continue to do my work for myself to be ready to complete whatever mission I am asked to do?

NORVILLE:  There is something called the McDowell (ph) checklist, with which I‘ve become familiar.

HANSEN:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  And it is a process by which points are assigned to determine the believability of the person who is reporting the sexual assault or the rape.  It‘s kind of scary where, if a knife is used, you get this many points.  If a bodily injury is assessed, you get this many points.  This is the way it‘s being done in the military.  That seems like a very odd way to determine if someone has been attacked or not. 

HANSEN:  Regrettably, the McDowell checklist was actually supposed to be outlawed, if you will, many years ago, in the mid-1990s.  We still see it creeping in into criminal investigations within the military.  Our best hope and wish is for enlightened criminal investigators. 

NORVILLE:  We have heard this story so many times, with Tailhook, with the women at Sheppard Air Force Base, with the knocking out of the four top officials at the U.S. Air Force Academy. 

How many times will the news media jump on this bandwagon, do the interviews like we‘re doing, until something is really done to change? 

HANSEN:  My home is this time will be the last, because we‘re talking about women who are being sexually assaulted in a theater of combat operations. 

NORVILLE:  And do you think the people at the top of the Defense Department are serious when they say this will not stand? 

HANSEN:  I think that Mr. Rumsfeld fully understands that this is force protection and that military commanders can be head accountable for this.  And in military parlance, this is called, heads will roll. 

NORVILLE:  Heads will roll.  Well, we will watch to see how many go on the floor in front of us. 

Christine Hansen from the Miles Foundation, thanks for being with us.          

HANSEN:  Thank you, Deborah.

NORVILLE:  We appreciate it. 

ANNOUNCER:  Up next, a pratfall down memory lane with legendary funny guy Jerry Lewis—when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  All the time Jerry Lewis was making people laugh, he kept a very private secret.  Now Jerry Lewis tells his story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing):  Some have a leaning for dark, hidden meaning, but I want to make the world laugh.  My burning ambition is, I want to make the world laugh. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NORVILLE:  Jerry Lewis began his career on stage as a 5-year-old.  He has been making the world laugh ever since. 

But three years ago, the Jerry Lewis that we all knew and loved changed drastically.  We developed pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic lung disease, for which he was taking steroids.  Lewis‘ weight skyrocketed and he was also battling chronic back pain after years of pratfalls. 

But despite all of his health problems, Lewis never lost his signature sense of humor. 

And Jerry Lewis is with us tonight, a true show business legend.

It‘s so cool to meet you. 

JERRY LEWIS, COMEDIAN:  Thank you, Deborah. 

NORVILLE:  Everybody reacts that way, don‘t they, when they meet you for the first time?

LEWIS:  They are terrific.  They make the 73 years old worthwhile.

NORVILLE:  Seventy-three?  You‘re taking a few off, aren‘t you?

LEWIS:  No, I‘ll be 79, 5 years as I started. 

NORVILLE:  Oh, OK.

LEWIS:  So I have been at it for 73 years. 

NORVILLE:  And the very first thing you did was, as a little kid, you sang? 

LEWIS:  Brother, can you spare a dime? 

NORVILLE:  And how does it start?  I built...

LEWIS (singing):  Once I built a railroad, made it run, made it race against time.  Once I built a railroad.  Now it‘s done.  Brother, can you spare a dime. 

It was the Depression, of course, so it was a big song then. 

NORVILLE:  Absolutely. 

LEWIS:  I was a big hit the night I did that. 

NORVILLE:  Well, and it never stopped. 

When you, a couple of years ago, I remember when everyone saw you on television and—it one of your first appearances after you had been battling the lung thing.

LEWIS:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  It scared people to see you so physically changed.  It frightened a lot of people. 

LEWIS:  Two-hundred and sixty pounds. 

NORVILLE:  Did it scare you to see what was going on?

LEWIS:  Yes.  When I looked at some of the material after the fact, hearing the breathing, the difficulty I was having. 

And one of my staff had asked me on the Saturday before the telethon, are you really going to do it?

NORVILLE:  Yes. 

LEWIS:  And I said, when do you remember my saying I‘ll only help my kids when I look terrific? 

NORVILLE:  Yes. 

LEWIS:  You never heard me say that.  So, I have to do what I have to do, no matter what. 

NORVILLE:  Right. 

LEWIS:  If I had seen what I looked like and what it would be to the audience, I don‘t know.  I don‘t think I would have done anything differently. 

NORVILLE:  But now, fast-forward.  You have come off most of the steroids that had given you that whole bloated thing. 

LEWIS:  Yes, I‘m about three milligrams left of prednisone. 

NORVILLE:  That‘s great.  And they are going to wean you off all of that eventually?

LEWIS:  Yes.  In another three or four weeks, I‘ll be off it. 

NORVILLE:  And I think that period in your life underscored for a lot of people how much pain you have been under.  And I don‘t think anybody ever knew...

LEWIS:  No.

NORVILLE:  ... that all those pratfalls...

LEWIS:  You never let an audience know that you are hurting.  But I had 37 years of unbelievable, inexplicable pain.  And I was—I was just about ready to end it. 

And I heard about Medtronic.  It‘s the company who invented the pacemaker. 

NORVILLE:  Right. 

LEWIS:  We have got three million people on this planet because of them that are alive and well. 

NORVILLE:  And what you have got right here in your hand is...

LEWIS:  It‘s my pain pacemaker.

NORVILLE:  But it doesn‘t jazz up your heart.

LEWIS:  No.

NORVILLE:  It works on your back.  Tell us how it works.  And we should note that you‘re a paid spokesman for that.  And it‘s made a big difference in your life.

LEWIS:  I have the battery here under my skin.

NORVILLE:  Right. 

LEWIS:  And two electrodes go from the battery to where they cut bone out of the spine to accommodate the two electrodes.  They stop pain from going to the brain.  So when I‘m in pain, I just hit it.  Did you hear that little bell? 

NORVILLE:  Right. 

LEWIS:  And I have a pretty good vibration.  And it‘s killing the pain.  I can raise the level, I can lower it dependent on the pain.  And it also opens my garage door.  Hey. 

(LAUGHTER)

LEWIS:  Sorry. 

NORVILLE:  Does that happen, you lapse back to some of the characters that were...

LEWIS:  Oh, sure.  You have to. 

NORVILLE:  You have to. 

LEWIS:  Particularly—this—somebody asked me, what does it feel like?  I said it‘s a constant little vibration.  I have had an erection for nine months, to be totally honest.

(LAUGHTER)

NORVILLE:  Well, you got to be careful where you put that thing, darling. 

LEWIS:  Oh, good girl.  That‘s one in a row, Deborah.. 

(LAUGHTER)

NORVILLE:  You were addicted to a lot of painkillers before you found the relief with this.

LEWIS:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  And I know one of the things you do now is, you go around the country and you encourage physicians and people who are in chronic pain to just go to their doctor. 

LEWIS:  Right. 

NORVILLE:  It may not work for them, but there may be an answer that

wasn‘t around the first time around that

(CROSSTALK)  

LEWIS:  Right.

I went to this company and volunteered my services. 

NORVILLE:  Wow.

LEWIS:  They really don‘t need a pitch man, Deborah.  They did $9 billion last year.  They are OK.  Medtronic is the finest, most prolific medical technical company in the world.  And there are 75 million people in this country suffering from chronic pain. 

I had no recourse.  When I was given this freedom and this pain-free life, I had to tell people about it. 

NORVILLE:  Before that, I know you said that you had been addicted to some pretty scary drugs, Percodan, Oxytocin.  And I couldn‘t help but think what must have gone through your mind when the whole Rush Limbaugh story broke earlier this year, with the prescription drug killers that he has been alleged...

LEWIS:  I have to be very honest to you, I really don‘t know what happened there.  I wasn‘t really interested in that. 

NORVILLE:  But it must be sad to hear another public figure being excoriated because of chronic pain in his life.  You must have identified...

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS:  Oh, of course, that part of it.  But I was never clear on where the drugs were coming from or any of that nonsense.

But my feelings for an individual in pain is no different than my feeling for my kids.  I mean, I have had 54 years of battling for them.  Therefore, I have a pretty good track record for people trusting in what I say.  I went to the company and said, let me be a spokesman.  And they said, well, we don‘t need a spokesman, but they heard what I wanted to say and do.

And then they said, yes, you can be a global spokesman.  And they hired me. 

NORVILLE:  Yes. 

LEWIS:  That was the only way they would do it.  I said that‘s fine. 

I can‘t argue with that.

NORVILLE:  When we come back, I want to talk about the many hats that you have worn, not the least of which is this incredible hat that you have worn for the people you call your kids, the folks with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

LEWIS:  OK.

NORVILLE:  We‘re going to be back with more with Jerry Lewis right after this.

LEWIS:  OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m on my honeymoon.  I just got married.  Give me a break.

LEWIS:  Newlyweds?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, olderlyweds.  Yes, newlyweds.

LEWIS:  That is magnificent.  May I be the very first to congratulate you and wish you the very best of luck.  And is that the little woman over there?  Well, congratulations. 

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ll teach you to kiss my wife.

LEWIS:  I don‘t need no lessons.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  Back now with the legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis, who is looking and feeling great after battling some recent health things.

You said years ago you always played the 9-year-old. 

LEWIS:  Yes. 

NORVILLE:  Why? 

LEWIS:  Well, because 9 is so innocent and 9 is mischievous and 9 is silly.  And I just think that, if everybody would maintain the child within them, instead of ignoring it, they would be happier and they would have more fun. 

NORVILLE:  Tell me about how you got started.  Now, you had done the whole Catskills when you were a really young man.  But then you and Dean Martin hooked up.  How did that association begin? 

LEWIS:  Well, I was working Atlantic City at a nightclub.  And they had a singer that was taken ill.  And Skinny DAmato asked,me, do you know of anybody that‘s available?  I said my friend Dean Martin.  He said, well, no, I don‘t want another singer.  I said, but besides singing, he and I do some funny shtick together.  Really?  Got him.

He brought him in.  The first night, Dean and I did—I did my act.  He did his act.  Skinny came backstage.  Backstage was a nail.  He came backstage and he said, where‘s the funny stuff?  And neither one of your are going to be here for after the second show unless you do something.

NORVILLE:  Yikes.

LEWIS:  Comes the second show, we do two hours and 20 minutes.  Please don‘t ask me what, but it was two hours and 20 minutes of hysteria.

I tapped into my partner‘s brilliant bones.  He was born with comedy in his bones.

NORVILLE:  Really?

LEWIS:  And he had this incredible sense of pace and rhythm and timing.  He was the hero of the team.  I would have been a record act the rest of my life, if it wasn‘t for Dean.

NORVILLE:  And you guys hit it big.  I read that you went—in the space of about four months, you went from making $250 a month to $5,000.  This is in the ‘50s.

LEWIS:  Oh, yes.

NORVILLE:  This is major money.

LEWIS:  We were getting $250 for the team, $125 a piece.

NORVILLE:  Whoa.

LEWIS:  And five weeks later, we were getting $5,000 at Loews State Theater.  And then we were into $12,500 like four months after that. 

NORVILLE:  It was incredible team.  But you ended it almost exactly 10 years later.  Why?

LEWIS:  Well, because the handwriting was on the wall.

NORVILLE:  You just saw it was going to eventually peter out?

LEWIS:  Well, because you have outside factions that got in between Dean and myself.  And he was always, always the last one in the room.  He should have been the first one in the room.  And he had—I don‘t how he took it.

NORVILLE:  He didn‘t get his due.

LEWIS:  There were reviews they didn‘t mention his name.

Yes, San Francisco, Fox Theater, we did an incredible show.  And they told everyone in that newspaper review about that crazy kid, never mentioned his name.  And he took that for 10 years, until he couldn‘t take it anymore.  And I broke it up because I loved him too much.  And I knew, if we didn‘t do something, we would get knocked through the ropes, like Joe Louis.

NORVILLE:  So you went on then and pursued a film career that was nothing short of side-splitting, hilariously funny.  But as we look at some of the clips of some of those great characters that you created, could you get away with that kind of humor today, the guy who was so goofy that wondered if—what was his name? 

(CROSSTALK)

NORVILLE:  I never.

LEWIS:  Oh, that was...

NORVILLE:  The bellhop. 

LEWIS:  That was Julius Kelp right there.  That‘s the nutty professor. 

That‘s Julius.  Yes, that‘s Julius.

NORVILLE:  OK.  And could you do him today? 

LEWIS:  I beg your pardon.

NORVILLE:  You do him, but could he be a character today? 

LEWIS:  Oh, of course. 

NORVILLE:  Yes?

LEWIS:  Comedy is forever.  It has gone on since—there he is in the classroom where he is taking care of business.  How could you be upset with that character? 

NORVILLE:  What do you think about comedy today?  Do you like where it‘s going?  Are there people that you admire who are out there?

LEWIS:  Well, when you have got Robin Williams and you‘ve got Billy Crystal and Steve Martin and Paul Reiser and Marty Short, come on, that‘s a pretty good—that‘s a great team of brilliant people.  And Robin, of course, the genius of Robin is frightening.

NORVILLE:  He reminds me of you.  It‘s like he just grabs it out of air and all of a sudden, kaboom, you are on the floor laughing. 

LEWIS:  Yes.  Yes.  But he was—I‘m not being modest.  Robin is a genius, without question. 

NORVILLE:  And I want to ask you, before we go to the break, about Frank Sinatra, the peacemaker.  He snookered you on your own telethon in 1976. 

LEWIS:  Oh, did he ever.  Oh.

NORVILLE:  What happened? 

LEWIS:  He decided he was going to bring Dean on that stage.  And he had more than 400 people, including my director, Artie Forrest, and the entire team knew about it, except me. 

NORVILLE:  Except you.  And here they come. 

LEWIS:  And here he comes. 

NORVILLE:  And you guys haven‘t seen each other in? 

LEWIS:  Twenty years we hadn‘t been that close.

NORVILLE:  And what are you thinking now? 

LEWIS:  And I‘m thinking to myself, dear God, give me something to say that is going to be appropriate or that at least be lighthearted.  And I looked right in his eyes and I said, you working? 

(LAUGHTER)

LEWIS:  And thank God it came out. 

NORVILLE:  All right, we‘re going to take a break.  Back with more Jerry Lewis after this.

LEWIS:  OK.

NORVILLE:  That‘s nice.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORVILLE:  I could spend forever talking to Jerry Lewis, but they don‘t give me that long on this show. 

But I have to ask you, of all the zillions of great movies, the world has its opinion of the ones they like best what.  Which one was your favorite?

LEWIS:  “The Nutty Professor” was the love of my life because it was a labor of love.  When I started to write it—Bill Richmond and I wrote it together, and I knew I had lightning in a bottle. 

NORVILLE:  And you are thinking about putting it back in the theaters?

LEWIS:  I want to put it back in the theaters.  I want to do it possibly in the summer and charge children minimum, maybe $2 a ticket. 

NORVILLE:  Mel Gibson would be jealous of how many tickets you will sell if you do that.

LEWIS:  I hope so.

NORVILLE:  Jerry Lewis, great to see you.  Good luck and God bless.

LEWIS:  Thank you, Deborah.  My pleasure.

NORVILLE:  That‘s our show for tonight.  Thanks for watching.

END   

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