Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman gave an interview in his office to Stephen Sackur of the BBC World Service's HARDTalk that aired on Sept. 7 and 8. It's pretty obvious he was unfamiliar with Sackur's style, which is to say Sackur is clueless and intense and unbelievably confrontational in the most fascinating way imaginable. It's almost a parody, almost a Sacha Baron Cohen piece, except that Sackur is known for this and he's entirely, emphatically sincere.
What you end up with are exchanges like this:
Goodman: That wasn’t my job to make that determination…
Sackur: I’m asking you, as a human being, what you think?
Trust me, there's a load more like that. And out of this, we hear from Goodman these outrageous, offensive chestnuts:
* When asked about the aura of sleaze that surrounded him moving from mob lawyer to mayor: “I’m the only politician that hasn’t been indicted, so apparently they were wrong.”
* Confronted about alleged child prostitution in Vegas: "I don’t see any 14-year-old girls walking around advertising their wares."
Oh! And apparently there's some secret plan to get new water supplies for Las Vegas from the Pacific Northwest?!? Maybe I haven't been following this closely enough? Thank God Sackur didn't ask Oscar about prospects for an NFL team or who knows what he might've claimed.
Truth be told, the interviewer -- ah, they call him a "presenter" over there, don't they? -- was a bit off his rocker suggesting that Goodman ought to have told Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson to stop building to prevent the bust, giving Goodman's mayoralty credit for helping Vegas become the Entertainment Capital of the World and positing that Goodman left the Democratic Party because President Obama allegedly slighted Vegas twice. He also takes whackadoodle ex-Councilman Steve Miller as an authority, to which Goodman responds that Miller's a joke who "couldn't win an election if he tripped over one." (Is tripping on something a way to win things, by the way?)
Sackur clearly irrationally despises Vegas and everything involved with it. That normally drives me bananas, but here it is unbelievably amusing because he shoves it with reckless abandon in the face of a man equally steadfast in his belief that the city has no flaws at all.
But Sackur also puts Goodman on the spot about that Bombay gin promotion contract -- he even knew that half the money went to Carolyn Goodman's school -- and harshly confronts Goodman on some of his more outlandish statements. The mayor, believe it or not, seems to admit some of them -- like beating Bob Herbert of The New York Times with a bat or cutting off taggers' thumbs -- were perhaps unbecoming but also helped draw attention to "important" issues.
Here's maybe the weirdest part, though: Goodman kept his cool. Far from the theatrics he pulls from time to time at press conferences, he just rolled with it, once in a while saying something is "unfair" but never raising his voice or lashing out.
Go. Now. Listen to it. Unreal stuff. You just haven't lived until you've heard a stick-up-his-ass Brit say the phrase, "Hot girls direct to your room."