In a wide-ranging conversation Monday night at the Clinton Global Initiative University in St. Louis, Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert jokingly suggested that the former president should team up with Ted Talks and form “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Initiative.”
The quip came after President Bill Clinton explained his views on the nature of selfishness, saying people don’t realize that being selfless is a form of selfishness, “if you understand how the world works.”
“The more you reduce poverty overseas, the more you increase education and improve health care and empower women and girls, the more you will have growth overseas, the more you will have global growth, the better off Americans will be,” he said. “Every time you cut off somebody’s opportunity, you shrink your own horizons.”
Later in the interview, which absorbed Colbert’s entire program Monday night, Clinton said he enjoys spending more time on the details of charity work now that he’s not in the White House, because he feels it can be sometimes even more effective than even the broad powers of the presidency.
Colbert seemed unmoved. “That sounds very good, but I listen to a lot of right wing radio, and I know that there’s nothing that you and Mrs. Clinton do that’s not got some angle,” he said. “You’re both always hungry for power. So what is the grift here in helping people? What’s your secret plan here?”
“It’s totally selfish,” Clinton said again. “I do it because I’m good at it and I’m not good enough to play golf on the senior tour, and I don’t play my saxophone as much as I used to so I don’t like to do it in public. It makes me happy. I do it because, I think after the life I’ve been given by the American people, I’d be kind of a slug if I didn’t do it.”
“Have you done Ted Talks?” Colbert asked later.
“I have, and I like them,” Clinton said.
“Have you ever thought of having the Clinton Global Initiative and Ted Talks team up to make Bill and Ted’s Excellent Initiative? Think about it?
“That’s a wonderful idea,” the president replied.
These videos are from “The Colbert Report,” aired Monday, April 8, 2013.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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