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Long Live Larry King

Good-bye, at least for a short while.

By 12.16.10

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Good-bye, Larry King, at least for a short while. The super talk show host, who had me on his show dozens upon dozens of times, is moving on from CNN to other ventures.

I really did not know him at all well until a few years ago, even though he lived very near me in Beverly Hills. The few times I was on his show long ago were with angry women leftist "comedians" who specialized in hit and run attacks. The experiences were dismaying.

But in the last three years, my experiences on his shows were dramatically better. He still had the angry women leftists, but he kept them on the subject, and occasionally one of them, Stephanie Miller, landed devastatingly accurate punches at my beloved GOP.

It was Larry King Live, so naturally he had big names. My favorite experiences were with Paul Krugman, a smart guy, but a polemicist, and a shy but aggressive polemicist at that; Barney Frank, a truly likeable guy; Charlie Rangel, a Korean War hero and victim of a silly self-righteousness in Congress. I also loved any time with Penn Gillette, who is just phenomenally smart and good-natured.

But it was Larry King himself who was the real star. With just a sheet of paper with a few questions which he crossed off as he asked them, he got a broad range of information out there into the national brain, almost never intruded on his panelists with his own political views, and almost always managed to keep traffic moving at an intersection of men and women who loved to hear their own voices.

From talking to him at the breaks, I picked up a sense of fairness even to those he disagreed with, a fabulously good sense of humor, and a modesty about his star status that is rare in any world, but especially on talk TV.

I am going to miss him, as interlocutor and friend. I hope he is back on the air right away. The nation --and the world -- need him. Come to think of it, Larry, Richard Nixon had the words for this situation. "This isn’t good-bye. The French have a word for it. 'Au revoir.' We'll see you again."

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.