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Why do we see so many support dogs on planes these days? And how is this a window into a much broader phenomenon?
Why does Adam Carolla think emotion and woke culture have overtaken logic and reason in America?
And why does everything nowadays seem to revolve around President Trump?
In this episode, we sit down with Adam Carolla, host of the Adam Carolla Show. He is a New York Times bestselling author, and his newest book is titled “I’m Your Emotional Support Animal: Navigating Our All Woke, No Joke Culture.”
This is American Thought Leaders, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Jan Jekielek: Adam Carolla, so great to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Adam Carolla: Thanks for having me, Jan.
Mr. Jekielek: I’m not in the habit of reading comedy, but your book came heavily recommended by actually a number of people. I travel a reasonable amount, and I didn’t notice this whole emotional support animal thing that you described in the opening chapter. I somehow missed it, but it was probably the most hilarious thing I’ve read in quite some time.
Mr. Carolla: Oh, thank you. Yeah, … I travel a lot for my business, and I’ve been noticing more and more dogs on more and more planes, and I kind of thought, “What’s going on here?” … I just sort of study patterns, and I think in terms of [patterns]. As an example, how come when I was a kid, I never met another kid with a peanut allergy, and then when I became a parent, three-quarters of my kids’ friends had peanut allergies? How’s that possible? How could that happen in such a short period of time? Then when I flew when I was 30, there were no dogs at the airport and no dogs on the plane, and by the time I was 50, there were a ton of dogs in the airplane and a ton of dogs in the airport. I thought, “How could this happen physiologically or psychologically?” Then I realized, “Oh, these are just low character people who want to fly with their dog.”
Mr. Jekielek: This is very interesting, like a central theme of the book. … By the way, I have to say, I have laughed out loud so many times while reading. This is actually a very thoughtful book on a number of issues that I actually think are quite important to society in general. One of the themes that comes throughout is the idea of toughness, and America or society at large losing something very important, toughness, basically.
Mr. Carolla: It’s interesting. So I have a 14-year-old son, and I’m in the process of trying to sort of toughen him up through hard work, some discipline, delayed gratification, and that sort of thing. So when I grew up, we didn’t have to simulate a world where I got tough. My world was tough. We all grew up, and there was an earlier day when I rode my bike everywhere. My parents wouldn’t drive me anywhere, and there wasn’t much food in the house, and so on and so forth, so I never got fat. Now, I live in 7000 square feet with four air conditioning zones and a double-wide fridge filled with food, so I have a rowing machine in my gym, and I have to simulate this activity of this movement, like a treadmill.
We have to simulate this in the toughness department now too, because kids don’t have adversity, everything is digital grub hubs bringing food to the house, … it is air conditioning; they’re wearing a helmet everywhere they go; they’re not having to fix their own car, chop their own wood, or pluck their own chicken. So we have to kind of instill it now, we have to kind of simulate it, we have to kind of create gravity in a zero-gravity environment.
Mr. Jekielek: Something else that’s happening now, and this didn’t make it into the book, because I guess you had to publish, is this whole … riots in the streets, toppling of statues, all of this stemming from the protests that followed this terrible, terrible death of George Floyd—I think it’s over a month ago now. Your book and your thinking has a lot to say about this as far as I can tell. What are your thoughts on what’s happening now with George Washington being toppled and Frederick Douglass being toppled?
Mr. Carolla: Well, obviously, … they’re acting like what a mob does. What a mob does is they get out of control, and then they’re all sort of id and visceral, and they just go out. It’s like when I lived in L.A. during 1993 when we had the riots, people were screaming, “You’re burning down black-owned businesses in your own community,” and it didn’t matter, because we’re just burning things down. There’s no rhyme or reason to it.
They say, “Here’s why we’re rioting,” and when they say, “Here’s why we’re rioting,” they have a point to some degree. They go, “We are rioting because of this brutal cop taking the life of the citizen,” and you think, “Okay. That’s why you’re rioting.” But then you start burning down black-owned businesses, attacking random people walking in the street, stopping random cars, and punching and dragging out the operators, the drivers of those cars, and pulling down statues of people who were laying the groundwork for your movement 150 years ago—and of course, it doesn’t make sense. Now, you’ve jumped the shark. You’ve become a random, angry mob. You’re now just running down the street. If you see a stray puppy, you’re going to kick it. That’s not going to solve anything; that’s not going to fix anything. That’s what random mobs do.
Mr. Jekielek: In the book, you talk about … the death of authority. This seems like the death of authority to me.
Mr. Carolla: Yeah, I think authority is established in the home by the dad, and … many families now don’t have dads. Higher and higher percentages don’t have the father in the home, so there’s no authority in the home. So they don’t really have a relationship with authority … and … this crosses the spectrum of male and female, black and white. I’ve seen how many images … of 23-year-old blonde-haired girls screaming their lungs out at the cops, and I always think to myself, “Boy, that chick hates her dad. … That’s not someone who has a good relationship with her dad.”
You have a good relationship with your dad, your dad’s present, your dad set some boundaries, and your dad is the voice of authority in the house, then you don’t go out, find authority and push against it. So that’s essentially what they’re doing. … More and more American families, are missing a dad. Statistically, it’s pretty alarming, … where we were 30 years ago and where we are today. The lack of authority, the lack of the father figure, is going to screw up the relationship with authority. It’s also going to make the kids angry, the people angry, and then they’re going to go out and find what they perceive to be the authority and push back against it—and that’s where you get all those idiots screaming at cops. The cops are random guys who get $50,000 a year to stand there and try not to let the city burn down. I don’t know why you’re screaming your lungs out at him.
Mr. Jekielek: This kind of suggests that a lot of what’s happening out there today has nothing to do with logic and has everything to do with feeling. Is that what you’re saying?
Mr. Carolla: Yes, it is. It is. Well, look at it this way. … They interview the Mayor of Oakland. She had a press conference two weeks ago. She’s explaining that even though she’s aware that the hoops hanging from the trees in the park in Oakland were not in fact nooses but were in fact put up by a black gentleman … so that people can exercise in the park, even though she’s aware of all that information, she’s still moving ahead with her investigation, she’s still going to contact the FBI, she’s going to treat it like a hate crime, and she then suggested to us that we needed to move forward with the presumption of guilt. She’s obviously not using logic.
I hear these people talk and they sound dumb, quite frankly, … but they’re not dumb, because a lot of them have advanced degrees and are attorneys and things like that. They’ve lost logic. They become unmoored. … I hope it’s just some[thing temporary, but it’s] nefarious. We have our public health director, Barbara Ferrer, warning us about walking. She was explaining that she was very worried about walking on the beach. That was a big concern of hers. This virus isn’t spread by walking on the beach. I saw on CNN, they’re worried about people laying down on the beach.
Mr. Jekielek: The title of your book is Navigating Our All Woke, No Joke Culture. It strikes me that a lot of this has to do with the “woke” ideology which is something that you’ve talked extensively about.
Mr. Carolla: Yeah, well, I think they’re all trying to virtue signal, I’m assuming. The problem is the signal that they’re really sending is their incompetence. They’re up there, and they’re talking about the pandemic, and then they’re explaining how it affects the LGBT community, and people of color and Latinxs. They’re virtue signaling, which is fine, but they should do it on their own time, because I’m seeing an incompetent person who’s worried about how somehow this affects the gay community more than the straight community. I don’t even know what the science or the logic is behind what they’re doing. But when you virtue signal, understand, there’s a small part of society that will applaud that, like many of my colleagues in Hollywood, but a larger percentage of America will think you’re an idiot.
Mr. Jekielek: You talk about this idea, and I highlighted a whole bunch of things in your book, because I thought there were some really great lines. This is the one that comes to mind: that you need to be logically consistent, not logically convenient.
Mr. Carolla: Well, that’s what happens. You hear these people, and CNN says: Stay in, shelter at home, don’t leave the house, you can leave the house if it’s an emergency, but don’t get out of the car, blah, blah, blah. Then 10 minutes later, there’s hundreds of thousands of people packed into streets and public squares, fighting with cops, and then they’re explaining to you why that’s okay. So the same network that’s been telling you to hide under your bed and that if somebody brings food to your house, you have to spray it down with rubbing alcohol, wipe it down, and then wear gloves, and don’t touch the guy, and put a mask on—now is showing tens of thousands of people with their arms, arm in arm, marching down the city streets, and sometimes getting into shouting matches and physical altercations with each other and the police, and then they’re explaining to us why that’s necessary. So that is not consistent.
If they said, “Hide under your bed for three months,” and then said, “These people out marching, and rioting, and taking to the streets. That’s extremely dangerous, and those people should go home,” … I would say, well, that’s consistent. But they’re not, and … they’re using their science as they want to use their science. Then as soon as those people went home, then other people came out and said, “Well, it’s the Fourth of July, we’re going to have a pool party,” and then CNN explained to us how dangerous the pool party was. So they went from “Don’t leave the house,” to “It’s okay to leave the house,” to “It’s not okay to leave the house,” in the course of 10 days—and I now think they’re lying.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s very, very difficult these days to make sense of … even a lot of the data and interpreting the data we’ve kind of gone through. Even from the experts, we’ve gone through all sorts of permutations, of advice and what you should do, and it’s flipping 180 as well. So it’s kind of a big mishmash, and we’re sort of at the point, I think, where people are just deciding based on the best thing they can come up with.
Mr. Carolla: Well, ultimately, it’s going to boil down to who do you know who’s contracted the virus and what has it done to them? So I personally don’t know of anyone who’s been claimed by the virus. I’ve heard of people—there’re celebrities, there are notables or someone like that. But if you say to me, “Who do you know, what friends, what family members, like really, let’s talk about your world, coworkers [who has the virus]?” I work with a lot of people. I’m friends with a lot of people, so I know one individual who contracted the virus, and he said [that] his wife was positive but it didn’t affect her. She [was] asymptomatic, and him, it passed through him like the flu.
And I said, “Okay. So I do know one person who got it, and it was as if he had the flu. I don’t know anyone else who got it.” But look, I may be an anomaly. I may be lucky, but I don’t know anybody. I’ve talked to a lot of people, I’m friendly with a lot of people, I have a pretty broad net spread out there in terms of relationships and acquaintances, and I’ve not really heard of even a friend of a friend. So with that information, I’m just going to move forward with my life. That’s me processing the information.
I can listen to [Anthony] Fauci. Fauci says, “Don’t wear masks,” and Fauci says, “Do wear masks,” and Fauci says, “This thing’s going to die off in the sunlight,” and Fauci says, “It’s now worse in Florida and Texas than it is in New York.” So I’m not sure. Fauci seems to be all over the road, and I don’t blame them. They’re giving you the information as fast as they get the information, but it’s oftentimes wrong. Of course, the models are always super inflated. I’ve been to Texas, I’ve been to Nashville, I’ve done shows, I have traveled, and I’ve been on Southwest flights. I’m fine and that’s how I’m proceeding. If I get it, then I’ll get it.
Mr. Jekielek: It is extra difficult, frankly, for the scientific community here in the U.S. given that the Chinese Communist Party—and this is something we’ve done a lot of work on—covered up the reality of the virus, destroyed the evidence of the origin, etc, etc, etc. All those things that would be incredibly helpful in making these kinds of predictions or assessments were all unavailable or destroyed.
Mr. Carolla: Well, … one of the most interesting things about this is how Trump can get the media to either attack or defend something simply by either endorsing it or criticizing it, which is a really interesting phenomenon. China, as far as I can tell, is kind of responsible for this whole thing, and they’re really bad actors overall on a global stage. So Trump said, “I blame China,” and then the media rushed to defend China. I don’t know how you defend China, but they’ve all rushed to defend China. Then Trump said, “I like this thing called hydroxychloroquine,” and the media all rush to attack hydroxychloroquine. As far as I can tell, China started this whole thing and is responsible for this whole thing, and then acted irresponsibly afterward. Hydroxychloroquine may be helpful in treating this. So you have one thing that works, you have another thing that didn’t work in China and is very negative, and you have the media defending China and attacking the drug that may prove to be, or has proven to be, somewhat effective in attacking this disease. That’s an interesting phenomenon.
Mr. Jekielek: In your book, I was just amused at the title of the chapter “The Obligatory Trump Chapter”. I still am incredibly amused by the title. … This is one of the things I highlighted. I’m going to read this just for your benefit here, “The Trump derangement crew”—and presumably you’re talking about Trump derangement syndrome, … I imagine everyone watching has an idea of what this is—”doesn’t actually have a plan. They’re using all the scandals to cover their own ineptitude. You could put up a candidate with good policies or they could win another way by keeping the noise meter peg through all four years of his term.” I thought that was a really interesting observation about this noise meter because, wow, has there ever been a noise meter like I’ve never seen ever before over the last, what, four or five years, right?
Mr. Carolla: Look, first things first, they’re trying to win an election, and you can win an election [in] one of two ways. You can focus on what you bring to the table: policies, experience, track record, so on and so forth, … or you can sling mud at the other guy, or you can do it simultaneously which is kind of what happens. You and I are running for the same senate seat, I say, “Jan’s bad and I’m great,” and you say that I’m bad and you’re great. And then there are certain roads where the person says, “I’m not really going to criticize Jan. That’s beneath me. I’m going to just focus on my accomplishments.” This is kind of an interesting angle [but] again, the end game is me being elected. …
This is a pool game, and I want to win the pool game. Now, I could either run the table and win, or you could run the table and at the end, scratch on the eight ball, and I would win. But either way, as long as I win, I win, right? This is a version of I, in concert with the media, can make so much noise for so long and call everything divisive and call everyone a race-baiter, and we’ll do so much of that, that by the end of this first term, people are just going to want relief. They’ll just want it to stop.
As a parent, we’ve all been there. As a parent, that sort of thing where your kid is saying, “Can I have a doughnut for breakfast, and you go, “No, you don’t have a doughnut for breakfast. Let me make you eggs,” and … they arguing and you hear them arguing [inaudible], and at a certain point, you run into the kitchen and you yell, “Just eat the damn doughnut! Just eat that doughnut. I can’t take it anymore,” and you go back to your office. So America may do that with the election. They just go, “Just vote Biden in! I can’t take it anymore. I don’t want to hear it anymore. I can’t turn on CNN and hear the soliloquies about racism anymore. We got to move on.” So I put that theory together about two years ago, and I kind of feel like that’s where we’re heading.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s kind of hard for me to fathom, because the only thing I know is that the noise meter is going to increase at least until November. That’s based on what we’ve seen up to now. That’s what I would expect. Frankly, Adam, I appreciate your perspective on this, because you’re not particularly a huge fan of the president in the first place. You just like to call it like you see it, which is great.
I’m kind of wondering to myself about the folks that have the so-called Trump derangement [syndrome]. Like you were describing, everything is categorically “If Trump does it, it’s wrong.” Hydroxychloroquine—Trump likes it, must be bad. China—all this evidence against, but must be good. I don’t know if it’s quite gone that way. I don’t know if it’s entirely gone that way.
Mr. Carolla: Really, study hydroxychloroquine, and I’ve talked about it quite a bit with Dr. Drew [Pinsky] who’s prescribed millions of tablets of this, and other doctors. If you really just take that one subject, this is a drug that has been around for more than 50 years and is totally ubiquitous. Everyone who travels to a third world nation may take it. There’s people who’ve been on it for decades. … It’s almost inert. It’s like coming out against salt or aspirin. Literally, I’ve said to Dr. Drew, “It’s like coming out against aspirin,” and he said, “No, aspirin has more side effects. More of my patients have difficulty with aspirin than they do with hydroxychloroquine.”
… Well, so what’s driving this psychologically? What’s going on? Well, the person they hate said [that] it might prove to be effective—that’s all. He just said [that] it might be effective. He’s not a doctor, he heard that it might be effective, and it turns out, it is effective. This should be a non-news story. They mounted up a campaign. I heard doctors, senators, and pundits explaining that this was playing Russian roulette with your health. [Inaudible].
And then I would talk to Dr. Drew and I would say, “What is going on?” and he’d say, “I don’t know. This is nothing. People take millions of these tablets. There are no side effects. There is no danger,” and then I turn the news back on, and they’d have another [person speaking against it]… [There] was a congressman or senator, I can’t remember, on The View and he said, “Yeah, I’m on it. I tested positive for COVID and I’m on it,” and Joy Behar started screaming at him, “You’re going to kill yourself. What are you doing?” I thought, “What happened to your brain? What’s going on?” Then I realized, I think Joy Behar watches too much CNN. But if you take that one subject, that’s all you need to know. This should have been a zero-burger and a non-conversation.
The president said [that] this may prove to be effective, and the entire media should have gone, “Hmm, let’s look into that,” or “Let’s find that out.” Then there’s been a bunch of studies, and it turns out it seems to be somewhat effective when taken in concert with zinc and Azithromycin, or something like that. There should have never been a campaign against hydroxychloroquine. I’ve heard doctors call the pharmacists to get it prescribed, and had the pharmacist argue with that. Doctors say, “That’s never happened before. Why’s there a pharmacist arguing with me? I’m trying to prescribe this to a patient.” That’s how effective and politicized it’s been.
It should have never been politicized. There’s nothing; there’s nothing there! If you don’t think that’s what’s going on, look no further than hydroxychloroquine.
Mr. Jekielek: So Adam, what is the connection between the media and the all woke culture, or let’s say the big media and the all woke culture?
Mr. Carolla: One side of the culture is feeding it, and that’s CNN and MSNBC, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and whatever mainstream media—they’re feeding it. The other part of the culture which is big business, they’re running from it, but they’re trying not to be consumed by it. They’re pretending to be down with the cause and down with the movement so they don’t get consumed by it, chewed up, and spat out. They’re scared. One side is feeding that group, and the other side is trying to make concessions and deals with it so not to be consumed by it or ruined by it.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s interesting. People have commented that this is a rare revolution that’s supported by the big corporate sector, right?
Mr. Carolla: Yeah, well, they don’t support it in terms of they don’t believe in it. … Nike doesn’t believe in anything; they want to make money. They don’t care about the movement. They’re trying to figure out a way to profit from the movement or not be destroyed by it.
Mr. Jekielek: Is this going to work out positively for them in your view?
Mr. Carolla: It’s good—short term. It’s good for CNN, short term; it’s good for Nike, short term. I don’t think it’s good long term for either one of them. Ten years ago, if somebody would have said to me, “Did you hear what CNN said? Do you hear the story about what the president said on CNN?” I would have gone, “Oh my God, what did the president do?” or “What happened on CNN?” or “Who’s a racist? What? There’s some NBA executive who’s a racist?” or whatever it is on CNN. If I hear, “Did you hear what CNN said?” about almost anything now, I go, “Meh. Let me investigate. Let me see what the real story is,” right?
All right. You’re a news outlet. You’re a news outlet, and now when you tell half the country, “Hey, did you hear the story on CNN,” they go, “Alright. Hold on. Let me look into this, because that’s probably not what happened.” That’s a bad sign when you do news for a living. [With] Nike and all these world corporations, people have sort of seen through them and realize that they’re just posturing to try to make money.
Mr. Jekielek: Adam, any final words before we finish up?
Mr. Carolla: Thank you. Thanks for reading the book, and thank you for being so thorough.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, Adam, such a pleasure to have you on.
Mr. Carolla: Thanks, Jan. Appreciate it.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.