Transcript of complete interview of Randy “Duke” Cunningham by
Barry Diamond and Diane Brandis, of Live Online News, KSDO AM 1130, San Diego
on Election Day, November 3, 1998.
DIAMOND: Today’s very special guest on election day we are very proud to welcome Randy “Duke” Cunningham to Live Online News.
BRANDIS: Are you with us?
CUNNINGHAM: Good morning.
BRANDIS: Good morning.
BRANDIS: Welcome to the show, “Duke.”
CUNNINGHAM: Well, I’m all fired up. How about yourself?
BRANDIS: Are too.
DIAMOND: We certainly are.
DIAMOND: We’re very proud to have you with us. And I know you have a very special message for all our listeners.
CUNNINGHAM: Well I wanted to talk about Internet Services and usefulness of it. But also some caution that we’ve seen in using Internet. I know my children use it. We use it in the office. And I know a lot of my constituents use the Internet and the Web pages to find out information and it’s had tremendous impact.
BRANDIS: Isn’t it amazing how fast this industry has just taken off?
CUNNINGHAM: Well it’s going to grow even faster too.
BRANDIS: Would, would you say that it’s making a difference in the election? [0:45]
CUNNINGHAM: I think so, especially for those that are computer literate, we have encouraged, and my Century 21 Bill that’s allowing businesses to put money and computers into our classrooms, and the next phase to put it into out libraries so people have greater access to information.
BRANDIS: That’s wonderful, Duke. [1:06]
CUNNINGHAM: And I was Library Man of the Year and ah Education Man (laugh) of the Year and a lot of that because putting that kind of technology in our schools and libraries. And who benefits from that is, with the Welfare Reform Bill, a lot of people don’t have the skills that they need, or access to technology. And our libraries are a very important part of that process, not only in education, but for information as well. Or maybe some doesn’t have a computer at home or access, and they want to find out what their Representative’s voting record on local, state, or federal level, what better place than they can go directly to the source. [1:42]
BRANDIS: Absolutely. Now you have a website don’t you?
CUNNINGHAM: Yes we do. I’ve got a couple of different websites, as a matter-of-fact. We’ve got the website, which is the official website back in Washington, D.C., which is, do you want that?
BRANDIS: Yes, we do.
CUNNINGHAM: It’s www.house.gov/cunningham and you can now send your “email” through this webpage as well.
BRANDIS: Are you getting a lot of email? [2:08]
CUNNINGHAM: Yes, we are. It actually causes a little bit of a problem. We get about 3000 letters a month. And I have one person doing that and some volunteers that come in, youngsters that come in, to intern.
BRANDIS: Huh huh.
CUNNINGHAM: And to answer those letters, and all of the email, to return that is very, very difficult.
BRANDIS: Absolutely. [2:27]
CUNNINGHAM: I’ve even asked if we can find out some way to limit, or to find out which Zip Codes are in my particular District, because you can imagine all over the world you get emails, and trying to answer that is a problem. So that’s one of the things. It’s an advantage, but I think there’s some areas that we can work out.
BRANDIS: But we all have to learn how to answer our email. I know I get flooded and so does Barry; a lot of people do. We’ve talked to quite a few politicians and very body is amazed that how many people love sending emails. It’s a great way to communicate.
CUNNINGHAM: Oh, they do. It helps your spelling. Ha ha ha.
DIAMOND: You have an advantage with that, more than everybody that I have known.
CUNNINGHAM: Yeah, I want one of those systems where you talk into it and types it out, and that has automatic spell check on it.
BRANDIS: We can get you that.
CUNNINGHAM: Ha ha ha.
DIAMOND: We’ve got to have that too.
CUNNINGHAM: That would be great for email. [3:12]
CUNNINGHAM: I have a campaign website also . . .
DIAMOND: I’d like to have that one.
CUNNINGHAM: . . . that is totally separate from the official one. But in that campaign website you can also not only find out about me, but there is a place where you find Dan Lungren . . .
CUNNINGHAM: . . . and Matt Fong
BRANDIS: Huh huh.
CUNNINGHAM: . . . and different candidates and what they stand for and what’s on their websites. But the campaign website is www.dukecunningham.org
BRANDIS: I love it. How did you get, the nickname “Duke”?
DIAMOND: Ha ha ha.
CUNNINGHAM: Ha. Well, I had call signs. I’ve had the call sign of “Maverick,” . . .
BRANDIS: Huh huh.
CUNNINGHAM: . . . In the Navy, I’ve had the call sign of “Yank,” and when I’ve ended up shooting down a lot of airplanes, in Vietnam, the Air Force who ran it went to the Admiral, who is Captain James T. Ward, the Admiral of the 7th Fleet, and said that the enemy was targeting by voice. And they know they monitored our voice communications, and any time they heard my call sign they would send extra triple A-ers or SAMs trying to knock me down.
CUNNINGHAM: I was not only risking myself, but other pilots that flew with me. And they wanted me to change my call sign. [4:24]
[Corrupted file; recording went blank.] [4:30]
CUNNINGHAM: They’d use this broadcast here for the MiG sites and say “Hey Duke’s up in the air, come and get me”.
BRANDIS: Pretty impressive.
DIAMOND: Why do I have this visions of “Top Gun” flashing across my, my head?
CUNNINGHAM: Yeah, yeah. When I did that I said “Now I don’t know what call sign to use. I told the Commanding Officer that I was at a banquet once and that I’d listen to John Wayne and the orchestra music and looked at this . . .”
DIAMOND: I was wondering when John Wayne was going to come into this.
CUNNINGHAM: Yeah, yeah (laugh). [4:55]
[Corrupted file; recording went blank.] [4:59]
CUNNINGHAM: . . . favorite song. And John Wayne stood up, and you know his mammoth self and said “No, if you’d play my favorite song, then everybody in the place would have to stay at attention, which meant the Star-Spangled Banner.” And I’d remember I went “Yes!”
BRANDIS: That’s beautiful.
CUNNINGHAM: And what, and what he represented, and although he didn’t fight wars, what he represented I think are the values, the family values, and the national security issues for the country. And when there was a movie, there was only two fun things to do in combat, because you’re working 22-23 (laugh) hours a day. One is the movie, and the other is to eat. And if the movie wasn’t a John Wayne movie, I’d go to sleep. But if it was a John Wayne movie, . . .
BRANDIS: (laugh). . . . I’d be up there at O-dark-hundred. And the skipper walked in and said “Duke, you’re the only one.” And I said “Yeah, there’s a John Wayne movie on, skipper” (laugh)
BRANDIS: I love it.
CUNNINGHAM: And he says “You’re call sign is going to be ‘Duke.’” And it kind of stuck.
BRANDIS: Well, we really appreciate you coming on live online. And we also really know that we want to encourage everyone that’s listening to go out and and cast their vote.
DIAMOND: That’s right.
CUNNINGHAM: Well, let me get time for one more issue on this.
DIAMOND: Go ahead. [5:58]
CUNNINGHAM: There’s some things on the Internet that are very disturbing. There’s some hate group information on there that’s very objectionable. There’s slanderous material that citizens should check out the source.
CUNNINGHAM: There’s a lot of these campaigns, there is stuff in there that is absolutely slanderous and I think libel. And in many cases I would like to see somehow that they clear up that problem that we have, without infringing on First Amendment rights, which I support.
BRANDIS: You bring up a very, you bring up a very important point that we really do want to make sure that all of our listeners are aware of, which is that you should always double check the sources. And just like in television campaigns and everything else there can be all sorts of information that is, you know, not necessarily, completely 100% accurate. And you want to make sure, for instance, that you go to a very reliable, official site. [6:46]
CUNNINGHAM: I agree. And I would hope in the future that litigation as far as either challengers or the incumbents themselves, if they’re not saying the truth that they’ll be liable.
BRANDIS: I agree. I think that would be wonderful thing to see enacted. [6:59]
CUNNINGHAM: Especially if it’s slanderous. And I thank you for the opportunity and I’d encourage people to get out and vote. With only about 30% of the American population voting, don’t give up on us, we’re going to make it better (laugh).
BRANDIS: (laughter) You’re great.
CUNNINGHAM: Get out and vote because it represents . . .
DIAMOND: That means your vote counts more than people who are not voting.
CUNNINGHAM: That’s right. If you don’t vote complain, yeah.
BRANDIS: Well, both Barry and I are very honored to meet you last weekend. We want to thank you again for coming on Live Online News. We wish you every luck in the election today. And we would love to have you back on again as a guest in the future.
CUNNINGHAM: God bless America.
BRANDIS: Thank you.
CUNNINGHAM: Good to see you, by by. [7:31]