The drug policy expertise of Richard Nixon and Art Linkletter

Radley Balko pointed to this hilarious transcript of a conversation about drugs between Richard Nixon and Art Linkletter.
 Images Photography Portfolio-2-Famous 43.-Art-Linkleter 6A00D8341Bf68B53Ef01157165Cfa6970B-800Wi Linkletter: “There’s a great difference between alcohol and marijuana.”

Nixon replies: “What is it?” The president wants to know!

“When people smoke marijuana,” Linkletter explains, “they smoke it to get high. In every case, when most people drink, they drink to be sociable.”

“That’s right, that’s right,” Nixon says. “A person does not drink to get drunk. . . . A person drinks to have fun.”

Then Nixon turns to the global history of drinking and using drugs. “I have seen the countries of Asia and the Middle East, portions of Latin America, and I have seen what drugs have done to those countries,” he says. ”Everybody knows what it’s done to the Chinese, the Indians are hopeless anyway, the Burmese. . . . they’ve all gone down.”

Nixon continues, “Why the hell are those Communists so hard on drugs? Well why they’re so hard on drugs is because, uh, they love to booze. I mean, the Russians, they drink pretty good. . . . but they don’t allow any drugs.”

“And look at the north countries,” Nixon continued. “The Swedes drink too much, the Finns drink too much, the British have always been heavy boozers and all the rest, but uh, and the Irish of course the most, uh, but uh, on the other hand, they survive as strong races.”

Linkletter says “That’s right.”

Nixon comes to his main point about the “drug societies:” they “inevitably come apart.”

Linkletter adds, “They lose motivation. No discipline.”

Nixon gets the last word: “At least with liquor, I don’t lose motivation.”

Presidents Say the Darnedest Things


  1. This transcript is even funnier if you imagine both men slurring their words between shots of bourbon.

    1. It would be funny if drinking during a TV interview wasn’t normal at the time.

      What the hell was it like to get away with a 3 martini lunch or a bottle of burbon in the desk drawer *as* the norm in a workplace? I’m in no way implying that you are old enough to have been in those environs. I’m just wondering aloud.

      1. I work at a city hall, and I’ve heard about the “old days” when guys would keep a flask in their desk and sexual harrassment was commonplace. I think it was like Mad Men, only much less stylish.

        1. I work at a city hall, and I’ve heard about the “old days” when guys would keep a flask in their desk and sexual harassment was commonplace. I think it was like Mad Men, only much less stylish.

          In the real world, Don Draper was played by Christopher Walken.

      2. I remember it quite well.

        The good part was, you weren’t judged by what toxins or medications you decided to introduce into your system, you were judged by your quality of work. None of this “you failed the 99% accurate drug test, so even though you are vital to the work we do you are fired”.

        The bad part was, you were also judged by your age, gender, and skin color – with middle-aged white males at the top of the heap.

        A part I’m undecided about is this: if you were of the favored class, you could be openly prejudiced towards others. Middle-aged white males were allowed and expected to show their racism, agism and misogyny on their sleeves. While this was undeniably ugly, it made the people who rejected these prejudices stand out like stars in the firmament. Unitarians and Quakers were visibly different from the mainstream; you knew who you could trust to stand up, you knew who would hide your family when the gestapo showed up. Nowadays you can’t tell who really is a good person and who is just following orders.

  2. You’d be tempted to think this was satire just based on the line, “The President wants to know!”

    1. There is no proof that Diane Linkletter took LSD on the day she died. In fact, her suicide was ruled to be caused by her clinical depression. There is conjecture that her boyfriend, Edward Durston, might have been involved. He was present in Linkletter’s apartment when she supposedly plunged to her death; 15 years later, Durston was also accompanying actress Carol Wayne during her fateful trip to Mexico — during the trip, Wayne was found dead in a shallow bay after a heated argument with Durston. Following Linkletter’s death, an investigation was conducted by the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office; it was determined that Linkletter died from “multiple traumatic injuries,” apparently sustained from the fall, and that she had no drugs in her system at the time of her death.

  3. To be fair, the Opium Wars, and then the opium forced on the Chinese by the British that followed, didn’t do the Chinese any favors: Nixon was right about that one, although he seems to ascribe Chinese drug use to some sort of essentialized deficiency in the “Chinese soul” or something. He shoulda asked Kissinger….

  4. Linkletter adds, “They lose motivation. No discipline.”

    Look at the square make a funny! Clearly, he knows nothing about marijuana. And hand me those Cheetos.

  5. It could be argued that we’d all be better off if both men had showed a little less motivation.

  6. I love knowing our most important policies are based on wild half assed stereotypes and assumptions.

    This is the sort of crap people come up with when they are high.

  7. Whenever I read something said by Nixon, all I can hear is the Futurama version of Nixon’s head in the jar.

    All Hail the Hypnotoad!

  8. I enjoy cannabis daily and I have fuckloads of motivation (for create projects), but then again I don’t play Farmville…

  9. Here’s the buried lede: Nixon saying, “but uh, on the other hand, they survive as strong races.”

  10. Aw, there go the damn Belgians again with the drinking and the drugs! Don’t get me started on the Belgians, they’re even worse than the Burmese!

    (Apologies to Dana Gould)

  11. Perhaps vaguely related to the topic; it still cracks me up that they were selling snow globes at the National Archives gift shop with the picture of Elvis meeting Nixon. *Best tacky gift EVAR*

  12. “…the Indians are hopeless anyway…”
    It really is too bad we don’t have him to kick around anymore.

  13. And the punchline is “The United States has the highest prison population rate in the world, 756 per 100,000 of the national population, followed by Russia (629), Rwanda (604), St Kitts & Nevis (588), Cuba (c.531), U.S. Virgin Is. (512), British Virgin Is. (488), Palau (478), Belarus (468), Belize (455), Bahamas (422), Georgia (415), American Samoa (410), Grenada (408) and Anguilla (401).”

  14. I work in an ad agency in NYC and I can tell you there is still a lot of drinking that goes on here – often company sponsored.

  15. First Keanu, now this!
    Although I now think there is a chance he may actually be dissociated from reality enough to direct more PKD films.

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