Behar Suggests Showing GOP Poor Whites Might Make Them More Compassionate, Alexandra Pelosi Blames Disney for Homeless

On Thursday’s Joy Behar Show on HLN, host Behar seemed to suggest that seeing poor whites might make Republicans more compassionate toward the poor as she hosted filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi to talk about her upcoming HBO documentary on the homeless who live in Orange County, California. Behar asked Pelosi – daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – if the reason she interviewed only whites for her film was to "make more of an impact" on Republicans:

JOY BEHAR: Did you deliberately only interview white families?

ALEXANDRA PELOSI: Well, they just happened to be at the school where I was interviewing, that`s who was there.

BEHAR: I`m only asking that because maybe you felt that that would make more of an impact on Republican congressmen and people who tend to, you know, veto any kind of help for people on the, you know, because the, oh, you know what I`m saying.

Pelosi later blamed the existence of the homeless problem in Orange County on Disneyland for not pushing the government to build more public housing:

Why do you think there`s no affordable housing in Orange County? ... Disneyland has done a lot to build up – I mean, they have their own government, their own little world... So they own, you know, if they wanted affordable housing to be built, it would be built.

Pelosi also complained about politicians calling America "the greatest country on Earth" while there is a homeless problem affecting children:

BEHAR: Forty two percent of them are younger than six. That`s another statistic, which is disgraceful really, in this country.

PELOSI: It is, because the politicians always give these speeches that this is the greatest country on Earth. And if that`s true, then how come we have so many homeless kids eating in soup kitchens? I mean, you expect to see that in Third World countries, you know, you don`t expect to see that in Orange County.

BEHAR: No, you don`t.

Earlier in the day on The View on ABC, Behar had suggested that, unlike President Obama, the Bush administration did not care about the black population: "During the Bush administration, you had tax cuts for the wealthiest, and he did not, that whole administration did not give a damn about poor people and everybody knows it. ... So, now you have Obama in office, and he does give a damn about black people."

Below is a complete transcript of the interview with Alexandra Pelosi from the Thursday, July 22, Joy Behar Show on HLN, with critical portions in bold:

JOY BEHAR: Most Americans know Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House. But there`s another Pelosi making waves in this country, her daughter Alexandra. With me now is Alexandra Pelosi, director and producer of HBO’s Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County. Welcome to the show, Alexandra. You know, Joe Biden called your mother, I`ll quote you, I`ll tell you what he said. He called her "the most powerful person in American politics other than Obama." Quote, "the single most successful, the single most persuasive, the single most strategic leader I have ever worked with." That`s quite a compliment that he gave your mother. She`s an Italian grandmother also, isn`t she?

ALEXANDRA PELOSI, FILMMAKER: Yes, I don`t know much about that, because I`m not really into politics. But she`s a good grandmother. That`s what I know.

BEHAR: Does she baby sit?

PELOSI: Yes, I mean, I couldn`t work if she didn`t, well, in the summers, there`s a lot of babysitting.

BEHAR: When does she have time to baby sit? She`s running the Congress.

PELOSI: Yeah, well, in the summers is, like, when you get the most bang for your buck. I can dump them, like the film I just made, I was on a set in Southern California. So I could like dump the kids at her house, and then go there. I had originally brought my kids with me to California because it`s – Disneyland is set in Orange County, it’s, like, the happiest place on Earth. I thought my kids will love it, they`ll get a vacation just like the rest of the kids that all come from across the world to go to Disneyland for the summer. So I brought them and then but I was like hanging out at soup kitchens. And then like my two-year-old melted down and started crying, and he’s like, "Mommy, I want to go to a real restaurant. I don`t want to be in a soup kitchen." So I was like, okay, and then all the other kids were catching swine flu. So I was like, okay, maybe it’s time to send my kids up to San Francisco to be with grandma for the summer.

BEHAR: You tell the story right there by saying that your kids have the option and those kids did not, in the piece. It`s a very good little film. I watched it last night, the documentary. Let`s watch a clip from the HBO documentary Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County.

PELOSI: How is it sleeping with your brother?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY #1: He puts his body parts all over me. I get no room.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY #2: And he almost squishes me. He lays on my pillows and he almost squishes me off the bed.

PELOSI: You having a good summer?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY #2: Yeah.

PELOSI: So what do you hope for this summer?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY #2: I hope for a house.

BEHAR: Did the film, did your film and your research change anything that you knew or did not know about homeless people in this country?

PELOSI: Well, when I heard the word homeless, I always assumed that it was, you know, the mentally ill, drug addicted-

BEHAR: Right.

PELOSI: Drunk on the street corner-

BEHAR: On the subway-

PELOSI: Begging for change. And, you know, if you give it to them, they`ll go buy liquor with it. But then when I started looking into it, it’s like, you know, the average age of homeless America is nine years old. And-

BEHAR: Wow-

PELOSI: -of the homeless people, 40 percent of them are families.

BEHAR: Yeah.

PELOSI: And so-

BEHAR: Forty two percent of them are younger than six. That`s another statistic, which is disgraceful really, in this country.

PELOSI: It is, because the politicians always give these speeches that this is the greatest country on Earth. And if that`s true, then how come we have so many homeless kids eating in soup kitchens? I mean, you expect to see that in Third World countries, you know, you don`t expect to see that in Orange County.

BEHAR: No, you don`t. But, I mean, these kids, these families are living in motels. This particular film takes place right in Anaheim, I guess, right? Outside of Disneyland. The irony of that is kind of striking, too. And they live in one motel room. And you lived there with them when you did this, right?

PELOSI: I did. I had my kids with me, and they were getting lice and bed bugs and swine flu, and that`s when I actually moved across the street, you know, it was like a little distance from all the diseases. It`s a very dangerous, there are very dangerous, you know, drug dealers, child predators, all kinds of creepy people living in those motels, places where you would not want your kids to be.

BEHAR: One family you spoke to had six people living in one, really a small motel room. How did they make that work? I mean, it was striking how the parents that you interviewed were sort of cheerful, I found. They were not under it in the way the kids kind of were sadder than the parents, I thought.

PELOSI: Well, look, they work. The thing is, you think of homeless people, you think of down and out bums, welfare kids, welfare moms. These were people who went to work every day. They got up, they got dressed, and they went to their low paying jobs. And they just didn`t make enough money to afford a place to live.

BEHAR: Well one of them was a nurse`s aide, I think, right? The one with the husband and the house and he took care of the kids while she did the night shift so she could make a buck and a half more or something per hour because she took the night shift.

PELOSI: I bet you paid more for a cup of coffee this morning.

BEHAR: Of course.

PELOSI: Right? And this woman has to work extra to make an extra $1.90.

BEHAR: It’s terrible. I mean, you know, don`t they have any other income, any welfare money? Is there any source of income besides that one person`s job?

PELOSI: Ironically, these are the people that, you know, you never hear about because they`re living at the poverty line. They don’t get, you know, there almost is, they work and they make some money. So it`s almost like they`re doing too well to get all those kind of benefits.

BEHAR: Right, and they`re living in Orange County, which is an extremely wealthy community, you know. Why do they live there? Why don`t they move to a less expensive, so they can get an apartment some place.

PELOSI: Because that`s where their jobs are and they need to get to work. You know, you’d have to get back and forth to Disneyland.

BEHAR: Some of them worked in Disneyland.

PELOSI: Yeah, Walmart, Mcdonald`s – all those places that don`t pay a living wage.

BEHAR: So you mean to tell me that if they moved out – I mean, I`m not criticizing anything about these people, I`m just trying to see what else they could do – if they moved to a less expensive neighborhood, they couldn`t get a job at a Mcdonald`s or Walmart’s, the same level of job?

PELOSI: I don`t know, I guess they`d lose the job that they have there and they`re comfortable there. And also, you know, there`s a special school in the film, as you saw.

BEHAR: Yes.

PELOSI: It’s called the Hope School. It’s where all the homeless kids go to school. So they have this place where their kids are taken care of. That`s rare. There are only four of those in America where the kids can be taken care of so that the parents can go to work. Otherwise they`d have to pay for child care and that would be really expensive.

BEHAR: Of course, you know, one viewer from Variety took issue with the fact that you`re using children to make a political point. How do you respond to that kind of criticism?

PELOSI: Well, first of all, I think it`s ironic because there`s no talking heads in this movie. It’s just a portrait of the children. So I didn`t think it was political at all. I thought I had escaped from doing political movies because I used to make political movies. And they were all comedies, but this was, like, the real tragedy. And I thought of, what he’s basically saying is he said in his review that this was tied in to the fight in the Senate about unemployment benefits being extended. And I was like, I made this movie a year ago. I love that, you know, people, the media has this impression that everything is coordinated.

BEHAR: Anyway, so what if it was?

PELOSI: But it`s funny that they think that you coordinate and that the world is that organized to coordinate this, that I made this movie with this-

BEHAR: Well, doesn’t this go – I know that timing is everything in life – so maybe it will have a wider distribution. Stay right there. We`ll be right back after a quick break, we have more.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEHAR: I`m back with director/producer and daughter of Nancy Pelosi, Alexandra Pelosi. You know, in watching the movie, one of the saddest parts of the movie for me – and a real heart-breaking moment – the kids are so adorable. And when you ask them, what do you have to look forward to? All of them, they thought about the question, and then they said, "Nothing. Nothing." These kids are depressed. They`re depressed.

PELOSI: They have a lot of problems. They also eat crap all day, you know, fast food that`s free from the state. So they have the obesity issue going. And they`re getting-

BEHAR: The kids were not obese.

PELOSI: But if you look at the adults.

BEHAR: The adults were obese, yeah.

PELOSI: That`s what happens when you don`t have any money. They eat whatever they give you, and it’s not stuff you should be eating.

BEHAR: Yeah.

PELOSI: And they, yeah, I worried about their mental well being because, you know, they`re around, they see so much violence and crazy stuff going on in the places where they live that it has to affect them eventually.

BEHAR: What`s your objective in making this film. What did you want to accomplish? Do you want to just expose the situation?

PELOSI: Yeah, I just thought it was important for people to realize that homeless isn`t what you thought it was. That there are a lot of children. And it`s always that thing about, you know, I think that this movie could have been made in any zip code in America – not just in Orange County – but it could have been in any County in America. But it also could have been made in a Third World country. Where do you see kids playing in dumpsters?

BEHAR: Looking for toys and discarded stuff, junk. You know, let me ask you a hard question. Did you deliberately only interview white families?

PELOSI: Well, they just happened to be at the school where I was interviewing, that`s who was there.

BEHAR: I`m only asking that because maybe you felt that that would make more of an impact on Republican congressmen and people who tend to, you know, veto any kind of help for people on the, you know, because the, oh, you know what I`m saying.

PELOSI: You know, I was at the Hope School where these kids go to school. And that`s who goes there. That`s sort of the population. I guess they don`t have enough black people.

BEHAR: Is the majority, are the majority of people who are homeless white or Caucasian or African-American?

PELOSI: Well, in Orange County, white. I don`t know, I mean as far as the national figure, is I don`t know about that, actually.

BEHAR: And you know the other thing that bothered me, they live across the street from Disneyland. Then every night there`s those damn fireworks and cars honking. I mean, who can live with that? The noise pollution alone would drive me crazy.

PELOSI: Yeah, but they get some joy from it. That’s the only joy they have is they get to see the fireworks for free.

BEHAR: But every single night? What about the adults? They’ll be going demented, those poor adults, listening to that every night. Do they ever get to go to Disneyland?

PELOSI: Well, they can go to the perimeter and see the fireworks. They can walk around in the parking lot.

BEHAR: Doesn`t Disneyland, those Disney people, if they find out about these kids around there, they’re not going to give them free tickets to go to Disneyland every once in a while?

PELOSI: Are you kidding me? These people – why do you think there`s no affordable housing in Orange County?

BEHAR: Why?

PELOSI: Well, it depends who you listen to.

BEHAR: Well, I`m listening to you.

PELOSI: Oh, thank you, that`s so nice. Well, Disneyland has done a lot to build up – I mean, they have their own government-

BEHAR: Oh, yeah.

PELOSI: -their own little world-

BEHAR: I know. I worked for them in the daytime.

PELOSI: Right, so you know all about it. So they own, you know, if they wanted affordable housing to be built, it would be built.

BEHAR: Well I`m talking about, yeah, okay, but, I mean, I was just talking about some perks, you know, from Disneyland. But housing is a situation that the government`s going to have to provide. Why doesn`t the government put some housing up there?

PELOSI: They`re trying, but nobody wants it in their backyard. Everyone fights, they don’t want the homeless people-

BEHAR: But they have them in their backyard. That`s the irony of it.

PELOSI: But they pretend that they don`t.

BEHAR: They pretend it but they`re in these motels with lice and bed bugs. It’s terrible. I hope your film gets a lot of attention. Thanks very much, Alexandra. Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County airs Monday night on HBO. Good night, everybody.