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Toby Keith: No. 1 with 'Bullets'

By Denise Quan, CNN
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Singer Toby Keith rocks political boat
  • Toby Keith's "Bullets in the Gun," is the No. 1 CD in the United States
  • The music video for the title song is like a mini-movie
  • Keith has a wide range of interests, including politics and songwriting

North Hollywood, California (CNN) -- Toby Keith has strong thoughts about bullying.

"Yeah, bullying is bad, but in my generation, my father wouldn't allow that to happen," he says. "My father would say, 'Do whatever you have to do to shut it down, you know. Fight.' We would fight the bully. If you let the guy bully you every day at school, it's going to continue to go. So it's better to take that ass-whooping the first day and get it over with, and then they usually leave you alone."

It's advice he's lived by throughout his life, taking no prisoners and unapologetically asserting his opinion on anything from music to politics.

In a 20-minute window between shooting a music video and jumping into a car headed for "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson," the country music superstar blazes through discussions about songwriting, health care, the Tea Party, Sarah Palin and what the White House needs to do to turn things around. ("You can't lie and you can't steal.")

Here's an excerpt from the conversation. Oh, and by the way, Keith's 15th studio album, "Bullets in the Gun," is currently the No. 1 CD in the United States in any genre.

CNN: We caught you shooting the music video for the title track to your new album, "Bullets in the Gun." There's a story behind this one.

Toby Keith: It's kind of a mini-movie thing. I like to go Western every four or five years, and it was my 2010 model. This guy [in the video] is a drifter, but instead of riding a horse, he rides a motorcycle. He's looking for his soul mate, and he finds her dancing in a bar, and they fall in love completely on the spot. And the next 30 hours, it's kind of, "What would you do in the name of love, and how far would you go?" They end up dying outside a motel room in Mexico.

CNN: You planning to turn this into a feature film?

Keith: You never know. Right now, I have no plans to make it into a movie, but everybody keeps saying it sounds like it will be a movie some day.

CNN: One thing that's been in the news lately is bullying. As a parent, does that concern you?

Keith: Take every avenue you can to disarm the situation friendly and peacefully. But if it continues to go on, and you've been to the police department, and you've been to the school board, and you've done everything you can to stop it, give your kid a baseball bat. Tell him to go defend himself. If you stand up to a bully, 90 percent of the time it takes that away.

CNN: It seems you've always been a big guy -- and kind of intimidating -- but was there ever a point in your life when you were growing up where you might have been bullied?

Keith: Sure, when you're [in] ninth grade, and you're going to school with 12th-graders. We got bullied. But my dad never would have allowed that. If I had gone to my dad and said, "Dad, I'm getting bullied at school," I'd have had to deal with him.

CNN: So when you got to be the big man on campus, did you turn around and make fun of the kids who were just coming in?

Keith: No, never bullied. There were still bullies, but I was too busy chasing girls and doing my thing writing songs.

CNN: You've never been afraid to speak your mind. A lot of entertainers don't want to rock the boat -- but you don't go that route. Surely, there have been times where you've gotten into trouble with what comes out of your mouth.

Keith: I think people are mentally challenged, idiotic and moronic to designate every single issue that is on the board in this country right wing or left wing. There's not one single thing political about supporting the troops. If I do support the troops, am I a right-wing nut? Where does the political part of my Democrat-lifetime, third-generation, never been a Republican in the family, supporting the troops -- where does that make me a right-wing nut? I never understood that.

CNN: When we spoke last year, you were supporting universal health care.

Keith: Well, the health care thing -- I think it's important that we have something in place for the people in this country who can't afford health care for their children. That being said, I don't know what kind of health care we're got in place right now. I don't think [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and all of them actually read the whole thing when they put it in.

CNN: Are you concerned about how the government is going to pay for it?

Keith: Yes, I'm very concerned about how the government is going to pay for it, and also I'm concerned about what plan's going in. It doesn't sound like the direction it needs to go in.

CNN: It sounds like you kind of understand where the Tea Party movement is coming from and some of the frustrations that they have.

Keith: Yeah, there's been the right-wing and the left-wing extremists. Not the 80 percent in the middle.

Then 10 percent of the mentally challenged on the right and the 10 percent of the morons and idiots on the left all can't get together and make this thing work because they've got too much pride. There's no middle ground. The Tea Party is not really happy with anybody, I don't think. They want to do their own thing. But we've got to have some more direction, because it's just going to be civil war.

CNN: Where is your political thought process these days?

Keith: I just think if everybody would be held accountable for what they do at the White House and make the whole thing more transparent, then it will work itself out. But you can't lie and you can't steal. If you lie and you steal, then the rest of the Commandments will fall into place.

CNN: Who's lying and who's stealing?

Keith: There's so much BS that goes on.

Corruption in the political world -- I mean like the Chicago stuff that went on with [former] Mayor [Rod] Blagojevich. There's just so much trash that goes on at the White House -- it's seediness, and underhanded dealings, and constantly people are changing positions and Cabinet members are leaving.

We don't have anybody from the Republican Party who's going to step in and do any better than what's going on right now, and the guy that's in there now isn't doing any better than the last guy. Somebody's got to stand up and run it that will walk in and not BS everybody.

CNN: What do you think of Sarah Palin?

Keith: Sarah Palin can't do this. She's not the right girl for the job. I don't think she has enough support to win it, if she did have it. I'll tell you who I like. I like Huckabee. I like [former Arkansas Gov.] Mike Huckabee. That's who I like.

CNN: What do you like about him?

Keith: If you sit and talk with him for very long, it takes you a little while before you realize, "Oh, I forgot. I'm talking to a politician." He was a governor, he ran for president, he's sharp as a cat, he's down to earth and humble. He's qualified, and you have to be a great speaker to be a great leader. You have to have the ability to make people trust you, and he's got everything he needs. I really like the guy.