ARUN RATH, HOST:
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath. Mike Huckabee served as governor of Arkansas and made a run for the presidency in 2008. He went on to host his own show on the Fox News Channel. He left that show this month, as he considers making another run for the White House. In the meantime, Huckabee has a new book. It's called "God, Guns, Grits, And Gravy." I spoke with the former governor, Huckabee, Friday, and he explained the title.
MIKE HUCKABEE: I think some people hear the title, "God, Guns, Grits, And Gravy," and think that it is a recipe book of Southern cuisine, but that's really not the goal. It is to - maybe in a rather, I hope, entertaining and sometimes fun way to read - really belies a serious message. And that message is that there is a cultural disconnect between the bubbles of New York, Washington and Hollywood, versus the flyover country, or the land of God, guns, grits and gravy.
RATH: Well, explain that cultural contrast. Tell us about these two Americas - the Bubba-ville and bubble-ville.
HUCKABEE: Well, I think that the disconnect in the culture is sometimes more a part of the polarization than even Democrats and Republicans. In the three bubbles of influence, New York, Washington and Hollywood, most of the cultural template of America is established, whether it's in fashion or finance or politics or government or music, entertainment, television, movies. A lot of people who live in the flyover land will sometimes say, my gosh, that's very different than the general prevailing attitude of the land of God, guns, grits and gravy.
So this book tries to explain - here's who we are. It says to the people out there in flyover country - you're not alone. There are a lot of you. And you may not think there are a lot of you 'cause everything you see on TV and in the movies is more connected to the bubbles, but I've made the distinction between bubble-ville and those three major influence areas, and, what I call, Bubba-ville.
RATH: I have to say, Governor, having - I've lived in New York and Los Angeles and in Washington, D.C., and the way you describe it, it just feels a little bit absolute - the distinction, you know? I can tell you that you can get biscuits and gravy in all three places and some good fried catfish, too.
HUCKABEE: I mean, I've found a few places up in Harlem where I can get a bowl of grits and maybe some decent barbecue, but I'm talking about the general prevailing culture that exists. And - I'll give an example. Often times, even my own Fox News staff that I would work with every week - good people - many of the people on my show's staff, anyway, were conservative, but many of them were not. But if the issue of guns came up, it was almost universal, like, you really own a firearm? Why? Most of them had never owned a gun, never picked up one, never shot one, had no idea what they would ever do if they ever did have one, and that's just very different from the way I grew up where I had my first BB gun at age 5 and a pellet gun at age 7 and .22 rifle at age 9. But I grew up, also, never imagining that I would point it at someone and murder anybody over it.
RATH: Well, with guns, let's stipulate that there's a genuine cultural divide on that. But on some of the other issues in the book, say, you talk about the crassness of the culture that comes out of these bubbles. There's been a little bit of a dustup over what you've said about Beyonce. People were offended.
HUCKABEE: A little bit?
RATH: Yeah, well, people were pretty offended, governor, that you said that her husband - that Jay-Z was basically pimping his wife.
HUCKABEE: Well, if people would read that whole chapter, what they would find is that it's half a page out of 272, and it's an illustrative moment of the bigger picture of the chapter that's entitled "The Culture Of Crude." I'll be honest with you. I never thought that that particular reference was going to create any controversy. And I do believe that a lot of people were reacting not to what I said in its full context, they were reacting to what the headlines said, that where the reports on it and the blogs about it, which have been numerous, to say the least.
RATH: Well, some of the reaction, though, don't you think that - I mean, it's still - I have read the whole chapter, and my take on it was that maybe it's just a thing about where people come from. It's not that values are different, but maybe, it's just we come from different cultures.
HUCKABEE: Which is precisely the point of the book - there's different cultures. I mean, that's - you've, in essence, just validated the very point I made.
RATH: But there's a value judgment there, though.
HUCKABEE: Well, no, it's not a value judgment that one is right, the other is wrong. But what is completely, maybe, normal and not the least bit distressing to people in the cultural bubbles of New York, D.C. and in Hollywood - and I'm not just talking about a language - but what's normal in Washington, for example, in the way government works, is appalling to those who live out here and have to pay for this nonsense.
RATH: Do you have any concern that, you know, the book spends a lot of time talking about these things that divide us, this cultural divide. Do you worry - I mean, I know you're somebody that - you would probably say that you like to bring people together to talk about the things that we share in common.
HUCKABEE: Well, first of all, you can't be together unless you know what it is that separates you. And one of the realities of life is if two people sit down at the table and they're not honest about what's different, they'll never be able to come to what's common.
RATH: That's Mike Huckabee. His new book is "God, Guns, Grits, And Gravy." Governor Huckabee, thanks very much. We really appreciate you taking the time with us.
HUCKABEE: Well, I enjoyed the visit. Thank you, Arun.
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