What made you escape California for Miami?

DRUDGE: Taxes. I was paying nine percent in California. One year I paid $90,000 to the city of Fresno. Florida has no state income tax, which is its greatest attraction. I guess the last straw for me was being stuck at the corner of Highland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard for hours one afternoon. It was a nightmare, like a scene from Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down. I almost left my car in the middle of the street. I hit Route 10 a week later. Now I’m in Miami Beach, up in clouds, looking at the sea. I can see, probably, 40 miles out of the Drudge windows.

PAGLIA: Do you have a social life in Miami Beach?

DRUDGE: Zero. The media’s my mistress.

ROSHAN: Aren’t you a DJ somewhere, Matt? I seem to remember an article in a Miami paper that said you sometimes DJ at clubs there.

DRUDGE: No. I’m not a DJ anywhere. I do love music, though. I often thought I’d be much better as a radio DJ doing music rather than talk. If I can get enough money –together, maybe I can pursue that full-time.

PAGLIA: You do play a lot of music on your radio show.

DRUDGE: I’ve always been a hipster, always knew the first beat of every song. I could always name that tune in one note.

ROSHAN: What kind of music is your favorite?

DRUDGE: Everything, really. Carmen McRae mixed in with Massive Attack, and a little Rod McKuen. It’s crazy. But I’m looking for a little romance. I’m not a very big fan of this new electronic music—I think with a few exceptions it’s just too cold and inhuman. The new generation really needs to reach out for romance, because we’re spending too much time in front of screens and radiation and lights and blips and blurbs. We need romance and flowers and wind.

ROSHAN: It’s interesting to hear you draw a distinction between your public life and your private life. Didn’t Clinton make the same argument?

DRUDGE: I think pulling out his cigar in the White House as Arafat waited outside wipes out any argument Clinton might have had.

PAGLIA: He was using the hall off the Oval Office. Why didn’t he just rent a motel room?

DRUDGE: In any case I no longer do the Clinton beat. Or cover any politicians who are out of office. So I would say what he was doing on the clock in the White House very much was a concern to everybody involved, not to mention to national security.

ROSHAN: Speaking of national security, how do you feel about Condoleezza Rice?

DRUDGE: Oh, she’s a powerhouse! But the DNC has a dirt file on her that is really thick. Think of The Contender, or those other movies that have warned what happens when a female candidate has some dirt she’d rather hide. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Democrats used it. I think the best match-up would be Donna Brazile versus Condoleezza Rice, high noon, and we get all that crap out of the way.

ROSHAN: When you compare Condoleezza Rice to [Gore’s barely closeted campaign manager] Donna Brazile, what are you really saying?

DRUDGE: They’re both tough black women who would run at the same time, and who possibly could have a dirt file on both sides. I know nothing. I haven’t seen Condoleezza’s file, but I’ve been assured that one exists. Roshan: What about Hillary Clinton’s future?

DRUDGE: Oh, she’s a superstar. She’s the brightest light on Broadway. She’s Harvey Weinstein’s First Lady of our Heart. She is the Democrat to beat in ’08, and her opponent may turn out to be Rudy Giuliani. And if I had to predict right now, I would think she could clean up.

PAGLIA: Really? But she can’t even give a speech. She has no ability to interact with –people in a spontaneous way.

DRUDGE: Let’s put it this way: I’m staying alive just to see her run against Giuliani. I think you will see a dynamic, a red-versus-blue rematch, that would just fascinate the country. Camille, as you remember, one of the finest

performances we’ve seen out of Washington was the first lady coming out of the grand jury office wearing a dragon coat and white face powder. And I expect much more from Hillary as we ramp up for the next election. She has decided to go undercover and play it very calm and very conservative and Miss Marm. But she will surround herself with the Blumenthals, the Harold Ickeses, and everything else we loved and hated about the ’90s. The corruption, the crimes, the craziness will all come back to the fore.

ROSHAN: Matt, you said your parents are liberal. What do they think of what you do?

DRUDGE: I think they’re extremely proud. My mother turned on Clinton toward the end; now she’s turned on Bush. I kind of like that: a woman who doesn’t necessarily look up to any politician.

PAGLIA: When you said that all life is sacred, was that a religious statement or a reflection of 1960s-style cosmic consciousness?

DRUDGE: I guess if I popped a pill while saying that it would qualify as ’60s. [Laughter]

PAGLIA: You have no religious affiliation?

DRUDGE: You could probably call me a –new-age Jew. I’m really into meditation. I have been meditating since I was five years old. I love reading Jesus. I am open to a lot of different things. Again, it’s a formula for my personal self that I’ve come up with. I don’t go to shul, I don’t go to church every Sunday. But the older I get, the closer I feel to a creator.

PAGLIA: What do you mean by meditating?

DRUDGE: I do exercises every day to clear my mind. Third-eye stuff.

PAGLIA: Transcendental meditation? Where did you learn it?

DRUDGE: I’m self-taught.