Rendell angrily defends casinos to ‘60 Minutes’

Gov. Rendell bares his teeth and karate-chops the air as he tells "60 Minutes," "You guys don't get that!" during an interview about casinos that will air Jan. 9.

A CBS promotional video clip shows an angry Gov. Rendell saying "you're simpletons, you're idiots" during a 60 Minutes interview.

The segment is to air Sunday evening as part of an examination of the proliferation of casino gambling across the country.

The country has more slot machines now than ATMs, says correspondent Lesley Stahl.

Rendell reportedly was explaining that gambling addicts already had opportunities elsewhere, when his temper flared. By allowing casinos in Pennsylvania, tax revenue and jobs would stay in the state instead of going to neighboring New Jersey, he explained.

"You guys don't get that," he said, baring his teeth and chopping the air with his hands.

"I do get that," Stahl said.

"You're simpletons, you're idiots if you don't get that," Rendell continued.

The outburst followed this exchange, as promoted on CBS3:

RENDELL: "The biggest downside is that some people lose their paychecks. But understand, Lesley, they're not losing their paychecks because Pennsylvania instituted gaming. These people were losing their paychecks in Atlantic City, in Delaware at the racetracks, or in West Virginia."

STAHL: "So why not lose it here . . ."

Rendell: "Well, if they were going to lose it anyway, let's get the upside. We were getting all the downside and none of the upside."

STAHL: "The counter-argument is that you're creating new gamblers. And lots of new gamblers."

RENDELL: "We're not creating new gamblers."

STAHL: "Well, 'cause it's down the street."

RENDELL: "Those people play the lottery. They bet on football. How much money is bet on the Super Bowl."

STAHL: "People are losing money for the state to get its revenue. They're losing money."

RENDELL: "Let me answer this. You . . . you've . . . I've always . . . I've known, uh, for two or three decades, you're a very smart person."

STAHL: "But not now."

RENDELL: "But you're not getting it."

STAHL: "I'm dumb now."

RENDELL: "You're not getting it. Those people would lose that money anyway. Don't you understand? You guys don't get that. You're simpletons. You're idiots if you don't get that . . . That's the answer and it's the right answer."

Requests for comment from the Rendell camp were not immediately returned this morning.

Rendell, who is nearly at the end of his tenure as governor, has been positioning himself to be a major media talking figure. He hired the prestigious William Morris agency, and has been making a variety of national media appearances lately, including The Colbert Report.

When he recently denounced the postponement of an Eagles home game because of snow, his remarks about becoming a nation of "wusses" got widespread media play.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or
Inquirer columnist Monica Yant Kinney contributed to this report.