George Takei was 5 years old when armed U.S. soldiers came to his house and escorted him and his family to an internment camp for Japanese Americans in the swamps of Arkansas, he told Jon Stewart on Wednesday night's Daily Show. The actor/gay-rights activist/social media star is promoting a new documentary about his life, To Be Takei — and Stewart, instead of asking him about Star Trek or his push for same-sex marriage, brought up Takei's World War II experience.
That experience, as Takei tells it, has shades of the Roberto Benigni film Life Is Beautiful — "My parents told us that we were going on a long vacation, to a place called Arkansas," he told Stewart. "And that sounded exotic." There were armed guards on the train, but "I thought everyone took vacations with guards like that."
Takei's retelling of his first-hand experience with this dark period in U.S. history is full of interesting details (watch the video below). But he also talked about how, years later, when he was a teenager, he asked his father about the internment camp. What he remembers about those conversations, Takei said, is this bit of wisdom from his father:
Our democracy is a people's democracy. And it can be as great as the people can be, but it's also as fallible as people are. [Takei, Daily Show]
Takei's father, and on Wednesday night Takei himself, illustrated this point with the story of an ambitious California politician who became a three-term governor on the then-wildly-popular platform of locking up Japanese Americans, then went on change the country for the better as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. "A great man, but a fallible human being," Takei said. That describes a lot of people in the U.S., not just Earl Warren. When our better angels are in ascendency, that's a real strength of American democracy. --Peter Weber
When Norah Jones made her debut on the Late Show 13 years ago, she played her hit "Don't Know Why," David Letterman noted on Wednesday's show. He had her back to sing the same song, and she did, just piano and guitar. This version is slower, almost meditative, befitting the end of a show and an era of late-night TV. "Every night," Letterman said after the performance. "We could have that every night." In Letterman's case, that would only be nine more shows. —Peter Weber
On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton celebrated Cinco de Mayo but unambiguously embracing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. On Wednesday's Daily Show, Senior Latino Correspondent Al Madrigal was underwhelmed by Clinton's "solid opening offer" to Latinos. Democrats have to do more than pander, he said, "especially since Republicans finally have a candidate Latinos can call their own."
When Jon Stewart tried to correct him, pointing out that Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are both Latinos, Madrigal scoffed. "I guess those guys are technically Latinos," he said, but not really. That's partly because they "threw away a path to citizenship for a path to the White House," Madrigal added, "but mainly because they're Cuban, really a small and, I've got to be honest, a snooty subset — they're like the WASPs of the Latino world."
No, Madrigal said, the Republican who speaks Spanish, "literally married into the demographic" with his Mexican wife, and pronounces guacamole correctly is Jeb (pronounced "yeb"), "or as we call him, El Jebe." Watch Madrigal make his case below. —Peter Weber
At 108, Richard Overton is the oldest living World War II veteran, and he doesn't bother trying to figure out the secret to his longevity.
— ABC News (@ABC) May 7, 2015
"That's what God only knows," he told ABC News. "That's God's work. He's the one who keeps me living." The Austin, Texas, resident turns 109 on Monday, but he's been celebrating with family and friends in the days leading up to the milestone: On Sunday, about 100 people, including Mayor Steve Adler, came out to celebrate at his "Mighty Fine at 109" party. "I feel like I've made it," he said. "I know I can't make another 109, so I'm satisfied with this one."
Overton smokes 12 cigars a day — he says he started at 18 — and has outlived two wives. While he doesn't have any children, he never feels like he's missing out. "I have a lot of family," he said. “The biggest family in Austin." Catherine Garcia
Self-driving vehicles aren't limited to sedans. On Tuesday, Daimler Trucks unveiled the Freightliner Inspiration, the first autonomous commercial truck given permission to drive on public roads, in this case, Nevada highways. At Tuesday's unveiling ceremony, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) ceremonially gave Daimler its special permit to test its self-driving big rig on public roads around Las Vegas. On Wednesday, Daimler gave test-rides to the media. Here is The Associated Press' report:
Daimler says that the Inspiration, when it hits the market, will still require a driver to be behind the wheel, even if he or she isn't touching it. The 18-wheeler can't change lanes on its own yet, for instance. The advantage of semi-autonomous trucks is supposed to be safety and fuel efficiency, but they won't be viable until more than four states and Washington, D.C., allow self-driving vehicles on their roads. Peter Weber
When we last saw the Hamburglar, he was a husky, red-headed cartoon criminal who liked to wear prison attire. Now? He's an actual man who looks like a cross between Inspector Gadget and a bandit who bought his wardrobe at a Party City fire sale.
— Mashable (@mashable) May 7, 2015
It's been 13 years since the Hamburglar made his last official appearance in a McDonalds ad, and the company thought his return was overdue. "We felt it was time to debut a new look for the Hamburglar after he's been out of the public eye all these years," Joel Yashinsky, vice president of U.S. marketing for McDonalds, told Mashable. "He's had some time to grow up a bit and has been busy raising a family in the suburbs and his look has evolved over time." The Hamburglar is already shilling the new Sirloin Third Pound Burger online, and will soon show up in TV spots. It remains to be seen if McDonalds will clue us in to why he's decided to return to a life of crime. Catherine Garcia
"The 2016 presidential election is already such a big story, get this, TBS is making a made-for-TV movie about it," Conan O'Brien said on his eponymous TBS show. They aren't, of course, but he needed some sort of set-up for his dream cast for the field of 2016 candidates. Conan's biggest laugh was David Spade as Hillary Clinton, but all the real and potential presidential wannabes got the treatment, with a little time travel, gender-bending, and other wistful machinations employed. Some of the casting is dead on — Mike Huckabee, say — and other picks border on mean (poor Bernie Sanders), but most are pretty funny. Watch below. —Peter Weber
A free cup of coffee could lead to a $750,000 payday for a North Carolina police lieutenant suing Starbucks, saying he was severely burned after the lid came off the cup and hot coffee spilled all over him.
Matthew Kohr and his wife, Melanie, are suing the company to cover legal and medical expenses, ABC News reports. Kohr, who had pre-existing Crohn's disease, said the burns caused his condition to flare up and he had to have intestinal surgery. His wife said she suffered emotional distress from losing her "intimate partner," the lawsuit says.
The incident took place in January 2012, and Kohr said he was not expecting to get burned the way he did. "I didn't know it was that hot," he said. Soon after, he had to take time off from work, and when he was on the job, he felt "edginess, nervousness, [and] wasn't comfortable in the car." Originally, Kohr wanted to sue for $10 million, saying it's "hard to put a price on what my wife had to go through, what my kids had to go through. What's a year and a half, two years of your life worth? I thought it was worth $10 million." A Starbucks spokesperson told ABC News that customer safety is "our top priority," and denied any wrongdoing. Catherine Garcia