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Robin Leach on the lifestyles of the rich and political -- John McCain

Robin Leach isn’t your usual political pundit. But the former champagne-toasting host of the TV hit of the mid-'80s to mid-'90s, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," may be more qualified than most to opine on John McCain's now-infamous inability to remember how many homes he owns.

In an early morning phone call Friday from his fabulous crib in Las Vegas, Leach told The Times that he isn’t really surprised at McCain's odd memory lapse given the complex lives that the super-rich lead.

"He probably was confused as to which homes are in his name, his wife's name, or corporate names," Leach explained in his familiar, deep British baritone. "In his attempt to be honest, he put his foot in his mouth."

Indeed, McCain’s four homes and at least four other residential properties are held in the name of his wife, Cindy, and her dependent children through a series of partnerships and trusts. Their combined value is nearly $14 million.

Leach said McCain "tends to answer questions very rapidly without thinking of the correct answers. ... I would call it honest confusion."

The British-born Leach isn't a U.S. citizen and thus can't vote. But for a man famous for focusing on froth, he took a serious view of America's latest political fracas.

"This has nothing to do with the issues candidates should be discussing," he said. "Let’s talk about real things, not silly things. It’s irrelevant whether the future president has one home or ten."

"It’s nothing to get into a kerfuffle about," he added. "It’s silly and ridiculous."

As host of "Lifestyles," Leach served as an always-enthusiastic tour guide to the extravagant homes of wealthy entertainers, athletes and business moguls. He ended each segment with his signature sign-off: "Champagne wishes and caviar dreams!"

Now 66, Leach writes books and a blog, travels widely, and owns an HDTV studio in Las Vegas.

-- Bob Drogin

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I cant believe McCain doesnt know how many houses he owns, not counting the fact that he thinks you have to make 5 mill a year to be wealthy? WTF McCain is a PRO WAR> the commenter is right above. McCain only has stories., in the forum he didnt even answer questions. Instead he told stories which he has memorized and repeated at everytown hall meeting he has ever had. Obama might lead to the great depression. But McCain will probably lead to the Great Depression with a side of WWIII. We should probably elect someone who has to at least live with the choices they make in the white house. McCain will be checking out soon, What does he care if he leaves this country in a mess. The US presidency is just a prize to him. I hate the two party system. Obama is right to say McCain is out of touch and a hot head. John McCain does have a temper, I saw the video of him blowing up on a former senator and dropping the f bomb. Y McCain will lose if he picks Romney Speaking of Rich watch video of McCain talking about his failed first marrige at

McCain, a war hero who was held prisoner by the Vietnamese for over 5 years, has a lifetime of foreign policy experience, not including the over 5 years the war hero spent as a POW in Vietnam. John McCain, former POW and war hero, also happens to be a war hero who was held prisoner by the North Vietnamese for over 5 years.

McCain is a war hero, do you hear me????

McCain was a POW. He doesn’t like talking about it

The reason this episode matters is NOT that McCain owns 8 homes, it's the fact that he isn't even clearly aware how many homes he owns. How are voters supposed to trust McCain to understand the plight of the middle class and underemployed when he's living such a high class life style that simple basic things like Home Ownership aren't even a serious component of his life.

The Times hasn't even reported on most of Obama's gaffes. McCain makes a gaffe and you run with it on page one, above the fold, with a hyperbolic large-font headline reading "McCAIN BLUNDER LEAVES HIM LOOKING FOR POLITICAL SHELTER".

Now you're trying to get even more mileage out of this non-story over here on the blog?

You keep rockin guys.

This is one of your best, guys. Now we're supposed to be listening to ROBIN LEACH about what issues are and aren't important to U.S. voters.

You guys are such jokers! (pretty bad jokes most of the time, but...)

I beg to differ Mr. Leach. If a presidential candidate is getting points from portraying his opponent as an elitist and out of touch with the common man, but he in reality is richer and has the most possessions, then it's HE who's the elitist and it's HE who is out of touch with the common man.
Moreover if this candidate doesn’t believe that the poor economy is affecting the average American, yet he can’t remember how many houses he owns or determine the amount of his own or his families' wealth, then what’s the point of this man becoming our president?
Remember, John McCain comes from a prominent military family and he in effect married a woman from a rich family yet he started this “game” of his opponent being too rich and uppity to understand the concerns of average Americans. Let’s see if he can take it as well as dish it out.

What is ignored in Mr. Leach's "explanation" is that Mr. McCain has a life filled with cut-out corporations and various names on deeds to confuse the IRS. The fact he has the money to hire folks to create these artifical deeds proves the saying "the rich are different than you and me." They have better laywers.

This is a man that has lived on Uncle Sam's salaries all his life, except when he's living off his wife.

He is worse than out-of-touch. He is cossetted.

"Today we must look to the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, as a metaphor of our national character and aspiration, its symbol a thirty foot-high cardboard picture of a slot machine and a chorus girl. For Las Vegas is a city entirely devoted to the idea of entertainment, and as such proclaims the spirit of a culture in which all public discourse increasingly takes the form of entertainment. Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death." -Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

wasn't mccain in the gulag archipelago, where he lost something but can't seem to remember what?

Noun. Verb. POW.

McCAIN is like IMELDA MARCOS, a collector of houses and $520 Ferragamo shoes.

He seems to be confused a lot lately doesn't he?

I heard that McCain was a POW. Has anyone else heard that?

Also I've got a bad headache. Does anyone know of any product that can be applied directly ON the head?

I don't think he was trying to be honest. He has a history of saying some cheery, empty nothing when faced with a question he doesn't like.

He had to have some relatively accurate idea of the specifics of his property ownership, but instead of giving estimates or saying that most properties were in the name of his rich wife, he blows off the question with "hee-hee-hee, let me ask my staff about that and get back to you, hee-hee-hee."

Just the way he handles lots of questions. A total lack of respect for the questions or the issues or the people who would dare to question him.

It's not charming.

McCain claims that Obama has a McMansion. And that a felon helped him buy that. That's easy for McCain to keep track of, since its only the one. McCain would know about felons, since he was part of the Keating Five. Thankfully, Americans have short memories. McCain doesn't have a McMansion - all of his abodes are MANSIONS with the square footage to prove it and the tax shelters to make them affordable. Don't you wish everybody could have that set-up?

Obama: Self-made man who got where he is through talent and hard work. Ran the Harvard Law Review while at Harvard. Two-decade-plus history of working on behalf of Chicago's poorer citizens. Still married to the love of his life.

McCain: Child of privilege, son and grandson of admirals, whose daddy made sure he got into Navy flight school despite graduating 894th of 899 at Annapolis, kept his wings even after crashing several planes; dumped his first wife when she was crippled in a car accident and cheated on her with the beer-fortune heiress who would become Wife #2.

Who does the GOP/Media Complex scurry to defend? McCain, of course.

Robin Leach wouldn't care that McCain has an econimoc advisor who helped engineer the subprime mortgage meltdown, leading to a lot of ordinary Americans losing their houses while McCain and his friends profit from their failures.

Now, now many times has he been a guest of the McCains?

So my fellow Brit Robin Leach chimes in. his view is not worth tuppence. Never read such piffle in a long time. Sen McCain has held important positions in office and attends major interbational events as a keynote participant. Now I am told to be understanding of his mistakes. Do I want this man to be President????

Who the hell cares what Robin Leach thinks?

Let's face it: He didn't answer the question straightaway because he knew full well that to say "I don't own anyway, it's all in Cindy's name since she inherited a bazillion bucks from her mobbed-up daddy" would totally queer his carefully-buffed Rugged Individualist image, as well as destroy his efforts to project his own silver-spoon status onto the self-made Obama.

Instead, he tries to evade the question, and winds up looking like a clueless, callous, elitist golddigger.

Mr. Leach made a good point that nobdoy else has. I found it worth my time to read it.

What struck me about McCain's statement was that he said he would have a staff gofer check it out and get back to the guy from Politico who posed the question. If he has to have a staff person research the number of homes, it appears to me that it says even more about how out of touch McCain is in connecting to the everyday economic concerns of the average voter and how far above those worldly concerns McCain himself lives. No wonder he admitedly know so little about ecomonics. It's hardly an issue within his own personal bubble.

Its a shame that McSame wants to tell working class people to skip vacations and work extra jobs to pay thier mortgags while he is living the life of a KEPT Man in the lap of luxury.

Cindy's the kind of woman you'd like to have a beer distributorship with.
They have no clue.
-- laid off with a mortgage in Wisconsin

New Banner Going up at next McCain Rally:

"Mansion Accomplished"

"It’s silly and ridiculous." Which he would know since that is what he made his living peddling.

The complex lives that the super-rich lead?

Try driving to work everyday wondering if this is the day that the police will pull you over and arrest you for not having the insurance that you can't afford.

Try the experience of losing a tooth and knowing that you can't afford a dentist.

Try debating whether you should pay your electric bill or buy groceries for your family.

That's complex. Not knowing how many houses you own - that's obscene.

"He is someone who purports to campaign as a man of the people, but who resides in a whole series of wealthy million dollar chateaus and mansions," said Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt in the summer of 2004. "It's just one more contradiction and example of him being out of the mainstream with America."

It isn't about wealth. McCain married rich; that's his perfect right and good fortune. McCain's gaffe is relevant for the simple reason that he has been attempting to portray himself as a "man of the people" who understands the economic hardships faced by Joe Sixpack. The fact that he is confused about how many dwellings he owns is indicative of a mindset that is very far detached from the everyday concerns faced by most Americans, such as paying mortgages, utility bills, real estate taxes, etc. And, frankly, the fact that he couldn't (or wouldn't) give a straight answer to such a simple question indicates he's well aware of what a political liability his wealth is this year. So much for his highly-touted "straight talk."

I am an Arizona resident who has been impatiently waiting for someone to point out that John McCain’s attacks on Obama for being an elitist were hypocritical at best. The mainstream news media could have pointed this out a long time ago… The information has been out there.
The point isn’t who is richer than whom. The point is that McCain who tries to come off like an average guy who understands the average Americans’ trials and tribulations… doesn’t. Especially when he has an Economic Adviser saying that we the American people are bunch of “whiners” and that the money crunch we are feeling is just in our heads.
I used to think I liked Mccain when he ran for President in 2000. Now I cannot find much I do like about him. His Straight Talk Express has run itself into a ditch. He reminds me more and more everyday of George Bush. Scary… One George Bush is more than this country can survive.
I am not saying Obama is perfect. As a matter of fact he has taken some positions (drilling for oil, nuclear power, illegal immigration) that I deeply disagree with. But I do think he can relate to the average Joe. Obama just recently payed off his and Michelle’s student loans and only recently bought a million dollar house due to the success of the books he has written. So, he has only recently become a part of the elitist class and could have done so earlier in life if he hadn’t chose the path of public service.
We are always voting between one elite or another. The difference is… Do they remember where they started from? Are they still in touch with the average guy?
I believe that Obama is in touch with the average guy and McCain is not.

I heard john mccain was a POW can anyone confirm

because they haven't brought it up at all

Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't McCain asked how many homes he AND his wife owned? I don't think you can use the "Some of the homes belonged to Cindy and he just wasn't sure so he said nothing to remain honest" excuse when his wife's homes were included in the initial question.

I think this gaffe/bru-ha-ha/whatever-you-want-to-call-it will be important not because the McCains are filthy rich, but because a lot of people didn't know just how rich they were and are now leanring that the McCain that has been portrayed in the media is not a true reflection of the Real McCain.

McCain's inability to recall the number of homes he owns, matters for three reasons:

#3) It undercuts McCain's efforts to portray himself as a man of the people

#2) It undercuts McCain's efforts to portray Obama as an "elitist"

#1) The press has decided that it matters

John Cindy McCain III, a Prisoner of Wealth.

I'd find Leach's comments more convincing if he weren't so wealthy himself. It's like the elite coming to the defense of the elite.

What gets me is the total conviction that the rich deserve their wealth.. in spite of the suffering that goes around them every day. Leach didn't even bat an eye "It's silly." Let's not waste our time discussing elites (and let's let McCain get away with it cause he's such a special POW)

Maybe McCain doesn't know because he is and has always been kept by his rich wife. He had to sign a pre-nup when he married her.

How dare a non-POW like Robin Leach talk about Mccain? What right does he have to question Cindy's houses? I weep for our heroic POW. It's so sad to question a POW who draws crosses in the sand.

So this must mean that if Sen McCain is elected POTUS it will be okay for him to forget what wars he started, and where, because he will be soooo busy 24/7? Another example that this man has no business being our Leader when he can't even keep his own life in check.

Oh, but wait. I forgot; he's a POW, so it's okay for him to forget things!

does any one here remember john kerry?
yes that john kerry who served in vietnam sustained three minor injuries and came home. yes that john kerry who made a politcal career for himself by lying about his fellow soldiers. yes that john kerry who married a rich ketchup heiress owner of multiple homes, private jets, multiple vehicles including an suv he could not remember owning.i wish i could go back four years to see whether ANY of you posted the same comments. what incredible hipocracy!

Yes, we remember John Kerry. Yes, both John Kerry and George Bush was the two elitist we had to choose from, and the same thing happened in 2000. The difference is John Kerry wasn't labeling George Bush an elitist. McCain is labeling Obama an elitist. So McCain exposes himself not only as a hypocrite, but as a man that is so wealthy he doesn't even know how many homes his family owns. So, this means he probably doesn't know what it is like to set down and make ends meet every month, or what it is like to have to cringe when he goes to the grocery store, the gas pump, or struggle to keep up with his mortgage payments. Obama has only recently felt the relief of paying off his student loans, and only recently bought a million dollar home (with the proceeds of the books he wrote). So, only recently has Obama started living the elite lifestyle, while McCain has been living it at not only a higher level but also for 28 years. Not that there is anything wrong with it per say. Just that he is being a hypocrite and it is very unlikely that he understands what an average American is experiencing economically.

We have the unusual opportunity this election season to vote for the closest resemblance to a modern day Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama.


The first time I saw this on the feed, I honestly thought it was from the folks at The Onion. Oh well, stranger then fiction (or satire), I guess.

I wonder what Leach would say about Obama's ability to recall how many houses he owns.

I think Leach should join McCain in his kerfluffle. Nothing like two really old guys stuck in a kerfluffle together. In fact, Leach could be McCain's VP of Kerfluffle. Gee, I feel better already!

His answer was not a mistake.
It was deliberately vague because he did not want his words possibly used against him in a (tax) Court of Law.

Robin Leach was a defendant in a multistate lawsuit brought by a number of states attorneys general back in 1998 for false statements he made as a shill for Ramada Plaza Resorts and National Travel Services who were selling Bahamas cruises on badly outdated cruise ships that they respresented to be state of the art. For the LATimes to seek out this old fraudster's opinion is just laughable. If it weren't so damn dumb.

So at his Arizona Mansion, on a Fridat, trying to decide how to deal with this little "gaffe" he decides he needs a latte...
as if there isn't a coffee maker in the house...or perhaps there was but being technologically handicapped, he decides it's easier to go to A FRIGGIN 9 CAR MOTORCADE TO BUY A CUP OF COFFEE!!!!

It doesn't really matter if the homes are in McCain's name or Cindy's. They are still shared. He has to know where their homes are, otherwise where does he know where to stay when he is traveling to one of the locations. The poor little man could end up gettinglost. He either didn't want to admit how many homes they owned, or else he is getting forgetful in his old age. Actually being he is a kept man that must mean that he has a "sugar mama."

what are his children's names


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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