This satiric interview was originally published in High Times Magazine.
Q. What've you learned from this whole nuclear bong explosion?
A. I learned how fast you can go from being an international hero to being a reference in a joke on a late night talk show. I heard Jay Leno say, "You know what really did Tom Daschle in? It turns out there are now pictures of him partying with Michael Phelps." And David Letterman: "I don't want to just ruin everybody's day, but there is discouraging news everywhere. Unemployment is high. Foreclosure rate is high. Michael Phelps is high."
Q. Well, that's what happens when your profile is so high. But your coach said that you would learn from the experience.
A. I learned that it was my own fault. I was so busy getting treated like a horny Jesus that I forgot that there could possibly be a Judas in the room. A greedy Judas with a cell phone camera. That was my mistake. That's what I regret. That's what will never happen again. I mean what happens in South Carolina doesn't stay in South Carolina. It ends up in Tabloid Hell! And Judas got a friggin' hundred-thousand dollars to play with.
Q. In England, yet. And then it comes back here to the States and drops in the lap of the Kellogg Empire. I called their headquarters, and there was an automatic message: "Press one to leave a comment about Michael Phelps--"
A. They were afraid that my image would pollute their image. That my brand would damage their brand. But the truth is, I actually felt relieved. I had been like a whore. Selling my soul instead of renting my body. And Tony the Tiger was my pimp. A nutritionist told me that the absolutely worst thing to have in your diet is sugar-coated cereal. And there I was, pushing Frosted Flakes--and it's friggin' addictive, man--I was peddling a dangerous breakfast cereal to innocent little kids. And those Kellogg PR people were worried about what message was my behavior sending? What message does dealing junk food send?
Q. But this whole thing also served to open up dialogue. I saw Whoopi Goldberg on The View--she said, "I smoked weed," and most of the audience applauded. And don't forget, that's Middle America.
A. Y'know what I'd really like to do? When I was like twelve years old, there was this issue of Time magazine with Ellen DeGeneres on the cover, and she's saying, "Yep, I'm Gay." So now I wanna be on the cover of Newsweek, smoking a joint and saying, "Yep, I'm Stoned." I wanna be the poster boy for the decriminalization of marijuana. If I'm supposed to be a role model, it would be great to inspire tokers to come out of their closets. Listen, did you know that almost one out of every three Americans have smoked marijuana? There's strength in numbers, although everybody's afraid of losing their jobs, but they know that the real harm comes from the ridiculous, insane laws, not from the weed.
Q. And don't forget the vicious propaganda. Did you happen to see a commercial by the Office of National Drug Control Policy? It features a woman saying, "Hey, not trying to be your mom, but there aren't many jobs out there for pot-heads." Your mother is the principal of a middle school, right? What do you think her reaction would be to your pro-pot crusade?
A. Oh, I'm sure she wouldn't be very supportive. In fact, she'd be very upset. She would grit her teeth and she'd say, "Michael, you are grounded for three weeks!"