New BFFs: Rolling Stone, Sean Penn and El Chapo

Talk about strange bedfellows. In what can only be described as an epic PR failure, Rolling Stone magazine and actor/activist Sean Penn teamed up for an exclusive interview with El Chapo, the convicted drug lord who is on the lamb after breaking out of a maximum security Mexican prison. Cue the Mariachi band.

First things first, a little background on El Chapo. He's filthy rich due to his criminal drug empire. So rich that his minions reportedly spent about one million dollars digging a mile-long tunnel so he could walk out of prison---no crawling for this kingpin.

Typically, when one comes across an escaped criminal responsible for murdering thousands of people, one would notify the authorities. Unless, of course, one is a liberal activist that keeps company with unsavory types like Fidel Castro. Enter Sean Penn.

Penn recently spent "weeks of clandestine planning" in order to interview and write an article about El Chapo for Rolling Stone. The communist sympathizer asked hard-hitting questions like, "How was your childhood?" and "Do you have any dreams?" and "If you could change the world, would you?" (By the way, things are hunky-dory for El Chapo, and he wouldn't change a thing: "For me, the way things are, I'm happy.")

As if that weren't enough, Rolling Stone provided the pièce de résistance: complete editorial control to El Chapo.

On the heels of publishing a bogus rape story, Rolling Stone now runs a story in which all control was surrendered to a vicious drug lord on the run from authorities.

In the article, Penn tried to spin an excuse for his secret interview:

I take no pride in keeping secrets that may be perceived as protecting criminals, nor do I have any gloating arrogance at posing for selfies with unknowing security men. But I'm in my rhythm. Everything I say to everyone must be true. As true as it is compartmentalized. The trust that El Chapo had extended to us was not to be f**ked with. This will be the first interview El Chapo had ever granted outside an interrogation room, leaving me no precedent by which to measure the hazards.

However, Penn's twisted sense of loyalty may not pay off this time. Matt Gutman with ABC News tweeted Monday that Mexican authorities are investigating both Sean Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, who brokered the get together, for meeting with El Chapo.

Enjoy this complimentary segment from The Glenn Beck Program

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.

GLENN: El Chapo is in the news. Who is El Chapo? One of the most notorious drug dealers in the world. And, by the way, if El Chapo's people happen to be listening, we love El Chapo. I use his lip balm. He's fantastic.

STU: If he existed, he would be fantastic.

GLENN: If he existed, he would be fantastic. Being here in Texas, we're all for El Chapo.

Anyway, this weekend, Rolling Stone came out, and they said, "Big news, Sean Penn has landed a rare interview with El Chapo." Now, El Chapo is a guy who had escaped from a prison, a maximum security Mexican prison through a tunnel that took a million dollars to dig. So he's in -- he goes and takes a shower, and he opens up the floor of the shower and he drops down into this tunnel, where his people had been digging. How long was this tunnel?

PAT: A mile.

STU: A mile.

GLENN: A mile long they had been digging this mile-long tunnel. And as Stu was explaining it off the air, he didn't crawl through the tunnel. He walked through the tunnel.

STU: Yeah, it was a million dollars to make this tunnel, they think.

GLENN: In Mexico.

STU: Right. The tunnel cost in Mexico is lower than you're thinking.

(laughter)

GLENN: Well, the regulations alone on tunnel collapse by prison, it's crazy.

But, anyway, so Sean Penn has this interview with him. And there's a couple of things. First of all, Sean Penn in the interview, he asks a notorious drug lord, "Do you have any dreams?"

"Do you have any dreams?"

(laughter)

"If you could change the world, would you?" You've got to be kidding me.

JEFFY: Everybody has dreams, Glenn.

GLENN: El Chapo has dreams.

PAT: Even a guy responsible for thousands, if not tens of thousands of murders, he's got big dreams. Yeah, I'd like to kill 100,000. I mean, is that your dream?

GLENN: It's incredible.

PAT: I'd like to enslave the entire United States of America on drugs.

JEFFY: He doesn't want to kill everyone.

PAT: No, he doesn't want to kill his customers. Keep the customers alive.

JEFFY: Just agree with him and everything is fine.

GLENN: So Sean Penn does this interview with this guy. Now, I think that's the bad part of the story. No. It gets worse.

The Rolling Stone magazine actually gave final edit approval to El Chapo.

STU: Yeah. El Chapo said, "I want to approve this article before you print it." Rolling Stone, first of all, agreed to it and then delivered to El Chapo an article in which El Chapo had no changes.

GLENN: So there's levels here. Sean Penn does an interview. Rolling Stone magazine decides to print the interview. Then they decide, "We're going to give the editorial reigns to the guy we're interviewing, the notorious drug lord." That's bad enough. But what they delivered to him, he doesn't make any changes. He's like, "Holy cow, you're kidding me. That's really good. Wow, they said this?"

STU: Seriously, you're going to print this, for me? Is it my birthday?

GLENN: My gosh. You guys know I'm a notorious drug lord, right?

(laughter)

STU: He's actually trying to talk them out of it for their own reputation.

GLENN: So now on Friday, he was recaptured in Mexico. And it had something to do with this interview. Somehow or another, something that happened during this interview tipped the authorities off. Do we know what that was? What happened that tipped the authorities off?

So something happened that tipped the authorities off. And my question is, and I don't believe this for a second. Was Sean Penn working with the government to capture El Chapo?

STU: No, I don't think that's the accusation at all. I've seen some speculation that -- you know, we can figure this out. But some speculation that he, because of the process going on, they somehow were able -- that actually helped them. But it was not intentional help from Sean Penn. Like, they were able to -- because of the details able to track him down.

PAT: No, Penn and the Rolling Stone did not cooperate with authorities on this at all.

GLENN: No, but that's what they would have to say or they'd be dead.

PAT: Yeah, but I'm sure they didn't. I mean, for Rolling Stone to have more credibility than Weekly World News, it's -- it would be despicable. They don't. This is as bad as it can get for a supposed journalistic publication.

GLENN: Well, this is the publication that didn't check the facts on the rape story.

PAT: On the rape story. And now this thing.

GLENN: And they let the drug lord edit facts for the Rolling Stone story.

PAT: How do they survive? How do they have an ounce of credibility?

GLENN: Because there are a lot of people like Sean Penn.

STU: This is weird though. Because this is not typical left-wing lines. My impression of Democrats in this country is not that they want poor people addicted to drugs and murdered in third world countries. Is that part of the platform? I've never heard that.

GLENN: No, no, but I think Rolling Stone appeals to the -- it's like The Nation.

PAT: The renegades.

GLENN: It's the renegade. It's the revolutionary.

PAT: And that's kind of what Sean Penn seems to be, is a revolutionary. Isn't it? He hangs out with revolutionaries. He loves Castro. He loved, what's-his-face from Venezuela?

STU: Chavez.

PAT: Chavez. He apparently likes this guy enough to shake hands with him and have a photograph with him.

GLENN: By the way, is that photograph weird and uncomfortable?

PAT: Yes.

STU: Very weird.

JEFFY: But that's what happens when you get yourself photographed with the Robin Hood-like figure that El Chapo is.

GLENN: That's according to Sean Penn. The Robin Hood-type figure.

PAT: By the way, can we mention here that Robin Hood did not get people addicted to drugs and he did not steal from the rich. He stole from the government who took the money from the poor. He stole from the government and gave it back to the people he stole from.

STU: Because he was frustrated over policies like high taxes.

PAT: Could we for the love of heaven get the Robin Hood story right for a change. I mean, if you want to call this douche bag a Robin Hood-type, he's nothing like that. He's nothing like that.

GLENN: First of all, Robin Hood wasn't addicting people to drugs. And Robin Hood wasn't rich! He wasn't the guy flying around in his private helicopter in his HEP Leer jet.

PAT: El Chapo makes a billion dollars a month.

GLENN: I'm sorry, what?

PAT: A billion dollars a month.

JEFFY: And that's probably low.

PAT: Yeah, that's probably a conservative estimate.

I mean, that's -- that's a pretty good enterprise.

(laughter)

GLENN: If I'm El Chapo and I make a billion dollars a month, I am pissed that the tunnel wasn't carpeted.

PAT: And air-conditioned.

GLENN: If I spent a million dollars to get me out, you realize that last year I made $12 billion.

STU: That's a top line number though. That wasn't all profit.

JEFFY: Yeah. There's a lot of cost.

PAT: Well, I'm sure he'll pay his taxes. He'll declare all that. Right?

GLENN: What do you think his bottom line number is?

STU: Well, I mean, if he's doing -- maybe he's making 20 -- probably drugs, you're probably 50/60 percent profit margin at least.

JEFFY: And then you have to provide food, roads, and medical relief for the people in the mountains that are keeping you safe.

STU: Right. Because that's one of the thing. When you say the Robin Hood-like figure, he's making the Osama bin Laden argument. That al-Qaeda is building schools so a lot of people really like them locally. And the same thing with El Chapo. He's done a lot of things that people in that area love.

He gives away money. I mean, this is what happens with every criminal enterprise. I mean, go back to the wonderful documentary, New Jack City, that described the cocaine, crack in New York City, I think pretty well. They did a good job with it. And at times, he was giving away -- Nino Brown -- as you know, Nino Brown, the drug dealer, was giving away turkeys and everything on Thanksgiving. And the local people loved him. He was also killing a lot of --

GLENN: I would like to challenge your documentary with another documentary. Probably a little closer to this. The documentary about El HEP Guapo.

STU: Okay.

GLENN: Where he was found by the singing bush, shortly before they killed the killing bush. And this he was not liked by the local townspeople.

STU: Wow. Look, not every documentary tells the same story.

GLENN: So I think I go with the one that's closer to El Chapo than the documentary El Guapo.

STU: Yeah, but this is how you buy -- it's like what Jeffy was talking about. The people who are in the community surrounding these wonderful palaces don't have any incentive to tell anybody where these palaces are because --

JEFFY: Well, they most definitely have an incentive not to say anything. I mean, when asked if you're in that town. Hey, do you like --

GLENN: Do you like him? I love him.

JEFFY: Yes, I do.

STU: 100 percent approval rating. And he buys people off too. So there's things they get. They think, "Look, he's helping us out, and I don't want to get myself killed, so I'm not saying anything."

GLENN: Imagine, imagine what that's like.

PAT: So congratulations to Sean Penn and Rolling Stone, two Americans -- and an American publication who should know better. They should know better than that.

GLENN: We should know better than that.

PAT: And, of course, they don't.

GLENN: We as a society buy the stupid magazine.

PAT: When was the last time you purchased a Rolling Stone --

PAT: Do we?

PAT: Using the we in that context.

GLENN: As a society, we're obviously keeping them --

PAT: They're in business.

GLENN: Newsweek magazine is not in business anymore.

PAT: Well, except online.

GLENN: As the Daily Beast.

PAT: But, you know, Rolling Stone still actually shows up in grocery stores, doesn't it?

GLENN: Yes.

PAT: Pretty amazing.

GLENN: It's still making money. I mean, it's not their fault. It's our fault.

PAT: And after these two, the bogus rape story and this one, if you're still buying that magazine, something is wrong with you.

GLENN: What the hell is wrong with you? What are you, high?

PAT: Probably.

Featured Image: Host Sean Penn speaks onstage during the 5th Annual Sean Penn & Friends HELP HAITI HOME Gala Benefiting J/P Haitian Relief Organization at Montage Hotel on January 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for J/P HRO)

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!