The following is a transcript of The Bearded Man's press conference which took place at noon CST, December 5, on the steps of the Mississippi state capital in Jackson, Mississippi.
The Bearded Man (TBM): I would like to thank the members of the media for joining me here today. I will make a brief statement outlining the adventure I am about to undertake and then field questions.
The journey I am about to begin is ambitious. Much like my recent travels to our 59 great National Parks, it will celebrate exploration. It will encourage curiosity. I promise you, it will not be mundane. The "50 State Bearded Man Bar Tour", begins this evening at Red's Lounge in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Over the next 120 days, I will be traveling to the most iconic bar in all 50 states. Needless to say, staying on the road for 120 days is an undertaking of rather large proportion and I would like to thank everyone who has made this possible. In particular I would like to express my deepest thanks to the knuckleheads at TheMountCo, who are once again sponsoring my travels. In this vein, I have promised the four partners that I will have four drinks at each of the bars I visit. I understand that this is a sacrifice on my part, but it's the least I can do. So here's to Austin, Braden, Preston and the old guy in the garage - Thank you.
I will now take questions.
Anderson Cooper, CNN: Good to see you again. Will you be driving the same VW van as you did in your National Park tour? I was told that it was actually being auctioned for charity - Is that true?
TBM: Hi Coop, good to see you as well. I have retired the VW van and Christie's will be auctioning in the spring. I will be driving a modified Sprinter van, provided by Mercedes Benz in exchange for obvious shameless plugs such as this one. By the way, how's your mom?
AC: She's doing well and sends her best.
Louis Threoux, BBC: Loved your National Park tour. Have you given thought to a project outside the United States?
TBM: I have Louis. As a matter of fact, this summer I will be traveling to the top 12 concert venues around the world. Spain, Ireland, China - It will be a remarkable time. Also, I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to announce that until May.
Christiane Amanpour, ABC News: You still haven't called me.
TBM: Christiane, it was one night in 1984. You have to move on.
Hu Shuli, Caixin Media: Will your blogging be similar to what you've done in the past? By this I mean will you write about the in between as much as the destinations?
TBM: The beauty of traveling across the country is the in between. The out of the way. The slightly hidden. Visiting iconic bars is a mechanism for seeing, interacting and writing about everything while getting from point A to point B.
Shereen Bhan, India Business Hour: What drives you to undertake these travels? And as a follow up, will you be traveling alone?
TBM: Namaste (folds hands together and bows). I am driven by a restless curiosity. The United States is this vast land of cultural, philosophical and geographic diversity - It's what makes us unique in many regards. That and I get to have four drinks at 50 different bars in 120 days. Put those elements together and the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
With respect to traveling alone, I always have someone with me. As I will be having a few cocktails now and again, it is important to have a driver at my disposal. I have asked my man servant, Charlie, to accompany me on this trip. Normally, Charlie stays behind to mind the estate, but he is an invaluable friend and an ex postal worker I have confidence in his driving skills.
Bob Woodward, Washington Post: You were recently quoted as saying that the finest National Park is Yellowstone, which has caused some ill feelings from the other parks. Do you stand by your comment?
TBM: Hi Bob, love your work. You strike me as one of America's great journalists. Digging, pursuing truth wherever it may lead. I admire your tenacity and breadth of reporting. Next.
Campbell Cleary, Bloomfield Hills High: Bro, are you drinking the Lions Kool-Aid?
TBM: My brother from another mother. No. The Lions will never win a Super Bowl until they develop a culture of winning. Keep in mind I would have a completely different answer if Ford Motor Company decides to become a sponsor of the "50 State Bearded Bar Tour."
John Stewart, ex Daily Show Host: In light of everything that has transpired over the last year, do you view this trip through any type of political prism?
TBM: Hi John. How's Tracey and the farm?
John Stewart: She's good. Just got another llama.
TBM: A friend for Dalai, cool. To answer your question, no I do not tend to see things through a political lens. On the road my interactions with people are simply that - Interactions with people. Politics don't enter into the equation. I'm not running for office. I'm more or less running from office.
Thank you all for coming out on a rather dreary, rainy day. I look forward to speaking with you again as I make my way across the country in a perpetual state of inebriation.
Christiane Amanpour: Call me.