Rob Ford reeled off his accomplishments and referred to himself as just an “average, hardworking politician” Monday during a highly anticipated appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show.
The Toronto mayor, sporting a black suit with a bright red tie and pocket handkerchief, arrived to loud applause and tossed T-shirts into the audience.
Kimmel had introduced Ford by saying, “our first guest tonight has tripped, bumped, danced, argued and smoked his was into our national consciousness.”
The host wasted little time delving into some of the controversies surrounding Ford, noting “many people seemed angry” that he was having Ford as a guest.
According to Kimmel, one Toronto resident wrote that having Ford on the show “is a slap to all Torontonians” and referred to “domestic abuse, drunk driving, racism, homophobia and inability to tell the truth.”
Kimmel asked if there was “any validity to any of these things,” to which Ford replied, “Is that all I got? I guess they don’t talk about all the money I’ve saved.”
Kimmel also asked Ford point blank if he was homophobic. Ford laughed off the question and replied, “No, I’m not homophobic, are you?”
Asked if he has to apologize a lot for his behaviour, Ford said that while he has had to do so a couple of times, “the apologies are over, I’m moving on.” He said people will judge him on his “proven track record.”
Turning serious at the end of the segment, Kimmel said Ford “seems like a very nice guy” and suggested he get some personal help.
“If you are an alcoholic, drinking enough that he would try crack in his 40s and you don’t remember it, maybe that’s something that you might want to think about, like talking to somebody.”
Ford dismissed the advice saying, “I wasn’t elected to be perfect, Jimmy, I was elected to clean up the mess that I inherited, and that’s exactly what I’ve done.”
Kimmel added that getting help is “nothing to be ashamed of” and a “good example for other people who might be in a similar situation.”
“Talk is cheap,” replied Ford. “Action speaks louder than words. We’ll let the people decide on October 27. I’m just a normal average, hardworking politician that’s real.”
Kimmel earlier recalled that Ford and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, had accused Toronto police Chief Bill Blair of waging a political campaign against the mayor.
Ford had challenged Blair to arrest him, prompting Kimmel to ask Ford if it was a “good idea” to issue such a dare to the chief.
“They follow me around for five months and came up empty-handed. I just want him to come clean with the taxpayers,” said Ford. “How much money has he (Blair) spent? It’s all politics.”
When Kimmel mentioned a purported video in which Ford is allegedly seen smoking crack cocaine, Ford reiterated his call for Blair to release it.
“I want the world to see it,” said Ford.
Ford and Kimmel left their seats at one point to watch a series of videos depicting Ford in less-than-flattering scenarios, including an infamous cellphone video of Ford ranting about wanting to kill someone.
Ford indicated that he didn’t know who he was talking about.
“You have no idea?” an incredulous Kimmel asked. “You have that many enemies that you don’t know which one this was?”
Kimmel also played an infamous video of Ford’s Jamaican patois rant at a Toronto restaurant late last year in which he also criticized Blair.
Ford repeated that he “just went out with a few friends,” adding that he has “a lot of Jamaican friends” and said no when asked if he had ever been to Jamaica.
“I would love to take you there for spring break some time,” joked Kimmel.
Kimmel also drew laughs from the studio audience by playing several videos that had gone viral, including one from city council in which he mimes a drunk driver, dances in council chambers and almost knocks down a fellow councillor.
Ford had said prior to the program that his appearance on Kimmel’s show was to promote Toronto and its film industry.
He told Kimmel that Toronto is “booming” and repeated a claim of having saved taxpayers $1 billion and boasted about the city’s low tax rate.
“You are not the average politician, my friend,” said Kimmel at the end of the segment. “You are the most wonderful mayor I’ve ever witnessed.”
The appearance on the program followed months of wooing of Ford to appear as a guest of Kimmel. The late-night host has repeatedly skewered the Toronto mayor since stories emerged last May of a video showing Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine.
Kimmel, who once joked that Ford was his “favourite new reality show,” took one of several swipes at Ford in January, after the Jamaican patois video surfaced.
“Just when you thought he couldn’t possibly pull another nugget out of his bag of crazy, he gets drunk and speaks Jamaican,” Kimmel said. “When you’re the best, that’s what you do.”
Ford’s spokesman, Amin Massoudi, said Monday that Toronto taxpayers were not on the hook for the mayor’s trip, which included three members of his city hall staff and Doug Ford.
“Mayor Ford and Coun. Ford are paying for themselves and the staff,” Massoudi said. “The ‘Jimmy Kimmel’ show paid for one dinner.”
Walking down Hollywood Boulevard checking out the Walk of Fame on Sunday, Ford was spotted by a CNN camera crew covering the Oscars and asked why he was in L.A.
“We are Hollywood North and we have a great city and we want people to come and visit our city, and make movies, and see the great theatres and restaurants we have and sporting venues and, you know, we have a responsible government there, too,” Ford said.