EMBATTLED Toronto mayor Rob Ford laughed off US chat show host Jimmy Kimmel’s suggestion that he get help for his drinking problem and was reported to be upset about his appearance on the late-night TV talk show.
Mr Ford’s appearance on Monday on Jimmy Kimmel Live in Los Angeles was the culmination of months of wooing by the talk-show host to get Mr Ford to appear as a guest.
The mayor tossed T-shirts to the audience to loud applause as he came onstage after Mr Kimmel introduced him by saying, “Our first guest tonight has tripped, bumped, danced, argued and smoked his way into our national consciousness.”
Mr Kimmel told Mr Ford that if he’s an alcoholic, and drinking enough that he would try crack cocaine in his forties, “and you don’t remember it, maybe that’s something that you might want to think about, like talking to somebody”.
Mr Ford shot back his head and laughed before saying he “wasn’t elected to be perfect”.
“I was elected to clean up the mess that I inherited, and that’s exactly what I did,” Mr Ford said, defending his record as mayor.
Mr Ford made international headlines last year when he acknowledged having smoked crack cocaine while in a drunken stupor. He continues to draw attention for his erratic behavior, but has resisted pressure to step down and is seeking re-election in October.
Mr Kimmel told Mr Ford that accepting help “is nothing to be ashamed of” and would set a “good example for other people who might be in a similar situation.” When asked again about getting help, Mr Ford said: “Talk is cheap, action speaks louder than words. We’ll let the people decide on 27 October. I’m just a normal, average, hard-working politician that’s real.”
Videos showed the mayor of Canada’s largest city in a variety of embarrassing scenes, including a mobile phone video of Ford ranting about wanting to kill someone.
Mr Ford said he didn’t know who he was talking about in the video. “You have no idea?” an incredulous Mr Kimmel asked. “You have that many enemies that you don’t know which one this was?”
Mr Kimmel dabbed sweat pouring off Mr Ford’s forehead with tissues and asked Ford why he had agreed to come on the show. “Why are you here? What good could come of this? Have you ever seen the show?” said Mr Kimmel, who had repeatedly skewered Mr Ford on his show.
Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother who traveled with him to Los Angeles, later told the Toronto Sun that the mayor “was a little upset”. The reporter wrote that he heard the mayor say in the background of the phone call that he was “set up”.
A spokesman for Mr Ford did not respond to requests for comment. Before the show, Mr Ford said his appearance was intended to promote Toronto’s film industry, describing his city as “Hollywood North”.