I've interviewed Michael J. Fox several times before – but never quite like this.
After all the controversy and publicity and debate about his political ad, and the criticism he got from people like Rush Limbaugh, he really is in the eye of a political storm right now. But when he came to our studio for our exclusive interview, he was remarkably calm. He was also obviously symptomatic. He trembled uncontrollably, and his legs shook, but he explained it was actually a side effect of not taking enough medication. He told me he reduced his dosage because he didn't want to have dyskinesia, which is the side effect of too much medication, and which causes the swaying back and forth that was so evident in the controversial ad for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill. Fox said that he can never tell from one day to the next how serious his symptoms will be. It's a crapshoot.
Our interview lasted about 30 minutes, and we covered a wide range of topics. He explained why he favors embryonic stem cell research, why he has taken up this cause now, and why he believes he needs to do everything he can to help find a cure for debilitating diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. He talked about politics and how he supports both Democrats and Republicans -- he's a big backer of Arlen Specter, among others – and he spoke with great feeling about how he's living with this disease.
And he emphasized that, despite what his critics have charged, in his words, "I'm not a victim." He said he spent years having teenage girls put his poster on the wall, but that he threw his vanity out the window years ago. What matters now, he said, is finding a cure for Parkinson's.
No matter how you feel about the issue of embryonic stem cell research, you can't help but be moved by Michael J. Fox's courage.
You can see it for yourself on tonight's CBS Evening News, and later tonight the entire interview will be posted here on the Web.