Rick Steves: “I think you should know people before you bomb them.”

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Say, “Rick Steves,” and what do you think? Congenial public TV travel host. Think again. According to a blogger at Examiner.com/Chicago, Steves made quite the speech at last weekend’s (Jan. 29 and 30) Chicago Travel and Adventure Show.

Referring to himself as a “provocateur,” he held forth on topics including legalization of marijuana, infrastructure reinvestment, housing prices, health care reform, American “torture” of prisoners, the growing gap between rich and poor, gun control, “racist” incarceration policies, legalized prostitution and the “hysterical” American media.

Steves also defended his 2009 TV special on Iran, saying, “I think you should know people before you bomb them.” He added: “I’m happy public TV had the balls to show it. It would never have seen the light of day without channels like WTTW.”

Steves’ company, the blog noted, has annual revenues between $30 million and $40 million.