Tom Perkins

Sam Zell: I stand with Tom Perkins

February 5, 2014: 12:59 PM ET

Billionaire Sam Zell has no problem with venture capitalist's Nazi analogy.

Sam Zell

Sam Zell

FORTUNE -- Tom Perkins apparently has some defenders outside of The Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Billionaire investor Sam Zell appeared earlier today on Bloomberg TV, where he was asked about everything from real estate market conditions ("benign") to Microsoft's new CEO ("safe decision"). But it was this particular exchange with anchor Betty Liu that caught my attention:

LIU: Let me ask you about Tom Perkins because you are part of the 1 percent. You are clearly part of the 1 percent. Tom Perkins came out with this – with this letter where he defended the 1 percent and he said, look, we are being persecuted the same as the – as the Nazis were persecuting the Jews. And he was just lambasted and he came on our network and defended it. How did you feel when you read that letter and when you heard his comments?

ZELL: I guess my feeling is that he's right. The 1 percent are being pummeled because it's politically convenient to do so. The problem is that the world and this country should not talk about envy of the 1 percent. It should talk about emulating the 1 percent. The 1 percent work harder. The 1 percent are much bigger factors in all forms of our society.

Ummm... really Sam? Even if you want to argue  that America's wealthiest are being unfairly victimized, you're not even going to make a perfunctory disavowal of the Nazi comparison? Do you truly believe that we're in the early stages of a systematic eradication of America's wealthy via the method of mass murder?

Liu gave Zell some chance to walk back his comments by then asking if he felt persecuted, but Zell didn't exactly take the bait. He did take some issue with the term "persecuted" -- but not with the notion of being "picked on." Moreover, he railed again "the politics on envy" and claimed that "The 1 percent work harder."

So what you're really upset about Sam is being called names? I'm fairly certain that Jews and other targets of Nazi Germany would have settled for being the victims of schoolyard taunts.

Just goes to show, once again, that money can't always buy even a shred of self-awareness.

You can watch the entire interview below:

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  • Tom Perkins hits back at Kleiner Perkins

    Tom Perkins walks in front of a moving bus, and then complains about getting run over.

    FORTUNE -- Tom Perkins is not too pleased with the venture capital firm that bears his name.

    On Saturday, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers distanced itself from its founder, after Perkins penned a letter to The Wall Street Journal that compared today's "demonization" of wealthy Americans to Nazi Germany's persecution of Jews in the 1930's. Today, MORE

    - Jan 27, 2014 7:38 PM ET
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