I know what you're thinking.

Holy shit, you're thinking. Did the Mercury really score an interview with Al Roker? THE Al Roker? Al Roker the weatherman, the cartoonist, the barbecue expert?

Yes. Yes, we did.

Roker's coming to Portland on Tuesday as part of his annual "Lend a Hand Today" series on Today, in which he visits various cities, surprising a local charity in each one with donations. Until broadcast, it's top secret which charities have been selected, so no one knows where Roker will pop up in Portland on Tuesday morning—but he will be here, and, as befits an occasion this momentous, the Mercury is on it.

So: Make haste. Read the Mercury's interview with Al Roker after the jump.

ERIK HENRIKSEN: Hey Al, thanks for talking to me!
AL ROKER: How’s it going?

Good, good. I’m a huge fan, so thanks again!
My pleasure.

So, what can you tell me about why you’re going to be visiting our fair city of Portland?
Well, y'know, this will be our eighth year of “Lend a Hand Today”—five cities, five charities, five days— and we’re starting on Monday in Los Angeles, and then we head up the coast to Portland, which just happens to be one of my favorite cities. I love Portland, and, y'know, we’ve picked a charity—we can’t reveal what that charity is until Tuesday morning, but we’re very excited about it. There are a lot of great charities out there, obviously, all across the country, and some are better known than others. We're looking at the charities that maybe not a lot of people have heard of, and, in fact, maybe the folks of the greater Portland area haven’t heard of. It’s a pretty good one, and one that I think is very organic to the great Pacific Northwest, so we’re very, very excited about it.

Cool! Now, do you personally select the charity?
Well, here’s what we do: We first kinda pick the cities, and then we gather a grouping [of charities], through research and talking with our local NBC station, y'know, just doin’ some old-fashioned research, [and we] come up with a group of charities for each city. And then we kind of put 'em up on a board and kinda mix and match: “Okay, if we do this here, then we should do this here." It’s a committee. It’s not like I’ve got an overriding say or whatever.

Is there a way I can get in on this? How can I enter myself to be one of the beneficiaries?
Well, see, that’s not really a charity, per se.

I don’t know—if you saw my bank account....
I know! But we’re trying to affect the most amount of change with the most number of people, and, while helping you is not a bad thing, it’s a little limited. So I don’t know how much our audience is going to get behind that.

All right. I figured it was worth a shot.
Hey, y'know, you don’t ask, you don’t get.

You’re occasionally a cartoonist in addition to doing the weather stuff. Now, purely theoretically, if a weekly newspaper in Portland, Oregon—one that you may or may not be talking to right now—offered you a spot in the paper every week to run one of your cartoons, would you, theoretically, accept that offer?
Well, in theory I might, but in reality, given the demands of the job… I mean, look, I used to do one daily on the web, and just the very nature of everything that’s happened—between the Today show and my family, and I’m starting a new show on the Weather Channel on July 20th, a daily show at 6 am—I just don’t physically have the time, as much as I would love to.

Speaking of the Today show, I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something about Matt Lauer that makes me think he’s hiding something. Do you know any deep, dark secrets about him? Has he ever killed anyone or anything?
No, not that I know of—other than, y'know, our competition’s audience. But no, I don’t know of anything.

You’re a bit of a modern-day Renaissance man—you’ve got the weatherman gig, you’re a writer, a cartoonist, a barbecue expert, and now you have the charity event, too. So my question to you is: Is there anything that you can’t do?
Um… I can’t swim the English Channel.

All right! I’ve just got one last question for you, and it’s a bit of an odd request.

I’m still about 70 years away from turning 100…

But is there any way you could wish me a happy 100th birthday, just so if I get to 100, then I’ll have that?
Okay. Happy 100th birthday.

Thank you! You just made my dream come true.
You need better dreams, I think.