Hollywood Celebrities Pull Out the Punches on Iraq

The following interview aired on the March 6 edition of The Pulse. If you haven't yet had a chance to watch television's hottest newsmagazine, catch us on the FOX network Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET. Check your local listings.

They're idealistic, convinced and visible. From Martin Sheen and Susan Sarandon to Fred Durst, celebrity anti-war protestors have clearly stated their cases. On the front lines of this Hollywood movement is actress and comedian Janeane Garafalo.

Chances are you've seen Garafalo on Saturday Night Live or The Larry Sanders Show. She's also been successful in movies where she became a Gen X icon in films like Reality Bites, but her message these days is far more serious.

"If we invade Iraq, there's a United Nations estimate that says there will be up to 500,000 people killed or wounded," she says in one anti-war spot. "Do we have the right to do that to a country that's done nothing to us?

Statements like that are polarizing, but Garafalo is a stand-up person who's not afraid to defend her views. She agreed to talk with FNC's Bill O'Reilly, though she was feeling some pre-interview jitters.

JANEANE GARAFALO: I dreamt that, I dreamt about you last night. Dreamt that you picked me up to take me to this interview, and my left eye popped out.

BILL O'REILLY, HOST OF THE O'REILLY FACTOR: Is that right? I gotta tell you, that's a common dream that many people have about me.

GAROFALO: It's an anxiety dream...

BILL O'REILLY: No question.

Garafolo defended her fellow performers, saying they are being singled out for criticism because of their celebrity status.

GARAFALO: I find it strange that there is such a vitriolic reaction to actors who have an opinion that sort of seems to go against the establishment. I don't know what purpose it serves to pit Americans against Americans in that manner. I also think it doesn't help when the mainstream media takes shots at people who've chosen entertainment for a career. That's like saying people in the food service industry have no right to an opinion, and we would dismantle their character on TV.

O'REILLY: But I think they only take shots. I think we only take shots when the people do the drive-bys. They're not like you, who come in and answer the questions and do the debate. I think it's the people like Harry Belafonte, who make these insane statements [that] Colin Powell is a plantation slave, which is offensive to 90% of Americans. Or like George Clooney will say [that] Bush is dim. And then he's like Tony Soprano. He runs away, and doesn't answer any questions about it.

GARAFALO: Oh, I don't know if they consider it running away. I think they do want to come on a show and talk about it? Maybe they do, maybe they don't. I don't know.

O'REILLY: But if they don't, they lose the respect of people who disagree with them. See?

GARAFALO: Do you really think that because someone is in the entertainment industry, they live in a plastic bag?

BILL O'REILLY: No, I think their frame of reference is sometimes limited.

GARAFALO: I would say, if that's true - which I'm not agreeing with you…

O'REILLY: Oh, come on. You know the frame of reference is limited. Come on…

GARAFALO: No, I would say that for most people, the frame of reference is limited.


GARAFALO: Because they are kept semi in the dark by news that doesn't really give them news. We know more about Winona Ryder's trial…

O'REILLY: Absolutely.

GARAFALO: We know more about the rules of Survivor Island than we do about the executive branch of government.

O'REILLY: All right.

GARAFALO: But to pick on actors as being dumber than anyone else is just ridiculous.

O'REILLY: I don't think they're dumber than anybody else, but they have more access to show their dumbness.

GARAFALO: No, I think that they…

O'REILLY: They can display their dumbness.

GARAFALO: That's your interpretation of it

Garafalo's also none too happy with the pounding France and German are taking in the Press either.

GARAFALO: I resent this "Axis of Weasel" stuff. I resent this alienation of people that we need for the occupation and rebuilding.

O'REILLY: They're weasels and you know it...

GARAFALO: They're..

O'REILLY: You've traveled there

GARAFALO: Don't tell me what I know

O'REILLY: You've traveled there, and you know they're weasels.

GARAFALO: I've been to Europe many times

O'REILLY: You wouldn't date a Frenchman, I know that...

GARAFALO: What? I'll tell you what, I would date a Frenchman with pride…

They'd have a lot to talk about too, since Garafalo's views on dealing with Saddam are the same ones supported by France and Germany.

GARAFALO: I'm all for the liberation of the Iraqi people, and all for deposing Saddam Hussein. I am not all for this war to do that.

BILL O'REILLY: Let me ask you a flat out question.


BILL O'REILLY: Do you think that George W. Bush is more of a danger to this world than Saddam?

GARAFALO: I would say he is a danger in a different way, and I'll tell you why.

BILL O'REILLY: More or less than Saddam?

GARAFALO: Equal. In a different way. Wait a minute, and let me say it. I would say [that] there needs to be some accountability for the idea that we might not be where we are right now if some different choices had been made in the wake of 9-11. I would say the with-us-or-against-us rhetoric was not helpful. The Axis of Evil speech was not helpful, and this huge ramping up of war, and this go-it-alone attitude has not been helpful. Now, do I think [Bush is] a crazy, despotic ruler like Saddam Hussein who would pour acid on his own people? Absolutely not.

O'REILLY: OK. Now, I respect your opinion. I think you're wrong, but just the fact that you equate on a moral level, Saddam with George W. Bush…

GARAFALO: I'm not equating on a moral level.

O'REILLY: Yeah, I just asked you a flat out question, Janeane. Who's a bigger threat to the world? And you said, they're equal.

GARAFALO: In a different way.

O'REILLY: When you, when you say that, people out there…they're gonna think you're a loon.

GARAFALO: They're certainly entitled to...

O'REILLY: If you are wrong… and if the United States - and they will, this is going to happen - goes in, liberates Iraq [with] people in the street, American flags, hugging our soldiers… you gonna apologize to George W. Bush?

GARAFALO: I would be so willing to say, "I'm sorry". I hope to God that I can be made a buffoon of, that people will say, "You were wrong. You were a fatalist". And I will go to the White House on my knees on cut glass and say, "Hey, you and Thomas Friedman were right… I shouldn't have doubted you"…

O'REILLY: Nobody will call you a buffoon because I will protect you.

GARAFALO: Thank you, sir.