Ben Affleck Talks Politics

Published July 28, 2004

| FoxNews.com

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 27, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O’REILLY, HOST: The biggest Hollywood gun in town is actor Ben Affleck (search), a committed Democrat and Bostonian. He joins us now.

All right, Affleck.

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: All right, O'Reilly.

O'REILLY: This is it now. No second takes.

AFFLECK: All right, good.

O'REILLY: You know what people want to know more than anything else is how you arrive at your political philosophy at age 30. You're a young guy. OK?

AFFLECK: OK.

O'REILLY: You are what? A very liberal guy, a moderate liberal guy? Where are you?

AFFLECK: Yes, I would say I'm a moderately liberal guy. I mean, there are things that I agree with the Democratic Party. There are things I don't. For example, I'm not a big gun control guy. I believe in all the bill of rights, including the Second Amendment. I'm not a party guy one way or another. I don't believe in subscribing to that. I still believe in people more than I believe in parties per se.

But how I arrived at my beliefs, I was born and grew up here. And this is a obviously heavily Democratic town, a big union town. Labor played a big part of that. My father was a janitor. My mother was a public school teacher.

And there is a sense that folks in Washington weren't necessarily looking out for everyday, regular working Americans and middle-class Americans.

O'REILLY: OK, but I know where you come from because I come from the same environment in New York, but I have a big history in Boston, as you know.

AFFLECK: Yes.

O'REILLY: My family were Democrats, too. The O'Reillys coming over from Ireland for decades. But as you saw atFenway Park (search) when Kerry — because you were at the game, I was at the game — ran out on Sunday. Most of the working class people booed him.

AFFLECK: Well, most? I don't know, some did. I mean, 20 percent of this town is Republicans. And you're going to hear that. You and I both know John Kerry's going to carry Massachusetts.

O'REILLY: Yes.

AFFLECK: I mean, he's widely supported in Boston. And you know, they were booing Kevin Millar there last week there and now he's a hero. It's a tough town, as you know.

O'REILLY: It's a tough town, but there's a sensibility that none of these guys are looking out for you. I don't think it's partisan. I think if Cheney ran out, he would have gotten booed too.

AFFLECK: I agree. It's across the whole electorate that has a hard time telling the difference sometimes between Republicans and Democrats. They feel none of these people care about us.

O'REILLY: The fat cats.

AFFLECK: They're fat cats. They want to do their own thing. They work on their own interests. Or the political action committees are giving them money.

And I think that's important. I think Washington, in general, Republicans and Democrats, haven't been responsive enough to that concern and still run by special interests.

O'REILLY: Now what do you think when Whoopi Goldberg gets out there and denigrates the office of the presidency? You're not with that, are you?

AFFLECK: I'm certainly not for denigrating the office of the presidency. I didn't see Whoopi Goldberg's speech. I know that she made some scatological remarks. You know, that's not my kind of humor. That's not my thing, but I do believe that if you hire Lenny Bruce to do a benefit, you're going to get — or the Rolling Stones, they're going to play "Satisfaction." She did her brand of humor.

O'REILLY: Now Kerry is backing away from it, though.

AFFLECK: Well, you know, he's in quite a spot. He didn't anticipate that.

O'REILLY: No.

AFFLECK: He didn't know what she was going to do ahead of time and if there were kids there or if it's in poor taste and offends people. John Kerry as I know him, not a man who takes his value system lightly.

O'REILLY: Well, he's also said to everybody here knock the Bush bashing off. Knock it off.

AFFLECK: Which I like. You know, I really would rather see political discourse in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson. So you know what? You've got one point of view on the world and how we should govern. Somebody else has another one. Let's have a vigorous, healthy debate about those issues.

O'REILLY: All right, so you want to see Thomas Jefferson go at it.

AFFLECK: That's what I'd like to see.

O'REILLY: Now you're an interesting guy. You're only 30 years old, big superstar, big Hollywood hot shot, all the babes love you.

AFFLECK: I saw the babes hanging around you, O'Reilly, earlier.

O'REILLY: I'm way over the hill. I can't even see the hill. The Democrats have latched onto you. Are you aware that these political people might be trying to use you? Are you aware of that? I'm not saying they are.

AFFLECK: I don't know that they are either. I mean, I consider myself to be pretty independent. Nobody campaigning gives me a text. I might say things, for example, like I said about the Second Amendment and gun control that they may not agree with.

O'REILLY: Kerry would. He's a big gun guy.

AFFLECK: That's true. He is that. That's true. That's true. And there are other issues as well. And I don't feel like an independent guy. And I'm not too worried.

O'REILLY: Do you hate Bush like so many of your peers? Do you hate him?

AFFLECK: I don't. I had the pleasure of and the honor of meeting the President of the United States at the Daytona 500. I found him to be a collegial, affable, kind guy. And we had a brief conversation. I met his wife, who I think is — I met his daughters, who I think are — or his oldest daughter, one of his twins anyway. To me, it's not about personal hatred.

O'REILLY: So you don't hate him?

AFFLECK: No, it's about what your agenda is for the country. That's what I object to. I object to me getting a tax cut where we got soldiers who have got to pay for their own body armor in Iraq. That's what; I don't deserve a tax cut. I believe that money ought to be spent on education.

O'REILLY: Wouldn't it be better, though, if they put a little thing on your IRS form that said I'm going to donate so and so to the government?

AFFLECK: I would like that. I really would.

O'REILLY: OK, so that's a solution. All the rich people want to give more and you could earmark where it goes. They should be able to do that.

AFFLECK: I think...

O'REILLY: You know, they have that in Massachusetts. Did you know that?

AFFLECK: I don't file...

O'REILLY: You're an L.A. guy, right?

AFFLECK: Yes, but that's just $1 for a campaign.

O'REILLY: No, no, you can pay the higher state income tax rate in Massachusetts if you check a box on your income tax.

AFFLECK: Really, is that right?

O'REILLY: Do you know what John Kerry did?

AFFLECK: I don't know. I figure you're going to tell me.

O'REILLY: He didn't check the box.

AFFLECK: He didn't check the box?

O'REILLY: I like Kerry. Yes, I mean I go long back with him.

AFFLECK: Right.

O'REILLY: But he's got some explaining to do on issues like that. What I'm trying to get across to you is not trap you, is it's not that black and white. The Hollywood crowd is demonizing Bush. Bush is a patriot and Kerry's a patriot.

AFFLECK: I agree wholeheartedly. And I don't have no interest in demonizing anybody. I think when you demonize your political opponent, you do yourself a disservice because you stop talking about what's important, what they're really doing, and you make it about — and all these attacks.

O'REILLY: You have to engage.

AFFLECK: You have to engage. You have to talk about something substantial, not somebody's ugly, I don't like your wife, your hair looks bad or you're evil. None of these people are evil.

O'REILLY: Right.

AFFLECK: None of these people are trying to ruin the country.

O'REILLY: That's right.

AFFLECK: Bush is patriot and he’s a man who believes in the country. He's trying to further an agenda he believes in. I happen to disagree with most of his policies, but I respect the man.

O'REILLY: Good, I'm glad to hear that because if the Hollywood crowd were like you, they would be more respected by the folks because the folks don't like the bomb-throwers.

AFFLECK: I don't like it myself. And I don't like the environment and the hostility and negativity around a campaign that makes it hard — by the time this campaign's over, you're so tired of both camps. You don't even want to pay attention to it.

O'REILLY: That's right. Now beside the tax issue, what is your biggest issue? What's really on your mind?

AFFLECK: Well, I think, you know, there has been a reduction in some veterans' benefits. About 500,000 people were cut from the medical services. And the Veterans Administration is going to lose, I'm told, $1 billion potentially if Bush is re-elected.

Some of those priorities bother me, but I also really feel that one of my bigger objections with Bush, besides the economy, which is my primary concern, is that, you know, I feel as though he behaved rashly. And I feel there's a lack of...

O'REILLY: In what way?

AFFLECK: In preemptively invading Iraq...

O'REILLY: All right.

AFFLECK: ...without assembling an international coalition. And I feel that if he really believed there were weapons of mass destruction, which he may well have, I really wish that as the president of the United States he would now turn to the American people and say you know what, I made a mistake and it was an honest mistake.

O'REILLY: OK.

AFFLECK: I was told there were weapons of mass destruction...

O'REILLY: Fair enough. We have advised the Bush administration to admit their mistakes as well. But you're President Affleck, OK?

AFFLECK: We're all in trouble.

O'REILLY: Listen, you're a bright guy. That could happen someday. The CIA says they got him. According to Bob Woodward, slam dunk, OK? The British intelligence MI-6 says he's got him. Vladimir Putin's intelligence says he's got them. OK? You just watched 3,000 Americans dead in the street because you, President Bush, didn't take enough action against Usama? You don't think that haunts the man? It haunts him.

AFFLECK: I'm sure it does.

O'REILLY: So you got a dictator who you think has got anthrax and everything else. You have France taking money from Saddam in Oil-for-Food. You know all about that?

AFFLECK: Yes, yes, of course.

O'REILLY: So of course you're going to make a move against Saddam, are you not?

AFFLECK: Well, I'll tell you what I'm going to do is I'm going to go after the guy I know is responsible for September 11th. And I'm going to go into Afghanistan and I'm not going to leave until I get Usama.

O'REILLY: He's not there.

AFFLECK: He's diverted our resources from Afghanistan.

O'REILLY: He's in Pakistan. Are you going to violate Pakistan's sovereignty?

AFFLECK: No, I'm not going to violate...

O'REILLY: No, you're not.

AFFLECK: But we're not sure if he's in Afghanistan.

O'REILLY: We know where he is. He's up in northwestern Pakistan, OK? In order to get him, you've got to go into that country. And that means Musharraf could get overthrown by the fundamentalists. Life isn't easy. This is what I'm trying to get. All the Hollywood people…

AFFLECK: Yes.

O'REILLY: It's extremely difficult to fight this war. Mistakes are going to be made.

AFFLECK: I understand. I also think that — Saddam Hussein's Iraq is a Ba'athist, basically secular former puppet state of the Soviet Union. In fact, Usama bin Laden had vowed, was a sworn enemy of Saddam Hussein. So much that he had to release a tape later on saying it is OK to fight the Americans in Iraq. Now I know that they're the godless Communists, but now I'm sort of changing my tune. Everybody worth their salt knew that Saddam Hussein had no relationship with Al Qaeda.

O'REILLY: That's not true, though. Zarqawi, you know who he is, right?

AFFLECK: Sure, al-Zarqawi, sure.

O'REILLY: Right. He was living in Baghdad. So...

AFFLECK: But he's there now.

O'REILLY: No, he was there then. He got his leg treated after being hurt on the battlefield in Afghanistan. So they had nothing to do with 9/11.

AFFLECK: I think he's Jordanian or is he Lebanese?

O'REILLY: No, Zarqawi was an Al Qaeda operative living in Baghdad. I don't think you take the chance. But I want to tell you something.

AFFLECK: It's not an easy question. It isn't.

O'REILLY: You know, I want to tell you something. I respect you. I didn't know you before tonight. You come in. You answer the questions. You're not bomb-throwing. You're not a hater. And all Americans should applaud you. You're 30 years old.

AFFLECK: Well, thanks.

O'REILLY: You got a big future. And we appreciate it very much.

AFFLECK: Well, thank you for having me on your show. I enjoy watching. And it's an honor to be here.

O'REILLY: And tell your pinhead friends that I'm going to...

AFFLECK: That you're after them? Well...

O'REILLY: All right. Appreciate - Ben Affleck.

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