This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 21, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, commentator Bill Maher's HBO series "Real Time" begins a new season this coming Friday. And joining us now from Los Angeles is the star of that extravaganza, Mr. Maher himself.

How are you doing, man?

BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME": Big Bill, how are you doing?

O'REILLY: All right. Good. Glad you got — you got any conservatives booked, or is it going to be all left-wing loons again?

MAHER: Yes. Left-wing loons, Bill? I thought you were the guy who played it down the middle.

O'REILLY: No, but I know a loon when I see one, and you stacked it up last year. I mean, how many times can Arianna Huffington come on the program?

MAHER: She wasn't on last year.

O'REILLY: Oh. Just thought that she was.

MAHER: But I know we had people on who sounded just like her.

O'REILLY: All right.

MAHER: But we do have a left-wing loon on for the first show, Tim Robbins. He's about as loony left as you get.

O'REILLY: That's — you're in loon territory. The guy's a good hockey player, though.

MAHER: We also have Stephen Hayes, who wrote the book on Dick Cheney.

O'REILLY: All right, good. Now, I'm interested in your points of view on two issues, particularly, this evening.

First of all, it looks like in a few weeks that General Petraeus will testify that the surge in Iraq is making things better there. The security is improving. How would you react to that?

MAHER: Well, Bill, the surge, even if it improves the situation in the neighborhoods, which I guess was the media point of it. The bigger point of it was to improve the political situation but to be a settlement.

But as we know, the Sunnis have walked out of the government. There is no Iraqi government. So in a broader sense, of course, it can't work. Plus, the amount of troops that we need to continue the search, even if it was working, those troops aren't available after April.

The amount of troops we have now cannot get bigger. They cannot be sustained because they need to go back home.

O'REILLY: All right, so you're saying that even if the security situation improves on the ground, the military makes inroads, that you feel it's a hopeless situation in the long term? That's your view on it?

MAHER: Yes.

O'REILLY: OK.

MAHER: We will never outlast the insurgents in their own homeland.

O'REILLY: Now what would he do, then, if you were running the show in America? Would you pull them out, all the troops out now? What would you do?

MAHER: Well, I think that the Biden plan — I guess it's called that now.

O'REILLY: The partition.

MAHER: The partition is the most logical plan, the thing that could possibly get us out of there.

O'REILLY: OK, but in order to have a partition work, you'd have to keep U.S. troops there for probably three or four more years to supervise that kind of a partitioning of the nation.

MAHER: I don't know those kind of details. I don't think that would probably sail in this country since two-thirds of the country is already against us being there.

But we've got to get out, Bill. It didn't work. What's so hard to say about the fact...

O'REILLY: OK, but none of the Democratic candidates, with the exception of Kucinich, are saying that they're going to immediately withdraw. Because the fear of rampant terrorism having a sanctuary there as the Taliban provided Al Qaeda, and the fear of Iran dominating the gulf precludes the John Murtha cut and run strategy. Surely, you know that.

MAHER: Well, why is there a sanctuary there in the first place? There wasn't a sanctuary there when Saddam Hussein was in power. And it's awful.

O'REILLY: You're looking back rather than looking forward. You know, I mean, I think most Americans want the nation to be secure. And they know if you cut and run that you might be making a bad situation worse.

MAHER: But see, that's the thing about the Bush administration. There's never a good time to criticize it. At the moment when they create some horrible crisis, it's "Oh, we can't talk about it right now, because there's a horrible crisis going on that we just created.”

And when the dust settles, then it's, "Oh, let's look forward. Let's not look back."

So when is the time for accountability? I think that's what people...

O'REILLY: There's not going to be any accountability for this president except in the historical realm. History will judge him.

But again, I always put the question to guys like you who are not knee jerk. You're not a knee-jerk guy.

MAHER: No, no, no. I'm much higher up with my jerks.

O'REILLY: OK. Whatever it is that you want to say, you can say on this program, because we believe in freedom of speech. I'm giving you a compliment. You're not some loon who's going to come on and say, "We've got to pull everybody out and then damn the consequences."

There will be consequences. And I need — I think people need to think about this.

All right. Let's get onto a much simpler issue. Who do you support for the next president of the United States?

MAHER: Well, I don't really ever say I support any one candidate, because I like to have them on my show. I like to stay a little neutral, because I'm sort of in the media game myself.

But I have been asked this question before, and I would answer it this way. I would say for the Democrats, the one sure winner would be John Edwards. I think Hillary Clinton is a dicey proposition, even though she looks better all the time and seems to be more popular all the time.

Barack Obama, obviously, is the exciting candidate. He's the one who will get the youth vote. Of course, the youth don't vote, so that's not that good.

But John Edwards in a general election campaign, I think, that to me is a winner.

O'REILLY: OK. Now I think you're out of your mind that John Edwards would never get anywhere close to winning any election, because his campaign is just disorganized and he doesn't know what he's saying from day to day. And he's very left-wing. He used to be a moderate. Now he's a left-wing guy.

But look, you may be right and I may be wrong. Now on the Republican side...

MAHER: He's not a left-wing guy.

O'REILLY: Well, of course he is.

MAHER: He's not a left wing.

O'REILLY: He wants to raise taxes. He wants to have socialized medicine. He wants to cut and run out of Iraq. He wants to do every left-wing thing there is.

MAHER: First of all, Bill, they're not left-wing things. You know what? What he wants to do is take money that now goes toward corporate welfare, farmer welfare, military defense contract welfare, drug war welfare. All this kind of money, tax cuts for people who are rich and wouldn't even know if there was a tax cut going into their bank account.

Take that money and put it toward health care and put it toward some of the things that would help regular people in this country.

O'REILLY: All right. I mean, the polls show that he doesn't have a chance, but you may be right. But I've got to get to the Republicans. We only have a minute.

MAHER: People haven't voted yet.

O'REILLY: But they know who these guys are, because they've debated 87 times. Now...

MAHER: OK.

O'REILLY: ...Republicans. Is anybody on the right, on the Republican side appealing to you, Bill Maher?

MAHER: They're appealing to me as a comedian.

O'REILLY: OK, but not — you wouldn't vote for them unless hell froze over.

MAHER: Right. But I would like to see the cross dresser and the Mormon run together.

O'REILLY: Who's the cross dresser?

MAHER: Rudy Giuliani.

O'REILLY: Oh, I see.

MAHER: Come on.

O'REILLY: The "Saturday Night Live" thing.

MAHER: Well, there were five different pictures of him cross-dressing.

O'REILLY: Listen, you go to the Playboy mansion all the time, and nobody holds it against you. If he wants to wear stockings, you know? I mean...

MAHER: I go as a man. I go as a man, Bill. I go...

O'REILLY: I'm glad to hear that, Maher. I am really glad to hear that. All right. Bill Maher, everybody. Watch his show, coming up Friday, HBO.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the "Radio Factor!"

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