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Scott McClellan Defends New Book on 'O'Reilly Factor'

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 2, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: I want to get right to our lead story tonight: conversation with former White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

For three years, Mr. McClellan battled White House reporters, putting forth President Bush's point of view. He left that job April 2006 on good terms. Hugs all around. Watch the hug. Here it comes.

But that was then. Now, Mr. McClellan's book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," is being celebrated by anti-Bush people nationwide as justification for their dissent and sometimes their hatred toward the president. Mr. McClellan joins us now.

OK. I read your book over the weekend. And you got three primary beefs in the book. And you correct me if I'm wrong.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: OK.

O'REILLY: Iraq propaganda, Plame -- Valerie Plame, and Katrina. So let's go to Iraq first. Last year, 2007 in April, you were on Bill Maher. Do you remember that program, HBO?

MCCLELLAN: I do remember being on there.

O'REILLY: OK. You defended the Iraq War there and against Maher and Bill Bradley -- Senator Bill Bradley, who I thought was going to hit you by saying, look, we got to win this thing. It's very important to do so. And I was perplexed. You were working on the book at that time.

MCCLELLAN: I think my main -- no, actually, I wasn't. I didn't...

O'REILLY: You didn't start writing that book in April of 2007?

MCCLELLAN: I didn't start writing until about July of last year. But I was also focusing on exactly what I -- one of the things I talk about in this book, which is we got to work in a bipartisan way to support the troops such as through the Iraq study group, which was a Baker Hamilton Commission. So I was very much focused on...

O'REILLY: But you said quite clearly you wanted this Iraq policy to work because it was good for America if it worked.

MCCLELLAN: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: That's what you said.

MCCLELLAN: I still believe. And I say in the book that I think we need to succeed there now that we're there. But that doesn't change my views about the build up to the war and that the war was absolutely unnecessary in retrospect. I think that's very clear.

O'REILLY: Unnecessary is a strong word.

MCCLELLAN: Yes.

O'REILLY: It certainly was an optional war as was World War I, Korea, Vietnam. Certainly was that. Unnecessary is your opinion.

MCCLELLAN: Right.

O'REILLY: And you're entitled to it. You're an author. But when you have a series of events where the American people, me, because I was sitting here analyzing this thing. I was looking at it. And you say well the press wasn't aggressive enough.

I'm looking at The New York Times having front page stories by Judith Miller, saying that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. I had George Tenet on this program. You know what Tenet told me. What did he tell me?

MCCLELLAN: About the weapons of mass destruction.

O'REILLY: Yes, what did he tell me?

MCCLELLAN: That I don't know exactly what he told you, but he told you that, you know, he stood by the intelligence.

O'REILLY: Do you want to know exactly what he told me? Roll the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE TENET, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Let me say something very clearly to everybody. We believed he had weapons of mass destruction.

O'REILLY: You believed it, why? Specifically you?

TENET: I believed it going back to my time in the Clinton administration when we were concerned about Iraq. I believed on the basis of 10 years of following it, data that we'd seen, his deception, his denial, his thwarting of the U.N. I believed it in my core that he had it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: All right, now, if the director of the CIA believes it, British intelligence believes it, John Kerry believes it, Hillary Clinton believes it, and President Clinton believes it, if they all believed Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, sir, don't you have a nerve accusing me of not being vigilant enough? Who am I supposed to believe? I have got The New York Times, I got the president, I got the prime minister, I got the former president.

MCCLELLAN: Well, let's look at the record. I mean, you go back and look at the record. First of all, the intelligence was wrong. Now, they've looked at whether or not the intelligence analysts were pressured to change intelligence and found nothing there. But then there's the question of how the intelligence was used to make the case.

And my view is going back and looking at it, that it was packaged together in a way that made it sound more grave, more urgent, and more serious than it was. And I think if you go -- you add the nuclear threat and got the intelligence that was combined together, high -- or intelligence high confidence with intelligence. Wait, wait...

O'REILLY: But you're coming to this conclusion, all right, seven years after the fact. I mean, look, if the president, two presidents of the United States sitting, the former CIA guy who works with both presidents, Tony Blair, and The New York Times all tell me and you he got them. We can't say no, he doesn't.

MCCLELLAN: Well, look at the nuclear intelligence. There wasn't as high a confidence with the nuclear intelligence.

O'REILLY: That stay with WMDs right now.

MCCLELLAN: That is WMD. That is WMD.

O'REILLY: OK, but that's what Powell...

MCCLELLAN: No, that is...

O'REILLY: That's not what Colin Powell presented. He presented...

MCCLELLAN: So does that constitute a grave and gathering danger to the United States? Do you think we were about to be attacked by Iraq?

O'REILLY: No, I don't. But I know that John Kerry, Al Gore...

MCCLELLAN: You're making a mistake. (Inaudible) mistake. It may have been justified, and you can argue it on other grounds, but was it necessary? And I do not believe it was necessary.

O'REILLY: All right. That's fine.

MCCLELLAN: Yes.

O'REILLY: And I don't have any beef with that, but central theme of your book was wrong.

MCCLELLAN: No.

O'REILLY: It wasn't -- yeah, it's wrong.

MCCLELLAN: The central theme is cultural problem.

O'REILLY: Iraq propaganda.

MCCLELLAN: The central theme is that we need to change this permanent campaign culture in Washington. That's...

O'REILLY: Swept that aside.

MCCLELLAN: But that's what -- you can't sweep that aside.

O'REILLY: No, you built this book…

MCCLELLAN: But that's part of this problem with Iraq.

O'REILLY: You built this book, Scott, on Iraq propaganda. And I'm telling you that every major civil servant in this country who saw the intelligence...

MCCLELLAN: That's not true.

O'REILLY: ...that -- who? Who dissented?

MCCLELLAN: There were dissenters within the CIA. They come out publicly. They were certainly dissent. There was dissent at the State Department about the nuclear threat. They said we don't believe that this allows us to make a judgment that is -- read the national intelligence estimate that he's reconstituting his nuclear weapons program.

O'REILLY: You can't make that judgment. You're on the nuclear weapons again. And I'm telling you...

MCCLELLAN: Well, but that's what made it so urgent and grave.

O'REILLY: ...that reporter, any...

MCCLELLAN: That's what put it over the top to sell the case, Bill.

O'REILLY: No, what put it over the top is Colin Powell at the U.N. That's what put it over the top.

MCCLELLAN: No.

O'REILLY: Yes.

MCCLELLAN: The nuclear threat helped make the case.

O'REILLY: No, Colin Powell went to the U.N. to the American people and you're telling me I didn't do my job and I'm telling you you're crazy.

MCCLELLAN: No, I'm not telling you didn't do your job.

O'REILLY: No, but you said that the press wasn't aggressive enough.

MCCLELLAN: Oh, no, no, I said in the book that there were exceptions. There were some that were aggressive enough. But as I hold the mainstream media, did not...

O'REILLY: Because of what I just told you, every...

MCCLELLAN: Because we were in a post 9/11 environment. I gave the benefit of the doubt, too.

O'REILLY: No.

MCCLELLAN: But looking back, it was wrong to do that.

O'REILLY: It wasn't a post. It was everyone thought because Saddam Hussein was telling his own generals, as we now know, as we now know, that he had weapons of mass destruction.

MCCLELLAN: Because he's a survivalist.

O'REILLY: Of course.

MCCLELLAN: He wanted people to believe not to attack him.

O'REILLY: But what I'm trying to tell you is you put devious motives into the...

MCCLELLAN: No, no, actually I said they're good people. We got caught up in this campaign culture.

O'REILLY: You said they used propaganda.

MCCLELLAN: Yes.

O'REILLY: And that is a loaded word and that's not honest.

MCCLELLAN: The White House Iraq group was set up. It's a marketing arm for selling the war. That was the specific purpose that I talked about in the book.

O'REILLY: Selling the war because they fervently believed that the guy was a danger and could...

MCCLELLAN: No, because the president had a bigger driving motivation, which was transform the Middle East.

O'REILLY: Are you telling me that President Bush...

MCCLELLAN: And it's sincere.

O'REILLY: ...didn't believe he had them?

MCCLELLAN: No, he did, too.

O'REILLY: OK.

MCCLELLAN: He believed that, too.

O'REILLY: That's not propaganda then.

MCCLELLAN: No...

O'REILLY: It's not propaganda.

MCCLELLAN: It is when you package it all together like you did, and oversell it and overstate it to the American people.

O'REILLY: All right...

MCCLELLAN: That is propaganda. And when you sell it through the White House Iraq group.

O'REILLY: What's your beef on Karl Rove and Plame, Valerie Plame? What's your beef about Rove specifically because he works for us?

MCCLELLAN: Well, I spoke with Rove about that very incident. And he told me unequivocally that he was not involved in the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity.

O'REILLY: And that's what he told me.

MCCLELLAN: Right.

O'REILLY: So are you telling me he's a liar?

MCCLELLAN: Did he reveal Plame's identity to anyone? Yes, Matt Cooper. He revealed her identity...

O'REILLY: He said Cooper called him.

MCCLELLAN: No. Cooper said - Cooper wrote, he was the first one to tell me. That was the first time I learned that she worked at the CIA.

O'REILLY: You believe Cooper and you don't believe Rove, right?

MCCLELLAN: Rove told me, I asked Rove unequivocally were you involved in this in any way? He told me no. Now also...

O'REILLY: I asked him on this show last week.

MCCLELLAN: Here's a question...

O'REILLY: Wait, wait, wait.

MCCLELLAN: Yes, I read the transcript.

O'REILLY: I asked Rove, OK, I asked him did you tell anybody about Valerie Plame? The guy said no, I didn't. No.

MCCLELLAN: Her name. He said her name. It's a distinction without a difference, Bill. He revealed her identity. He talked to Novak and he talked to Cooper and revealed her identity.

O'REILLY: He denies it.

MCCLELLAN: Now let me phrase it this way. Why did he leave that hanging there for two years, my words, saying he was not involved in any way when we now know...

O'REILLY: Because the administration wanted to discredit that.

MCCLELLAN: We now know he was involved.

O'REILLY: OK.

MCCLELLAN: And I don't know whether it's a crime, but it's wrong to do that.

O'REILLY: It's not a crime. It would have indicted - Fitzgerald's a very aggressive prosecutor.

MCCLELLAN: He is. I agree.

O'REILLY: Now look, Saddam Hussein sent emissaries to Niger. They were not permitted to come in. OK, you know that. That's a fact, right? So what's the beef? I don't know what the beef. If Saddam Hussein's sending guys to Niger, and all Niger has is yellow cake, what your beef?

MCCLELLAN: There was no evidence that he actually acquired uranium from...

O'REILLY: He didn't say that. The state of the union said, "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein...

MCCLELLAN: We said…

O'REILLY: ...recently saw significant quantities of uranium.

MCCLELLAN: The CIA didn't stand behind that, because it was based on poor…

O'REILLY: And then the British butler reports say that's exactly what happened.

MCCLELLAN: The CIA didn't stand by it. The British still stand by it.

O'REILLY: Yes.

MCCLELLAN: The CIA doesn't stand by it.

O'REILLY: But that's what Bush says, the British government says.

MCCLELLAN: Yes, but the CIA is our intelligence agency. And they told us previously three months earlier don't use it in a speech for the president.

O'REILLY: All right. Let me sum this up by saying you put the worst possible spin on all of this.

MCCLELLAN: No, if I said it was sinister and that they intentionally did it. I did not say it was deliberate or conscience. I say that we got caught up in this campaign mentality and that's what caused us to overstate the case.

O'REILLY: Now you know that every Bush hater in the country is using you and your book to smash this administration. Now I want to talk to you about that when we come back. Every Bush hater, and you're playing right into their hands, is using this. Now, I can't...

MCCLELLAN: I'm speaking the truth from my perspective.

O'REILLY: No, you're...

MCCLELLAN: From my perspective, Bill.

O'REILLY: ...you're speaking an opinion.

MCCLELLAN: Right, from my perspective.

O'REILLY: An opinion from...

MCCLELLAN: From my perspective.

O'REILLY: No, no, it's not the truth. It's your opinion. And you're entitled to do that.

MCCLELLAN: Right.

O'REILLY: But it's your opinion. OK? You're spinning it negative. But the result of what you did is giving...

MCCLELLAN: I mean I disagree.

O'REILLY: ...all America haters and Bush haters, all the ammo they want.

MCCLELLAN: I think it will help change the way Washington works. And that's what this book is about more than anything else. That's why I wrote it.

O'REILLY: All right, Scott McClellan in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'REILLY: Continuing now with our top story, our conversation with former White House spokesman Scott McClellan about his new book, "What Happened."

I watched you last week promoting the book on some of the most notorious Bush haters in the country. And you were on their programs. And I -- didn't it make your skin crawl? And I'll tell you why. You're not a bad man. I know...

MCCLELLAN: I hope not.

O'REILLY: You're not. And you have a lot of affection for President Bush.

MCCLELLAN: I do still.

O'REILLY: Right in your book. I think you made a big mistake spinning negative on your opinions as I said in the A block. But you sat down in front of guys that you know are just pure Bush haters to sell your book. And I said to myself, my God, McClellan knows who these people are. He's dealt with them. What was going through your mind?

MCCLELLAN: Well, first of all, I think some of those were the first to come to the table and say we'd like to have him on, not knowing what was in the book. This was a while back. But I'm glad to do all the shows. It doesn't bother me. I think this is an important message to talk about, about getting beyond the politics war mentality in D.C., so that we can focus on ways we can bring about civility and bipartisanship.

O'REILLY: Surely you know how you're being used. Frank Rich of The New York Times yesterday. Surely you know...

MCCLELLAN: If talking about some of these unpleasant truths helps force change, then that's the way it needs to be.

O'REILLY: OK, so that's...

MCCLELLAN: That's what I'm trying to do. Look, I mean, they're going to say what they want.

O'REILLY: I have to say...

MCCLELLAN: People have to read my book and see for themselves.

O'REILLY: Absolutely. I wouldn't do what you did.

MCCLELLAN: I understand.

O'REILLY: I wouldn't, because you know, Bush is not a bad man. You know him way better than I know him. He's not a bad man. You know that.

MCCLELLAN: I have a lot of personal affection for him.

O'REILLY: OK.

MCCLELLAN: But I think he made some wrong judgments.

O'REILLY: OK, so what?

MCCLELLAN: And that's what this book is about.

O'REILLY: I think he made wrong judgments and every president of the United States that's ever served has made wrong judgments.

MCCLELLAN: Right, but this is about an idealistic young guy, who goes to work him, hoping we can change with the partisanship, and then we go way off course.

O'REILLY: OK...

MCCLELLAN: And so I'm trying to tell that story. Why did we go off course?

O'REILLY: The hate Bush press is using you, using you to humiliate the man and to imply to the world the man is dishonest. Using you. Now Ari Fleischer says, you know Ari.

MCCLELLAN: I know Ari.

O'REILLY: And I'm going to play his sound bite in a minute.

MCCLELLAN: OK.

O'REILLY: He says flat out to me on my radio program that you did not want to write this book, that you changed...

MCCLELLAN: Not true.

O'REILLY: Roll the Fleischer tape.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER: There's something about this I just don't get. Scott told me - we've kept in touch, when he started to write the book how good it was going to be for the president. Something dramatically has changed. And I talked to Scott yesterday. And Scott did tell me that his editor, these are Scott's words, tweaked some things closely in the last few months. And I think what did happen, Bill, was the book was pretty well done and sat and Scott went back in. And I think his editor wrote a lot of it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O'REILLY: All right. Politico.com's also reporting that your initial outline to your publisher was not what the book eventually turned out to be. Did your publisher make you go back in and change some things?

MCCLELLAN: No, they did not. In fact...

O'REILLY: Did they suggest...

MCCLELLAN: ...when I was talking to Ari, what I was talking about was exactly what he was talking about what was like the last three or four months. He said he same thing. Yes, it's crazy when you're going back and forth with your editor, trying to finish it up on time. And this was actually delayed a couple times, because I wanted to make sure I got it absolutely right.

O'REILLY: But were they suggesting...

MCCLELLAN: And in terms of the proposal, that was written in December of 2006. It was some ideas and some questions to explore.

O'REILLY: Right.

MCCLELLAN: And actually, the key message in there about how Bush became such a polarizing controversial figure is part of this book. That's what I explored. I answered the questions and I came to conclusions.

O'REILLY: Did you go back in and make it -- tweak it...

MCCLELLAN: No, no, absolutely not.

O'REILLY: They didn't suggest it?

MCCLELLAN: Absolutely not.

O'REILLY: Now you can see why Ari Fleischer and a number of other people say they were. Your publisher is closely tied with George Soros.

MCCLELLAN: But...

O'REILLY: George Soros is a radical leftist.

MCCLELLAN: Let me also mention that they published "The Case for Democracy." Who -- do you know who has touted that book more than anybody else? By Natan Sharansky?

O'REILLY: We...

MCCLELLAN: President Bush.

O'REILLY: ...we've investigated.

MCCLELLAN: President Bush.

O'REILLY: It's about 8 to 1. Liberal to conservative books that your publisher does. But OK. I'm not going to say you're a liar. You're looking me in the eye. You're saying your publisher didn't...

MCCLELLAN: No, absolutely not.

O'REILLY: OK. Now when you then come to the realization that what you write in your book as you see it is being used by people who absolutely want the worst for this country and for the administration, doesn't that give you pause at all?

MCCLELLAN: But this is the whole thing about the book is that there are a lot of good people on both sides. We've got to get rid of the venom and the hatred on both sides and find out how we can come together. I'm a centrist. I believe in working together to solve the problems we've got. And we need to get rid of the venom in the political atmosphere in D.C. It's a poisonous atmosphere.

O'REILLY: But you're not going to get rid of it...

MCCLELLAN: That's what I make...

O'REILLY: ...by going into the hate Bush venues.

MCCLELLAN: That's the point I make in the book.

O'REILLY: I mean...

MCCLELLAN: You're going to get rid of it by talking all over about it. That's how you change things. And maybe in some small way this book will contribute to that. I don't know. I hope so.

O'REILLY: All right now, when you hear a guy like Bob Dole, who you respect, saying that you're a Judas and a, you know, a traitor and all of this stuff, and you understand how they can feel that way.

MCCLELLAN: I understand where they're coming from.

O'REILLY: OK.

MCCLELLAN: They're creatures of Washington. I understand that. And this is taking on Washington.

O'REILLY: Is it just that or as they say...

MCCLELLAN: Well, they've got a partisan hat on.

O'REILLY: ...this guy was a friend...

MCCLELLAN: I'm trying to take my partisan hat off and look at the real problems we've got in this country and D.C. And how do we fix those? That's what I did. It's much larger than the president or Karl Rove or any one person. This is about something bigger. And that's the message that has been getting lost while people try to turn this book into a gotcha points. It's not about that. It's about sharing my experiences so we can learn from it.

O'REILLY: Then why didn't you lecture the far-left guys who did turn it into gotcha points? Why didn't you tell that to them?

MCCLELLAN: I think I did say that same message that people have been trying to turn this into gotcha points. And we need to focus on the larger message.

O'REILLY: You sat there while these people at NBC and some at CNN just raped the president verbally. Just killed him. And you sat there and you did not defend him. You didn't do it.

MCCLELLAN: I said he's a good man. I still have personal affection for him.

O'REILLY: You said that, but you allowed them to do that in your presence. And I mean, to me, I mean he was your friend. He was a mentor. He employed you. You say in your book he's not a bad man. He's not a dishonest man. He's not a venal man. We all know he made mistakes.

MCCLELLAN: But...

O'REILLY: And you sat there and you allowed these guys...

MCCLELLAN: ...you've got to separate your personal affection from his actions and deeds.

O'REILLY: Yes, but...

MCCLELLAN: To get to the truth.

O'REILLY: You challenged the people who were using your book to kill him.

MCCLELLAN: I understand, I understand what you're saying...

O'REILLY: But you didn't do it.

MCCLELLAN: No, I think I made my points. I was trying to make my points just like right now you're trying to make your points. And I'm focusing on what my book actually says. I'm not going to challenge you on every single thing you're saying. I can't - I don't have time for that.

O'REILLY: It's a matter of courage, though, don't you? I mean, they're questioning your courage. They're questioning your courage and saying that you should have stuck it out.

MCCLELLAN: Courage, I could have had it much easier by not writing this book, by not speaking the truth...

O'REILLY: All right.

MCCLELLAN: I would -- I had doors closed because I wrote this book.

O'REILLY: When we get back, we'll talk a little bit more about courage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'REILLY: Continuing now with Scott McClellan, whose controversial new book is sweeping the nation. And you know, "What Happened" was the title of the Elvis Presley book. I don't know whether you remember that.

MCCLELLAN: I don't remember that.

O'REILLY: It's almost the same thing.

MCCLELLAN: I wasn't quite born yet.

O'REILLY: No, but his inner circle said, you know, Elvis this, Elvis that, we still love him but he was X, Y, and Z. It's very ironic how-now look, I'm going to give you my scenario. And you tell me where I'm wrong, because I want to be fair to you. You came in here. You didn't have to.

I believe that the Iraq war is an optional war. And if we had a time machine, we shouldn't do it because we underestimated the Iraqis cooperation. And it's cost us a lot of blood and treasure. I also believe we're turning it around right now. And I'm hoping that we win the war. You're hoping we win the war, correct?

MCCLELLAN: I'm for success. If we win and the president's vindicated over history, I welcome that.

O'REILLY: OK.

MCCLELLAN: I say that in the book.

O'REILLY: Because I think that's better for America if we can have a stable situation.

MCCLELLAN: But how long is it going to take?

O'REILLY: I don't know how long.

MCCLELLAN: Our troops has been there long enough already. We got to find an end game.

O'REILLY: I don't know if they've been there long enough already.

MCCLELLAN: And I think we need a bipartisan approach on that, to where we can have a consensus that takes politics out of the equation.

O'REILLY: OK. But right now, there are very big gains being made there. So I think that we should be a little bit patient. But I understand the dissent.

Secondly, I don't think that there was any propaganda in the run-up to the war. I do believe that Bush felt that he had to remove Saddam Hussein and was looking for reasons to do it. But I think the reasons were there. And I don't care what President Bush or Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld said. I'm going on...

MCCLELLAN: You didn't talk about the uncertainties or caveats to the intelligence. And we should have. We should have been clear with the American people on what the driving motivation was and what the uncertainties were that were there...

O'REILLY: That's…

MCCLELLAN: ...so the expectations weren't out of whack.

O'REILLY: If I'm the president of the United States, I'm looking at the camera and I'm saying that my CIA guy tells me this. British intelligence tells me. And everything we see says that this guy has them and he is a terrorist enabler, as we all know...

MCCLELLAN: Biological and chemical, that's the difference though.

O'REILLY: Biological and chemical, OK.

MCCLELLAN: Not the nuclear terrorism connections.

O'REILLY: Remember, the nuclear thing was only played up in the state of the union. And it was put on the British government.

MCCLELLAN: Not only there. Cheney pushed it pretty hard.

O'REILLY: Cheney's a different story. I'm going with Bush. You didn't write a book on Cheney. You...

MCCLELLAN: No, I put him in there.

O'REILLY: He's in there, but it's a Bush play. Now...

MCCLELLAN: But he's speaking for the administration.

O'REILLY: ...you also criticized Bush on Katrina. OK. You're President Bush. What do you do? Instead of the fly over, which you - you know, he flew over, you didn't like it, you said it was a mistake. What do you do?

MCCLELLAN: Well, the bigger mistake was that we didn't take the storm seriously enough. We knew it was going to be a battle, but we had become complacent. We had gone through so much. We had four hurricanes...

O'REILLY: OK, what do you do?

MCCLELLAN: You go back to D.C. before...

O'REILLY: I got, all right -- what do you do?

MCCLELLAN: You go back to D.C. before the storm and you make sure you're on top of it from there. And then, if you're not there and you were where we were, you don't fly over New Orleans. If you go there and fly over it, you drop on the ground and at least do an aerial tour, even if you can't go into the ground because of the water.

O'REILLY: Karl Rove said on this broadcast last week...

MCCLELLAN: Or somewhere near there.

O'REILLY: ...they couldn't land in New Orleans because it would have disrupted all of the rescue efforts because the president is coming in, frozen zones and all of that. I would have gone to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I told him that. OK, but again, this is all Monday morning quarterbacking.

MCCLELLAN: Right.

O'REILLY: You don't...

MCCLELLAN: But I said back then, I said, immediately, on that phone call when Karl suggested it, that morning after the hurricane hit, I said bad idea. He'll be 10,000 feet up in the air. He was actually 2500. So there's a difference. And it'll look detached and out of touch. We shouldn't do it. Either he lands and does a little -- some sort of tour or he goes straight back to D.C.

O'REILLY: OK.

MCCLELLAN: And Dan Bartlett said I agree. I thought...

O'REILLY: Dan told me on the radio absolutely that's true. Maybe you're right.

MCCLELLAN: Right.

O'REILLY: That's a judgment call. And the judgment may be wrong.

MCCLELLAN: That's right.

O'REILLY: But every president of the United States has it. See, look, I'm going to get back to this. What has happened in your book, whether you made it -- whether this was your intention or not, is that the people who hate President Bush, who want America -- the world to see America as an oppressive, bad country, have seized upon your book, all right? And used that, talk about propaganda to say, see, even Scott McClellan, even his own guy says he's an incompetent jerk, that he purposely mislead us, that he' immoral. And even though you're not saying it, they're using you.

MCCLELLAN: All I can say is what I believe. And I believe it was important to speak up. I'm now speaking for myself. I spoke to the president. I was as loyal as anyone else. But looking back on it, I want to share what I learned with people. And that's what I'm doing. That's all I can do.

O'REILLY: Are you angry that you're being used in this way?

MCCLELLAN: You know, there's a lot of chatter going out there. I'm glad that people are starting to talk about the larger message in the book.

O'REILLY: So you're not angry. You're being used by these people.

MCCLELLAN: I just don't view it that way, Bill…

O'REILLY: You don't think you're being used by these people? Have you seen what's on the Internet?

MCCLELLAN: I think both sides are using this for their own purposes.

O'REILLY: Well, that's what happens in politics.

MCCLELLAN: I know. That's the problem, Bill. Too much of this hatred and vitriol. Let's figure out ways we could be more civil. The book has a very civil message in it.

O'REILLY: Well, what - they should have had a CD with Kumbaya.

MCCLELLAN: No, the book…

O'REILLY: I really think you're naive. I think you got used here. I think the publisher used you. I believe you when you say they didn't rewrite it, but I think they wanted you to spin it different. I think that absolutely the Bush haters...

MCCLELLAN: Well, well, but here's the question. Did the White House - did the Bush White House go off course, badly off course? No one wanted to...

O'REILLY: I think they made mistakes.

MCCLELLAN: That's what you got to explore.

O'REILLY: There's -- fine. That's history.

MCCLELLAN: But look at how -- where he is today. How badly off course he went. You have to accept that first. I accept that.

O'REILLY: If you had done a mistake book and not a incompetence book, then it would have been two different things. But you did it as an incompetence book as here's a guy who's going to do it. And everybody else be damned. And that's not what happened.

MCCLELLAN: There was bad judgments. There were some misguided approaches to things.

O'REILLY: All right. I want everybody to make their own mind up. And we appreciate you coming on.

MCCLELLAN: Thank you, Bill.

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