This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 5, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight: All this week, talk radio and the cable opinion programs have been looking at the Obama administration vs. Rush Limbaugh brouhaha. That's a word, brouhaha.
As you may know, the administration is trying to paint Mr. Limbaugh as the real power within the Republican Party. That has led to massive fear and loathing, as Hunter Thompson once wrote. Joining us now from Washington, FOX News analyst and radio talk show star Laura Ingraham.
You know, I got out just in time. I just wrote my newspaper column, and that's my lead sentence. I got out just in time because of the massive publicity for Mr. Limbaugh, who I competed with on the radio, has got to help his ratings. Got to — very good for him. You're not a head-to-head competitor with him.
LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, no, no.
O'REILLY: But you are a, you know, you are in the industry. So how do you see this whole thing?
INGRAHAM: Well, what I see, Bill, is that the stock market has dropped 3,000 points, basically since Election Day, and we're talking about a radio talk show host, albeit the most popular, the most influential without a doubt, Rush Limbaugh and the White House? I mean, this is so typical of the old war room tactic of the Clinton administration, and guess what? We learned that in the new administration of hope and change, the same old characters from the Clinton war room, we have Begala, we have Carville, and now the new added element, Rahm Emanuel, all consulting with each other to figure out ways to keep Rush Limbaugh at the center of a controversy so we don't focus on the fact that our parents and our families are seeing their lifetime of wealth eviscerated by these policies that are being advocated. It is ridiculous to the point of absurdity. I'm not falling for it. Rush Limbaugh is laughing about it, and by the way, benefiting from this controversy…
O'REILLY: Yes, he is.
INGRAHAM: ...as is all of talk radio.
INGRAHAM: And I think it's a massively stupid thing on the part of the White House to do.
INGRAHAM: They might get some short-term, you know, blip from this.
O'REILLY: You know…
INGRAHAM: But in the long term, it's bad.
O'REILLY: ...you're reading my mind. Did you read my column? You couldn't have possibly have read it because I didn't send it out until about an hour ago.
O'REILLY: What you just said is what I wrote, that the backlash and the unintended consequences the people are going to get teed off, saying exactly what Ms. Laura just said. Hey, look, you know, I'm in danger of losing my job. My 401(k) is already gone. And he's making a big deal out a radio guy? This has got to stop.
Now, Laura is taking her clothes off. Is that for my ratings benefit?
INGRAHAM: No, Bill, you know, I know you think that talk radio has just never caught up in the Globama enough that we just don't have enough of an appreciation for what the Obamas are trying to do. And let me tell you something: I'm totally in solidarity with Michelle Obama and the whole sleeveless thing, OK? I'm trying to do what I can to build a bridge in fashion. So I just want to do that.
O'REILLY: OK, you have got some, you know, some arm strength there, Laura. It looks like you have been working out a bit, right?
INGRAHAM: Well, maybe we should do — arm wrestle with the first lady.
O'REILLY: OK, I'm glad you didn't say with me. I'd be humiliated. And we don't need that.
INGRAHAM: No, I'm just teasing.
O'REILLY: All right.
INGRAHAM: I'm just teasing. She's a lovely person.
O'REILLY: If you get a little chilly, just let us know and we'll help you out.
INGRAHAM: No problem.
O'REILLY: Now, in the world of talk radio, did not stop — conservative talk radio did not stop Barack Obama from being elected president, OK? And they tried. Most talk radio…
O'REILLY: ...programs tried, OK. We just had a new FOX News poll said 63 percent of Americans still approve of Barack Obama, even though the markets are telling everybody we don't approve of him. So, I'm wondering whether you think that talk radio is going now to — there's no doubt that more people are listening because of this controversy, which again, I don't think was smart of the Obama administration.
O'REILLY: But are you going to have more of an impact, or is he so strong with the folks that it won't have an impact?
INGRAHAM: Well, first of all, these are just daily tracking polls, Bill. They don't really matter. I mean, they don't make policy because of these daily tracks polls.
O'REILLY: No, FOX News wasn't a tracking poll. It came out today.
INGRAHAM: I'm joking.
INGRAHAM: I'm just joking because of Obama, what he said about the market. Look, we have a situation where Republicans are still not connecting what's happening with the financial markets, which are a forward-looking barometer on the current policies being advocated, right? So Republicans haven't really made the connection. Talk radio is making the connection on a daily basis. And I don't want to speak for other hosts, but I certainly, day after day, have been reminding people…
O'REILLY: What is your — for people who don't hear you…
INGRAHAM: ...to watch what's happening to their 401(k)s.
O'REILLY: For people who don't hear you on your radio, what is your main theme?
O'REILLY: Your main point you're trying to get across?
INGRAHAM: We are losing our country.
O'REILLY: So it's a Glenn Beck point.
INGRAHAM: We are losing our financial markets. No, no, no. Bill, this is very serious, OK. This is way more than about a dustup between talk radio and Obama. This is about our country. This is about our capitalist system, our financial system, our culture, and our very identity as America.
It might seem like it's overblown, but when I think people look back on this period of time, they're going to think to themselves, wow, if I had only listened to what, you know, Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity said over the last year, maybe we wouldn't have elected this kind of change, all right.
This is change out of the 1984 Walter Mondale agenda plate, OK? It's the same stuff that's been advocated for 30 years. It doesn't work. It's never worked. I think they know it's not going to work. That's why Emanuel and Carville and Begala are cooking up the Limbaugh story to make this, you know, front and center. They don't want people to focus on what is happening to our wealth. It's disappearing. Disappearing.
O'REILLY: All right. So your main theme is that the damage being done now, and there's no doubt there is damage being done…
O'REILLY: …is irreversible?
O'REILLY: Is it irreversible or can we come back?
INGRAHAM: Bill, if we go down the road of capping trade, taxing energy, fossil fuel use, heaping taxes on the rich, nationalized health care, yes, I do believe those policies will fail, and I do believe America will be transformed into a social democracy a la Europe, and that really in 10 years, we'll look back and we might not even recognize our country. That's how serious I think it is. That's what I try to explore on my show with some humor and substance at the same time.
O'REILLY: Do you…
INGRAHAM: And this is the whole thing. This is the whole shooting match.
O'REILLY: All right. Do you do the show with the bare arms, or do you have the sweater?
INGRAHAM: Well, I do push-ups in between segments, but sometimes I do the overhand military, you know. We got to do what we can. At my age, I have to try to keep fit.
O'REILLY: All right, Laura, you're looking good out there.
O'REILLY: And we always appreciate you coming on the program.
INGRAHAM: Appreciate it.
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