Pope Benedict has begun his six-day visit to America, and we hope his message of peace, love and compassion will resonate. The pope is a good man and should be respected by other good people.

But there is a problem. The rise of secularism in America has made it very difficult for any religious leader to spread his or her message. Benedict is facing a semi-hostile press, and millions of doubtful Americans are still angry over the priest pedophilia scandal, which the Vatican under the late Pope John Paul II did not aggressively handle.

Nevertheless, in some quarters there is a shocking element of disrespect toward Pope Benedict. Comedian Bill Maher is the leader of that movement.


BILL MAHER, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": Now I know what you're thinking, Bill. You can't be saying that the Catholic Church is no better than this creepy Texas cult. For one thing, altar boys can't even get pregnant. But really, what tripped up the little cult on the prairie was that they only abused hundreds of kids, not thousands all over the world. Cults get raided; religions get parades.

How does the Catholic Church get away with all of their buggery? Volume, volume, volume. If you have a few hundred followers and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If you have a billion, they call you pope.


Now, Mr. Maher has made a career out of bashing religion, so his monologue comes as no surprise. But can you imagine if Maher had castigated a Jewish or Muslim leader like that? Or if he had branded a minority group with that kind of description? The American media would slaughter him.

"Talking Points" has stated this before, but there is no better example than what you just heard. It is open season on Christians in America. You can demean and defame them all you want, and the media will laugh along with you. There's no disputing this.

As a practicing Catholic, Bill Maher's opinion doesn't bother me. I don't care that he hates religion. He has a right to that opinion, and he's up front about it.

But as with the Reverend Wright story, if you attack America or if you attack Christians, do not expect to be held to account, because the media will give you a complete pass. Media Matters, not a word about Maher. Instead that vile outfit has now branded me a homophobe in addition to being a racist. NBC News, not a word about Maher. Instead, they continue to lie down with Media Matters. CNN, The New York Times, The L.A. Times, silence.

No doubt Pope Benedict is praying for those people and for Bill Maher, as that's what a pope does, even while being castigated.

And that's "The Memo."

Pinheads & Patriots

A cute little bit at the Country Music Awards, featuring Miley Cyrus and two political heavyweights.




CYRUS: John McCain?

MCCAIN: I think you know why I'm calling.

CYRUS: I can't vote yet.

MCCAIN: No, no. I need tickets for the show, and as a U.S. senator, of course I'd have to pay for them.

CYRUS: I wish I could help, but I'm all out. Sorry, I've got to run, Senator McCain. Good luck with the whole running for president thingy. Sounds really fun.

MCCAIN: What about an autographed Hannah Montana lunch box?

CYRUS: Miley Cyrus speaking.


CYRUS: Let me guess, you want tickets?

OBAMA: Yes, I've got two daughters, and they really, really love you.

CYRUS: Sorry, but I don't...

OBAMA: Four words: Treasury Secretary Hannah Montana.

CYRUS: Got to go. Since when are award shows so political?


So far, 15-year-old Miss Cyrus has conducted herself with class all around, so she is tonight's patriot.

On the pinhead front, billionaire businessman and Clinton supporter Bob Johnson says Geraldine Ferraro is right, and race is propelling Barack Obama. Be that as it may, for keeping this dopey controversy alive, Mr. Johnson is a pinhead this evening.

You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Pinheads and Patriots" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel and any time on foxnews.com/oreilly. Send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com