Did a Political Cartoon Disrespect an American Hero?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 4, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O’REILLY, HOST: Now the top story: political cartoonist Ted Rall shows up here. And he is the author of the book "Wake Up, You're Liberal, How We Can take America back from the Right."

No qualms about being disrespectful to Pat Tillman (search) and his family?

TED RALL, POLITICAL CARTOONIST: Well, it's not about being disrespectful to Mr. Tillman or his family. It's about making the broader point about the fact that the people who volunteered to go fight in Iraq and Afghanistan were used, were misled, and possibly even had ill intent in going over there to fight.

O'REILLY: But your strip here mentions Tillman specifically, and uses the words idiot, sap. You have a question mark on it. But I mean, for a guy who died fighting for his country, you don't think you crossed an ethical line here?

RALL: Well, I don't think honestly, I think it's a horrible tragedy that people have died in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it's a lie to say that they've died for their country. I have been to Afghanistan, and there's no way you could confuse that with the Texas-Mexico border. You are not defending your country when you fight in Afghanistan.

O'REILLY: Well, all right, but we'll get to that in a minute. I mean, if you don't think that the Afghanistan government under the Taliban led directly to 9/11, then you're living in the outer limits of reality.

RALL: Well, I think Pakistan had a lot more to do with it.

O'REILLY: All right, well that's what you think, but let's get back to this issue. The New York Times is not going to run the strip. MSNBC pulled the strip off their Web site. We called at least 10 other newspapers, who say they're not going to run the strip, all right? If what you're doing is so noble and so right, why won't most of those left wing newspapers run it?

RALL: Well, I would take issue with the depiction of The New York Times as a left-wing newspaper.

O'REILLY: You don't think The New York Times leans left editorially?

RALL: Not at all.

O'REILLY: Not at all.

RALL: I think it's a moderate, centrist newspaper.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, that just shows you where you are.

RALL: Well, maybe it shows where you are, Bill.

O'REILLY: Well, perhaps.

RALL: I mean, we both know where we stand.

O'REILLY: Well, let me hit you with a fact. On the op-ed page, The New York Times has two conservative columnists and eight liberal columnists.

RALL: I only count one or two liberal cartoonists on the op-ed page...

O'REILLY: No, columnists.

RALL: Columnists.

O'REILLY: Columnists.

RALL: Columnists on the op-ed page of The New York Times.

O'REILLY: All right, fine. So they're not running it anyway. Why do you think they're not running it?

RALL: Well, I don't like to second-guess the choice of editors. You know, there's lots of reasons. I do 200 cartoons a year. I guarantee you they mostly don't get run in every single paper.

O'REILLY: But this isn't going to get run anywhere.

RALL: Well, I wouldn't be so sure about that.

O'REILLY: All right. I'm willing to bet you that less than five -- what have you got, 140 papers?

RALL: Yes, that's right.

O'REILLY: In universal print? Less than five will run, I'm willing to bet you.

RALL: You know, I put it out there. And it's up to the papers to see what they want to do.

O'REILLY: But why do you think they won't run it?

RALL: Well, I mean, I don't know.

O'REILLY: Come on, you must have a thought. You got opinions on everything else.

RALL: People are -- you know -- editors are kind of cowardly. That's no secret among political cartoonists.

O'REILLY: Might this be insensitive and offensive?

RALL: That's certainly a valid opinion. I have no problem with people thinking that. But I think there's nothing more insensitive and callous than watching the administration for the last three years turn this supposed war on terror into a way of passing a partisan political agenda.

I mean, I was just reading a couple days ago about how even administration officials can't even keep track of the number of soldiers who have died in Iraq since the beginning of conflict, thinking they're off by 100 or 200 men. They can't even count them. I don't think they really care.

O'REILLY: Well, our information -- and we have pretty good information -- is that they're pretty precise in their casualty totals because we get them every day.

Now, look, I understand you're a far left guy. I got that. All right? And you're entitled to your opinion.

RALL: I'm just a good liberal Democrat, Bill.

O'REILLY: OK. You're way more than a liberal. You're way out there. And you're entitled to that under our constitution. But when you tell me that Afghanistan, all right, was not an action worth fighting, and that we know here, we deal with facts here that the Taliban fostered Al Qaeda, the training camps were there, the plot was hatched there, and I say to you that you don't believe that we had the right to go in and remove that government, I mean, I'm thinking that there is something the matter with you, Mr. Rall. There's something the matter with you.

RALL: Well, I would agree that even among most Democrats, they were in favor of the war on Afghanistan, but not the war in Iraq. However, they were misled. Afghanistan was every bit as much of a scam as the war in Iraq was.

O'REILLY: Backing that up with what?

RALL: I mean, backing it up with the fact that Egyptian Islamic Jihad planned 9/11. And yet we've had no action whatsoever.

O'REILLY: Oh, OK, so you don't say that...

RALL: Saudi funded Al Qaeda and Pakistan.

O'REILLY: Usama bin Laden...

RALL: I'm just trying to answer your question.

O'REILLY: Yes, but you're...

RALL: Pakistan had a lot more to do with it. And most of the training camps were, in fact, in Pakistan and not in Afghanistan.

O'REILLY: Listen, satellite photos -- see, this is what I mean. You guys on the far left fringe, you say this stuff. It's not true.

RALL: It is true.

O'REILLY: Satellite photos prove that Al Qaeda camps were all over.

RALL: There were some Al Qaeda camps.

O'REILLY: Yes. And Usama bin Laden admits that he was the guy behind it.

RALL: Well, that's not true either.

O'REILLY: Yes, it is.

RALL: I mean, I don't doubt that it's true. But if people spin that on this network and elsewhere that that, you know, video proves that he admits it. It's not true at all. It's like if I tell you I'm going to rob a bank tomorrow, it doesn't mean that you robbed the bank.

O'REILLY: All right, you know Usama bin Laden didn't do it. Because you said have information...

RALL: I didn't say it was Usama bin Laden didn't do it. I don't know who did it. The administration has yet to present the white paper that Colin Powell promised in the days after 9/11 to prove to the American people who was responsible and what we know. The American people still have a lot of questions about Sept. 11.

O'REILLY: All right, I got it. You don't believe that the Taliban should have been removed, correct? You don't believe this.

RALL: Oh, I think it's a great thing the Taliban are gone. I just think that we've replaced the world's worst regime with one that's even worse.

O'REILLY: Karzai's regime is worse?

RALL: Well, warlord-ism and anarchy are even worse.

O'REILLY: OK, fine. Now John Kerry supports the war in Iraq, correct?

RALL: Yes, that's what he says.

O'REILLY: All right. Bush supports the war in Iraq. And virtually every other politician of any note supports the war. But you, Ted Rall, you know more than all these guys. You are smarter than them all. And I'm going to give you the last word on it. But you, Ted Rall, are smarter than all of the experts. You know more than everybody else. How does that happen?

RALL: I wouldn't exactly say that George Bush is an expert on much of anything.

O'REILLY: And Kerry?

RALL: I think Kerry is just as wrong on the war as Mr. Bush is.

O'REILLY: You are smarter than them, know more than these guys know on both sides.

RALL: Look, I think there's a lot of people who agree with me, including Hans Blix. And a lot...

O'REILLY: Do you think there's a lot of people that agree with you to be attacking Pat Tillman?

RALL: Who agree with me that this war was based on lies, that Colin Powell went in front of the United Nations and in front of the American people and got us into a war that is killing lots of Iraqis and lots of Afghans and lots of Americans for nothing.

O'REILLY: OK. There are reasons for war. There are 3,000 dead in the streets.

RALL: Not for this one.

O'REILLY: All right.

RALL: Yes, and they have yet to be avenged, Bill. I'd like to see a war on terror begin.

O'REILLY: Well, Ted, look, you know more than everybody else. And when you get your proof, you bring it right back here. But I'll tell you what...

RALL: I'll send you my book.

O'REILLY: You should be ashamed of what you did to Tillman. And that's the final word here.

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