Legitimate Dissent?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 30, 2006, that has been edited for clarity. Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the "Radio Factor!"

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal story" segment tonight, a disturbing column in The Los Angeles Times ran last Tuesday. And writer Joel Stein said this.

"I don't support our troops.The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying.

I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea."

Obviously, some very questionable analysis. Stein is entitled to it, but he should know it's very painful for military families to read stuff like this. Now last week, Joel Stein said he would appear on "The Factor" this evening, but he has now backed out.

Joining us from Los Angeles, FOX News political analyst Tammy Bruce.

O'REILLY: If this column, I think, appeared on the East Coast, Stein, I don't know. I mean, in L.A., though, I understand the reaction has been muted.

TAMMY BRUCE, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, to say the least. Clearly the L.A. Times still sees itself as an entity that influences national opinion. So their choice to run this column says volumes, that they think this idea of not supporting the troops either should be considered seriously or should at least be put into the public sphere.

At the same time, here we are in Los Angeles, where it's awards season. It's the height of narcissism. And it is a system that, instead of looking at real heroes -- and Iraq is an example, young men and women who are saving the world from Islamofascism -- they're obsessed with gay cowboys, transvestites, Truman Capote and "Desperate Housewives." I mean, it's a whole different planet.

So you're looking at silence here in part, Bill, because also many on the left, to say the least, agree with him. I've talked to friends of mine...

O'REILLY: I have two problems with your analysis.


O'REILLY: No. 1, Stein is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. They have hired him to write his opinion. Usually newspapers -- and I'm a newspaper columnist myself -- don't censor the opinion of their columnists. They have the right not to run it, but it's unusual. All right. That's No. 1.

No. 2, Los Angeles is the second largest city in the country. Most Angelinos are not associated with show business. They're just working class people.

Now I would -- I agree with you. The showbiz community would -- and the media is covering for this Stein, by the way. The media is covering for him.

BRUCE: Sure.

O'REILLY: Because this story has not been around. I think we're breaking it nationally for the first time. Although it may have been discussed somewhere else I'm not aware of.

BRUCE: It's been on the Internet.

O'REILLY: The folks in L.A. I would think they're going nuts. There's a lot of military families out there.

BRUCE: There is regular people, yes. But you realize, too. This is a mining town. This is a town where every industry relies on the entertainment industry, where everybody knows to some degree, you know, the proper Los Angeles knows somebody else in the industry. And it is controlled by local entertainment conglomerates that determine what really is discussed.

But on the Internet, on our talk radio -- on my talk radio show, people are outraged across the country. And the actors I've spoken to, who are my good friends, there is a sense of resentment this was said, because now they have to face it in themselves. They agree with the sentiment, have not wanted to address that in themselves.

O'REILLY: Wait a minute. These actors, can you name the actors?

BRUCE: I had better not. One lives in Europe and one lives here.

O'REILLY: All right. So are these famous people?

BRUCE: Yes, very.

O'REILLY: And they agree that U.S. soldiers in Iraq who deposed a brutal dictator, a murderous guy, are immoral? These actors agree with that?

BRUCE: If you don't -- here's the foundation. If you don't -- if you really still believe that the moral victory that we've had getting rid of that genocidal dictator, if you still don't have the moral footing to understand that that war is right, how do you have the moral footing to support the troops in that? Otherwise it is just a slogan.

O'REILLY: Well, you can disagree that the -- you can disagree with the policy of trying to impose democracy, but our soldiers over there did a good thing by removing Saddam Hussein. Any sane person should know that.

By the way, Stein opposed the Afghanistan action, as well. I mean, Stein is a far, far left individual.

BRUCE: Well, listen, there's a reason why -- Bill, there's a reason why the L.A. Times has chosen him to replace Robert Scheer. He's the one who's replaced Scheer.

O'REILLY: No, I don't -- see, I'm not buying it. I think the L.A. Times is embarrassed.

BRUCE: And they know what they were getting. Well, they may be, but I think they thought that they might get away with it.

O'REILLY: All right.

BRUCE: I think they knew what they were getting. And...

O'REILLY: Well, everybody knows it now, Tammy.

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