Political Controversy?

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This is a rush transcript from "The O'REILLY: Factor," January 3, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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: "Factor follow-up" segment tonight, another controversy with the USO. Over the holidays, the USO sponsored a trip that took Robin Williams, Kid Rock, and Miss USA to see American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Williams talked about it last night with David Letterman.


DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: How do they seem to be compared to the first time you went over there? Is the spirit and the morale still as healthy and happy as it was earlier?

ROBIN WILLIAMS, COMEDIAN: Yes, it was quiet, which is always lovely. Incoming is not the thing you want to hear at Christmas. You know, yes, they seemed good. It was like - it was just great to see all of them, because it's — especially when they had a show outside. It was like there was this incredible energy.


Now Mr. Williams has been here four times. He's a patriot. Mr. Letterman has been over there as well. We applaud the USO for putting together the Williams tour, but there's some more controversy surrounding that organization.

A few weeks ago, we told USO President Edward Powell that more celebrity visits to the troops were badly needed. Mr. Powell did not disagree. But now some USO board members are furious with Mr. Powell, because he took donations from the radical left organization MoveOn. You'll remember that organization took out this despicable "betray us" ad.

With us now, the executive director of Vets for Freedom, Peter Hegseth.

So one of the board members actually on the USO is demanding Powell quit, because of taking the donations from MoveOn. But my question is this. If this organization, which we think is despicable, move on. We think that they're bad and nothing good about them.


O'REILLY: Radical left. Trying to undermine the military, no question, irresponsible. But if they want to give money to help the troops, why not take it?

HEGSETH: It's - but it's not giving money to the troops, Bill. This is a patchwork for them to try to improve their image. The war is getting better. The political winds are shifting against them. The public backlash against their despicable "betray us" ad. And so, they're reacting well, we need to do some PR work here. And we're going to send some phone cards to the troops overseas.

O'REILLY: Right.

HEGSETH: We're not going to help fund them. We're not going to do everything.

O'REILLY: We're going to give phone cards. And we did that here, too.


O'REILLY: "The Factor" did that.

HEGSETH: There are a lot of groups.

O'REILLY: But let me play devil's advocate here. I believe you're right.


O'REILLY: I believe that MoveOn, their primary focus is to say, uh- oh, we're in trouble. Everybody thinks we're bad. So we'll make a gesture.


O'REILLY: We'll give some money. And remember, they get tons of money from George Soros.


O'REILLY: And we'll send some phone cards over. But the phone cards will do some good. They'll go to our forces. And they will be able to make those calls.

HEGSETH: It's so miniscule compared to the damage that MoveOn has done to the troops and their mission. They — no group has been more adamant in trying to undermine the mission of the troops in Iraq. So 40 — those phone cards would be worth 45 minutes of a call home. And that's great. I called, you know, my folks when I was over in Iraq. But it's not — it doesn't compare to the 45 years of anguish.

O'REILLY: So if you were the head of the USO.

HEGSETH: .they're going to have. Our troops are going to have.


HEGSETH: .they're not going to be able to finish their mission.

O'REILLY: So if you were the head of the USO, and MoveOn walks into you or some of these other radical left organizations and says, look, I'm going to give you guys $1 million worth of phone cards, you say to them what?

HEGSETH: I say, you know, the activities — you are too political and too partisan for our nonpartisan organization.

O'REILLY: Oh, so.

HEGSETH: The USO - absolutely not. The USO prides itself in being non-partisan and providing services to the troops, which it does well. But MoveOn.org is the most political organization in this country. They said they fought and paid for the Democratic party. And this is the kind of organization.


HEGSETH: .that we're going to say.

O'REILLY: But some might say that I'm a partisan, OK, because I support the military. And that I've been, you know, saying that we have to fight these terrorists abroad, that the mission is noble, what we're trying to do is good. So the far left would say, look, O'REILLY:'s partisan. And O'REILLY: and AT&T joined together, and gave them the card. Now we didn't go through the USO. We just went directly to the military. So you know, you can't accept donations from O'REILLY: and AT&T. What do you do?

HEGSETH: But Bill, is it partisan to say we're going to fund — provide body armor for the troops? Are we going to — I mean, they're being very partisan in every single thing that they do and every single action.

O'REILLY: You're talking about MoveOn?

HEGSETH: We're talking about MoveOn.


HEGSETH: You are not. Your action is specifically to support the troops. Their action has been, not only to not provide body armor - and — not that they're not providing body armor, but they're trying to persuade Congress not to fund the troops to provide body armor.


HEGSETH: And be...

O'REILLY: As I said, there's nothing.

HEGSETH: ...able to be partisan in nature.

O'REILLY: .there's nothing good about these people. Nothing. They're despicable. And we just — I can't say enough. But let me ask you one more.

HEGSETH: I mean, USO is public money. There's just so many problems.

O'REILLY: Let me ask you one more question. You were in Iraq.


O'REILLY: .a couple of years, right?


O'REILLY: Did the USO send anybody over to see you?

HEGSETH: One small actor. We were in a small dusky town of Samarra. And we had one small actor.

O'REILLY: OK, that was it for two years, because you saw a reporter on the USO.


O'REILLY: We all think you're doing enough.


O'REILLY: I mean, we liked the Williams tour. And we respect Mr. Williams.

HEGSETH: And I respect the USO.

O'REILLY: Do you?

HEGSETH: I do as an organization.

O'REILLY: But don't you think they can do more?

HEGSETH: But this is a PR misstep. And I think they should do more if they can.

O'REILLY: Right. I think they can do more. This one, I'm not so furious about it, because I do want the guys and gals to get the cards, but I think that you're right about the motivation here.

HEGSETH: It's a political stunt.

O'REILLY: Right. Mr. Hegseth, thanks very much for coming in.

HEGSETH: Thank you.

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