Arianna Huffington Lets Loose About the Left Wing

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 20, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O’REILLY, HOST: In the "Back of the Book" segment tonight, as you may know, I have a big problem with both the far left and the far right in America. I believe extremists hurt this country and should be scorned. Enter Arianna Huffington (search), a political pundit who used to be a conservative then has steadily moved to the left. Her new book is called "Fanatics & Fools: A Game Plan for Winning Back America." I spoke with her a few days ago.


O'REILLY: You can understand how people like me and maybe a lot of people watching think you are a loony lefty when your book, "Fanatics & Fools," which I like the title, but I hope you are not in that group, is endorsed by the following: Molly Ivins (search); Bill Maher, Bill Moyers; and Larry David. Why don't you get Che Guevera on that, oh, he's dead. How about Fidel Castro? Come on, there are far left fringe. That's who you're hanging with, Arianna.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: What about the book itself?

O'REILLY: These people love the book. Who do you think is going to read it?

HUFFINGTON: Well, first of all, you see, you are now doing guilt by association.

O'REILLY: Guilt by association?

HUFFINGTON: Yes, instead of looking at the book because you don't like the people who are endorsing it.

O'REILLY: No, I looked at the book.

HUFFINGTON: Well, let's talk about what you think about the ideas...

O'REILLY: No, no, no, no, no. Look, you are a smart lady, all right, and people who read the book will get something out of it. I will say that. OK? But you have to admit if you are going to go into this crew, Ivins, Moyers and David, if you are going to land there, that is what you are going to be typed as.

HUFFINGTON: I admire these people.


HUFFINGTON: Yes. Because they are fighting the same battle I'm fighting. They're fighting the battle...

O'REILLY: But then I can call you a far left person.

HUFFINGTON: Because you see, these definitions, Bill, of left, right, are really destroying our ability to communicate with each other. Why is it left wing to be in favor of closing corporate tax loopholes?

O'REILLY: That isn't left wing. That fair.

HUFFINGTON: You and I agree on that. Why is it left wing, as you and I agree, to be against gas guzzlers when Detroit could produce fuel efficient cars? Why is that left wing?

O'REILLY: I'm for that.

HUFFINGTON: I know you are. So what I'm saying is that there's a lot of common ground. And if we can come together and do what did not happen after September 11, when the public was really ready to commit itself to something larger.

O'REILLY: Arianna, these people that you are associating with who blurbed your book are people who want a huge government and enormous spending, who want partial birth abortion all day long, who don't want a military response to terrorism. I mean, come on.

HUFFINGTON: Bill, can I respond to what you said? Because right now, let's take the military response to terrorism. You know and you yourself have admitted that we went into Iraq for the wrong reason. We found no WMD. I personally believe the world is less safe because we went to Iraq and I believe...

O'REILLY: And I respect that belief but I disagree with you.

HUFFINGTON: But my point is it is a perfectly legitimate to have been from the beginning against the war in Iraq and to have been in favor instead of strengthening homeland security. I agree with you that Tenet should have resigned or been fired a long time ago. And listening to Tenet during his testimony...

O'REILLY: We have common ground but the problem I think that you have fallen into, with all due respect, because I like you, I want your book to do OK, is that you are hanging out with fringe people, all right, who Americans despise. They do. They despise these people because these people are just ramming socialism and stuff like that down people's throats.

HUFFINGTON: Oh, Bill, let me just say...

O'REILLY: You don't think Molly Ivins is a socialist, read her books. She even admitted it.

HUFFINGTON: I have read her books. Bill, let me just say something. They are Americans, the same kind of Americans...

O'REILLY: Ted Bundy was an American.

HUFFINGTON: Oh come on.

O'REILLY: All right. That is a joke. That is a joke. Just kidding.

HUFFINGTON: There are Americans just as many if not more, who love Molly Ivins, as there are who love you. They are no less Americans...

O'REILLY: Well, I'm not easy to love.

HUFFINGTON: My point is they are no less American because they love her.

O'REILLY: All right, it is just a matter, you have to pick your friends wisely. I will give you the last word. Go ahead.

HUFFINGTON: OK. The last word is that I love the people you mentioned. They are my friends. I admire them. But beyond that what I'm saying is that what this country needs right now is a bigger vision than the incrementalism that we've had from the Democratic Party and what we've had from the Republican Party, which is big spending, which you've just attacked, a huge boondoggle in the Medicare initiative. And I'm sure you're not in favor of no cost containment, and multi-trillion dollar tax cuts, deficits as far as the eye can see that. I mean, that is not a conservative position.

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