Country Star Trace Adkins Sounds Off on Music's Political Divide

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 1, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight: There's a definite split between the country music industry and the pop music world. Many country stars like Trace Adkins are conservatives, but on the pop side you have primarily liberal entertainers, people like Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp.

So why the split? With us now is Mr. Adkins, who has a new album out, great Christmas gift, called "Ten." Mr. Adkins also appeared in the movie "American Carol."


TRACE ADKINS, COUNTRY MUSIC STAR: I'm the angel of freakin' death, you turd-head. Boy, you do not want to mess with the angel of death. Listen, punk, there are consequences for what you do. Let's go.

KEVIN P. FARLEY, ACTOR: What's going on here? Where are we?

ADKINS: In Hollywood, just like you wanted. Only now it's called Bin Laden City.

FARLEY: Oh my God.

ADKINS: Yes. They kept all the buildings. They just changed the signs.

FARLEY: Oh no, this isn't happening.

ADKINS: We lost the War on Terror. Nice work.


O'REILLY: All right. Here he is. Trace Adkins.

Click here to watch the interview.

ADKINS: You were in that movie.

O'REILLY: I know.

ADKINS: Why didn't you show your scene?

O'REILLY: You were much better than I was. But look, there's no doubt that you're a conservative, traditional guy, and many country music performers are. And then you go to Hollywood, where you were, and then New York where the music industry, and you see very liberal people. Why the split?

ADKINS: You know, there is a split. I would agree with you there. But I would have to say, too, though, that I know a lot of guys in the rock/pop world that are conservative. It's just that they can't really be that outspoken and out front with it because their fan base is not going to appreciate it. And their — you know, so I think that that's why that perception is the way it is.

O'REILLY: So you're saying that because the fan base in the pop world is probably more liberal, they don't say anything. But is it — is the converse true? Because the fan base in the music world is more conservative, that that's why people go that way?

ADKINS: Well, I think there probably are more conservatives in country music. I didn't mean to insinuate the opposite. But I think the ones that are liberal, that do sing country music, they just aren't very vocal about it.

O'REILLY: Look at what happened to the Dixie Chicks.


O'REILLY: They lost their fan base...

ADKINS: Perfect example.

O'REILLY: the country music. So it's almost a reverse pressure on the performers in the music industry. You have to figure out what your base wants to hear, not only musically, but also if you want to delve into these politics.

ADKINS: Yes. Or you can just choose to do kind of what I do, and I just don't put it out there too much. I don't talk about it that much, you know. And I certainly don't do it on stage in my shows.

O'REILLY: Why not?

ADKINS: Because people don't buy tickets — they don't spend their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to my show to hear me get on stage and preach to them my political philosophy. And I don't use the stage as a political platform. I get up there and sing the songs that they've heard on the radio, the other songs that they've heard on my albums. That's what they came to hear.

O'REILLY: Now, Willie Nelson, he does the opposite.

ADKINS: Well, there are some entertainers who are known for that, and you know when you buy a ticket to their show you're going to...

O'REILLY: You're going to get that.

ADKINS: You're going to get preached to.

O'REILLY: Absolutely.

ADKINS: But I don't — I've never been...

O'REILLY: Do you think that — is that annoying to you?

ADKINS: It is to me, you know, because I think that there are a lot of people that buy into that artist thing, you know, they start buying into their own press and their own hype.

O'REILLY: Aren't you an artist?

ADKINS: You know, I'm a singer, man. I sing country songs.

O'REILLY: You write them, too, though.

ADKINS: I write some, yes. But I think that some of the artists start thinking that they're more enlightened than you and I are.

O'REILLY: But you're a movie star, too.


O'REILLY: I mean, you're an actor. You're a writer. You're a song — a singer. You're really an artist.

ADKINS: You know, I have a good time trying to entertain people. I don't consider myself an, you know — Picasso was an artist, you know?

O'REILLY: Right.

ADKINS: I do know some artists in the music industry, some guys that write and are experts on their particular instrument, and they're good singers and the whole thing.

O'REILLY: Well, they are. So what you're saying to me is that when you see these people like, Neil Young is probably the best example, take themselves ultra seriously, that takes away from the entertainment value?

ADKINS: Yes, it does to me, sort of. You know, I just want to hear the tunes and I don't want to hear you puke up your liberal, you know, stuff on me. I really don't. I don't want that.

O'REILLY: You puke up your liberal stuff on me? That sounds like a song that we might be able to make.

ADKINS: You've got to wait until it dries so you can brush it off, you know? It's just, I don't...

O'REILLY: Hey, look, I'm with you, you know. I just — when I pay my money to go see you guys, I just want to be entertained by what you guys do.

ADKINS: Take me away...

O'REILLY: I've got to do this five days a week here. I don't want to hear it on my down time.

All right, Mr. Adkins. The album is "Ten," and it's a great album. And we appreciate it. Good to see you.

ADKINS: It's great to be here. Thank you, Bill.

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