Dennis Miller on Letterman-Palin Feud, Lakers Riots

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 16, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Miller Time" segment tonight: one day early because Miller is making some money someplace else tomorrow. Three hot topics, leading off with David Letterman's apology to Sarah Palin last night for making an inappropriate joke about her teenaged daughter.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. It's not your fault that it was misunderstood. It's my fault that it was misunderstood. Thank you. I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I'm sorry about it, and I'll try to do better in the future.


O'REILLY: All right. Joining us now from Los Angeles, Dennis Miller. Have you ever had to apologize for a joke, Miller, by the way? Have you ever had to do that?

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DENNIS MILLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, sure I have. Hey, Bill, first off though, what are you doing in Nashville?

O'REILLY: I'm doing — giving out a little country music award tonight with Naomi Judd, Miller. How jealous are you?

MILLER: Are you appearing under your country western name Big and Rich?

O'REILLY: They're going to call me Billy Bob O'Reilly. I know that, but that will happen. So Miller apologized. What joke?

MILLER: I've stepped in it, and pretty recently I did a joke on "The Tonight Show" about Michelle Obama when he was running for president, and even during the commercial break it didn't sit well with me, and I apologized on air at the beginning of the second one.

Now, people can question why are you doing it, to cover yourself? Do you just want to make nice? I felt bad about it. This man feels bad about it. Listen, the first joke was rough, but even decent men step in it. The apology, well, you know, the first rule of apologies is do no harm, and the first apology did more harm. But this is a decent man who could not, over the weekend, I'm sure, questioned this whole thing, felt bad about it, and stepped up. And that's as solid as an apology as a man can make. I don't know where we go from here. The society seems to have this...

O'REILLY: I hope it stops. I hope it stops. I'm not going to use — there were some people protesting — there were some people protesting outside Letterman's studio today. I'm not going to use it. I hope it stops. I agree with you that people make mistakes. He apologizes. Governor Palin accepted the apology. Let's — that's it. Cynics are going to say, and because David Letterman's track record is heavy left, cynics are going to say, "Well, he got into so much trouble that CBS made him do this, and if he were like Miller and he knew it didn't really play well, he would have apologized, heartfelt apology a lot sooner than this." And you would say what?

MILLER: I don't know if cynics are saying that or if you're saying that, but either way, I think — it doesn't make me any more noble to do it a few minutes later. I just stepped in it and felt unwieldy. Letterman came to it in his own time. And trust me, CBS doesn't make him do anything. Anything.

O'REILLY: But how can you say he's an essentially decent man, Miller, when he called me a goon on his program?

MILLER: I met him over the years around 10 or 12 times, and he's been always ethical and principled with me. That doesn't mean I agree with him politically.

O'REILLY: That was a joke.

MILLER: All I can say I don't know him as well as anybody knows Letterman.

O'REILLY: You don't concur that I'm a goon, do you?

MILLER: Listen, you are just a beneficent country western singer.

O'REILLY: Listen, country music is a unique American art form, and I...

MILLER: I like it, too, Billy. I like some of it.

O'REILLY: …I am honored to be on this program tonight. All right. Let's talk about Panetta and Cheney. According to New Yorker magazine — we called Panetta's office to confirm. He did say this: "I think Dick Cheney smelled some blood in the water on the national security issue. It's almost a little bit gallows politics when you read behind it. It's almost as if he is wishing that his country would be attacked again in order to make his point." How do you react to that?

MILLER: Well, I quote the great philosopher David Lee Roth, the bridge on the song "Panama." I think we're all running a little hot right now, and I think we should all kind of maybe take a week off and ignore each other. Let's face facts. In a 24/7 news cycle, all of us who are in that cycle are going to gak it and we're going to say something and it's going to be analyzed with a jeweler's loop. I think that — you know, I don't think that Panetta thinks Cheney wants this country blown up. But if you analyze these things, everybody is going to look like they're inferring something. He came back — for God's sakes, nobody wants this country less blown up than Cheney. He shot his best friend in the face just to keep the Taliban on edge.

O'REILLY: OK, so you believe that it was just hyperbole on Panetta's part. He didn't really mean to say that Cheney wanted the country attacked.

MILLER: All I know, Bill is, never, in the history of the planet, have we annualized our — what's — our discourse between each other more than we do now. It is like a postmortem. A coroner's vivisection. And this is going to cause us to stop communicating completely because we're all on guard.

O'REILLY: I agree 100 percent. With the 24/7 news cycle and cable news and all of that, anything any famous person says is going to be distorted, whipped around, used against people, absolutely.

Finally, the L.A. Lakers — and you're an L.A. guy — win the NBA championship, and then riots break out. What's that all about, Miller?

MILLER: Well, listen, Dave, a kid with colic could flip a Smart car over, quite frankly. And I don't know when you saw they lit the cars on fire, it's so green out here they used ethanol. Now, if you're going to riot in the future and they use ethanol, you have to watch, it's a clean-burning fuel, and you can't see where the flames are. I look at these riots and they seem a little superfluous when you think about the riots in Tehran. I guess some of the kids over there felt that the moderates should have got in. I would remind everybody the moderate in Iran is the guy who wants to cut off your less dominant hand.

O'REILLY: Well, look, but I'm happy that you pointed out that the L.A. rioters were not contributing to global warming when they set their fires, that it was a clean-burning fire, rather than a fossil-fuel fire. And that's important, I think, for the rioters to be aware of.

MILLER: Civil disobedience is one thing. A big carbon footprint, a completely different. That is...

O'REILLY: Completely different story. Dennis Miller, everybody.

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