Exclusive! Sen. John Kerry Enters the 'No Spin Zone'

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 29, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts has been serving on the Hill for 22 years. He came within a whisper, as you know, of becoming president. And I think he's going to run again.

During the last campaign, however, the senator would not talk with us. But now, things have changed. I spoke with him yesterday.


O'REILLY: All right, before we start the interview, I wish we could have done this in the campaign. You know, we kept waiting for you to come and...

KERRY: We should have done it. We should have.

O'REILLY: You think so?

KERRY: I would love to have.

O'REILLY: In hindsight, you should have.

KERRY: No, I don't know why we didn't, but we should have.

O'REILLY: OK, because some people said well, he doesn't like you, he doesn't think you're going to get a fair shot on the program.

KERRY: I've always had a fair shot.

O'REILLY: The New York Times, we have some Republicans calling for action against them. Maybe the attorney general will start an investigation into the leaks. What do you think?

KERRY: Absolutely, investigate the leaks. Leaking is against the law. I hate leakers. I hate leaks. And I think that leakers ought to be prosecuted.

O'REILLY: What about the paper printing the article after both Republicans and Democrats -- John Murtha called the editor, Bill Keller, and said, "Please don't print this, it's going to jeopardize the anti terror campaign." What about that?

KERRY: Let me say this to you, Bill. This administration's record precedes it. And it's very difficult to have the kind of credibility that they want to have on that kind of issue when you have broken the law with respect to the congressional intent on eavesdropping, when you have secrecy so embedded into the administration.

A lot of people respond to that. And so, there's a long track record here which leads people to make a different kind of judgment.

O'REILLY: If it's true that the Bush administration broke the law with the NSA taps, what are you guys doing? You haven't indicted them. There's been no call for impeachment. There's been no anything.

KERRY: Well, let me...

O'REILLY: So if that's true, what are you guys doing?

KERRY: ...speak to that. That's not true. Let me tell you what I've done. I have signed on with Russ Feingold for a censure. I think.

O'REILLY: Not getting anywhere, though.

KERRY: Well, who runs the Congress?

O'REILLY: The Democrats are mad you did it.

KERRY: Who runs the Congress?

O'REILLY: Republicans control it.

KERRY: OK. That's the answer to your question.

O'REILLY: OK, so your own party says you're crazy to do it.

KERRY: The Republicans have been unwilling to hold people accountable. And I think the American people see it. And I think they resent it.

O'REILLY: Is Iran our most dangerous enemy?

KERRY: Iran is potentially our most dangerous enemy. It's certainly our most dangerous challenge right now, together with Al Qaeda.

O'REILLY: Do you believe...

KERRY: And Al Qaeda cannot be taken lightly as the kind of challenge that it represents. But then again, we could deal with both more effectively.

O'REILLY: Do you believe Iran is intruding in the Iraq war?


O'REILLY: OK. So you see the danger from Iran. You know it's intruding in the Iraq war.

Then the logical question is, if you want a timetable for withdrawal, and other people have called for it as well as you, and we do pull out too early, and Iran comes in, making Iraq a sphere of influence place, setting up a mini-satellite state, aren't we in more danger?

KERRY: I have never suggested pulling out too early.

O'REILLY: No, you want a timetable.

KERRY: I have suggested being successful — not just at standing up the Iraqis, but at fighting the War on Terror more effectively. And that includes preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon.

Now, how do you do that? Let me tell you.

O'REILLY: Well, wait, let's walk through. I mean, you know, look...

KERRY: Sure.

O'REILLY: I'm trying to understand the thinking here. You acknowledge Iran is one of our most deadly enemies. You acknowledge Iran is intruding in Iraq. But you want a timetable to pull U.S. forces out.

KERRY: I think — just follow me through. You want the thinking? I'll give it to you.

There isn't a person in the region, not an expert here in Washington about Iran who won't tell you that Iran is delighted that we are bogged down in Iraq, that if we free ourselves of Iraq and get the Iraqis standing up, we, in fact, are in a stronger position to deal with Iran.

And the fact is that I have recommended having an over-the-horizon force, significant forces remain in Kuwait, in Qatar and elsewhere. General Zinni and others have advised that we really ought to be negotiating a regional security arrangement. And I'm in favor -- and I've strongly advocated this in the proposal I made that not just do you set a date, which is what the Iraqis themselves want us to do — 94 percent of the Sunni, 90 percent of the Shia say set a date.

O'REILLY: If Iran continues to defy the world and says, "We're going to develop this nuke," all right, now, I know you want to negotiate. So does Bush. So does everybody. When it comes down to it — when it comes down to it, and I asked this question of President Bush, are you going to let Iran have a nuclear weapon? Are you?


O'REILLY: So you would be prepared to use the full force of the American military to stop them from having a nuclear weapon?

KERRY: You never take any option off the table. And every option ought to remain there, but let me tell you something. If you talk to any of the military planners here in Washington, or any of the smart security people in our country, everyone will tell you what a risky and dangerous option ultimately that is.


O'REILLY: We'll have more with John Kerry in a moment. Why did he vote against making English the official language of this country? We'll find out.


O'REILLY: Continuing now with Senator John Kerry from Massachusetts, which is a long way from the southern border, but that topic is huge.


O'REILLY: The border. You have been in the Senate a long time. And the border has been open as long as you have been in the Senate. How did that happen? And why didn't you scream about it?

KERRY: I have talked about it. Well, go back to 2004 in the presidential campaign to the speeches I made and the questions I answered about immigration reform and our borders. I have always said — I'm an ex-prosecutor — that the first step is to tighten up our borders and to enforce the law with respect to illegal employment.

O'REILLY: How do you tighten the borders?

KERRY: You have to put the people there. I just passed an amendment on the immigration bill to raise even by a thousand more the numbers of border agents.

O'REILLY: But that's not enough.

KERRY: I could have done more. Of course it's not enough. And I want to do more.

O'REILLY: Well, why can't the government put 50,000 National Guardsmen down there?

KERRY: We should do whatever is necessary, Bill.

O'REILLY: OK. I was shocked, Senator, when you voted against recognizing English as the national language. I said Kerry voted — because you voted for the flag desecration amendment. You voted for that. You're a patriot, served your country in Vietnam. And then you vote no on having English...

KERRY: It's the way it was phrased. English is the national language.

O'REILLY: So let's formalize it.

KERRY: English is the national language. But the way that particular amendment was phrased was purposeful to try to just stick it to people, and I thought that was an inappropriate use of the Senate floor.

O'REILLY: Give me the specifics of the legislation.

KERRY: Do I believe English — I looked at the amendment. I read the language. And I said this is an effort just to sort of make a point for the sake of making a point.

O'REILLY: Weren't you playing to the minority crowd? Weren't you doing that?

KERRY: No. In fact, I told the folks who authored it that I thought they should have said the word "national" and that it would have been — you know, more people would have voted for it.

O'REILLY: All right. You're a big environmental guy, right?

KERRY: Yes, sir.

O'REILLY: You and Al Gore, big environmental guys. And I'm a big environmental guy. OK? So I'm seeing Gore and Kerry. Here they are, decades in the Senate, and I'm seeing Brazil have ethanol for all its automobiles starting next year. And I'm seeing the United States not even close to having ethanol for automobiles. I'm going, "How come Gore and Kerry didn't get us ethanol?" How come?

KERRY: Actually, I did vote for ethanol. Every time we've had a chance to vote for it on the floor I vote for ethanol.

O'REILLY: Why didn't it happen?

KERRY: Because the president's energy policy...

O'REILLY: Is this President Clinton?

KERRY: This is President Bush.

O'REILLY: What about President Clinton? He was in eight years.

KERRY: You're right, he was in for eight years and not enough was done during that period of time. We're trying to shift it.

O'REILLY: So you've been green and Gore's been green, but the bottom line is you guys couldn't get it done. Clinton didn't lead. Bush isn't leading now, although he says he is. I don't know what he's doing.

But this is important to people watching. The oil companies buy — do they buy influence here? I mean, how can — how can the Congress, knowing Hugo Chavez, knowing the oil sheiks, knowing the environmental damage — everybody knows that. There's no debate over any of that. How can they, year in and year out, not pursue grass-based, cow manure-based ethanol? Do the oil companies bribe them? What happens?

KERRY: They have seen their interests, their business interests in very narrow terms, and they have fought to protect their business interests within the halls of Congress...

O'REILLY: What does that mean? I don't know what that means. Do the oil companies give campaign money?

KERRY: Sure.

O'REILLY: So you're telling me they're bought?

KERRY: No. They give them campaign money. The entire political system in America is overly dependent on campaign contributions.

O'REILLY: If it's better for every one of us not to be oil dependent, every single American, in 30 years the Congress could not, or would not, make it happen. You're telling me that the Congress sold us out and so did four presidents. You have to arrive at that conclusion.

KERRY: I believe the American people have been sold short by the United States Congress with respect to the energy future of our country. Yes. And it is regrettable, because millions of jobs have been lost. Our security has been put at risk.

The United States' technological lead in those areas has been set back. Our health has been set back. The environment has been set back. The overall security interests of our nation have not been well served.

O'REILLY: Both parties at fault, right?

KERRY: Both parties at fault.


O'REILLY: There you go. I enjoyed the conversation. The senator is welcome here anytime. So now we're down to three: Jesse Jackson, Al Gore, Senator Hillary Clinton. Hopefully, we'll be seeing all of them on "The Factor" shortly.

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