Is America Going Down the Tubes?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 14, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: There's a show on Broadway called "Long Story Short" starring Colin Quinn, the former "Saturday Night Live" guy. In fact, Quinn is the only person in the show. I saw it last week. Very good.

Colin Quinn joins us now. And you wrote the show.


O'REILLY: You wrote it yourself, and just you. And very, very funny. Basically, the program traces civilization and its downfall.

QUINN: Right.

O'REILLY: You go into Romans, Greeks and, you know, and then you get to America. But I want to save that. The first thing I want to ask you is Jerry Seinfeld directed the show. Is that correct?

QUINN: Correct.

O'REILLY: OK. You just stand there. That's all you do. What exactly did Jerry do? Say, "Stand a little closer to the audience? Stand a little further back?"

QUINN: What if I had moved around? He's the one that said, "Don't move. Stand there."

O'REILLY: Don't move, just stand there. Now, did you pay Seinfeld for that? It's just you!

QUINN: He needs the money. I had to -- I had to take care of him.

O'REILLY: Because I was watching, you know, "directed by Jerry Seinfeld." It's one guy on the stage. He's just standing there. All right. America today, are we going down the tubes like the Greeks and Romans?

QUINN: Sure we are.

O'REILLY: We're going down?

QUINN: Sure. Don't you think?

O'REILLY: You know, I'm asking you, man.

QUINN: Well, I mean, the whole point of the -- one of the themes of the show is how, you know, we keep doing the same things and expecting different results, things that used to work. So I talk in the show about dissent and debate used to work for our country, but it doesn't work now. It's just like, you know, tribalism worked. The Greeks thinking -- they tried to think their way. We're like a compilation of every empire as they fall. We're like the Costco of empire declines. We have to combine every aspect of every decline.

O'REILLY: Everything that everybody in the past has done wrong we're doing now?

QUINN: We're doing it all.

O'REILLY: And how does it manifest itself?

QUINN: Just excess. I mean, with us, it's like excess, but it's also the fact that like now, like even years ago, people used to say we left -- all the manufacturing jobs left the country.

O'REILLY: Right.

QUINN: And it was just all moving money. But now it's not even moving money. Now it's not even moving the idea of money. People's -- most people's job is talking about the future or like money not even in the present tense. It's not even paper. Doesn't even...

O'REILLY: Like the hedge fund guy. Nobody knows what that is.

QUINN: Right. Because it doesn't exist.

O'REILLY: Right.

QUINN: You're trading the idea of somebody else doing something...

O'REILLY: And they make all this money and don't really do anything. There's nothing there.


O'REILLY: How long do we have, Colin? Because I'd like to, you know, make a getaway if I could just before it all goes down.

QUINN: A lot of people saying next year, 2012, but that's the Mayan. That's South America.

O'REILLY: Keep an eye on the Visigoths. They're in Canada now and kind of inching their way. But also you think that we're culturally in decline because of things like the "Jersey Shore," right?

QUINN: Well, I mean, we've always been like that. I mean, that's -- "Jersey Shore" is an easy one to attack, of course, because the Greeks, at least -- at least when they watched plays they weren't frivolous. They were, like, watching nobility and all these, like, deep thoughts. We're just watching, like I say, Snooki losing her cell phone.

O'REILLY: Yes, because you know, if you look at what's going on on the "Jersey Shore," it's almost like the Greek plays in a way. Because, remember, the Greeks, Oedipus, the mom and all of that? You know, if you just look, boil it down, I don't know what they're doing. I never watched the "Jersey Shore." It frightens me, and I thought it was a zombie thing at first. But they're really -- they're real people.

QUINN: I think it's -- yes, it frightens you because you're -- we're Irish.


QUINN: That's not our part of the Jersey Shore.

O'REILLY: No, no, that's the Italian...

QUINN: We're Belmar. That's an Italian show.

O'REILLY: I know Italians who are just appalled by that.

QUINN: Yes, I know, too.

O'REILLY: Even -- even...

QUINN: Probably too close to them.

O'REILLY: Here's how bad the "Jersey Shore" thing is. Even organized crime is appalled by it. Even the Mafia is going, "Hey, you're giving us a bad name." Tony Soprano, trying to make me look bad.

QUINN: People are making that into, like, the focal point when it just kind of symbolizes everything. They're just, you know, they're not even like the Italians when I was growing up. They just basically -- they don't even fight.


QUINN: They just get mad. They sit down. You never see them growing up. And they're sitting there like, "I feel like we're not connecting." They start having these heart to hearts with each other.

O'REILLY: Right.

QUINN: It's like a touchy-feely new nation.

O'REILLY: Yes. I liked "West Side Story" better when they just attacked each other.

QUINN: Yes, attacked.

O'REILLY: Now, do you -- do you watch, like, "The Factor" and cable news and...?

QUINN: Of course I do.

O'REILLY: And listen to talk radio to draw from your material?

QUINN: I do. I will prove to you I watch "The Factor." I think you've been very bullying to Steve Doocy lately. I think Steve brings out something in you...


QUINN: ...from, you know, teenage years where you just bully him.

O'REILLY: Well, I see Steve as part of the decline of America.

QUINN: Of course you think he's...

O'REILLY: Yes, but it's fun. Miller...

QUINN: His insouciant attitude.

O'REILLY: Miller, who you know very well, has done very well here on "The Factor."

QUINN: That's why I said insouciant. Insouciant because you know?

O'REILLY: Yes. Combining the humor with the, you know, actual culture. You do the same thing on the Broadway stage. Very Miller-esque. And I want everybody to go see it. "Long Story Short," directed by Jerry Seinfeld, who does absolutely nothing, but there you go. Colin, thanks for coming in. Good to see you.

QUINN: Thanks a lot, Bill.

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