Mary Matalin on Cheney, Harriet Miers and More...

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 13, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News (search) poll has President Bush's job approval rating at 39 percent. And only 28 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction.

Joining us now from Washington, Mary Matalin, advisor to Vice President Cheney (search).

And the vice president's numbers even lower than that.

MARY MATALIN, FMR. SENIOR ADVISER TO DICK CHENEY: Former, former. I don't want to take any credit for all the hard work all my friends are doing at the White House.

O'REILLY: All right, but you still have his ear. Come on, we all know that. Gas prices, do you think that's the big thing driving these numbers down?

MATALIN: I think these numbers that are being reported as so apocalyptic are neither apocalyptic, nor predictive, nor permanent. Presidents Reagan and Clinton had similar numbers in their second term. And I think history went on to receive them quite well.

The important thing to look at in these numbers is that whatever decrease the president is seeing is not going to the Democrats. These are not good numbers for the Democrats, who are also at an all-time low. So I will say again that these numbers are not predictive of anything and are certainly not going to be permanent.

O'REILLY: All right, but certainly they have to be worrying because you have an election in 2006 that may tilt the House away from — and the Senate away from the Republican party. And what you have in between there is home heating prices, which are going to be devastating to working Americans, increased high gasoline pump prices, an Iraq situation that could go either way, and you know, worldwide war on terror that the United States, as I said, doesn't seem to get. We don't seem to understand it.

MATALIN: Well, one at a time, Bill. The president, only this president who four years ago put together — sent to the Hill an energy, a comprehensive energy plan and has been saying that we needed to have more refineries, more diversity, more production.

O'REILLY: Doesn't matter.

MATALIN: Well, I mean, he's the only one...

O'REILLY: A sitting president's going to be blamed for what happens. And I think there's going to be a recession next year because of the oil prices.

O'REILLY: Well, this is a very robust and self-sustaining, not just recovery. We're in full-blown growth nowhere. And with the deficits actually dropping, the deficit numbers were out last week. And they're $100 billion lower than what was expected.

But look, with your own poll and all these polls are turning on Iraq (search). And we're about to see enormous and a quantum leap in progress in Iraq. We're having elections for the constitution and for the parliament. Saddam is going to go on trial. In every single poll in Iraq from 2003 on, the people have hope, they're optimistic. And they're increasingly optimistic as they look up. They have a future. They're developing a democratic culture.

Furthermore, General Patreas (search), who's heading up the training of Iraqis, is reporting 197,000 Iraqis in the fight, 150 security force combat battalions. 36 are in the lead. Our strategy is to stand up their security forces, stand up their military, stand up a self-representative government. All of those efforts are on track. And the American people are about to see real progress in Iraq, despite what they are hearing.

MATALIN: Oh, I hope so. I mean, all good Americans, whether they're Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, libertarian, all good Americans should be praying the USA wins that fight in Iraq. They are winning.

O'REILLY: Because if it doesn't - well, we may be winning, but it's not evident. And I'll tell you why. Here's my litmus test. We have FOX News correspondents as the one - our agencies do in Iraq. They can't go out and get a cup of coffee. They can't go out to dinner. They can't go anywhere, because they would be or might be assaulted. Security in Baghdad is still awful.

MATALIN: It depends where they are.

O'REILLY: They can't go out of the green zone. None of them can go out.

MATALIN: There are three provinces out of 18, Bill.

O'REILLY: Yes, but they're the big ones.

MATALIN: But the insurgency — you just led the show with Zawahiri's letter to Zarqawi. They are losing. They don't have any money. Their top leaders have been taken out.

O'REILLY: I hope that's true.

MATALIN: He's chastising Zarqawi for beheading and killing other Muslims. They're barbarians and they're butchers. And no one in Iraq — I talked to these people. And I've worked with these people who are going to run for offices. They don't call them insurgents. They call them barbarians and terrorists.

O'REILLY: All that is true. But as you know in Vietnam, I thought we were on the side of right. I thought we were doing the right thing trying to give the South Vietnamese a chance at freedom. And it's a very tough slog. And 80 percent of the American media, Mary, is against the war in Iraq. Eighty percent.

MATALIN: I know that. But you know, just because they're against it doesn't make it — doesn't mean that it's not succeeding. We're not just succeeding in Iraq. We're succeeding in putting reform and democracy and freedom all throughout that region.

O'REILLY: We have to see it, though.

MATALIN: In Lebanon, the Syrian troops taking out. Well, they also have to...

O'REILLY: They have to see it.

MATALIN: know, it's good that you do these notes and these "Talking Points" every night. They have to — sooner or later, you know, facts, reality, reality comes into play when you intercept these letters from Zawahiri, when you see the tens of thousands of terrorists and barbarians that are getting killed, when you see Iraqis standing up and fighting for their own freedom, when you see the Lebanese going to the polls, when you see the Kuwaiti women voting for the first time, when you see the Egyptians having a real election. I mean, it's just indisputable, forward progress of reform.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, we hope that everybody...

MATALIN: It's a fact. That is data.

O'REILLY: know, but everybody's not as sophisticated as you. They don't study it the way you do. And I'm just hoping that we can see demonstrably in Iraq an improvement.

MATALIN: I'm not assuming...

O'REILLY: For the good of the country, not for the good of the administration.

MATALIN: Bill, I'm a stay at home mom. I'm not a student of this. You just have to read the papers and email some troops.

O'REILLY: You get briefed pretty thoroughly, Mary. If everybody got the briefing you did, I don't think the polls would be so low.

All right, I got to ask you about Miers. Are you surprised the right has gone after her so hard?

MATALIN: No, what the right needs to do is remember that this president says what he's going to do and does what he says he's going to do. He's nominated 243 members to the bench at all levels. And every single one of them has gone through the same vetting process, with attention to text, with original intent.

That's the same vetting process that Harriet went through. And you know, you don't have to trust him. You just have to look at his record.

And no, I'm not surprised. They're giving voice to what is at the epicenter of what conservatives have done for the last 30 years, which is reverse the courts from the liberal attempt to turn them into a legislative body. I'm proud of their argument.

O'REILLY: All right, but you support Miers?

MATALIN: We're winning. I absolutely support Harriet.


MATALIN: She's super qualified.

O'REILLY: Because a lot of people on the right do not. And...

MATALIN: Well, they haven't heard from her yet.

O'REILLY: Well, that's right.

MATALIN: How about...

O'REILLY: Let's give the lady a chance, right?

MATALIN: There you go.

O'REILLY: Let's give the lady a chance.

MATALIN: There you go.

O'REILLY: Mary, thanks very much as always. We appreciate it.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day," results of our poll on Aruba (search). We asked a very simple question: should Americans boycott Aruba in light of the botched Natalee Holloway (search) case?

About 35,000 of you voted; 76 percent favor a boycott and 24 percent oppose. Now obviously, Americans are angry about this and we'll continue to investigate it.

Also going to take a look into this cruise ship industry and see if they're going to still go to Aruba in the numbers that they were in the past.

To not investigate would be ridiculous..

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