Matthew Modine Explains Card Carrying Liberal to O'Reilly

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 29, 2008. 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: You may know the actor Matthew Modine from films like "Full Metal Jacket" and "Married to the Mob." In addition to acting, Mr. Modine is a liberal activist and is starting an organization called Card Carrying Liberal, which seeks to explain left-wing principles. He joins us now.

You were nice enough to give me a Card Carrying Liberal, and I'm going to show this to Hillary Clinton tomorrow.


O'REILLY: And you know, so she won't be nervous when I interview her. I want to know why you believe what you believe, OK, but let's start off with Rev. Wright. He's in the news and everybody's talking about it. When you hear a guy like that go out and say America is a bad country, and you know, bring back all kinds of vestiges of slavery and things like that, what goes through your mind?

MODINE: Well, I think of him as an older generation, an old American. And similarly with John McCain that the things that he accomplished as an American war hero, he's an older man. And like my father used to say, you know, uppity (EXPLETIVE DELETED), you know, when those kind of things that older generations would say about things. I feel that Rev. Wright is just of that older generation. He doesn't represent the America that we enjoy today. It's older...

O'REILLY: All right. So when you heard him, you didn't take him seriously?

MODINE: I don't take him seriously. I think that he's a Christian. I'm not a Christian. I'm spiritual, but I believe that the process of baptism is to recognize the sins of your past. In order to be baptized, you have to recognize the mistakes of your past.

O'REILLY: You also have to forgive them, and he doesn't seem to have done that.

MODINE: But we have to step forward as a nation and recognize those mistakes.

O'REILLY: I think that's true.


O'REILLY: And I think every sane person does recognize this country's made mistakes.


O'REILLY: But you don't rob it of moral authority.

MODINE: No, you don't.

O'REILLY: This is what happened.

MODINE: No, you don't.

O'REILLY: Now, War on Terror, a lot of conservatives and liberals differ on this. And so will McCain and whoever he runs against. Do you believe we're in a War on Terror?

MODINE: I think that we went over to Iraq because we were told that there was weapons of mass destruction. And I think that most of our Congress and Senate believed that that was the case. And we went over to look for them. It wasn't the case. And then we changed direction, and we said that we were fighting a war to liberate those people.

And that word is very special to me and very important to our nation, that our country was founded on liberal ideas. And that's why I made this card, the Card Carrying Liberal because I wanted to restore the meaning...

O'REILLY: So in the beginning, you favored the war then? You weren't opposed to it?

MODINE: I believed that what my president told me...


MODINE: ...that our country was going to war to...

O'REILLY: But let's fast forward to now. Let's say now. War on Terror now. Do you believe that we are fighting a legitimate War on Terror against Islamic fundamentalists? Do you believe that?

MODINE: I believe that there are people in the world that don't like America. I think that there are people in the world that want to kill Americans.

O'REILLY: Should we confront those people aggressively as the Bush administration is doing?

MODINE: As a police department, we try to make our society safe.

O'REILLY: So not a military confrontation, a police confrontation?

MODINE: A police confrontation.

O'REILLY: OK. Now, when you're dealing with international borders, and when you're dealing with people who are hiding in caves in Pakistan, the police confrontation severely limits how you can confront them. You realize that?


O'REILLY: Correct?


O'REILLY: And you're willing to take that risk?

MODINE: No, you have to take that risk.


MODINE: Because there are people who are willing to strap bombs to themselves. There's the ability to...

O'REILLY: No, but if you're looking at it — and this is a Phil Donahue tenet — if you're looking at combating Al Qaeda and other terrorists in a police capacity, that is law enforcement, and not take the military, all right, you're giving the enemy a very big advantage because police can't cross borders, police can't put drones up their noses. OK? Police can't do all of that.


O'REILLY: You got that?

MODINE: Yes, there has to be kind of an empirical truth. Don't tell me what you think, tell me what you know.

O'REILLY: I don't get that. I'm not understanding that. I want to fight the war, and I want to protect you and your family.


O'REILLY: That's what I want to do. I want to protect the Modine family.


O'REILLY: I don't think by a police action you can do that. I don't think Interpol can beat Al Qaeda. The U.S. military can beat them, but not Interpol. Do you see where I'm coming from on that?

MODINE: But how do you do that, Bill?

O'REILLY: How do you do it? You use every weapon you have to kill as many Islamic fundamentalists as you can and bring then them to their knees, the same way we won World War II.

MODINE: So you would say that, like how we went into Nagasaki and Hiroshima, that you...

O'REILLY: Do you believe — oh, this is interesting — do you believe that the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, as Rev. Wright does, with the atomic bomb, was a terrorist act?

MODINE: I don't think it was a terrorist act. It was an act of using new military technology that had never been used before.

O'REILLY: If you were Harry Truman, would you have ordered that?

MODINE: I'm not Harry Truman. I can't...

O'REILLY: You got to think about things like this though, as a liberal.

MODINE: Yes, as a liberal...

O'REILLY: Because Harry was kind of liberal.

MODINE: He was a liberal.



O'REILLY: And he dropped those bombs.

MODINE: Yes, he was fighting for the freedoms that we enjoy in this country.

O'REILLY: No, he was fighting to protect America. He was fighting — and he wiped out the enemy, just as we have to wipe out the Islamic fundamentalists who want to kill us.

MODINE: Well, I don't think I'd ever want to use atomic weaponry ever again in the history of this planet.

O'REILLY: Ever again? But would you have used it back then to defeat that enemy?

MODINE: I don't know. I wasn't alive at that time.

O'REILLY: All right. But see, these are fundamental questions between liberals and conservatives.

MODINE: No, it has nothing to do with being a liberal.

O'REILLY: Oh, it does though.

MODINE: Our country was founded on liberal principles.

O'REILLY: That's true.

MODINE: Our Declaration of Independence.

O'REILLY: Thomas Jefferson was a liberal and Franklin...

MODINE: When you pledge allegiance to the flag, you say "with liberty and justice for all."

O'REILLY: Listen, the liberal tradition in America is tremendous. It's just that now the liberals have lost their way in a sense of...

MODINE: No, I don't agree with you.

O'REILLY: ...common defense and taxation.


O'REILLY: Last question. Income redistribution, both you and I are...

MODINE: Bill, which of those liberal accomplishments would you be willing to give up? Would you like to go back to slavery?

O'REILLY: I'm not giving up anything.

MODINE: Social Security?

O'REILLY: I'm fighting for all the freedom I can get. But last question...

MODINE: The freedom to have a talk show on television?

O'REILLY: Absolutely, that's a great freedom to have. You and I are affluent guys. We've done well in our careers.

MODINE: I have done very well in my life.

O'REILLY: OK. Do you believe in income redistribution? Do you believe that the government should come in and take a huge chunk of your assets and give it to people less fortunate, which is what the Democratic Party and the liberal philosophy pretty much stands for now? Do you believe it?

MODINE: I believe in public education and public health. And I think that people that don't have the opportunity to have a good education, good health care deserve for me to help them, to give them a hand up.


MODINE: If you were thirsty, and I had water...

O'REILLY: I give a lot of money to charity. And I assume you do, too.

MODINE: It would be my responsibility to see you do, too.

O'REILLY: I assume you give a lot of money. I do. But I don't want the government forcing me and taking the lion's share of my earnings because I don't really trust the government.

MODINE: Well, this doesn't have anything to do with the government. This is about humanity. And if you really think about what it is to be a liberal, you understand that liberal is being a humanitarian.

O'REILLY: So is conservative though. It's just...

MODINE: Well, I wouldn't say the opposite of a liberal is a conservative.

O'REILLY: No, well, it's another way of achieving it.


O'REILLY: Mr. Modine, I think what you're doing is fascinating, all right? He's got the Card Carrying Liberal deal. I'm going to carry this in my wallet...

MODINE: Thank you, Bill.

O'REILLY: OK? Because it's going to upset a lot of liberals when I whip it out. Matthew Modine, everybody.

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