This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Mar. 16, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BOB BECKEL, GUEST HOST: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Bob Beckel, filling in for Alan Colmes and stealing Sean Hannity's lines!

Tonight, there may be a new endangered species to add to the national register -- the Easter Bunny. Several south Florida shopping malls have renamed the large, white rabbit that's handing out plastic eggs to kids with names that don't refer to the Christian holiday, like "Peter Rabbit" and "Garden Bunny".

Is this political correctness going too far? Joining us now is the communications director of American Atheists, David Silverman.

David, what's up?

DAVID SILVERMAN, AMERICAN ATHEISTS: Hey, thanks for having me back on the show.

You know, first of all, I want to say that this is about private property and this is about private enterprise. And they can name their bunnies anything they want. They can name them Peter Rabbit or they can name them the Jesus Bunny for all we care. They are private enterprises, and they can do what we wish -- or what they wish, I should say.

BOB BECKEL, GUEST HOST: But why do they wish to do that?

SILVERMAN: Because it's capitalism. They're living in a place that is growing more and more diverse. And they're recognizing the fact that Easter is only Christian. And even though it doesn't have Christian roots, they're recognizing that is more than Christian, and they want to play on the safe side. They want to sell more stuff. When it comes right down to it, these malls want to sell more stuff. They don't want to...


BECKEL: If the Easter Bunny goes away, my kids are going to absolutely floor me. I'll tell you.

SILVERMAN: The Easter Bunny is not going away. It's just having a different name.

BECKEL: Good, that's important.


SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: You know something, David? Look, where is the tolerance on the left anymore? I mean, this is the Easter Bunny. This is about Bob's kids and my kids going to the mall. Are you really going to be hurt, are you really going to be offended by a mall identifying a bunny as the Easter Bunny? Is your faith shaken that deeply?

SILVERMAN: On a scale of one to ten, we're talking about a two. But on a scale of one to ten, the actual act of calling it something more neutral is nice to see. You know, it's nicer to see.

HANNITY: Should we remove the name of Jesus Christ from the public square totally?

SILVERMAN: We're talking about the Easter Bunny.

HANNITY: Take "In God We Trust" off U.S. coins, right? "One nation under God" out of the Pledge. We go back to the Declaration of Independence and say, "Endowed by our creator," out, too?

SILVERMAN: Absolutely not. We're talking about malls that are allowed to call the Easter Bunny anything they want.

HANNITY: Why not? You're an atheist. Our founding document says "endowed by our creator." That is against your faith. Why don't you call for that taken out?

SILVERMAN: We don't.

HANNITY: Why don't you?

SILVERMAN: Because it's true.

HANNITY: That we're endowed by our creator? I finally Hannitized him.


HANNITY: We are endowed by our creator. Thank you.

BECKEL: I have got to tell you one thing. As a Christian, I do not have enough faith to be an atheist. I mean, it takes a lot of faith to be an atheist.

Seriously, don't you think this is the sort of thing -- look, I'm on the left and I am very strongly on political correctness in a lot of things, but the Easter Bunny? The Easter Bunny...

SILVERMAN: Bob, I want to make sure that you guys both understand this. This isn't something from the left that we're pushing. This is just something that's happening.

HANNITY: It's happening because of the left.

SILVERMAN: It's happening, and we're supporting it...

HANNITY: Because of the left.


HANNITY: Because of guys like you, because you're demanding it, because of the frivolous lawsuits...

SILVERMAN: How can you blame me when we're not doing anything? This is something -- no, no, no, Sean. We're not doing anything. You're going a little too far here because...

HANNITY: No, I'm not. Why is it happening then?

SILVERMAN: Because of capitalism. They're going to sell more stuff.

HANNITY: All right. It's all happening because of capitalism.


SILVERMAN: They're not doing it because of the atheists. We don't have anything to do with it.

HANNITY: Why are the Boy Scouts under attack by atheist groups, by girls that want to be in the Boy Scouts, by gay and lesbian groups that don't like their values?

SILVERMAN: You want to talk about the Boy Scouts?

HANNITY: No, what it is an assault on the very people in the society that lecture us about tolerance. You guys on the left, you are the most intolerant people on the face of the Earth to the point now that the Easter Bunny cannot be named the Easter Bunny without offending somebody in your side.

SILVERMAN: I just told you that it barely offends anybody. I told you that we're not pushing it.

HANNITY: So let it go.

SILVERMAN: I don't push it. I'm not pushing it at all.

BECKEL: Let me just say one thing about the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts, when they allow gay Boy Scouts in the Boy Scouts, then that won't be a problem for me. But they don't.

HANNITY: But they can have the gay scouts if they want if they don't like the values of the Boy Scouts.

BECKEL: Come on. These are people, too.

But let's get back to this for a second.

HANNITY: They are people. You're right.

BECKEL: They are people...

HANNITY: And the Boy Scouts don't have to change their values to accommodate everybody...


SILVERMAN: ... public funds.


BECKEL: Let's be happy to know the Boy Scouts probably do keep the Easter Bunny. OK.

SILVERMAN: Final thought.

BECKEL: Go ahead, final thought.

SILVERMAN: American Atheists is having a national convention. It's the biggest atheist party of the year.

HANNITY: Oh, stop it. You know what? Pay me money for this.

SILVERMAN: Hey, you know what? Atheists.org. This is advertising, darned straight.


BECKEL: These guys down in Florida, do you really think -- Easter, you said it. I know it to be true. It's not in the bible. This is not a religious statement here. The Easter bunny is a brand name. I mean, why not keep it? It doesn't make any sense.

HANNITY: All right. We have got to break, Mr. Atheist.

SILVERMAN: Atheists.org. Thank you, everybody.

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