Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on Thursday knocked down questions by George Stephanopoulos as to whether Sarah Palin is ready to run for President. After allowing that the former Alaska governor needs some "seasoning," O'Reilly mocked, "...Give me a break. Nancy Pelosi's a genius? She's the Speaker of the House. She's afraid to come on my program, Stephanopoulos." [Audio available here.]
Just getting warmed up, the O'Reilly Factor host scoffed, "If she were sitting where you are sitting, she'd be shaking. She can't answer the questions." A skeptical Stephanopoulos chided, "I don't know about that."
Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic aide turned journalist, tried to play up divisions within the Republican Pary. He first told O'Reilly that the FNC anchor has been sounding "more and more like Ross Perot." Stephanopoulos derided, But, look at what happened to Scott Brown. The guy gets elected in Massachusetts. Votes with the Democrats. Look what they're saying on his Facebook page."
The ABC journalist proceeded to highlight Facebook postings as some sort of proof that conservatives have now turned on Scott Brown: "They're just tearing him apart there. 'You, sir, are a sellout.' 'Way to double-cross millions.' 'You don't deserve that Senate seat.'"
A transcript of the February 25 segment, which aired at 7:09am EST, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Joining us now, the host of The O'Reilly Factor on Fox, also the author of the New York Times bestseller Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity, Bill O'Reilly. Good to see you, Bill.
BILL O'REILLY: Hey, George, how you doing?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm okay. So, you heard Robert Gibbs there. He said, let's put aside the polling. Put aside this talk of Kabuki theater and get something done.
BILL O'REILLY: The Kabuki theater, huh? Look, let's put aside Robert Gibbs for a minute and put the heart of the matter for the folks, because your head's going to blow up if you don't do that. Each side has one very compelling argument. The Democratic side has a compelling argument that the private health insurance companies are gouging.
O'REILLY: They're gouging, all right? Because they're making millions in dollars and giving billions in bonuses- or hundreds of millions or whatever. And they raise the premium so the working class can't afford it. Very powerful argument. The Republicans have a very powerful argument in the sense that the country can't afford the entitlement that President Obama wants to put forth. He says it's a trillion. That's bull. It's at least 2 trillion to $6 trillion. That's how much it's going to cost. We can't afford it. We're bankrupt now, on the verge of bankruptcy, all right? So, those are the two arguments. Both arguments are very compelling for the people. We need health care relief. It's absolutely needed. But do you want to bankrupt the country to get it?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's what gets to all the polling shows. And Gibbs talked about it, as well. The country wants something done because they hate these insurance companies. They don't like the President's plan right now.
O'REILLY: Because it could literally put us where California is, where the United States would be issuing IOUs to people it owes on their savings bonds. It's insane. So, what has to happen is both of these people have to knock it off- and I mean, the President and the Republican Party. And they have to get in a room and they have to say, look. Here's the reform we need. And here's how ear going to pay for it. And we can't do it all at once, so we're going to do it over a 20 year period. And we're going to present it to the folks in a united front and drop the politics. But, that's not going to happen.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't think there's a deal to be had here then?
O'REILLY: I don't think what?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't think there's a a deal to be had here? You think that there's a concept-
O'REILLY: I'll tell you why there's no deal. The ideologues on both sides smell blood, all right? Obama's got to watch his left-wing flank. They're still screaming about a public option. Nancy Pelosi is jumping up and down about a public option. Hey, Nancy, not happening, okay? Not going to happen. And then on the other side, all right, the hard core right says, "We got him on the ropes. He's gonna go down, President Obama. Why help him?" November is just around the corner.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I've been listening to you for the last several weeks. And you sound more and more like Ross Perot.
O'REILLY: Ross Perot? I don't have a chart. I don't have a billion dollar. Let him fund health care. Let Ross Perot do it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're reaching out for this angry middle in the country that is alienated from both sides. But, look at what happened to Scott Brown. The guy gets elected in Massachusetts. Votes with the Democrats. Look what they're saying on his Facebook page. They're just tearing him apart there. "You, sir, are a sellout." "Way to double-cross millions." "You don't deserve that Senate seat."
O'REILLY: But, this is the hard right. This is the- look. The media presents a distorted picture to Americans, because they seize upon the loons on both sides, on the left and the right. And they use what the loons say. Most Americans don't have anything against Scott Brown. They don't even know who he is yet, all right? So, he votes for the jobs bill. There's nothing wrong with the jobs bill. All right? It's too expensive. But, everything's too expensive. But, it's not a catastrophe. This health care bill could be. It could be a catastrophe. The unintended consequences of jacking up Medicaid, jacking up Medicare, scaring doctors, cutting their fees. These things are really, really intense.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You think there's an opening for someone to come up the middle in 2012? I was talking to Evan Bayh last week. He says there's an opening for-
O'REILLY: Maybe. It depends how articulate they are and how they handle all the slime factor. You get into this game now, they will tear you to pieces on both sides. You just saw what they're doing to Brown. So, do you have the stomach for it? Do you want to put your family through that? You want to do that? That's what scares them away. The press is so vicious, with a capital V.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you wouldn't think about it?
O'REILLY: I have more power in what I'm doing, okay, than getting involved in the political process. Plus, you have to kiss butt to get money. You need $150 Million to run for president. You know, unless the Chinese are going to back me. And I don't know if that's a good thing. What am I supposed to do? Go to Lenny's house and ask him for a few grand? I'm going to do that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to ask you about Sarah Palin.
O'REILLY: Sarah Palin.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Jeb Bush came out the other day and talked about Sarah Palin.
JEB BUSH: My personal belief is that, for Governor Palin to be a successful candidate for higher office, she needs to take this charisma she has and add to it some depth of understanding of the complexity of life that we're living in today.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He added, "I don't know what her deal is." Is he right? Because, I've been watching her on your show. And it seems like she can't quite decide. Is he is a candidate? An analyst?
O'REILLY: Well, she wants to run. But, it's a matter of, as I said, does she want to put her family through that hell? Does she want to raise the money?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is she ready?
O'REILLY But, Bush is right, the Governor's right in the sense that Sarah Palin needs to go to college, political college, world affairs college. And she is. She's hired a bunch of advisers. And they're giving her a whole bunch of tracts to learn. Because, it is a sophisticated deal. But, give me a break. Nancy Pelosi's a genius? She's the Speaker of the House. She's afraid to come on my program, Stephanopoulos. If she were sitting where you are sitting, she'd be shaking. She can't answer the questions.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know about that.
O'REILLY: She can't answer the questions. All right? So, yeah, Sarah Palin needs a little bit more seasoning. But, don't tell me Harry Reid and Boehner and Pelosi are geniuses. They're not. The country's in a mess. If they were geniuses, we'd be better off.