Though I do not agree with all of Bill O'Reilly's news analysis or his takes on issues, the man demonstrates unwavering courage and integrity in taking on anyone or any thing that hurts the majority of Americans who happen to be wedged somewhere between the social, political and economic extremes of the left and the right. O'Reilly is definitely a champion of "the folks." Therefore, as one of "the folks," when I observed what happened to Bill O'Reilly at BookExpo America in Los Angeles (covered by C-Span on May 31, 2003), I was compelled to come to his defense.

For those of you who didn't witness Al Franken promoting his forthcoming book of drivel, Liars, and the Liars Who Lie: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right (at O'Reilly's expense), it was a thoroughly sickening experience. The episode took place at the BookExpo America breakfast where O'Reilly, Al Franken and poor-excuse-at-humor columnist Molly Ivins were gathered to talk about their new books (Molly Ivins' Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America, O'Reilly's, Who's Looking Out For You?, and of course Franken's sequel to Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot). It would have been a little more balanced if conservative commentator, Tucker Carlson had been there to talk about his book, Politicians, Partisans and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News (September 2003), however he could not attend because of a family emergency.

To complete the cast of characters, the event of (liberal) independent book publishers and booksellers was hosted by none other than former democratic congresswoman and presidential candidate, Pat Schroeder, who is currently the President and CEO of the American Publishers Association? During her sappy hosting job, she was completely inept at moderating the war of words, but she did manage to introduce her extreme left-wing buddy, Congressman Bernie Sanders in the audience.

Anyway, Al Franken, you know, the former entertainment writer and Saturday Night Live member who played the overly nice simpleton before he turned extreme left-wing political activist and author. His other careers failed and he couldn't get noticed until he began slashing and burning under the guise of comedy. When he talked about his new book, he was his real self as he spewed his tripe at O'Reilly and made a gosh awful fool of himself in the process. But Franken's simple plan was painfully obvious. He poked and skewered O'Reilly to sell his trash.

Bill, of course, fought back and won. Molly Ivins, probably for the first time in her life, was stunned and somewhat at a loss for words. All she could do was to say, "I'm Molly Ivins" about something, repeatedly. But then she does have in extremely inflated view of herself under that veil of wit and humor, which, like Franken, cannot hide her politics of hate, discontent and personal attacks.

Alas, I couldn't take the mess on the screen without doing something about it. So I wrote a "pithy" letter to O'Reilly and, among others, he put in on Monday program followed by a comment.

The letter:

"Bill, After watching the nauseating attack on you by Al Franken at BookExpo America on C-Span (May 31, 2003), I would not give that dreg the satisfaction of saying a word about him on the Factor."
Dan Jeffs
Apple Valley, CA

O'Reilly's comment on the letter: "You know, Mr. Jeffs? You're right. I'm taking your advice. He's history."

Full text of the letter sent to O'Reilly:

After watching the nauseating attack on you by Al Franken at the BookExpo America in Los Angeles on C-Span today, I would not give that dreg the satisfaction of saying a word about him on the Factor. That's exactly what he baited you for. To sell his excuse for a book. You held your own alone in the arm pit of the left, and that was good enough. Looking forward to reading your new book, Who's Looking Out for You?

Note: Books not worth reading by Al Franken and Molly Ivins:

Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot: And Other Observations
Al Franken
February 1999

Why Not Me?:
The inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency
Al Franken
February 2000

Oh, the Things I Know!
Al Franken
April 2002

Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them:
A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right
Al Franken
October 2003

Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America
Molly Ivins
September 2003

DDC note: Here's an example of Molly Ivins getting it wrong the first time.

Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush
Molly Ivins, Lou Dubose
September 2000

>From the Publisher
When it comes to reporting on politics, nobody does it smarter or funnier than bestselling author Molly Ivins. In Shrub, Ivins focuses her Texas-size smarts on the biggest politician in her home state: George Walker Bush, or "Shrub," as Ivins has nicknamed Bush the Younger.

A candidate of vague speeches and an ambiguous platform, Bush leads the pack of GOP 2000 presidential hopefuls; "Dubya" could very well be our next president. What voters need now is an original, smart, and accessible analysis of Bush-one that leaves the "youthful indiscretions" to the tabloids and gets to the heart of his policies and motivations. Ivins is the perfect woman for the job.

With her trademark wit and down-home wisdom, Molly Ivins shares three pieces of advice on judging a politician: "The first is to look at the record. The second is to look at the record. And third, look at the record." In this book, Ivins takes a good, hard look at the record of the man who could be the leader of the free world. Beginning with his post-college military career, Ivins tracks Dubya's winding, sometimes unlikely path from a failed congressional bid to a two-term governorship. Bush has made plenty of friends and supporters along the way, including Texas oil barons, evangelist Billy Graham, and co-investors in the Texas Rangers baseball team. "You would have to work at it to dislike the man," she writes. But for all of Bush's likeability, Ivins points to a disconcerting lack of political passion from this ascending presidential candidate. In her words, "If you think his daddy had trouble with 'the vision thing,' wait till you meet this one."

Witty, trenchant, and on target, Ivins gives a singularly perceptive and entertaining analysis of George W. Bush. To head to the voting booth without it would be downright un-American.

>From Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush:

" The past is prologue in politics. If a politician is left, right, weak, strong, given to the waffle or the flip-flop, or, as sometimes happens, an able soul who performs well under pressure, all that will be in the record."

*Bush's welfare record: "Texas pols like to 'git tuff' on crime, welfare, commies, and other bad stuff. Bush proposed to git tuff on welfare recipients by ending the allowance for each additional child-which in Texas is $38 a month."

* Bush and the Christian right: "Bush has learned to dance with the Christian right. It has been interesting and amusing to watch the process. Interesting because it's sometimes hard to tell who's leading and who's following; amusing because when a scion of Old Yankee money gets together with a televangelist with too much Elvis, the result is swell entertainment."

* Bush's environmental record: Since Governor Bush's election, Texas air quality has been rated the worst in the nation, leading all fifty states in overall toxic releases, recognized carcinogens in the air, cancer risk, and ten other categories of pollutants.

* Bush's military career: "Bush was promoted as the Texas Air National Guard's anti-drug poster boy, one of life's little ironies given the difficulty he has had answering cocaine questions all these years later. 'George Walker Bush is one member of the younger generation who doesn't get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed,' reads a Guard press release of 1970. 'Oh, he gets high, all right, but not from narcotics.'"

About the Author:
Molly Ivins' column is syndicated to more than two hundred newspapers from Anchorage to Miami, including her home paper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. A three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, she is the former co-editor of The Texas Observer and the former Rocky Mountain bureau chief for The New York Times. She has a B.A. from Smith College and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. Her first book, Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?, spent more than twelve months on the New York Times bestseller list.

DDC note: Molly Ivins hasn't gotten her high yet and she hasn't captured her personal prize, so she wrote the vindictive sequel to her first mean mistake. Not funny.