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Al the Fox Conqueror

"They can dish it out, but they can't take it"



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I was talking to our lawyers over the weekend and I said they gotta withdraw the case because it would be totally irrational to continue, and they said, "Well, the case is irrational to begin with." I said, "Yeah, but it was sort of based on an infantile rage by one of their commentators and to placate him they did it, but for some reason they didn't realize how stupid they'd look." So now that a judge has basically said -- [columnist] Joe Conason e-mailed me and said - "I have a new trademark for Fox: Fox News Channel. Wholly without merit."

What does this say about the Fox conservatives' mentality that they would bring this suit on his behalf?

Well, it says a lot. The levels of irony of the suit are manifold. Either manifold or manifest.

Both, I think.

Yeah. Well anyway, using the word "press" for Washington is very much their style. It's distortion, it's shoddy, and it's lame. So I talk about Fox, I talk about Ann Coulter, I talk about the Wall St. Journal editorial page, I talk about the Washington Times, I talk about Bernie Goldberg, and Rush -- all those people employ that sort of m.o., they all do the same thing. Also just that Fox trademarked "fair and balanced" -- that's pretty ironic in and of itself, although the judge ruled that their trademark probably wasn't valid. And then there's the bullying thing, which -- O'Reilly went on his radio show and said that the purpose of the lawsuit was to punish me for coming after Fox.

So this is the mindset of the right, that they have to punish you. Joe Wilson, the former Gabon ambassador, was sent to Niger by the CIA and came back and said the uranium claims weren't true. And when the controversy started broiling again about the 16 words in the State of the Union address and Wilson wrote the piece in The New York Times, senior administration officials blew the cover on his wife, who was a covert [CIA] operative. And it jeopardized the lives not only of her contacts but every American, because she was a covert agent in weapons of mass destruction. And it's a way of intimidating other analysts who might come forward, and there's a parallel here: You will be punished if you come after us.

I really think the Wilson thing is the most disgraceful action of any White House since Iran Contra.

More than Clinton and Monica?

There's a difference between getting a blow job and lying about it, and blowing a national security asset.

Then why do you think there's this current defeatist meme among liberals that none of the current Democratic presidential candidates are capable of beating Bush? Do you agree with them?

No, because I think people are catching on -- if you look at the latest Newsweek poll the president has 44 percent reelect, the lowest since before 9/11, and you usually need 50 percent, or at least a plurality, to win. Now, Bush didn't get that in the last election, so he may be able to steal it again, who knows. In politics, a month is forever, so obviously these things will change, but in the last three months Bush's position has been eroding significantly.

Which Democratic candidates do you favor?

Well, I think Kerry, Dean, Gephardt, Edwards, Graham are all serious candidates. All of those guys could make great presidents, and each has his strengths. Dean is obviously mobilizing people, even people who haven't voted before. I think he's willing to take it to Bush. I think Kerry has incredible depth and breadth of experience and knowledge, and is sort of inoculated on national security issues by virtue of not just his experience in Vietnam but his knowledge of that stuff through his work in the Senate. The same with Graham, in terms of his depth of knowledge, as former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and as a governor. I mean people like governors, and he's from Florida.

What do you think about Gore having dropped out of the race?

I thought it made sense, in a way, because I think what he said - "If I run it's going to be a rehash of the 2000 campaign and we've got to look to the future." So I think he took himself out more for his own good, but also for the good of the country. Although he would have made a great president, and I really think he won the election.

What is it about you in particular that gets under the skin of conservatives like O'Reilly and Limbaugh, more than other satirists?

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