In arguably one of the angriest (and possibly most notable) moments of David Letterman’s television career — during a heated exchange with guest Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday’s Late Show — Letterman let rip on the Iraq War:
Letterman: Yeah, so why are we there in the first place? I agree to you, with you that we have to support the troops. They are there, they are the best and the brightest of this country. [audience applause] There’s no doubt about that. And I also agree that now we’re in it it’s going to take a long, long time. People who expect it’s going to be solved and wrapped up in a couple of years, unrealistic, it’s not going to happen. However, however, that does not eliminate the legitimate speculation and concern and questioning of “Why the Hell are we there to begin with?”
O’Reilly: If you want to question that, and then revamp an intelligence agency that’s obviously flawed, the CIA, okay. But remember, MI-6 in Britain said the same thing. Putin’s people in Russia said the same thing, and so did Mubarak’s intelligence agency in Egypt.
Letterman: Well then that makes it all right?
O’Reilly: No it doesn’t make it right.
Letterman: That intelligence agencies across the board makes it alright that we’re there?
O’Reilly: It doesn’t make it right.
The words continued to fly between the two with O’Reilly visibly unnerved by his host’s candor, flaying the rationale for the Iraq invasion. Moments later, Letterman delivered this verbal smackdown to O’Reilly:
Letterman: I’m not smart enough to debate you point to point on this, but I have the feeling, I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap. [audience laughter] But I don’t know that for a fact. [more audience applause]
Paul Shafer: 60 percent.
Letterman: 60 percent. I’m just spit-balling here.
UPDATE by Stephen Gordon: The best neocon defense of O’Reilly (so far) seems to come from the venom spewing Michelle Malkin:
Bill O’Reilly took on David Letterman last night. Advantage: O’Reilly. The Political Teen has video. Letterman recycled chickenhawk arguments, muttered “Honest to Christ!” when O’Reilly refused to back down from his criticism of Cindy Sheehan, and attacked O’Reilly’s show despite admitting he doesn’t watch it.
If this is the best she has to offer, perhaps Malkin should either retire her goose-stepping blog or admit absolute defeat on this issue.
Update by Stephen VanDyke: To be more fair and balanced in our presentation of smackdown news, I readily to admit to feeling that 60% of what Paul Shafer says to Dave Letterman is sycophantic crap. Of course, I’m just spit-balling here.