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WHO SNATCHED O’REILLY? Arnold floundered on The Factor. But his tough-talking host didn’t care:


INVASION OF THE “NO SPIN ZONE” SNATCHERS: We couldn’t help chuckling as we watched Bill O’Reilly’s interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger Wednesday night. Arnold appeared on the fearsome O’Reilly Factor. First topic? The California state budget. Here was O’Reilly’s first question:

O’REILLY: In order to get control over the spending, which you have an $8 billion shortfall coming up next year. I don’t know why you want this job, anyway. Give me a massive headache. But anyway, in order to get control over the spending, you’ve got to cut. You’ve got to cut. You know where you’re going to cut?
In a word, the answer was “no.” Here was Arnold’s reply:
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, the most important thing is, and it’s the first thing I will do when I get into office, is to open up the books, do the auditing, look at the budget line by line and look at where the waste really is. Because right now, what no one really knows—economists have told me that our budget deficit is anywhere between $5 and $9 billion. We really don’t know. But I think the people deserve to really look, what is underneath this rock? Let the sun shine in and let the people know what is really going on. So the bottom line is, is to take the waste out of there. There’s a lot of waste in there.
“No one really knows” what’s in the budget? Tom McLintock, Arnold’s GOP rival, seems to think he has an idea. But Arnold doesn’t seem to know, as became clear under Mr. O’s questioning. For example, here was Arnold’s brilliant answer to a specific question:
O’REILLY: Mr. Schwarzenegger, if you cut the driver’s tax down, that money was earmarked for local towns, all right? Like where you are now, San Jose, for the San Jose cops. You’ve got to find money to fund those local towns, because you’re taking away the money that Davis, you know, raised by tripling the driver’s fees. How are you going to do that?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, look, the first thing you have to understand is that the local towns are really upset, because the state has taken so much money away from them and is not supporting the cities. The cities want to find ways now to raise their own taxes or find revenues. Because it’s ridiculous what they have done with the money management. We have, in this state, the worst money management in the country. It is absolutely disastrous the way it is. We have to find other ways of going about it, but not by punishing the people. That is the key thing.

Cliff’s Notes version of Arnold’s answer? “I don’t have the slightest idea.” But so it went all through the first segment, as O’Reilly asked about budget matters. And in segment two, when Bill limned immigration, the same know-nothing attitude prevailed:
O’REILLY: Now, one of the reasons you have that [security] problem to begin with is the border is a sieve from San Diego right out to Imperial County. People can come into California. Are you going to do anything about the border? If so, what?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, the first thing I would like to do is, is when I become governor, work together with other governors of neighboring states and of states that are next to Mexico to really work on those problems and immigration problems, you know, I think including New York. Because I think if you talk to the federal government, we have to close the borders, make them tighter, especially—

See how this works? After finding out what’s in the budget, Arnold would start to “work with other governors” about immigration. Bill broke in, seeking specifics. Sorry, Mr. O. They aren’t there:
O'REILLY (continuing directly): Yes, but how do you do that? I mean, it’s been going on now for 20 years, how do you do it?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Negotiate with them. I think we have to get together as governors and really go there and lobby heavily and just really let them know that we cannot continue with this policy, because, you know, people will continue coming in.

O'REILLY: Yes, I know, but do you have any ideas that you can offer the other governors or the president of the United States? All of them seem to be confused about the issue. Do you have any ideas on how you can control the borders?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I think we just have to—I think we just have to bring leadership there and really make sure that the—explain the case, that how bad it is for the state and how bad it is for the country to do that…We have to work on those kind of issues together, the border states.

So in fact, Arnold does have a specific idea. His idea is “we just have to bring leadership.” He restated this idea near the end of this segment. “It needs leadership. It needs leadership,” Arnold said.

Readers may recall a similar episode. When John Edwards went on Meet the Press last year and over-played the “leadership” card, Washington’s pundits hammered him hard, saying his vagueness showed that the solon may not be prime time-appropriate. And since Arnold was in the “No Spin Zone,” you can just imagine the whuppin’ he got! It was clear that Mr. S didn’t have a clue about California’s budget or borders. For example, here was the candidate’s thoughtful reply about whether he would raise taxes:

SCHWARZENEGGER: I won’t raise taxes, because like I said, like I said, I do not want to punish the people for the politicians’ mistakes…I think it should go the other way. It’s like the same thing when someone—when I’m overweight, what do I do immediately? I stop eating food. I’m not going to go and supply myself with more food. The only way you reduce weight is by stop feeding the food.
In theory, you can also exercise more, but why spoil such a thoughtful discussion?

In short, Arnold’s performance was simply a joke. And uh-oh! As noted, he was sitting right there in the “No Spin Zone,” the toughest hot-seat in television! Surely Bill just let the man have it. Sorry. The tough-talker was meek and quite mild:

O’REILLY: All right. Well, you made it through the No Spin Zone there, and I hope you enjoyed it.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, thank you very much, and thank you. It was great to talk to you. Thank you.

O’REILLY: It’s a pleasure. And any time you want to come back, you’re welcome, Mr. Schwarzenegger.

In the next segment, Bill assessed the session with Dick Morris. “Was he smart to do this? Mr. O’R asked. “He knew—coming in here—you got to be, you know, prepared.” Low, mordant chuckles could then be heard all over our sprawling campus.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: As we noted yesterday, Gloria Borger just won’t stop writing that Al Gore said he invented the Internet. We sometimes forget that our newer readers may not have read all the work on this subject. To review the workings of a press propaganda campaign, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/3/02.