By Stephen C. Webster on February 03, 2014

This year's Super Bowl was a rout, both for Denver and the rightwing spin machine.

Fox News quarterback Bill O'Reilly did his best on Sunday to crack President Barack Obama's ironclad defenses, but in a very fitting preview of the game ahead, he came out much like the ill-fated Denver Broncos: soundly thrashed and almost entirely empty handed.

Sitting down with the President ahead of Sunday's big game, O'Reilly did not seem interested in discussing the day's most pressing issues, like the war in Syria, widespread mass surveillance, raising the minimum wage or reforming American drug laws. Instead, he quizzed Obama on two favorite topics of Fox News viewers: conspiracy theories about Benghazi and the IRS.

The crux of O'Reilly's initial volley was that the President did not call the attack on America's embassy in Beghazi an "act of terror" in his initial comments on the incident.

It's a familiar line, and one that Obama famously batted down during his second debate with Mitt Romney. This time, O'Reilly's insistence upon revisiting the matter drew a laugh from Obama, and for good reason.

"I just want to say that they're -- your detractors believe that you did not tell the world it was a terror attack, because your campaign didn't want that out," O'Reilly said. "That's what they believe."

"And they believe it because folks like you are telling them that," Obama replied.

"No, I'm not telling them that," O'Reilly said.

That's when Obama just laughed at him.

Then again, maybe the President just has a better memory than O'Reilly. Maybe O'Reilly was just operating on cruise control when he appeared on Fox News last December 17 and exclaimed that Obama "totally misled the world" with his initial statement about the attack in Benghazi.

The fact is, Obama called the attack an "act of terror" on Sept. 12, Sept. 13 and Sept. 14. But the way these conservatives act, you'd think they believe the President personally ordered the attack.

However, O'Reilly was not interested in the President's response. Seeing that he'd fallen short, the Fox News quarterback called his next play.

This time, the target should have been easy. After all, who likes the IRS? Conservatives sure made a lot of hay out of the IRS last year, after documents selected for release by congressional Republicans ostensibly showed the agency singling out rightwing groups for audits.

Surely this Hail Mary pass would put Obama on the defensive. But when O'Reilly put the ball up in the air, he came up short yet again.

"You're saying no corruption?" he incredulously asked the President.

"No," Obama said.

"None? No?" O'Reilly repeated.

"There were some bone-headed decisions out of the local office," Obama replied.

"But no mass corruption?" O'Reilly shot back.

"No mass corruption," Obama answered. "Not even a smidgen of corruption, I would say."

Neither man mentioned that talk of a "scandal" at the IRS quickly dried up after we learned that progressives were targeted by the agency as well, as part of an effort to better enforce rules about the types of groups that qualify for tax-exempt status.

Rather than dwell on his obvious fumble, O'Reilly's offense swung wildly on a last-ditch question about why Obama wants to "fundamentally transform" the country. Even though he was quoting Obama, the question was vague and wingnutty enough to give the President an open field with nary a defender in sight.

"I think that what we have to do is make sure that here in America, if you work hard, you can get ahead," Obama said. "Bill, you and I benefitted from this incredible country of ours, in part, because there were good jobs out there that paid a good wage, because you had public schools that functioned well, that we could get scholarships if we didn't come from a wealthy family, in order to go to college. That, you know, if you worked hard, not only did you have a good job, but you also had decent benefits, decent health care."

"They're cutting me off," O'Reilly interrupted, clearly annoyed.

"And for a lot of folks, we don't have that," Obama continued. "We've got to make sure that we're doing everything we can to expand the middle class and work hard and people who are working hard can get into the middle class."

Touchdown.

"I think, I... You know," O'Reilly stammered. "I know you think maybe we haven't been fair. But I think your heart is in the right place."

If only we could say the same about Mr. O'Reilly's brain.

Watch the whole interview:

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A plea to United States citizens to work for peace

An Indian journalist globally renowned as an advocate for the poor, Palagummi Sainath detailed the detrimental...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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