Sometimes, if you linger too long over certain qualities of Bill O'Reilly, you miss the full picture. For example, if you're always paying attention to O'Reilly's pointless demagoguery, rampant paranoia, blustery cowardice, and overall sex freakery, you might miss the fact that deep down, the man is also unrelentingly stupid. But on last night's edition of the Factor, viewers got a reminder of the Miseducation of Bill O'Reilly.
Discussing the recent Summit of the Americas, O'Reilly and Alan Colmes were locked in a discussion over whether Obama's handshake with Hugo Chavez meant that Obama would catch a scorching case of Chavez Cooties, and suddenly become a Latin American autocrat! Colmes made the sensible point that politesse and tact should compel a certain degree of civility.
COLMES: Well, first of all, this shows -- first of all, what do you, ignore the guy? When George W. Bush was at the UN and asked, "Will you ever -- will you talk to Ahmadinejad if you're in the same room?" "No, I won't talk to him" -- like a 5-year-old. What do you, ignore somebody standing right next to you? Do we -- because he touched him, put his hand on his shoulder, shook his hand? Do these people have a problem with Mao and Nixon? And of course, you worked for Richard Nixon. I mean, Nixon goes to China, do you have a problem with --
That's when O'Reilly started demonstrating his copious knowledge of history!
O'REILLY: It was Zhou and Nixon. Mao was not involved.
COLMES: There was --
O'REILLY: Yeah, Zhou.
COLMES: Did you have a problem with looking into Putin's eyes and seeing his soul? Did you have a problem with any of the other --
O'REILLY: All right, but -- OK, all of those are valid points, as long as you realize it was Zhou Enlai, not Mao Zedong.
COLMES: Zhou Enlai, OK.
O'REILLY: OK. Yeah, I don't want to confuse you -- the high school thing. But --
COLMES: Talk slowly and I think I'll be OK.
No, Alan Colmes! You won't be okay! Because Richard Nixon TOTALLY met with Mao. Shook his hand, smiled, the whole nine!
A critical point to note, by the way, is that unlike Chavez, Mao was an actual Communist dictator, as opposed to an elected leader!
The funny thing about handshakes is, you never know what might happen afterward. Sometimes, you end up shaking a guy's hand, and he sees it as a cue to give you a book you didn't want and you can't read that you now have to stick in your carry-on luggage.
It's annoying! But things could always end up going a lot worse:
Political History 101: O'Reilly falsely claimed Nixon never met with Mao [Media Matters]