George Bush on 'American Idol' Sends Rosie O'Donnell and Joy Behar Over the Deep End

The brief taped appearance of the President and First Lady on Tuesday's American Idol, to thank the viewers who contributed $70 million the week before to the show's “Idol Gives Back” fundraising effort on behalf of children's health charities, enraged the ladies Wednesday on the ABC daytime show The View and led them into some unusually bizarre -- even for them -- claims. Rosie O'Donnell ridiculed Bush's charity endeavor by comparing it with money spent on Iraq (“$500 billion in Iraq, but he wants to thank America for the $70 billion,” really million) and linked the appearance to how “all of the pundits who are pro-Bush are on the Fox network.” But Joy Behar made O'Donnell look well-informed, by comparison, as she insisted that President Bush “has access to all the money that we pay taxes for. He is able to do whatever he wants to do with that money.” When Elisabeth Hasselbeck pointed out that Congress must approve spending and it is controlled by the opposition party, Behar remained undeterred by reality: “He could do it though, he could do it.”

O'Donnell managed to criticize Bush for helping a charity effort during a war, as if without the war there would be no need for charity fundraising: “I was more disturbed that, you know, he's thanking the American public for giving up their money. We've asked the American public for money during every tragedy. But, you know, $500 billion in Iraq, but he wants to thank America for the $70 billion [really million] of their own pockets that they gave, but he doesn't mention the $500 billion that he spends in Iraq. I think it's very distorted.” O'Donnell let loose with a personal attack on Bush -- “I would prefer that the President spend his time at the funeral of a dead soldier than on American Idol” -- before really going off the conspiratorial deep end by seeing a practical connection between the Los Angeles-based Fox broadcast network, which has no news content beyond one hour on Sunday, and the Manhattan-centered cable Fox News Channel: “It's on the Fox, it's on the Fox network, which is all of the pundits who are pro-Bush are on the Fox network, so I thought it was interesting as well.”

The May 2 segment started comparatively normal with Joy Behar contending Bush “should be voted off” American Idol, prompting Barbara Walters to admonish her: “Do not expect to be invited to any state dinner.” To which, Behar declared “I would not go to the White House” because “I'm not going to sit there with somebody who's doing what he's doing. I won't. I would not.” Rosie O'Donnell agreed she would not accept an invitation to the White House -- as if one might arrive before 2009.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth provided a transcript of most of the second segment on the May 2 edition of The View, picking up as the panel discussed the appearance of George and Laura Bush the night before on American Idol:
Barbara Walters: "What they were doing was they were thanking people who contributed to American Idol for both African and American charities, and they were obviously reading exactly from the [speaks very slowly] tele-promp-ter."

Joy Behar: "I think he should be voted off. What do you think?"

[audience applause]

Walters to Joy Behar: "Do not expect to be invited to any state dinner."

Behar: "You know what? I would not go to the White House."

Walters: "Oh, it's the White House!"

Behar: "I would not."

Walters: "Well, that's wrong."

Behar: "I have my principles."

O'Donnell: "You wouldn't go?"

Behar: "I wouldn't."

O'Donnell: "Interesting."

Hasselbeck: "You wouldn't go even to protest?"

Behar: "Protest, yeah, outside, but I'm not going to sit there with somebody who's doing what he's doing. I won't. I would not."

Hasselbeck: "You wouldn't sit there just to try to get a moment with him and tell him what you think, one on one?"

Behar: "Oh, like he would spend a moment with me."

Hasselbeck: "Maybe he would. Maybe he would. Sheryl Crow got to Cheney." [O'Donnell corrects her, noting it was Karl Rove]

Behar: "She practically had to assault Karl Rove. She practically had to be on top of the guy."

Walters: "I think, at some point, if you're invited to the White House and it is the President, I do think that your opinions are your opinions, but I think you'd go. But, you know, you probably-"

O'Donnell: "I don't think I would go either. I hadn't thought of it until you said it, Joy, but I probably wouldn't either."

Hasselbeck to O'Donnell: "Did you like him on Idol last night? Were you disturbed that he invaded Idol, for you?"

O'Donnell: "A little bit. But I was more disturbed that, you know, he's thanking the American public for giving up their money. We've asked the American public for money during every tragedy. But, you know, $500 billion in Iraq, but he wants to thank America for the $70 billion [really million] of their own pockets that they gave, but he doesn't mention the $500 billion that he spends in Iraq. I think it's very distorted."

Hasselbeck: "I think it was a great thing that the American people did, and to just-"

O'Donnell: "I think we're asking a lot of the American people while we're wasting their money and not giving them enough to live on, you know."

[audience applause]

Hasselbeck: "These weren't forced donations to ask of people, I mean, $70 million, it's a lot of money for kids, and the fact that people gave, it's a gift."

...

O'Donnell: "But on another thing is I would prefer that the President spend his time at the funeral of a dead soldier than on American Idol."

Behar: "But that would be a photo-op he doesn't want to go to."

O'Donnell: "I know."

[audience applause, Behar says something unintelligible to Hasselbeck]

Hasselbeck: "I've said he should be there. I've said that he should be there."

Behar: "He should put his money where his mouth is, and let's see him show up at one of those funerals."

Hasselbeck: "I don't think it's bad for him to be on American Idol thanking the people for donating $70 million to this country and also to Africa."

Walters: "I don't think it's a bad thing at all. I think it's a fine thing, but I think it's just interesting that of all the different outlets and with all the different ways of spending money, and with all the time constraints that a President and a First Lady had, that this is what they choose to go on."

O'Donnell: "And consequently, it's on the Fox, it's on the Fox network, which is all of the pundits who are pro-Bush are on the Fox network, so I thought it was interesting as well."

Hasselbeck: "Let me ask you this. Would a President, then, be not so wise then to choose an outlet that didn't reach as many people? I mean, this is in terms of just getting to American people and reaching the public, that was probably the smartest way to do it."

Behar: "He has access to all the money that we pay taxes for. He is able to do whatever he wants to do with that money. Congress will be very happy-"

Walters: "Not exactly."

Behar: "Well, practically."

Hasselbeck: "It has to be approved now, especially with the changes in Congress."

Behar: “He could do it though, he could do it.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center