From transcript of “The O’Reilly Factor,” May 12, 2009.
All right. White House Correspondents’ Dinner. My man Miller here actually emceed an event for Bush the elder, and you were pretty tame. I mean, you didn’t go after anybody, did you?
MILLER: Oh, I was scared witless. I mean, you know, I was just a kid trying to make it, and it was Bush 41. I thought Wanda Sykes was kind of funny, for a girl. That’s a joke, Wanda. You know it. That’s all she’s doing today is explaining that. It was a joke. And the way I look at Wanda Sykes, man, I thought he was going to bring Reverend Wright in. So Wanda Sykes seems — that seems like a respite from the sturm und drang. I thought he might do Jeremiah down to do the gig. I thought Wanda was probably eager to please. I mean, you’re a black comedienne, and you’ve got a black president. I mean, can you imagine how much she needed to make him approve of her? So he went for it, and it looks like it worked. He was laughing his butt off, especially at the — you know, the…
O’REILLY: It all went south. Taken from somebody who was there in the front row, and I was. It all went south in the last 10 minutes. The first 15 minutes were fine. But then she got mean. And here’s my question to you. The remarks about Limbaugh, about Sarah Palin, Cheney to some extent — that wasn’t over the top — were mean. And then they flashed to Obama laughing at the meanness. I don’t think that does him any good there, Dennis.
MILLER: Well, listen. Cheney thrives on that stuff. It’s like Dennis Hopper with the mask in “Blue Velvet.” He just eats that stuff up. But I would say this. I don’t think she was a pro that night. You know, a comedian’s judged by somebody whether they’re a pro or a non-pro. I don’t know how funny or funny it wasn’t. But I do know it wasn’t pro, because at some point you get hired, and she didn’t fill the requisite out for what they needed. They needed it to be edgy but to not make it feel weird.
MILLER: She obviously made it feel weird. So I’m just talking as a professional comedian. I would say she didn’t come up to the mandate. And you know what? I think she could care less about the mandate. She wanted to make Barack Obama laugh. And when she went for the Limbaugh’s kidney failures, you know, she killed it, knocked it out of the park. So I’m sure she’s happy about it.
Listen, it would be, you know — it’s, you know it’s not everybody’s thing. But if Limbaugh does get renal failure, I hope it doesn’t happen under Barack Obama’s national health line — healthcare thing. Because they don’t pay attention to that. It’s always stuff like chronic fatigue syndrome or I don’t have enough diversity training. You know, but renal failure I don’t even know if that’s covered under the universal plan.
O’REILLY: Now, when you did your gig for Bush the elder, did they tell you what you could and couldn’t say? Did they go over your script? Did they scrutinize you?
MILLER: Yes, Bush did. Bush 41 grabbed me. He said, “I don’t want any f-bombs. My wife is here.”
MILLER: Yes. It was cool. I liked Bush 41. You know, I think he missed the point on a couple things. I wish he’d went up that road and croaked that tote over that. But he was just a straightforward guy: “My wife is here, I don’t want any f-bombs.” He was pretty cool about it. So at the end I remember leaning in to him, saying, “Was that OK, Mr. President?” He said, “Yes, it was. It was OK.” And I felt good. If I’d walked out of that room and felt like I let him down I would have felt really bad.
I think Wanda understood there was no way she could let Obama down. I don’t think he rides like Bush. You know, he’s a little more — give you a little more space. None of it really matters to him. When she said, “I hope his kidneys fail” — when she said, “I hope his kidneys fail,” it’s like easy to wish for the outlandish like that, because it’s probably not going to happen. She could hope that Limbaugh’s kidneys fail. I could hope that she would have been a little wittier and pithier that night. Neither one of us were close to having that happen.
O’REILLY: No, but again, it hurts Barack Obama to be seen as accepting that kind of stuff. And it does. It does. Even for people…
MILLER: Who does it hurt? Do you think he cares?
O’REILLY: I think — I think it hurt him. I do. I think the last…
MILLER: I think he could care less, Bill. He is so front-running right now. They’re so in the bag for him. He feels bulletproof. I don’t think he thinks twice.
O’REILLY: There’s such a thing as dignity, and that’s what I think the line was there.