To some extent it doesn't matter who O'Reilly is up against. He's one of the originals, up there with Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity as the kings of the conservative talk circuit, and it will take a serious contender to dethrone him.
So Bob Beckel's a long-shot. But we'll give him his fair chance at the title. And he has some relatively good ammo this year, as far as embarrassing on-air incidents go.
Here's Beckel's mind-bendingly ignorant clip from the July 10 edition of The Five, which includes a rant about how the U.S. is teaching "Chinamen" "how to do computers" so they can "hack us":
"The Chinese are the single biggest threat to the national security of the U.S. They have been, they will be and they can wait, they're very patient. Do you know what we just did? As usual, we bring them over here and we teach a bunch of Chinamen -- er, Chinese people -- how to do computers and then they go back to China and hack into us."
[One of his co-hosts sighs, saying "oh man."]
Alert to Fox medical staff: Beckel would like you to immediately confirm that Communist subversives haven't contaminated his precious bodily fluids.
I have absolutely zero doubt that Papa O'Reilly believes something like this, but Beckel's fears about Commie hackers is equal parts xenophobia, racism and technological incompetence as it is sheer stupidity - and this is, of course, a contest about who's the biggest idiot, not necessarily who has the most repugnant views. Enter O'Reilly, with a super cool idea only a 12-year-old could love - replacing the U.S. forces currently fighting ISIS with an international legion of 25,000 "well-paid" mercenaries able to operate beyond jurisdiction anywhere in the world. On the Sept. 22 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Bill laid out this mind-boggling plan:
"What about a mercenary army; elite fighters who would be well paid, well trained to defeat terrorists all over the world. Here's how it would work the fighters would be recruited by America and trained in the USA by our Special Forces. U.S. Army rules of engagement would be followed, strict discipline formed by the Geneva Convention. America would be in charge of selecting who makes the cut and how they are deployed with an eye on a 25,000-person force."
Oh, okay. So G.I. Joe, except with Blackwater.
In case this plan seems a little complicated to you, fear not, for CBS This Morning summarized it for you:
All that's missing is for the O'Reilly Mercenary Army to go rogue, and we'll have the plot of the next Call of Duty. Or the A-Team, except the "crime they didn't commit" would be torching an Iraqi village.
Bill's own guest, U.S. Naval War College professor Tom Nichols, called it a "terrible," "immoral" idea, adding that "it is a morally corrosive idea to try to outsource our national security." In the Sept. 23 edition of his show, O'Reilly doubled down under withering criticism and said "It's going to happen. This anti-terror army is going to happen."
Adding to the hilarity, O'Reilly later got really pissy when Stephen Colbert mocked his plan as the kind of thing a fourth-grader would draw in a notebook, toting this "NOT ... SCIENTIFIC" poll as evidence of how good an idea he had:
Even on its own, O'Reilly's action-toy army idea is much stupider than Beckel could have possibly come up with on his own, even if you got Beckel high and told him to write a romantic comedy aimed at the 18-25 female demographic. But O'Reilly isn't just stupid. He's stupid like a fox. His dumb-ass idea was endlessly discussed throughout the blogosphere, once again making Papa O'Reilly the center of discussion and ensuring he could point to the D.C.'s dismissal of his own incredibly unrealistic idea every time something goes wrong.
O'Reilly has long since crossed the line into insecure chest-thumping and bizarre absurdism, producing a show that increasingly resembles an elaborate performance art piece. He's now in true Bizarro World territory, leaving casual morons like Beckel biting the dust and somehow continually managing to push the right-wing envelope even further.
Sorry Bob. Better luck next year.
GAME NINE WINNER: O'Reilly
Game 2: Mike Huckabee vs. Lauren Green
Game 3: Ben Carson vs. Geraldo Rivera
Game 4: Kimberly Guilfoyle vs. Lou Dobbs
Game 8: Sean Hannity vs. Howard Kurtz