Ed Asner on Playing Warren Buffett in New Film, President Obama

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 18, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: This coming Monday night, HBO will debut a film called "Too Big to Fail" about the financial disaster that led to the terrible recession we are fighting. Playing Warren Buffett in the movie, 81-year-old Ed Asner, world famous as Lou Grant on TV. Mr. Asner is a socialist and has strong political opinions. I spoke with him yesterday.


O'REILLY: So you play Warren Buffett in this movie.

ED ASNER, ACTOR: I am Warren Buffett.

O'REILLY: You are Buffett.

ASNER: I think he's fantastic.

O'REILLY: You like him even though he's a capitalist and makes beaucoup money?

ASNER: All capitalists should be like Warren Buffett, and he says he should be taxed more.

O'REILLY: He says he should be taxed more. But old Warren could give that money to the government straight out. You know, just write the check.

ASNER: Why don't we tax him more?

O'REILLY: Well, because we want to stimulate the economy. We're hoping old Warren spends more money. But let me get on to this movie "Too Big to Fail." Why did the banks cause the economy to almost collapse? What was the main ingredient?

ASNER: We have seen nothing but removing regulations. And removing regulations from these guys with greed, riding the pony, it created the bubble, and the bubble finally burst.

O'REILLY: OK. The government regulation, I think it has to be watched fairly closely because remember, our pal, Barney Frank -- don't get much more liberal than him. He was watching Freddie and Fannie, and they collapsed right under his nose. He didn't know anything about it. So that doesn't give me confidence the government can regulate any financial institution. You saw Barney and I yelling at each other, right?

ASNER: No, I haven't seen that.

O'REILLY: No, you haven't seen it? I'll send that to your house.

ASNER: Would you? I need some racy film. I haven't had...

O'REILLY: Cable news is about as racy as you're going to get. Now, you're an old-time socialist, a long-time...

ASNER: Not a long time. I think I'm a present time.

O'REILLY: Do you believe that President Obama is a socialist? Does he...

ASNER: No. God, no.

O'REILLY: Are you happy with him?

ASNER: Not that much.

O'REILLY: What do you think he's doing wrong?

ASNER: I don't think -- I tend to read Paul Krugman a lot.

O'REILLY: Uh-oh. That's a problem right there.

ASNER: I knew you would -- I knew you'd be pleased.

O'REILLY: He would be.

ASNER: But according to the dictates of Paul, he should have done so much more in terms of the -- of the bank loans and in terms of the revitalization, the money. It should have been a bigger kick start.

O'REILLY: He wasn't aggressive enough in managing the economy.

ASNER: That's right.

O'REILLY: Do you think he's a phony?

ASNER: I -- I don't know yet.

O'REILLY: How did you react when bin Laden went down?

ASNER: I think that too many people regard it as a panacea. He wasn't even wanted by the FBI for 9/11.

O'REILLY: A bunch of other crimes, but they were among them, the 9/11 atrocities.

ASNER: The point is, well, everybody thinks that 9/11 is now erased. We've gotten bin Laden.

O'REILLY: I don't think everybody feels that.

ASNER: Well, I do.

O'REILLY: Do you? I think there's a lot of danger out there.

ASNER: I think a lot of people do.

O'REILLY: You know, that's funny because liberal guys like you -- and, you know, Barack Obama has been aggressive. You know, the drones going in there, blowing these guys to hell.

ASNER: That's too aggressive for my money.

O'REILLY: So even though you get a chieftain, a bad guy who's doing a lot of damage…

ASNER: I don't want us there. Barack Obama came into office. That's the one mark on him that I had from the get-go was that we're going to finish it in Afghanistan. I don't think we need Afghanistan. I'd like us to get out of there. Nobody has ever won in Afghanistan. We can dance and crow at the Russians getting their ass whipped there, but we're getting the same thing in our own way.

O'REILLY: All right. So you want out of there, and you think we're making a mistake.

Now, one of the things I like about you is that you're not a mean guy. You and I are probably as politically apart as ever, but we can have a few laughs. And you know, you are Lou Grant to me. I mean, I'm like working for you in the newsroom.

ASNER: You're fired.

O'REILLY: Thank you.

ASNER: Do I look like Donald Trump?

O'REILLY: When you were doing the "Moore" show, did you discuss politics with the crew? Was there a lot of back and forth? You know, Mary Tyler Moore is a big "Factor" fan. She watches every night.

ASNER: Mary has become much more conservative of late. I was the most outspoken liberal.

O'REILLY: Do you know Rush Limbaugh calls me Ted Baxter. I consider that a great compliment. He was a brilliant actor, Ted Knight.

ASNER: Ted is the funniest man I ever knew.

O'REILLY: We appreciate you coming in here, Mr. Asner. You're an honest guy, a patriot. Thank you.

ASNER: I enjoy you.


O'REILLY: Our prayers go out to Mary Tyler Moore, who had a very serious operation, and we hope she is recovering nicely.

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