Bill O'Reilly on Public Schools, Presidential Candidates and Stephen Colbert

Talk show host says Stephen Colbert's presidential run "mocks the country."

Oct. 29, 2007 — -- Never one to shy away from controversy, Bill O'Reilly is taking on a new constituency in his latest book, "Kids Are Americans Too," a primer for teens about their rights under the Constitution.

The host of the popular Fox talk show "The O'Reilly Factor" said that he was no saint when he was a teenager.

"I was a little thug," O'Reilly said Monday on "Good Morning America." "And my father, recognizing the fact that I was headed to the penitentiary, put me in a very strict private school in Long Island called Chaminade, and you know, they whipped me into shape there."

O'Reilly, who taught high school English for two years, said that kids should know when they have fewer rights than adults, when they have more rights than adults and what those rights are.

The conservative firebrand calls public schools today "brutal."

"It's a culture war in the classroom," he said. "For example, a teacher can walk in and say, 'You pray right now,' and gets fired. A teacher can walk in and say, 'Your country is evil.' Nothing will happen to the teacher."

The problem, O'Reilly said, is that no one -- not the students, the parents or school officials -- knows the rules or who makes them.

For example, teens don't have the right to wear whatever they want to school -- whether it's baggy pants or a full-body abaya that some Muslim females wear.

The principal and school board have the authority to make kids pull up their pants.

"Where did we lose control over the children?" O'Reilly said. "They're there to learn."

But O'Reilly said that a decision by a Maine school board to allow middle school students access to the birth control pill at the school nurse's office was a violation of parents' rights.

"You have to address the reality, but you have to keep the parents in the loop," O'Reilly said. "If you don't, what about parental rights to supervise your child, and what's the message it sends to 11-year-olds? Hey, you want to have sex? Come down and see the nurse, we'll make it happen."

'Colbert Doesn't Have the Cojones'

O'Reilly said there was little chance the other Democratic presidential candidates will be able to take down the front-runner, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. has been missing in action on the campaign trail, according to O'Reilly.

"And I told him this face-to-face, 'Tyra Banks ain't going to get you elected. You have to go on 'The [O'Reilly] Factor,' you gotta go on 'GMA' and answer the questions,'" O'Reilly said. "What has he been doing for six months? He's been at Club Med. I haven't seen him."

O'Reilly didn't have high praise for the Republican candidates, either.

"Forty-one percent of Americans can't name a Republican, because they're so exciting," he said. "They're like B-characters out of 'Dracula Has Risen From the Grave.'"

O'Reilly also dismissed the candidacy of Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" and frequent O'Reilly foil.

"This is a publicity stunt to mock the country," he said.

O'Reilly said that Colbert announced he was running for president to get publicity for his new book, "I Am America (And So Can You!)." But he said Colbert refused an invitation to promote the book on "The O'Reilly Factor."

"Colbert doesn't have the cojones to face me," O'Reilly said. "He knows the book is dumb, so he's not going to come in. Instead, he runs for president."