Stephen M. Silverman
January 05, 2006 08:00 AM

A clash of the titans took place Tuesday night on Late Show with David Letterman, when the usually apolitical host let conservative FOX News pundit Bill O’Reilly have it with both barrels on such topics as Iraq.

Not surprisingly, O’Reilly fired back – on Wednesday, on other shows.

On Letterman’s CBS show, the host visibly bristled when O’Reilly began citing a laundry list of examples of how Christmas has been diminished (“Merry Christmas” having been displaced as a national greeting by “Happy Holidays,” an ongoing topic for O’Reilly.)

But when O’Reilly turned to the subject of the war in Iraq, saying, “We … should be very careful with what we say,” Letterman let loose with: “Well, and you should be very careful with what you say also.”

Letterman went on to criticize O’Reilly for his attacks on war protester Cindy Sheehan, pointing out that O’Reilly – unlike Sheehan – has not lost a child in the war, and then told O’Reilly: “I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap.”

Letterman also let O’Reilly know that he does not watch The O’Reilly Factor, so he wasn’t prepared to go on and dispute O’Reilly’s many claims.

On Wednesday, Letterman and his reps had no comment on the previous evening’s verbal joust.

O’Reilly, however, went on the offensive on The O’Reilly Factor and his noon radio show. On the TV program he declared that “the culture war plays out on the David Letterman program!” then added that “right now there are two main issues dominating the culture war in America: the role of God in the public arena and the war on terror.”

On the radio, O’Reilly called Letterman a card-carrying member of the “secular progressive movement.” Of his own appearance on Late Show, O’Reilly said of its host: “See, I’m not some dopey movie star that comes in there who is intimidated by him. … And most of his guests want his approval, and he knows that. So he has a very strong advantage point.”

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