FOX: Mr. President, thank you for joining us tonight with this exclusive interview during what may be the most critical week of your presidency.
OBAMA: Thank you, Glenn. It's a pleasure to be here.
FOX: I'm Bret.
OBAMA: Excuse me?
FOX: I'm Bret Baier, Mr. President, not Glenn Beck.
OBAMA: (annoyed look) Are you sure?
FOX: I'm positive.
OBAMA: Well, you do work for Fox News, so I had to wonder.
FOX: Which brings up my first question. For most of the past year, Mr. President, your administration has vilified Fox News as not being a "real" news organization. So why this exclusive interview with Fox, and why now?
OBAMA: Well, Sean, here are the facts. Previously, I didn't need the votes or the support of those who watch Fox News. Now I do.
FOX: Mr. President, thank you for that stunningly straight answer.
OBAMA: Enjoy it, Chris. It's the only one you're going to get.
FOX: I understand. Now, about health reform, you originally spoke out and condemned the special deals and pay-offs in the Senate bill. Things like the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase. But over the weekend, you backed off and suggested that some, or even many, of these vote-buying ploys might stay. Can you tell us which of these remain in the current bill?
OBAMA: Well, Brit, I don't exactly know which of these bordering-on-criminal-briberies remain in the bill. But all will become clear when the the final bill is posted online.
FOX: So with the vote literally only days away, no one actually knows what's in the health reform bill?
OBAMA: (annoyed look) Everyone knows what's in the bill, Shep. We've had a completely transparent debate for the past year.
FOX: Mr. President, with all due respect, you just said that no one -- including yourself -- knows which special deals remain in the bill and which are being removed.
OBAMA: No, I didn't.
FOX: Yes, you did.
OBAMA: (annoyed look) Here's what you need to know, Bill --
FOX: It's Bret.
OBAMA: (really annoyed look) Here's what you need to know, Geraldo. The fact of the matter is, it's both.
FOX: Mr. President, again, with all due respect, people can't know everything that's in the bill while also not knowing what's in the bill.
OBAMA: Why not?
FOX: Because it doesn't make sense.
OBAMA: You see, Greg, you just provided a classic example of the failed politics of division that prompted the American people to vote me into office. I will never stop trying to change the tone in Washington, or fighting the special interests so that people can have quality health care, choice of health providers, more benefits, lower taxes, and smaller deficits.
FOX: Moving on then --
OBAMA: Got you bad on that one, didn't I?
FOX: Let's talk about the reform bill's double counting of the Medicare cuts --
OBAMA: Savings, Jane.
FOX: Mr. President, that's not even the same sex.
OBAMA: I believe you mean gender, Martha.
FOX: Getting back to my question, how can you justify the claimed deficit reductions of your health care bill when the Medicare cuts/savings are being double counted?
OBAMA: (annoyed look) I can't say I'm following you here, Megyn.
FOX: You're squeezing $500 billion out of Medicare.
OBAMA: That's right.
FOX: And you're spending that same $500 billion on a new entitlement.
OBAMA: I'm with you.
FOX: But then you're also counting that same $500 billion as savings in the Medicare Trust Fund as a way to extend the life of the Trust Fund.
OBAMA: So what's the problem?
FOX: Mr. President, if you're spending the $500 billion somewhere else, you can't also spend it on Medicare.
OBAMA: (annoyed look) Why not?
FOX: Because it's double counting.
OBAMA: You say that like it's supposed to mean something, E.D.
FOX: Mr. President, E.D. Hill doesn't even work for Fox News these days.
OBAMA: (annoyed look) Stop playing the same old Washington game, Jamie.
FOX: Mr. President --
OBAMA: (extremely annoyed look) Geez, Juliet, you're like a dog with a smoked pig ear on this thing! What kind of an interview is this?
FOX: The kind you should have gotten during the campaign and your first year as President but somehow never did. Now, about that double-counting --
OBAMA: All right, Patti Anne. The health reform bill extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund because we'll be spending less on Medicare.
FOX: But you're also reducing the amount of money available in the Medicare Trust Fund by the same amount that you're lowering Medicare spending.
OBAMA: (annoyed look) And?
FOX: That means it's a wash, Mr. President. And that it doesn't extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by a single day.
OBAMA: Hey, Ms. Smarty-Pants, I inherited this mess from George Bush.
FOX: Mr. President, again, with all due --
OBAMA: And stop defending the status quo.
FOX: Which brings me to my final question.
OBAMA: (annoyed look) Thank Alinsky!
FOX: What was that?
OBAMA: Nothing, Shannon. Let's get this over with.
FOX: Mr. President, you have repeatedly claimed, just like you did here a moment ago, that opposition to or a vote against your health reform bill, or even really just questioning the specifics of the bill, means that you support the status quo.
OBAMA: Damn straight.
FOX: But at your health care summit a few weeks ago, you admitted that the Republican opposition also disagrees with the status quo, and that they just have different ideas for how to fix it.
OBAMA: (annoyed look) No, I didn't.
FOX: Yes, Mr. President. You did.
OBAMA: Are you sure?
FOX: I can run the tape for you now, if you like.
OBAMA: Well, you do work for Fox News, so I had to wonder.
FOX: So getting back to my question --
FOX: I beg your pardon?
OBAMA: I said cross-talk.
FOX: Why are you saying cross-talk?
OBAMA: So that when the transcript of this interview goes up on the Web, it will say cross-talk, and everyone reading will think that I was giving this really awesome answer, but you just spoke over me to keep the American people in the dark, and you'll look like a jerk.
FOX: Let's move to the "deem-and-pass" tactic. Do you support "deeming" the Senate bill to have passed the House without an actual vote on the Senate bill?
OBAMA: (annoyed look) As President of the United States, do you think I can be bothered with such tiny details of process? All anyone should really care about is the end result, which is passage of the health reform bill, the details of which will all become clear at some future point in time.
FOX: But Mr. President, the entire foundation for the American system of government is the idea of good and proper process.
OBAMA: I'm above the process. See? This is my "above the process" look.
FOX: But Mr. President --
OBAMA: ("above the process" look) Is your camera getting this?
FOX: Mr. President, good and proper process it what sets us apart from a banana republic. As a former professor of Constitutional law, I would have thought you understood that.
OBAMA: (annoyed look) Cross-talk.