It will come as a surprise to most people that the country is mortally divided. The division is between the conservatives and the liberals.

Depending on where you stand, you are a "good American" or a "bad American."

The Conservative Cardinal of the Right-Wing Church is Bill O'Reilly of Fox News.

You are a good American if you think the war in Iraq was a good idea and believe weapons of mass destruction are still in the country, and Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda were in cahoots during the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.

You have O'Reilly's blessing if you swear John Kerry and John Edwards make up the most liberal presidential ticket in U.S. history.

Anything damaging and scurrilous you want to say about Teddy Kennedy or Hillary Clinton makes you a good American.

You can get excommunicated from the conservative movement if you go to Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," or are even thinking about going to it -- or if someone in your family wants to see it.

O'Reilly says America is safer and better off now than before we invaded Iraq.

A good American is one who belongs to the National Rifle Association, is against abortion and the American Civil Liberties Union, and hates France.

O'Reilly believes President Bush always tells the truth and the media never do, except for Fox News.

Who is a bad American? Anyone who reads the New Republic, drinks white wine and believes polls that show Bush is behind among women who are pro-choice.

Having said that, let's see whom the liberals consider to be "good" Americans. They are people who have no problem with gay marriage, want an educational program they can afford, and include anyone looking for a job.

A liberal is someone who keeps saying the country is in much worse shape than when Bill Clinton was president.

He believes Bush got us into the worst war of any presidency and still doesn't know how to get our soldiers out.

A good American is one who believes Halliburton is gouging the country and is certain Dick Cheney is somehow involved.

The liberal believes the USA Patriot Act is there to take away his liberties.

Liberals consider the right-wing Christians to be dangerous Americans.

If the country is divided between left and right -- conservatives and liberals -- then who is "un-American"? Anybody who does not agree with you is "un-American."

Cardinal O'Reilly calls someone he doesn't like "un-American" on his show every night.

Both liberals and conservatives say they believe in "freedom of speech" as long as they can call the other side names.

Both sides have been accused of Monday-morning quarterbacking on every issue.

They also agree that CIA intelligence is not as good as everyone thought it was. Ditto for the FBI.

They part company over campaign fundraisers. The Republicans say Whoopi Goldberg should wash out her mouth with soap and water. The Democrats say Cheney should do the same thing.

Anyone on the left is called "far left." Anyone on the right is a "far right-winger."

Name-calling is the major political sport this year -- and that is what family values are all about.

(c) 2004 Tribune Media Services