This exchange, and bolded question is the one that seems to have set him off:
Esam El-Erian: We all need a free and independent democratic state. We have struggled for a strong and independent Egypt not only for 100 years, but for 200 years, since Mohammad Ali. He was also supported by foreigners. There was no USA at that time, but the French, British, and Germans put him under siege, and this was an insult to Egyptians. We were under the authority of the Ottoman Empire, and we respected Mohammad Ali and the Ottoman authorities, but he wanted reform within the empire and to have a good modern country as a symbol. He never achieved this. In 30 years, he was broken. And ever since we’ve wanted an independent and strong modern state.
MJT: What do you think of the liberal era before Nasser came to power in 1952? When you look back on that, does it look better than the current era or worse?
Alright, seems like a good interviewer's question. You would expect that El-Erian would compare and contrast the two time periods, vis life in Egypt, right?
Wrong. Here's the response from triple E:
Esam El-Erian: The Bush Administration invaded Afghanistan, and it failed. You’re facing disaster there now and don’t know how to escape. [Laughs.] A safe escape from Afghanistan will just add another disaster added to the disaster of the occupation. And the Bush Administration tried to create a democratic model in Iraq. It also brought a disaster, not only to the Iraqi people, but to the nation of America and the values of America. And to the economy of America. [Laughs.]
This was, of course, not in the American interest, but in the interest of some people who are governing the think tanks and the media. Now that Obama is facing this disaster, the Republicans are putting this burden on his shoulders. This is a big lie. He inherited this.
It is time for you to respect others, to respect your values, and to be a real democracy. Respect multiplicity in the world. We are different. This county is different from Saudi Arabia. It is different from America and the U.K. This is the most important lesson of the Egyptian and Arab revolutions. You need to respect their choice. Don’t intervene in their domestic affairs. Treat them as equals, as human beings, not as an oil field. [Laughs.] People are not going to drink oil.
What? Bush? Afreakin'Ghanistan? Huh? How exactly did that happen? Random neuronal firings?Things quickly deteriorated from there. Another sizable excerpt:
Armin Rosen: Let me be even more blunt than Michael. There is a clear line between the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ideology that inspires Al Qaeda.
MJT: That’s absolutely true.
Armin Rosen: Is there some queasiness on your part in blaming 9/11 solely on him as opposed to the dictators that you believe the U.S. supports?
Esam El-Erian: Of course. We are victims of 9/11.
MJT: Ayman al-Zawahiri was a member of your organization.
Esam El-Erian: This region [pounds table] is a victim of 9/11. This region was put under dictatorship because we were accused as a nation of being behind 9/11.
MJT: Nobody thinks Egypt committed 9/11.
Esam El-Erian: Mohammad Atta is from Egypt.
MJT: Yes, he’s from Egypt, but he himself is not Egypt.
Esam El-Erian: We were all called criminals. The entire nation.
MJT: Nobody thinks that.
Esam El-Erian: Yes. For ten years. Why do you support those dictatorships that torture us in our prisons?
Armin Rosen: Do you see any relation between the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda? There is a history there.
Esam El-Erian: Al Qaeda has been against the Muslim Brotherhood all its life.
MJT: That’s true, but Ayman al-Zawahiri was once a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Esam El-Erian: I was surprised when a Congressman visited me last week and said it is well-known in America that the Muslim Brotherhood is linked to Al Qaeda.
MJT: I’m not saying you are Al Qaeda.
Esam El-Erian: You know, but he is a decision-maker. He says the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda are the same.
MJT: If you were Al Qaeda, I wouldn’t be sitting in your office.
Esam El-Erian: Look, sir. If you don’t dare to learn the truth about 9/11, we will. We were victims of this dirty and bloody crime.
MJT: You think you’re victims because Egypt was blamed?
Esam El-Erian: All the nation. The whole Arab and Muslim nation was called terrorists. And you put these nations under dictatorship to face this ghost.
MJT: We didn’t put Egypt under dictatorship.
Esam El-Erian: Your administration did.
MJT: Mubarak was already in power.
Esam El-Erian: And you put Hamas in the same cage as Al Qaeda. They are fighting for their liberty, but you describe them as terrorists.
MJT: What do you think of Hamas’ martyrdom operations [suicide-bombings]?
Esam El-Erian: Hamas was elected in a democratic process that your former president Jimmy Carter witnessed, but you neglect everything and call them terrorists.
MJT: So you think they aren’t terrorists.
Esam El-Erian: Of course. They are fighters for liberty. Their land is occupied by the real terrorists. Real terrorists who kill innocent farmers in Qana and children in Egypt. They killed children in school here in 1968. They are the real terrorists.
MJT: Hamas kills children in schools.
Esam El-Erian: Why do you describe one as terrorist, but not the other? Say both are terrorists. If you make an excuse for someone, you must have this excuse for others.
MJT: Not all violence is terrorism.
Esam El-Erian: Israelis kill children. They killed 300 children in Gaza. Those 300 children were fighters?
MJT: Children get killed in every war, but that doesn’t mean everyone who fights in a war is a terrorist. Egypt sent troops to Yemen to fight there and help the revolutionaries. Is Egypt a terrorist state? Do you seriously believe that no Egyptian soldier ever killed a child in Yemen?
Esam El-Erian: Look, sir.
MJT: I asked you a serious question.
Esam El-Erian: For three centuries your grandfathers killed the Indians.
MJT: We can do this all day.
Esam El-Erian: If you want to go to history, we can walk through history together. But we are speaking about the present. [Bangs table.] In the present, you are biased.
MJT: Of course we’re biased. So are you.
Esam El-Erian: Your media and administration are biased.
MJT: Everyone is biased.
Esam El-Erian: The politicians are no longer making the rules here. The people are. And the people are very intelligent in Egypt, even farmers in Upper Egypt. They know who is our enemy. Don’t link yourself and your nation to the enemy of the Egyptian people.
MJT: Who is the enemy of the Egyptians?
Esam El-Erian: Israelis.
MJT: You guys have a peace treaty with Israel.
Esam El-Erian: If they respect it, the Egyptian people will respect it, but the Israelis do not respect it.
MJT: Israel is not attacking Egypt.
Esam El-Erian: Israel attacks everybody.
MJT: Israel is not attacking Egypt.
Esam El-Erian: Why are you neglecting the attack on Gaza?
MJT: Gaza is not Egypt.
And so on. and so on, and on...
Be sure to read the whole bat-guano-crazy thing.