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Before the Packers and Steelers battled it out yesterday for the Super Bowl XLV title, another head-to-head encounter was going on in Washington D.C. President Barack Obama sat down for a live pre-Super Bowl interview with Fox host Bill O’Reilly in the White House, and the conservative commentator started his interview off by thanking the President, before his drill of hard-hitting questions began.

“Mr. President, thank you very much for doing this.And I must thank you on behalf of the FOX News Channel for helping out Greg Palkot and Mr. [Olaf] Wiig who got roughed up in Cairo,” O’Reilly began referencing the Fox journalists who were bruised and beaten at the hangs of pro-Mubarak rioters in Cairo last week.  That was you, it was Robert Gibbs, and the State Department, who really saved them — and we all thank you very much.”

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Obama’s response: “Well, listen, those guys showed enormous courage, as so many journalists do around the world. And so, not only was it important for us to make sure they were safe for them and their families, but to uphold the basic principle of free speech and freedom of the press. That’s a universal value we cared about. And I know FOX cares about.”

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O’Reilly’s agenda for the rest of the interview: The motives of Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak and the dangerous situation in the country with violent protests threatening the lives of thousands, Obama’s Health Care Bill, and the trials and tribulations of his presidency.

When asked what the wost part of “this job” was, Obama quipped, “Worst part of the job is, first of all, I’ve got a jacket on on Super Bowl Sunday. If I wasn’t president, that would not be happening.”

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“I have a tie. You don’t have a tie, ” O’Reilly fired back.

“The biggest problem for me is being in the bubble. It’s very hard to escape. You know, you can’t go to the corner.”

O’Reilly also asked the Ppresident why he feels so many people “hate” him.

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“You know, the truth is, that the people — and I’m sure previous presidents would say the same thing, whether it was Bush or Clinton or Reagan or anybody. The people who dislike you don’t know you.,” Obama explained. “What they hate is whatever funhouse mirror image of you that’s out there. And they don’t know you. And so, you don’t take it personally.”

Does he let the haters get to him?

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“You know, look, I think that by the time you get here, you have to have had a pretty thick skin. If you didn’t, then you probably wouldn’t have gotten here.”

After Obama left the O’Reilly interview unscathed, he spent the afternoon and evening with his family watching the Packers defeat the Steelers.

Along with First Lady Michelle Obama, the president hosted is own little Super Bowl Party in White House’s Blue Room.

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For all the details on their Super Bowl soiree — Obama did not show bias toward either the Cheeseheads or Terrible Towel Twirlers  who attended the party — visit ESPN.

Catch the president’s interview with O’Reilly below.

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