updated 12/6/2005 9:22:51 AM ET 2005-12-06T14:22:51

Guests: Jim Saxton, Thomas Jackson, Bruce Weinstein, Bill Quinn

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  Now, you have been waiting for it all day.  The waiting is over.  It‘s time for THE SITUATION with Tucker Carlson. 

Tucker, what is the situation tonight?

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Joe Scarborough, I have an answer for you. 

Thank you. 

And thanks to you at home for tuning in.  We always appreciate it. 

Tonight, encouraging students to turn in their Bibles for pornography.  The so-called Smut for Smut campaign, started by a group called Atheist Agenda, has outraged religious leaders in Texas of all faiths.  We‘ll speak live to that group‘s president.

Also when, if ever, is it appropriate to regift an old present?  How much should you tip people who have helped you throughout the year?  We‘ll answer these all-important holiday questions with an expert in that field.

Plus, a major nor‘easter seems to be weakening.  For more of the developing weather situation across the Eastern seaboard, let‘s go down to Bill Karins, who‘s standing by live at NBC Weather Plus—Bill. 

(WEATHER REPORT)

CARLSON:  Thanks, Bill.  Oh, the commute. 

Well, some very alarming news today from the former 9/11 Commission, a panel originally charged with investigating the governmental missteps that preceded the attacks in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Now privately funded after disbanding a year ago, the commission harshly criticized the government‘s current efforts to shore up national security. 

Former commission chairman Tom Kean expressed frustration at the lack of urgency in addressing what he described as massive security problems.  We will have no excuse, he said, when terrorists strike again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM KEAN, CHAIRMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION:  There is no question that we‘re not as safe as we need to be.  We see some positive changes.  But there is so much that needs to be done.  Look at this report card.  There are far too many C‘s, D‘s, and F‘s in this report card. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  ... such poor marks, however, Congressman Jim Saxton, Republican of New Jersey, says members of the 9/11 Commission are guilty of partisanship and fear mongering.  Congressman Saxton joins us tonight from Philadelphia. 

Congressman, thanks a lot for coming on. 

REP. JIM SAXTON ®, NEW JERSEY:  That‘s a pleasure, thank you. 

CARLSON:  Now what grade, this commission, which is, I guess, no longer really a commission—we‘ll talk about that in a second, but refused to give the president himself a grade.  What‘s the overall grade you would give the executive branch and the Congress for protecting the country from terror?

SAXTON:  Carlson, I don‘t think it‘s productive to engage in that kind of gamesmanship.  And it‘s one of the reasons that I said what I said today, that the 9/11 Commission is not being productive.  In fact, they‘re being counter-productive, and fool-minded, I think, in engaging in the kind of press conference that they did yesterday. 

It‘s—it‘s important to look back at the history of where we‘ve been on terrorism and counter-terrorism and anti-terrorism, and understand that this is an emerging threat.  As a matter of fact, the Senate of the United States established a subcommittee on emerging threats, looking at terrorism in the late 1980‘s, and the House of Representatives set up a panel on terrorism in 1989, I‘m sorry, in 1999.  And so this is—this is an emerging threat that we have to work through together. 

CARLSON:  OK. 

SAXTON:  It‘s a difficult set of issues for us to deal with, and the actions, in my opinion, of the 9/11 Commission in the last few days have not been helpful. 

CARLSON:  Well, the first part of what you said, I think everyone agrees with.  It is an emerging threat.  We‘re not exactly sure what we need to do, but we have some sense.  What philosophically is the problem with grading the performance so far, trying to determine in as objective way as possible how we are doing?  What‘s wrong with that?

SAXTON:  Because when you issue a report card and say that the effort so far deserves C‘s, D‘s, and F‘s, it is simply not an accurate reflection of what‘s gone on. 

CARLSON:  OK.  So what‘s inaccurate about what they said yesterday? 

What‘s inaccurate about their description?

SAXTON:  What—what‘s inaccurate is the total effort by the federal government has recognized the threat posed by terrorism, has gone overseas and conducted a war on terrorism, which has been disruptive to the terrorists, that has dispersed them, killed some, captured others.

And we‘ve been successful in Afghanistan in particular, and to a large degree in Iraq, in carrying out the objective of dismantling terrorist organizations, al Qaeda and others. 

Moving beyond that, here at home, of course, during the last several years, we have—we have put together a series of initiatives through the cooperative effort of the Congress and the administration, to set up a director of national intelligence...

CARLSON:  Right.

SAXTON:  ... to establish a national counter-terrorism center, to establish a domestic nuclear detection center, to establish the terrorist screening center, and to begin to transform the FBI into a force that doesn‘t just deal with criminal and crime, acts of crime, but also in terrorist prevention. 

CARLSON:  But how about this?

SAXTON:  There‘s been a great deal done. 

CARLSON:  Here‘s—and look, I think the bottom line is we haven‘t had a major terrorist attack since 9/11, and that‘s the most important measure, and it‘s a positive one, obviously, so someone deserves a lot of credit for that. 

SAXTON:  Absolutely. 

CARLSON:  But here‘s a very specific criticism leveled by this commissioner, former commissioner, it‘s actually been disbanded.  But that money for first responders is not allocated very well by the Congress, by the body in which you sit.

SAXTON:  Right.

CARLSON:  And that, in fact, Montana and Wyoming receive more money per capita to fight terrorism than New York and California.  That‘s true, and it seems wrong to me and to most people. 

SAXTON:  And I agree with most people that you point out, Tucker, on that point.  There are two points I think the commission made which are very good and still need to be addressed. 

One is the formula—the formula for dispersing the funds that are very, very necessary in carrying out a secure—in creating and carrying forward a secure situation, at home.

And the second is that the communication system that is inadequate, particularly in terms of talking—first responders talking to each other here in the states is also inadequate.  And I agree that those are very valid criticisms. 

CARLSON:  Well, is Congress...

SAXTON:  However...

CARLSON:  Let me say this.  I‘ve always wanted to ask this question.  You represent New Jersey, which is obviously one of the states at highest risk for terror. 

SAXTON:  Right. 

CARLSON:  There are a lot of places in the state that terrorists would like to hit.  Is there any pressure within the Congress, when you rub elbows with members from Montana or the member from Wyoming, is there ever a conversation along the lines of, “Hey, don‘t push for so much pork because it comes from states like mine that really need that money”?  Is there pressure within the Congress on those members who are pushing for pork?

SAXTON:  No, I don‘t think so, and I think the Congress is going to, in the foreseeable future, in the not too distant future change the funding formula.  I don‘t think anybody can disagree that it was set up wrong to begin with. 

But you‘ve got to read—you‘ve got to look at it in the context in which we were dealing.  We were dealing with the war on terror.  We were putting together supplemental packages not only for New York and New Jersey but for the whole country to secure itself.  And we didn‘t do it quite right, and we need to—we need to make some changes.  The commission is well-founded on that point.

But again, I will go back and say to disparage the total effort, as the commission has done, is not productive, and it doesn‘t move us forward.  We should be moving forward together, decisively, productively, and with great energy, and these kinds of press conferences don‘t help that effort. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Congressman Jim Saxton of New Jersey.  Thanks a lot for coming on.  We appreciate it. 

SAXTON:  It‘s a pleasure.  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Thanks.

Still to come, Democratic leader Howard Dean once again makes news with comments about the war in Iraq.  Stay tuned for views so puzzling you got to hear them to believe them for real. 

Plus, a group called Atheist Agenda has been handing out porn in exchange for Bibles on a college campus in Texas.  The group‘s president explains when THE SITUATION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Coming up, we‘ll speak to the president of Atheist Agenda, a group that gave free porn magazines to people who traded in their Bibles. 

Plus, when is it OK to be a regifter?  Someone who gives a present to someone you love this holiday season, from someone who gave it to you.  Don‘t want to be stuck in an uncomfortable situation, so stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Howard Dean has been known to say some pretty outrageous things in the past, and today was no different, only more so.  In an interview with the San Antonio, Texas, radio station, Dean said, quote, “The idea that we‘re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong.”

Here to talk about comments and the Democrats‘ plan for Iraq, or lack thereof, Air America‘s Rachel Maddow. 

Thank you, Rachel, for coming. 

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA TALK SHOW HOST:  Sure.  Nice to see you. 

CARLSON:  Grammatically incorrect sentence, by the way, from Dean.  And Republicans are jumping all over him, pointing out, correctly, that first of all, he doesn‘t know we‘re going to lose the war. 

Second, it‘s sort of a harsh and maybe kind of horrible thing to say.  While we have troops still fighting it, but that‘s not the comment—I think the Republicans missed the outrageous comment, which is in the next sentence.  And I want to read it.

He‘s talking about what we need to do with the 160,000 troops we have in Iraq.  He says, “I think we need a strategic redeployment over a period of two years.”  Quote, “We need to bring home the guardsmen, the reservists.  We need to redeploy 20,000 troops to Afghanistan.”

Then he says this, he drops this bomb: quote, “We need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country, to fight terrorist leader Musab Zarqawi.”

In other words, we need to move our troops into yet another Arab country in a region he says has been destabilized by our presence, thereby prolonging the war and destabilizing one of the few allies we have left in the region.  It‘s insane that he would say something like that. 

MADDOW:  I don‘t think this is that weird.  I know that you think this is super crazy. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

MADDOW:  I don‘t think it‘s that weird.  This is proposed with different language from a number of people and didn‘t get your back up about it. 

CARLSON:  I never heard anybody say that. 

MADDOW:  When John Murtha gave his call, and he said he wants troops to start withdrawing in six months.

CARLSON:  Right.

MADDOW:  John Murtha said one of the things that we should do, is we should keep a rapid reaction force in the region, possibly in Kuwait, to help respond to situations as they arise.  It‘s a small—small reaction force. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

MADDOW:  That‘s not that different than what Dean is talking about here. 

CARLSON:  Actually, look, the two arguments don‘t go together.  The original argument, again, is that our presence is destabilizing the region.  I actually think that‘s true. 

It‘s one of the reasons that we pulled out of Saudi Arabia, is because the argument was from the Saudis, as well as from people in this country, we are inciting al Qaeda by our presence in an Arab land. 

MADDOW:  Yes.

CARLSON:  So if you‘re Howard Dean and you think the whole thing is a boondoggle and a horrible idea, making the world more dangerous, why the hell would you want to move troops into Jordan, you know, with this huge population of angry Palestinians, stateless Palestinians who hate us already.  I mean, it‘s just a reckless thing. 

MADDOW:  Well, we‘ve already got a huge number of troops in Kuwait right now.  I mean, I‘ve got a cousin who‘s in Kuwait right now.  We‘ve got a number... 

CARLSON:  Because we have a war in Iraq. 

MADDOW:  Right.  But leaving rapid reaction force smaller troops in Kuwait I don‘t think seems that crazy. 

CARLSON:  Then why not just do—I mean, look, because we know, because it is incitement to the people of that country into which you move these forces, we have to have a staging ground in Kuwait, and I have seen it, we have a large staging ground.  We have to because we are fighting the war. 

But if the rationale for pulling out in the first place is the destabilizing element, then why would you do that?  Why not just keep them in Iraq, which is already unstable?  Why does this guy get to be the mouth piece of the Democratic Party?  Where are the adults?  Why doesn‘t someone say, “Howard Dean, you shut up for a minutes.  You‘re hurting us.”  Because he is. 

MADDOW:  I think Howard Dean is in this position because of the knots that he‘s twisted you into over this, because I think what you have gotten angry about, is the discussion we need to have.  It‘s exactly true that our presence in the Middle East is destabilizing. 

And by having Howard Dean up there as the head of the party, saying the things that he says, and getting you so mad at him and calling him insane, we‘re now talking about whether or not we ought to have a presence in the Middle East. 

CARLSON:  If your job is to be an academic provocateur, if you‘re a professor at some college, you throw things out for a living, that‘s one thing.  If you‘re the head of one America‘s two political parties and you‘re throwing this stuff out, just for discussion, and there‘s no indication he is.  He really believes this, apparently.  I think it‘s irresponsible. 

He is an unserious person.  He is throwing out as a policy prescription something he has not thought through.  I don‘t think he is capable of thinking this stuff through. 

MADDOW:  How is it more dangerous to have Howard Dean saying we ought to pull our troops out, redeploy Afghanistan and have some people left in Kuwait or some place? 

CARLSON:  I‘m not suggesting it‘s dangerous.

MADDOW:  On the one hand on the Democratic Party, and then on the Republican Party, you have serving congressman, Tom Tancredo of Colorado, who says I want a new Mecca, just for discussion. 

CARLSON:  Hold on.  I‘m not saying—that‘s so disingenuous.  I‘m not saying in any way that it‘s dangerous.  I‘m saying it‘s embarrassing.  Secondly, Tom Tancredo is hardly—I would like to see him the head of the Republican Party, because I like Tom Tancredo.  But sadly, he‘s not.  He‘s just some random congressman from Colorado.

MADDOW:  But how can you say that when you just said that you don‘t like somebody who‘s the head of the party throwing stuff out there just for discussion when you think... 

CARLSON:  You would think you would have, like, a responsible adult at the helm.  Let‘s look at what the responsible adults are proposing in the Democratic Party.  It was all outlined in a piece in the “Washington Post” today by Robin Wright, a brilliant piece, in which she says—she went and interviewed all the party leaders on foreign policy. 

In interviews, they offered no end of criticism of President Bush and how—what has been doing in Iraq.  Only one had a clear vision of what he would do if the Iraq problem were handed to a Democratic administration tomorrow.  That was Zbigniew Brzezinski, and he said pull out immediately. 

But the top three other strategists, Holbrooke—Dick Holbrooke, Madeleine Albright, Wes Clark, one of whom ran for president, two secretary of state, third would have been if Kerry had won.  Wad no clue what to do about Iraq.  Very interesting.  It tells you, if nothing else, super complicated problem. 

MADDOW:  What would you do right now to end the war?

CARLSON:  I am absolutely not certain, but then that‘s why I am, as opposed to the war as I am, I am restrained in my criticism about what‘s next because I recognize it‘s a complicated problem. 

Here‘s what I would not do.  I would not promise, as Madeleine Albright did, that we should close our bases in Iraq.  Madeleine Albright and a lot of Democrats, including John Kerry, said we need to tell the Arab world that we‘re not, you know, there for colonial reasons.  Let‘s close the bases.

Two thousand Americans have died.  Very little good has come out of this war.  If there‘s one good thing, it will be a beachhead for the American military in the Middle East. 

MADDOW:  Wow. 

CARLSON:  And to say preemptively we‘re going to close the bases, then you really question why did these people die?  It really was pointless.

MADDOW:  You are so all over the map.  This is the most confused I‘ve ever heard you sound about the war.  We can‘t be based in the Middle East, because that‘s a provocation.  We need to have a beachhead in the Middle East?

The Democrats are confused because they‘re not saying what to do.  I‘m not saying what to do either.  Listen, the Democratic Party doesn‘t have a unified position on the war right now. 

Right now, the Bush administration got us into this war.  For better or worse we‘re stuck with them for the next four years for them to get us out of it.  The basic question here—the Bush administration has to get us out of it.  That‘s right.  The commander-in-chief, right?

CARLSON:  That‘s not actually the way it works.  We have a mid term election in less than a year.  It is not actually the administration—if you are...

MADDOW:  The commander in chief‘s not in charge of the war?

CARLSON:  If you are participating in the political process, and you would aspire to control the process, as Democrats do, it‘s not enough merely to say, what you‘re doing sucks.  Do something better.  No, it‘s incumbent on you to come up with some sort of idea. 

I ‘m not saying it‘s easy.  I ‘m merely saying you should work on it a little bit, and closing American bases there, or promising to do so, I just think that‘s—I don‘t see the justification for that. 

MADDOW:  The American bases gets to the whole heart of the question, the whole heart of the war.  This is what I‘ve been trying to get this whole discussion to be about. 

The discussion about the war needs to be about why we‘re there.  Why did the Bush administration want to go to Iraq on September 12, 2001?  Why did they go through such machinations and do such fact bends about trying to make the case for weapons that weren‘t there.  What was so attractive to them about going to war in Iraq?  It was the prospect of having permanent bases.  And if we‘re going to do that, let‘s let that be the debate.

CARLSON:  First of all, that‘s one of about 19 possible reasons.  Ultimately, I think—I think it‘s—I actually don‘t know.  And as Richard Haas, now head of the Council on Foreign Relations, who worked for Bush at the time said recently, “I will go to my grave not knowing.”  I actually think that‘s an unknowable—unknowable argument, which I‘m interested in... 

MADDOW:  Unknowable.  Maybe why we started the war is unknowable. 

That is a disaster. 

CARLSON:  I totally agree with you, as I‘ve said day after day after day.  I just don‘t think that‘s the pressing imminent conversation right now. 

MADDOW:  The pressing imminent conversation is what do the Democrats think?

CARLSON:  No. 

MADDOW:  The pressing conversation is why are 2,000 Americans dead?

CARLSON:  What do we do now?  What do we do now is the conversation? 

That‘s the one we have to have. 

MADDOW:  We need to get a real explanation for why we‘re fighting this war, why 2,000 Americans are dead and how we can get them home. 

CARLSON:  I would say in reverse order.  How do we get them home is No. 1. 

MADDOW:  As long as we agree those are the three topics, I think we can declare truce and call Democrats right. 

CARLSON:  They‘re so—they‘re getting more pathetic by the day.  It crushes me, Rachel, to say that.  You know my affection for them.

MADDOW:  If you think the Bush administration is doing a better job talking about the war than the Democrats? 

CARLSON:  No.  I‘m not saying that, but I am genuinely nonpartisan.  I am willing to call both sides screwed up.  I am merely pointing out today the Democrats, as badly as I think the Bush administration has handled the war, the Democrats are out to lunch as well. 

MADDOW:  The Democrats—the Bush administration got us into this war.  If the commander-in-chief can‘t get us out, we‘ve got bigger troubles than we know. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, feel a little guilty about regifting this Christmas?  Don‘t.  We‘ll tell you why giving an unused present is morally the right thing to do.  Or so says the man we‘re about to talk to.  Holiday tact, when THE SITUATION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

A group of atheists at the University of Texas in San Antonio is trying to tempt college kids into trading their Bibles for pornography.  It‘s part of a program called Smut for Smut sponsored by the student organization called Atheist Agenda.  That group‘s president, Thomas Jackson, joins us live now from San Antonio. 

Thomas, thanks a lot for coming on. 

THOMAS JACKSON, PRESIDENT, ATHEIST AGENDA:  Hey, happy to be on. 

CARLSON:  Thanks.  You don‘t look like an atheist.  But tell me...

JACKSON:  Oh, really?

CARLSON:  No, you don‘t.  Tell me, what‘s the rationale?

JACKSON:  I‘m supposed to—I‘m supposed to look like a little old man, aren‘t I?

CARLSON:  No, you look great. 

JACKSON:  All right.

CARLSON:  Tell me—tell me why you‘re promising to give porn to people who bring in sacred texts, the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran  What‘s the idea?

JACKSON:  All right.  Well, we have Bronze Aged tribal nonsense, this

these things written by people in tents ages ago, and we‘re using this to renounce science standards in our classrooms in America.  We‘re using it to kind of influence our political agenda. 

And we‘ve read it.  Atheists actually tend to be rather knowledgeable about scripture, and we are using this as a medium to get people to know what‘s actually within the religious text that they hold so dear. 

CARLSON:  Why porn, though?  Why not just argue, you know, about what parts of the sacred text you find speeches?

JACKSON:  Well, first of all, you know, pornography gets a lot of negative press, and it‘s smut.  A lot of it really is.  And we wanted to make the—we wanted to make the comparison between that and the smut that is religious scripture or a lot of it, you know.  The stuff that says a woman is worth half a man, the things that say, you know, you should beat children. 

These things aren‘t acceptable in our society, and if pornography is not acceptable, then these things surely aren‘t.  At the very least, what we‘re doing is trading something that‘s very, very bad for something that‘s only moderately bad. 

CARLSON:  OK.  So what—it sounds to me like an attempt to create, you know, a fracas on campus and get attention.  What kind of attention have you gotten on campus?

JACKSON:  Well, we‘ve had—we‘ve actually had a lot of open discussion.  There has been a minor amount of outrage, but the outrage isn‘t—it‘s more of a First Amendment rights type of outrage.  A lot of people don‘t really seem to understand that this is America, and we have freedom of speech here. 

CARLSON:  Oh, come on.  Everybody understands that. 

JACKSON:  We have freedoms people can‘t even imagine.

CARLSON:  Everybody knows this.  This sounds like proselytizing.  I thought atheists weren‘t supposed to be in the business of proselytizing. 

JACKSON:  Well, first of all, don‘t tell atheists what to do.  We‘ll set our own agenda.  Just kidding, just kidding. 

But we were sitting at a table, and people came to us.  We didn‘t knock door to door.  We don‘t have a church on every corner in our country to push this on people.  You know, we‘re just a bunch of college students down at UTSA.  There‘s nothing more to it. 

CARLSON:  Have you picked up any girls doing this, honestly?

JACKSON:  I pick up girls constantly. 

CARLSON:  Every college pursuit is to pick up girls.  None?

JACKSON:  Well, no, no.  It‘s to become educated, but picking up girls is a nice thing to do on the side, and I haven‘t had too many problems there. 

CARLSON:  What texts—what kind of texts have you gotten, and what kind of porn are you handing out?

JACKSON:  Well, we got quite a few Bibles.  We got a couple copies of the Koran.  Somebody brought in a Satanic Bible.  I haven‘t gotten a chance to look at that.  I‘m not really sure what that is. 

It was a few religious texts.  It was something—I can‘t remember. 

We actually had quite a few different books brought in.

CARLSON:  Now...

JACKSON:  What we were handing out, we had everything labeled from 0 to 5.  Zero is like “Playboy,” things that aren‘t really necessarily pornography.  I mean, if you‘ve ever read a “Playboy”.

CARLSON:  Right.

JACKSON:  You know, it‘s not really that hard core, so people got to decide what they wanted. 

CARLSON:  The bottom of this, on your web site, you have a statement:

“We find that morality should not be derived from religious texts.”  What should morality be...

JACKSON:  Morality is not...

CARLSON:  What should it be derived from?

JACKSON:  It‘s—well, morality is not derived from religious texts.  Religious texts actually contradict each other.  If you read the Bible, it contradicts itself on nearly every page.  And the fact that people can decide which one to go with shows that they are getting their morality from somewhere else. 

Morality is actually based off of empathy, and failing empathy, it‘s based off of fear of reprisal from the law.  That is where morality comes from.

CARLSON:  Yes.  But the law, it‘s a circular argument.  You need to think through it a little bit more, Thomas, because the law itself is based on at least a notion of abstract right and wrong, and that is not rooted in empathy or any emotion, but...

JACKSON:  It‘s based...

CARLSON:  ... kind of, you know, an abstract belief that this is right and this is wrong because someone larger, in control, says so. 

JACKSON:  Well, no, that‘s not true.  It‘s based off of things that are good for society.  If citizens murder each other, this is bad for society.  And you see this across the board in many nations. 

Several religions have stumbled upon this, but it‘s not the religious text that‘s bringing this to people.  They are finding this on their own, and societies that don‘t find this don‘t survive. 

CARLSON:  Thomas Jackson, thanks a lot for joining us.  I appreciate it.  Don‘t agree with what you do, but I appreciate your explaining it. 

JACKSON:  No problem. 

CARLSON:  Thanks. 

JACKSON:  All right.  Thanks for having me on. 

CARLSON:  Still ahead, it‘s not a holiday tree, it‘s not a Christmas tree.  It‘s an upside down Christmas tree.  We‘ll explore the controversial new item when THE SITUATION comes back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  You know the old saying, it‘s better to give than it is to receive.  What about giving a gift that you have received from someone else?  Most people don‘t want to get caught regifting, but my next guest says it‘s all in the spirit of the season.  Bruce Weinstein is a syndicated columnist, and the author of “Life Principles: Feeling Good by Doing Good.”  He is best known as the ethics guy.  He joins us live right here on the set.  It‘s nice of you to come on. 

BRUCE WEINSTEIN, THE ETHICS GUY:  Thanks for inviting me, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Regifting is OK? 

WEINSTEIN:  It‘s not only not wrong, it‘s right to do.  Let‘s say that your producer gives you an electric spinning bow tie for Christmas. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

WEINSTEIN:  And you already have one.  You already have one.

CARLSON:  Actually (INAUDIBLE), I got one, yes. 

WEINSTEIN:  Now, so, if you get another one, it would be wrong to stick it in your drawer and not use it.  Your buddy George Will might benefit from it, might enjoy having it.  The right thing to do would be to give it to him.  See, we have an ethical obligation not to be wasteful, so keeping a regifted item and not giving it to anyone else is wasteful, it‘s wrong. 

CARLSON:  But most things that are wrong are universally recognized as wrong, and yet regifting is looked upon with suspicion by virtually everyone.  You hide the fact you‘re regifting. 

WEINSTEIN:  Well, one thing we should do in regifting is make sure that the original giver of the gift doesn‘t find out about it, because we also have an ethical obligation to do no harm.  So we want to avoid hurting the feelings of the person who gave the gift originally, but to simply keep that Jackson Pollock sweater that looks like, you know, an red and orange nightmare, when you have a friend who might be colorblind who could benefit from it, there is totally no reason not to do so. 

CARLSON:  So by doing good, we commit deception, or we commit deception by way of doing good. 

WEINSTEIN:  Well, some—we might call it a benevolent deception, because the person who gave us the gift probably wants us to benefit from it, and the way we can benefit from it, if we already have it, is to give it to someone else. 

CARLSON:  What if we get caught in this benevolent deception?  Get busted regifting, what do you say? 

WEINSTEIN:  That‘s also a concern, but also if the person giving you, say, the sweater expects to see you wearing it, you might have to bite the bullet and wear it occasionally to avoid hurting their feelings. 

CARLSON:  But let‘s say you take whatever it is, the sponge cake, or the spinning bow tie, you pass it on, and you get caught.  The person to whom you gave it finds out, the person you received it from finds out.  What do you say?  I am doing something good because I am not wasting?  Is there a lie you can use to keep everyone happy? 

WEINSTEIN:  Well, you can say, look, I already had one, and I thought that since you gave it to me, you would want me to benefit from it, and the way that I felt I could benefit from it would be, let‘s say, giving that spinning bow tie to my buddy, George Will, who I know coveted mine but didn‘t have one himself.  So, no, you just want to make sure that you don‘t get into that situation.  Of course, if you do get caught, then you have to fess up.  But...

CARLSON:  You are my kind of ethics guy.  Lie, but if you do get caught.... 

WEINSTEIN:  No, no, no, we are not lying about it.  You‘re not lying about it.  We‘re simply making sure that we don‘t waste something that we get that someone else could benefit from. 

CARLSON:  What about tipping?  There are all these people, especially if you live in a city, and you have a doorman, and—all the people in your life who might expect tips.  Should you tip them? 

WEINSTEIN:  Well, it‘s unethical to tip your parents for the obvious reasons, but people do not have a right to our tips outside of the hospitality industry.  We have an ethical obligation to be grateful, to express gratitude to people, but we need not express that gratitude by giving cash.  And sometimes people are not in a financial position to give cash.  There are other ways, there may even be better ways of letting people know that you appreciate their work, aside and above giving them money. 

CARLSON:  But the doorman wants cash. 

WEINSTEIN:  They may want it, but they don‘t have a right to it.  And if you are able to write a letter, for example, to their employer, and let them know what a great job your doorman did, that could actually make more of a difference to the doorman in the long run, by helping them get a raise or a promotion. 

If you are an accountant, you could help them with their tax returns.  If you‘re good in math, you could tutor their children in math, or teach the child how to play chess.  There are lots of things you can do, above and beyond giving cash, and in fact, it is illegal for postal workers to accept cash.  Even though in New York, it‘s very commonplace to tip the mailman or the mailwoman, it‘s wrong to do that, and it‘s wrong for them to accept it. 

CARLSON:  Yes, but you get your letters a lot faster, and they don‘t lose those all-important packages.  What about your co-workers, gifts? 

WEINSTEIN:  Gifts are fine, but, you know, for teachers, it is wrong to give money there, and in fact, many school districts limit the amount of non-cash gifts that you can give to avoid favoritism. 

CARLSON:  What if you felt by giving cash to your child‘s teacher, your child might get into a better college, and therefore have a happier life?  That wouldn‘t be wrong, would it? 

WEINSTEIN:  Well, you know, again, I know that you are not being serious, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Well, I mean, I don‘t know...

WEINSTEIN:  No, no, you can‘t give money to a teacher.  They are supposed to be doing that because they are professionals and they love teaching.  And they are not doing it for the money, and especially around the holidays.  You know, professionals, you shouldn‘t give money to your doctor, you shouldn‘t give money to your lawyer, you shouldn‘t give money to the teacher. 

CARLSON:  Well, you‘re giving your money to the lawyer no matter what. 

Bruce Weinstein...

WEINSTEIN:  But there is one gift that you should not regift, and that is the book that I gave you...

CARLSON:  I‘m not going to...

WEINSTEIN:  ... because I signed that.  And I don‘t want to see that on eBay. 

CARLSON:  You will not.  Valuable as it might be.  “Life Principles:

Feeling Good by Doing Good.”  Bruce Weinstein, the Ethics Guy.  Thanks. 

WEINSTEIN:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  I appreciate it. 

WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Stay tuned.  Still plenty more ahead on THE SITUATION. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON (voice-over):  Georgia on his mind, the amazing tale of how one wayward pooch learned there‘s no place like home for the holidays. 

Then, Santa gets tanked.  An off-beat way to make a big splash with the children. 

Plus, the implosion that almost was.  South Dakota‘s leaning tower of incompetence. 

And, a look at how China‘s breathtaking breeding boom is birthing a blossoming brood of baby bears.  It‘s all ahead on THE SITUATION.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  There‘s been some debate lately about what you ought to call that large decorated plant in your living room around Christmas.  For the record, mine is called a Christmas tree.  Not quite as sure what to call the tree you are about to see.  My next guest calls it an upside down Christmas tree.  Bill Quinn is the owner of a company called Christmas Tree For Me.  He joins us live from Dallas, Texas tonight.  Bill Quinn, thanks a lot for coming on.  What is that behind you? 

BILL QUINN, OWNER, CHRISTMAS TREE FOR ME:  This is an upside down canopy tree. 

CARLSON:  OK.  I guess just the obvious one-word question, why would you take a Christmas tree and turn it upside down? 

QUINN:  Actually the reason why the tree is upside down is to allow you to display ornaments better.  Five to 10 years ago, retailers that sold high-end ornaments, $200, $300 apiece, they needed a way to display the ornaments rather than the tree.  If you hang an ornament up in a regular tree, the ornament will hang down in the branches below.  By turning the tree upside down, you can see, the ornaments stick out much better.  That‘s the reason why it was made. 

CARLSON:  But in the process, I mean, it looks like a nosegay, it looks like a bouquet or something.  It doesn‘t look so much like a tree anymore, no offense. 

QUINN:  Oh, none taken, none taken at all.  There‘s a lot of people that, as I said, it‘s traditionally been in the retail channel, and then really this year the consumer market has taken to it as well.  I have had a funny story of a lady that had 2-year-old twin daughters, that had quite extensive collection of antique glass ornaments, and she wants to keep them off the ground so the little girls can‘t get to them and break her antique ornaments. 

CARLSON:  She sounds like an intense woman.  What sort of other person do you think would opt for the upside down tree? 

QUINN:  Well, I think people that collect ornaments.  You are talking about in the residential market? 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

QUINN:  People that collect ornaments.  People also buy—they want to have a conversation piece for maybe a big party that they are having.  They will put this into a great room or something of that nature.  Not many people that I know of...

CARLSON:  It would definitely be—it would definitely be a conversation piece.  It looks like something out of a Salvador Dali painting.  I mean, it‘s pretty—pretty weird.  So it‘s an attention getter, then? 

QUINN:  Yes, absolutely.  I think that most people are buying this as a secondary tree in their home.  They are not buying it for the primary tree.  Many people have seven, eight, nine Christmas trees in their home, and this is just a different one to have, as a conversation piece, another decorative item. 

CARLSON:  That must be more common in Texas, the whole seven-, eight-, nine-Christmas-tree home.  Is there something sinister about it, you think?  I know an upside down cross is considered a sign of Satanism.  Is an upside down tree also considered that, and have you had complaints from people who think there‘s something Satanic about it? 

QUINN:  The majority of the people I have spoken with have had the reactions—been very positive, or, you know, that‘s unusual.  I haven‘t heard of—I haven‘t had many people tell me that it‘s something other than that. 

CARLSON:  Now, if—I think that tree may be an artificial tree.  I know that there are live trees that are put upside down, against their will, of course.  How would you water them, if a tree was upside down? 

QUINN:  That‘s a good question.  If it was a fresh tree, I am not sure how you would water it. 

CARLSON:  Do you think there‘s something deep in your heart, and let‘s be honest here, something a little wrong about this, the tree upside down? 

QUINN:  No, not at all.  I really don‘t.  I have been in the Christmas tree business for a little while, and these have been very popular.  There‘s a lot of people that have—in the retail market that have purchased them, and I don‘t see any issue with it. 

CARLSON:  OK, then let me ask the question all politicians ask.  Bill, what about the children?  The children, the children, who have seen Christmas trees right side up in every Christmas book there is.  They come home from school, and mom and dad have turned the Christmas tree upside down.  It‘s got to scare them a little bit. 

QUINN:  I don‘t know.  I think that—I know that my children think that it‘s kind of funny, actually.  I don‘t think that the children are going to think that it‘s some type of a sinister plot, or anything like that.  I think they‘d simply ask, mommy, why is the tree upside down? 

CARLSON:  Yeah.  And finally, Bill, how many trees do you have?  I‘m

fascinated by this eight- or nine-Christmas-tree household you made

reference to. 

QUINN:  I have four.  I have a 7.5-foot tree.  I have one of these trees, and then each of my daughters each has a two-foot tree that they decorate, and we ask them to decorate their trees and leave mom and dad‘s traditional tree alone. 

CARLSON:  Good for you.  Taking a stand for the traditional tree.  Bill Quinn, owner of Christmas Tree For Me, joining us live there.  Thanks a lot, Bill. 

QUINN:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Coming up, do administrators really think canceling the prom is going to stop kids from partying?  An angry caller from one of the now promless schools (INAUDIBLE) emphatic opinion on THE SITUATION voicemail.  You‘ll hear it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Set your speed dial to THE SITUATION.  Many of you already have.  Time for our voicemail segment.  First up. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM:  Tom from Arvada, Colorado.  I‘m a Christian, and I don‘t care what they call a tree.  I don‘t need it to be called a Christmas tree.  I know what it represents.  Are you, Christian right, that insecure about your faith that you have to have it being called a Christmas tree?  Next, you‘ll be burning Christmas cards that say happy holidays.  Anyway, I enjoy your show. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I like that burning the happy holidays card idea.  I‘d never actually thought of that, but thanks for pointing that out. 

Am I insecure?  How insecure are the people who feel threatened by the term Christmas tree?  No, it‘s been called a Christmas tree for centuries.  It can continue to be called a Christmas tree as far as I‘m concerned, but some people are very insecure and they are very threatened by that term.  I am not insecure at all. 

Next up. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB:  This is Bob Mobley (ph) from Fort Branch, Indiana.  Just finished watching your Friday night show.  Your guest, who suggests the eradication of the human race, my suggestion would be, start with the founder.  There would be one less amoeba in the world. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Oh, Bob, that hurts.  That is exactly the question I should have asked him.  It occurred to me on my way home on Friday night.  Why didn‘t I ask the guy, if you‘re for the extinction of the human race, maybe you should start with yourself.  It‘s—that should have been my first question, and it tormented me throughout the weekend.  I am glad and sad that you noticed the omission.  Next time he comes on, I will ask it. 

Next up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM:  Jim, Long Island.  I want to know why Father James Williams of Chaminade high school wasn‘t on your show.  The guy is a two-faced liar and a hypocrite.  Us alumni want to know why he is not facing the facts and letting the kids at Chaminade have a prom. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  As to your question, Jim, we did tease the fact we were going to have the principal of Chaminade high school on Long Island on.  He of course canceled the prom because it was too materialist, too American.  And he apparently was too busy or too afraid to come on the show, unfortunately.  He canceled at the very last minute and was replaced, I think, by the human extinction guy, who was frankly a better guest.  But he is always welcome on our show, the principal of that high school, to explain why he is canceling prom.  Pretty outrageous. 

Next up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG:  My name is Greg, Tucker, and I am a sophomore journalism student at the University of Missouri, and I am calling because I want to be your intern.  And yes, I‘m serious.  I‘ll give you a second to (INAUDIBLE).  OK.  So I watch THE SITUATION every night.  Being a journalism major, I think it would A, be an excellent experience for me; and B, I would provide you with a lot of help fetching you coffee. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Oh, Greg.  You would fetch my coffee?  You would bring my coffee?  Greg, you are hired.  You have no idea what a good time it is to work on this show.  If we were to pull back the camera and you could see the faces of our happy, smiling, satisfied staff, you would know they are thrilled to work here, and it‘s not just the free beer.  So hope you do work for us, Greg.  Thanks for calling. 

Call anytime.  The number, 1-877-TCARLSON.  That‘s 877-822-7576.  You can also send us an e-mail.  Tucker@msnbc.com is the address.  Moreover, you can check the blog, tucker.msnbc.com is the address.  And it‘s pretty good, I have to say. 

Still ahead on THE SITUATION, building demolition is among many things you don‘t want to do halfway.  We will tell you if they ever got this thing to topple over when we visit “The Cutting Room Floor” with Willie Geist.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Willie Geist has ventured forth from his penthouse apartment in the city and made his way to our humble studio, because it‘s time for “The Cutting Room Floor.” 

WILLIE GEIST, THE SITUATION:  We have to apologize right out of the gate here to our Max groupies, most of whom are teenage boys, and tell them why he wasn‘t on the show.  He is out in Vegas, where he usually is, doing what he usually does, opening for Carrot Top at the Sahara.  Got a hilarious act.  He smashes watermelons with a sledgehammer.

CARLSON:  Isn‘t he in one of the “Rocky” movie for real? 

GEIST:  He is, “Rocky 6,” he is shooting “Rocky 6.” 

CARLSON:  That‘s unbelievable.

GEIST:  So now we actually have to go see that.

CARLSON:  We‘re touched by fame here at THE SITUATION. 

Well, if you don‘t think these baby pandas are cute, you are either not human, or something terrible happened to you in your childhood to make you a cold person.  Either way, I‘m sorry.  The 16 pandas live together at a zoo and breeding center in China.  There are five sets of twins.  Among them, the baby boom was set off when 38 giant pandas were artificially inseminated. 

GEIST:  Someone is going to have to convince me those aren‘t people in panda suits.  Look at that.  Isn‘t that odd?  This also continues, I should point out, our steady decline, or your steady decline into Ron Burgundy-dom. 

CARLSON:  I agree.  And if I can make the only political comment I have ever made on “The Cutting Room Floor,” China limits human beings to one child apiece, but the pandas can go crazy. 

GEIST:  Inseminate all day. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  When your dog strays out of the yard, the last place you think to look is Indianapolis.  Well, a yellow lab named Casper disappeared from his home in Dalton, Georgia a couple of weeks ago.  His owners were beginning to fear the worst, when they got a call from a cop in Greenwood, Indiana.  That‘s a suburb of Indianapolis.  The theory is that Casper jumped in the back of a semi at a nearby truck stop and was hauled all the way to Indiana. 

GEIST:  Weird.  You know what, though, Tucker, dogs have to be trained not to go to Indianapolis.  Because obvious—the obvious animal instinct is to go to Indianapolis. 

CARLSON:  They‘ve got a built-in homing device.  Exactly right.  The speedway. 

GEIST:  If you have to rub—you have to rub their nose (INAUDIBLE) Indianapolis, you have to do it.  It‘s tough love, but that‘s where they‘re going to go. 

CARLSON:  Can you imagine chasing cars at the speedway?  Impressive. 

Have you wondered how Santa Claus gets toys to the children of underwater civilizations? 

GEIST:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  With scuba gear, obviously.  Here‘s Santa getting a little practice over the weekend at the underwater adventures aquarium at the Mall of America in Minneapolis.  He swam with sharks, stingrays and giant sea turtles, as horrified children looked on confused. 

GEIST:  OK, you can see there, even the 4-year-olds are going, now I know there‘s no Santa Claus. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

GEIST:  I bit on the drunk guy at the mall, but you are not going to get me on this one, little kids.  It‘s a 150-pound guy in flippers.  You shouldn‘t show it to kids. 

CARLSON:  No, I agree.  That is pulling back the curtain too far.

GEIST:  Good.

CARLSON:  There seems to be some confusion at the moment as to whether San Diego is, in fact, America‘s finest city.  That was San Diego‘s self-proclaimed title, until it was pulled from the municipal Web site just the other day.  City spokeswoman said, quote, “we couldn‘t make that claim anymore.  We were taking too many hits.”  San Diego‘s mayor resigned recently, and two councilmen were convicted of taking bribes from a strip joint.  At least they‘re honest.

GEIST:  Yeah, they‘re honest.  We actually have an update on this story.  Jerry Sanders was sworn in as mayor just hours ago.  He restored the slogan to the Web site, America‘s finest city.  It‘s a true story.  It‘s not a joke. 

CARLSON:  In an act of pure egoism, by the way. 

GEIST:  Exactly.

CARLSON:  I‘m mayor now! 

GEIST:  So congratulations, San Diego.  You are fine once again. 

CARLSON:  I grew up there.  I‘d say it‘s a pretty fine city. 

GEIST:  I think so. 

CARLSON:  Pretty fine.  Finest?  Debatable. 

GEIST:  Unfortunately, Gary, Indiana has to give the title back. 

CARLSON:  If you are looking to have your building demolished, I wouldn‘t go with the firm that tried to implode this Zip Feed Mills tower in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Saturday.  Twenty-five thousand people gathered to watch the state‘s tallest building crumble, but the explosives only took out the bottom floor.  The 200-foot structure is just listing.  The demolition will be completed with wrecking balls. 

GEIST:  Wow.  Let me just say something, before you get out...

CARLSON:  There‘s so many things to say. 

GEIST:  ... the wrecking ball—before you get out the wrecking ball, Sioux Falls, let‘s think about this.  Millions of people every year go to Pisa, Italy... 

CARLSON:  Exactly. 

GEIST:  ... which is a terrible town, if you‘ve ever been there.

CARLSON:  Exactly.

GEIST:  They travel across seas and they pay millions of dollars every year to go see it. 

CARLSON:  This is a case for bringing South Dakota back.  Now that those homeland security funds for the bulletproof dog vests (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Willie Geist!

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  That‘s SITUATION for tonight.  Thank you for watching.  As always, up next, “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.  Have a great night.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2005 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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