Video: Presidential Perspective

msnbc.com
updated 12/20/2005 3:23:07 PM ET 2005-12-20T20:23:07
TRANSCRIPT

One thing most of the world has in common is a strong opinion on the United States. Loved, or hated - and lately, that category seems to be far ahead - everyone has something to say about the U.S.

On Monday, MSNBC's Tucker Carlson welcomed P.J. O'Rourke of the 'Atlantic Monthly' and author of the new book, "Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism," to discuss America's place in the world.

To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right. 

TUCKER CARLSON:  I'm interested to know what you think of these revelations that the NSA has been wire-tapping conversations. 

P.J. O'ROURKE, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST:  Tucker, what do we spend all day overhearing, whether we want to or not?  Phone conversations.  I mean, all day long, people screaming into their cells. 

CARLSON:  That's a good point. 

O'ROURKE:  I have heard details about people's lives that, you know, this is family television, even at this hour, I don't think we can go there.  And so what's the big deal, you know?  As long as they're not opening the letters to Santa, I'm OK with it. 

CARLSON:  Bush's numbers are, in the latest ABC/"Washington Post" poll, have risen about eight points in the last three or four weeks.  Those don't reflect this news, but do you think this news is going to have any effect on those numbers?

O'ROURKE:  Probably push them a little higher, especially if he keeps giving as much grief to reporters as he was in that news conference.  I listened to a lot of that today on the radio.  And it was hilarious.  I mean, he's getting better.  He's got a mean tongue.  He's a little bit of a locker room bully.  I've always been able to picture Bush as one of those guys who could twirl a towel really -- a wet towel really tight, you know ... and get you from halfway across the room. 

CARLSON:  He's a towel snapper of the first water. 

O'ROURKE:  Definitely. 

CARLSON:  If you like towel snappers, and I kind of do, there's something appealing about that. 

O'ROURKE:  Especially when they pick on reporters, because, let's face it. 

CARLSON:  Yes, as long as it's not me, I guess. 

O'ROURKE:  That's right. 

CARLSON:  You've been everywhere.  I don't think there's a bad country, a crummy place on this planet you haven't been.  So I'm interested to know why you think, kind of the age-old question, why is the United States so unpopular around the world?

O'ROURKE:  Oh, because we're there.  You know, because we are there.  Let me tell a little story.  I have a story that explains the whole thing. 

I got stopped during the Lebanese civil war, 1984.  I got stopped at a road block, Hezbollah, very radical, Shiite Muslims.  About a 16-year-old kid with an A.K., seized my American passport, starts screaming at me, waving the gun in my face, yelling at me, "America, Satan, devil," how we invented Zionism and all the other problems in the entire world.  And he goes on like this for about 15 minutes.  I'm scared, you know. 

And at the end of it, he hands me back the passport and he says, "And as soon as I get my green card, I am going to study dentist school in Detroit." 

CARLSON:  He probably is.  Probably did my fillings. 

O'ROURKE:  He's a wealthy orthodontist today, and God bless him, you know, or Allah bless him or whoever.  I mean, you know, and he's probably voting Republican.  They hate us with their mouths.  They don't hate us with their feet. 

CARLSON:  So you think it's not real, then?

O'ROURKE:  No, no.  It's because we're there, you know.  If you go out into the bush, in really primitive areas of the world, where they kind of haven't gotten the news about America yet they'll still tell you that everything is the British; the British did it all.  That it's all the queen's fault.  The queen owns everything, and the British rule. 

And so you go way out back in India or Pakistan, or other parts of the old British empire, you'll get an earful about-about the Brits. 

CARLSON:  Right.

O'ROURKE:  You can even get it in Ireland. 

CARLSON:  I think it has to do with, you know, this idea of drinking scotch without ice.  You know, people still resent that. 

O'ROURKE:  And who can blame them?

CARLSON:  What do you think?  Tell me what your prediction is for the '06, for midterms coming up.  My feeling is that people are concerned about the ethical behavior of the Republican Party in Congress more than they're concerned about the ideology of the Republican Party. 

O'ROURKE:  Oh, yes.  No, I mean, most people are ideologically Republicans but are repelled by Republicans in action, as well they might be. 

This always happens when you have a one-party state.  We see it all over Africa  ... they just can't keep their hands out of the cookie jar, can they?

I think the Republicans are going to be fine as far as the midterm elections go, but for all the wrong reasons; because they managed to gerrymander their districts into making it very difficult for challengers.

But I am really interested in this Abramoff thing, and how big this-how big this oil slick is going to-is going to end up being. 

CARLSON:  That's Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist in Washington, who's now, I believe, under indictment, certainly investigation by the Congress for cheating Indian tribes out of money. 

O'ROURKE:  And we're finding out, very disturbing news, is that he was giving money to reporters to mention some of these Indian tribes, and really most disturbing of all is that, is that Tucker, he did not give any money to us.  I can work...

CARLSON:  I never got a call. 

O'ROURKE:  No, I could have worked Indian reservations into any number of things that I did.  Just a little aside here and there, noting that cigarettes are cheaper. 

CARLSON:  Much cheaper.  This is exactly-this is exactly what you didn't think would happen in 1994, when the right was ascended, and it was, you know, kicking out. 

O'ROURKE:  You didn't think so?  You were very young, Tucker.  You were very young.

CARLSON:  I think I was.  It didn't take long.  What was the turning point, do you think, where the new became very much like the old?

O'ROURKE:  That was December 1994.  I think was the turning point.  No, really, I think what happens is that, you know, just too many temptations, too many opportunities. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

O'ROURKE:  And of course, with the journalism-with the journalists getting paid by the lobbyists, that's because we're not paid enough as journalists.  If they would up our salaries, we would be more honest. 

CARLSON:  And that's why more people ought to buy your book, "Peace Kills," an excellent book.

O'ROURKE:  That's right.  Yes. 

CARLSON:  P.J. O'Rourke, I don't have many heroes.  In journalism, you are at the top of the list.

O'ROURKE:  Thank you.

Watch 'The Situation with Tucker Carlson' each weeknight at 11 p.m. ET

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