updated 1/3/2006 11:08:40 AM ET 2006-01-03T16:08:40

Guest: Robin Moore, Gary Berntsen, Mike Allen, Sally Hogshead, John

Shibley

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  That's all the time we have for tonight.  THE SITUATION starts right now.  Tucker, what's the situation?

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Well, many situations tonight, Joe.  Thanks.

And thanks to you at home for tuning in to our first show of the new year.  We appreciate it. 

Tonight, did President Bush and the U.S. military blow our best chance to capture Osama bin Laden?  I'll speak live to a former top CIA counterterrorism officer who said we had the al Qaeda leader in our grasp, but we let him get away. 

Also, is John Kerry positioning himself for another run at the White House three years from now?  Should Democrats already be panicking?  We'll ask Flavia Colgan about what exactly her party is thinking. 

Plus Dick Clark made what one critic described as a morbid appearance on Saturday night to ring in the new year.  We'll discuss that in just a few minutes, as well.

But we start tonight in West Virginia, where 13 coal miners have been dropped about 260 feet under ground for almost 17 hours after an early morning gas explosion.  High gas concentrations and carbon monoxide have hampered rescue efforts so far.

For the very latest we go now live to NBC's Tom Costello, who's standing by in Tallsmanville, West Virginia—Tom.

TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, good evening. 

We just moments ago got out of a press conference, and let me give you the absolute latest.  Two teams, two rescue teams have now made their way into the mine, some 4,800 feet.  And so far they are not detecting levels of carbon monoxide or gas that are of concern.  So they are proceeding rather slowly, but so far the gas is not of an issue at this point. 

They also say that they hope that they will change out the teams at about midnight.  Nobody's going to come out and then another team goes in.  Rather they will send the new replacement team all the way in and rotate out so the progress isn't hampered in any way. 

They had expected that at about 9 or so Eastern Time they would be drilling a hole down into the coal mine itself to try to test the quality of the air, but also to try to listen for any sounds of life.  That got off to a late start.  They tell us that they hope, they think it got off at about 10:45 p.m. Eastern Time, about 15 minutes ago or so.  But we are still waiting for confirmation on that, as well. 

They also say that these miners who are trapped are experienced.  In fact, one of them has 30 years of experience.  The least among them in terms of training or experience is 10 years of experience.  So in total, they say, this is really a very seasoned and a veteran crew of minders that are trapped right now. 

The question is did they survive that original explosion?  And if they did, have they had oxygen to sustain them over the course of the past—what is it now—about 18 hours or so?

They also say this: they think right now the rescuers are about a mile away at this point.  They have another mile to go until they get to the point where they believe that these 13 miners are trapped. 

They are hoping that the carbon monoxide, which became evident immediately after the explosion, was the result of the explosion and not a result of some ongoing fire inside the coal mine, itself.  They hope that the carbon monoxide has completed now completely dissipated. 

They point out that, of course, they have these massive fans running, trying to clean out the air inside the coal mine ever since the explosion.  They say the fans never did go off whatsoever. 

And they also point out that these rescue teams are made up of about five men—five men on each team.  They have as many men that they can actually establish 14 teams at any one time that they can rotate into and out of this coal mine.  So the point here is they are not letting up, they will be going all night long. 

Tucker, back to you. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Tom Costello, Tallmansville, West Virginia. 

That's good news, if you heard what Tom just said.  It turns out that the carbon monoxide levels in the mine may be lower, at least according to initial tests, than feared.  That, of course, is significant.  People can't live in environments that have toxic levels of carbon monoxide.  So it seems at this point like there is some hope for the 13 miners trapped. 

For more on this, we go now to NBC's Lisa Daniels, who's also at the scene—Lisa. 

LISA DANIELS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Tucker.

Yes, 17 ½ hours have now passed and still no word from the miners. 

That said, from the families' perspective, they're still holding out hope. 

Here's the thought process.

They hope that their husbands and their friends have survived that initial blast.  They hope that they found an air pocket and they hope that they stay there until the rescuers come down. 

Again, it can't be emphasized enough, the rescue effort, the actual digging has not begun, and so far it's not even in the near sight, because right now they're trying to put these devices underneath the ground, as Tom said. 

We're joined now by Robin Moore, the executive director of the North Central West Virginia chapter.  And Robin just came from visiting the families, who are holed up inside a church.

And you told me that they get updates every so often.  How often is that?

ROBIN MOORE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NORTH CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA CHAPTER,

THE RED CROSS:  It's been about every hour, maybe hour and a half, that they've got an update from the mine companies, to come in and let them know what they know from the same—the mine rescue teams. 

DANIELS:  You know, the whole country is thinking about the families, what they're going through, the thought processes that they must have at this moment.  What's the atmosphere inside that church?

MOORE:  Again, they are hopeful, but it is solemn.  You know, there's prayer.  There's a lot of ministers with the families.  Red Cross workers have been called in with—we have mental health workers that can talk to them and help them through this time of waiting. 

DANIELS:  Are people asking you questions?

MOORE:  Well, we're not really the people to ask the questions.  We don't really know the mine rescue techniques and all that sort of thing, but we are trying to, you know, again keep their minds positive and hopeful that their loved ones will be returned to them quickly. 

DANIELS:  It's past 11 Eastern Time.  I know the families are still there.  Are they planning to spend the night there?

MOORE:  We have brought in blankets and cots.  We have made every accommodation that we can for the families.  There's food and, you know, all kinds of nourishment, so they can stay there.  Of course, it's in a church, and so they've got prayer, but everything is—accommodations are made for them to stay there, if they wish. 

DANIELS:  And of course, entire families are sitting there, waiting for news.  And the governor of West Virginia talked about this one little boy who came up to him and gave him a hug and said, “I know my daddy was safe.”  Are there kids there and are they asking their parents questions about what's happening?

MOORE:  There are a few children there with their families.  Again, the families, you know, have their support groups with them, and they're all just trying to support each other also. 

DANIELS:  So basically the atmosphere, which is understandable, is a lot of prayer and I guess people praying that this outcome is very similar to that from July of 2002 with the Pennsylvania miners, right?

MOORE:  We hope so. 

DANIELS:  We hope so, too.  Thanks so much.  Really appreciate it, Robin.

MOORE:  Thank you.

DANIELS:  So Tucker, again, the families clinging to hope that it's still only 17 ½ hours into this.  Of course, the reality is as every minute goes by, the chances worsen.  But you can't tell it to the families whose husbands are trapped.  And you know, everyone's just hoping for the best that this will end quickly and with a good result. 

CARLSON:  So are we.  Lisa Daniels in West Virginia tonight.  Thanks very much.  We'll of course, bring you the latest on this as developments come in to MSNBC.  We'll bring them to you immediately.

Meanwhile, did the U.S. military allow Osama bin Laden to escape?  That's the explosive charge from a former top CIA Officer who says he had bin Laden cornered in Tora Bora.  He's written a book about what happened, and it's a fascinating book called “Jawbreaker: The Attack on bin Laden and al Qaeda, a Personal Account of the CIA's Key Field Commander.”

Gary Berntsen, a decorated operations officer, is the author.  He joins me live tonight in the studio. 

Gary, thanks a lot for coming on.

GARY BERNTSEN, AUTHOR, “JAWBREAKER”:  A pleasure to be here with you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  So if we knew where bin Laden was, or if you knew where bin Laden was, why wasn't he captured or killed?  This doesn't make sense.

BERNTSEN:  Well, we identified his location and of course threw a Blue 82 at him, which is a 15,000 pound device... 

CARLSON:  Right.

BERNTSEN:  ... at one point.  We followed in with—followed that up with B-52's.  Bin Laden consistently used young Muslim fighters to throw them out in front of him to save his own skin.  He sacrificed the lives of a lot of people to allow himself to escape. 

CARLSON:  But I mean, it seems to me that the whole key was finding out where he is.  I mean, that's been the constant refrain, we don't know where he is.  He might be in Pakistan, Waziristan.  We don't know. 

BERNTSEN:  During the war, of course, after we seized Kabul, I sent a team of eight men into the province Nangarhar.  The province was in complete chaos.  Those men then worked their way into Jalalabad and then down to the foot of the mountains, the White Mountains.

And we then sent a four man team up into the mountains, got them up over above 800 to 1,000 members of al Qaeda that had fallen back from bin Laden.  And then we commenced air attacks for 56 hours straight as the opener in that battle.  The NSF team would come in behind and then ultimately Delta Force would come in over the course of the operation. 

CARLSON:  Right.

BERNTSEN:  We threw quite a bit at him.  The problem was, of course, when I requested conventional forces, a battalion of Rangers.

CARLSON:  Right.  You said about 600. 

BERNTSEN:  Six hundred.  The key was we needed to get them in early.  Because before he fell back too deeply into the mountains and as the elevation went up.  And of course, it was a distant place, cold, isolated.  There was the risk of significant casualties and...

CARLSON:  Well, I know, but its Osama bin Laden.  I mean...

BERNTSEN:  I was calling for it.  I was calling for that. 

CARLSON:  Did they not believe you?  It sounds...

BERNTSEN:  Well, they believed me enough to throw a Blue 82 at the position that I requested. 

CARLSON:  Right.  That's an expensive piece of munitions.

BERNTSEN:  The last one in the inventory.  And we were listening to him on the radio.  We were able to take a radio off of a dead al Qaeda leader, and listen to him pray to his people.  We listened to him apologize to his people for leading them into this. 

CARLSON:  How did you know it was him?

BERNTSEN:  Well, I had the senior Arabic linguist with me, you know, the best Arabist we had in the agency, who had been listening to his voice for the previous four years.  I mean, he was the best guy we had. 

CARLSON:  And so this was Osama bin Laden.  No question.  And from that radio signal, can you determine, with technology roughly where...

BERNTSEN:  Remember, it was off of his radio.  But you know, we were very close.  We were enough to see the mother lode of these guys, which we were firing at.  Also, we were reporting on a location where he was where he received food and water and we threw that Blue 82 at that position. 

CARLSON:  So you needed 600 men, needed 600 Rangers.  Tommy Franks, of course, in charge of military operations here doesn't come through with them. 

BERNTSEN:  I didn't communicate with General Franks. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Right.  But I mean...

BERNTSEN:  The CIA headquarters deals with Centcom on that.  Of course, they had hoped that, you know, the blocking force would be created, the eastern Afghan lines and the air strikes that we were conducting would have been enough and unfortunately it wasn't.

But there was a significant made to kill him.  No one let him get away.

CARLSON:  Right.

BERNTSEN:  We tried to eliminate him and his force completely and destroyed a large portion. 

CARLSON:  Do you believe with the 600 ground forces it would have been possible to get him?

BERNTSEN:  We'll never know. 

CARLSON:  Tommy Franks has said, as you of course know, we don't know where Osama bin Laden was at the time.  He's not so certain that his position was verified. 

BERNTSEN:  I didn't get a DNA sample off of him.  He was there, though. 

CARLSON:  How important is it to catch him, do you think?

BERNTSEN:  It's important.  It's very important.  People should not say that he doesn't matter.  That's like saying leadership doesn't matter. 

CARLSON:  Right.

BERNTSEN:  It's important that we have President Bush leading in the war on terrorism. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Incidentally, since you brought that up, I should point out, you're not—you're not liberal.  You're a Bush supporter, correct?

BERNTSEN:  Yes, I am. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But what about the argument that he can't do much when he's on the run and that capturing him alive would be a propaganda victory for al Qaeda, much possibly in the same way the trial of Saddam is good for the Saddam loyalists?

BERNTSEN:  I think he likely will be killed in an assault on him.  He's probably not going to surrender.  But I do think it's important that we eliminate him as a force, because leadership matters. 

CARLSON:  Is it our policy to kill him?

BERNTSEN:  I think our policy is to kill or capture him.  He's not going to be captured easily. 

CARLSON:  Do we have a preference?

BERNTSEN:  I think that my preference would have been to eliminate him there, when we had the opportunity. 

CARLSON:  Right.  But is that an actual directive?  I mean, people must have thought this through.

BERNTSEN:  Cooper Black (ph) instructed me to kill him.  And that's what we were trying to do. 

CARLSON:  Do you think that it strengthens the happened of al Qaeda throughout the world that he has not been killed?

BERNTSEN:  I think it's a moral victory for them.  You have to remember, on the battlefield, for them all they have to do is escape. 

CARLSON:  Right.

BERNTSEN:  They don't have to win battles.  They need to escape and then conduct terrorist attacks against soft targets.  So we need to eliminate him as a force. 

CARLSON:  It would be a moral victory to kill him.  Gary Berntsen.  The book, “Jawbreaker,” which is I have to say—we didn't even get to it, but it's a really interesting account of what it's like to fly in a Soviet Air helicopter into Afghanistan during the war.  It's a fascinating book. 

BERNTSEN:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  I appreciate it.

BERNTSEN:  Thanks. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, President Bush is fired up about the leak of his domestic spying program to the “New York Times.”  Will the issue dominate his agenda as we enter the new year?

Plus we knew there was a Coke problem on college campuses.  But this is absurd, why the popular soft drink, not the drug, will no longer have a home on at one prominent Midwestern school.  We'll explain why next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still ahead, John Kerry for president, again.  How the former Democratic candidate is gearing up for 2008. 

Plus, it's OK to come up with some radical New Year's resolutions, but is it really the right time to quit your job?  THE SITUATION talks possible unemployment next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

You just know everyone in the White House is breathing a sigh of relief now that 2005 is finally over.  With a looming challenges of the State of the Union address, the Alito confirmation hearings—remember those; they're a week away—and the continuing revelations about domestic spying in this country, the new year could be make or break time for President Bush. 

“TIME” magazine's White House correspondent, Mike Allen, says the president will tackle his critics head-on.  He joins us live tonight from Washington.

Mike, you say in a great new piece that the Bush strategy for dealing with the domestic spying stories is to say, “Yes, that's right.  What are you going to make of it?”

MIKE ALLEN, “TIME” MAGAZINE:  Welcome back, Tucker.

And you're right.  the president has been very aggressive coming out nearly every day and talking about this.  And he keeps saying if you're not talking to al Qaeda, you're fine.  If al Qaeda's talking to you, we want to know why. 

If that turns out to be the extent of this program, if it turns out to be, as the president told us yesterday, that that military hospital in San Antonio limited—he kept using that word, if that's what the American people find out about it in January, I think he'll be fine.  Even Democrats say to me, “I don't—can't get too excited or worried about that.”  I think that we expect we should be doing that.

But Tucker, there have been a number of news reports, some of them confirmed by my “TIME” colleagues, that indicate that it may be more than that.  That in fact, what may have been going on is a vast data mining operation.  As one of my “TIME” colleagues said to me, what may be going on here is not a violation of FISA, the intelligence court act.  It may be a violation of the intelligence act or violation of the privacy act. 

CARLSON:  What does that mean?  Tell us what a vast data mining operation means.

ALLEN:  Well, Tucker, “The New York Times,” which broke the story originally, had two follow-up stories, which if they turn out to be people's impression of this, the president is going to have a problem with people like you, Tucker, who I believe has a libertarian streak.  And conservatives do not like Big Brother. 

The “Times” had one story saying that, contrary to what the administration has been saying, there have been some of these calls that were domestic to domestic.  It was only a small number, and they say it was because of, you know, technological problems.  For instance, an international phone being in the U.S.

But separately there was this story that said that had been, the National Security Agency had been tapping into the backbones, the basic lines of Verizon and other international carriers in order to garner this information. 

This all arose with a story in the “Times” by James Risen.  His book now is out.

CARLSON:  Right.

ALLEN:  And “TIME” this week has the first look at it.  And in there he says that what they did was they would get an al Qaeda cell phone, look at all the numbers in it, and they would not look at just those communications, but if your number's on the phone, they would look at all the people you talked to. 

CARLSON:  Right.  So the tree would branch out, essentially.

ALLEN:  That's right.

CARLSON:  It's like the game of Telephone, actually. 

So what—I mean, the White House response to this, they must know if there is more to come—and I'm hearing exactly what you're hearing, and I'm sure some of it is untrue, but some of it may be true, that there are, you know, a lot more amazing revelations to come about the kind of domestic spying that's been going on. 

If the White House, if that's true, must know it, of course.  They're still taking kind of brazen, you know, “we dare you to disagree with what we're doing” stand on this.  They must have done polling on it.  They must be certain that the public is on their side.  Have they done polling on it?  Are they certain?

ALLEN:  Well, Tucker, there has been a small amount of polling, and as you and I suggested at the beginning, if it is simply listening in to al Qaeda, I think people are fine with that.  And I think your average red-blooded red stater is going to stay with the president on this. 

And we were told, for our piece in “TIME” magazine this week, that instant—almost instantly they made the decision to not back off a bit, not make any change to the program.  As you know, within 24 hours the president was on TV saying that it was vital to national security. 

And as they come forward to the State of the Union, they're going to try to be packaging the president as a strong, decisive leader.  Their belief is the president comes across best when he            is taking a strong stance.  They're going to have him talking about prosecuting the war on terror.  And this is going to be—every time it comes up they're going to talk about this as an essential part of the war on terror. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ALLEN:  Secondly, spreading democracy and the third—Tucker, don't laugh—restraining spending. 

CARLSON:  Restraining spending.  I have to laugh at that.  That is a crock.  The first two I've got mixed feelings about.  The last I don't.  They haven't restrained.  He hasn't vetoed a single thing.  I wish he would.

Mike Allen, really one of the great reporters in all of Washington. 

Thanks a lot for coming on. 

ALLEN:  Pray for the miners, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I will.  Thanks, Mike.

Still ahead, amazingly, John Kerry lost the last presidential election and now some unbelievable news about his future plans.  The full details when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Democrats—and I know you're out there—you might want to sit down and grab a stiff drink, maybe two.  It appears that 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry readying himself for yet another run at the White House three years from now in 2008.  Make that two years from now.  Kerry trying to mimic Adlai Stevenson who suffered losses in the 1950's?  Possibly. 

Here to help us answer that question conclusively, MSNBC political contributor, Flavia Colgan—Flavia. 

FLAVIA COLGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Tucker, hello.  I have to say something very painful before we begin.  Giving me Curtis last week made me miss you.  I can't believe it, but it's true.  So welcome back. 

CARLSON:  Well, I'll take that as a compliment.  I haven't watched the tape yet, but I shall.

Flavia, this is sad news.  You know, I don't love John Kerry, but I don't despise him, either.  And it bothers me that he's going to humiliate him again, and here's why.  Here's why.

John Kerry compares himself to John McCain.  Every speech—you know, every speech he gives, every statement he sends out of his press office compares himself to John McCain as a former war hero, as someone who has, you know, lost one election but is going to run again. 

Here's the key difference.  McCain is an insurgent.  He's running against—when he ran in 2000, when he runs again in 2008, he'll be running against his party as a kind of independent voice. 

Kerry is an establishment candidate, has always been. 

COLGAN:  Right.

CARLSON:  He cannot run as an insurgent.  The problem is the Democratic establishment no longer backs John Kerry.  This is doomed to lose. 

COLGAN:  Exactly right.  Listen, John Kerry is a great American and he's a great guy, and I like him.  But No. 1, that does not take away from the fact that he ran one of the worst races I've ever seen. 

And No. 2, you're dead on.  I mean, John Kerry might be making the rounds right now on these shows, but he's not differentiating himself.  He's not cutting through the cacophony of sort of complete clutter in the Democratic Party.  And he's not making a clear message on the most important issue facing this nation right now, and that is Iraq. 

CARLSON:  Who's going to tell him that?  Who's...

COLGAN:  I don't think he has a chance. 

CARLSON:  ... going to tell John Kerry that.  You know it, I know it.  I think we're both right.  Who's going to be the person who steps into John Kerry's office and delivers the bad to him?  Which is another way of saying who's in charge of your party?

COLGAN:  Well, listen, Teresa Kerry has never been one to mince words, and she's pretty politically astute.  She may. 

And I think the American public will.  The American public really wants a fresh face.  As you know, I'm not even that happy about Hillary Clinton.  I think we need to look to the governorships, people who've really accomplished things, you know, created jobs, cut taxes. 

And someone who's going to be a fresh new voice of the Democratic Party and not be so afraid to stand up and take on the establishment and stop worrying about the polls and what they think is the right thing to do and do what is right, instead.  And John Kerry and a lot of the Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, have not done that.  So I'm looking to a guy like Mark Warner or others, not the establishment candidates. 

CARLSON:  And it's also someone, if I can say, who's going to be willing to stand up to the wacko left, the annoying lifestyle liberalism left that kind of controls the party, or has for the past 30 years. 

And I'm talking about, for instance, the people at the University of Michigan in a story that caught my eye, who have banned the sale of Coca-Cola on campus.  Why?  Because they claim that Coke bottlers in Colombia have been mean to organized labor there.  And they claim that Coca-Cola in India has somehow polluted the ground water.

Here's what strikes me about this story.  First of all, the University of Michigan not the only college to do this.  Ten universities and colleges in this country have done it, including Rutgers, Santa Clara in California, NYU here in New York have banned Coca-Cola products. 

Rather than going to, say, the government India, which is responsible for the vast majority of pollution in India, they blame a U.S. company.  And not just any U.S. company, the company that represents America abroad. 

Coca-Cola, that is America to a lot of the rest of the world. 

This is another manifestation for the hatred for the loathing of, the contempt for the United States that I think a lot of, I think, college-age liberals have.  And I think it's bad for the country and bad for your party. 

COLGAN:  Well, Tucker, I wish we had a lot more time to talk about this, because I spent a tremendous amount of time researching this issue today.  Because I agree with you.  I do think that America is represented by Coca-Cola immensely.  And I've had great experiences with them and their community work in Philadelphia.

However, there's a couple things I want to say.  One, I'm surprised that the free market conservatives like yourselves all of a sudden are upset that market forces like them not complying with do what you know—having a third-party investigation are forcing people like you...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Hold on.  There's no market force here.  The University of Michigan, which is a public institution, funded by tax dollars, has decided that it is, on behalf of all taxpayers, no longer going to buy Coca-Cola.  There's no market force at all.

COLGAN:  Let me go on to a couple of their points.  But they did ask them to agree to a third-party investigation, which they didn't respond to. 

Secondly, a lot of the viewers have to understand that in 1899 the owner of Coca-Cola sold the bottling right.  Why that is important is to say that Coca-Cola and bottling companies are one and the same is simply false.  So these people that may be doing these inappropriate things in Indiana and Colombia, may not be even be that connected with Coca-Cola. 

The one thing I'll fault Coca-Cola for is...

CARLSON:  They're attacking because they're mad at America.  That's the bottom line, and you know it.

COLGAN:  I have two more points I want to make.  One, Coca-Cola should not be playing cat and mouse and not saying who the bottling company is on their web site.  Now is not the time, with seven people dead, which I don't know if they're involved with it all.

They need to roll up their sleeves and get to the bottom of what's going on.  I want the truth.  Who made those calls?  Why is this happening?

And to all the consumers out there who are watching, who like me, don't have the time to worry about whether Coca-Cola did something wrong or didn't, there's one way surefire way to not be giving money that may be shady and that is buy all-American products. 

And there's a drink out there that just came out this week called Cool Energy Fuel (ph).  That's an energy drink like a Powerade that's made completely in America, with American workers.  Even their foreign products are made in America and a portion of it goes to help...

COLGAN:  And I have the feeling—and this is just a guess.  This is just a guess, Flavia, but I suspect there will be a case of it waiting on your doorstep tonight when you get home. 

COLGAN:  Well, I should hope so.  I need all the energy I can get. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Flavia Colgan in Washington, D.C., tonight. 

Thank you, Flavia. 

COLGAN:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Still to come, the movie “Office Space” shed a bright light on idiotic bosses and the moronic workers who toil for them in an uninspired way.  Is it about time you quit your job and escaped the cubical culture? We talked radical career changes when THE SITUATION comes back. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY COLE, ACTOR:  Oh, yes.  So I guess we should probably go ahead and have a little talk, hmmm?

RON LIVINGSTON, ACTOR:  Not right now, Lumbergh.  I'm kind of busy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  My next guest is on a crusade to eliminate bad words from your vocabulary, not the four-letter kind, but words and phrases that are so misused and overused they make the list of words and phrases banished from the Queen's English.  There is such a list, and John Shibley of Lake Superior State University is the co-compiler of it.  He joins us live tonight from Ontario, Canada.  Mr. Shibley, thanks a lot for coming on.  Let me just say right at the outset, you're my hero.  Anybody who can come out against the phrase “zero percent APR financing,” I'm for.  

JOHN SHIBLEY, LAKE SUPERIOR STATE UNIVERSITY:  You know, it's a five-dollar phrase on a nickel errand.

CARLSON:  That's exactly—well put.  I guess it just means no interest, right? 

SHIBLEY:  No interest. 

CARLSON:  No interest.

SHIBLEY:  Always economize.

CARLSON:  Good for you for clearing that up for the rest of us who listen to car commercials all day. 

I want to talk about a list of some of the words you proposed be banned from our common language here.  The list leads with the word “blog.”  And let me just suggest that you've lost the battle on that. 

SHIBLEY:  Well, English is an evolving language, and we're not word Nazis.  I'm not out on a crusade to cleanse the mother tongue.  This is all put together from nominations, several thousand, and blog floated to the top, and so it appears on our list. 

CARLSON:  Well, we can only wish, but I have a feeling that both of us are going to be disappointed in the end when blog actually does become a permanent word. 

Community of learners, I didn't know until today, and was distress to learn—community of learners is now a euphemism for school? 

SHIBLEY:  Well, according to one of our nominators.  It appears on our Web site 31 times, and I think it's a little overused.  Several hundred people voted that onto our list this year.  So we thought it was a good idea to add it to our list.

CARLSON:  Yeah, I think we should kill that one in the crib before it becomes commonly used. 

Here's one that I—I think I pretty much vehemently disagree with, erectile dysfunction.  Yes, it's an unattractive phrase, but what's the alternative? 

SHIBLEY:  The alternative is to dance around.  Erectile dysfunction, I guess, I sort of get a little squirmy when that comes on during dinner or something. 

CARLSON:  I do, too, but I mean, that's the least vulgar way of describing what's, you know, not a subject you want to talk about at dinner anyway.

SHIBLEY:  For decades, Hollywood talked about erectile dysfunction—well, maybe not that, but a number of unmentionable things without throwing a physician's term at us.  So we're open to any suggestions. 

CARLSON:  Yeah, I just can't think of a better one. 

SHIBLEY:  ED?  

CARLSON:  That's the least creepy alternative—ED, exactly. 

Now, here's one that you propose striking from our language—body wash, which, as you point out, is merely soap. 

SHIBLEY:  Yes, it's repackaged.  I guess body wash can come in bottles, it can come in sponges.  You can squirt it on you or you can just get a good old bar, a bar of soap. 

CARLSON:  So is part of the—I sense a kind of—we're not going to go through the whole list, we don't have time, sadly, but a theme here seems to be syllable reduction, and if so I'm on your side.  The idea that you can express in fewer syllables with less complicated, less latinate words the same concept.  So you would always choose soap over body wash. 

SHIBLEY:  Well, if there's a serious side to this list, it's to get us to slow down and think about how we express ourselves. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

SHIBLEY:  And if you can do it with fewer words and express yourself clearly, more power to you. 

CARLSON:  Well, here's one that struck a little bit close to home.  You're against the term “breaking news.”  And we in the breaking news business are strongly for breaking news. 

SHIBLEY:  Well, breaking news used to mean a call in the middle of the night, space shuttle exploding, JFK—well, I may be dating myself, but Kennedy being assassinated.  Now, as one nominator mentions, someone—some celebrity could be getting married to another celebrity, and all of a sudden it's breaking news.  You drop what you're doing and you run to the TV and it's, well.

CARLSON:  But what if Angelina really is having Brad's baby?  I mean, that is breaking news. 

SHIBLEY:  Well, yeah, that's breaking news.  I guess that's pop culture.  I'm not a curmudgeon.  We're not.  The committee's not a curmudgeon.  In fact, you could use any phrase or word you want to use.  In fact, I could write a book with all the words and phrases we've banned, quote/unquote, in the last 30 years.

CARLSON:  Yes, you can, but you shouldn't.  You should not use community of learners.  I'm going to go on the record.  I think we can agree on that.  John Shibley of Lake Superior State University, doing the Lord's work.  Thanks a lot for coming on tonight. 

SHIBLEY:  Thanks for having me on. 

CARLSON:  Thanks. 

There's still plenty more ahead on THE SITUATION.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON (voice-over):  Radical careering.  What's it going to take to add a little office space between you and your job from hell? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, yeah.

CARLSON:  Plus, we'll show you why these beasts of burden touched off a tourist stampede in Nepal. 

Baby bear boom.  Picture-perfect proof that 2005 was a productive year for Chinese panda makers. 

And we unravel the mystery of what this guy's been keeping under his hat for the past 40 years.  It's all ahead on THE SITUATION.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Great.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Is one of the your new year's resolutions to quit your miserable job?  Well, it ought to be.  But before you go and tell your boss how you really feel about him, you should listen to our next guest.  She wants to save your career with advice like, aspire to be the dumbest person in the room, which actually is good advice.  Sally Hogshead is the author of the book “Radical Careering: 100 Truths to Jump-Start Your Career, Your Job and Your Life.”  She joins us live now in the studio tonight.  Sally Hogshead, thanks for coming on. 

SALLY HOGSHEAD, AUTHOR, “RADICAL CAREERING”:  Thank you, Tucker. 

Thanks for having me. 

CARLSON:  So a lot of people, I think this new year's have decided they want to make a radical change in their lives.  It's a pretty easy piece of advice, quit your job, but how do you know when you should quit your job? 

HOGSHEAD:  If you're in a job and you can tell that you're not getting anything from the people you work with, and everyone is uninspired, and they all go out for beers after work and they all complain but nobody's doing anything about it, when you can tell you're in a diseased workplace, it's time to start thinking about your options. 

CARLSON:  So if other people are unhappy, that's a sign you ought to take off.  

HOGSHEAD:  And no one is doing anything about it, especially if the corporation is being run by politics, or if people have priorities that are out of whack with yours.  If you're committed to making a lot of money, but they're committed to going home at 5:00.  Or if you're committed to being outstanding at your job, but they're committed to just making a wheelbarrowful of stock options, then your priorities are out of whack and you're not going to be successful in that job. 

CARLSON:  If people took your advice, there would not be a single employee at the DMV.  I mean, you know, if everybody who worked at an uninspiring workplace quit, there would be a lot of unemployed people. 

HOGSHEAD:  Yes, it's true.  And thank God for those people who are willing to slog through in an uninspiring job, so that we all have driver's licenses.  Very true.

CARLSON:  Good point.  But it's a pretty radical move to do it. 

Should you have something lined up before you do it? 

HOGSHEAD:  A lot of people say that you should.  I believe that the most important thing you can do as soon as you start a job is to start thinking about, what is my next move?  You can't plot the chess game when you're ready to quit, because by that time, it's too late.  You needed to start work on your personal brand, your reputation, your contacts, the results that you can generate.  These are the things that you need to be doing along the way.  You can't wait until you're miserable in your job to suddenly start thinking about that. 

CARLSON:  It's kind of reckless, isn't it?  I mean, if you just kind of split—what if you've got a family to support? 

HOGSHEAD:  And I have a family to support.  I'm the sold breadwinner of my family.  My husband is a stay-at-home dad, and I've twice made a radical career move.  One time, I took a 50 percent pay cut.  And it was pretty harsh, I have to say, but by strategically plotting why you're going to move into the job that you are, you can gather what I call portable equity, which is all the forms of capital, like skills and experiences and contacts—all the things that you need to propel you forward into your next job.  That's the best form of job security that you can have. 

CARLSON:  What, is having these skills? 

HOGSHEAD:  Exactly.  Having that bank account, having a career bank account with the contacts and the experiences, those lines on your resume that you can put in bold that can stand out to demonstrate the value you can bring to any given job. 

CARLSON:  How hard is it to get a job if you don't have one? 

HOGSHEAD:  I don't think the point is whether you have a job or not.  I think the point is, can you demonstrate the value that you can bring to the party immediately, starting today? 

CARLSON:  I always think, though, that people I know who have been unemployed tend to kind of fall into this rut, where they're not thinking like an employed person anymore, and you sort of feel like a loser and then you start acting like a loser. 

HOGSHEAD:  It's so true.  And you know, your own perception of your market value starts plummeting. 

CARLSON:  That's right.

HOGSHEAD:  And that's a game, though, that you're playing with yourself.  That's not the job market playing that game with you.  I don't think people think that you're worth less just because you're unemployed.  I think that you start thinking you're worth less, and so you stop aiming as high as you should. 

CARLSON:  Really?  I sort of—I don't know, I look down—I mean, I'll be totally honest, I know people who have, you know, been looking for a job for a long time, and after a while you start to think, well, I don't know, you're having three beers at lunch.  I sort of blame them. 

HOGSHEAD:  That's called a sabbatical.  Those are the salad days.

CARLSON:  OK.  But you think ultimately it is worth the risk?  You're for the skydiving approach to it, sort of do the right thing in the end—in the short-term, and you'll gain in the long term. 

HOGSHEAD:  I think it's more of a strategic decision than that.  Because if you're in a job and you know that you're in a crappy job and you know that you need to get out of that job, start plotting your move ahead of time. 

CARLSON:  Right.

HOGSHEAD:  So start thinking about what are the things that I need to accomplish in order for me to have the job that I really want?  So if there's a specific type of a project that you need to be able to spearhead, to demonstrate to your current employer that you can take on the type of responsibility that that job will demand, then start that project today.  Even if you're not going to quit your job until after you've finished that project.  Do you see what I mean?

CARLSON:  Yes.  So you just become sneaky in your current job.

HOGSHEAD:  You become strategic in your current job. 

CARLSON:  So you're not stealing—you're stealing skills, basically.

HOGSHEAD:  You know, if your employer isn't giving what you need to be happy in your job and they don't give you the opportunity to create that, it's got to be a two-way street.  Your job is not just about you giving to your employer.  Your employer has to be giving you what you need in order to feel valuable and proud and fulfilled. 

CARLSON:  Amen.  I agree with that.  Sally Hogshead. 

HOGSHEAD:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  That sounds like great advice.  Thanks for coming on.

HOGSHEAD:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  I appreciate it.

Coming up on THE SITUATION, the grief has finally begun to subside over the death of Sam, the world's ugliest job.  But it's been replaced by controversy.  Is Sam's owner guilty of exploiting her hideous beast?  We investigate when THE SITUATION rolls on. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Time for our voicemail segment.  I've been gone for a week, and the thing I missed most was hearing your voice in the voicemail.  So without further ado, first up. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUE ELLEN:  Hi, this is Sue Ellen calling from Dayton, Ohio.  And I was calling about the Dick Clark's New Year's Eve special.  I am a huge fan of his.  I was really looking forward to it, and I actually found it morbid and very depressing.  And I just wanted to see what you thought of it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I agree with you, Dick Clark is I think a great guy, terrific entertainer and host, but he was in very bad shape.  It was a decision that he made on his own to appear, recovering from a stroke as he is, on ABC New Year's Eve.  You can respect it.  If it was a decision that he was pushed into by people around him, then I think it was despicable.  (INAUDIBLE), but he didn't seem that way.  It was sad. 

Next up. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LORI:  Lori Falls (ph), Lawrence, Kansas.  No one should profit off the back of a rescued dog.  Rescued dogs should be placed in homes to live out the rest of their lives with dignity and understanding, not dragged all over the place for people to laugh and make fun of. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Well, it depends.  I mean, if they're that ugly, I think it's fair to put them on display.  And I say that as a dog lover, and I say that as someone, you know, who is opposed to any kind of mistreatment of animals. 

But if you have a dog that looks like that, that is, in fact, the world's ugliest dog, I think it's not only fair but right to put that dog on television.  How could—look at that thing.  How could you not?  Come on.  Next up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB:  Bob Abbott (ph), Jupiter, Florida.  North Carolina has made it illegal to order a hamburger unless it's well done.  This is I think supposed to protect you against botulism, like seatbelt laws are protecting you against going through the windshield or something.  And I just wonder what next they're going to come up with. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I don't know, Bob, but you can bet it is going to be something, because if it's one thing these people will not stop doing is protecting you from yourself.  By the way, I think it's e. coli, not botulism they're trying to protect you from, but you've got a right to order dangerous hamburgers if you want to.  Warning you about the burger is fine, but preventing you from eating a dangerous hamburger, it's wrong.  It's your God-given right to eat any kind of dangerous hamburger you want, as far as I'm concerned, and good for you for fighting the good fight to bring that to America's attention. 

Let me know what you're thinking.  1-877-TCARLSON is the number. 

That's 877-822-7576.  You can also e-mail, tucker.MSNBC.com is our address. 

You can moreover check out our daily blog, tucker.msnbc.com. 

And still ahead on THE SITUATION, you haven't lived until you've been to a giant panda New Year's Day party.  We have got hangovers, football and bamboo waiting for you all on “The Cutting Room Floor,” next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  I'm not going to call it historic, but it's pretty close.  It's the first “Cutting Room Floor” of 2006, for which we are proud to welcome Willie Geist.

WILLIE GEIST, THE SITUATION:  It sounds like history to me, Tucker.  And I want to make something very clear, one of my New Year's resolutions is not to quit this job.  I'm going to get fired so I get a severance package. 

CARLSON:  Quite a strategy. 

GEIST:  Yes.

CARLSON:  These Chinese pandas got together and spent New Year's Day like the rest of us, watching football and trying to put together pieces of the night before.  That's not true, I don't think pandas even like football, but these 16 little guys did spend the first day of 2006 together to celebrate a very reproductive year.  A record 21 pandas born in China's zoos last year have survived. 

GEIST:  Tucker, have you seen that shot in there of the people bouncing—there it is—the people bouncing the pandas up and down on their laps?  It's cute now, when it's a baby panda.  But rest assured, these pandas are keeping lists of the people who are bouncing them...

CARLSON:  I agree with that.

GEIST:  ... and there will be a day of reckoning. 

CARLSON:  I completely agree.  You know, people who worry about China overtaking us in the global marketplace, just look at that. 

GEIST:  That's it, right there.  Look at that.

CARLSON:  It's going to be a while.

GEIST:  The panda doesn't want to be bounced up and down.  He'll be coming for you soon.

CARLSON:  He will weigh 400 pounds, with inch-long fangs, they'll remember. 

Elephant racing is a lot like thoroughbred horse racing, without the speed, excitement or off-track betting.  A small town in Nepal hosted the first ever international elephant race the other day.  Jockeys from all over the world, including from the U.S., navigated their elephants around a 160-yard track.  The event is part of an effort to attract more tourists to the Himalayas. 

GEIST:  Excuse me?  That's your solution to attracting tourists?  Put in a Six Flags or Planet Hollywood or something.  I mean, that's just—elephant racing, I can say for certain, is not the answer.  I would not trek over the Himalayas (INAUDIBLE). 

CARLSON:  I have a lot of questions.  Where do the jockeys come from?  Like, do they come from other elephant racing tournaments?  Is there like an international circuit?

GEIST:  Oh, it's a big circuit over here, you just don't know about it.  You're not a sports guy.

CARLSON:  I guess not.

GEIST:  I'll educate you later. 

CARLSON:  Thank you.

If Rapunzel was a real person and she was a 50-year-old Indian man, this might be what she looked like.  This resident of a small village in western India has not cut his hair in 40 years.  His hair, 42 feet long.  The man cleans his locks once a week, whether he needs it or not, and treats them with oil to give him that special sheen. 

GEIST:  A little metrosexual (INAUDIBLE) shiny.  How do you wash that hair, exactly?  You go through a car wash or something?  That's crazy. 

CARLSON:  Brushless.

GEIST:  Yeah, brushless carwash.  By the way, where's, you know I'm tough on Guinness.  Where is Guinness for this guy? 

(CROSSTALK)

GEIST:  ... and this guy can't get in the book? 

CARLSON:  Some people say cats are useless pets because all they do is lie around and sleep contemptuously.  Well, it turns out they can also call 911 and save your life once in a while.  Police in Columbus, Ohio say Tommy the Cat dialed 911 after his owner's phone—on his owner's phone after his owner fell out of his wheelchair.  When the police arrived, they found Tommy lying on the floor next to the phone.  The man says he trained his cat to call 911.

GEIST:  It's an amazing story, Tucker, but something just ain't right here.  I guess I just have concerns that he taught the cat how to make phone calls. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that.

GEIST:  It's troubling a little bit.  It's nice, I'm glad everything worked out, but get yourself one of those medic alert things. 

CARLSON:  Would you trust your life to a cat?  Cats hate you, deep down.  You know what I mean? 

GEIST:  Of course they do.  Dog is one thing, but you don't want to put your life in your cat's hands.

CARLSON:  No, cats can't wait until you die. 

GEIST:  Right. 

CARLSON:  It's going to sound like we made up this next story, and we sometimes do, but in this case we didn't, we swear.  Multiple arrest warrants have been issued for a Delaware man who required a police airlift to rescue him from waist-deep mud yesterday.  What's the crime, you ask?  Well, police say he needed the helicopter assistance because he got stuck as he wandered home from an encounter with a male prostitute. 

GEIST:  Ooops.

CARLSON:  The man initially told police he got lost, then admitted to paying the prostitute $150 for sex near a sewage treatment plan. 

GEIST:  Wow.  I'm actually—my first reaction is they have male prostitutes in Delaware?  That's kind of exotic.  I think they're making progress down there, you know?  But I don't know much about this guy's life, but this has to rank right at the top of the worst days of his life.  Getting air-lifted out of the mud after paying $150 for a male prostitute next to a sewage plant.  That's a bad day.

CARLSON:  You know, I could comment on it, but I'm not going to.

GEIST:  Good for you.

CARLSON:  It's a pretty seedy story all the way around.  Willie, we're going to start this year out on a clean note.

GEIST:  I like it.

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.  You too.

CARLSON:  That's SITUATION for tonight.  Thank you for watching. 

We'll see you here back tomorrow night.  Have a great night.

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

END   

Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2006 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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