updated 1/6/2006 9:39:10 AM ET 2006-01-06T14:39:10

Guests: Esther Chavez, John Tierney, Max Kellerman, Richard Playetich

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  Tucker Carlson—and he‘s going to be talking about the sleaze in Hollywood, D.C.  Talk about Hollywood—D.C.,‘s even worse.  Tucker‘s talking about that tonight, and THE SITUATION starts right now.

Tucker, what‘s the situation? 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Thank you, Joe, as always.  Thanks.

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

Tonight a heartbreaking discovery in West Virginia.  What did some of the 12 miners write to their loved ones right before they died?  We‘ll fill you in.

Also, former House speaker, Newt Gingrich attacks the Republican Party over its involvement with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.  Is it time for Tom DeLay to go?  That‘s the question.

Plus we unveil the concept car of the immediate future.  It is both a car and a video game.  We‘ll show you Nissan‘s news six-speed Xbox in just a few minutes. 

But first, we‘re keeping a close high eye on the health of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at this hour.  After suffering his second stroke in less than three weeks yesterday morning, Sharon will remain in an induced coma for at least two or three more days, doctors say, to stop the bleeding in his brain. 

Here was Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, earlier tonight. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SHLOMO MOR-YOSEF, DIRECTOR, HADASSAH HOSPITAL:  Mr. Sharon is under sedation, anesthesia and ventilation.  This treatment will last for the next 48, 72 hours, depending upon his condition.  And then gradually, we‘ll try to awake the prime minister in order to see his response. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Of course, we‘ll continue to monitor the health status of Minister Sharon.  If there are any updates on his condition, we‘ll bring them to you first here on THE SITUATION. 

Moving on now to the tragedy in West Virginia.  It appears that some of the 12 miners while trapped underground managed to leave notes for their loved ones, letting them know they did not suffer in their final hours.  Investigators are still looking into what actually caused that explosion that put the miners in peril in the first place. 

NBC‘s Tom Costello was in Tallmansville, West Virginia, with more—

Tom. 

TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, good evening.  NBC News is reporting tonight that federal investigators are looking into whether lightning hit a pole that sticks into the ground, a pipe, if you will, and into an area in the mine where there are natural gas reserves.  If that happened, it could have caused a massive explosion.

Also tonight, a return visit to the mine, with one of the men who got out with his life. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice-over):  Denver Anderson survived the explosion that killed 12 men working ahead of him on the coal seam deep underground.  Today for the first time he returned to the Sago mine. 

DENVER ANDERSON, ESCAPED MINING CATASTROPHE:  Well, I just felt all this debris hit me and I turned and threw my arm up to protect my face.  Lost my hat and glasses.

COSTELLO:  In the pitch black he grabbed his oxygen mask and feared for the 13 miners working deeper underground. 

(on camera) Without that rescue mask, could you have made it out alive?

ANDERSON:  It would have been tough. 

COSTELLO (voice-over):  While the men on Anderson‘s team survived, 12 of the 13 miners ahead of them did not. 

Today word that several of the miners‘ bodies had been found with notes, telling family members that they hadn‘t suffered.  The message on Terry Helms‘ body says simply, “I went in peace.”

MICHELLE MOUSER, TERRY HELMS‘ NIECE:  I think another miner there that was in there that had stormed the barricade and stuff knew that, you know, he was passing away.  So they wrote the note to let the family know that he went in peace. 

COSTELLO:  The only survivor, 27-year-old Randal McCloy, is in serious enough condition he had to be transferred to a Pittsburgh hospital for treatment to stimulate brain activity. 

While at the mine, federal and state inspectors have begun their investigation.  They will look at why, from 2004 to 2005, even though coal production was dropping, the number of man hours and safety violations increased. 

Although it‘s not a union mine, the union is speaking out. 

DENNIS O‘DELL, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA:  These were serious violations that they were issuing.  They were imminent danger violations.  And it‘s—when you see that type of activity, it sends a red flag up and tells you that the conditions of this mine was unsafe. 

COSTELLO:  Bob Friend represents the government‘s Mine Safety Administration. 

(on camera) Did you feel this mine was unsafe?

BOB FRIEND, MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION:  No.  If we had, we would have shut it down. 

COSTELLO:  But you did shut down portions of it last year?

FRIEND:  We did shut down parts of it or pieces of equipment. 

COSTELLO (voice-over):  In fact, 18 shutdowns last year alone.  But the company that bought the mine in November says safety is its priority. 

(on camera) Did you ever feel concern for your safety down there?

ANDERSON:  No.  I never did feel...

COSTELLO:  You felt it was a safe mine?

ANDERSON:  Yes.

COSTELLO (voice-over):  And tonight many of Anderson‘s fellow miners agreed. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There was nothing wrong with the ventilation part of it. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This company is doing everything they can to make it safe for the men in there. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO:  Also tonight, word of yet another note, pinned to another miner‘s body.  This one on the foreman, Martin Toler.  It reads “Tell all I will see them on the other side.  It wasn‘t bad,” he says.  “I just went to sleep.  I love you.”

Tucker, back to you. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, Tom. 

As for the lone survivor, Randal McCloy, the hyperbaric oxygen treatments Tom just mentioned are reportedly under way.  Doctors say McCloy is in stable condition but remains critically ill from carbon monoxide poisoning. 

We move on now to a lighter topic, unless you happen to be one of the many members of Congress with ties to former lobbyist and admitted felon Jack Abramoff. 

On Wednesday former House Speaker Newt Gingrich urged Republicans, especially those who returned campaign money from Abramoff, to stop making excuses or risk losing their seats in the house.  Abramoff, meanwhile, has already agreed to cooperate with investigators looking into congressional corruption. 

Here now to discuss what the Abramoff scandal means for both parties, Rachel Maddow, who you can now hear each and every morning from 7 to 9 a.m.  Eastern on Air America Radio.

Welcome back, Rachel. 

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO HOST:  Thanks.  Nice to see you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Great to see you.

Over for Tom DeLay?

MADDOW:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  Over for Tom DeLay, even if there are no legal implications for Tom DeLay.  Here‘s the problem.  Tom DeLay is on the record saying, “Jack Abramoff is one of my closest friends.” 

All during the Clinton years I made the case, mostly in private, that Clinton‘s friends in Arkansas, especially in Whitewater, were so sleazy—and they were—and I know some of them from when I worked in Arkansas—that it said something profound and profoundly bad about Clinton that he would be friends with them. 

I believe if Jack Abramoff is one of your closest friends, there‘s something wrong with you, especially if you purport to be a conservative.  Here‘s a guy who was doing the bidding of Indian gambling, trying to keep Indian casino winnings tax free.  That is the least conservative possible life mission you could have.  OK, people are getting tax free gambling winnings simply because of their race? 

The whole thing is so disgusting.  I don‘t think Tom DeLay can come back. 

MADDOW:  Well, you have Tom DeLay as, you know, a Christian, conservative, upstanding kind of guy...

CARLSON:  Right.

MADDOW:  ... crusading against gambling and then sometimes voting for it.  And then you find out there‘s a money trail that goes to the wife of his deputy assistant chief of staff around that vote.  I mean, it‘s just going to get uglier and uglier for DeLay.  If all of his previous ethics problems weren‘t enough for you, this is really going to overtop it.

The thing that I think is interesting, though, is that what got so much attention in the press today was Newt Gingrich calling him out.

CARLSON:  Right.

MADDOW:  And Newt Gingrich saying that “I don‘t think that Tom DeLay should be the next majority leader, and I think the Republicans need to get rid of him.”

That‘s like hearing from Donald Trump that you have a bad haircut.  I mean, Gingrich is the guy with Grover Norquist who came up with the whole Republican K Street project that started this whole thing. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  But here‘s the difference, and I think it‘s a significant difference.  Newt Gingrich, whatever his many shortcomings might have been, I don‘t think sold his out own ideology while he was still speaker of the House. 

MADDOW:  What about when he had to give $300,000 out to settle ethics charges in 1997, after crusading on ethics issues in ‘94?  I mean...

CARLSON:  I‘ve lived in Washington a long time.  The whole ethics thing, there are real violations of ethics, but there are phony violations of ethics.  I‘m not even troubled by that.

I‘m troubled by the violation of your own ideological principles.  Elect me, because I believe this.  I believe in these ideas.  OK?  And then to go, which is what Gingrich and DeLay both said, and then to go and violate them so dramatically in private is just a complete deal killer for me. 

The other problem, in my view, with all this, is that it casts aspersions on all lobbyists.  And let me be the only person in all of America to defend lobbyists just for one second.  Lobbying has a legitimate use. 

Lobbyists, most of the time, get what they want, not because they pay money to the members but because they‘re considered the only people in America, including members of Congress, who actually read the legislation.  They know more than almost anybody else about what happens in Congress. 

That‘s why they‘re effective.

MADDOW:  And in this Congress they sometimes write the legislation. 

CARLSON:  I mean, look, you can argue about whether they have too much power of not.  But they‘re not all Jack Abramoff.  Most of them are really decent people. 

MADDOW:  But what happened was there was a change, and that this isn‘t totally a bipartisan issue, in that in the mid-90s people like Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist made this decision to set up the K Street project to make K Street, make lobbying part of the Republican political machine.  And that‘s why you see such an incredibly lopsided number in terms of the amount of money that‘s going to Republicans from K Street as opposed to going to Democrats. 

CARLSON:  It‘s a little bit more complicated.  There have always been a lot of lobbyists.  That‘s what K Street is; it‘s the street where the lobbyists work.  And it was overwhelmingly Democratic, because the Democrats held the House for 40 years. 

And the Republicans came in and said, “Well, that‘s not fair.  We run everything.  You should be Republicans now.”  And they were very heavy handed about it, and I agree with you there. 

MADDOW:  Yes.

CARLSON:  But to say they made it part of the Republican machine.  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know any more than the Democrats ever did. 

MADDOW:  I think the fact that one of the things that Tom DeLay has been nailed on, one of the things that Gingrich got nailed on, was going after lobbying groups for hiring Democrats instead of Republicans tells you how aggressive the Republicans were on it.  And now it‘s coming home to roost. 

CARLSON:  Well, it certainly is coming home to roost.  There‘s a fascinating piece today pointing out that Democrats at the national level, people who think through what the Democratic Party ought to do to win elections, are now recruiting candidates who are for gun rights or pro-Second Amendment and who are opposed to abortion or pro-life, because they‘ve finally figured out that they‘re losing elections because a lot of voters actually aren‘t for legal abortion and do think they do have a right to have a gun.  And there are a lot of red state voters who might vote Democratic otherwise.

And the example they gave, which is hard to disagree with, Bob Casey, treasurer of Pennsylvania, is strongly a pro-life Democrat, pro-gun right Democratic, who looks like he‘s going to beat Rick Santorum in the Senate race coming up this fall.

Here‘s my question to you: if a Democrat is against abortion and for gun rights in what sense is he or she a Democrat?  Like what does it mean to be a Democrat?  Can you be pro-life, pro-gun and a Democrat?

MADDOW:  Well, I think that the Republicans have really tried to make the difference between the parties about social issues.

CARLSON:  Yes.  That‘s true, though.

MADDOW:  We‘ve had Pat Buchanan in ‘94 going out and saying “culture war.”  You‘ve had George Bush campaigning on gay marriage, even though he dropped it once he was actually reelected. 

CARLSON:  Right.

MADDOW:  All of that stuff.

CARLSON:  But aren‘t—isn‘t—aren‘t those the differences?  I mean, isn‘t that true?

MADDOW:  The Republicans have tried to make those the differences.  For me the difference is much more about the story that we just talked about.  For me, the difference is between the parties.  If it were just about social issues, I‘d be a Green or a Socialist or something.  The reason that I‘m a Democrat is because the Democrats are for people, in my mind, who have to work for a living, and the Republicans represent corporate interests. 

CARLSON:  Are you serious?

MADDOW:  That‘s what I‘ve always seen as the difference between the parties?

CARLSON:  Move to Washington for awhile.  There is no difference on that score.  I mean, they are all in the pocket of big business.  I‘m not for big business.

MADDOW:  What did we just talk about?  We just talked about the fact that K Street, which was big business, lobbyist money in Washington...

CARLSON:  Right.

MADDOW:  ... goes overwhelmingly Republican.  And it‘s part of the Republican machine.

CARLSON:  And for 40 years went overwhelmingly Democratic, and was only going Republican because Tom DeLay made them do it.  My only point is they‘re all on the same side there; they‘re all for unrestricted illegal immigration.  They‘re all for big business. 

MADDOW:  What human being does bankruptcy legislation help?  And the senators from MBNA may be voting for that...

CARLSON:  Wait a second.  Hold on.  You‘re not going to suck me into that conversation, which is really into—the bottom line is it‘s true that that is a significant, maybe the significant difference between the parties now: abortion, guns, gays, the social issues.  Those—religion.

MADDOW:  I totally disagree.  Totally disagree.  I think that‘s what the Republicans want them to be.  And they‘re not.  There are Democrats who are pro-life.  There are Democrats who are pro-choice.  There are Democrats who are pro-gun.  There are Democrats who are anti-gun.  The difference, I think, is where you come down on corporate issues. 

But for me, as somebody who‘s a partisan, I‘m to the left of the Democratic Party on almost everything.  For me, it‘s race by race.  I‘m against the decision to have baby Casey, as I call him, running in Pennsylvania, because I think a moldy piece of cheese could Rick Santorum next year.  Rick Santorum is not going to win, even if you ran him against literally a piece of cheese.  He‘s going to lose.  So run somebody who the majority of Pennsylvania voters agree with on abortion.  A majority of Pennsylvania voters are not against Roe.

CARLSON:  That is—first of all, I think the polling shows that you‘re wrong on that.  Second, I see exactly the opposite.  I actually like Rick Santorum.  I think he‘s a principled guy.  But I would be happy with Bob Casey in there, because Bob Casey represents my views on abortion and guns, and that‘s really important to me. 

And so it‘s not even a party issue.  I think the Democrats are smart to do this,, but aren‘t they going to have a soul-searching moment? 

MADDOW:  No.  You take it on a case-by-case basis.  For example, here‘s one specific example.  Mayor of Newark, New Jersey.  The race is going to be in May.  A Democrat running against a Democrat.  The incumbent is odious, the challenger is no better.

CARLSON:  So odious.  So odious.

MADDOW:  Cory Booker, great challenger, he‘s for school vouchers.  I‘m dramatically opposed to school vouchers, but Cory wins by a mile in that race, just lining them up on pragmatic terms. 

CARLSON:  You‘re running against Sharpe—you could be Pol Pot, and you would still be morally superior, probably, to the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. 

MADDOW:  But as a Democrat and as somebody who cares about Democratic politics, I would never take a stand against Cory Booker and say, “That vouchers thing counts you out.”  I‘d still rather have him be mayor. 

CARLSON:  All right. 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Rachel Maddow, thank you very much.  Seven to 9 every morning on Air America.

MADDOW:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  See you tomorrow. 

Still to come, a nationwide demonstration called Stop the Invasion is planned for Saturday.  Is this protest aimed to prevent illegal aliens from entering this country actually racist?  My next guest says it may be.  Stay tuned for that.

Plus, do you ever find yourself blowing off family members to answer a cell phone call?  If so, you‘re a bad person and B, you want to hear why taking that call could damage your life at home.  Just kidding by the way.

We ring in the New Year, next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

If Minutemen patrols and talk about a wall between the U.S. and Mexico aren‘t enough to convince you there‘s an immigration crisis brewing in this country, maybe this story will.

This Saturday dozens of groups are planning to protest porous borders and poor enforcement of immigration laws.  Organizers will hold demonstrations in 20 states, from California to Connecticut, Illinois to Texas. 

My next guest opposes the Stop the Invasion protests.  Esther Chavez is a community organizer for the American Friends Service Committee.  It‘s a liberal activist group that often assists day laborers.  She joins us tonight in the studio.

Mrs. Chavez, thanks a lot for coming on.

ESTHER CHAVEZ, COMMUNITY ORGANIZER, AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE

COMMITTEE:  Thank you for inviting me.

CARLSON:  So what is wrong with American citizens demanding that their government enforce its laws?

CHAVEZ:  I say that they have forgot the history of their own families, because those who are opposing, they may be from immigrants that emigrate to the United States last century, and at that time the immigration law were different than they are now. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

CHAVEZ:  And that‘s one of the reasons that I believe they are wrong.  Because they had an opportunity to make life in the United States, with less problems that immigrants these days are having now. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I mean, maybe.  I mean, a lot of immigrants to this country, of course, came over in leaky boats that sank in the middle of the Atlantic and died.  I mean, immigration was actually probably more difficult then.

But the point is they‘re not against immigration; they‘re against illegal immigration.  And millions of people immigrate to this—emigrate to this country every year, stand in long lines in American embassies around the world, hoping to come here.  They‘re just against people who break our laws.  Why shouldn‘t we be allowed to be against law breakers?

CHAVEZ:  I think that‘s a good point, but also that we need to remember that we are human beings.  And as a human being, we have needs, needs that have not been able to be fulfilled in our countries. 

CARLSON:  Right.

CHAVEZ:  And I think the United States government are involved in other government, in Latin America and other parts of the world, they also need to consider why people need to emigrate. 

CARLSON:  Maybe because the governments in most Latin American governments are grotesquely corrupt and mismanaged.  I mean, the government of Mexico, for instance, there has never been a Mexican president who didn‘t leave office rich from stealing money, as you know.  It‘s an incredibly corrupt and mismanaged country.  I understand why people want to leave.  Absolutely.  I‘d want to leave, too. 

Why aren‘t you mad at the government of Mexico, the government of Guatemala, the government of Honduras?

CHAVEZ:  Now that you mention Central America, that‘s where I come from.

CARLSON:  yes.

CHAVEZ:  I am from El Salvador.  And the reason that I emigrate to the United States in 1980 was for political reason.

CARLSON:  Right.

CHAVEZ:  It was not an economic reason. 

CARLSON:  OK.

CHAVEZ:  OK, and I see the way the United States government was involved during the ‘80s on the El Salvador situation.  And that give me a right to be in this country, because the billion dollar that the government spent killing my people.  And forced me to emigrate to the United States, to leave my family behind. 

CARLSON:  Leaving your story aside—and I must say I disagree with you completely, that you had a right to come here because of our involvement there.  But you‘ve skipped my question—you‘ve skipped my question, which is why aren‘t you holding the governments of those countries, including the government of El Salvador, which is not a U.S.  puppet government now, as you know, or the government of Mexico.

More specifically, why aren‘t you holding them accountable for the human rights abuses and the corruption in those countries that cause people to want to flee?  Isn‘t that the root of the problem? 

CHAVEZ:  A part of the problem.  It‘s not the whole problem, but a part of the problem is that.  But I think we as a citizen, and I say citizens of El Salvador, not citizens of the United States, when we were trying to do something for our own citizens, your government support that government in my country, and kill 75,000 people.  OK? 

CARLSON:  Well, El Salvador had a pretty screwed up government without U.S. involvement. 

CHAVEZ:  And now...

CARLSON:  I think they also...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... screwed up their own country pretty well, wouldn‘t you say?

CHAVEZ:  I will disagree with that.  Because if the United States government didn‘t send all the military aid that they sent...

CARLSON:  But without refighting the whole Central American question of the 1980s, I want to ask you...

CHAVEZ:  But you know, you‘re talking about immigrants, and I am an immigrant. 

CARLSON:  But most immigrants are not from El Salvador.  Most immigrants are from Mexico and we‘re not intervening...

CHAVEZ:  No, no, no, no.

CARLSON:  Actually, that‘s a fact.  And we‘re not intervening in Mexico right now.  So I want to get to something you said a few minutes ago, which was that people who are opposed to illegal immigration are racist.  And that struck me as an offensive thing to say, one, because, of course, you have no proof it‘s true, and second, it totally ignores the motives of the people who are against illegal immigration.  Why don‘t Americans have a right to determine who comes into their country and who doesn‘t? 

CHAVEZ:  OK.  Let me correct you, because when you say American, you‘re talking about people from Alaska to the...

CARLSON:  American citizens of all races, colors, creeds, absolutely.

CHAVEZ:  United States citizens.  OK? 

CARLSON:  Yes.

CHAVEZ:  And one of the reasons that I say that is because they have forgot about where they are coming from.  And now they are trying... 

CARLSON:  But it‘s their country.  Don‘t they have a right to decide who comes and who doesn‘t?

CHAVEZ:  This is our country.  OK?  It‘s our country.  And you know, what we really need to be asking ourselves is, does the immigration system work or not?  Because let me tell you that in 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act took place, and it was at that time that working in the United States came to be illegal, because it was part of the requirement at that time, that for those who were living in the United States before December 1982 were able to gain an immigration status.  After that has changed, everyone else was coming after that, that they will be penalized to work in the United States. 

CARLSON:  But none of that, as you know, stopped the massive flood of illegal immigration into this country.... 

CHAVEZ:  Yes.

CARLSON:  ... despite what Ronald Reagan promised...

CHAVEZ:  And the reason that I bring this up is because I want you to see that those kind of law are not working. 

CARLSON:  I think—you know what, Esther Chavez, we‘re going to have to leave it there.  Let me just say, I think we both agree on that, that the current law is not working.  So on that note of agreement, thank you for coming on. 

CHAVEZ:  OK.  You‘re welcome. 

CARLSON:  I appreciate it.  Thanks.

Still to come, cooking and housekeeping skills used to be top on the list for men in search of the perfect mate.  What are they looking for these days?  The answer when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Girl power is not just an annoying slogan anymore, it‘s also true.  You don‘t often hear people say it, but these days more women go to college than men.  More graduate after four years, and increasingly, more of them are making more money when they enter the workforce.  It is a trend literally without historical precedent, and it‘s having profound effects on the way men and women date and marry, or don‘t. 

Here to tell us what it all means, “New York Times” columnist John Tierney.  He wrote a terrific piece on the subject this week, entitled “Male Pride and Female Prejudice.”  He joins us live tonight from Washington.  John Tierney, thanks for coming on. 

JOHN TIERNEY, NEW YORK TIMES:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  This—the first paragraph of this piece just says it all;

57 percent of college undergraduates as of right now are women.  And the implications of this are just—are profound and many.  What are they? 

TIERNEY:  And it‘s going up to 60/40 pretty soon.  And the problem is that women tend to want to marry someone at least as well educated as they are and someone who makes at least as much money.  I mean, they‘re willing to marry down, but they tend not to like to do it as much.

Now, men, you know, tend to be a little more flexible on this.  In fact, over the years, they‘ve become more willing to marry women who make more money than they do.  And in fact, they like the idea of a wife who makes some money.

But women are less flexible about marrying down.  And so suddenly you‘ve got all these college-educated women, not as many college-educated men.  So who are the women going to marry?  It‘s a problem.  I mean, some obviously are going to find love with people who make less money, some will find love with people who are less educated, but it‘s going to be hard on the average for a lot of these women to find someone that they really want to marry. 

CARLSON:  Well, you point out that even when they find love and get married, women, to men who make less or who are less well educated, it‘s problematic.  You said, I want to quote it here, “once they‘re married, women with higher incomes seem less tolerant of their husband‘s shortcomings.  Marriages in which the wife and husband earn roughly the same are more likely to fail than other marriages.  The disparity weakens the wife‘s commitment to the marriage, and makes her more likely to initiate divorce.”  That‘s amazing.

TIERNEY:  Well, I mean, it‘s not surprising simply to economists.  You can look at it from that standpoint, that a woman who makes more money is in a better position to leave a bad marriage, and that‘s a good thing, you can say. 

CARLSON:  Right.

TIERNEY:  But also I think what happens—there‘s also something subtle going on, where you can argue whether it‘s cultural or whether it‘s biological, but there‘s this idea that the man has traditionally been the provider.  And once the woman becomes more independent and the man isn‘t fulfilling that role, then I think that you can say that to some women, in some cases, he seems less appealing at that point.  He‘s not as necessary to have around, and there‘s this feeling, well, who needs him and who needs to put up with this anymore. 

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s actually a great question.  I mean, only women can have children, right, of course, and only women, in my view, can really raise them very well the first year or two of life.  You know, women are mothers, right, and men are not. 

So if they have these roles, these distinct and unique roles, and all of a sudden they‘re making as much as the man and are as well educated, it‘s like, what are men for?  It‘s a fair question. 

TIERNEY:  Right.  It‘s tough.  And an awful lot of women have decided simply to go out on their own, and have gone for single parenthood or they‘re not getting married at all.  And of course, you know, some of them are happy.  And you know, one thing also is that women tend to say that they don‘t need marriage as much as men do, and there are studies that men actually benefit more from marriage.  You know, their longevity increases, and we need this more. 

And so it‘s not a good position for guys to be in at all.  I mean, the guys who are not going to college and who aren‘t getting good paychecks, it‘s going to be hard for them to find wives, to find women who want to marry them, because there will be a shortage of women at that level for them. 

CARLSON:  But when did this happen, finally?  I mean, I seem to remember when I was in school, there was all this—which wasn‘t that long ago—all this talk about how women were being—girls were being shortchanged in the classroom and not taken seriously, and women don‘t do well, and girls don‘t do well in school.  It was a total crock, actually—

57 percent of undergraduates are female?  I mean, when did this happen? 

TIERNEY:  It‘s a very strange thing.  Over 25 years ago, men were the majority on campus and there certainly was discrimination against women.  And there may have been some against girls in school too, but we‘re still acting in our schools as if girls are the oppressed class, when what‘s actually going on is boys are failing in school.  You know, they have a tough time paying attention in class, their verbal skills are less, and school tends to be in some ways a more feminine environment, where you have to, you know, sit still all day and pay attention.  And there are studies that boys are as smart as girls are in their cognitive skills, but it‘s the other stuff of behaving in class, sitting still.  And the boys sort of lose patience with school and they drop out.  And we need to pay more attention to that.

CARLSON:  That‘s why I hated school.  John Tierney, the single best reason to buy “The New York Times” every week.  Thanks a lot for coming on. 

Up next, if you thought last night‘s Rose Bowl was exciting, you‘re in for another major upset when we tell you what sport apparently tops football as the most thrilling in the world.  Suspense continues on THE SITUATION.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Renaissance scholar Michel de Montagne once said, “I quote others only the better to express myself.”  Please join me now in welcoming back a man who never has any trouble expressing himself, live in our SITUATION studio, the Outsider, ESPN radio and HBO boxing host Max Kellerman. 

MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO:  And yet I find is very useful to quote others, anyway. 

CARLSON:  Exactly.  It‘s fun to quote others, especially long dead scholars like Michel de Montagne, whoever he was. 

First up, a study that really shouldn‘t have taken more than a couple of minutes, but actually took two years, comes to a not-so-surprising conclusion.  Cell phones are taking a toll on family life.  Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee have discovered that people who consistently use a mobile phone or pager report what they‘re calling negative spillover between work and home life.  And in turn, less satisfaction with their family life.  Negative spillover means work calls at home, or calls from family when you are at work. 

No kidding.  That is—I mean, this is almost so obvious I feel like stopping here and just letting you defend it.  Cell phones, when they‘re left on at home by people who allow their compatriots at work to call, disrupt family life.  I mean, there‘s no way around it. 

KELLERMAN:  One of two arguments, depending on how you want to argue it.  If you‘re arguing that people are more productive because of cell phones, OK.  They‘re getting more work done?

CARLSON:  There‘s no question.  There‘s no question.

KELLERMAN:  Oh, that‘s a bad thing.  In the ‘80s, all you ever heard is the Japanese and the Chinese, the Asian countries, they are working so much harder per worker, per capita, output and everything.  Well, OK, fine. 

CARLSON:  It turned out Japan was actually a socialist country that didn‘t work that hard.  Right, that was a big lie, OK.

KELLERMAN:  But here‘s another argument.  If we‘re talking about the social disruption of the family...

CARLSON:  Yes, and that‘s what we‘re talking about.

KELLERMAN:  ... if it‘s social calls and not work calls—you know, look, I‘m a very big family—big pro-family, just like you.  However, you can‘t choose your family.  And what it may suggest is that technology is allowing people to choose who they spend time with, and the choice they make oftentimes is that they‘re not that crazy about their family and they would rather spend time with the people they actually choose to spend time with.  And so that‘s technology kind of overcoming the drawbacks of the family. 

CARLSON:  I totally disagree.  I think you should be forced to spend time with your family, like being trapped in a broken elevator with strangers, because at the end, as anybody who‘s ever been trapped in a broken elevator with strangers knows, you end up liking people.  You do.  If you‘re forced to spend time with people, you end up liking them. 

KELLERMAN:  That is true, but why be forced to hike those people when you already—ever hear Jackie Mason‘s routine about brie, how these older Jewish businessman are developing a taste for brie, they‘re waling around with miserable—according to him—I‘m developing a taste—you ever develop a taste for potato chip?  No.  You know why?  Tastes good.

Why do you have to develop a taste for these people when these other people on the phone are more—you know, are good?

CARLSON:  That is such a perverse argument. 

KELLERMAN:  I don‘t believe it, but ...

CARLSON:  I‘m going to let it hang in the air. 

KELLERMAN:  Like the smell of brie.  I—this is the devil‘s advocate position, you understand. 

CARLSON:  And that was a demonic position. 

KELLERMAN:  Mom, I‘m not saying any—I love eating dinner at the house. 

CARLSON:  I‘m totally impressed.

All right.  See if you can defend this.  A story that is bound to cause consternation in our SITUATION control room: Scientific proof soccer is more exciting than football, at least according to a study from Las Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.  Researchers probably did not see last night‘s game-winning touchdown run by Vince Young in the final seconds of the Rose Bowl, say soccer is the least predictable sport because of its upset frequency, and that upset frequency is much greater than it is in baseball, hockey, basketball and football, and therefore it‘s more compelling to watch.

Soccer is so compelling to watch, Max, that I have seen grown men fall asleep standing up at their children‘s soccer game.  Soccer is so exciting to watch that in Great Britain, when there are soccer games, fans get so bored they break into knife fights in the stands.  OK?

KELLERMAN:  OK, look, OK, I have to defend soccer here as the devil‘s advocate, but let me start by saying of course it seems this way to people outside of this country, because there‘s much less competition for the entertainment dollar.  So soccer seems pretty interesting.  And the whole idea that the upset factor is higher making it more exciting, really what that indicates—what is an upset?  It‘s when something unexpected happens. 

That means that it‘s not being analyzed well.  I mean, if you go to Vegas and try to beat the spread in the NFL, the best people in the world can do it 58 percent of the time.  You can‘t beat the spread in the NFL, because it‘s been analyzed by very smart people, who are producing correct results.  And so the upset is not as—you know, you‘re not as surprised by results as you are in soccer, where, apparently, people don‘t know what they‘re talking about.  I mean, that‘s really what they‘re saying.

I‘ll defend it like this, I‘ll defend the study like this.  You know, we talk about challenges to American hegemony, and in the next century and this century from India and China and everything.  If the rest of the world feels that soccer is more entertaining than football, American football, real football, we have nothing to worry about.  What, are you kidding? 

CARLSON:  I totally agree.  Soccer is like the metric system and Nutella.  OK?  Everyone‘s always talking about, oh, the metric system is better...

KELLERMAN:  Lay off Nutella.  Nutella is pretty good.

CARLSON:  Well, you‘ve got Skippy‘s Superchunk, you don‘t need Nutella, OK?  But everyone is always saying the metric system is neater, it‘s so much better, so much more logical.  Right?

KELLERMAN:  Yeah, right.

CARLSON:  Soccer, it‘s so much more civilized.  No.  We‘re a country that rejects soccer, rejects the metric system, and rejects Nutella.  

KELLERMAN:  Again, and really, this comparison of soccer to basketball

because you know, one sport says we have opposable thumbs, but no, we‘re not allowed to use them.  We‘re only allowed to use the feet.  We‘ll put it on a field 100 yards long so no one can ever score.  And you know, basketball is the evolution, like monkey to man, that‘s the real comparison.  You can use your hands, and we‘ll make it much smaller, so there‘s more scoring, and we‘ll put it indoors so you can play it year-around, and we‘ll raise the basket so we can show athleticism when you jump to the basket.  That‘s the real comparative. 

CARLSON:  Someday the Belgians will catch on.  They‘ll drop the stupid soccer for basketball, they‘ll readopt the foot and the inch and they‘ll give up Nutella for Skippy.  That is just my...

KELLERMAN:  I‘m surprised you didn‘t take any Canadian shots.  Take a shot at Canada!  Come on!

CARLSON:  No, I‘ve given up.  I‘ve given up, I‘ve given up.  I like Canada.  Canada, I care for you. 

Max Kellerman, you too.

KELLERMAN:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Stay tuned, there‘s still plenty more ahead on THE

SITUATION.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON (voice-over):  (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you out of your mind?

CARLSON:  Will a medical diagnosis about daytime passions encourage fans to pull the plug? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We‘re loving it.

CARLSON:  Plus, an offer hearty diners may want to chew on.  But is there more at stake here than meets the eye? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s kind of scary. 

CARLSON:  Then, wait until you hear how this feline learned a harsh lesson about hitching a ride with strangers. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He was very frightened.

CARLSON:  It‘s all ahead on THE SITUATION.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  If you think your car‘s pretty slick because it has a TV in the headset, be prepared to be humbled.  Nissan has unveiled a new concept car that has an Xbox video game system.  The driver can even use the steering wheel and pedals to play—you guessed it—a car racing game. 

Richard Playetich is with the Nissan design team.  He joins us live tonight from Detroit with a sneak peak at the Nissan Urge.  Richard Playetich, thanks for coming on.  Is this for real?

RICHARD PLAYETICH, NISSAN TECHNICAL DESIGN MANAGER:  Thanks very much, Tucker.  It is absolutely for real.  It‘s a running, driving concept car, which we‘re going to be debuting at the Detroit Auto Show coming up next week.  We‘re really thrilled to show off this concept, because it‘s an exciting product for us.  It‘s targeting a younger buyer, age anywhere from about 18 to 25.  As you can see, it has a lot of inspiration from it—from mechanical things, motorcycles, things like that.  You can see through the windshield to the engine, through the hood.  We have add-on graphiton fenders here, like they‘re off of a motorcycle.  We even have windows in the side of the door here, so when you‘re sitting inside of the car, you can see the road rushing past your feet, just like you would have on a motorcycle. 

And because this car is for younger buyers, they like to take their friends along, so we‘ve integrated a third seat, which is unusual for a sports car, but we have this third seat, which folds out, so you can bring your friends along for the ride.

CARLSON:  That is pretty cool, I have to say.  But the really remarkable thing about this car, of course, is that it has the Xbox video game system built if.  You can‘t use it when you‘re driving, though, can you? 

PLAYETICH:  No.  The car has to be parked.  Let me get into the car, and we can show off some of the interior features here.  And we have Chris here, who is one of our target demographic guys.  He‘s one of our gaming generation guys, who knows all about these games, and is really excited about a product like this to be built into the car that they‘re going to be driving here.

So what we have here integrated into the rearview mirror, you can fold down the monitor.  And the monitor is what you interact with the game with, and we‘ll get the game started here. 

And what Chris is doing is he‘s actually using the steering wheel and the pedals to interact with the game.  So he‘s driving through the streets of Las Vegas here right now, driving the video game, but he‘s in a real car, he‘s not sitting behind a computer at his desk.  He‘s actually in the car, in a real environment, driving a video game, the driving (INAUDIBLE). 

CARLSON:  I mean, does it occur to you that you may be blurring the lines in a fantasy and reality in a kind of dangerous, LSD-like way? 

PLAYETICH:  Well, I wouldn‘t put it that way.  I mean, there‘s positive aspects to this as well.  This is kind of a way to practice your driving before you get out on there on the road.  Yes, they‘re racing games, but this could be used for driver training as well.  So there‘s multiple applications to this type of technology here. 

CARLSON:  Is it possible, do you think, to override the safety devices on the car and get the video game to work while you‘re driving? 

PLAYETICH:  Not at all.  Not at all.  The car has to be parked.  You cannot disengage the steering wheel from the actual driving wheels, unless the car is parked, in the off position here.  So you‘re either driving or you‘re playing a video game, not both at the same time. 

CARLSON:  Wow.  Do you think people will ever want to drive anywhere, though?  I mean, if you could just sit in your garage and play the video game, wouldn‘t it kind of be tempting never to go to work? 

PLAYETICH:  Well, it would make the commute a lot more fun, I would think.  But at the same time, just imagine being able to take your sports car out to track days on the weekend, but during the week being able to practice in your own garage, playing on the same racetrack, in your car, on the screen, integrated into the car you‘re going to be taking to the track. 

CARLSON:  That is pretty darn cool, I have to say.  Richard Playetich from Nissan, thanks a lot for showing us the car. 

PLAYETICH:  Thanks very much for coming out here to Farmington Hills. 

CARLSON:  I hope you sell a lot of them.  Thanks. 

PLAYETICH:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  Coming up on THE SITUATION, the families of the fallen West Virginia miners are still fuming tonight, understandably.  Should the press take any responsibility for spreading false hope?  We‘ll discuss that when THE SITUATION continues. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Time for your voice mails.  Let‘s get right to it.  First up.

CALLER:  Jerry from Redmond, Washington.  Regarding the mine, the unions have been busted there, and that has been directly reflected in the safety of the mines.  The same kind of thing is happening to the airline industry, as they destroy the organized unions, they reduce the safety.

CARLSON:  Actually, Jay, that‘s not true at all.  And it‘s provably untrue.  In fact mines—and this is not taking away from the tragedy of Tuesday night, but mines have gotten safer, progressively over the past 30 years in this country as the power of the unions has weakened.  There‘s no evidence unions protect mineworkers, at least in a safety way.  They get them better pay but they don‘t protect them from fall-ins.  Sorry, untrue.

Next up?

CALLER:  Susan from Hilliard, Ohio.  I wanted to comment on the mining accident.  Why hasn‘t there been any sort of apology from Rita Cosby or you or Anderson Cooper, for unconfirmed reports?

CARLSON:  It‘s a good point.  I mean, the press doesn‘t like to apologize.  I am sorry that we misreported that.  We reported what we knew, which is our job, and sometimes we get things wrong, and I think we should say we‘re sorry, and I am.

Next up.

CALLER:  Jeff, calling from Altoona, Pennsylvania in regards to the Abramoff scandal.  My main concern is this guy‘s going to get an easy ride now that he‘s going to drop a dime on the people that he has corrupted and bribed and tainted with his scandal.  His actions were criminal and he should not be given a light sentence.

CARLSON:  Oh, he‘s going to do serious years in prison.  Any time in prison is serious.  If you‘ve ever been to prison you know what I mean.

But the point is not Jack Abramoff.  The prosecutors are going after members of Congress.  This is not about sending more lobbyists to prison.  This is about sending representatives to prison, and they‘re going.  Trust me.

Let me know what you‘re thinking.  877-TCARLSON is the number.  877-822-7576.  You can also email tucker@msnbc.com.  Moreover, you can read our blog every day.  Tucker.msnbc.com is the address.

Still ahead, you‘ll be relieved to know that a team of researchers has studied the plausibility of soap opera storylines.  The shocking conclusions to their important work can be found on the “Cutting Room Floor,” next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back.  Time for “The Cutting Room Floor.”  Willie Geist is back from Paris.  Willie!  Bonsoir, Willie.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC PRODUCER:  Bonsoir.  Paris, Kentucky, by the way.  I‘m a man of the people.  Tucker, that car was very cool.  But doesn‘t a driving game in a car seem like overkill?  It‘s a lot of driving.  Driving, driving, get to a red light, put it in park, now I pretend I‘m driving.  It‘s a lot of driving.

CARLSON:  It‘s a lot of driving.  I agree with that.  For those of us who like to minimize our driving it does seem a bit much.

GEIST:  Yeah.  I think so.

CARLSON:  All right.  Speaking of driving, if you were driving up the New Jersey Turnpike a couple weeks ago and you thought you saw a cat riding underneath an SUV you weren‘t losing your mind.  A domestic shorthair name Miracle took a 70-mile ride from Newark to southern New Jersey underneath the car of an unwitting driver.  Another driver saw the cat hanging on and flagged the car down.  Miracle is OK and now up for adoption.

GEIST:  You know why I like this story, Tucker?  We‘ve lost the hitch hiking culture in this country.

CARLSON:  I agree.

GEIST:  And it reminds us that in some small way, Jack Kerouac‘s America lives.

CARLSON:  I totally agree with that.

GEIST:  You can still thumb a ride and get a ride down the road. 

Albeit from an undercarriage of an SUV.

CARLSON:  As long as you‘re a stray cat.

GEIST:  That‘s right.

CARLSON:  That‘s a tough little cat.

You haven‘t lived until you‘ve tried Texas chicken fried stake steak.  On the other hand, you probably won‘t live if you finish the 64 ounce helping of meat, bread and gravy at the Pumpjack Diner, Wichita Falls, Texas.  If you can finish the steak and all the sides in just one hour, the diner will pick up the tab.  You also get a t-shirt and name on a plaque.

GEIST:  So your arteries and circulatory system will never recover, but you do walk away with a t-shirt, which is nice.

CARLSON:  I could do that, by the way.

GEIST:  No, you couldn‘t.

CARLSON:  Yes I could, yes I could.

GEIST:  The one guy, the first guy to go in wasn‘t even halfway close.  He got half way through and had to leave.  And you have to pay for it, which is $40.  The best part about chicken fried steak?  There‘s no chicken involved.

CARLSON:  That‘s true.

GEIST:  Whatsoever.

CARLSON:  With a Dr. Pepper, I could do that.  Skiing while you‘re drunk isn‘t easy.  But don‘t take my word for it.  Take it from the United States best Olympic Skier.  Body Miller (ph) is expected to challenge the gold medal in downhill skiing at the winter games in Turin, Italy, next month.  He may or may not be sober while doing so.  In a recent interview, Miller said he occasionally skis loaded.

He says, quote, “If you‘ve ever tried to ski while you‘re wasted, it‘s not easy.”

GEIST:  Ain‘t that the truth.  It seems to me, Tucker, that that downhill skiing is the one sport where it might work to your advantage to be drunk, because you lose your fear and inhibition, you just tuck and go.

CARLSON:  It‘s not just the Kennedys that do it.

GEIST:  That‘s right.  By the way, programming note: winter games start February on NBC.

CARLSON:  That‘s right.  And MSNBC, too.

GEIST:  That‘s right.

CARLSON:  That‘s right—we‘ll be involved in that.

GEIST:  Yes, you will.

CARLSON:  And last check, ice swimming was not yet an Olympic sport. 

But that hasn‘t stopped these Chinese people from enjoying it anyway.  Jumping off a block of ice into near freezing water certainly is not my idea of a good time, but these swimmers do it every winter.  This year, to add to the fun, a chemical spill has contaminated the water with benzene.

GEIST:  You know, Tucker, isn‘t it funny how different cultures have different names for the same thing?  They call that ice swimming and we call it suicide, jumping into icy waters, contaminated with deadly chemicals.

CARLSON:  Getting back to this whole, is China going to take us over? 

I think between this and the pandas, we‘re safe.

GEIST:  We‘re safe.  We win.  For at least for the another generation.

CARLSON:  At least another generation.  It‘s like Japan in the ‘80s.  No, they never took us over.  It took a team of medical researchers to get to the bottom of it, but we finally have an answer.  Soap operas are indeed, brace yourself, absurd.

GEIST:  What?

CARLSON:  The team studied nine soap operas broadcast over a decade.  The study specifically looked at the storylines of characters who were coma patients.  We‘re not making this up.  Believe it or not, the soap operas were found to be unrealistic.

GEIST:  You are kidding me?  Fortunately, Tucker, we‘ve cured cancer and AIDS so we can free up our doctors to study soap operas.  This isn‘t just absurd, it‘s actually offensive that they had this study, don‘t you think.

CARLSON:  I think it‘s no dumber than women studies.  But yes, I would say it‘s pretty dumb.  And say that as someone who minored in women‘s studies simply because it was ...

GEIST:  You did?

CARLSON:  It was a guaranteed B-minus.  You go in, I hate myself as a man, boom B-minus.

GEIST:  I never would have pegged you for women‘s studies.

CARLSON:  I wasn‘t, but I know a cheap grade when I see one.

GEIST:  One other programming note, tomorrow night, Ted Nugent.  Do not miss it.

CARLSON:  Do not miss it.  He‘s a great guy.

GEIST:  He is.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist.

GEIST:  See you tomorrow, Tucker.

CARLSON:  That‘s SITUATION for this evening.  Thank you for watching. 

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 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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