updated 1/10/2006 10:52:01 AM ET 2006-01-10T15:52:01

Guest: Ron Christie, Max Kellerman, Doug Hardy

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  That's all the time we have for tonight.  THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON starts right now—


TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Thank you, Joe. 

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

Tonight an exclusive interview with Farris Hassan.  He's the Florida teenager who skipped school and took off for Iraq.  Why did he do it?  And should his actions be glorified by the media, including me?  We'll debate it. 

Also, is al Qaeda recruiting bombers who are infected with the AIDS virus?  A chilling new threat has been reported, but is it plausible?  We'll ask an expert about that. 

Plus a toxic pest—pet food already has killed dozens of dogs in this country.  How did this happen and who is responsible for it?

Plus a shocking revelation that the Oprah Book Club best-seller, “A Million Little Pieces,” written by James Frey, was in fact fabricated.  We'll get into the full details a bit later in the show. 

We begin in West Virginia tonight, where three more of the Sago miners were buried earlier today.   There is some encouraging signs of recovery from the lone survivor, Randy McCloy. 

There was also a pledge from West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin to find out how and why that explosion happened.


GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA:  We will leave no stone unturned.  And I want to repeat, not one stone will be left unturned.  These 12 lives, these 12 lives will not be lost in vain. 


CARLSON:  For more on this developing story with go now to NBC's Donna Gregory, who's standing by in Buckhannon, West Virginia—Donna. 


Inspectors expect to know tomorrow—inspectors, rather expect to know tomorrow whether they will be able to go inside the Sago mine where those 12 miners lost their lives last week. 

They have spent today and other days drilling three ventilation holes, so the poisonous gases can escape from the mine.  And we anticipate that there will be some activity there tomorrow.  They say once that they get inside, it could take up to six months, possibly even longer to determine the exact cause of the blast that killed those two men. 

Funeral services are scheduled tomorrow for two more miners.  As you mentioned, three were laid to rest today.  A total of six were buried over the weekend. 

And in fact, there are four funeral homes on the street behind me, and people were literally spilling out those funeral homes on Saturday evening, paying their respects from home to home to home.  This is a situation that has touched nearly every person here in Upshur County. 

And the lone survivor of this tragedy, the man that you just showed, Randal McCloy, continues to improve tonight in the hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. 

Doctors say he is breathing on his own.  His liver and kidneys are continuing to try to flush the sedatives out of his body that have kept him unconscious for the last week or so, ever since he was discovered. 

He is undergoing physical therapy.  And Tucker, they say that they expect by Wednesday or Thursday all of those sedatives would be out of his body and they're hoping that he'll regain consciousness later this week—


CARLSON:  Donna, you said a second ago that investigators are hoping to gain entry into the mine.  What will they be looking for, if they get in?

GREGORY:  Yes.  Tucker, they're looking for the exact cause of the explosion in that old, abandoned part of the mine.  They are investigating a possibility that it could have been a lightning strike.  And to do that, they'll be looking for things like melted bolts on the ceiling and the lights, things like that that could show them that yes, in fact, it was a lightning strike. 

And I should also tell you, Tucker, that it has been reported today to NBC News that there was fresh air for these miners to breathe as close as 1,500 to 2,000 feet from where they stayed hunkered down, as was their training.  Had they only walked that 2,000 feet, they could have simply walked the two miles out of the mine. 

But of course, they had no way of knowing that the air, the fresh air was that close to where they were staying, waiting for the rescue. 

CARLSON:  Boy, that is such a depressing fact.  Donna Gregory in Buckhannon, West Virginia, tonight for us.  Thanks a lot, Donna. 


CARLSON:  Confirmation hearings began this afternoon for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito of New Jersey. 

In recent days Democrats have floated the “F” word.  In Washington, that's “filibuster.”  But that didn't stop the president from hailing Alito after a morning breakfast together. 

Later, in an 11-minute statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the judge didn't indicate how he'd handle questions on Roe v.  Wade, the death penalty or domestic wiretapping, but he did shed some light on his legal philosophy. 


JUDGE SAMUEL ALITO, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE:  A judge can't have any agenda. A judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case.  And a judge certainly doesn't have a client.  Good judges develop certain habits of mind.  One of those habits of mind is the habit of delaying, reaching conclusions, until everything has been considered. 


CARLSON:  Here now to make sense of the Alito confirmation hearings, which will extend for the rest of the week, Air America's Rachel Maddow. 

Rachel, welcome. 


CARLSON:  You saw this morning the “New York Times” devoted its entire op-ed page to what I would ask Sam Alito, were I given the chance.  A bunch of legal experts weighed in.  Slate.com did the same thing.

We couldn't resist, never one to miss a trend.  I thought, you know, let's just jump onboard, questions we would ask Samuel Alito. 


CARLSON:  You had three.  What are they?

MADDOW:  My first one: more than any other current justice, Clarence Thomas has voted to overturn acts of Congress.  He's the one who's done that the most.  Does overruling Congress meet your definition of judicial activism?  That's my first one.

CARLSON:  Judicial—it's a very interesting questioning.  I think it's actually a fair question.


CARLSON:  Because you often hear conservatives decry judicial activism.  What they're really decrying is decisions they disagree with. 

MADDOW:  Yes, exactly. 

CARLSON:  Because in fact, everybody wants Supreme Court justices to act on their behalf, that is, to rule in ways they like.  So you'll never hear me say that. 

I mean, I do think sometimes the judiciary, as a general matter, has too much power.  It's the least democratic of all the branches of government.  I'm much happier when Congress makes decisions than when judges do. 

But still, I want to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.  I think it's bad law.  I think it's immoral.  And I'd like to see it happen tomorrow.  Is that activism?  Yes.

MADDOW:  The question of whether something comes as activism, whether something counts as judicial modesty, which is the new thing that they're reeling out now, or whether something is legislating from the bench.  All of these are buzz words, as you say, to disguise a way to criticize people who make decisions you disagree with. 

CARLSON:  Right.

MADDOW:  And so if we can talk about what decisions he's going to make, we'll get into the real meat and potatoes here.  But as long as we keep using these buzz words, we're not going to get anywhere. 

CARLSON:  I couldn't agree more.  Read your next one.

MADDOW:  Second question, when your circuit court, when the circuit court he was on was divided, he voted 85 percent of the time against civil rights claims.  He's also praised Robert Bork, a Supreme Court candidate who was—failed in the Senate.  Should the American people and the Senate expect that their justices will hold mainstream legal opinions?

CARLSON:  And what's your last one?

MADDOW:  My last one, do you believe the Constitution protects the right to have an abortion?

CARLSON:  Let's take your last one first.  That is also the first of my three questions.

MADDOW:  Really?

CARLSON:  Because I think it's a completely fair question to ask, and I want the answer to it. 


CARLSON:  Of course, the Constitution mentions applies abortion, implies abortion nowhere.  So of course it doesn't protect the right to an abortion.

But to your second question, which I think is the more, maybe contentious one, he's ruled against civil rights.  What does that mean?

MADDOW:  If you identify civil rights claims, somebody's making a claim on the basis of civil rights protections, 85 percent of the time where his circuit court had a divided opinion, so there was some—it wasn't a slam dunk either way—he came down against the civil rights claim. 

CARLSON:  What do you mean, that he's against civil rights?  And what are civil rights?  Define civil rights for me?

MADDOW:  Let's get down to it.  Let's ask him that.  Define civil rights.

CARLSON:  But you're using that claim against him. 


CARLSON:  You are implying that he is against civil rights or hostile to civil rights in his judicial decisions. 

MADDOW:  Sure.

CARLSON:  What are civil right, exactly?  It's one of those buzz words that makes the person sound like a racist, when in fact, we're talking about specific cases in which the plaintiff may not have had a real case. 

MADDOW:  Well, we're talking—right, but we're talking about cases where the court was divided.  It wasn't a slam dunk in either case.  And he came down against a person who's making a civil rights claim, like an employment discrimination, saying they were fired because of their race or not hired because of their race, for example, of because of their disability or something like that. 

When you can identify a civil rights claim, he's hostile to them.  And that kind of makes sense, if you look at his overall record, which is basically siding with the powers that be, siding with the government, siding with the police, siding with the state, siding with the employer and against the people who are challenging them. 

CARLSON:  I don't think that's a fair characterization of it.  He may be siding against this whole series of so-called rights that, you know, emanate from this penumbra that was discovered in 1967 in the Constitution, but that doesn't mean he's against civil right. 

Here are my questions.  First up, the question I said a minute ago:

does the Constitution guarantee a right to abortion?  If so, where in the document is it?  I'd love to see...

MADDOW:  Where in the document is it makes me—you never talk about the militia when you get down to gun rights, Tucker, but you have to see abortion in the Constitution. 

CARLSON:  No, no.  I'm just saying we all know the tortured history, without getting into it here.  It comes from Griswold v. Connecticut, this famous contraception case in Connecticut that imagined the right to privacy in the Constitution. 

I love privacy.  I'd love to see one in the Constitution.  It's not there.

Second, under what circumstances should the court undo precedent?  Very interesting question, I think.  You heard at least one senator today make the point that, in some cases, it's good for the court to undo precedent.  Plessy v. Ferguson, which established segregation as a law of the land...

MADDOW:  Sure.

CARLSON:  ... in this country right at the turn of the century was undone by the court years later.  Amen.  Some precedents deserve to be destroyed.  Don't you think?

MADDOW:  I agree.  Yes.  And again, you have to get away from these code words.  They also talk about precedent, because they don't want to say do you think abortion should be illegal?

CARLSON:  Right.

MADDOW:  They talk about Griswold, because they don't want to talk about Roe.  All of these ways are just way—all of these ways of talking are just ways to avoid the meat and potatoes questions that you and I both want answered, but the Senate is afraid to have answered and the nominee will never answer because he knows it gets him into too hot political water. 

CARLSON:  Which goes to my third question...


CARLSON:  why should the Senate give you this job, when you won't even speculate in public what decisions you would make, should you get this job? 

Russ Feingold, a person with whom I rarely agree, probably the most liberal members of the U.S. Senate, but I think a man of some integrity, said today, “Don't you think it's a little strange that you're the one person in the world who won't comment on Sandra Day O'Connor's positions, when you're the person in line to take Sandra Day O'Connor's job?”  A little weird?  No, it is weird. 

MADDOW:  Very weird.  And I feel like, you know what?  I want to know if this guy is in the mainstream of American political opinion.  I want to know if he's in the mainstream of American...

CARLSON:  Who care if he's in the mainstream? 

MADDOW:  I want to know.

CARLSON:  Most people agree with him?  What does that have to do with it?

MADDOW:  Listen, on the issue of abortion, the reason you and I both want that answered, you and I disagree fundamentally on abortion.


MADDOW:  We want to know what he thinks about it, because his appointment may make a very big difference in this country as to whether or not abortion is illegal or legal in most states. 

CARLSON:  But don't you think...

MADDOW:  And so that makes a decision as to whether or not I want him on the court.

CARLSON:  A hundred percent.  Totally fair and agreed.  I agree with you completely. 


CARLSON:  Aren't, however, appeals to the so-called mainstream sort of demagogic, because in the end, who cares what the mainstream or the majority of people think at a given time?  The point of a jurist, the job of a jurist is to make a decision in relation to the Constitution.  Does the Constitution permit or prohibit this specific act?  It has nothing to do with the mainstream. 

MADDOW:  The judge—the job of the judge is to look at the Constitution and say, “How does this apply to the issues of our day?”  I want to know how he feels about and views the issues of our day. 

If he's going to vote that it's OK to shoot fleeing suspects in the

back and to strip search kids and all these other things that I find

troubling in his record, if he thinks that Congress doesn't have the right

to regulate machine guns, because they don't count as interstate commerce,

that shows you how he thinks the Constitution applies to the issue of the -

·         issues of the day. 

CARLSON:  Totally fair. 

MADDOW:  The main issue of the day, for me, in my mind, even bigger than abortion, is how much power the president has.  I think Alito thinks the president should have a scary amount of power. 

CARLSON:  OK.  That's all—that's all fair. 


CARLSON:  None of that has anything to do with the so-called mainstream, whatever the hell that is. 

MADDOW:  No.  He's got to talk about how he sees the issues of the day. 

CARLSON:  Right.  I agree—I agree with you there.  The second I heard someone say, “Well, he's out of the mainstream.  You know, send women into the back alley for abortions.”  I feel like come on, that's not a serious point. 

MADDOW:  It is a serious...

CARLSON:  I don't know a single person in the mainstream.  I know I'm not in the mainstream.  And to my credit, I never pretend to be.

MADDOW:  But for this guy...

CARLSON:  And you're not, either, by the way. 

MADDOW:  I'm not either. 

CARLSON:  Talking about a mainstream Rachel Maddow.  Whoa.

MADDOW:  That's why we get along so well.  He's not in the mainstream. 

He likes Robert Bork.  He's not mainstream.  He gives me the creeps.

CARLSON:  I like Robert Bork. 

MADDOW:  You give me the creeps, too.  I'm just kidding.

CARLSON:  OK.  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  I appreciate it.  See you tomorrow. 

Still to come, “A Million Little Pieces” or a million little lies?  Shocking new details from the smoking gun about author James Frey and his Oprah-backed best-seller.  Here's a hint: it's a crock. 

Also, bloody terror.  We'll tell you about al Qaeda's alleged plot to infect troops with the AIDS virus. 

Plus, at least 76 dogs nationwide are dead tonight after eating toxic pet food.  How on earth did this happen?  And what is the food manufacturer responsible for the deaths going to do about it?  We'll tell you. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Our baby trusted us to take good care of her, and we poisoned her.  We didn't mean to do it.  We didn't know we were doing it.  But that's what happened.



CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

You won't be surprised to learn that al Qaeda is crafty and it is evil.  But would its members really use HIV infected people to carry out suicide missions?  And if they did, would the suicide attacks be that much more deadly?

Joining us from Boston tonight to talk about this, MSNBC analyst and terrorism expert, Juliette Kayyem.  She teaches public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. 

Juliette, thanks for coming on.


CARLSON:  So what do we know about this, that—the idea that al Qaeda would be recruiting people infected with the AIDS virus to become suicide bombers? 

KAYYEM:  Well, the British seem to be taking it pretty seriously right now.  The reports that we're seeing are that the British have alerted their troops in Iraq that there's a growing concern that al Qaeda is going to be using HIV-infected suicide bombers. 

So the suicide bomber would walk in, blow up.  The blood would then get dispersed and then thereby sort of infect anyone who came to help, who was investigating the—the terrorist attack or whoever else. 

We see this in a number of terrorist cases, not with HIV but where they go after the first responders or the military, the people who are on the second wave, helping clean up. 

It's—the U.S. hasn't said much about this yet, but the British are at least advising their troops to wear certain gear after suicide attacks and to protect themselves.  It's a form of, you know, radiological terrorism, except using blood, in the hopes that they infect people anywhere from, I think, you can imagine, anywhere from 10 feet to 200 feet from the suicide bomber. 

CARLSON:  Because a suicide bomber becomes part of the bomb, of course, when he explodes.  We know that in Israel at least one victim of a suicide bombing there contracted hepatitis...

KAYYEM:  Right.

CARLSON:  ... from bone fragments of the suicide bomber himself.  It's disgusting. 

Here's the one question I had about this, one of the many. 

KAYYEM:  Right.

CARLSON:  We spoke to another terrorism analyst today who said he didn't know whether this was true or not, but that he suspected that al Qaeda, because of course, it's comprised of religious zealots, Islamic extremists, would have trouble admitting such a thing as AIDS existed, because of the cultural taboos against homosexuality and drug use. 

KAYYEM:  Right.  Right.  I think that's exactly right.  And I think—so that's why this story is sort of funny, because there's not a lot of play about it.  Who exactly are these recruits?

On the other hand, you know, al Qaeda is trying to recruit people all the time who are going to kill themselves in the name of Islamic jihadist movement.  People who are on their deathbed or people who think that they're going to die may be more susceptible to the kind of influence, if they're told that they're going to go to heaven and then meet all sorts of people up in heaven, to actually perform suicide bombings. 

So this may be a new recruitment mechanism by terrorist organizations to get people who are already infected and some of them maybe fatally infected. 

You also have to—you know, in—now that we're seeing the recruitment of al Qaeda in places like Africa, where AIDS and HIV are quite strong, in Asia and in Latin America, the idea that they're recruiting people who might have HIV and AIDS is not illogical.  I mean, they're going to third-world countries...

CARLSON:  That's right.

KAYYEM:  ... where they don't get the kind of treatment that you do here or even in Europe.  And so it's not—it's not out of, you know, normal discussion here about what they're trying to do.  And of course, trying to get people infected so that there's a, you know, sort of long history of them and the suicide attack. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Sure.  And of course, Islamic extremism is prevalent in prisons in Europe.

KAYYEM:  Right.

CARLSON:  And in all prisons, of course, HIV rates are higher than they are virtually anywhere else on the globe. 

Do you think, finally, it's possible, though, that this is one of those rumors that, by itself, is a form of terror?  It's so horrifying...

KAYYEM:  Right.

CARLSON:  ... the idea that a suicide bomber's body parts, infected with HIV, would be flying around him in this radius, infecting everyone else with HIV.  That's so horrible.

KAYYEM:  Right.

CARLSON:  Do you think it's possible this is just disinformation spread by al Qaeda?

KAYYEM:  It could—it could very well be, because the result would be that the support team or the sort of second wave or first responders or military or whoever else are going to help people who may be victimized by a suicide attack will stall or will wait or will not go in, as they might have, for fear of the blood that's surrounding the crime scene. 

CARLSON:  Right.

KAYYEM:  And that's a success, because if you let people die, or if you don't get them immediate treatment, that's a success according to a terrorist group. 

So I would not be surprised if this is just a lot of rumor going on in Iraq.  The fact that the British have picked up on it and the British media have picked up on it and are actually responding to it suggests how, I think, you know, things are in Iraq now, that the concern is that—that you really can't control the kind of terrorist attacks that are going on now and that this is the realm of possible right now. 

CARLSON:  It's just absolutely horrifying.  With al Qaeda, you really get the feeling that it's a group of people sitting around, trying to come up with the most anti-human things they possibly can and succeeding. 

Juliette Kayyem from Harvard, thanks a lot for joining us tonight. 

KAYYEM:  Thank you, Tucker.

Still to come, a former assistant to President Bush tells us what it was like being a black man in the White House.  How he was treated differently?  We'll find out when we come back.


CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Only a few people know what it's like to work in the West Wing of the White House.  Even fewer have my guest tonight's perspective on it.  He has written a book called “Black in the White House: Life Inside George W.  Bush's West Wing.” 

Ron Christie is a former special assistant to President Bush and a former deputy to Vice President Dick Cheney.  He joins us live tonight from Washington, D.C.

Ron, thanks for joining us.  Before I ask you about your book, I want to know if you have any information, since you did work for the vice president, on his condition tonight.  He was in the hospital earlier today with difficulty breathing. 

RON CHRISTIE, AUTHOR:  Sure.  The latest I've heard is probably what most Americans have heard, that the president (sic) had a shortness of breath shortly after 3 a.m. this morning.  He's been taking some medication for a foot ailment that he's had, and it led to a little bit of fluid buildup. 

He went into the hospital.  He was there for about four hours.  He's in good shape.  He's fine; he's healthy.  And he went right back to work.  And so for those who might be concerned, Dick Cheney, the vice president, is in good shape and back on the job. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Thanks for that update.

Now to your book.  It's called “Black in the White House.”  Why “Black in the White House?”  How is that different from being white in the White House or Asian in the White House, Indian in the White House?  What's the distinction?

CHRISTIE:  Well, I want to weigh in in perspective (ph).  If you open the book, “Black in the White House,” one of the first things that I say—it quotes a poem by Robert Frost that says that, you know, he's taken the road less traveled and it made all the difference in the world to him. 

My being an African-American, a conservative, a Republican, for having taken the road less traveled, that's made all the difference for me for being in a position to advocate policy, be in a position to try to implement policy that helps all Americans in general, but folks of color in particular. 

I was able to lend a little bit of advice and a little bit of a different  perspective to the vice president—the vice president of the United States, the president of the United States and those folks who surrounded them, and it made all the difference in the world for me and, hopefully, for a lot of different Americans. 

CARLSON:  Were you treated ever, so you think, can you think of any instances where you were treated differently in the White House because you were black?

CHRISTIE:  No.  Quite to the contrary.  I think the way that I was treated in the White House was the fact that they wanted to have the best policy advisors around the, Tucker, as possible—black, white, purple.  If you knew what you were talking about, if you were discussing the important issue of the day, they wanted folks around them that could lend that perspective. 

But quite to the contrary, once I left the gates, my having been in a different position, for having been an African-American, having been a policy person on Capitol Hill, working for a various number of folks on the Hill, gave me a different entree to go into different communities and lend a different perspective and say, “Don't look at this president based on the color of my skin.  Look at this president based on the policies and the politics and what he is trying to do to help all Americans achieve a little bit of the American dream, to have homeownership, make sure that education is the one fundamental right that we have for all of our children.

And for me it made all the difference in the world to be out—be able to go out there and advocate those policies and to make sure that people could look at this president and this administration in a different light. 

CARLSON:  Not everyone, as you point out in the book, was won over.  The president won only a very small minority of black votes back in 2000 and 2004.  And there's a great deal of hostility toward him among many black voters.  I've certainly seen it myself. 

You have really seen it.  And you go this scene here where you go over to the Hilton Hotel on Connecticut Avenue in Washington to speak to the National Black Caucus of Local Elected officials, which is pretty—a group, you know, successful, by definition, group in suits and ties. 

You get up to speak and you are shouted down, booing and hissing.  A man yells out from the crowd, quote, “George W. Bush doesn't give a damn about black folks.  And you're just a sell-out fool.”

You say at the end, “Given the way I was treated, I thought there was a chance someone might actually try to hurt me.”

CHRISTIE:  Tucker, I went in there—look, they invited me—and this is the irony of that story.  And if you read “Black in the White House,” it gets into the full details of some of the experiences that I had outside of the gates. 

But if you're going to invite someone who's a policy advisor to the president of the United States to come in and talk about the policies of that particular administration, why on earth would you invite someone to come in, and they come in full honesty and candor, because I have a straightforward conversation, and then they're going to shout you down?

I was scared for the first time.  I've been in public service for nearly 15 years of my life.  For the first time in my life, I felt that I was going to be not only physically attacked—there was a chance of that.  But there was a chance that I was going to get hurt.  That was not a position I wanted to be in, but at the same time, you have to maintain a certain amount of dignity.  You have to maintain a certain amount of respect. 

CARLSON:  I don't get—I don't get that, though, Ron.  I mean, I've spoken many times to predominantly black groups.  You know, I've spent a lot of time around Al Sharpton.  I'm a full-blown right-winger, not shy about it.  No one's ever bothered me at all. 

It seems like the hostility's reserved for people like you, who are perceived to be people who have sold out or aren't supposed to be conservatives.  Is that your impression?

CHRISTIE:  Well, that's exactly right.  I mean, unfortunately, if you're an African-American in the 2000 election, the president received nine percent of the black vote.  He received about 12 percent in the 2004 election.

Unfortunately, there are certain people out there that say that if you are of a certain ethnic background, you have to have a certain ideological bent, you have to think a certain way.  I challenge that notion. 

I say rather than—if you're an African-American, that you should be a Democrat.  I say what are the issues that are important to you?  Education, for me, is the lone civil right.  If you don't have an education in this world, you can't compete with the 21st Century. 

And Republicans want to make sure that people have more of their tax dollars in their pockets.  They want to make sure that there's a wealth ownership society.  And the administration of George Bush is working. 

The African-American Home Ownership Society is at the highest it's ever been in American history, about 49.7 percent.  If you look at the No Child Left Behind Act.  The third to eight grade students, they're testing at higher levels for black students.  Rather than looking at the color of one's skin, let's look at the politics; let look at the policies and what the president has done for his passionate conservative agenda.  He's made it work, not based on skin color, but he's made it work based on policies that are going to help all Americans in general and people of color, in particular. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  And let people think what they want, regardless of their color.  A total harassment—I was very annoyed to read that.  Thanks a lot for coming on. 

CHRISTIE:  Good to see you, as always, Tucker.  Thank you.


CARLSON:  The book, “Black in the White House.”  Thanks. 

CHRISTIE:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Up next, Howard Stern debuts on Sirius Satellite Radio.  Will satellite radio transform radio?  Will it give disc jockeys like Howard Stern safe haven from the FCC.

Plus, author James Frey is under the gun.  Is his book, “A Million Little Pieces,” a giant crock or a pile of garbage.  Wait until you hear the details.  They are stunning.  THE SITUATION returns.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.  One can find it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.  Well, as most of you doubtless know, that's a quote from Herman Hesse's “Siddhartha.”

Joining me now, our own wise man, live in our SITUATION studio, “The Outsider,” ESPN Radio and HBO Boxing host Max Kellerman. 

MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO HOST:  I feel very Talmudic when you...


... address me as the wise man.  I want to...

CARLSON:  I confess, I don't write those, but I love them.

KELLERMAN:  Yes, me, too.

CARLSON:  Every night. 

First up, the Florida teenager who cut school to travel alone to Iraq.  Now he's revealing details of his excellent adventure.  Here's what he told MSNBC's Rita Cosby in an exclusive interview. 


RITA COSBY, HOST:  How much planning did it take to go to Iraq? 

FARRIS HASSAN, TEENAGER WHO WENT TO IRAQ:  My planning could have been better.  It definitely could have been better.  And I made a lot of bad decisions along the way, one of which was thinking of getting to Baghdad with a taxi from Kuwait City.  That was definitely a bad idea. 

And if I had been able to get in through the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border when I arrived on Tuesday morning, I'm almost sure I would have been killed. 


CARLSON:  Clearly a very dangerous trip.  And one that could have been thought through more carefully.  It all comes down to one question:  Farris Hassan, hero or irresponsible kid? 

I can tell you, Max, I have done that trip by car from Kuwait City to Baghdad.  It's really genuinely dangerous.  Of all things people say, “Oh, it's dangerous,” that actually is dangerous.


CARLSON:  This kid is, not only a hero, he's the greatest high schooler in the history of high school, OK?  The average high schooler is like, “Oh, you know, I've got to study for my algebra class and I'm working at Wendy's after school.  And isn't my life difficult?”  This guy went overland from Kuwait to Baghdad just for the fun of it.  This is what high school student ought to do. 

KELLERMAN:  Well, he's an aspiring journalist.  Look, this is an extraordinary person, period.  Forget about kid.

CARLSON:  He wins.  He wins the contest. 

KELLERMAN:  He does.  He's an extraordinary person, and the world is better because of people like this, and a more interesting place, certainly. 

Here's the devil's advocate position.  He has a mother at home, who,

by the way, he didn't tell about this trip.

CARLSON:  Of course not.

KELLERMAN:  And he's openly said he could have died a dozen times, does not suggest anyone else do it, and could have left his mother a very, you know, sad mother at home.  There's a reason that he wouldn't want to tell her or his father about the trip ahead of time, because they would have never let him go. 

CARLSON:  If that was the criterion for live decisions, no one would ever do anything.  The Empire State Building would never be built.

KELLERMAN:  That's true.

CARLSON:  No one would have swum across the English Channel.

KELLERMAN:  I think that's right, which is why...

CARLSON:  You know what I mean?

KELLERMAN:  Which is why that's the devil advocate position and he is an extraordinary kid.  What comes to mind to me, first thing, is he meets with the head—with a leader of Hezbollah, right?

CARLSON:  Right.

KELLERMAN:  Meets with him, talks to him, everything.  Why can't we assassinate these people?

CARLSON:  I totally agree with that.

KELLERMAN:  If a 16-year-old high school kid can make his way and set up a meeting like it's nothing, we can't get these—what's going on? 

CARLSON:  That's a good point.  No one would mistake him for a CIA operative, though.  I think that's the key.

KELLERMAN:  But that's the whole—your CIA operatives are supposed to not be mistaken for CIA operatives. 

CARLSON:  That's why we ought to be recruiting in high school, something I've said before.

KELLERMAN:  Oh, it's...

CARLSON:  Just kidding.  I just can't imagine how anybody would criticize—only weenies would criticize this guy, in my view. 

KELLERMAN:  You forced me to be a weenie. 

CARLSON:  No, no, because I know you don't really mean it.

KELLERMAN:  All right.

CARLSON:  It's your job.

Back in this country, the big news is the debut of shock jock Howard Stern's satellite radio show this morning.  It's hard to imagine what he could do on Sirius that he hasn't already done on regular radio.  But this is the dawning of a new age, Stern uncensored.  Our pal, Keith Olbermann, was there on day one.


KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR:  In this new format, do you worry that you are not just a trailblazer for what you want to do, but that you're going to be followed by the Rush Limbaughs of this world, who will then be able to charge for their product, as well? 

HOWARD STERN, RADIO HOST:  Let me tell you something.  I feel that this is the culmination of a dream for me.  And this represents a dream for all broadcasters, including Rush Limbaugh, including yourself, and everyone in this room.  When management now holds you by the balls and says, “There's no place for you,” now there's a place to come. 


CARLSON:  So will Howard Stern's new show live up to the hype and change the face of radio, Max?  That is the question.  And the answer, quite clearly, is absolutely.  The macro question is, will people pay for radio, something they've gotten for free since, you know, the first World War. 

And the answer is absolutely, because commercial broadcast radio is terrible.  It's awful.  People pay for cable television, and they will pay for satellite radio.  And I think it's one of the greatest developments in my lifetime. 

KELLERMAN:  First of all, Howard Stern—as someone who's interested in radio broadcasting, I can say there's no escaping his influence, let alone his shadow.

CARLSON:  Right.

KELLERMAN:  There's no escaping it.  You know, I talk about my wife on the radio and some funny thing that happened, I'm imitating Howard Stern.  There's just no getting around it.  And it's great that he's going to satellite and everything.  Cable TV—right, satellite radio is cable television. 

CARLSON:  Right.

KELLERMAN:  It is to broadcast radio what cable is to broadcast television.  And, sure, there's a niche audience, and you can get—and that's where the cutting-edge stuff is going to happen.  But the fact is, today, however many decades after the advent of cable television, you know, if a cable network does one-tenth what a broadcast network does, they're doing great.  I mean, still, ten times or more, after decades of cable TV, are still watching the broadcast networks. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  But I think—well, first of all, it hasn't been that many decades.  I would say two decades, television broadcast...

KELLERMAN:  We're in 2006, '86, eh...

CARLSON:  We're in 2006.  Let's say three decades...

KELLERMAN:  Twenty-five years at least, yes.

CARLSON:  ... in the face of six decades of broadcast television. 


CARLSON:  But I think everyone agrees that cable television is the most important innovation since the polio vaccine.  I think there's really no question about that.


CARLSON:  That's exactly right.

KELLERMAN:  Microwave.

CARLSON:  But the point is that, in the end, the market—and this doesn't always work, but in this case it does—has solved a problem.  What do you do about the time you spend commuting—a lot of people spend a lot of time commuting—when normal, conventional, terrestrial, as they say, radio is just appalling and getting absolutely worse?  American innovation has come up with an answer.  And that is, for $12 a month, you can have whatever you want, a smorgasbord of radio options.

KELLERMAN:  And the question is, is he worth the money, the half-a-billion dollars or more in stock options he's getting?  All I know is, I was going to get satellite in my car that I just leased.  And the question was XM or Sirius?  Oh, Howard's on Sirius?  I got Sirius radio.  I had to do it.  You know, Howard's on there.  I got to do it.  Are you not going to listen to Howard Stern?

CARLSON:  I hate to admit it.  I did it, too. 

KELLERMAN:  You did, for Howard? 

CARLSON:  Yes, I did.  For Howard Stern.  I did.  I'll admit it. 

All right.  Since we both admitted it, time to move on. 

KELLERMAN:  I guess you've won both arguments. 

CARLSON:  I don't know.  I get to pick the arguments, though, so I have the built-in advantage. 

Max Kellerman, thank you.

KELLERMAN:  Tucker, see you tomorrow. 

CARLSON:  As always.

Stay tuned.  Still plenty more ahead on THE SITUATION.


CARLSON (voice-over):  The mouse that roared.  Wait until you hear how one rodent's fiery temperament sparked a massive act of revenge. 

Then, the king lives.  Well, sort of.  We'll show you why this birthday celebration will leave you feeling all shook up. 

Plus, a rare peek at how Santa spends the off-season.  You're going to want to wake the kids for this one.

And furry critter oddities.  I'm sure you've seen this one before, but have you ever seen anything like this?  It's all ahead on THE SITUATION.



CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Last week, we provided a public service by teaching you how to quit your job.  Tonight, it's time for the next step in that process:  finding a new job.  Yep, sorry.  You can't just quit.  You have to get a new job, it turns out. 

Here to help you find your new job, Doug Hardy.  He's the former editor-in-chief of Monster.com.  He's the author of the popular series of Monster career books.  He joins us live tonight from Boston. 

Doug, thanks for coming on.


CARLSON:  The obvious question:  What's the best, most effective way to apply for a job, in person, by e-mail, letter, phone? 

HARDY:  All those are important.  I mean, how you get in touch matters, but all work.  The best way to apply for a job is to really be prepared, to have done your homework in advance.  You know, the Internet especially has really raised the bar.  Your competition knows about the company you're applying for, knows about the job, and knows what they want.  And if you don't know that, they're going to outshine you. 

CARLSON:  But how do you answer—that seems like great advice to me, know about the job you're hoping to get.  But how can you prepare for the inevitable dippy question every employer asks, what are your weaknesses?  I mean, you shouldn't tell the truth, should you? 

HARDY:  Well, I think there's a way to talk about your weaknesses that shows you really know yourself.  And it's not that usual old answer about, “Well, I work too hard,” or something like that.

CARLSON:  I'm just too kind, too compassionate. 

HARDY:  Exactly.  What you really need to do is to show that you're aware that there are places you can grow.  And also, you can show in the past when you've had maybe a shortcoming, something you didn't know about...

CARLSON:  Felony arrests? 

HARDY:  ... and found out—felony arrests are a little harder to explain.  But you can tell how you learn something, how you caught up quickly, how you know something better. 

CARLSON:  What's the best way to find out what the salary is?  I mean, it's kind of the key point for most people, job hunting, but it's the most uncomfortable subject to broach.  How do you broach it?

HARDY:  There are a couple of ways.  The first is there are a lot of ways now online to find out what the salary is generally paying for that position in your part of the country.  Another way that really works is if you've talked to people in the profession.  And if they're part of a real lifelong career network, people who trust you, people you trust, they'll tell you. 

CARLSON:  That's a good point.  Now, what's the best cover letter opening line you've seen? 

HARDY:  The best cover letter I've ever seen.  I think it's a kind of letter that poses a real high-interest issue for the employer.  So you start by saying, “My friend, Bob, who you know, said you've got a real problem with customer service.  And I should know, because I use your products, and your customer service stinks.  However, I think I can help, and here's how.”

CARLSON:  Interesting.  OK, so it's—I mean, so many cover letters, at least the ones I've been fortunate enough, I guess, to receive, seem like they're written by a machine.  I mean, there must be some computer program that generates pitch letters for jobs.  So it should be as personal as you can make it, then? 

HARDY:  Yes.  And if you can make a personal connection, that's best.  I mean, having someone recommend you, connect you, really breaks through the ice.  Now, how does that work?  Let's say it's six months from now, Tucker, and you're adding a producer.  You can advertise online.  You can go get resumes online.  You can look at resumes you've received.  But also you're going to look at your producers and say, “Who does this as well as you?”

CARLSON:  Exactly.  That's exactly right.  “Who do you know?” 

HARDY:  Exactly.  And they're going to connect you to better candidates, because guess what?  They know what it takes to be a good producer on your show. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Plus, all producers know each other.  That's the truth.  Something to keep in mind when you're dealing with them.

And finally, give me an example of the two or three things you definitely should not do in a job interview, apart from show up drunk? 

HARDY:  Well, you shouldn't show up with all your body metal.  I mean, keep it to two or three piercings, OK?


HARDY:  And I think, if you want to discuss your criminal record, maybe save that for your second or your third interview.  But also...

CARLSON:  So hide the true you, basically? 

HARDY:  Well, hide the true you that maybe they need to fine out about later, when they're convinced you can actually do the job. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Excellent.  That is great common-sense, smart advice from Doug Hardy, former editor-in-chief of Monster.com, author of the Monster career books.  Thanks a lot, Doug.

HARDY:  Good talking to you. 

CARLSON:  Thanks.  You, too.

HARDY:  Bye-bye.

CARLSON:  Coming up in THE SITUATION, the best-selling book, “A Million Little Pieces,” gets exposed by TheSmokingGun.com.  Boy, does it.  We'll bring you the details.

Plus, the horrifying story of killer dog food.  Could the food you're giving your pet actually be killing your pet?  We'll tell you when THE SITUATION continues in just a moment.


CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

A frightening and very disturbing story tonight for dog owners in this country.  The FDA is investigating a poisoned batch of popular dog food that has already killed nearly 80 dogs.  Officials worry that that number will grow because people don't know about the problem yet.  We hope change that. 

NBC's Dawn Fratangelo has the story. 


DAWN FRATANGELO, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Seven-year-old Jasper is undergoing treatment to save his life.  The golden retriever is among dogs in 22 states who were fed contaminated food. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  All the other organs were normal. 

FRATANGELO:  Jasper's owners, Robert and Janice Lugo (ph), also gave the food to their other dog, Minnie.  She died last night. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Our baby trusted us to take good care of her, and we poisoned her.  We didn't mean to do it.  We didn't know we were doing it, but that's what happened. 

FRATANGELO:  On December 20th, Diamond Pet Foods recalled 800,000 bags of dog and cat food packaged under the names Diamond, Country Value and Professional.  Tests showed dangerous levels of a fungus in corn used in the food can cause fatal liver disease in dogs. 

DR. JOHN RANDOLPH, CORNELL UNIVERSITY:  What we see initially are dogs that stop eating, dogs that become lethargic, dogs that start to vomit. 

FRATANGELO:  Still, three weeks after the recall, veterinarians at Cornell University are seeing an increase in the number of dogs affected. 

(on-screen):  The toxin can be so potent just one meal can destroy a dog's liver, even less for puppies like Sadie here.  And it's taken weeks for owners and even vets to hear about the recall. 

(voice-over):  The word is finally spreading, with vets like this one in Chicago telling clients about the dangers. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Many dogs have gone into liver failure. 

FRATANGELO:  Diamond Pet Foods says it will reimburse owners for any bills and says it acted as quickly as possible. 

MARK BRINKMANN, DIAMOND PET FOOD COMPANY:  I wish we could replace the family pet.  That can't be done.  But short of that, we want to do everything we can to make that as bearable as possible for the customer. 

FRATANGELO:  Minnie, the golden, was just four years old. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She just was—just loved everyone. 

FRATANGELO:  The Lugos are heartbroken and relieved.  Their other dog, Jasper, will go home soon. 

Dawn Fratangelo, NBC News, Chicago. 


CARLSON:  To recap, that is Diamond Pet Foods, Diamond Pet Foods.  If you have a container of Diamond Pet Foods in your home, stop, do not feed it to your pets.  Make certain it is not one of the potentially contaminated batches.  We want to avert tragedy. 

Still ahead on THE SITUATION, there are few things cuter than a cuddly newborn kitten.  So why are we hiding this one's face?  You won't believe your eyes when we reveal the cat's face on “The Cutting Room Floor.”


CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

If you're a regular viewer of this show, you know that we often save breaking news for the very end, the “Cutting Room Floor.”  Here to deliver it tonight, Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  It's odd how we save breaking news for the end of the show, isn't it?

CARLSON:  Yes, we're a little different than most shows.

GEIST:  We're an unconventional show.  This actually is a big story, though, that we're going to do plenty on tomorrow.  The book, “A Million Little Pieces,” which millions of people have read, 3.5 million copies sold, 15 weeks number one on the best-seller list.  It turns out the whole thing might be a fraud. 

TheSmokingGun.com, the investigative Web site, is saying that James Frey, the author, essentially made up parts of the story.  He created this narrative of this outlaw lifestyle that he'd been arrested and in rehab and all this.  And apparently, according to police records and other court documents, a lot of it was just B.S., basically. 

CARLSON:  So completely B.S.  I spent a long time writing magazine profiles and take down pieces like this.  I have never read a stronger hit piece and a more justified hit piece than this.  It's actually unbelievable.

GEIST:  Going to TheSmokingGun.com.  It's amazing.  And in his defense, he says, “Let the haters hate me.  Let the doubters doubt.  I stand by my book.”  That's James Frey, the author, saying that. 

CARLSON:  By the end of the story, there's no question in your mind, none in mind, that this piece, that this book was filled with outright lies. 

GEIST:  That's right.  Absolutely.  And he went on Oprah.  Oprah gave it the stamp of approval, which put him number one on the list.  You don't want to make Oprah look bad.  And I think you might want to go witness protection at this point.

CARLSON:  We're going to get deep into it tomorrow night.

GEIST:  Yes, big story.

CARLSON:  In the meantime, what do we have?

GEIST:  Much less serious stories.

CARLSON:  Outstanding.

If you saw the cinematic masterpiece, “Anchorman”—which was essentially a documentary, by the way—you'll recognize this next animal.  Yes, it's Twiggy the world famous waterskiing squirrel.

GEIST:  There he is.

CARLSON:  Twiggy got up on two skis at a boat show in San Diego over the weekend.  The squirrel was pulled around a kiddie pool behind a remote-controlled boat, about five miles an hour.  This is odd, of course, because squirrels do not typically water ski, in the wild, anyway.

GEIST:  That's true.  Drop a ski, Twiggy.  Drop a ski.  Do a trick for us.

My favorite part?  Twiggy's wearing a life vest, reminding us that it's OK to be a daredevil, but safety always comes first.

CARLSON:  That's exactly right.

GEIST:  Good for Twiggy, I say.  It just never gets old.

CARLSON:  It's all fun and games until a squirrel gets hurt. 


GEIST:  That's right.

CARLSON:  We warn you that our next story has a sad ending.  You're looking here at Cy, a kitten born in Oregon with one eye and no nose.  Cy, whose name is short for Cyclops, was one of two kittens in the litter.  The other cat was completely normal and healthy.  Sadly, Cy died after living for just one day. 

GEIST:  I don't really have a pithy comment for that.  That's just kind of...

CARLSON:  I don't, either.

GEIST:  ... an interesting picture to look at and kind of a sad story, actually. 

CARLSON:  It is kind of a sad story.

GEIST:  I wish he would have lived.  We could have seen...

CARLSON:  I agree with you on that.

GEIST:  ... what happens to a one-eyed cat. 

CARLSON:  You'll never hear me mock a terminally-ill kitten. 

GEIST:  A one-eyed terminally-ill kitten.

CARLSON:  Not on this show.

Most people don't know this, but mice can be incredibly vindictive, especially when they've been lit on fire.  A New Mexico man was hoping to rid his home of the pests last week by throwing them into a pile of burning leaves.  Things took a terrible turn when one of the mice emerged from the leaves, fur ablaze, and ran back into the man's house.  Within minutes, the home was on fire.  It burned to the ground before fireman could get there. 

I'm not sure that's a terrible turn.  Burning mice alive?  I don't know.  I'm kind of on the mice side here.

GEIST:  I was going to say, is that really the best way to exterminate mice?


GEIST:  The Orkin man doesn't come over and throw mice into burning leaves.

CARLSON:  It's not.

GEIST:  Also, good luck explaining that to the insurance company. 

CARLSON:  Well, actually, it's...

GEIST:  Burning mice went on a suicide mission in my house.  I swear.  The mob burning down their own restaurants have more credible insurance stories. 

CARLSON:  You know, you never know what the real truth here is. 

Willie Geist.

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.  We'll see you tomorrow.

CARLSON:  Thank you.

That's THE SITUATION for tonight.  Thank you for watching.  Up next, COUNTDOWN with Keith Olbermann.  Have a great night.  And tune in tomorrow night, blockbuster show.  See you then.



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