updated 3/14/2006 12:02:50 PM ET 2006-03-14T17:02:50

Guests: Lonnie McLeod, William Swing, Selwyn Raab, Jason Wood

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  And now to THE SITUATION with Tucker Carlson.  Tucker, what‘s up?

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Thank you, Joe?  You want to pick a fight with a Scientologist, good luck buddy. 

Thanks to you at home, too, for tuning in.  We appreciate it.

Tonight, the top Muslim chaplain in New York attacks Jews.  He says the U.S. government is run by terrorists.  The imam in question has been suspended from his job in the nation‘s largest jail system, but will he get his job back? We‘ll play you his disturbing remarks, straight from the tape. 

Also, a killer priest.  Why has the Episcopal Church ordained a convicted murderer while he was still behind bars?  The power of redemption or the epitome of stupidity?  We‘ll talk to the bishop who ordained him. 

Plus, should college professors be required to master the English language?  We‘ll tell you about a proposed Bill that would make it mandatory for professors to speak plain, unaccented English.  That story in just a few minutes.

We begin tonight with the massive wildfires in Texas that have claimed more than half a dozen lives so far.  Several towns have been evacuated and over 650,000 acres have been burned in this latest blaze. 

For more on the situation there, we go to NBC‘s Janet Shamlian, who‘s standing by in McLean, Texas—Janet. 

JANET SHAMLIAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, good evening from the Texas Panhandle.  There are literally thousands of blackened acres of land behind me, and the air here tonight is heavy with the smell of smoke. 

Texas has been battered for several months by wildfires, but nothing like this: 1,000 square miles torched in the last 24 hours.  More than 100 separate fires have been racing across the panhandle.  They were fueled by high winds, sometimes gusting more than 50 miles an hour and grass here that hasn‘t seen rain in several weeks. 

Seven people have died, four of them in a chain reaction pileup on Interstate 40 near Amarillo when dense smoke covered the roadway. 

Three and a half million acres of Texas land has burned since last December.  That is two percent of the state‘s total land mass. 

The concern tonight, Tucker, is what happens next?  The ground is still extremely dry here.  There has been no rain since February, and there is no rain in the forecast at least for another week. 

That is the latest from here in Texas.  Tucker, now back to you.

CARLSON:  Thanks a lot, Janet.

Well, a rally was held yesterday in New York for suspended jail chaplain Imam Umar Abdul-Jalil.  Abdul-Jalil, one of the city‘s most prominent Islamic leaders, accused the Bush administration of being run by terrorists while speaking before the Muslim Students Association in Arizona last April.  He also blasted what he called Zionists in the media, and he claimed Muslims are now being tortured in New York prisons. 

The chaplain‘s remarks were caught on tape, and Abdul-Jalil has since been suspended but with pay. 

Listen to some of what he has said. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UMAR ABDUL-JALIL, MUSLIM IMAM:  We have terrorists defining who a terrorist is, but because they have the weight of legitimacy, they get away with it.  We know that the greatest terrorists in the world occupy the White House, without a doubt.”

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Reverend Lonnie McLeod is a friend and supporter of the imam.  He joins us live tonight from New York.

Reverend McLeod, thanks for coming on. 

REV. LONNIE MCLEOD, SUPPORTER OF SUSPENDED IMAM:  Thanks for having me.

CARLSON:  How—what do you make of this line—there‘s been so much attention paid in New York to his claim, the imam‘s claim that the White House is run by terrorists.  But first, I want to get your take on what he said about the press.  Quote, “The Zionists of the media are dictating what Islam is to us,” he said.

Why is he attacking the Zionists in the media?  Why is he claiming, essentially, a Jewish conspiracy in the media?  Any idea?

MCLEOD:  I don‘t hear him claiming a Jewish conspiracy in the media.  I would not have a friend who disliked or attacked the Jewish people.  And Umar Abdul-Jalil is my friend.  And I know that he has a lot of love and respect for all members of the Jewish community. 

What he said was, was these Zionists in the media, and he was quoting someone else when he made that statement. 

CARLSON:  No, he wasn‘t.  I actually read his remarks in their entirety today, and he was quoting—hold on.  I read it.  And he was quoting no one else. 

MCLEOD:  Would you be willing to read it again, because he says in that statement, “As the imam said.”  If you read that, he is quoting someone else. 

CARLSON:  “As the imam said.”  Is he attacking the imam for saying the Zionists run the media?

MCLEOD:  It‘s not a question of attack.  He is quoting someone...

CARLSON:  Come on.  That‘s... 

MCLEOD:  First of all you start out by telling me that he didn‘t quote anyone.  Now that we know that he did quote someone, let‘s just look at what he said. 

CARLSON:  Hold on.  I haven‘t the faintest idea what you‘re talking about.  I just, 18 minutes ago, read the transcript of everything he said.

MCLEOD:  OK.

CARLSON:  In that paragraph, he‘s quoting no one that I could see. 

Maybe you—maybe you have a different transcript.  I somehow doubt it. 

But here‘s my question.

MCLEOD:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Even to say this, that the Jews run the media, which is what he‘s saying...

MCLEOD:  That is not what he is saying.

CARLSON:  What is he saying? 

MCLEOD:  What he is—see, are you saying that Zionism is synonymous with Judaism or Jews?

CARLSON:  I‘m saying what you know perfectly well, and that is “Zionism” and “Zionist” is used as a euphemism for Jew by people who hate Jews.  And you know that.

MCLEOD:  I don‘t know anything—I don‘t know anything other than what I‘m hearing from you.  And I‘m asking the question, are you saying that Zionism is synonymous with Judaism?

CARLSON:  You know as well as I do this guy is going after the Jews. 

I think it‘s wrong and you should say so.

MCLEOD:  No, I do not.  Jalil would never be disrespectful to the Jewish people. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Let‘s get to what he said about the White House.  He described the Bush administration as terrorism, indeed, the greatest terrorist in the world. 

You can dislike Bush.  That‘s, of course, within bounds.  You can criticize Bush‘s policies, but to claim the U.S. government is run by the greatest terrorists in the world is an outrageous thing to say. 

MCLEOD:  And while I agree with that, I also do not believe that he meant it in that harsh of a context.  When you are standing up before a group of people and you‘re just talking, you‘re making a speech, you don‘t have something written before you, sometimes you go above board and you go out of bounds.  And I‘m sure that that is exactly what he did. 

Here is a man who is not a Bush hater.  He is not anti-American.  He is not anti-Jewish. 

I would not have said the things that he said. 

CARLSON:  Then why is he attacking the Jews and U.S. government and the Bush administration? 

MCLEOD:  You keep using the word—you keep using the word “attack,” and I do not see an attack.  And if you go on...

CARLSON:  “We have terrorists defining who a terrorist is.  Because they have the weight of legitimacy, they get away with it.  We know that the greatest terrorists in the world occupy the White House”—comma—

“without a doubt”—period.  There‘s not mistaking what he‘s said.  He‘s calling the U.S. government a terrorist organization. 

MCLEOD:  Absolutely—there is absolutely no mistaking what he said.  But I hear the same comments on Jay Leno every night, and nobody is upset about it.  The thing—oh, yes...

CARLSON:  Jay Leno accusing the U.S. government of being run by terrorists?

MCLEOD:  Jay Leno and other comedians, you hear all types of things said about the Bush administration.  What I‘m—what I‘m looking at here is, we can pick, and we can—and yes he said it.  I‘m not saying that he did not say it.  I am saying that the intent that is being—he did not mean it in the manner that it is being expressed.  How do I know?  Because I talked to him, because I asked him. 

CARLSON:  Well, then if that‘s what he meant, I wonder why he initially denied that he said any of this at all until he was tape-recorded. 

MCLEOD:  I cannot speak to that.  I cannot speak to what he denied, because when I talked to him and I told him that if I was going to go—and I‘m not here to defend him.  His lawyer does that. 

CARLSON:  Well, you‘re definitely defending him.  There‘s no question about it. 

MCLEOD:  I‘m here to talk about the things that he—that he said.  And when you know a person, sometimes people make statements, especially when they‘re talking to a group, that they feel is their own ethnic group, religious group, et cetera, et cetera.  They say things within a context that is not meant to be understood in the raw outside world. 

CARLSON:  Of course, when you think everybody in the room agrees with you, you get to say what you really think: the Jews are running the media and the Bush administration is a bunch of terrorists.  Come on!

MCLEOD:  I mean, if that‘s the truth, then we should have every American in this country defining what they say around their evening table.  Because I‘m quite sure that most people say some things about other ethnic groups that they don‘t want in the public. 

CARLSON:  Well, for one thing, this is not—and if he had said this at home...

MCLEOD:  yes.

CARLSON:  ... I would vehemently disagree with him. 

MCLEOD:  Well, it shouldn‘t have been said anywhere.

CARLSON:  He said this in front of students who‘d come to learn from him. 

MCLEOD:  It should not—it should not have been said anywhere.  But since it was said, I think we owe the benefit of the doubt to look at the man‘s total history, look at his actions, look at what he has done.  And I know that the Jewish community have a friend in this man and not an enemy. 

CARLSON:  OK, well, he—I hope he makes that—if that‘s true, and I doubt it, but if it is, I hope he makes that case in public. 

MCLEOD:  Well, you‘re making your—your doubt is based on...

CARLSON:  What he said.

MCLEOD:  ... an article and what he said.  My assurance that this man is a friend of the Jewish community is knowing him for a long time and seeing him taking other Muslims to task when they express extreme thoughts about violence and harm.

CARLSON:  OK.

MCLEOD:  This man here is a friend to the Jewish community, and he is not someone that is their enemy. 

CARLSON:  All right.  The Reverend Lonnie McLeod, joining us tonight from New York.  Thanks. 

MCLEOD:  All right.

CARLSON:  Still to come, Bill Frist took home the all unimportant South Carolina straw poll.  Who do Democrats really fear in 2008?  Is it Senator Frist?  Is it Senator McCain?  How about Rudy Giuliani?  We will tell you.

Plus, he was convicted of helping to murder a homeless man in a park 20 years ago.  So why has this man, fresh out of a prison in California, been made a priest in the Episcopal Church?  We‘ll talk to the bishop who ordained him, next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, everything you always wanted to know about the real-life Mafia but, understandably, were afraid to ask. 

Plus, should college professors, with foreign accents, thick, hard to understand foreign accents, be barred from the classroom?  We‘ll tell you when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

How would you feel if a convicted murder gave the sermon in your church every Sunday?  Well, if you‘re an Episcopalian, you may soon find out.  James Tramel helped kill a homeless man 20 years ago in Santa Barbara, California.  Recently released from prison, he is now a priest in the Episcopal Church. 

The Right Reverend William Swing is Episcopal bishop of California. 

He detained James Tramel while the convicted killer was still behind bars. 

Bishop Swing joins us live tonight from San Francisco to explain why.

Bishop, thanks for joining us. 

RIGHT REVEREND WILLIAM SWING, BISHOP, EPISCOPAL CHURCH:  Thank you. 

Good to be with you, Mr. Carlson. 

CARLSON:  Thank you.

This man was, as I understand it, ordained while still behind bars.  Why not let him out, you know, get out into the community, do some good deeds, prove himself well adjusted and then ordain him?  It seems—doesn‘t it seem a bit premature to ordain the guy while he‘s still in prison?

SWING:  Well, we ordain people according to canon law.  And a person has to go through a long process.  You have to be a member of a parish.  You have to go before the commissional (ph) ministry, the standing committee, the bishop, seminary, et cetera.  And Mr. Tramel had gone through all of that.  We were ready to ordain him to the priesthood. 

He was ready to get out of prison.  The probation—the parole board said that he could get out.  The district—district attorney of Santa Barbara said he should get out.  And the governor of California before the fellow‘s ordination to the priesthood said that he wouldn‘t let him out.  So, instead of him coming to Grace Cathedral and me ordaining him, I just went to the prison and ordained him. 

CARLSON:  My question is the obvious one, Bishop.  Of all the people you could have ordained to be a priest in the Episcopal Church, why a convicted murderer who‘s still behind bars?  I mean, is that really the best you could do?  That‘s kind of pathetic, isn‘t it?

SWING:  Well, I don‘t think it‘s pathetic if you knew the man.  I know the man.  We don‘t ordain people according to categories.  We ordain them according to interviews that we have with them and their track record. 

The track record of this young man in the last 20 years is pretty—pretty amazing.  He made straight A‘s in college while he was in prison.  He started a ministry in prison.  He did well in his seminary area studies. 

CARLSON:  But bishop, he also participated in a thrill killing.  He killed a homeless man for no reason.  Did he ever explain to you why he did that?

SWING:  Yes, we went over that.  Actually, you‘re incorrect on that. 

The person he was with killed the young man. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

SWING:  He did not kill the man, but he was with him.  And he was an accomplice.  And he‘s confessed to that.  And he has served—he was supposed to serve 15 to life, and he served 20. 

CARLSON:  But did he explain—but did he explain why?  I read a bunch of stories about the killing.  I think it took place in 1985.  And in none of them—originally, he denied that he knew the killing was going to take place, but in none of them did he explain why he did it.  Did you find out conclusively why he was party to this murder?

SWING:  Yes.  There was a gang fight between people of a little prep school and people in the city.  And he and his roommate went out to fight some people in the gang when he was 18 years old.  They found a homeless man—they found a man in a park...

CARLSON:  Who was sleeping in a sleeping bag.  But there was no—I read all that. 

SWING:  And James—yes, and James talked to the guy, knew he wasn‘t a member of the gang and turned away.  The fellow he was with pulled out a knife and attacked him and killed the man. 

CARLSON:  Have you—has he undergone a psychological evaluation by the Episcopal Church?

SWING:  Yes, he was.  Right.  In order to be ordained to the priesthood, you have to go through a psychological as well as a physical and a lot of other things. 

CARLSON:  Now, when the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, turned down or overrode, I guess, the—his parole that he was granted...

SWING:  Right.

CARLSON:  ... you gave a sermon in which you attacked the governor as a 98-pound moral weakling.  I wonder if you feel that way about the family of the murdered man.  They opposed his parole, too.  Were they 98-pound moral weaklings, too?

SWING:  Well, the people who sentenced James to prison were the people of the state of California, and the governor represents them.  The parole board wanted him out.  The district attorney wanted him out, and the governor turned it down. 

Governors of California traditionally turn down such requests and go against the parole board.  And so I didn‘t pick out Schwarzenegger particularly.  I said all governors of California turn out to be 90-pound moral weaklings when it comes to rehabilitation. 

CARLSON:  Well, but look, people have a right to oppose the guy‘s release and not be called names by you.  The Episcopal Church has lost one-third of its membership in the last 35 years. 

I‘m an Episcopalian.  I go to an Episcopal church.  I have a personal interest in this.  One of the reasons I wanted to have you on.  And it seems to me one of the reasons people are leaving the Episcopal Church is because of people like you, who ordain murderers and attack people who don‘t think that murderers ought to be let out of prison.

I mean, there‘s a certain—a lack of seriousness here on your part, it seems to me.  Shouldn‘t you be, you know, finding upstanding, decent people to be priests in the Episcopal Church and sort of being on the side of law and order?

SWING:  No. 1, he is—No. 1, he is an upstanding person.  If you had a chance, you would know that. 

And No. 2, I wish you were in our diocese.  I‘d love to have some conversations in depth with you. 

But let me just say we lost the most people in the Episcopal Church because we came out in favor of black civil rights.  We lost the next most because we came out for women.  We lost the next most because we think that gay and lesbian people are full human beings.

We are a courageous bunch of people. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t—I don‘t...

SWING:  Well, you don‘t, but I do.  It‘s just true.  I can show you...

CARLSON:  I think the Episcopal Church has taken up every single fashionable left-wing social cause over the past 35 years, and people who actually want to hear about God have to go somewhere else.  It‘s depressing.

SWING:  Well, it depends on whether you want to say that—who is—who are the people of God?  If—we would say black people and women and homosexuals and prisoners. 

As a matter of fact, Jesus spent time in prison, and the 12 apostles spent time in prison.  As a matter of fact, Moses was a murderer, and he ended up leading the people of Israel into the Promised Land. 

So we don‘t write anybody off.  You might write them off; we don‘t write them off. 

CARLSON:  It sounds like they get a special affirmative action program, actually, from the Episcopal Church. 

Bishop, I appreciate...

SWING:  No, we don‘t have an affirmative action program.  We take them one at a time as they come along. 

CARLSON:  All right.  I appreciate your joining us.

SWING:  OK.

CARLSON:  Reverend William Swing from San Francisco.  Thanks.

Still to come, “The Sopranos” are back.  Do mob bosses really have it as good as Tony Soprano?  We‘ll ask a man who has covered New York‘s crime families for more than two decades, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Could it be that, for once, Democrats have a clearer vision for the future than Republicans do?  Well, Democrats have their sights set on putting Hillary Clinton in the White House in 2008, but no one seems to have sparked as much enthusiasm on the Republican side, so far anyway. 

A straw poll sponsored by the Southern Republican Leadership Conference put Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist ahead of the pack of presidential hopefuls.  He was followed by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who placed a distant second. 

Here to tell us which of the Republican candidates, if any, strikes fear in the hearts of left-leaning activists is Air American radio host Rachel Maddow—Rachel. 

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

CARLSON:  Nice to see you.  Thank you.  I honestly want your opinion, as straight as you can give it to me. 

MADDOW:  I am praying for Bill Frist.  Please for Bill Frist. 

CARLSON:  You are praying?  You‘re praying for Bill Frist?

MADDOW:  I could beat Bill Frist for president. 

CARLSON:  Let me say, I think it‘s Bill Frist and he‘s got great people working for him.  I will say that.  But these—this poll is kind of ridiculous.  His total numbers, 526 votes.  Let‘s just write the poll off. 

MADDOW:  He sealed up the nomination. 

CARLSON:  It‘s meaning very little.  But here are the candidates, I think, the serious ones: Bill Frist; Mitt Romney; George Allen, senator from Virginia.  Mitt Romney, of course, governor of Massachusetts.  John McCain, senator from Arizona; Mike Huckabee, currently the governor of Arkansas; Rudy Giuliani, you know who he is.  Chuck Hagel, senator from Nebraska. 

MADDOW:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Who do you think would be the toughest for Mrs. Clinton to run against?

MADDOW:  Out of those?

CARLSON:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Probably Hagel or Giuliani.  I would say that I think among the people who have been mentioned, who are not—my pick for the most difficult to beat Republican nominee is not on that list, and that would be Condoleezza Rice. 

CARLSON:  She is on the list.  I guess—I‘m sorry.  I‘m biased.  I take her candidacy so not seriously I didn‘t even add her in there. 

MADDOW:  If you can imagine the whole primary season disappearing and us going right to the general election right away, I think Condoleezza Rice would be the most difficult Republican nominee to beat with the American people at large. 

That said, she‘ll never get the nomination, because she‘ll never make it through the Republican primary season.  Somebody like...

CARLSON:  Wait.  Why—so here you have Condoleezza Rice, you know, a woman who I think has been a better secretary of state than the man she replaced, without question.  She‘s gotten on the road and a lot of good things about her.  She‘s very smart.  She read “War and Peace” in the original Russian, blah, blah, blah.

But she‘s never run for anything. 

MADDOW:  Right.

CARLSON:  It‘s a really complicated process, a very trying process that drives even seasoned candidates almost to insanity.  She would melt, as I would, as anyone who‘s never has done it before would, under the pressure, don‘t you think?

MADDOW:  Yes.  On the other hand, you have to worry about political inexperience and not having been in campaigns.

On the other hand, the American people have shown a great disinterest in electing a senator to be president. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

MADDOW:  We just don‘t like to do that.  And we don‘t like to see the same faces over and over again up there.

CARLSON:  I agree with that.

MADDOW:  And we tend to think, you know, John McCain, yes, he‘s an interesting guy, been seeing him running for president my whole life.  It‘s not necessary that people want to see that.  They want a fresh face. 

CARLSON:  John McCain‘s politics so often infuriate me that I forget what an incredibly great guy he is personally.  He really is a great guy. 

Here‘s what he said.  He gave a speech this weekend at this event defending Bush.

MADDOW:  Yes.

CARLSON:  His policies in Iraq, Iran, port security, I agree with, maybe two out of three or maybe one out of three on that, whatever.  He‘s attacked.  Why are you defending Bush?  He says, quote, says McCain, “It‘s easy to be loyal when the guy is at 65 percent.  I‘m not going to kick him when he‘s down.”

MADDOW:  Yes.

CARLSON:  You‘ve got to love a guy. 

MADDOW:  Brilliant.

CARLSON:  It‘s so appealing.  How can you not love a guy who stands up for the unpopular kid, in this case, Bush? 

MADDOW:  This was an amazing, genius political move by McCain this weekend, the single most brilliant political mathematical move that I‘ve ever seen him make. 

Bill Frist is going to win this straw poll, because Bill Frist is—

Trent lot said that Frist was literally busing people in.  It‘s in his hometown.  The majority of voters in this straw poll are from his home state of Tennessee.  Everybody knows he‘s going to win.

So McCain, rather than making headlines for losing to Bill Frist in this straw poll, says, “If you want to vote for me, don‘t.  Write in the name of our president.  He needs our support.” 

So McCain looks like this great loyalist to Bush, which is one of the political crosses that he has to bear in the Republican Party.  And it makes Frist look like he‘s running against Bush.  Brilliant.

CARLSON:  And yet—the even deeper brilliance of it is...

MADDOW:  yes.

CARLSON:  ... everybody knows McCain hates Bush in real life.  Right?  So McCain gets the points for campaigning relentlessly for Bush, putting hundreds of thousands of miles under him, you know.  In 2004 he was everywhere for Bush.  And yet, he still isn‘t associated with Bush, because people know there‘s personal animus. 

MADDOW:  But he knows that‘s what he has to overcome with the party‘s base, with Republican activists, in order to get through the primary season and potentially be the nominee. 

And it points out what Republicans are going to have a problem with, in the primary season, which is that in Republican politics, and in Democratic politics to I think a lesser extent, the primary season, the way you become the nominee is so heavily weighted toward the base, toward the activists, who on the Republican side, love Bush.  Even though the country kind of hates Bush right now, the activists still love him. 

So to become the nominee, you have to run as Bush‘s inheritor.  But then to win the election, you have to run against Bush‘s legacy.  You‘ve got to flip flop. 

CARLSON:  I disagree.  I don‘t think the activists like Bush as much as you say they do, at all.  In fact, I think the conservative activists who have all this power in the primaries are very dissatisfied with Bush.  They think—and this is not just my opinion.  I‘m not just projecting here, although I am to some extent.

MADDOW:  Yes.

CARLSON:  But I think they are mad that he has never vetoed anything, for instance. 

MADDOW:  That may be true among the opinion writers, among the intellectual base of the party, but in terms of the get out the—get out the vote Republican voter base, among the really mobilized by the religious right, they do still see Bush partly as the messiah.  And they‘re going to not be that happy about a candidate who runs against Bush too early.  But that candidate will have to flip over entirely in order to win the election. 

CARLSON:  But Bush will be gone by that point anyway. 

MADDOW:  I hope so.  Yes.

CARLSON:  Thank you very much, Rachel Maddow. 

MADDOW:  Good to be back.

CARLSON:  Still to come, got tattoos, even one?  Then forget about applying to the United States Army.  We‘ll tell you why so many young Americans probably won‘t make the cut to the military. 

Plus, one of the stars of “South Park” calls it quits, because the infamously irreverent cartoon show has, quote, “crossed the line.”  Find out what‘s made him so mad when THE SITUATION comes back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES GANDOLFINI, ACTOR:  Got any wine?

DOMINIC CHIANESE, ACTOR:  Got time (ph), Marenga (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  There it is, the season premiere of “The Sopranos” last night.  It stunned viewers with a mobster hanging himself and a family member shooting mob boss Tony Soprano. 

The question is, do people like this still really exist?  Here to tell us, Selwyn Raab.  He‘s a long time crime reporter for “The New York Times.”  You definitely recognize his byline if you read the paper.  He‘s also the author of “Five Families: The Rise, Decline and Resurgence of America‘s Most Powerful Mafia Empires.”  He is also the author of “Justice in the Back Room,” which was the basis for the legendary “Kojak” television series.  Mr. Raab joins us live tonight from New York.

Mr. Raab, thanks for coming on. 

SELWYN RAAB, AUTHOR, “FIVE FAMILIES”:  Glad to help out, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Do they still exist?  I mean, is—are there any people like Tony Soprano on this planet?

RAAB:  No, Tony Soprano is really a myth.  And “The Sopranos” show is great entertainment but it‘s lousy history, and moreover, it has terrible perspective on the reality of the mob. 

CARLSON:  In what way?  Is the Mafia just not as powerful as the show portrays them as being?

RAAB:  It‘s a little more complicated than that.  What I tried to document in my book, “Five Families”, is how—what a wrong attitude it provides.  In effect, what “The Sopranos” and some other movies like the “Godfathers” have done, it humanizes and glorifies, to some degree, the Mafia.  And it also gives you an empathy to identify with Tony Soprano.  You don‘t get the really—aspect of how vicious and cruel and venal they really are. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Well, in some parts of the show they look pretty vicious and cruel and venal, I have to say, maybe from my perspective.  But do they have power in this country?  Do they still make lots of money?  Do they still run the numbers?  Do they still loan shark?  Does it still happen?

RAAB:  They do all of that.  Loan sharking and book making is the bread and butter of the Mafia, and the government has never knocked them out of that.  And they‘re still heavily into that. 

The best way of describing them and what‘s happened after a major campaign in the last two decades by the government, is simply put this way.  They are wounded seriously, but not mortally. 

CARLSON:  So who are the two or three most powerful mob bosses still around?

RAAB:  Well, there are still people running the Gambino family.  Somebody—the Genovese family is still very powerful.  So is the Columbo family.  None of them have been taken out. 

The real problem is, especially in New York, which is epicenter and the capital of the Mafia and always has been, is that when you knock out one group, you‘ve got somebody else to fill that vacuum very quickly. 

In other parts of the country, the government has been able to succeed much more effectively, because they‘ve only had to deal with one family, 20 or 30 made members. 

In New York, unfortunately, we‘re cursed with over 1,000 sworn soldiers, and they have about 5,000 associates or workers who help them out.  The numbers are incredible.  Very hard.  It‘s an uphill fight all the time for the government. 

And moreover, since 9/11, what has happened is the Mafia has gotten a bit of a reprieve.  Nine 11 changed the whole—the whole cosmology of what was going on. 

Before 9/11, the FBI, as an example, in New York had about 150 agents and police department investigators working full-time on investigating the mob.  Because of 9/11 and, justifiably, since counterterrorism is really the major priority for law enforcement agents and units in America, that number of 150 is now dwindled down to fewer than 50. 

CARLSON:  What do you think of John Gotti Jr.‘s defense?  He just got off on another mistrial just the other day, and his defense is partly that he wanted out of organized crime, that he wanted to leave the life.  Do you buy that?

RAAB:  It was an original defense.  It worked pretty well this time.  It didn‘t work so well in the first time when the jury came to 11-1 for him. 

This time, the jury foreman has disclosed that the vote was 8-4. 

What complicated it is that it‘s a tough part of what is known as the RICO law, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.  What you have to prove in RICO is that the last crime that was committed was committed within five years of the indictment. 

And that‘s where all this confusion took place, because there was this testimony that Gotti, John Gotti Jr., had opted out of the mob before—more than five years before the last indictment was brought against him. 

So it‘s a complex case.  Obviously, the government is going after him again, and they‘ll probably tailor it differently this time.  This time I think they‘re going to concentrate on destroying his evidence and credibility that he left the Mafia more than five years ago. 

CARLSON:  I have to say, they are more interesting than your average criminal.  I mean, wouldn‘t you say?

RAAB:  Well, of course.  Everybody‘s interested in them.

CARLSON:  Yes.

RAAB:  It‘s a vicarious kick.  Look, the American public has been consumed by amiable rogues, or not so amiable rogues, since the days of Jesse James and John Dillinger.  We‘ve always liked these people.  They‘re anti-establishment. 

Moreover, there‘s this vicarious aspect to them.  Let me ask you, Tucker.  I don‘t know if you‘re in the same position, but wouldn‘t you like to live life like Tony Soprano, where you have money rolling in, you like in a mini-mansion, you have an inexhaustible supply of beautiful women going to bed with you?  What‘s wrong with that?  It‘s the kind of lifestyle everybody would like to have.

CARLSON:  Well, you basically described cable news right there, so yes, I can relate. 

RAAB:  Not journalism.  Not my type of journalism.  I‘ve been underpaid and over privileged.  But certainly, I haven‘t got a mini-mansion.

CARLSON:  I have read you for years, though.  Thank you.  It‘s great to have you on.  Selwyn Raab.

RAAB:  Yes.  Good to help out. 

CARLSON:  Author of “The Five Families.”  Thanks a lot.

Stay tuned.  There‘s still plenty more ahead tonight on THE SITUATION. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON (voice-over):  Overweight, out of control or inked?  We‘ll tell you why Uncle Sam may not want you.

Then, Chef hangs up his hat.  What really prompted Isaac Hayes to give “South Park” the shaft?

ISAAC HAYES, VOICE OF CHEF:  Say what?

CARLSON:  Plus, the bizarre tale of how this woman tapped into every sports fan‘s wildest dream.  Wait until you hear what comes out of her kitchen faucet.

And watch out, Pamplona.  We‘ll show you why India is giving the tourist trade a run for its money.

It‘s all ahead on THE SITUATION.

TREY PARKER, VOICE OF MR. GARRISON:  That sounds pretty reasonable.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANESSA MCDONALD, PRODUCER:  Is the U.S. military really in a position to be turning recruits away because they have tattoos?  Plus, real life controversy in the make-believe world of “South Park.” 

CARLSON:  THE SITUATION comes back in a mere 60 seconds.  Stay tuned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, “Knowledge and timber shouldn‘t be much used until they are seasoned.”  Joining me now, a man whose knowledge is seasoned just so, “The Outsider,” ESPN Radio and HBO Boxing host Max Kellerman. 

MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO:  Tucker, I missed you. 

CARLSON:  I missed you, Max, but I had some important fishing to do. 

Glad to be back.

First up, it looks like the Marines aren‘t the only ones who are the few and the proud.  The Army has high standards, as well.  If you‘re fat, if you‘re on Ritalin, if you are covered with tattoos, you might as well give up your dreams of joining the service. 

These standards aren‘t exactly new, but the Ritalin craze and the epidemic of overweight Americans are, by one estimate, excluding fully 80 percent of potential recruits. 

Now this is kind of hard to defend on the one hand, Max, because, of course, the Army is going to make you thin and you‘re going to get tattoos once you join anyway.  So why these rules?

Here‘s what I like about it.  This shows that our manpower shortage that we hear so much about in the military isn‘t as bad as we thought it was, obviously, because if it was, they would relax these rules.  So this is actually a good sign. 

KELLERMAN:  Well, that‘s one way of looking at it.  Another, it‘s a blunder because we need the manpower. 

MSNBC today, MSN.com today, right now, the front page, or last I

checked a half an hour ago, the front page, U.S. pouring billions into

defeating the roadside bombs in Iraq and sending personnel and just going -

the Army is stretched so thin right now, Tucker, just in Iraq alone. 

We‘re not going to take people because they‘re overweight?  As you said, they‘ll lose the weight in basic training. 

They‘re having a problem with Ritalin?  They‘re ADD?  Let‘s see how well they concentrate with projectiles flying at them.  I think they‘ll get over it. 

CARLSON:  No.  Clearly, the military, which sets these standards, seems to me would not, could not, it‘s inconceivable that it would have standards this stupid if they hurt the military‘s ability to perform.  There‘s got to be some good reason for these, it seems to me. 

KELLERMAN:  Actually, I think the lesson of the last several years of this administration is no, there doesn‘t have to be a logical explanation for it.  In fact, you‘re talking about tattoos?  That you won‘t get in because of a tattoo?  What kind of people do you want fighting for you in this army?  People with—you want people with tattoos. 

CARLSON:  I actually agree with that.  I give up.  I give up.  I totally agree with you. 

KELLERMAN:  I have one last question. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

KELLERMAN:  All these people that who were kind of dodging Vietnam, you know, and—OK, you mean to tell me that overweight people who were doing drugs and having tattoos, that disqualifies you for the Army?  Why are they running to Canada? 

CARLSON:  Exactly.

KELLERMAN:  Why were they all running to Canada?

CARLSON:  Why wear women‘s underwear to your exam when all you need to do is, you know, gain a little weight?    

Well next up, should college professors be forced to speak proper English?  That is the goal of a new bill now pending in Minnesota.  Lawmakers there want instructors at all Minnesota state colleges and universities to prove they can speak plain, unaccented English before appearing in front of a class. 

Many students there reportedly have been struggling with the thick accents of some foreign teachers, but not with the thick accents, presumably, of the Minnesota-born teachers. 

I‘m for this, Max.  I don‘t think we pay enough attention to how we communicate.  Teachers—college professors can have all the knowledge—all the knowledge there is, but if they‘re unable to communicate it clearly to students, that knowledge is useless. 

KELLERMAN:  I‘m glad that—that there weren‘t any young, aspiring physics students—you know, I‘m glad Princeton wasn‘t in Minnesota, so the young, aspiring physics students in the early ‘40s who wanted to take Professor Einstein‘s class.  You know, you can barely understand what he‘s saying, you know?  You can‘t be a professor here, Einstein.

CARLSON:  I have a feeling Professor Einstein didn‘t teach all that many undergraduates. 

KELLERMAN:  Yes.

CARLSON:  But the point is that you ought to be able to communicate what you know.  It‘s really, really important.  And even someone as smart as Einstein is useless for the purposes of college students if he can‘t get it across because his accent is too thick. 

KELLERMAN:  You know, I don‘t know.  Did you ever, in an undergraduate class, you remember in college?  I remember taking classes in the beginning.  Maybe you‘re like, you sample classes for that first week or two and you come to class, you know, two or three classes and you‘re kind of overwhelmed.  You don‘t know what‘s going on.  And you get used to it.

The teacher‘s are hard to hear.  They‘re a low talker like on “Seinfeld.”  They just have a problem communicating.  You catch on.  You do what you have to do. 

The question is, is it a good professor?  One of my best professors at

Columbia, Professor Arakfakis (ph).  A Greek accent, not the thickest one,

but a pretty thick Greek accent.  He was an excellent.  You know, sometimes

it wasn‘t that hard in his case.  But there are professors, I‘m sure, where it‘s kind of hard at times to tell what they‘re saying, whether it‘s an accent or because they don‘t project their voices well, or whatever, but they‘re still good professors. 

CARLSON:  I think it‘s—here‘s the test.  If it‘s a thick accent but an amusing, funny foreign accent, I think it ought to be allowed.  If it‘s an annoying, grating, impossible to understand accent, no. 

KELLERMAN:  OK.  But what are the amusing accents?  You know?

CARLSON:  I‘m not—I‘m not going to risk a deluge of mail by naming them, but I think you know what they are. 

Max Kellerman, thank you. 

KELLERMAN:  Tucker, thank you.

CARLSON:  Coming up, Rock, Paper, Scissors, it‘s not just for deciding who gets the last piece of pizza any more.  We‘ll take you inside the high stakes world of professional Rock, Paper, Scissors players.  No kidding.  We‘ll show you when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

It used to be the best thing you could win in a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors was the right to ride shotgun in the car.  Nowadays, if you‘re good enough, you could win $50,000.  The very best of the best will gather in Las Vegas next month for the national Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament.  My next guest will be among those elite masters of hand to hand combat. 

Jason Wood is one of the Rock, Paper, Scissors champions from the state of Florida and he joins me live tonight from Tampa. 

Jason Wood, thanks a lot for coming on. 

JASON WOOD, ROCK, SCISSORS, PAPER PLAYER:  Thanks for having me, Tucker.

CARLSON:  How can you prevail over another Rock, Paper, Scissors player?  Isn‘t it just pure chance?

WOOD:  I thin it‘s a game of chance, but I think there‘s definitely a little strategy in there.  And you know, you have to kind of watch what‘s going on and see the players and see the game and see how it‘s flowing and kind of go with it and, you know, read what they‘re going to do next. 

CARLSON:  So I play Rock, Paper, Scissors almost every day.  We call it Rochambeau.  I like it.  But I never imagined that I could gain an advantage over an opponent by reading his body language.  Give me an example.  Tell me your strategy or as much as you can reveal on television. 

WOOD:  Exactly.  Don‘t lose.  That‘s the first rule of strategy in Rock, Paper, Scissors. 

CARLSON:  OK.

WOOD:  Second of all, just kind of watch them and get a feel for what they‘re going to throw and then it‘s just dumb luck after that. 

CARLSON:  So do certain players have a propensity to throw rock, others paper, others scissors?

WOOD:  Absolutely.  Yes, they definitely have their tendencies.  And you know, it‘s just—it‘s part of the strategy to watch what people‘s tendencies are. 

CARLSON:  Now, I was reading some of the bios of the other players, contestants, players, athletes?  I don‘t know what you all call...

WOOD:  Athletes will be fine. 

CARLSON:  That‘s OK.  I noticed that a lot of them, in fact I‘ll be honest, every single one was a bartender.  Is there a connection?

WOOD:  You know, I don‘t know.  I think we‘re handy to the Rock, Paper, Scissors tournaments.  And I work at the CSQ Oyster Bar (ph) and we had our tournament there, and that‘s the first round that I won.  And I went on to the next round and won—won the trip to Vegas.  So I‘m looking forward to it.

CARLSON:  Is there an international competition?

WOOD:  There is an international competition.  I‘m not very intelligent on the actual international competition.  I‘m going to take it one step at a time and set them up and knock them down. 

CARLSON:  Do you have a hero in this sport?  Is there a Babe Ruth of Rock, Paper, Scissors?

WOOD:  I don‘t know of any heroes, no.  Maybe—maybe my sister for beating me every time we played when I was a kid.  There you go. 

CARLSON:  Jason, I hate to put you on the spot.  But I want to challenge you. 

WOOD:  OK.

CARLSON:  I want you to raise your right hand up to the camera.  You ready?

WOOD:  I think this is unprecedented.  You ready?

CARLSON:  Rock, Paper, Scissors.  OK, let‘s try it again.  Ready?

WOOD:  Go one, two, three, shoot. 

CARLSON:  One, two, three, shoot.  You beat me.  I‘m impressed.  You are the champ.  I‘m actually not embarrassed to be beaten by the champ in Rock, Paper, Scissors.  It‘s almost an honor for me.

Let me ask you very quickly.  Did you anticipate I was going to throw paper?

WOOD:  You know, I had a feeling that paper might be your first throw. 

CARLSON:  You can‘t master something like this.  You can‘t explain it. 

You have to seen it in action.  I hope you win, Jason. 

WOOD:  Thanks very much.  I‘d like to thank Gold Coast Eagle for sure for all their hard work they‘ve done in this contest. 

CARLSON:  I‘d like to thank them, too.

WOOD:  Thank you very much.

CARLSON:  I hope you make it to ESPN. 

WOOD:  I‘m going to be there, for sure.  I think it‘s going to be on

A&E. 

CARLSON:  Excellent.

Still ahead on THE SITUATION, has one of the biggest stars of “South Park” cooked his last meal on the show?  We‘ll tell you why soul music legend Isaac Hayes is now refusing to lend his voice to that show.  We‘ll have that controversy on the “Cutting Room Floor,” next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Busted. 

Ready?

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  One two, three, shoot. 

CARLSON:  One, two, three, shoot.  Even. 

GEIST:  Bam.  Got him. 

CARLSON:  There it is, time for the “Cutting Room Floor.”  Willie Geist, the Rock, Paper, Scissors mater, is here. 

GEIST:  I was the New Jersey state champion. 

CARLSON:  You were.  There‘s something to brag about.

Music legend Isaac Hayes has played the voice of Chef on “South Park” since 1997, but apparently, it took him until today to realize that show is a bit insensitive.  Hayes, who‘s an outspoken Scientologist, quit the show today. 

He said, quote, “There is a place in the world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins.”

“South Park” frequently mocks Scientology and its celebrity robot followers. 

GEIST:  And as we all know, Tucker, one of the principal tenets of Scientology is self seriousness. 

Actually, this is a good little battle.  Matt Stone, the creator, says this has 100 percent to do with his Scientology.  He has problem.  He‘s cashed plenty of our checks with our show making fun of Christians. 

CARLSON:  Good for Matt Stone. 

GEIST:  It‘s a battle (ph).

CARLSON:  The next time your tap water looks a little rusty, give it a little taste before you call a plumber to fix it.  A woman in Oslo in Norway turned on her kitchen faucet the other day, and instead of water she got beer.  Free beer.  She lives over a bar, and a plumber connected beer hoses to a water pipe by mistake.  The woman got beer.  The confused bartenders got water. 

GEIST:  Cool.  You know, it does pay to be tight with your plumbers.  Like the cable guy giving you free HBO.  Slide your plumber $20, say you want him to mix up some of the tubes and send the beer my way.  I think it worked out nicely for her. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  It would make for kind of an uncomfortable bath.  You know what I mean?

GEIST:  It‘s actually probably a little worse than it sounds on paper. 

CARLSON:  But good for your hair. 

If you thought the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, was scary, you haven‘t seen the running of the two-ton elephants in southern India.  Seven elephants and their petrified jockeys barreled through the streets of an Indian village during the mile-long race.  The winner, you guessed it, the 39-year-old elephant named Kannan.  This is now the eighth time Kannan has won the annual race. 

GEIST:  Well, Kannan‘s in the race you‘re playing for second.

CARLSON:  Totally.

GEIST:  Everybody knows that.  Did you see the people running like the running of the bulls?  Running from them?  There‘s a little more seriousness, a little more concern on their faces than you see in Pamplona.  No kids on Semester Abroad over there.  Running away from the elephant, that‘s life and death. 

CARLSON:  I‘m so impressed by that, actually. 

GEIST:  It‘s always India, too.  Have you noticed this?  Those sports?

CARLSON:  Yes.  They‘re brave people. 

GEIST:  Brave is one word.

CARLSON:  A baby shower is a nice way for an expectant mom to get a little help collecting all the things she‘ll need for her new child.  But now there‘s a better way to scare up cash, by auctioning advertising space on your pregnant belly on eBay. 

That‘s what Asia Francis of St. Louis did.  The winning bid of $1,000 bucks came from a California Internet company that will temporarily tattoo its name on Francis‘ belly and broadcast the birth of her child live on the Internet. 

GEIST:  Why do we have to get the child‘s birth on the Internet? 

That‘s a throw-in I didn‘t need.

A lot of people find this disgusting and offensive, but Tucker, I‘m sure you know it‘s no less disgusting or offensive than going to a baby shower, having to sit there and watch her open up sippy cups and diaper genies (ph).  I don‘t need that.  So if she can scare up some cash doing it this way, go get the items on her own, save me the trouble of going to a baby shower, I‘m all for it. 

CARLSON:  If you‘re even considering going to a baby shower as a man, Willie, your life has taken a tragic turn. 

GEIST:  I‘ve been dragged.  I‘ve been dragged against my will.

CARLSON:  There‘s an admission I never thought I‘d hear.

Willie Geist, thank you. 

GEIST:  All right.

CARLSON:  That‘s it for us tonight.  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.

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