updated 3/28/2006 10:47:27 AM ET 2006-03-28T15:47:27

Guests: Joshua Hoyt, Michael Burkhardt, Brenda Cantwell

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Thanks.  And thanks to you at home for tuning in to THE SITUATION.  I‘m Tucker Carlson.

Tonight, Democrats drop an Arab-American candidate who called the September 11 hijackers cold blooded murderers but could not say the same about Palestinian suicide bombers.  Former candidate Sami Mehri joins me in just a moment to explain how he got bounced out of his own political party.

Also, an 18-year-old Indiana girl could face major prison time for having consensual sex with a 15-year-old boy.  Some are outraged, but would they feel the same way if the roles were reversed?  We‘ll debate it.

Plus, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is caught on camera making an obscene to a reporter.  We‘ll bring you our top five political melt-downs captured on time in just a few minutes.

But we begin our show tonight with more protests over Washington‘s plan to crack down on illegal immigration.  Just this weekend, half a million people in Los Angeles alone took to the streets to protest a bill already passed by the House of Representatives.  That bill would make being an illegal alien a felony and would erect a 700-mile long fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Earlier today, 14,000 mostly Hispanic students in California stormed out of their classrooms in protest.  Some of them marched on to the Los Angeles Freeway.  And just hours ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved immigration legislation that clears the way for millions of undocumented citizens to seek U.S. citizenship, without having to first leave the country.

The controversial bill reaches the full Senate bill on Tuesday.  We‘ll cover it when it does.

Meanwhile, President Bush says he wants the debate over immigration to be civilized.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Immigration debate would be conducted in a civil and dignified way.  No one should play on people‘s fears or try to pit neighbors against each other.  No one should pretend that immigrants are threats to our American identity, because immigrants have shaped America‘s identity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Immigration rallies were also held in Chicago, where about 300,000 protesters paralyzed traffic in the downtown area.  Joshua Hoyt is the executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights.  He joins us tonight from Chicago.

JOSHUA HOYT, ILLINOIS COALITION FOR IMMIGRANTS AND REFUGEE RIGHTS  

Thank you very much. 

We‘re in the lunch bucket America. 

CARLSON:  Lunch bucket America, amen.  Look, I‘ve got a perspective on illegal immigration, but I recognize that there are other points of view and I take them seriously. 

I was infuriated, just annoyed as hell, by your op-ed in a Chicago newspaper claiming that racism was behind the opposition to illegal immigration.  You don‘t know that, A.  And B, it‘s a totally unfair thing to say.  There are people like me who are not motivated by racism.  What an outrageous—outrageous way to conduct a debate. 

HOYT:  Actually that‘s not what I said.  What I said that I think that some parts of the Republican Party took illegal immigration as the next wedge issue just like gay marriage was last time.  And they said, “We can tap into the resentment and the latent racism that does exist out there.”  Not everybody is not like you, Mr. Carlson.  “And we can use it to our political advantage.”

And what happened was, whoops, boom, they went and kicked the sleeping giant, and the Latino community has been mobilizing all across this country.

CARLSON:  Wait a second.  That‘s such an unfair thing to say. 

HOYT:  That‘s entirely predictable...

CARLSON:  Hold on.

HOYT:  Entirely predictable example of the law of unintended consequences.

CARLSON:  Leaving aside your political analysis, which I have questions about, let‘s get back to the core of what I just asked you.  It‘s unfair to lay peoples‘ motives, to describe them as racist, when A, you don‘t know, and have no way of knowing it and, B, it delegitimizes a legitimate argument. 

People are upset about illegal immigration for economic, social, cultural, security related reasons.  All of those reasons inspire people to be against illegal immigration.  And you write people you don‘t even know right off, by saying, it‘s latent racism.  Why don‘t you take their argument seriously? 

HOYT:  Of course, we take the argument seriously.  We‘re looking for solutions.  We‘re looking for something that goes a little bit past demagoguery and a little bit past demonizing some hard-working people. 

CARLSON:  Wait a second.  You‘re the one who‘s—you‘re the one who‘s playing the demagogue and demonizing people, calling them racists. 

HOYT:  I said that the Republican Party had made a decision to try to hold on to the House using illegal immigration as the next wedge issue.  And it‘s blown up in their face. 

Latinos are the fastest growing demographic, and they are socially conservative.  They are conservative on abortion, conservative on homosexuality.  Hard-working, faithful people, and they‘re being demonized as illegal immigrants. 

CARLSON:  Wait a second.  They‘re not being—first of all, who cares?  I think that‘s great.  I think Latinos, they can vote conservative.  I think that‘s wonderful.

I like Latinos.  I grew up in southern California.  Nobody on this show, anyway, is against Latinos.  That‘s such a red herring.  This is a question of immigration.  Are you for people coming into this country illegally or are you not?  It‘s not about Latinos or Mexicans or anybody racial group.  It‘s about illegal immigrations. 

HOYT:  We‘re looking for solutions.  We‘re looking for solutions, and so what I said in that op-ed was that the approach of Mr. Sensenbrenner up in Wisconsin is a flawed way of demonizing illegals.  And I‘ll tell you there‘s an awful lot of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans that hear that as code for Mexicans. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But don‘t you think, and people listen to you, since you are a serious person who writes op-ed‘s in serious newspapers.  I hope that you will concede on the air that it is unfair to say that people who are opposed to illegal immigration don‘t like Mexicans.  I mean, that‘s just a ridiculous, offensive, as you put it, demagogic thing to say. 

HOYT:  Well, I would say that there‘s a portion of the anti-immigrant and anti-illegal immigrant movement that is just flat out stone, old fashioned, good old USA bigots.  OK?  And if you were to deny that...

CARLSON:  Well, how in the hell do you know that anyway?  What are you, God now?  Are you inside their hearts?  I mean, you don‘t know that they‘re bigots.  They‘re laying out reasonable arguments for why, if this is against the law, we ought to enforce the law.  You don‘t have a counter argument.  Are you arguing we shouldn‘t enforce the law?  What is your argument anyway?

HOYT:  What I‘m saying is what we need is comprehensive immigration reform.

CARLSON:  OK.

HOYT:  We need enforcement.  We need a guest worker program.  We need a path to citizenship for those who are here and contributing to this economy.  We need to reunite families.  And then you will have a system where there‘s much les illegal immigration and we will be much more secure as a country. 

CARLSON:  I think that‘s a reasonable. 

HOYT:  Instead of fanning the flames of, you know. 

CARLSON:  But you‘re the one who‘s fanning the flames.  I think what you just said is reasonable. 

HOYT:  I just called—I just called the reality a reality.  You just don‘t like it. 

CARLSON:  No, you are fanning the flames of hatred, exactly the practice you are decrying in your piece.  Just my view.  Step back and watch the tape.  I think you‘ll agree with me, and I hope you‘ll come back on to repent. 

HOYT:  Never!

CARLSON:  Never.  OK.

HOYT:  I‘ll come back on but I won‘t repent. 

CARLSON:  Well, I hope you will.  It would be good.  But anyway, I appreciate your coming on.

HOYT:  I‘d love to come in and get Irish with you.  No, we like a good argument here in Chicago.  But I think what I‘m proposing, very serious solutions to a very serious...

CARLSON:  You sound like Bush, and I disagree with you both.  But again, I appreciate your perspective.  Joshua Hoyt, thanks for coming on. 

HOYT:  Thank you.  Bye-bye.

CARLSON:  Time now for our “Under the Radar” segment, which comes to us tonight from Passaic, New Jersey. 

A few days ago, Democratic Party leaders in the state pushed for an Arab-American free holder candidate to be removed from their election ticket because of comments he made four years ago. 

At a 2002 fundraiser, Sami Merhi called the September 11 attacks, quote, “Cold-blooded murders” brought on by, quote, crazy fanatics (ph).  When asked to apply that same label to Palestinian suicide bombers, Mary said, quote, “I can‘t see the comparison.” 

Mary said he feels betrayed by his party‘s decision is joining us in the studio.  Thanks for coming on. 

SAMI MERHI, FORMER CANDIDATE:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  So tell us quickly what happened.  2002, you are at a rally. 

And r reporter comes up and said, “How do you feel about 9/11?” 

You said, “They‘re cold blooded murderers.  They‘re crazy fanatics. 

They‘re as far from God and Islam and God.” 

And then the reporter said do you feel the same way about Palestinian suicide bombers. 

MARY:  Well, let me first absolutely tell you that I abhor violence. 

And condemn violence happening anywhere in the world. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

MEHRI:  But that day, Tucker, September 11, I will ever remember the day as a horrible day in our history.  A group of faceless enemy hijacked our planes and invaded our country and took the lives of 5,000 people.  Among them was my godson. 

This tragedy cannot be compared as far as I‘m concerned, personally on a personal level, family level or a national level.  As an American, I was hurt, both for my country and for my family.  And that‘s why I said, I cannot compare this hurt with other peoples‘. 

CARLSON:  So, are you endorsing suicide bombings?

MEHRI:  No way.  No way. 

CARLSON:  So, you said that September 11th was horrifying.  You have same feelings as we all do. 

MEHRI:  Exactly.

CARLSON:  And this reporter says but what about a bombing in another country?  And you said you can‘t compare the two.

MEHRI:  I cannot compare them.  Because A, this was the magnitude of the horrible act against the United States.  That tips the scale, if you will.  Now, that does not belittle, if you will, the tragedies that takes place anywhere in the world. 

CARLSON:  Well, of course.  In fact, it‘s a ridiculous question.  You‘re an American.  You‘re upset about murders, bombings in your own country, as an American.

MEHRI:  Right.

CARLSON:  When Americans are killed, it‘s worse from your perspective than when people in the country build, because you‘re an American.  Of course.  So, I‘m a little bit confused as auto why the Democratic Party in the state of New Jersey is washing its hands of you.  And it is. 

MEHRI:  Well, I have been a loyal Democrat for the past 26 years.  And I was promised by my grandfather that when you live in America, you play by the rules and you work hard, you will get there.  You will reach the American dream. 

Last Saturday, the Saturday before last, I walked out of that room when my leaders elected me and selected me for the ticket, like a giant.  I felt that the American dream is right there. 

CARLSON:  Which I should point out for our viewers who are not from New Jersey, in New Jersey is pretty close to being elected, because Democrats tend to win, particularly where you live. 

MEHRI:  Right.  Right, in the span of one week, I went from a victor to a victim.  I read my name Monday morning in the papers.  And I said, what‘s going on here? 

CARLSON:  So, the governor of New Jersey, Governor Corzine, the new senator, Senator Menendez, both Democrats in the state of New Jersey, have decided and said publicly that they don‘t want you running on their party‘s ticket.  They just don‘t want anything to do with you.  Why?  Did anybody explain to you why?

MEHRI:  Well, somebody had been ill advised, if you will, as far as I‘m concerned.  Because I would have asked of them to give me the opportunity to explain my side of the fact. 

Nobody called me.  Nobody says to my chairman or to my leaders, let‘s convene in a meeting.  And then behind closed doors, let‘s see if there‘s a problem, try to fix it, like a family. 

But they went through the papers spewing out my name.  And this for me is a mater of pride and dignity.  This is for me like the party says it‘s al about winning.  And I say, it‘s about integrity. 

CARLSON:  Sure, and it‘s also the party of the little guy.  And I should say, on this show, we‘ve been, I think—I‘ve been very tough on some Muslim-American groups that I don‘t think are sufficiently tough on terror. 

I think you seem like a role model not just for Muslim-American groups but for all Americans, as someone who has succeeded in America, doing the right thing and believing the right thing.  And I am confused as to why you‘re being penalized for it. 

MERHI:  I wish I knew.  I mean, there‘s someone there, some people out there, in the darkness of the night have their own agenda. 

But my dream and what I want is to serve the people of Passaic County.  We as the free holder board or the county government.  We do not discuss foreign policy. 

It is time for us now to discuss how better can we serve the people of Passaic County with having better schools. 

CARLSON:  Well, sure.  The question of suicide bombings in Israel probably doesn‘t come up that often in Passaic County, does it?

HOYT:  Tucker, I don‘t think so.  But I say there‘s no justification for taking of innocent life anywhere by anybody anywhere in the world. 

CARLSON:  Good for you.  Sami Mehri.  I hope, you know—I think you should switch parties.  You‘re going to.  You‘re a loyal Democrat.  But I hope the leaders of your party pay attention and undo this. 

MEHRI:  This is going to be a national issue, because people are being insulted by the fact that an Arab-American, like myself, who‘s been a loyal Democrat, would not have had the opportunity.  And this is going to have big ramifications come November in the country I hope it does. 

CARLSON:  Thanks for joining us. 

MEHRI:  Thank you, Tucker.  I appreciate it. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, still more than 25,000, a lot!  Evangelical Christians march in San Francisco.  They look nice enough.  There are there pictures.

Why did officials in what is supposed to be America‘s most tolerant city tell them to leave and never come back.  Good question. 

Plus, a federal appeals court clears the way for the sale and distribution of Tennessee license plates featuring the words “choose life.”  Should a political statement be allowed on the back of a car?  The debate ensues when we come back, and we will. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still ahead, politicians have gone out of their way to avoid getting caught by the camera in not so favorable situations.  Unfortunately for them, they couldn‘t avoid the producers of tonight‘s “Top Five” list.  Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Every American has the right to protest or at least should have that right.  You just saw thousands of people swarm the streets of L.A. to oppose a crackdown on immigration.  Gay rights activists, abortion rights activists and radical environmentalists all get a chance to express their views.  So why is San Francisco condemning a rally for evangelical Christians?  Here to talk about this extreme case of double standards—ooh, the irony alert is going off—Air America host Rachel Maddow. 

Rachel, welcome.

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO HOST:  Hi. 

CARLSON:  So, these 25,000 evangelical kids show up in San Francisco, and they‘re there to protest popular culture that glamorizes sex and violence, they say, and to help with the homeless. 

And the city of San Francisco, the board of supervisors, passes a resolution condemning this protestors.  They call, quote, an active provocation by an anti-choice organization that is aimed, quote, to negatively influence the politics of America‘s most tolerant and progressive city.  We‘re so tolerant, go home.  You don‘t see the irony here?

MADDOW:  Well, think about it.  Why did they go to San Francisco?  They went to San Francisco, they said, because they wanted to lay plain the contrast between the kids who are waging a Battle Cry for Christ. 

CARLSON:  Right.

MADDOW:  In the place where Americans—where same sex Americans were married for all of the world to see.  They went to San Francisco because San Francisco is a liberal city.  Right?  And I think...

CARLSON:  It‘s a liberal city.  I don‘t think—they said pretty explicitly, “We‘re not here because it‘s a heavily gay city.”  They‘re here because it‘s one of the most secular in the country. 

MADDOW:  They went there because of gay marriage, in part.  That‘s what they said in their press releases.  I spent all day on their web site.

CARLSON:  Right.

MADDOW:  I love the story.  I think this story is great.  But obviously, people can assemble and rally wherever they want.  But if you call yourself Battle Cry, and you wear camouflage, and you wear dog tags and you carry military battle flags and you say you‘re there waging a war against terrorists, then I think the people who you‘re calling terrorists, the people who you say you‘re waging a war against have the right to pass a resolution. 

CARLSON:  On, come on!

MADDOW:  You can expect them to pass a resolution that says, “Don‘t let the door hit you on the way out.”

CARLSON:  So, they‘re scared of these—Dykes on Bikes, who I support, much scarier than these people.  This is the least threatening group of people ever.  We‘re talking about an ideological threat.  These people don‘t agree with the board of supervisors of the city of San Francisco. 

My only point is the only point.  You can‘t call yourself tolerant, you can‘t market yourself as the Mecca of tolerance in the western world and then when someone disagrees with you say, as a member of board of supervisors did, get out of our city.  You can‘t.

MADDOW:  You also can‘t be the poster child for tolerance when you‘ve said that you‘re waging a blitz on an American city.  And when you‘re calling that city, when you‘re basically saying you are there for terrorism and terrorists, which is what they‘re saying.  They‘re calling San Francisco terrorists. 

CARLSON:  It‘s a stupid rhetorical device.  Hold on just a second.

MADDOW:  They‘re wearing dog tags.  What are you talking about?

CARLSON:  Rachel, you are intentionally, intentionally misunderstanding their message.  They are using a dumb, “We‘re in the”—they‘re using martial, that is military language to talk about a religious crusade.  A crusade itself is military language.  Of course, their rhetoric may be dumb but they are there to win people over for Jesus and to help the homeless. 

MADDOW:  But listen, their rhetoric matters.  When they‘re waging a confrontration with San Francisco.  I went to their web site today.  Have you seen the handbook for the Battle Cry?  After you pay your $199 to go wage your battle in San Francisco...

CARLSON:  Right.

MADDOW:  And after you pay $49.95 for your Training for Warriors kit then you can pay $14.99 for your Battle Cry handbook, which says, quote, “An evil enemy has launched a brutal attack.  It‘s not the Middle East, and terrorists are not the threat.”  You know what?

CARLSON:  Spiritual terrorism.  But hold on.  Is the point you‘re making, the city is afraid of these people, that this supposedly tolerant, open minded, worldly city who tolerates everybody can‘t handle the presence of 25,000 people who disagree with them? 

Because that is exactly what the city has said.  We disagree with you, as Mark Leno, this fascist guy who works for the city.  Get out of our city.  They‘re obnoxious; they‘re disgusting.  They should get out of San Francisco.  I can‘t hear you.  I‘m going to use the power of the state to make you leave.  Come on!

MADDOW:  Listen, when you organize yourself into a Battle Cry and you wear camouflage and do all this military stuff and then you go. 

CARLSON:  Nice try. 

MADDOW:  And then you go with this confrontational—then you go with this confrontational attitude.  You‘re there to provoke people in San Francisco.  San Francisco isn‘t saying, “Legally you can‘t be here.  We‘re not going to allow you to.”  They‘re saying, you know don‘t?  Don‘t let the door hit you on the way out.” 

CARLSON:  There‘s just no way. 

MADDOW:  You‘re not welcome.

CARLSON:  No way.  There‘s just no way—Nice try.  Unfortunately, we‘re out of time.  But let me just say, there‘s no way that you‘re going to convince me or our viewers that a group of, like, 16-year-old Christian kids is bothering anybody. 

MADDOW:  Twenty-five thousand.

CARLSON:  This is ridiculous. 

MADDOW:  You know what? 

CARLSON:  It‘s a closed-minded case. 

MADDOW:  I am the personification of what they‘re...

CARLSON:  You‘re afraid of them?  Honestly?

MADDOW:  I‘m not afraid of them, but when they come to my city and tell me they‘re waging war against me, I‘m going to be intolerant of that.  Yes, that‘s going to happen. 

CARLSON:  Boy, I thought you were tolerant.  But it turns out scratch a liberal, you find a fascist.  I guess something I‘ve noticed before.

MADDOW:  You‘re calling me a fascist?

CARLSON:  I‘m not calling you a fascist.  I‘m calling Mark Leno from the—a fascist.  I‘m sorry. 

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW:  They‘re not welcome.  They‘re not welcome.

CARLSON:  Well, OK.  The board of supervisors doesn‘t own the city of San Francisco, actually.  And they shouldn‘t pretend they do.

MADDOW:  They have a right...

CARLSON:  All right.  We are out of time. 

Not a tolerant place. 

Still to come, the most memorable political faux paus ever.  Find out who flips and slides their way onto our “Top Five” list when THE SITUATION comes back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  And then we‘re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House.  Yeah!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was the infamous primal scream that stopped Howard Dean‘s 2004 presidential campaign in its tracks.  Dean was certainly not the first or last prominent political figure to embarrass himself in public. 

Just yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave a classic Italian hand under the chin gesture to a reporter as he left church in Washington.  The gesture reportedly was not directed at the reporter, but the people the reporter was asking about.

Justice Scalia got us thinking about other great political obscenities and gaffes in tonight‘s “Top Five.”  Here are our favorites. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JENNIFER ANISTON, ACTRESS:  This is me, expressing myself.  OK?

CARLSON (voice-over):  Obscene gestures date back to ancient Greece.  It was only 30 years ago that Antonin Scalia‘s predecessor ruled sign language a form of free speech. 

So, the late Republican V.P., Nelson Rockefeller, was certainly within his constitutional rights when he flipped out and flipped off hecklers during a 1976 campaign stop.  Voters promptly told the GOP to (expletive deleted) off and elected Jimmy Carter. 

Another landmark political snafu takes us back to 1988, when Democrat presidential candidate Mike Dukakis tried to prove he was no softie on defense.  His Snoopy look alike photo op tanked. 

In 1992, George Bush, the elder, entered the hallowed halls of embarrassing political moments when he offered the prime minister of Japan his undigested dinner.  One can only ponder those immortal words from “Animal House”. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Face it, you threw up on Dean Wormer. 

CARLSON:  Like father like son, caught on tape.  George W. Bush proves he can be quite anal when it comes to his feelings about the press corps.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  There‘s Adam Clymer, major league (expletive deleted) from the New York Times.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Oh, yes, he is. 

Big time.  

CARLSON:  And topping tonight‘s top five embarrassing moments, some truly major political slips.  For these fumble humbled winners we have a warm hand. 

BUSH:  It‘s just a one finger victory salute. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Well, Supreme Court today ruled on a libel case brought by a former Army scientist called Steven Hatfill.  Hatfill is suing the “New York Times”, claiming the people named him as the man behind the 2001 anthrax mailings that left five people dead. 

According to the high court, Hatfill‘s suit is going against the “Times” can go forward, and that‘s probably a good thing, but it‘s not enough.  Hatfill may have been libeled by the press.  He was certainly smeared by the U.S. government.  Then attorney general, John Ashcroft, called Hatfill, quote, “a person of interest,” which as any TV watchers knows it‘s merely a euphemism for the guy who did it. 

Except in this case, it‘s not at all clear that Hatfill did do it.  The government has never provided any evidence that Hatfill or anybody else, for that matter, was connected to the attacks.  Instead, the Justice Department destroyed Hatfill‘s life through innuendo. 

Steven Hatfill once worked in Zimbabwe.  Did you know there was once an anthrax outbreak in Zimbabwe?  That kind of thing. 

Hatfill was fired from his job, ostracized by his friends, followed at close range by a team of FBI agents as he tried to go out for dinner.  And in the end, he was never charged with anything at all.  And the worst part is, nobody noticed.  The anthrax murders remain unsolved to this day, but we in the press have moved on to Natalee Holloway and other supposed crimes. 

But Steven Hatfill hasn‘t moved anywhere.  He remains stuck where he was four years ago, in an endless limbo of disgrace and suspicion.  It‘s time to end this story.  The government ought to charge Steven Hatfill with killing five people four years ago and explain how he did it and why he did it.  Otherwise, the rest of us in the media and in the government, we ought to apologize to Steven Hatfill, profusely. 

Well, still to come, Debra LaFave had sex with a kid and gets no time in jail.  So, why is an 18-year-old female student facing eight years or more in prison for sleeping with a consenting teen boyfriend?  Find out next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, Tennessee is making vanity license plates with an antiabortion message.  Plus a Marine sergeant flips off the insurgents who tried to kill him. 

We‘ll get to all that in just a minute.  But first, here‘s what else is going on in the world tonight. 

(NEWSBREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Now, a man who‘s literally hot and bothered.  Marine Gunnery Sergeant Michael Burkhardt was hunting down and defusing IED‘s, improvised explosive devices, during his third tour in Iraq when suddenly one exploded next to him. 

Once he realized his fingers and toes were intact, he stood up and delivered a clear message to the insurgents, using an internationally recognizable symbol for “up yours,” or something to that effect. 

Joining me tonight from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, is perhaps the toughest in the United States Marine Corps.  And that‘s saying a lot.  Gunnery sergeant, Michael Burkhardt. 

Sergeant, thanks for coming on. 

GUNNERY SGT. MICHAEL BURKHARDT, U.S. MARINE CORPS:  Thanks for having me, sir. 

CARLSON:  What possessed you, having been wounded by an IED, to give the bird to the insurgents?

BURKHARDT:  I was ticked of.  That was my on, going on my third tour, the first day of my third tour and that was the last thing that I expected was to have—have an IED detonated on me.  And it just—it made me very angry. 

CARLSON:  What happened?  And quickly, tell us, you diffuse IEDs?  You find the bombs and then you keep them from exploding?  Is that right?

BURKHARDT:  Yes, sir.  On that particular day, we were tasked to investigate and do—investigate.  An IED had gone off on a vehicle.  And while we were trying to attempt to clear down to that area, found a crater, stepped into it and it actually had moved some of the rock and exposed a receiver to an improvised explosive device. 

I turned away from it and I actually had cleared two of the artillery projectiles from the device.  And that‘s when the third one—the third projectile detonated about a foot behind me. 

CARLSON:  It went off a foot behind you?

BURKHARDT:  Yes, sir. 

CARLSON:  What kind of damage did it do to you?

BURKHARDT:  I had blast trauma to the—from my boot tops to the small of my back and several holes measuring anywhere from 16 centimeters deep to 10 centimeters. 

CARLSON:  So, you were significantly wounded then?

BURKHARDT:  Yes, sir. 

CARLSON:  H-mm.  And so, you get, I suppose, taken somewhere to where this picture was taken.  How far from the blast site was this picture taken?

BURKHARDT:  I actually stood up right there at the blast site.  I was assisted by the 167 Calvary out of Omaha, their dedicated security.  They kind of helped me up and started my walk to the helicopter, when I had to turn around and definitely give the insurgents a what-for.

CARLSON:  You certainly did.  Do you think they were watching?

BURKHARDT:  I know they are watching.  And I‘m sure that there were some disappointed guys out there. 

CARLSON:  Do you think they understand what the bird means?

BURKHARDT:  Absolutely, sir. 

CARLSON:  That is too terrific.  What did the guys you were with think?

BURKHARDT:  They liked the picture.  They‘re again, I think, kind of tired of hearing the story told over and over again.  But it makes an interesting sit down. 

CARLSON:  There‘s something so perfectly and excellently American about the whole thing.  I love it.  What happened when you got home?

BURKHARDT:  Got home and do what everybody else does, try to take some time off and just get accustomed to being home.  I had done 14 months straight there.  So, got home and definitely went up to visit my friends up at Bethesda that definitely suffered worse—worse damage than I did. 

CARLSON:  And what does your mom think?  Here you‘re injured and but you seem fundamentally OK.  You‘re home.  She‘s got to be pleased by that.  You‘re famous all of a sudden.  But you‘re also famous for giving the finger.  What did she think?

BURKHARDT:  Well, she was just glad to have me home.  I accidentally had sent the pictures from the scene and forgot that I wasn‘t wearing anything underneath and in a couple of pictures actually showed too much.  So I got told I needed to start wearing underwear. 

CARLSON:  We can‘t put those on.  But we can put, really, one of the greatest pictures to come out of this war so far, my opinion.

Gunnery Sergeant Michael Burkhardt, one of the reasons you can sleep safely in America.  Thanks very much, Sergeant.

BURKHARDT:  Thank you very much, sir. 

CARLSON:  We turn now to a man who‘s been giving the world his figurative finger since the day he was born.  He is the outsider, ESPN Radio and HBO Boxing host Max Kellerman. 

MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO:  You know, there‘s something so excellent about that.  If you were to see it in an action movie, Tucker, you wouldn‘t believe it.  You‘d laugh and not believe it.  What you dream of giving your enemy.  Right?  I mean, come on!

CARLSON:  Every time I‘m ever around United States Marines, I always

think, “These are like out of a movie; you can‘t make them up.  They are so

they are really great.” 

Well, this, speaking of not great now, the most outrageous story I‘ve seen in a long time.  And 18-year-old Indiana high school girl being charged with felony sexual misconduct for having sex with a 15-year-old boy consensually.  She‘s now facing major prison time for doing it.

Prosecutors say Laura Wilcox had sex with the boy at least twice last month at his home.  The boy‘s parents inexplicably reported the incident to the police.  Wilcox now faces two to eight years in prison per charge.  She also, if convicted, has to register as a sex offender. 

There‘s only sane position here, obviously, and I‘ll be taking it.  Max, meanwhile, thinks young girls with their entire lives ahead of them ought to be locked up for having sex with their boyfriends. 

How can you believe that, Max?

KELLERMAN:  I‘m simply arguing that position, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  What is—I don‘t even know what that position is.  Tell me what it is.

KELLERMAN:  OK.  Statutory rape, what is statutory rape?  Depends on where you are.  You know, the same sex act can occur in two different states.  One someone goes to jail for statutory rape.  She should have done this in Kentucky.  She‘d be fine. 

The question is, if it‘s an 18-year-old girl.  Your problem is it‘s an 18-year-old girl and he‘s 15-year-old boy, right?  If it were reversed, would that be OK?

CARLSON:  No, it wouldn‘t be OK at all.  But no.  It would be much less OK.  I would think the boy was a predator and the girl was more of a victim. 

KELLERMAN:  Do you agree, even if he was 15 and she was 18?

CARLSON:  No, if it was an 18-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl, it would be less good, in my view. 

OK.  Even though girls mature more quickly than boys, according to everybody?  Right?

CARLSON:  I think it‘s pretty clear that a 15-year-old girl will be more profoundly affected by sex than a 15-year-old boy.  I think that‘s undeniably true. 

KELLERMAN:  I‘m not sure that that‘s clear, but you brought up the real point, which is consent.  You said that he had given her consent, that it‘s consensual.  How can you go to jail?  How can it be rape? 

The whole idea of statutory rape is that you‘re unable to give consent before a certain age legally, because you‘re simply not capably of understanding what it means. 

CARLSON:  Point No. 1, when a man has sex, consent is always implied, physically implied. 

And second, we‘ve got a lot of dopey laws on the books.  You don‘t have to enforce them, and we don‘t.   And this is one that just should not be enforced in this case.  And this devalues sex offenses as a category.  This is a sex offense that makes people less upset about rape, as far as I‘m concerned.  That‘s a sex offense, too. 

KELLERMAN:  I bow to your logic.

CARLSON:  Thank you, Max.  Well, is a state issued license plate a good place to make a political statement?  The U.S. Court of Appeals says, yes, it is. 

The court ruled that the state of Tennessee is within its rights to issue specialty license plates that read chose life and to deny plates encouraging legal abortion.

The ACLU says state dollars are being used to promote one viewpoint while silencing another.  The appeals court ruled there‘s nothing in the First Amendment that prohibits the “choose life” plates. 

I support the state right to make and choose license plates.  Max, who undoubtedly has vanity plates of some kind, will argue against them. 

Look, clearly they say he‘s right.  The state is taking a position on this.  There‘s no question about it.  But the state takes lots of positions on political hot button issues.  That‘s what states do.

And lots of states including Tennessee have license plates they issue to political—in essence political groups, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Ducks Unlimited.  Both have plates in Tennessee.   Mother‘s have political points of view.  They don‘t have Mothers for Drunk Driving plate, and they‘re not going to have one. 

KELLERMAN:  That‘s just as misleading:  “Oh, there‘s no Mothers for Drunk Driving”.  Just as misleading as, say, choose life.   Because what‘s the alternative, the corollary which they‘re not allowing by the way, is choose death, right, which is simply untrue. 

And if not, you know, it‘s not the moral equivalent of Mothers for Drunk Driving or for that matter, the drunk drivers themselves.  Just not the same thing, Tucker.  One political message of one side is—basically, what‘s going on is minority rights are not being protected.  Because the issue is, go to the legislature and get your license plate passed.  Well, we don‘t have the votes.  So, minority rights aren‘t being protected. 

CARLSON:  I think a choose abortion plate is the moral equivalent of a choose drunk driving plate.  And I think you can pretty easily make that case. 

KELLERMAN:  But very difficult to make the case that a bunch of cells that have just started to divide are a human being. 

CARLSON:  Look, again, this is a subjective question you and I disagree on.

KELLERMAN:  Yes.

CARLSON:  But the point is, the state takes position on it, just as it‘s taken a position on drunk driving, just as it‘s taken a position on saving the manatees, just as it‘s taken a position on the environment, on a whole bunch of different things.  It‘s taking a position here.

Now New York state is not going to issue “choose life” plates.  They‘ll probably, you know, issue “choose abortion” plates.  That‘s New York.  This is Tennessee. 

KELLERMAN:  Again, everything you just mentioned is save a species of animal.  What‘s the other side of that, kill them all?  Be environmentally friendly.  No, destroy the environment?

CARLSON:  No, because you can‘t imagine another side.  In fact there is another side.  Right?  Every environmental regulation comes with a cost to human beings. 

KELLERMAN:  Business interests usually, Tucker.  Business interests usually.  This is a social—this is a social—it‘s a political and social issue about which there‘s a divide, 50/50 practically. 

CARLSON:  You‘re revealing—I think you‘re revealing your own biases here.  Look, there‘s always another side. 

KELLERMAN:  No, I think it‘s fine to have the license plate, so long as the other license plate is also OK.  But if one is not OK, well, then the other is not OK. 

CARLSON:  So, the second they get Mothers for Drunk Driving, I‘ll agree with you.  Max Kellerman.  Thanks a lot, Max.

KELLERMAN:  I‘ll see you tomorrow. 

CARLSON:  Coming up on THE SITUATION, did you know the U.S. airline industry lost 10,000 bags per day last year?  It‘s infuriating and it‘s also true.  That luggage doesn‘t just disappear.  Where does it end up?  We‘ll show you when THE SITUATION comes back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANESSA MCDONALD, PRODUCER:  Coming up, who‘s the sexiest woman on the planet?  Here‘s a hint.  She‘s an actress and, as far as we know, she‘s never been involved with Brad Pitt.

CARLSON:  There goes my theory.  The answer in just 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Have you ever gone to a business trip to San Jose and had your bags wind up in San Juan, Puerto Rico?  The results of a new study on lost luggage probably will not surprise you.

The report, released last week, found the airline industry loses an estimated 30 million bags worldwide last year.  Two hundred thousand of those were never found.  U.S. Airlines alone lost 10,000 bags a day in 2005. 

So, what happens to all that lost luggage?  A lot of it ends up at Scottsboro, Alabama, at the Unclaimed Baggage Center, where complete strangers can buy your stuff, everything from lost artwork to lost underwear. 

Brenda Cantrell joins me live from the Unclaimed Baggage Center tonight. 

Brenda, thanks for coming on.  Let me just ask you the obvious question.  First, who owns the Unclaimed Baggage Center?  Is this—do the airlines run this?  Is it a private enterprise, and where do you get the bags?

CANTRELL:  We are actually a private enterprise and we‘re owned by Brian Owens.  And we actually have long term, exclusive contracts with all the major carriers.  And we purchase these bags sight unseen and bring them back to Scottsboro, Alabama, where we process them every single day. 

CARLSON:  Have the airlines already been through the bags to take out the good stuff?

CANTRELL:  No, the airlines actually go through the bags to try to find information to reunite the bags with the owners.  They‘ve already spent 90 days trying to do that process. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But if there‘s a stack of cash, or a kilo of cocaine, or a baggy full of gold jewelry, that‘s not in the bag by the time you get it, right?

CANTRELL:  We get lots of things like that in the bags and, of course, anything that we don‘t feel is appropriate, we do turn over to the proper authorities. 

CARLSON:  What type of items have you found in bags?

CANTRELL:  A lot of things that can go straight to the garbage or go straight to the police?

CARLSON:  Can you be a lot more specific?

CANTRELL:  I would prefer not to.

CARLSON:  OK.  So intimate objects, is that what you‘re saying?

CANTRELL:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  OK.  How many bags do you get?

CANTRELL:  We don‘t disclose that number, but we stock over 7,000 unique items to our retail floor every single day. 

CARLSON:  Your retail floor.  So, this is like a store.  It‘s like a department store of other peoples‘ lost stuff? 

CANTRELL:  That is correct.  It‘s about a 40,000 square foot department store.  We‘re one of the top tourist attractions in the state of Alabama. 

CARLSON:  Is it a bargain?  Like, give me an example of what things cost.  If I wanted to buy, say, a pair of shoes.  I assume you sell shoes.  How much do they cost?

CANTRELL:  That we do.  It all depends on the style and the quality.  You can get a great pair of running—you can get a great pair of running shoes for about $25.  And a designer of shoes for about $30 or $40. 

CARLSON:  Show us around a little bit.  What do you have in the background there?

CANTRELL:  Well, we have some of the more interesting items that we‘ve gotten in over the years.  This is kind of funny.  We‘re not quite sure what it‘s used for, but we think it‘s magician‘s swords, whether it goes into a box or goes down somebody‘s throat, not real sure. 

We also have an African drum, a gas mask and we have a Swiss Alp horn, and this thing actually expands to about 10 feet long.  It doesn‘t make a pretty sound, but it‘s pretty to look at. 

CARLSON:  Like a Ricola, like those Alps?  The Alp horn?

CANTRELL:  Yes, that‘s correct.  I‘m glad you sang it and not me. 

Another interesting thing that we get are men‘s wedding bands.  In times in the past we‘ve had up to five trays of these.  We can‘t explain why we get them.  We just get them and then sell them. 

CARLSON:  Brenda, Brenda, this is speculative, but I‘d like to speculate for just a minute.  Why would a man take a wedding ring off and put it in checked baggage?

CANTRELL:  You know, I‘m not going into the mind of a man that would do that, but we just get them and sell them. 

CARLSON:  So, people buy other peoples‘ wedding rings?  What would you do with someone else‘s wedding ring?  “To Bob, love Mary”?  I mean, what would you do with that? 

CANTRELL:  I actually have on somebody else‘s wedding ring.  My platinum wedding band I purchased here at the store.  Saved me about $250, and I can always say I have something on from Unclaimed Baggage Center. 

CARLSON:  Now does anybody—I mean, a wedding band is a pretty cherished possession for most people.  Do you ever have people coming to your store to find their own stuff?

CANTRELL:  Occasionally, we have people coming in looking for their own things.  But always we refer them back to the airlines.  And sometimes they just come because they‘ve heard about it and they jokingly say, “I lost my bag 10 years ago and maybe it ended up here.” 

CARLSON:  Well, what about the things that are unclaimed from the Unclaimed Baggage Center?  I mean, that‘s the end of the line, right?

CANTRELL:  It is.  Some of the things that go unclaimed at Unclaimed Baggage we donate to local charities.  We‘re very involved in the community and regionally, and of course, internationally, as well. 

CARLSON:  What‘s the most expensive thing you‘ve ever came across? 

CANTRELL:  Well, the most expensive thing I‘ve ever come across was a diamond ring we had in 1998, and the appraisal value on it was $46,000, and we sold it for about $23,000. 

The most expensive thing we have in the store right now is actually an emerald and diamond ring.  And it appraises for about $20,000 and we sell it for $10,000. 

CARLSON:  That is—doesn‘t it make you sad, though, to think that that belonged to somebody who has no idea where it is? 

CANTRELL:  Not necessarily.  I‘ve always been a bargain hunter.  I‘ve always gone to second hand shops to find a good deal.  So this doesn‘t really bother me. 

CARLSON:  Boy, you are a shopping mercenary.  I‘m impressed.  And also very nice to give us the tour of the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama.  Thanks a lot, Brenda Cantrell.

CANTRELL:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Still ahead on THE SITUATION, who tops the list of the sexiest women in the world?  Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba and Jessica Simpson are right up there.  Wait until you hear who‘s No. 1, though.  Her identity is revealed, of course, on “The Cutting Room Floor.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

CARLSON:  Welcome back, time for the “Cutting Room Floor.”  But very quickly. 

Antonin Scalia made that gesture which I‘m not going to replicate, we mentioned earlier in the show, in Boston, not Washington.  I made a mistake. 

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  I can‘t believe you made a mistake.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist is here.

GEIST:  You made that mistake.  That was my bad.  I‘ll take the heat off of you. 

CARLSON:  No, no, no. 

GEIST:  It was mine.

CARLSON:  OK.  Whatever. 

GEIST:  By the way, unclaimed baggage, I haven‘t been.  I know a lot of people who have been.  They say it‘s incredible.  You should go if you‘re ever in Scottsboro, Alabama, which you never will be.  But if you were, you should go.

CARLSON:  I‘m not going to buy someone else‘s wedding ring. 

GEIST:  Twenty-five dollar suits, like, nice suits. 

CARLSON:  Really?

GEIST:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Is that where you shop, Willie?

GEIST:  Yes!  My annual pilgrimage. 

CARLSON:  Well, gentlemen, if you had to pick just one person as the sexiest women in the world and your wife or girlfriend was not in the room, who would it be?  “FHM” magazine has a rather surprising suggestion.  The reader poll put actress Scarlett Johansson as the top of the magazine‘s list of the 100 sexiest women in the world.  The 21-year-old who‘s probably best known for the movie “Lost in Translation” said, quote, “One of the best things for a woman to hear is that she‘s sexy.” 

Rounding out the top five, Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Jessica Simpson and Keira Knightley. 

GEIST:  I like her.  I like Scarlett Johansson.  I have no qualm with her, but there‘s a right and wrong answer.  She‘s not the sexiest alive.  You know who was left off that list I take exception with?

CARLSON:  Who?

GEIST:  And old friend of course, if you can pull her—there she is. 

You remember Samuel McGlinton (ph) from last week?

CARLSON:  Yes, I do.

GEIST:  Got busy with himself in the Ohio library. 

CARLSON:  In the public library.

GEIST:  That is a sexy woman.  There‘s no getting around it. 

CARLSON:  You know what, I‘m not trying to be mean, but I honestly—

I think Scarlett Johansson not that much cuter. 

GEIST:  Hotter?

CARLSON:  Yes, hotter.  It‘s a slim margin.

You‘ve heard of hunting for birds.  But have you ever heard of hunting with birds?  That‘s what they do in Kazakhstan and they do it with eagles.  A centuries old tradition in that part of the world.  A fox is released and the eagle is sent to track it down.  As you can see, some eagles are better hunters than others.

GEIST:  Wow.  That‘s kind of violent video, actually. 

People are really hunting at all, are they?  It‘s more the eagles hunting.  And I don‘t mean to kick a man while he‘s down.  You‘re going to let an eagle—I mean, your life is on the line.  You‘re going to let an eagle come in, just a bird, take your life?  Fight.  Have some pride.  You‘re a fox.

CARLSON:  Be a fox about it.  I agree. 

Sleep walking has been known to get people into trouble from time to time.  But as far as we know it‘s never caused a spontaneous divorce until now.  A Muslim couple in India, not seen here, being forced to separate after the man said the Arabic word for “divorce” three times in his sleep.  Islamic law calls that a divorce, and it requires separation if the word is spoken three times. 

GEIST:  Tucker, we don‘t judge our friends, but our Muslim friends really need to reconsider this one.  Maybe make it five times.  Give him a little more time to consider his actions.  That‘s a big deal. 

CARLSON:  Maybe they should require that the person should be awake when the words are... 

GEIST:  Yes.  A dream come true. 

CARLSON:  But who are we to make suggestions for a world religion?

GEIST:  Right.  That‘s right.  Good point.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist. 

GEIST:  See you tomorrow.

CARLSON:  That‘s THE SITUATION for tonight.  Thanks for watching. 

We‘ll see you back here tomorrow.  Goodnight.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,