updated 3/31/2006 10:53:56 AM ET 2006-03-31T15:53:56

Guests: John Trasvina, Hugh Hewitt

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  Stick around, because THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON starts right now. 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Thanks, and thanks to you at home for tuning in.  It‘s good to have you here.

Tonight, Americans are reliving one of the worst days in this country‘s history.  The latest chapter in the awful legacy of September 11 is in the voice of one of the victims of that day, calling 911.  He called for help in the moments after the first plane hit, and the tape of that call has never been played publicly until today.  But does it add anything to the historical record, or is it simply too painful and too personal for the public to hear?  We‘ll let you decide. 

Also ahead, a high school principal in Texas is disciplined for flying the flag.  It sounds outrages, and it is, but not for the reason you think.  He was flying the Mexican flag, over an American school.  We‘ve got that story. 

And a congressman—congresswoman, rather.  Sounds like a congressman, but not in this case.  She takes a swing at a cop on Capitol Hill.  But that‘s nothing.  Our top five politicians caught red-handed are a real hall of shame.  Wait until you hear their excuses.  We‘ve got them on tape.

But first, the story we are grateful to be able to report tonight, the release of American Jill Carroll in Baghdad.  After three months as a prisoner somewhere in Iraq, the 28-year-old reporter was suddenly released unharmed this morning.  Here‘s what she had to say. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JILL CARROLL, FREED HOSTAGE:  All I can say right now is that I‘m just happy to be free.  I was treated very well.  It‘s important people know that, that I was not harmed.  They never said they would hit me.  Never threatened me in any way.  And I‘m happy to be free and I‘ll be with my family. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  As her family and friends celebrate her release, there are still puzzling questions about her kidnapping.  Here with some answers, MSNBC terrorism analyst Evan Coleman.

Evan, thanks for coming on.

EVAN COLEMAN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  Thanks for having me.

CARLSON:  I thought—well, I rejoiced, as every American did when Jill Carroll appeared on our televisions this morning, alive, apparently in good shape.  But there are still questions about how exactly she got out of captivity and her state of mind now. 

She said—you just heard her say in the clip we played, “I was never threatened in any way.”  We‘ve seen film of her, of course, with guns literally pointed at her.  What—is this a normal response for a former hostage?  What is going on here, with Jill Carroll? 

COLEMAN:  Well, I think it is difficult to square these comments with the scenes of her weeping on television, begging for her life.  But I think part of it is the context in which these comments were made. 

These comments were made immediately after her release in the offices of the Iraqi Islamic Party.  Now, if you remember, when Jill Carroll was first abducted, she was on her way to interview a leading member of the Iraqi Islamic Party.  And this leading member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, the party itself, felt that they were being held responsible for her security. 

And I think they had a vested interest in putting her in front of the cameras and making it very clear that she had not been mistreated, that she had been treated very well. 

And especially after, you know, the revelations about what happened to American hostage Tom Fox, the member of the Christian Peacemaker team who was abducted by another faction within the same overall organization, the Islamic Army in Iraq, that also kidnapped Jill Carroll or apparently was linked to her kidnapping. 

So I think they needed that kind of good publicity, both the Islamic Army in Iraq and also the Islamic—the Iraqi Islamic Party that, you know, was being held responsible for her safety. 

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t mean in any way to detract from the joy all Americans feel, and I mean that sincerely, at seeing Jill Carroll alive.  A lot of people have been praying for her.  And I was thrilled, personally, to see that she‘s OK. 

But she did seem to be identifying pretty strongly with her captors.  She had released a statement.  It was actually put on the Internet today, recorded in captivity.  And she talks about—quote, “The difference between Mujahideen and the Americans.  The Mujahideen are merciful and kind.”  Mujahideen, of course, she‘s referring to the resistance, the insurgents.  “That‘s why I‘m alive and free.  There are a lot of lies that come out.  The American government is calling the Mujahideen terrorists and other things.  I think it‘s important for the American people to hear from me that the Mujahideen are only trying to defend their country,” end quote. 

Now, that‘s something she said while in captivity, probably with a gun to her head.  And yet today, in her first interview, she used that same word, Mujahideen.  And it sounded like she had a pretty profound identification with these people.  What is going on?

COLEMAN:  Well, I mean, one thing we have to caution here is that Jill is Arabic proficient.  And generally in Arabic when you‘re referring to these fighters as insurgents, you would refer to them as Mujahideen.  So that—that has to be said. 

But again, Jill is known to be someone who‘s very much at the center of the road.  She is not necessarily known as someone who‘s pro-White House or pro-Bush administration.  I think she‘s someone that is known as having a very deep and profound connection with the Iraqi people. 

CARLSON:  That doesn‘t sound center of the road to me at all, with all due respect. 

COLEMAN:  Well, and I mean, that‘s—it depends what standpoint you‘re coming from.  But I think also, look, I mean, she‘s been in their custody now for three months.  I‘m sure that has to have some influence on your views and the way you look at things. 

And you know, if you look at the Christian Peacemaker teams, the folks that were just released, you know, from—also from captivity, and one of their group, by the way, was brutally tortured and executed.

CARLSON:  Right.

COLEMAN:  They also were condemning the U.S. occupation. 

CARLSON:  You‘re absolutely right.

COLEMAN:  yes.

CARLSON:  But they‘re not journalists, though, of course.  They were activists, political activists who were there for the sake of their activism. 

Tell me how you think she got released.  “The Christian Science Monitor” says it paid no money.  The U.S. government, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, in a very cleverly worded statement said that no American officials entered into any arrangements with anyone to secure her release.  Was there some sort of backroom deal that resulted in this, do you think?

COLEMAN:  Well, there were back-channel negotiations going on, we know for certain, between the Iraqi interior ministry and the folks that were responsible for the kidnapping.  We know this because of the fact that the interior minister, Bayan Jabr, his sister was kidnapped by the same group and released just days before Jill was taken captive. 

Al-Jabr has subsequently conceded as much, that he knew it was a faction of the Islamic army in Iraq that seized Jill and there were some kind of dialogue there. 

Ultimately, why was she released?  It‘s hard to say for certain right now, but obviously, you know, you can‘t ignore the conditions that are going in inside of Iraq right now.  And I think, given the amount of tension between Sunnis and Shiites, given the amount of bloodshed that‘s going on, maybe this just doesn‘t seem like an effective way of putting forth a political message any more. 

CARLSON:  We‘re just, again, grateful that she‘s back.  Evan Coleman, thanks a lot. 

COLEMAN:  Thank you. 

Now to a story that has some people outraged.  It‘s a modest proposal in Hawthorne, California, that would require English to be used on most business signs.  The proposal has been referred to the city planning commission for recommendation.

Some say it‘s nothing but a thinly veiled attack on non-English speakers.  Nationally, federal complaints about discrimination on the basis of language have risen dramatically in the last couple of years.  So the question is: is it bigoted to ask people to speak English?

For the answer to that question and others, we welcome John Trasvina.  He‘s senior vice president of law and policy for the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund and Education.  He joins us from Los Angeles tonight. 

Mr. Trasvina, thanks a lot for coming on.

JOHN TRASVINA, MEXICAN-AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE FUND AND EDUCATION: 

Hello.

CARLSON:  So what‘s a wrong with encouraging people to speak English?  People who speak English do better.  Isn‘t it a good thing to encourage people to speak the language?

TRASVINA:  Sure, encouraging is the right thing.  But people don‘t need that much encouragement.  Come on out to L.A., and you‘ll see long waiting lists for adult English classes.  The janitors who are working until 2 a.m. in the morning, running out to learn English.  That‘s a great thing. 

We need more adult English classes.  We‘re not getting them from the Bush administration.  That‘s what we need. 

CARLSON:  Right.

TRASVINA:  We don‘t need these local laws about signs or brochures and other languages.  We need help in getting people to learn English. 

CARLSON:  Wait a second.  I mean, those—when signs are in English, when daily life, and particularly government business, is conducted in English exclusively, it gives people the incentive they need to learn the language. 

I mean, I have spent a lot of time in Los Angeles.  I used to live in there.  And in places where Spanish is spoken a lot.  And places where it‘s spoken a lot, people tend to learn English much less slowly, of course, because they don‘t have to.  I mean, it‘s common sense. 

TRASVINA:  The languages in California are unique throughout.  We‘ve got the Marina Del Rey Cafe.  That sign would be prohibited under that Hawthorne law.  Things as simple as that.

We don‘t need—we don‘t need language laws; we need English.  The U.S. Supreme Court dealt with this 83 years ago and said the protection of the Constitution extends to all, to those who speak other languages, as well as to those born with English on the tongue. 

And it would be great if everybody spoke the common language.  You don‘t limit people‘s constitutional rights; you don‘t take away the right to vote.  You give them the education classes.  You give them the classes.  They‘ll learn English.  They want to learn English. 

CARLSON:  So the U.S. taxpayer should, when people come to this country, it‘s incumbent on the U.S. taxpayer to pay for them to learn English?  I mean, how exactly does that work?  If I move to a foreign—if I went to Germany, you know, right—or if I moved to China, the Chinese government doesn‘t pay for me to learn Chinese.  The assumption is if I want to be in China, I‘ll learn Chinese kind of on our own.  So why is it our obligation to pay for this?

TRASVINA:  We don‘t model our laws after other countries.  But also...

CARLSON:  But you see my point.  You‘re right.  Of course we don‘t, and we shouldn‘t model our law on China‘s law.  And I‘m not suggesting we have to.  But, look, you see the point I‘m making.  Why should the taxpayers be responsible for teaching people our language?

TRASVINA:  You don‘t get a pass on taxes.  There‘s no exemption for paying taxes, just because you don‘t know English.  They‘re non-English speaking taxpayers.  The best bilingual services come out of the IRS.  It helps people pay taxes.  Immigrants, Latinos, Asian-Americans are paying into the system. 

We need adult English classes for them.  That‘s all we‘re asking for.  We‘re not asking for anything special.  We‘re not asking for anything different.  Having bilingual ballots, for example, promotes educated voters to vote intelligently, protects the right to vote. 

CARLSON:  But how does it—I understand your reasoning, sort of. 

But think a little deeper here.  How does it promote educated voters?  American life takes place in English.  It just does.  That‘s nothing you or I can do anything about.  I think it ought to; you probably don‘t.  But whatever.  It‘s true.

So if you don‘t speak English fluently, how can you know enough to vote? You can‘t really, can you?

TRASVINA:  When we said literacy tests are bad, we got rid of the biggest literacy test, the English only ballot.  You can get information about the candidates in other languages.  You know you‘re for Kerry or Bush, it doesn‘t matter what language you speak.  You ought to be able to go in and vote that way and vote intelligently. 

So these bilingual ballots are there.  They‘re very cost effective. 

They work well in the southwest and northeast and some other places.  There‘s not a big issue any more.  People want to learn English.  We have to have the English classes.  Senator Bingaman has been a leader of that in the Senate, as well as Senator Domenici, a bipartisan effort just like on the immigration bill this week. 

Bipartisan consensus, the people ought to have the opportunities to learn English.

CARLSON:  I guess it kind of strains credulity that when people don‘t learn English, it‘s our fault.  It‘s the American taxpayers‘ fault.  We‘re not spending enough to help them learn English?  You know, people who come here to partake in the opportunity of free enterprise of America but don‘t learn the language, and that‘s somehow our fault?  I just don‘t buy it.

TRASVINA:  No, Tucker, we‘re not refusing it.  It‘s the investment in education that everyone deserves.  It‘s an investment for all Americans to have more programs in English and in math and all the subjects so people can partake of the American dream, partake of opportunities and contribute back to the country.  And we all benefit from it.

CARLSON:  I‘m with you on 50 percent of that.  I just think, I don‘t know, when you come to this country and you‘re welcomed into this country by the incredibly welcoming people of America, it‘s kind of up to you to make the effort to learn English.  It‘s not up to the welcoming people of America to pay for you to learn English.  I guess that‘s where we disagree with this.

TRASVINA:  And Catholic churches help you learn English. 

CARLSON:  I‘m all for that.

TRASVINA:  All sorts of places, and that‘s what we want to promote. 

CARLSON:  All right.

TRASVINA:  That‘s what solves—that‘s what gets people to learn English, not these laws taking down business signs. 

CARLSON:  John Trasvina of MALDEF.  Thanks a lot for joining us. 

TRASVINA:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, chilling 911 tapes recorded on September 11 become public for all the world to hear.  Do Americans really need these audio recordings to remember what happened that day.

Plus, Bill Clinton and Barney Frank, once caught with their pants down.  How did they respond?  We‘ll bring you the top five lamest excuses in political history, when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Four and a half years after the September 11 attacks, the painful memory of that day is fresh for the families of the victims, but many of us try not to think about it very often, until something happens to bring it all back.  Something did happen today: the release of the tape of a call made TO 911 moments after the first plane hit.  Here‘s that call from Christopher Hanley, who was at a conference in a restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center, Windows on the World.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER HANLEY, 9/11 VICTIM:  Yes, hi.  I‘m on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center.  We just had an explosion on the, like the 105th floor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The 106th floor?

HANLEY:  Yes.  There‘s smoke and we have about 100 people up here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sit tight.  Do not leave, OK?  There‘s a fire or explosion or something in the building.  All right?  I want you to stay where you are.  Just keep some windows open, if you can open up windows and just sit tight.  It‘s going to be awhile, because there‘s a fire going on downstairs.

HANLEY:  We can‘t open the windows unless we break them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  Just sit tight.  We‘re on our way.

HANLEY:  All right.  Please hurry.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Haunting words, knowing that Christopher Hanley did not survive that day.  But are the tapes like this one a necessary reminder?  Joining me now, Air America host Rachel Maddow—Rachel. 

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO HOST:  Hi, Tucker.

Boy, that‘s hard to hear. 

CARLSON:  It is hard to hear, and I have mixed feelings we just played it.  So it‘s not like I‘m going to get up and say people shouldn‘t play these, but I have to say, I do have mixed feelings about it.  I do think there is a kind of pornographic quality to it, and it‘s almost—and also it‘s also a little too intense. 

However, before I heard this I thought, you know, I don‘t need to be reminded of that day.  It‘s fresh in my mind.  When I heard this, that day came back.

MADDOW:  Yes.

CARLSON:  And it made me angry again, so angry, and it—I‘m glad I felt that way, because that‘s the appropriate response. 

MADDOW:  I think the thing that‘s interesting about the release of these tapes is the reason that we have that tape that we just heard, as I understand it, is from the Hanley family, who wanted it publicly released.

CARLSON:  Yes, that‘s right.

MADDOW:  What the city decided was that anybody whose family member was identifiable on these tapes, that family would get the choice.  They could have the audio recording if they wanted it.  They could decide what to do with it. 

I‘m glad they did that.  I‘m glad this didn‘t come directly from the city...

CARLSON:  Right.

MADDOW:  ... to be launched out there.  The families absolutely have control of this. 

But in terms of us, as the American public, hearing this stuff again, for me, it‘s like having somebody grab me by the collar and shake me and remind me of, like, “You know what; 9/11 is a specific thing that happened on a specific day and a lot of people died.”

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

MADDOW:  It‘s been turned into so many other things, and it‘s been used to justify so many things.  And it‘s become such a political thing.  But it‘s like being brought back to brass tacks, being brought back to the basics of what really happened that day.  And for me, it‘s like a, you know, glass of cold water in the face.  I think we need it. 

CARLSON:  And I think we need it, too, both to remind us that there are these Islamic extremists who seek to do this again. 

MADDOW:  Yes.

CARLSON:  And that we ought to kill as many of them as we can before they attempt it.

MADDOW:  Or come up with some way to stop them. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right, and I think killing them is a good way to do that.  And second, there is this growing 9/11 kind of revisionist movement.   That you‘re going to hear, I predict, a lot more about soon.  People saying this was—and this is a strong belief on many parts of the extreme left and maybe on the extreme right, too, but that it was a government plot, right?  Where the government knew about this before it happened. 

And this is an antidote to that.  This reminds people that, actually, no, you shouldn‘t make wild unsubstantiated claims about a day this horrible. 

MADDOW:  Well, it‘s interesting.  I just did an interview about this on my show on Air America Radio, because what‘s amazing is when you look at the actually polling data on what people believe about 9/11.

CARLSON:  Yes.

MADDOW:  And very few people believe the official story. 

CARLSON:  I know.

MADDOW:  In New York, it‘s about half of New Yorkers think that what we‘ve been told about what happened on 9/11 isn‘t what really happened.  And conspiracy theories have actually, quietly, behind the scenes, really taken hold of our imagination on that day. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.

MADDOW:  And it‘s scary.  And these tapes I don‘t think illuminate anything about what really happened on 9/11.  People who disagree with the official story, this isn‘t going to disprove it. 

CARLSON:  Of course not.  I agree with you.  And that‘s not the point I was making.  I was merely saying this reminds people of the gravity of that day.

MADDOW:  Yes.

CARLSON:  And that day, it will be used—and I have to—and I‘m not just pounding on the left because I‘m a right-winger.  It‘s true.  A lot of those conspiracy theories are coming from the left and I think it reminds people that, you know, you shouldn‘t throw this stuff around.  There‘s no evidence the U.S. government was behind this or knew about it. 

That‘s an outrageous thing to say. 

MADDOW:  But for me, I mean, I don‘t think the conspiracy theories are only on the left.  I think there are conspiracy theories on this from every quarter.  There are so many of them.  And it is actually...

CARLSON:  I‘ve only seen them on the left, but I believe you.

MADDOW:  But I mean, for me the thing that this makes me mad about is that I feel like it reminds us about 9/11 as a specific day.  Nine-eleven has been used for so many political purposes and it has been so exploited for so much other B.S. that has nothing to do with 9/11. 

And when you look at how we actually responded to the deaths of all those Americans that day, Osama bin Laden has not been caught, al Qaeda is doing fine, America roundly hated around the world.  You can get explosives onto planes and dirty bombs across borders.  We found that out from the GAO just this month.  Police and firefighters still can‘t talk to each other on their radios.  We have screwed up in the response to 9/11 in a huge way. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  I tend to sort of agree with you, except A, we haven‘t been attacked again; B, we overthrew the Taliban, which was, you know, the locus, the physical locus of all of this.  That was job No. 1, and it was the job we did first.  So good for us. 

MADDOW:  Yes, Job No. 1 was actually getting Osama bin Laden.  And we haven‘t done that.  We‘re nowhere near that.  And there are more people in the world who would shelter him today than there were on September 10. 

CARLSON:  He‘s sitting in the back of some cave with his Soviet air dialysis machine, suffering.  So I don‘t know, that‘s comfort...

MADDOW:  You know, when I hear those tapes, I really care about him being caught. 

CARLSON:  I agree.

MADDOW:  I am furious.

CARLSON:  You know, and we could torture him, too.  That would be good.

Rachel Maddow, I know you agree with me. 

Still to come, are Republicans faking—facing an electoral Armageddon?  One man says yes.  But he has a solution, he says, to turn things around.  You‘ll meet him when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back to our show.  Have I told you we‘re glad you‘re here?  We are. 

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of Georgia says she, quote, “deeply regrets” an incident yesterday, during which she reportedly punched a Capitol Hill police officer.  The officer didn‘t recognize McKinney, who had a new hairstyle, and stopped he when she failed to pass through a metal detector in the Capitol.

Witnesses say the officer followed McKinney and grabbed her by the arm.  That‘s when the congresswoman reportedly spun around and punched the office in the chest. 

In an initial statement obtained by an Atlanta TV station, McKinney says she is often harassed by white cops who don‘t recognize her. 

Well, McKinney‘s explanation for slugging the cop is pretty good, but it‘s not good enough to crack our list of the top five excuses given by politicians for their naughty behavior. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON (voice-over):  American folklore tells us George Washington could not tell a lie.  Unfortunately, many of the nation‘s successive leaders haven‘t been quite able to live up to that legend. 

In 1974, Arkansas Congressman Wilbur Mills, head of the powerful House, Ways and Means Committee, got busted with a busty burlesque dancer called Fanny Fox, a.k.a. the Argentina Firecracker.  An explosive scandal indeed.  Mills resigned with a sobering apology. 

WILBUR MILLS, FORMER ARKANSAS CONGRESSMAN:  I think I was a little high on some champagne.  I‘m not used to drinking anything like champagne. 

CARLSON:  The FBI nearly brought the house down in 1980 with a videotaped sting operation known as Abscam.  It led to the conviction of one senator and five members of Congress for bribery and conspiracy.  But Congressman Richard Kelly offered a reasonable explanation. 

RICHARD KELLY, FORMER CONGRESSMAN:  I would have preferred not to have taken the money, but I also did not want the investigation to die there, because I didn‘t know anything more then.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Your own investigation?

KELLY:  My own investigation. 

CARLSON:  In 1989 Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank got caught with his pants down after hiring a male prostitute to be his personal valet. 

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I was going to take a bright human being and help him live up to his potential and make some more constructive members of society. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you have cocaine in that hotel, Mr. Barry?

CARLSON:  Who could forget the immortal words of former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, when he and a female companion got busted smoking crack in a hotel room?

MARION BARRY, FORMER D.C. MAYOR:  That (expletive deleted) bitch tricked me into getting me up here, son of a bitch.

CARLSON:  Tonight‘s No. 1 slot is reserved for family man and former president, Bill Clinton.  In 1998 he put a wild spin on what exactly constitutes sexual relations with a White House intern. 

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It depends upon what the meaning of the word “is”, is. 

CARLSON:  Congress eventually defined it with the word impeachment. 

CLINTON:  I wasn‘t trying to give you a cute answer. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  You‘ve seen the tape before, but you can‘t get enough of it. 

Well, the Borders book chain announced this week it is refusing to stock the latest issue of “Free Inquiry” magazine.  It turns out that “Free Inquiry” has published several of the now famous Danish editorial cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed. 

Those cartoons, you‘ll remember, sparked riots, mayhem and murder last month when angry Muslims decided to protest their publication, but not in the United States.  Not a single person was injured in this country over the cartoons or even seriously threatened. 

So why is Borders unwilling to sell them?  We put that question to a Borders spokesperson today.  Her response, quote: “The safety and security of our employees and our customers is a top priority for us.  We believe that stocking this particular issue of the magazine presented a challenge to that priority.” 

Well, trying to ignore the creepy, euphemistic language for a second -

presented a challenge to that authority.  What the hell does that mean? 

Consider now the deeper irony.  Border says it supports and respects the First Amendment.  That makes a nice slogan.  But what does freedom of speech mean, if you‘re too afraid to speak?  Or, in the case of Borders, too afraid to stock a magazine?  It doesn‘t mean anything.

So let‘s be honest here.  What Borders has done is cowardly.  Faced with the implied threats of Islamic terrorists, the company caved without a fight.  Borders doesn‘t respect the First Amendment; it mocks the First Amendment.  Keep that in mind the next time you‘re wondering where to go book shopping. 

Still to come, what‘s worst than turbulence on a cross-country flight?  How about a chatty passenger with a cell phone?  We‘ll tell you about a new idea  next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, students in Houston pledging allegiance to the Mexican flag.  Plus airplane food might not be the worst part of flying anymore.  We‘ll explain in just a minute.  But first, here‘s what else is going on in the world with the great Donna Gregory. 

(NEWSBREAK)

CARLSON:  Now to a topic that has my next guest hot and bothered, the future of the Republican Party.  Nationally syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt says that after fewer than 12 years in power, Republicans may be on the brink of losing Congress in the upcoming midterm elections.  Quote, “It‘s the break the glass and pull the alarm time for the Republican Party,” Hewitt writes in his new book, entitled, “Painting the Map Red: The Fight to Create a Permanent Republican Majority.”

Here to explain, best-selling author Hugh Hewitt.  He joins us tonight from Washington, D.C.

Hugh, thanks for coming on. 

HUGH HEWITT, AUTHOR, “PAINTING THE MAP RED”:  Great to be here, Tucker.  Thanks for having me. 

CARLSON:  So how close is the Republican Party, do you think, of losing Congress?

HEWITT:  Very close.  I think this feels eerily like 1994.  I was broadcasting that night from KCT (ph) in Los Angeles when Chris Cox came in, now the FCC commissioner, and he told me if anyone tells you they saw this coming, they‘re lying. 

And I think the Republicans of 2006 are very much like the Democrats of 1994.  Unaware that their performance, which seems to be completely mired in an inertia that they brought upon themselves, is A, alienating their base and energizing the opposition. 

There‘s a time to turn that around.  They could still actually get some gains out of this, but they have got to begin to play offense, get rid of the McClellan‘s disease and actually rally to the president instead of run from him. 

CARLSON:  It does seem to me that the Republicans—first of all, I

agree with your analysis completely.  It does have that feeling that just -

I don‘t know, you can just feel it in your gut that something is about—something big is about to happen politically.  Changes are coming.

But it does seem like the Republicans time and again, at least to me, have sold out their own views, their own values, their own beliefs.  Whatever happened to small government and eliminating federal agencies?  All that talk we heard in 1994, not so long ago, unimaginable now.  They don‘t talk about getting rid of anything.

HEWITT:  Well, they also don‘t talk about why they don‘t talk about it.  The answer is, of course, the war.  The war changes a lot of things.  But if you‘re going to make the war the reason why small government is not possible, then you‘ve got to talk about the war every day, like the president has begun go do.

You cannot, for example, not put a fence on the southern border, if you‘re concerned about national security.  You can‘t support McCain-Kennedy if you‘re concerned about national security.  You can‘t not make the deployment in Iraq the centerpiece of the campaign. 

And so I think, Tucker, the war does change everything.  But if that‘s and the case, every Republican, beginning with the president, who‘s been doing a lot more of it in the last two weeks, has to make the case that this is a war that is difficult, but that for which there is no option. 

They have to actually go, like Mark Stein and Christopher Hitchens and others have argued, full throated in defense of the idea that if we do not continue on the march against the Jihadists, we‘ll have another set of pictures every bit as chilling as those you showed earlier in the program. 

CARLSON:  I—you know, I don‘t agree with the war in Iraq at all.  I think it‘s bad for America.  But I agree with your analysis that they need to support what they began and need to buoy American confidence in it.

You make an interesting point in your book about the big tent theory.  Both parties have it.  Republicans, particularly.  There are a couple conservatives still left in Congress who are Republicans, but there are a bunch of liberals, too.  And there are some Republicans who you make the point aren‘t really Republicans.  Are they?  What does it mean to be a Republican, and should they boot out people who don‘t fit that description?

HEWITT:  Yes, I think so.  There‘s a chapter in the book called, “It‘s No Longer the Party of Lincoln—Chafee, that is.”  Lincoln Chafee is not a Republican in anything except self description terms. 

He voted against the war.  He voted against the president‘s reelection.  He voted against Justice Alito.  He voted—on every maiming issue he‘s been wrong and he‘s getting seniority. 

I hope that the mayor of Cranston, who he‘s running against, by the name of beats him in the primary.  And if not, I hope Republicans vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is. 

At the same time, it‘s a pretty big tent, and I like Arlen Specter.  I think he‘s iconoclastic.  He‘s a little bit irritating often, but we need a big tent.  But we do have to have an edge to the tent.  And otherwise, you dispirit the base. 

CARLSON:  So what are the parameters, though, of that tent?  I mean, what—define for me quickly and succinctly what it means to be a Republican, because I‘m losing track.

HEWITT:  You‘ve got to be right on at least one of the big issues.  The first big issue was the decision to invade Afghanistan, the second the decision to invade Iraq.  A third big issue would be the confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts and the confirmation of Justice Alito.  Those, and then finally, the reelection of the president.  Those are four.

I also have one other test, and on this a number of conservatives fail.  The Senate has adopted this obstructionism, this 60-vote obstructionism.  And we have to break that rule.  We have to get rid of the gang of 14.  We have to get 60 reliable votes.

If you‘re a Republican and you‘re voting to filibuster, say, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, then people have to look very hard about what you‘re about, because if you‘re willing to throw party overboard, then you‘re not a partisan. 

And a lot of this book, Tucker, is about why parties matter.  It‘s not a dirty word to be a partisan.  You‘ve made a principled decision to win as often as you can.  And a lot of Republicans think it‘s like being a cafeteria Catholic, being a cafeteria Republican.  It can‘t be. 

CARLSON:  Interesting.  I strongly disagree with you, but I don‘t think I‘ve ever heard your point of view articulated as well as you just did.  And so I appreciate your explaining it.  Hugh Hewitt, thanks very much. 

HEWITT:  Thanks, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Turn now to a man of impeccable character and even more impeccable beard grooming.  He is, of course, ESPN Radio and HBO Boxing host Max Kellerman. 

MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO:  You‘ve got to be for Bush to be a Republican. 

CARLSON:  I disagree. 

KELLERMAN:  ... a Republican.

CARLSON:            I‘m not a party guy in the slightest.  I could care less about parties I care about ideas.  Hewitt made, actually, a smart point, which is... 

KELLERMAN:  Win as often as possible. 

CARLSON:  So you know, it‘s not the calculation I make, but it‘s an interesting idea. 

KELLERMAN:  Indeed. 

CARLSON:  Our first story is one about high school students pledging allegiance to the wrong flag.  The principal of Reagan High School in Houston was disciplined and ordered to take down the Mexican flag he was flying outside of his school.  The flag was flown below the American and Texas state flags.

The principal says the flag was there because 88 percent of the students at his high school are Hispanic.  A spokesman for the school said, “A government institution is not appropriate to fly the flag of a foreign country over one of our schools.  No kidding.

That‘s my point.  Max, meanwhile, has no problem pledging allegiance to a foreign government, being a quisling and a traitor.  Just kidding.

But look, Max—the point—the idea that, and this is the implication of what this principal is saying, because you are a Hispanic, because you are from a different racial or ethnic group, you are somehow loyal to the country from which your ancestors came.  It‘s scary. 

KELLERMAN:  I feel like a court appointed attorney right now.  Here it is, Tucker.  Here‘s my best shot. 

They‘re not pledging allegiance to a foreign government‘s flag.  And if that were the case, there‘s no defense for that.  You can‘t pledge—I mean, duh. 

But they‘re flying the American flag, the Texas state flag and under that, the Mexican flag.  They‘re not pledging allegiance.  They‘re simply doing it because almost 90 percent, practically, of the student body are Mexican-Americans.  OK, so it‘s out of respect.

The question is, could you imagine or could you envision the same tine of vitriol if it was a school in little Italy and under the American flog, not pledging allegiance to it, just under it, was an Italian flag?

CARLSON:  No.

KELLERMAN:  Or a school on the upper east side where there may be a lot of people from England.  And there‘s a British flag under the—would there be the same...

CARLSON:  No, there wouldn‘t.  And that is an absolutely valid and smart point.  The different, of course, is that people feel threatened by Mexican immigration, fair or unfair.  That‘s the prevailing feeling, that the United States is not in control of its southern borders and that our country is changing really fast and we have no control over it.

And that some of the immigrants who are coming here are loyal to another country, as well as loyal to this country, or there are divided loyalties.  And that‘s why it‘s threatening.  Nobody thinks that there are a lot of people in this country who are secretly loyal to England. 

KELLERMAN:  I don‘t see it as being loyal to Mexico.  I see it as a point of pride.  They‘re proud to be Mexican-American, especially in a culture where it‘s not so easy. 

By the way, let‘s look at this tactically.  The reason the kids are protesting is because they get to cut class, right?

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s of course right. 

KELLERMAN:  Tactically Tucker, let‘s say if you show—if you cut class then you don‘t get the flag.  You have to show up to class to get the Mexican—they‘ll all show up to class. 

CARLSON:  I just think, look, my name a Carlson, and you don‘t see me with a Swedish flag.  I could care less about Sweden.  I‘m proud to be American.  I want every American to feel this way. 

KELLERMAN:  Yes, but you‘ve been in this country more than one generation, I‘m guessing. 

CARLSON:  Just got here, Max. 

If you thought it was annoying to listen to people talk on their cell phones in line at the post office, wait until you have to listen to it on a cross country flight. 

The FCC says cell phone use on planes could be a possibility as early as next year.  That means you may soon have the pleasure of hearing the guy next to you catch up with his buddies at 35,000 feet.  Are you psyched?  I am.

KELLERMAN:  They indicate they would approve the idea as long as the airlines say it‘s say.  It‘s going to be annoying, a little painful even, but freedom is always good, even if it‘s difficult.  I‘m for cell phones. 

Max, on the other hand, insists upon allowing the government to control every aspect of his life, including air travel. 

Look, Max, here‘s the problem.  Obviously, I don‘t want to listen to anybody‘s cell phone conversation on a plane, at all.  However, I don‘t think it‘s the government‘s business to decide what planes can or cannot allow, as long as it‘s safe.  Let the airlines decide. 

KELLERMAN:  You‘re consistent with this viewpoint.  You‘re a libertarian who thinks that the individual should be allowed to do as much as possible, even when it‘s kind of uncomfortable for someone else. 

I‘m a libertarian who feels let people do whatever they want until it bothers somebody else.  The question that‘s a gray area, so how do you define that exactly?  I think it‘s inversely proportional to your ability to shut that sense off.  So when people sees something that‘s offensive, it‘s really easy to close your eyes or look away.  But you can‘t shut off your hearing.  You know, especially when you‘re—it‘s a captive audience.

CARLSON:  Right.

KELLERMAN:  You‘re in this tin can for five, six hours sometimes.  You can‘t shut off your hearing.  Your right to swing your cell phone ends at my ear, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  That‘s an excellent point and one that enterprising airlines will seize upon.  You will have a quiet airline.  Right?  If this becomes legal, some airlines will allow it.  Others will say, you know what, Max Kellerman will fly on my plane, if I disallow cell phone use.  The point is, let the marketplace decide, let people decide.  Let‘s get the government out of this.  It‘s none of their business. 

KELLERMAN:  You had a very good point.  I forgot who—it wasn‘t with me.  You were talking to someone on a segment months ago about how they allow you to pay for your calls now, as long as you‘re not using your own cell phone.  They‘re extorting the money from you.  A less democratic sort of...

CARLSON:  They have a monopoly on it, a total shakedown.  Max Kellerman, have a great weekend. 

KELLERMAN:  And they should let you bring your own stuff into the movie theater, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Totally, and your own beers on airplanes.  That‘s another segment.  We‘ll do that next week.  Thanks, Max.

KELLERMAN:  Thank you.

Coming up on THE SITUATION, it‘s against the rules to criticize anyone in this country anymore, unless if you happen to be an evangelical.  So is there a real war on Christianity?  We‘ll debate that when THE SITUATION comes back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANESSA MCDONALD, PRODUCER:  Coming up, Naomi Campbell‘s fists fly again.  We‘ll tell you who dared cross the surly supermodel this time?  Plus Tucker takes your phone calls.

CARLSON:  I look forward to hearing from you.  I think viewers are going to take over the show, and it doesn‘t bother me a bit.  Back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  You asked for it, now you‘re getting it.  THE SITUATION voicemail is back.  We‘re going to listen to your calls all week and play some of our favorites on Thursday nights.  Let‘s see what you‘ve got for me this week.

First up...

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Alessandria, Huntington Beach, California.  I know you seem a pretty hardcore conservative, but more recently, you seem as if you‘ve been going a little bit towards the left.  So not that that‘s a bad thing, but I‘m just wondering.  I love your show.  And I‘m only 22, but you‘re, like, my favorite thing to watch on TV. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Well, thank you for the nice words, but I‘ve not moved to the left in the slightest.  I‘ve just never been interested in political parties.  I never worked for one, never would.  Never worked in politics.  I don‘t care what happens to either party.  But I‘m as conservative as I‘ve ever been.

I just think the war is bad for America, so as an American and someone who cares a lot about our country and our security, I think the war hurts us.  That‘s a conservative point of view, as far as I‘m concerned.  It used to be, anyway.

Next up. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Elizabeth Morgan, Charleston, West Virginia.  There is no was against Christianity, per se.  The war is against pro-lifers, antigays and the huge numbers who forced Democrats to vote for the disaster in Iraq.  They are all idiots.  Therefore, the war is against idiocy. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m not really with you there.  I mean, you make a good point, actually, though.  The war is not against—there is a pure contempt held by every rich, well-educated person I know, and I know a lot of them, who live on the coast, for evangelical Christians.  They think they‘re snake handlers and losers and dumb and toothless and living in trailer parks.  They really have contempt for you. 

If you‘re evangelical out there, know that the people who live on the coasts and run this country really, really despise you.  And I think it‘s on the issues.  They don‘t hate, you know, liberal Christians.  They hate conservative Christians, pro-lifers, as you pointed out.  So yes, there‘s something to what you said, I think. 

Next up.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bob, San Jose, California.  Tucker, we need sex education in school to fight ignorance and misinformation.  Society will continue to suffer the consequences of this, until we accept the virtues of knowledge and truth are more valuable than our Victorian qualms over sex. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Please.  We have no Victorian qualms about sex left.  I‘m not even arguing for Victorian qualms.  I‘m merely saying the idea that kids get pregnant or get STDs because they don‘t know better is ridiculous.  What 9-year-old doesn‘t know how to use a condom?  Everybody knows everything about sex.

Education is not the answer.  We are saturated with education.  Self-control is the answer, a different kind of education.  But learning the mechanics, we‘ve done that. 

Second, it‘s not your job, you being an educator, the federal government, to teach my kids about private things like sex.  If you walked up to my kids on the street and said, “Here little girl, let me tell you about sex,” you‘d be arrested.  But if you happen to be a teacher and do that, somehow you get a pass and that‘s your job.  No.  Parents should teach that.  It‘s a parents‘ right to decide what his kids know about sex, not a teacher‘s prerogative to force it on the kids, period. 

Next up. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Sheena from Farmington, Utah.  I‘m just wondering what Willie Geist is always crossing out when you go talk to him.  Every time you end the show, he crosses something out.  I‘m just wondering what that is.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CARLSON:  You know, Sheena, I always wonder, too.  I mean, the short answer is I really don‘t know.  I‘ve always assumed it was a to-do list: you know, pick up the dry cleaning, walk the dog, appear on a TV show late at night.  That kind of thing. 

I‘m come to the conclusion recently, though, that it‘s one of these marking off the days like a prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton.  You know what I mean.  Another X, my contract‘s almost up kind of list. 

I don‘t know what it is.  I‘m going to ask him, though.  Thank you for pointing that out.

Thanks for calling.  Keep those calls coming.  The number, 1-877-TCARLSON.  That is 1-877-822-7576.  We‘ll play the best of your voicemails again next Thursday.  So please keep calling.  If you prefer your computer to the telephone, and who doesn‘t, you can also e-mail us your thoughts at Tucker@MSNBC.com

And if an hour‘s worth of my opinions every night on television just is not enough for you, an hour on television, you can check our my daily blog.  I write it every day.  Tucker.MSNBC.com.

Still ahead on THE SITUATION, why are these people trashing this restaurant?  Could the food really have been that bad?  There‘s only one place to go for the answer.  You know where it is.  It‘s “The Cutting Room floor,” next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Time for “The Cutting Room Floor” and tonight‘s mystery question: what is Willie Geist crossing off on his clipboard every night during this segment—Willie?

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  You know, Tucker, people ask me that, not many people, but people do ask me.  And the truth of the matter, and the truth hurts sometimes, when you start talking, I completely lose interest.  I play Tic-Tac-Toe with myself, “Hangman.”  I start sketching Mike, our floor director.  I don‘t even know what happens in the show when you start talking.  Completely uninterested.  You could be doing sports and weather.  I have no idea.

CARLSON:  It‘s like what dogs hear.  Willie.  Willie.

GEIST:  Exactly, so go ahead. 

CARLSON:  Thank you. 

If there‘s he a one thing supermodel Naomi Campbell does better than work on a runway, it‘s beating up the help.  Campbell was charged with second degree assault today after her housekeeper alleged Campbell hit her over the head with a telephone. 

Campbell says the allegations are a case of sour grapes, because the housekeeper has been fired.  Campbell was also sued in 2003 by an assistant who claimed she threw a phone at her.  In 2004, a different maid said Campbell slapped her across the face.  Wow.

GEIST:  May I just ask the obvious question?  What is Naomi Campbell angry about?  She should walk into her house every day and go, “I have a housekeeper.  I‘ve done nothing in my life and I have a housekeeper.”  God made you rich and famous.  Thank your stars.  Hug your housekeeper every day. 

CARLSON:  Well, who would be Naomi Campbell‘s housekeeper?  That‘s the other question.

GEIST:  Well, now, no one should be.  It‘s a dangerous job.

CARLSON:  It‘s totally hazard pay. 

It‘s unlikely Naomi Campbell will serve prison time if she‘s convicted.  It‘s even less likely she‘ll end up in a Tennessee state prison, but if she does, she‘ll have to give up peanut butter completely.  The Tennessee Department of Corrections has banned jars of peanut butter from state prisons, because inmates are using them to conceal drugs and guns.  If found, the peanut butter jars will be considered contraband.

GEIST:  You‘ve already taken away the man‘s freedom, Tucker.  Now you‘re going to take away his peanut butter, just a little salt in the wound?  This is, by the way, a very slippery slope.  What is that, a banana?

CARLSON:  Haven‘t the faintest idea.

GEIST:  What on God‘s green earth is that?  Oh, I know what that is. 

Anyway, slippery slope.  Jelly...

CARLSON:  It‘s kind of freaking me out. 

GEIST:  I know.  What about the peanut butter and jelly in the same jar?  You going to take that away, too?  You can hide drugs and guns in a variety of cans. 

CARLSON:  If they had a hotline (ph), I‘d be on it right now. 

If peanut butter is contraband, and that‘s too intense for your tastes, maybe chucking plates at a wall will help release a little tension.  This is the Iscan (ph) restaurant in the Philippines.  Customers there are invited to vent their frustration by throwing things at the wall of fury.  Weapons of choice range from plates to full-size television sets.

GEIST:  Tucker, that looks a lot like thanksgiving at the Geist house, minus the empty Jack Daniels and, of course, the tears. 

CARLSON:  Willie, that‘s so painfully revealing, and yet I‘m glad you

I‘m glad you revealed it on television. 

GEIST:  I‘m going to get calls from the uncles who throw the plates at Thanksgiving.  But like I said, the truth often hurts. 

CARLSON:  Thanks for sharing, Willie.  Have a great weekend. 

GEIST:  My life is an open book. 

CARLSON:  Good luck.  Willie Geist.

That‘s THE SITUATION for tonight.  Thank you for watching.  We‘ll see you back here on Monday night.  We‘ll miss you.  Hope you feel the same way.  Have a great weekend.

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.

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