updated 5/23/2006 2:02:36 PM ET 2006-05-23T18:02:36

Guests: Margo Cowan, Brian Brox, Jed Babbin, Shane Windmeyer

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Hey, Lauren.  Thanks a lot. 

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

We are live tonight from Las Vegas, home of the slot machine and the all you can eat buffet.  It‘s good to have you with us. 

Tonight‘s shocking news from New Orleans.  With that city still a wreck nine months after Katrina, Mayor Ray Nagin is re-elected.  The mayor who lost control of himself and of his city as his constituents died somehow wins.  A New Orleans insider explains how this could happen. 

Plus, the coming world war.  A former Defense Department official says America is on the verge of World War III, but not with Iran or North Korea but with China.  Is it too late to stop it?

And the Dixie Chicks attack the president yet again.  Political protest or very clever marketing strategy?  We‘ll bring you that story in just a few minutes. 

But first tonight, Washington works overtime to stop illegal immigration or pretends to while at the same time some Americans are trying to help illegals sneak into this country.  Hundreds of volunteers are delivering food, water, and medical aids to immigrants as they cross the desert along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The members of the group called No More Deaths say they want to provide assistance to illegals trekking through the Arizona desert as well as, quote, “monitor U.S. operations on the border.” 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Joining me now, Margo Cowan.  She‘s a legal advisor to the group No More Deaths.  She joins us tonight from Tucson, Arizona. 

Margo Cowan, thanks for coming on. 

MARGO COWAN, NO MORE DEATHS:  Thank you.  How are you this evening?

CARLSON:  I‘m great, thanks.  But I‘m troubled by the effect of what your organization does. 

You are obviously, I think like most people, against illegal aliens risking their lives by walking through the desert.  It seems to me, though, you‘re encouraging illegal aliens to walk through the desert by giving them aid and in that way are encouraging people to put their lives at risk. 

COWAN:  Well, Tucker, we‘re pleased to announce a new partnership this summer with the Border Patrol to try and reduce the number of migrant deaths that occur in the Sonoran Desert (ph).  You know, we all have different views about immigration and public policy, but I think we can all agree that people shouldn‘t die in the desert. 

CARLSON:  I think that‘s absolutely right.  And isn‘t it the quickest, most effective, maybe the only way to reduce the deaths of illegal immigrants coming into this the country is by reducing the number of illegal immigrants trying to come into the country?  And you‘re not doing that. 

COWAN:  Well, my only interest in this is reducing the number of deaths and assisting people who are in distress. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

COWAN:  I wish I was a member of Congress, but I‘m not, so I can‘t have anything to say about the public policy that might reduce the number of deaths. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

COWAN:  But it is incumbent upon those of us that live in the border region to do what we can to save lives, and that‘s what we do. 

CARLSON:  Well, sure.  And I‘m not in any way impugning your motives.  I think you‘re motivated by good instincts, wanting to save people.  But again, aren‘t you in effect encouraging people to come across the desert?  If people believe that, if they get stranded and in trouble, abandoned or whatever, someone with will come to their aid, they‘re much more likely to attempt the crossing?  No?

COWAN:  Well, I guess you could say that about the fire department or

the Border Patrol—Border Patrol‘s border star (ph) unit or any of the

other search and rescue resources that exist in the borderlands.  We‘re a

group of citizens, doctors, nurses, volunteers.  And we think that we

augment all of those resources and increase the number of people that are -

that are assisted in this situation. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

COWAN:  It‘s kind of like, you know, if you think of it from the other side, if the desert is a really vast area, I can‘t imagine that anybody would begin a trip across the Sonoran Desert on the hope that they‘d run into one of us. 

CARLSON:  Well, of course not. 

COWAN:  Conversely...

CARLSON:  The difference between what you do and what a fireman does, a fireman responds to accidents.  People don‘t generally set their houses on fire on purpose.  Right?  So, when accidents happen, the fire department responds.  You are responding to something that people are making a conscious choice to do, and that‘s the difference. 

But I want to get—you say you all don‘t weigh into public policy. 

COWAN:  Sure. 

CARLSON:  But your group issued a statement saying you wanted to monitor U.S. Operations on the border and work to change U.S. policy, which of course, is valid.  A lot of people want to change U.S. policy, including me, but in a different way. 

I‘m wondering why, though, you‘re not focused on the government of Mexico‘s policy, which apology—a policy of encouraging people to sneak across the border and risk their lives.  Why aren‘t you mad at Mexico?

COWAN:  Well, we‘re not mad at anybody. 

CARLSON:  Well, shouldn‘t you be?

COWAN:  Mexico is our No. 2 trade partner.  Mexico certainly is not our enemy.  It would wreak economic havoc in the southwest and probably throughout the United States and throughout Mexico if, really, all the undocumented workers in the country were deported or, truly, we stopped the flow of workers coming north.

You know, we‘re principally about providing direct assistance in the desert, but we certainly have an opinion about a policy that would allow people to come in, and work, and contribute to both economies.  We think that makes sense. 

CARLSON:  Maybe—maybe what you described would happen, maybe it wouldn‘t—it wouldn‘t happen.  But that doesn‘t change the bottom line fact, which is Mexico—the government of Mexico makes money when people risk their lives sneaking through the desert to come here. 

Money sent back from illegals in the U.S. to Mexico is the No. 2 source of foreign money going into Mexico after the sale of petroleum, as I‘m sure you know.  So, the Mexican government has an economic interest in promoting illegal immigration, and they do promote it.  And in the course of promoting it, many, many people die. 

Why aren‘t you chaining yourself to the gates of the Mexican embassy and imploring that government to stop pushing its own citizens into situations where they die of thirst in the desert?

COWAN:  Well, you know what‘s really important to remember about those remittances is that they form the economic basis to allow Mexico to be our second leading trade partner.  In other words, that‘s the liquid asset, the money in the hands of Mexicans that allows them to buy American goods and services.  So, our economies I think, are inextricably linked. 

CARLSON:  It‘s just a shame, again, that they are—in my view, and I think it‘s clear—pushing people across those very dangerous deserts. 

But we don‘t agree.  But I appreciate your coming on.  Margo Cowan, thanks for joining us. 

COWAN:  Thank you, Tucker. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Now to the almost unbelievable results of the New Orleans mayor‘s race.  Ray Nagin‘s re-election in a city that is still reeling nine months after Hurricane Katrina shocked observers across the country.  And a battle broke out when Matt Drudge reported that the Democratic National Committee had secretly backed Nagin‘s challenger, Mitch Landrieu, in the race.  The DNC responded by calling that report dead wrong. 

So what is going on in New Orleans?  How did Ray Nagin keep his job with a record like the one he has?  My next guest says it all makes sense.  Brian Brox is an assistant professor of political science at Tulane University from New Orleans.  He joins us tonight from that city. 

Professor Brox, thanks for coming on. 

BRIAN BROX, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, TULANE

UNIVERSITY:  My pleasure. 

CARLSON:  This—for those of us who don‘t live in New Orleans and aren‘t steeped in the city‘s politics, it seems almost unbelievable.  This is a mayor who just took a powder during Hurricane Katrina, widely seen to have mishandled the crisis.  How did he get re-elected?

BROX:  Well, he got re-elected on a couple of factors.  One, he made an incredible mobilization push at the end of the campaign.  He was active in the last week, very present on television, and as people were out in the streets mobilizing voters.  That‘s one factor. 

The other is that he made direct reference to his opponent, Mitch Landrieu‘s, family tradition of politics in Louisiana, particularly in New Orleans, and tried to hold that against Lieutenant Governor Landrieu.  And some people, you know, found that to be a compelling reason not to support the Landrieu campaign. 

CARLSON:  That‘s the least compelling reason I can imagine; attacking a man‘s father is pretty sleazy.  But leaving that aside, I mean, your elected mayor not to preside over happy times but to preside over things like Hurricane Katrina.  You know, when things actually collapse, you‘re the man people look to to lead.  And this is a guy who literally fell apart or hid under his desk.  I mean, don‘t voters care?

BROX:  A lot of voters do care.  I mean, remember, this is not a landslide election.  There was a significant portion of the New Orleans electorate that did not vote for Mayor Nagin. 

But a number of people, and talking to voters on election day, a number of them cited this was the person who was there.  He stayed here through the hurricane.  He was there for the recovery efforts, and he has been intimately involved in all the rebuilding efforts since, you know, the hurricane made landfall and passed away.  So, he‘s the person with the most experience to handle, you know, an upcoming hurricane season that‘s just a few days away. 

CARLSON:  That‘s like booking the captain of the Titanic for your next cruise because, you know, he‘s been there.  I mean, this is a guy who couldn‘t get his own city evacuated.  Did nobody stand up during the campaign and say far fewer people would have died had you actually made certain your city was empty when the hurricane hit?

BROX:  Well, no one made that explicit argument.  Mitch Landrieu refrained from, you know, strongly criticizing Mayor Nagin‘s performance during the actual hurricane event.  It was a hard event.  Anyone would have had a lot of trouble effectively dealing with that. 

Mayor—excuse me, Lieutenant Governor Landrieu really focused his campaign on the events subsequent to the hurricane, basically the rebuilding process and the fact that Landrieu did not believe that Nagin was rebuilding the city fast enough. 

CARLSON:  What about the event that I think shocked a lot of—I think virtually everyone who doesn‘t live in New Orleans, anyway, was shocked by the videotape of Ray Nagin getting up getting up and saying God wants this to be chocolate city.  God wants New Orleans to be a majority black city. 

If a white politician got up and said God himself wants this to be a white city, the Justice Department would be there with handcuffs.  No.  This is an almost unbelievable thing to say.  Did nobody bring that up during the campaign?  Nobody care?

BROX:  It‘s not that nobody cared.  It‘s just that a good portion of the electorate that was offended by that remark was not going to vote for Nagin anyway.  Immediately after the hurricane and in the process of the rebuilding, a lot of Nagin‘s old constituency—remember, four years ago, Mayor Nagin was elected largely by a white, kind of white neighborhood constituency.  Those people all backed another candidate in the primary. 

And so, when he makes these remarks, he‘s offending people that really were not going to vote for him to begin with. 

CARLSON:  And yet, I keep reading—and in fact, I think I read in, I believe, I heard you say that there was some crossover vote in this race, something like 20 percent of white voters voted for Nagin, who is obviously a full-blown racist.  I mean, what other explanation is there for someone who would say something like that in public?

BROX:  Well, I‘m not sure so much that he‘s a racist as much as someone who likes to talk in very emphatic and colorful language without perhaps giving it a lot of forethought. 

But beside that, Mayor Nagin was the conservative of the two candidates in this race.  And for people with Republican or conservative fiscal preferences, he was certainly the more conservative of the two candidates compared to Mitch Landrieu‘s record as a state legislator. 

CARLSON:  When you say God wants the city to be a certain color, you‘ve crossed all boundaries in my view.  But obviously there are different rules down there. 

Professor, thanks for joining us.  I appreciate it.

BROX:  It‘s been my pleasure. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, we all remember the crushingly sad pictures of stranded pets in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  Should these abandoned animals be considered when preparing for future disasters?

Plus, will the Dixie Chicks regret their latest comments ripping the president or will they sell more albums with their politics than they ever did with their music?  We‘ll debate that when we come back from Las Vegas.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, is America ready for World War III with China?  Plus, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the cops are quick to confiscate weapons from law abiding citizens trying to protect ourselves when government failed to.  Now the NRA is responding.  We‘ll tell you how when THE SITUATION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Now to a story worth paying some attention to: the latest efforts to prevent Americans from protecting themselves and their families.  The NRA has launched a campaign demanding that police chiefs and mayors across the country pledge not to confiscate weapons from law-abiding citizens in the wake of disasters like Hurricane Katrina.  Critics opposed the idea with some, like New York Senator Chuck Schumer, saying, quote, “This shows the NRA at its worst and its most extreme.”  As if it‘s extreme to defend yourself. 

Joining me now to discuss it and debate it is Air America radio host Rachel Maddow. 

Welcome, Rachel. 

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO HOST:  Hi, Tucker.  Nice to see you in Vegas there. 

CARLSON:  It‘s great to be here. 

MADDOW:  This is one of those issues that its opponents have dismissed with a wave of the hand, oh, there‘s no real-world application.  This could never happen.  It doesn‘t mean anything. 

I can tell you, as someone who was in New Orleans directly after Hurricane Katrina, that it does happen.  It did happen, and it mattered that it happened.  The entire government of New Orleans basically disappeared.  The cops were either looting Wal-Mart or hanging out in the French Quarter, the safest part of the city.  They were not protecting citizens.  And ordinary citizens, including many I interviewed, needed firearms to protect themselves from roving bands of people who were doing the unarmed harm.  So, I think this is needed. 

MADDOW:  Well, the police say in this case that they didn‘t go and find law-abiding citizens and take away their weapons.  What they did is they took away guns that weren‘t registered or were stolen or were otherwise illegal.  And they took guns out of abandoned houses where there was nobody there using the guns. 

I mean, most Americans don‘t look back at what happened after Katrina and say you know what we needed in the Superdome, what would have made that a lot better?  More guns in the Superdome.  Most Americans don‘t look back on that situation and think that more guns would have made the situation better. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think anyone is arguing that guns in the Superdome were the answer.  Moreover, there are plenty of people on the record saying my gun, which by the way doesn‘t need to be registered, anyway, was taken away from me.  I owned it legally and it was taken away simply because it was a firearm. 

On the other hand, you have a ton of people who I interviewed again, one of whom I stayed with in the city of New Orleans, who needed their guns or they would have been robbed, in some cases raped or killed.  People were robbed, raped, and killed, because they were... 

MADDOW:  Your friend didn‘t have his gun taken away. 

CARLSON:  He did not have—that‘s exactly right.  But others did.  And that‘s not a matter of conjecture.  That‘s a matter of fact.  I mean, there—the city of New Orleans has returned guns to a lot of people from whom they took them illegally.  So, it does happen. 

And I would think, as a liberal, you would be concerned with government—and I know you are concerned with government overreach and the rights of the individual. 

MADDOW:  I‘m concerned with government overreach.  I am concerned with the rights of the individual.  That‘s the basis of our Bill of Rights and our system of government. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

MADDOW:  That said, in a public safety situation where the government decides they‘re going to go after—what they said were illegal guns and guns in abandoned houses, I don‘t really have a problem with that. 

I think the NRA is looking at this situation, this incredibly extreme situation, that has never before happened in the United States, that happened in a very limited way.  And they‘re trying to raise a lot of money and a lot of hysteria on it.  And it‘s really a fake problem. 

The NRA ought to be concerned about illegal weapons on American streets.  That‘s what gives the right to bear arms a bad name in this country.  And they have no interest in working on that. 

CARLSON:  It is exactly the moment at which firearms ownership is so important, because the big lie in all of this—and, again, I saw it first hand, it confirmed my beliefs—government will protect you when it all comes tumbling down.  And the truth is maybe it will, maybe it won‘t. 

In the case of New Orleans, the police didn‘t protect ordinary people.  I‘m not talking about affluent people who live uptown.  I‘m talking about poor people who live in the Lower Ninth Ward, most of whom aren‘t criminals, don‘t deserve to be robbed or killed.  And they were unprotected by the police department who didn‘t show up, period.  That‘s a fact. 

MADDOW:  But the way—it‘s not you waging war against society, even in an emergency situation.  And there‘s limitations on the right to bear arms in this country.  You can‘t bring your gun on a plane.  You can‘t bring your gun into a courthouse.  You can‘t bring your gun into a school. 

The NRA would like to change most of those things, but most Americans say, “You know what?  We don‘t want to take away people‘s guns and stop them from hunting all these things, but there are reasonable restrictions on what you can do with a gun.” 

CARLSON:  Just to clarify, I don‘t believe the NRA is arguing that ordinary people ought to be able to bring firearms on airplanes. 

MADDOW:  Not on airplanes, but they‘re very favored with schoolhouses and state legislatures and courthouses. 

CARLSON:  That‘s not what we‘re debating right now.  We‘re just saying that, when a natural disaster happens, government‘s first response is to make certain that everything is under control. 

They don‘t—police departments hate the idea of other people having guns.  They want a monopoly on firearms.  OK.  But in exchange, they don‘t guarantee to protect us.  In some cases, they don‘t protect us.  And you have a right and obligation, in my view, to protect yourself.  Anything that gets in the way of that is wrong. 

MADDOW:  Well, but you know what?  The police department and the government in New Orleans making a decision after that—that emergency to say any gun that‘s in an abandoned house right now, we‘re going to take out of the game.  We‘re going to take guns off the streets that are not attached to a human being right now.  Are you in favor of that?

CARLSON:  I think I am in favor of that.  That‘s not at all what‘s being...

MADDOW:  How about illegal or stolen guns?

CARLSON:  That‘s not what‘s being debated: not illegal guns, not stolen guns, not guns left for anyone to take.  We‘re talking about guns in the possession of law-abiding citizens using those weapons to protect themselves, weapons they needed to protect themselves when the police department was unable or unwilling to protect them.  And those guns ought to remain in the hands of people like you and me. 

MADDOW:  And that is the straw man panic situation that the NRA is using to raise money this week.  It‘s not what happened in New Orleans.  And it‘s not the real problem.

CARLSON:  Actually, it is.  I can tell you—I can tell you it is what happened there.  And it will happen when there is another crisis in this country.  And sadly there will be; it will happen again.  And I think if you‘ll change your mind.  We‘ll see then.

Rachel Maddow.

MADDOW:  Thank you, Tucker.  I appreciate it. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, Rachel. 

Still ahead, commencement controversies.  Presidential hopeful John McCain gets heckled at the New School in New York.  Angry protesters greet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Boston.  Should every graduation speaker be fair game for the political axe grinding of the audience?

Plus, a New Orleans congressman is caught with thousands in payoff money stuffed in his freezer, wrapped in tinfoil while a disgraced former governor writes about his anonymous sex at truck stops.  Politics at its zestiest when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE:  There is nothing wrong with holding an opinion and holding it passionately.  But at those times when you‘re absolutely sure that you are right, go find somebody who disagrees. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Condoleezza Rice certainly didn‘t have to look far today to find people who disagreed with her.  The secretary of state was at Boston College receiving an honorary degree, but she also got the cold shoulder from dozens of faculty members and students, who feel the war in Iraq contradicts their catholic school‘s Catholic teachings.  One faculty member resigned in protest of Condoleezza Rice‘s speech. 

Rice isn‘t the first commencement speaker to kick up a little campus controversy, though.  In tonight‘s “Top Five”, we single out a few other things notable guests who, for better or worst, made a lasting impression on the student body. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON (voice-over):  We invite you now to take a stroll through the hallowed halls of academia, where some commencement guest speakers might call it the school of very hard knocks. 

As a daytime chat host, he was once at the head of the class.  But Phil Donahue somehow flunked Communications 101 when he addressed North Carolina State University‘s graduating class of 2003. 

PHIL DONAHUE, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST:  Liberals don‘t believe that we should be executing retarded teenagers. 

CARLSON:  Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s popularity as governor once seemed indestructible, but by June of last year he lacked the muscle to control this jeering crowd at Santa Monica College, his own alma mater, no less. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You are a loser!

CARLSON:  Arizona Senator John McCain‘s trip to the Big Apple turned rotten this weekend when he was given a less than cordial greeting by graduates of the New School. 

JEAN ROHE, COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER:  The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded. 

CARLSON:  Maybe McCain should have read the fine print in the New School charter.  No conservative thinking allowed at this school of higher learning.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  Usually, they give me the courtesy of listening to what I have to say. 

CARLSON:  President Bush wasn‘t out to impress Yale‘s 2002 graduating class with big words or traditional wisdom.  Instead, Bush wisely went for the laughs with somewhat hazy lessons about his own college days. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  If you‘re like me, you won‘t remember everything you did here.  That can be a good thing. 

CARLSON:  Graduation jokes, however, are best left to professionals.  And few can command a crowd like “SNL” alum Will Ferrell did as he sailed into Harvard three years ago. 

WILL FERRELL, COMEDIAN:  Are you sure this is not the boat show?

CARLSON:  He‘s one class clown who obviously didn‘t miss the boat to a happy future.

FERRELL:  I received a degree from the school of hard knocks.  And our colors were black-and-blue, baby.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Still to come tonight, is China preparing for World War III with us?  We‘ll meet a former Defense Department official who says the Asian superpower may soon be able to shut down the American stock market and hijack our electrical grid. 

Plus, the segregation of American colleges continues, this time with gay-only commencement ceremonies.  We‘ll talk to one man who organizes lavender graduations, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

CARLSON:  Still to come, the Dixie Chicks go after the president again.  Plus, are you willing to make room for a dog on the bus during an emergency evacuation after a disaster, or should pets just fend for themselves?  That‘s the debate.  We‘ll have it on this show in just a minute.

First, here‘s what else is going on in the world tonight.

(NEWSBREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Well, the president focuses on the axis of evil, but could another nation, not Iran, Iraq, or North Korea, spark World War III?  My next guest says yes.  He believes that country will be China. 

Jed Babbin was the deputy undersecretary of defense under the first President Bush.  And he‘s co-authored a terrific and terrifying new book called “Showdown: Why China Wants War with the United States.”  Jed Babbin joins us tonight from Washington to talk about this. 

Mr. Babbin, thanks for coming on. 

JED BABBIN, FORMER DEPUTY UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  Thanks for having me. 

CARLSON:  Let‘s start with the title.  Why would China want war with the United States?  China‘s got a pretty good deal, it looks like.  I mean, they make everything.   They‘re getting richer by the day.  Why would they want war?

BABBIN:  Well, they want war because they‘re going to have to have war in order to achieve their economic and hegemonic ambitions, Tucker.  They have to beat us somewhere.  Unless they do, they‘re not going to be able to establish the dominance over the peripheral nations as they so desire. 

CARLSON:  And what nations would those be?

BABBIN:  Well, the whole rim around them, everything from Japan to Taiwan, to South Korea, to a whole variety of others, down all the way to Singapore and Indonesia and Malaysia, through the Malaka Straits, where about 60 percent of their oil comes through. 

CARLSON:  That‘s a pretty risky proposition for them, though, wouldn‘t it be?  They might win but they might lose. 

BABBIN:  Well, they might win or they might win less.  That‘s really the problem.  In order to stop China from what they‘re planning to do, we would have to meet the challenge that they are now posing through their military buildup and through their other efforts. 

We are not doing that right now.  Actually, we‘re starting to do it, but we need to be on a very steady course to contain China for the next five or 10 years. 

CARLSON:  Now you‘ve made the point that this is all happening out in the open, but almost no one in this country is paying any attention to it, because the press is often Natalee Holloway land.  I agree with you completely.

What are the signs that this is happening?  How do we know this is imminent?

BABBIN:  We know this is imminent because of two things.  No. 1, last year they passed their so-called anti-cessation law, which by their own act, they‘re saying that certain things in Taiwan will give them the legal right to go and invade Taiwan and take over that government.

No. 2, their military buildup, which we get a report on every year from the Defense Department, is proceeding at a pace that hasn‘t been seen since 1930‘s Germany.  You have to look at what their intentions are, and you can infer from their capabilities.  Their capabilities are getting to be fairly awesome. 

CARLSON:  You‘ve got a chapter in the book called “The Assassin‘s Mace

War”, reference to the assassin‘s mace, I guess, where you just—you kill

you hit someone in the head with a mace, kill him before he knows he‘s been attacked. 

It described an attack on our electronic infrastructure essentially, Chinese hackers taking us over and shutting down the power grid, shutting down air traffic control, shutting down our financial sector.  I mean, is that fantasy?  Could that happen?

BABBIN:  Well, it could happen.  It can‘t happen quite yet.  But what you look at, again, in the open source material, in the reports we get from a variety of people, especially through the Defense Department, you see that China is investing significantly in anti-satellite weapons to take down our battlefield military advantage, the technological advantage. 

And No. 2, in cyber warfare.  Both of those things cannot be explained as defensive systems.  A fighter plane or a rifle doesn‘t know if it‘s being used defensively or offensively. 

But China‘s capability that they‘re investing in very intensively in anti-satellite warfare and cyber warfare, there‘s no defensive use, Tucker.  They want to come after somebody, and we‘re the obvious target. 

CARLSON:  That is an excellent point.  And finally, you paint China as our enemy, and I think it sounds like you‘re right completely.  But if you listen to the rhetoric from Washington, from the president even, pretty bellicose about other countries.  You‘d think China was our friend like Canada.  You know, we like China.  They‘re our pals.  Why doesn‘t anybody say this out loud?

BABBIN:  I think they‘re saying it quietly.  And to Mr. Bush‘s credit, he‘s doing something that‘s very smart.  We are now creating relationships, historic relationships like the new cooperative agreement we signed with India last year, like the ballistic missile agreement that just got announced with Japan in March. 

Those are things that are aimed—and the White House doesn‘t like anybody using this term—but the term “containment” is what our strategy really is.  If we pursue that, if we make allies as best we can of Japan and India and some of these other nations, we‘re going to limit the Chinese ability to emerge as a violent superpower. 

What no one has ever done in the history of the world is to manage the emergence of another nation as a superpower without getting into a war.  That‘s our job.  It‘s a very tough one.  We‘re started on the right path. 

Whether we continue is another matter. 

CARLSON:  I hope we‘re the first to do it.  Jed Babbin, author of “Showdown: Why China Wants War with the United States.”  Thanks a lot for coming on. 

BABBIN:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Tonight‘s “Under the Radar” segment comes to us from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  That school is one of more than 50 colleges holding special graduation ceremonies for gay and lesbian students.  The so-called lavender graduations are organized by campus resource centers, in some cases, with the help of university officials. 

Here to tell us why he thinks gay students ought to be segregated at commencement is Shane Windmeyer.  He‘s the co-founder of Campus Pride.  That‘s a national organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.  Mr. Windmeyer is also the author of “Brotherhood: Gay Life in College Fraternities.”  He joins us tonight from Denver, Colorado.

Shane Windmeyer, thanks for coming on. 

SHANE WINDMEYER, CO-FOUNDER, CAMPUS PRIDE:  Thank you, Tucker.  It‘s good to be here. 

CARLSON:  This seems kind of contrary to the whole point of the gay rights movement, which is to have mainstream America accept gay people as part of them, as part of the mainstream, you know, not to notice sexual orientation.  Wasn‘t that the whole idea?

WINDMEYER:  Well, I think it‘s actually to the contrary, Tucker.  The purpose of a lavender graduation or a rainbow graduation is really to honor the accomplishments of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, college years and even straight allies who have been a part of that movement throughout college. 

And so it‘s really about just another ceremony, much like the ROTC would have a ceremony for their graduating seniors.  It‘s not to take the place of commencement activities.  It‘s merely to create another way to acknowledge and to celebrate their accomplishments. 

CARLSON:  Well, of course, the difference, though, between a special ROTC graduation and a gays only graduation is that ROTC is the product of something you do.  You choose to become part of ROTC.  Or you choose to become part of a team. 

According to you, you don‘t choose to be gay.  You either are gay or you‘re not gay.  So, why is that something you would celebrate?  Any more than you‘d celebrate hair color?  I don‘t get it?

WINDMEYER:  Well, ROTC was just one example, Tucker.  And college campuses do a variety of things for minority students, multicultural students, for international students, for athletes during commencement ceremonies.  They‘re really there as extra opportunities to celebrate those honors and those achievements. 

And for a gay student, they‘ve been through a lot throughout their journey in college, and I like to look at it as a bunch of punctuation marks followed by hard returns.  And those hard returns for a gay student may deal with discrimination and harassment throughout high school and college. 

And so, it brings together their families, their loved ones for an opportunity to say, you know what?  I made it.  And I‘m out and proud. 

CARLSON:  Wait, wait, wait a second.  With all due respect, I‘m not attacking gay people, obviously. 

However, I mean, these—these commencement ceremonies are organized in some cases by the resource centers created specifically for gay and lesbian students.  I mean, that‘s by definition more support than your average student has.  No one ever had a resource center for me when I was in college.  I probably needed one.  Wish I had one, didn‘t have one, because I‘m not gay. 

So I mean, at that point, it‘s like, you know, how bad can it be if you‘ve got your own resource center and the university is taking time and money specifically to focus on you?

WINDMEYER:  Well, you know, Tucker, public institutions have the responsibility to make sure that their campuses are safe learning environments for all students regardless of who they are.  And this is just one example. 

My new book that comes out in August called “The Advocate College Guide” lists the 100 best campuses for LGBTU.  And over the last two years, we‘ve seen significant progress, but with that progress and visibility comes a likelihood of more harassment or violence. 

And there‘s nothing—there‘s nothing wrong, Tucker, with having a special ceremony for families and loved ones and telling gay youth that they matter in college. 

CARLSON:  Well, look, I mean, I‘m not saying it‘s deeply immoral or anything like that.  I‘m not outraged over it.  But it does seem like further segregation and kind of contrary to what I thought the point of your movement was. 

Very quickly, you said something in “USA Today” which I thought was really interesting.  You said such an event shows commitment to the gay student not only in recruitment but also retention and status as alumni.  Recruitment.  Are you suggesting that colleges recruit people because they have—they‘re gay?

WINDMEYER:  No.  I‘m not suggesting that colleges recruit specifically gay students, but many colleges are looking toward different populations to recruit from, and this is the first generation of out gay students that are looking toward, you know, college campuses that are welcoming them for who they are.  And you know, my book “The Advocate College Guide” lists 100 of those, and those are the best campuses. 

And so there‘s no reason why colleges, much like international students or multicultural students, shouldn‘t be looking to ways to attract their gay college students if they are, indeed, a welcoming place. 

CARLSON:  We‘re going to have affirmative action for gay students.  You watch.  You‘re going to have a lot of 18-year-olds—I‘m serious—pretending to be gay.  I mean, I don‘t know.  If you can go to Harvard for pretending to be gay, what the hell?  I‘m gay!  It‘s going to happen.  You laugh.  You watch.  And when it does happens, I hope you‘ll come back on, and we‘ll show the tape.  And I can laugh and you can cringe and apologize. 

WINDMEYER:  Well, no matter what, I‘ll come back on for you. 

CARLSON:  Thanks.  I appreciate it. 

WINDMEYER:  All right.  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Thanks. 

Coming up on THE SITUATION—so, what did your gifted second-grader do today?  Did he break a world record by any chance? This kid did.  We‘ll tell you what this 7-year-old did to get in the history books when we come back in just a minute. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANESSA MCDONALD, PRODUCER:  Coming up, former New Jersey governor, Jim McGreevey, reveals his seedy sexual past.  And yes, it does involve highway rest stops.

Plus, the Dixie Chicks take another shot at President Bush.  We‘re back in just 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  We turn now to a man who is so jealous to see the Vegas strip behind me he is visibly watering at the mouth.  He is, of course, “The Outsider”, ESPN Radio and HBO Boxing host Max Kellerman. 

MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO HOST:  How true.  How true, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  It‘s a role reversal, Max.  Here I am in Vegas.  And in fact, the studio I‘m in, everyone said, “Boy, we love Max Kellerman.  He‘s so nice.” 

KELLERMAN:  Excellent.  I‘ll be there soon, guys.  Don‘t worry about it.

CARLSON:  OK.  The Gulf Coast has barely begun to think about digging out from last year‘s hurricane season, and already there is word things could nearly be as bad this year.  The National Hurricane Center announced today it expects between four and six major storms in the Atlantic Ocean in the Gulf of Mexico this year.  There could be up to 16 named storms in all. 

The heartbreaking images of stranded, abandoned pets during Hurricane Katrina led Congress to propose a bill that would require state and local preparedness centers to take into account pets as part of their evacuation plans.  Offices that failed to include pets in their plans would not qualify for FEMA funding. 

Meanwhile, a new proposal in New York City would allow residents to bring their pets on public transportation in the event of an emergency evacuation. 

And good for all of them, because I‘m all for saving pets.  Max, you will heartlessly argue against helping the adorable animals, no doubt. 

Look, not only is this the right thing to do because pets are always worth saving.  In fact, they‘re very worth saving in my mind.  But also for practical reasons.  A lot of people didn‘t want to leave the hurricane-ravaged gulf, because they knew their pets couldn‘t come with them.  People will die rather than leave their pets. 

KELLERMAN:  Look, I love dogs and cats, love them.  And it‘s heart-wrenching when you see the footage from Katrina of some people weeping because they couldn‘t bring their dogs with them. 

And I don‘t know what other argument to make, Tucker, other than the obvious one.  You know, pets are great.  People first.  Right?  If there‘s not enough rescue vehicles and food and shelter and fresh water to go around for the people or there may not be enough, you‘re going to take animals, too?  What if one person died because you saved a bunch of animals?

CARLSON:  I mean, honestly, that‘s a judgment call and...

KELLERMAN:  It depends on who the person is. 

CARLSON:  It does.  In my view it does.  But, you know, I‘ll leave that aside.  I‘ll leave that to the situational ethicists in our midst.  I‘m not one of them.

But I will say this.  In America, in a situation short of a nuclear holocaust, there are resources for pets and people.  We‘re not talking about saving every...

KELLERMAN:  Well, you were down there in New Orleans.  Were there—were there enough for the people to go around?

CARLSON:  Of course there were.  They were.  They not well distributed, but they could have been—I mean, in the end, yes, there were.  I mean, the government obviously had a terrible time bringing them in.

But there were enough vehicles to get out the pets, too.  You put your dog in your lap.  There were people following orders, as people in this cases always do, and the orders were no pets.  And so, some people died because they didn‘t leave because they didn‘t want to leave their pets. 

KELLERMAN:  It‘s tragic.  Bring the pets.  Let them bring the pets!

CARLSON:  Exactly.  Come on. 

Well, in case you need a reminding, the Dixie Chicks don‘t like President Bush.  In an interview for the latest issue of “TIME” magazine, lead singer Natalie Maines said, quote, “I don‘t feel Bush is owed any respect whatsoever.” 

You‘ll remember Maines created a stir when she told a London audience in 2003, “We‘re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”  The Dixie Chicks were banned from many country music stations after making those comments and Maines later apologized, but now she‘s taken back that apology. 

It‘s all an obvious ploy to sell records.  Their album just happens to be out tomorrow. 

Max, I know you preordered several copies of “Taking the Long Way” many weeks ago. 

KELLERMAN:  Is that what it‘s called?

CARLSON:  I guess it is.  That‘s what our crack research staff discovered.  And that‘s the point.  Exactly.  You don‘t know what it‘s called because what exactly do the Dixie Chicks sing?  You don‘t know.  All you know is they don‘t—they‘ve taken the highly unusual, highly daring position of not liking President Bush. 

I mean, this is all obviously a publicity ploy, and it‘s just kind of tired. 

KELLERMAN:  Look, I don‘t like when people don‘t have respect for office of president of the United States, but I don‘t think necessarily you have to have respect for the person who holds that position. 

CARLSON:  I agree. 

KELLERMAN:  And what‘s going on on the left right now is very similar to what the right was doing with Clinton, right? 

CARLSON:  That‘s right. 

KELLERMAN:  They‘re just taking gratuitous shots.  But difference was, they were—what they came up with—think tanks, by the way, which were tax-exempt based on nonpartisan status, which is a hoax and they should go to jail for that.  But what they were coming up with on these fishing expeditions for Clinton was his personal life. 

And with Bush, it‘s so much different.  And as you say, it‘s such an easy target, because it‘s like almost every decision he makes.  So you know, it‘s low-hanging fruit.  Of course they pick it. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  There was a substantive case to make against Clinton.  I mean, what exactly was America‘s preparedness for terrorism?  I mean, it was—you know, Clinton was not a great president in ways that had nothing to do with his sex life, in my view. 

But you‘re right in that the left is doing what the right did during the 1990‘s, and that‘s, frankly, going insane.  They‘ve gone insane.  Their hatred for Bush has made them irrational. 

KELLERMAN:  But there‘s a fundamental difference, Tucker.  Whatever you think of the Clinton presidency, the fruit was not hanging like this.  I mean, the best they could usually come up with on the right were his—was his personal life. 

And the best that the left can come up with, and there‘s a lot to choose from, is policy.  And there‘s a fundamental difference there. 

CARLSON:  You‘re partly right and partly wrong.  But let me just say, leaving aside the merits of your arguments, is Natalie Maines the one to make that pitch to the American people?  I mean, is that—at least Barbra Streisand—I don‘t know.  It‘s kind of a tie. 

KELLERMAN:  Bush is like a pinata, Tucker.  Everyone just takes a whack.  And by the way, every time you do, the candy falls out.  It‘s so easy. 

CARLSON:  Not very original.  Max Kellerman, a man who is original. 

Genuinely.  Thanks, Max.

KELLERMAN:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Still ahead on THE SITUATION, when European politicians attack.  What started this slap fest and how did it end?  And how did Max Kellerman score the fight?  We‘ll give you the complete blow by blow report in just a minute.

But before we go to break, it‘s tonight‘s installment of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

“The Good” is a second-grader‘s daring escape from Alcatraz.  Believe it or not, 7-year-old Braxton Bilbrey became the youngest person ever to complete the 1.4-mile swim from Alcatraz Prison to San Francisco.  It took Bilbrey 47 minutes to take the trip through icy shark-infested waters of San Francisco Bay. 

He says his next goal is to swim the English Channel.  And you know what?  He probably will. 

“The Bad” was the injury suffered by Kentucky Derby winner, the horse on Saturday, Barbaro.  The gasps are audible when the 3-year-old pulled up suddenly during the early stages of the Preakness.  Barbaro broke his leg and ankle in three places.  Such an extensive injury usually means the horse is put down. 

But Barbaro survived an all-day surgery yesterday, and doctors have given him a 50/50 percent chance of survival.  With a dominant win at the Kentucky Derby, many thought Barbaro had a real shot to win the triple crown.  Now he will never race again, sadly.

And “The Ugly” is the Finnish death metal band Lordi.  These guys were the surprise winners of this weekend‘s Eurovision song contest, a sort of multinational battle of the bands.  Lordi scored an upset victory with its song “Hard Rock Hallelujah.”

The Finnish president and prime minister both have congratulated the monster-themed band on its historic victory. 

That‘s “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” tonight.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “The Cutting Room Floor.”  Willie Geist, unfortunately, barred by federal law from joining me here in Las Vegas.  He remains back at MSNBC world headquarters—Willie. 

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  Hey, Tucker.  How much you down?

CARLSON:  Twenty bucks. 

GEIST:  Twenty bucks.  I just want to point out one other thing. 

That‘s a very subtle background you have tonight. 

CARLSON:  It‘s kind of hard to guess where I am. 

GEIST:  Here‘s the way I feel about immigration, Frontier, Stardust. 

A little hard to take you seriously.  But we‘ll try. 

CARLSON:  If you could see the showgirls off to the side shaking their tail feathers. 

GEIST:  Oh, man.  Wish I was there.

CARLSON:  It‘s a great city.  Everyone has an opinion about where the best place to keep bribe money is.  For me it‘s in the loose floorboards of my kids‘ tree house.  But Louisiana Congressman Bill Jefferson apparently likes to keep his dirty cash refrigerated. 

During a recent search of Jefferson‘s home that was part of an ongoing bribery investigation, FBI agents found $90,000 cash in a freezer, some wrapped in tinfoil.  The affidavit said the money was divided into several containers. 

Today Jefferson denied charges he accepted $100,000 worth of bribes. 

GEIST:  He‘s a New Orleans politician.  I‘m sure he‘s clean, Tucker. 

I wouldn‘t second guess him on that. 

You know, I‘m no Wall Street genius, but it seems to me refrigeration is not a sound investment strategy.  Do you know what I mean?

CARLSON:  I know. 

GEIST:  Something more aggressive, emerging markets.  Something more high yield.  Refrigeration, you don‘t really get a return on that $90,000. 

CARLSON:  You know, even government bonds.  We‘ve had Mr. Jefferson on our show. 

GEIST:  Yes, we have. 

CARLSON:  He‘s actually—I hate to say it.  He‘s a very nice guy. 

GEIST:  I remember him well.  He was a very good guest.  Might have had a little trouble here and there, but we all refrigerate $90,000 from time to time.  Don‘t we?

CARLSON:  And I loved Jim Traficant, too.  And look where that got him. 

We hope our political leaders don‘t take bribes, but more than that, we really hope they don‘t have gay sex at highway rest areas, but some do. 

In an upcoming memoir, former New Jersey governor, Jim McGreevey, says he was prone to having anonymous sex at New Jersey rest stops before he became governor in 2004.  McGreevey resigned from office after admitting to having an extramarital affair with a man.  He famously announced, “I‘m a gay American.” 

In the new book, McGreevey writes, quote, “I settled for the detached anonymity of bookstores and rest stops.” 

GEIST:  Well, I hate to see people settle in relationships.  That‘s too bad. 

You know, Tucker, New Jersey is a special kind of place.  I can say this because I grew up here.  A lot of people groom their local governors in local government.  We like to do it behind vending machines at the Frank Sinatra Rest Stop on the Garden State Parkway. 

You know, I actually thought the rest stop thing was, like, a stereotype or a punch line, but this is actually happening.  It‘s kind of scary. 

CARLSON:  I know.  It‘s sad when people live out a stereotype.  And look, I think most people wouldn‘t judge.  But why—I mean, there‘s Craig‘s List.

GEIST:  Right.

CARLSON:  I mean, why are you going to rest stops?

GEIST:  And a bookstore.  That‘s kind of curious too.  That‘s a whole other whole can of worms. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think it was Borders.  I think it was...

GEIST:  No.  No.

CARLSON:  Well, there isn‘t much better in this world than a fistfight between European politicians except maybe a fistfight between Asians.  It comes to us from the Czech Republic.  The man at the podium is the former Czech deputy prime minister. 

During a speech over the weekend, he walked over and slapped the health minister on the back of the head.  The health minister initially walked away but then returned to get a piece.  The result was pathetic yet entertaining.  The health minister had apparently made some unflattering public comments about the investigator‘s wife. 

GEIST:  That was a very slow developing, very boring fight, in my opinion.  I‘m no Max Kellerman, but that was not—that was not a good fight. 

I think fights like that, though, get people interested in government. 

We could use more of it here at home.  Don‘t you think?

CARLSON:  I totally agree with that.  Bring back Aaron Burr. 

GEIST:  That‘s right. 

CARLSON:  Willie Geist.  Thank you, Willie.

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  That‘s THE SITUATION tonight from Las Vegas.  We‘re glad you‘re here.  See you tomorrow.

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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