updated 6/21/2006 11:20:40 AM ET 2006-06-21T15:20:40

Guests: Brad Blakeman, Louis Barletta, Bill Hoffman, Oliver Thomas

RITA COSBY, HOST, “LIVE AND DIRECT”:  And that does it for me.  Let‘s go to Tucker now with THE SITUATION. 

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Thank you. 

And thanks to you at home for tuning in.  It‘s good to have you with us, as always. 

Tonight New Orleans is once against a city in crisis, 100 armed National Guardsmen are now patrolling the streets there after a surge in violent crime, teenagers murdered Saturday.  Two men have been murdered since then.  Has Ray Nagin‘s government lost all control? 

Also ahead, graduation outrage.  The latest on the high school valedictorian silenced when she tried to thank God in her speech. 

And a 14-year-old girl claims she was sexually assaulted.  Now her mother is suing MySpace.com for $30 million.  But is the web site to blame?  That story coming up.

But first to a story horrifying even by the coarsening standards of Iraq, the brutal murder and torture of two U.S. soldiers. 

Privates first class Kristian Menchaca and Thomas L. Tucker went missing Friday after an attack on a checkpoint they were manning south of Baghdad.  Their bodies were found on Monday night.  They were reportedly so badly mutilated they were tentatively identified by tattoos and scars.  The corpses were also booby-trapped, an apparent effort to kill recovery teams.

Al Qaeda‘s new leader in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the soldier‘s slaughter. 

In the face of brutality like this, is Iraq worth the cost in American lives?  Here to answer that question, Brad Blakeman.  He‘s the former deputy assistant to the president.  He joins us tonight from Washington. 

Brad, thanks for coming on.

BRAD BLAKEMAN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So we have spent untold billions of dollars, 2,500 American soldiers killed, all in an effort to bring democracy and prosperity to Iraq.  In return, they torture and murder and mutilate our soldiers.  Remind me why this is a good bargain?

BLAKEMAN:  Well, Tucker, look, this is a tough thing, and our hearts go out to every soldier who has made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live in freedom. 

But Iraq is worth fighting for.  The region is worth fighting for.  It‘s in our interest.  These terrible, brutal dictatorships must be brought down when they become a threat to our national security.  You know...

CARLSON:  OK.  But that‘s not the rationale the president has offered.  He has said now, because as you know, and not to rehash the whole war, but no weapons of mass destruction were found.  And he‘s said now this is worth doing because it‘s worth bringing freedom to the Iraqi people.  They yearn for freedom, and it‘s our duty to give them the freedom they yearn for. 

My question is how have they earned our sacrifice to bring them that freedom?  What about Iraq justifies the death—brutal deaths of American soldiers?  Why should we feel like it‘s worth it to bring these people democracy when they behave like animals like this?

BLAKEMAN:  We‘re focusing on the animals and not the good and decent people of Iraq.  The vast majority of Iraq is peaceful. 

CARLSON:  Is that right?  I don‘t think—I don‘t think there‘s any evidence of that.

BLAKEMAN:  There are 12 million people who went to—who went to the polls.  They have four successful elections.  They have a new government.  We tend only to focus on the very bad, on the insurgencies, and the evil people.  But the vast majority of Iraqis want to be free. 

You know, if we took your attitude...

CARLSON:  Is that true?  Is that true?

BLAKEMAN:  Hold on, Tucker.  If we took your attitude, we would have turned back at the beaches of Normandy when all those people...

CARLSON:  Spare me the tired, hackney, cliched World War II analogies.  Let‘s get to the war in progress, and that‘s Iraq.  There are decent people there.  I have been there.  I‘ve met decent people there.  I know firsthand. 

However, your claim that most people want peace is bosh as they say. 

Let me show you...

BLAKEMAN:  It is not.

CARLSON:  It certainly is.  A poll undertaken by the ministry of defense from Great Britain, part of the coalition, said 65 percent of Iraqi citizens support attacks on U.S. citizens. 

Our own polling, done by World Opinion, public opinion, 47 percent approve attacks on U.S. forces, 88 percent of Sunnis, 88 percent approve of attacks on U.S. forces. 

These are—are these—these are the people our sons and daughters are dying to make rich and free?  How does that work?

BLAKEMAN:  It is our responsibility.  We brought down this dictator, this evil dictator...

CARLSON:  How are we responsible?

BLAKEMAN:  ... who used weapons of mass destruction against his own people.  Now, it‘s our responsibility to bring democracy to these people.  We can‘t cut and run and defeat the dictator and then leave...

CARLSON:  Why is it our responsibility?  There are countries across the world who live in shackles.

BLAKEMAN:  We are the freest nation on earth.  That‘s why it‘s our responsibility.  We‘re the freest nation on earth.  We brought down the dictator, and now it‘s our responsibility...

CARLSON:  How does that work?  They have not done one thing for us.  Look—look, think of the implications of what you are saying.  I don‘t know if you have thought this through.

BLAKEMAN:  I‘ve thought it through very well.

CARLSON:  Nation after nation after nation, starting with Mugabe in Zimbabwe, moving all the way to communist—still communist, still unfree China, people who are living in fetters who are unfree, who are oppressed, is it our, as you put it, obligation as a free a nation to free those nations?  Do you really want to play this?

BLAKEMAN:  Is it—do you know what our obligation is?  It‘s to bring freedom to those people who yearn to be free.  And China has come a long way. 

CARLSON:  So it‘s your obligation to sent your son, my obligation...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... people I‘ve never met in countries that hate us?  You‘ve got to be kidding.  It‘s my obligation to do that?

BLAKEMAN:  Yes, it is our obligation.  Was it our obligation to go—was it our obligation. 

CARLSON:  Where does the obligation come from?  I didn‘t sign up for that obligation.

BLAKEMAN:  It‘s our obligation.  Was it our obligation to go—was it our obligation to go into Europe where we weren‘t attacked?  No, Europe let a dictator get so strong that collectively they couldn‘t take him down, and we had to come down. 

CARLSON:  We got in war when we were attacked.

BLAKEMAN:  We lost 400,000 Americans in that war.  We lost—a million people were wounded in that war.

CARLSON:  Right.  And there were...

BLAKEMAN:  But was it worth it?

CARLSON:  Let me just remind you, we entered that war on December 7, 1941, when our soil, the protectorate of Hawaii, was attacked by a foreign nation and thousands of Americans died.  We went to war on that day, and not before.  OK?  So the overall principle you are stating here, that we have a moral obligation to free the unfree, think it through, man.  It‘s... 

BLAKEMAN:  I didn‘t say that, Tucker.  I said when we took down the dictator, when we made an obligation to risk our soldiers to free a country, we just can‘t cut and run.  We have to establish a government for them.  We‘ve got to give them the opportunity to succeed.  That‘s our obligation.

CARLSON:  And you may be right as far as that goes.  But the blanket obligation that Bush implies, and you just stated, that we have to go free the world, to send our sons and daughters to go...

BLAKEMAN:  No, we don‘t have to free the world

CARLSON:  ... die for other people‘s freedom, people who hate us, it‘s a scary thing.

BLAKEMAN:  Well, then you know what?  Didn‘t the Japanese hate us? 

Didn‘t the Germans hate us?  Do they hate us today?

CARLSON:  They attacked us first.  We had no choice.

BLAKEMAN:  They‘re our allies.  They our allies, and they stand shoulder to shoulder with us.  Should we have waited to get attacked by the Iraqis?  No.

CARLSON:  You know, I thought—when I supported the war initially, I thought that they were capable of attacking us, and it turns out, as you know, and I‘m sad to report, that we weren‘t. 

BLAKEMAN:  They were pretty capable of attacking us if they wanted to. 

CARLSON:  Brad Blakeman, thanks a lot.

BLAKEMAN:  You are welcome. 

And in tonight‘s “Under the Radar” segment that comes to us from Hazleton, Pennsylvania, home to what may be this crack down on illegal immigration anywhere in this country.

The city council there has tentatively approved a measure that would revoke the business licenses of companies that employ illegal immigrants, impose a $1,000 fine on any landlord who rents to illegals, and make English the official language of that city. 

My next guest says, quote, “Illegal immigrants are destroying the city.  I don‘t want them here, period.”  Mayor Louis Barletta joins us tonight from Hazleton, Pennsylvania. 

Mayor, thank you very much for coming on. 

LOUIS BARLETTA, MAYOR, HAZLETON, PENNSYLVANIA:  Hi, Tucker, thanks for inviting me here. 

CARLSON:  At what point—well, let‘s just start at the very beginning.  How are illegal immigrants destroying your city?

BARLETTA:  Well, Hazleton is a city of a population of about 31,000.  It‘s a quiet city: very low crime, great place to raise a family.  If there was a murder in the city in Hazleton, it would happen maybe once every seven or eight years. 

What we‘ve seen here a total change of the quality of life here in the city of Hazleton.  Just for example, very recently we had a murder in town, where a 29-year-old was shot in the head.  Four were arrested.  All four were illegal immigrants. 

We had a shooting at a playground, a young man shooting a gun.  Fourteen years old.  He also was illegal.  Major drug bust.  Those involved were also illegal immigrants.  Gang related graffiti all during the same period.  I‘ve had enough.  You know, we‘re not going to wait for somebody else to come in and take care of the problem for us. 

CARLSON:  Good for you.  I support that completely.  I think what you‘re doing is sensible, and my sympathy goes to you completely, but you shouldn‘t have to wait for somebody to help you.  What about the state and the federal government?  Since when is it a city‘s obligation to take up an international matter of immigration?  I mean, have you appealed to the federal government or to the governor of Pennsylvania.

BARLETTA:  Well, I‘ve been in Washington, actually, you know talking about the situation that‘s happening in cities such as Hazelton.  And as the federal government is working on ways to protect our borders, and I understand that, but right now there are 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country. 

And they‘re in cities such as Hazelton, which is a small town American

America.  And they‘re through—they‘re throughout the country, and we can‘t wait.  We‘re going to round them up here one by one.  We‘re going to attack this in a different way.  We‘re going to penalize and punish businesses that hire them. 

These illegal immigrants also need a place to sleep, so we‘re going to make the landlords accountable, and I‘m going to make it known that they‘re not welcome here, and I don‘t want them. 

CARLSON:  You have written an open letter—you again are Mayor Lou Barletta—B-A-R-L-E-T-T-A.  And I‘m giving that to our viewers so they can look this up on Google, because then this letter is moving and smart.

Hi

“I wish—I personally wish you all the best.  With hard work and determination, the United States and Hazleton can be a place where your dreams can come true.  And to illegal immigrants and those who would hire or abet them in any way, I say your time is up.  You are no longer welcome.”

I thought it was so interesting you made very clear the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants, a distinction that is blurred, I think, by a lot of demagogues on this issue. 

You welcome legal immigrant, you said.  Do you really?

BARLETTA:  Absolutely.  My great-grandfather came to America from Italy, did not speak English, taught himself to speak English language, taught his children to speak English, as well. 

Immigrants are welcome here in the city.  And for some reason, Tucker, that sometimes is confused with the message I‘m giving.  I am not singling out any one particular group.  I am singing out illegal immigrants, people who are here illegally from anywhere in the country.  They‘re draining the resources of this city.  They‘re taking hard working taxpayers‘ dollars, and I‘m using it on people that don‘t belong here. 

CARLSON:  You know what?  Again, I would just—I would exhort our viewers to go and read the open letter from Mayor Lou Barletta.  I think, you know, people on your side, on my side of this question are often accused of race bating or pedaling hatred.  This is so sensible and thoughtful, and I thought it was really a remarkable letter, and I think you‘re doing a remarkable job. 

Thanks a lot, Mr. Mayor.

BARLETTA:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Still to come tonight, high school valedictorian Brittany McComb brings up religion during a commencement address, and school officials freak out completely and cut off her microphone.  Did her speech amount to school-sponsored proselytizing?  Of course not. 

Plus charges are filed against two teenagers responsible for the savage beating of 10-year-old Chester Gala.  Does the punishment fit the crime?  Find out when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, a teenage girl sues MySpace.com for $30 million.  Should the web site pay for her alleged assault?

Plus, should the cops turn a blind eye to pot smokers?  We‘ll tell you.  Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Few stories have flooded our in-box like this one.  The valedictorian of Foothill High School in Nevada was silenced during her graduation speech last week because she repeatedly said the word “God” and made biblical references. 

Brittany McComb says she was only trying to give thanks to God in much the same way other students thank their parents during commencement speeches.

Here to explain the Clark County school board‘s decision to pull the plug and undo the microphone on McComb, the county‘s general counsel, Bill Hoffman.  He joins us tonight from Las Vegas. 

Mr. Hoffman, thanks for coming on. 

BILL HOFFMAN, GENERAL COUNSEL, CLARK COUNTY:  You‘re welcome.  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  So why are you so terrified of the word “God” in this speech?

HOFFMAN:  We‘re not—we‘re not terrified of God at all.  No, Las Vegas is a wonderfully rich and diverse community, lots of cultures, languages and religions.  So we respect...

CARLSON:  Wait, hold on.  You cut of her mic in mid speech.  So obviously—what do you mean you‘re not terrified?  You‘re so afraid you had to actually cut her off as she was speaking.  It obviously was terrifying to you, wasn‘t it?

HOFFMAN:  No, it was not terrifying.  We—we had spoken with Brittany and reviewed her speech ahead of time, because of our obligation to make sure that we didn‘t violate the Establishment Clause. 

And in order to do that we reviewed the speech ahead of time and let the student know what it is that is proselytizing, in other words, trying to impose her religious beliefs on somebody else.  We reviewed that with Brittany.  She understood, and she agreed not to go into that part of her speech that was proselytizing.  We had this discussion a month before the graduation, and she agreed, and so that was the end of the discussion. 

We‘re very proud of her.  She came forward.  She‘s a fine student, and

with a high grade point average, and she started to give the speech that

she thought she was going to give.  And then she chose to veer off and to -

to give that part of the speech that she‘d agreed not to.  So based on that, we told—we did what we said we were going to do, which was to cut off the mic. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But I mean, this was not a speech that the school had written or was giving, so in other words, this was not an attempts by the school or any part of government to establish a religion as the Constitution prohibits. 

So the establishment clause doesn‘t apply here in any way.  This was her speech not a school speech.  Why not let her give it?  It‘s controversial, not everybody agrees with it, but that‘s the case with all speeches.

HOFFMAN:  You know, the Establishment Clause does apply.  The Ninth Circuit in 2003 had a case that came out with almost identical facts.  What it said is that the school district has an obligation to, when you have a captive audience of parents and family, faculty who are there, from all of the different religions that are in Clark County, that when you use public money to—to put on a graduation, to sponsor the graduation, then you assume an obligation to insure that the personal religious beliefs of that student are not imposed on that group.  That group is a captive audience, and they—they are entitled to...

CARLSON:  I mean—OK, that‘s awfully subjective.  I mean, we can argue this.  I‘m looking here at what I think is the Clark County school board‘s amendment.  It‘s actually regulation on the subject.  And it says something, “When a student, essentially, is chosen for neutral reasons, non-religious reasons, and gives a speech which is his or her own speech, that speech may not being restricted because of its religious or anti-religious content,” unquote. 

But that‘s the point.  You could call anything a religious belief.  If somebody got up and gave a speech extolling veganism or the animal rights movement, or libertarianism, I mean, all her species of religion, of profound, deeply held belief.  I mean, at what point do you step in and say it‘s unacceptable?  It‘s the point at which someone says Jesus.  You know that‘s the measure.

HOFFMAN:  No, and if you listened to her speech, and I‘ve seen the speech.  I reviewed the speech.  It has full of—it‘s full of references to God and how God has impacted her life, and all of that is fair game, and she talked about that. 

It‘s when she proselytizes, when she says to the group that‘s there, that captive audience, you should do this and you should do that.  That‘s when it crosses a line. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But it crosses—see, that‘s the part that confuses me.  This is a high school senior talking.  It‘s not you talking. 

Here‘s what she said.  She said people aren‘t stupid.  They know we have freedom of speech, and the district was not advocating my ideas.  Those are my opinions.  It‘s what I believe. 

And you know perfectly well that every student there understands that.  This is not the school board proselytizing, if that‘s even what she was doing.  It‘s her. 

HOFFMAN:  She has rights, and so do the people that are in the audience that are there to watch a once in a lifetime activity, this graduation of their student, and those individuals also have the right not to have someone else‘s religious beliefs imposed on them.  They can‘t get up and walk a way.  And she is...

CARLSON:  I think that‘s a totally fair point.  Then why not—I mean, I actually kind of agree with you there, which is why I‘m opposed to these speeches in any form, but why not apply that to every religious expression.  Next time someone gets up and, again, says you ought to be vegetarian, or you ought to think the Iraq war is evil?  Those are all species of religious belief.  Why not ban all of those?

HOFFMAN:  Well, we don‘t need to ban all of those, because all of those are not relevant to the Establishment Clause. 

CARLSON:  Sure they are.  Why aren‘t they?

HOFFMAN:  I don‘t think they are.  An individual‘s private speech, their own individual thinking, about how they think about God is one thing.  But when they stand with the district‘s imprimatur and as a—in a school district sponsored activity, and then, armed with the microphone that we have given them, on the agenda that we‘ve given them, it becomes a—arguably a government action.  And that government action then entangles the speech that‘s given, entangles the...

CARLSON:  The school.  Right.  I mean, I think that‘s—I mean, I‘m sure in your heart you think that that‘s an overly broad interpretation.  I know I do, but I guess you‘re upholding what you think you need to uphold.

HOFFMAN:  We‘re upholding—we‘re upholding what the—what the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court has said we have to do. 

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s subjective, as you know.  But anyway, Mr.

Hoffman, thanks for coming on.  I appreciate that. 

HOFFMAN:  My pleasure.  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Still to come, here‘s a question: what in the world is going on in New Orleans?  Six people were murdered there over the weekend and now Mayor Ray Nagin has brought in the National Guard.  Is it time to time to drop the pretenses and just let the federal government run that city?

Plus, deputies in California are told to ignore pot smokers.  Is this is the first step in a legalization of marijuana?  We‘ll tell you when THE SITUATION returns. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.

My next guest knows what it‘s like to be at the head of the class with something passionate to stay, but does Rhodes scholar and Air America Radio host Rachel Maddow feel sympathy for Brittany McComb, the valedictorian who had her mic cut off during a graduation speech?  Let‘s ask her. 

Rachel joins us now from Miami.  Welcome, Rachel. 

RACHEL MADDOW, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  High Tucker, nice to see you.  You know, I got—I did an unauthorized graduation speech myself from high school. 

CARLSON:  And were you—was your mic cut off mid speech? 

MADDOW:  No, but I think they were just too technologically inept to figure out how to do it before it was over.  I‘m sure they would have loved to cut me off, given what I was talking about.  I wasn‘t proselytizing. 

Well, of course, anybody who espouses an opinion is—and attempts to win others to that opinion is proselytizing by definition.  I‘m against these speeches in general.  Because I think—I actually agree with critics of the speech in a way, that it‘s imposing your views, as a way, that it‘s imposing your views on a captive audience. 

And I dislike that, which is one of the reasons I resent so many left-wing academics who do that to their students day in and day out.  However, the fact that this girl used the word “God” does not make her speech any more or less religious than your average political speech, which again, is a kind of sermon.  Which I think is every bit as offensive as any religious speech. 

So if you‘re going to allow a political speech, you have to allow the speech in which the girl uses the dreaded word “God.” 

MADDOW:  You know, using the word “God” wasn‘t the problem here.  The problem is that she got up and did a proselytizing speech, in which she tried to convert people to her religion, at a public school ceremony. 

And there is a distinction in the Constitution between religious speech and other types of speech, that the government can‘t endorse religion, can‘t make laws to endorse religion.  And this is part of that.

CARLSON:  How did she try to convert people?  I missed that part.  I don‘t really see—I mean, I don‘t thin it was an altar call or anything like that.  I don‘t think she said, “Come up and be saved”?

MADDOW:  Well, Tucker, she said, you know, the Lord our God loves us so much that he gave his only son to die an excruciating death on the cross in order to clear the way for us to go to heaven, those of us who embrace it. 

I mean, this is not I want to thank God for all my success thus far, and Jesus is really important to me.  Yay, God.  It wasn‘t just her talking about her personal beliefs.  She was actually proselytizing, and that‘s not allowed in a public school.

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  First of all, it is allowed in a public school.  Students retain their freedom of speech even in a school, believe it or not.  The school itself can‘t endorse proselytizing...

MADDOW:  Right.

CARLSON:  But I don‘t think that‘s any more ludicrous statements than saying—I don‘t know—Howard Dean is a capable head of the DNC.  I mean, both are statements rooted in faith.  You can disagree with one or agree with the other.  It doesn‘t matter.  But they‘re both the same—in the same category, and that‘s in a religious category.  There—it‘s opinion, it‘s belief.

MADDOW:  Religion is a little bit different, Tucker.  I mean, there‘s a reason religion is singled out in the Constitution and the way that it is.   You don‘t really believe that vegetarianism is a religion.  You don‘t believe that being a Democrat is a religion, the same way that you don‘t believe...

CARLSON:  I certainly do.  Actually, I sincerely do.  And by the way, religion is singled out, in the very first part of the Bill of Rights, but it‘s not defined, and I am hereby defining it.  It is a sincerely held...

MADDOW:  As meaning—as meaning nothing. 

CARLSON:  No, it means quite a bit, actually.  It‘s just we too narrowly define it.  We say if you have a white building with a steeple atop it, it‘s a religious institution.  I‘m merely saying any deeply held belief system is a form of religion, and you know that to be true. 

MADDOW:  Tucker, if you want to define religion so broadly so as to make it meaningless, so that there are no more divisions between church and state in this century, you can try to make that argument.  You and I both know it‘s ridiculous. 

CARLSON:  That‘s not—by the way, that‘s not my aim.  I am all for the division between church and state, because I think state pollutes church.  And I think it‘s scary.  I mean, I‘m against the federal government financing church welfare programs, because I think it hurts churches.  But that‘s not the point.

The point is freedom of speech, and this girl has it.  And it was a bridge by a school system afraid of the ACLU, and I think that‘s shameful. 

MADDOW:  The thing that is most protective of religion in this country is the fact that it doesn‘t get into public life.  The reason that we have such a strong faith base in this country, the reason that we are such a religious industrialized nation, among others, is because there‘s a division between church and state.

CARLSON:  I agree.  I totally agree.

MADDOW:  And when that is broken down, when you have proselytizing, and public school reparations and all these other things, that hurts religion more than anything else.

CARLSON:  You‘re just not going to convince me that when someone cuts off your mic, that‘s freedom.  But you know what?  We‘re going to take it up later.  Rachel Maddow, tanned, fit, rested, ready, live from Miami.  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Up next, a mother sues MySpace.com for $30 million because she says the web site failed to protect her daughter from sexual predators.  Wait, isn‘t that her job?  We‘ll tell you, of course. 

Plus the romance is over.  After 44 years, the former anchor of “CBS Evening News” says sayonara to the network.  Details on the ugly breakup.  We‘ve got them, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, West Hollywood, California, finds a pretty creative way to let people smoke pot without being busted.

Plus, the school bus bullies are finally punished.  We‘ll get to that in just a moment.  But first, here‘s what else is going on in the world tonight.

(NEWSBREAK)

CARLSON:  Well, the flood waters have receded, but the city of New Orleans is facing another rising tide, this one of violence.  Five teens were murdered in one incident on Saturday, and two men have been killed since then, pushing the city‘s murder rate back to pretty Katrina levels. 

What is Ray Nagin‘s response?  Call in the National Guard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CIP)

RAY NAGIN, MAYOR, NEW ORLEANS:  We are very excited about what‘s happening today.  We look forward to the day when we do not have weekends like we‘ve had this past weekend and this city returns to being one of the safest cities in America. 

CARLSON:  Can New Orleans be considered an independent city, if it has to rely on the National Guard to restore law and order.  Joining me now on the phone to answer that question, Oliver Thomas.  He‘s New Orleans city council president.  He joins us from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Mr. Thomas, thanks for coming on.

OLIVER THOMAS, PRESIDENT, NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL:  Hey, Tucker, how you doing?  I‘m a big fan of your show, and I appreciate you hanging in with it.

CARLSON:  That‘s really nice.  And of course, everyone, including me, loves New Orleans.  But I‘m wondering, if it wouldn‘t just be simpler to put the federal government in charge of the city of New Orleans?  The city government obviously isn‘t capable of running the government, so why not just have the feds run it?

THOMAS:  Well, let me say, we are capable of running the government.  We are still in the very tenuous situation post the hurricane, you know, the police department has been really stretched out and stressed out, so if we can get the National Guard to patrol some of those areas where people don‘t live, and use our officers and state troopers, why not? 

I tell people, a lot of people say why bring in the guard?  Tucker, Americans travel to places all over the world where we don‘t have a problem with walking by people with M-16s or machine guns on top of Hummers.

CARLSON:  Right.

THOMAS:  So we still—will travel to those places and spend our money, and actually, we‘re pretty thankful that those people are there.

CARLSON:  Sure, but that‘s...

THOMAS:  And so American soldiers can protect Iraqis and Afghanis and Central Americans and people all over the world.  During this rebuilding, let them come in and help us out. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But this isn‘t, thank God, Honduras or Baghdad.  I guess that‘s the difference.  Let‘s get to the numbers, though, which I think might be instructive here. 

Before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had a bigger 1,750 members of the police department, police officers, sworn offices. 

THOMAS:  Correct.

CARLSON:  So you‘ve lost a few of the 400.  The city, though, has lost about half its population. 

THOMAS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  So you now have far more officers per resident...

THOMAS:  Per capita.

CARLSON:  That‘s right—than you did before. 

THOMAS:  Look, I did the math on that, too.  So and if I can say hold on a second, well, then people say, “Well, hold on a second?  If you have more officers per capita, shouldn‘t you have a high visibility, rare crime fighting ability?” 

That may be the case, but while we‘re reorganizing and while we‘re working on that, look, if I could call in Godzilla and Murtha to come in and help us out, I would do that.

CARLSON:  Right.

THOMAS:  I would much rather struggle through this time right now to make our city safe, to make sure that we suppress this crime that‘s coming back in and deal with the backlash but also move forward while we‘re reorganizing the police department.  We energized the police department and creating...

CARLSON:  OK.  And everybody, especially me, wishes New Orleans, you know, all the best, and I hope it becomes a really safe city, but the police department is just really bad.  As you know that.  I mean, there were cops caught on film by us at MSNBC looting a Wal-Mart during Hurricane Katrina. 

I want to know, have those officers, are they now sitting in jail as they should be?  Have you cleaned house in the police department?

THOMAS:  Yes, we have a disciplinary board looking at officers right now, and he has dealt with a couple hundreds, and that‘s why the numbers have gone down.  He is doing everything that we can to make sure that we have qualified officers of the highest morals.  If the National Guard can patrol those unpopulated areas and free up our officers to deal with areas where people are. 

And that may not seem like a good thing to everybody else, but if we can suffer through this, and while we‘re making New Orleans the gem that it ought to be, that it once was, I‘ll deal with the criticism. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Well, I wish the rest of us didn‘t have to pay for it, but on the other hand, I hope your city recovers, because it‘s a great city.  Mr. Thomas, thanks for joining us. 

THOMAS:  Well, we‘re paying—we‘re paying for half the world, so why not pay for taxpayers in Louisiana? 

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  We don‘t have time to debate the math on that, but I think you‘d lose, with all due respect.  But thanks for coming.

THOMAS:  Give us some of our oil revenue.

CARLSON:  Not a lot of oil in New Orleans. 

THOMAS:  A lot of it—there‘s a lot of gas.  Coming back for another segment. 

CARLSON:  Mr. Thomas, thanks for joining us.

THOMAS:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  See you.

We turn now to a man who calls in the National Guard to resolve all of his problems.  He is “The Outsider”, ESPN Radio and HBO Boxing host, Max Kellerman. 

MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO:  Did Oliver Thomas just say Godzilla or Mothra?  Did I hear him say Mothra?  Because that just shows you how inept the politicians are down there.  If he knows his Godzilla, it‘s very difficult to get Godzilla and Mothra together on anything, unless they‘re battling the Creature from Planet X, the guy Roseanne and everyone gets.  But otherwise good luck getting those guys to cooperate. 

CARLSON:  You may have spent less time watching TV on Saturday mornings than you did growing up, but that‘s just a guess. 

Well, a 14-year-old girl and her mother are suing the popular networking web site MySpace.com for $30 million after they say the girl was sexually assaulted by a man she met on that site. 

The girl claims 19-year-old Pete Solis lied in his MySpace profile about being a senior in high school to gain her trust and her phone number.  Solis was arrested last month and charged with sexual assault with a child. 

The lawsuit charges MySpace, and its parent company Newscorp, the owners of the FOX News Channel, of having, quote, “absolutely no meaningful protection to protect underage users.”  MySpace announced today it will bolster protection for minors.

I‘m sorry for this girl, of course, that she suffered, but how about her family taking a little responsibility.  You don‘t get $30 million for being an indulgent parent.  It seems to me—as much as I bet the people on MySpace are creeps who don‘t care about kids.  I believe that completely.  It is still up to the parents to control their kids and make sure they don‘t run off with people they meet online.  Online.

KELLERMAN:  There was an “SNL” sketch about this, a “Saturday Night Live” skit where Julia Louis-Dreyfus—these Invisilines make it very difficult to talk sometimes.  But it was about this, you know, she plays a mother.  It was hilarious. 

She plays a mother going to computer class to learn how to deal with this MySpace stuff, because she wants to bond with her kids, and in the class are nothing but, you know, mail pedophiles in their 30s and 40s.  And they‘re “How do you get on this again?”

You know, technology is such that it‘s very difficult to monitor what kids are doing, for the parents to monitor what they‘re doing on the space.  And, you know, corporations are responsible for physical spaces, and this is cyberspace. 

And as we‘re trying to deal with laws regulating this new technology, and how it affects kids, these are the questions that are going to be asked.  How do you regulate cyberspace like this?  Certainly, there has to be some corporate responsibility.  Right?

CARLSON:  I absolutely—and I do agree.  I do agree with that.  It just seems like this is a matter of buck passing and greed: $30 million?

KELLERMAN:  Buck passing as in pass me $30 million. 

CARLSON:  You‘re exactly right.  I don‘t know.  It is incumbent on parents to pay closer attention, not always to blame somebody else.  Though, you know, this is true.  Of course, you feel so sorry for the girl.

KELLERMAN:  If you‘re talking about making—thinking about meaningful ways to regulate cyberspace, nothing will do that like a $30 million lawsuit.  Right?

CARLSON:  You hate to see society changed by lawsuits, because in the end only the lawyers win, Max, and that‘s a tragedy. 

Well, West Hollywood, California, is about to become a pot smoker‘s paradise.  A city council resolution there urges the Los Angeles County Sheriff‘s Department to make marijuana related offenses, quote, “a low priority” that should be ignored for the most part. 

The resolution would allow the recreational use of small amounts of pot within West Hollywood.  The councilman who proposed the idea says cops have bigger problems than to bust people smoking pot.  The sheriff‘s department will continue to go after people who sell pot.

It should be a model for drug enforcement in America, Max, as far as I‘m concerned.  You don‘t legalize it, necessarily, but you tell the cops to be reasonable about it.  If you‘re causing a scene, if you‘re dealing it, and harassing your neighborhoods and lowering the quality of life in your neighborhood, go to jail. 

But if you‘re, you know, smoking pot in the privacy of your own home, and not hurting anybody, you know, for the police to waste time bothering you is unbelievably outrageous, in my view. 

KELLERMAN:  It‘s very difficult to argue against anything that kind of makes it easier for people to smoke marijuana if they so choose, adults to do it, because it‘s an outrage that there‘s still a prohibition for marijuana, which is essentially what‘s going on.

Here is the best argument I can come up with, Tucker.  This will—is a measure on the one hand that‘s being argued is a step toward legalizing marijuana.

CARLSON:  Right.

KELLERMAN:  But in fact, it may have the opposite effect.  Right?  It could keep it as kind of quasi-legal or illegal state of prohibition. 

CARLSON:  Right.

KELLERMAN:  If there are certain areas of the country where yes it‘s illegal, but no, the police aren‘t trying to enforce it too tough, why?  You know, it should be legalized.  There should be steps taken to legalize it.  It should be illegal for prohibition for—of marijuana to exist.  And yet this may kind of foster an environment where it can continue.

CARLSON:  I think that‘s a smart argument, but let me give you an answer, and it is this.  Because sometimes gentlemen‘s agreements, informal arrangements are the most effective ones. 

There are plenty of people or things that are legal that you don‘t do.  You don‘t pick your nose in public, though you can if you want to, but nobody does because it‘s unacceptable.  Right?

Smoking marijuana is one of those—is one of those—in normal, polite society, just so you know.  Smoking marijuana is one of those things that doesn‘t hurt anybody and I think ought to be tolerated up to a point, and that point is when you start bothering other people.  So having a law against it on the books is a convenient way for people to do something about it if they need to, but they shouldn‘t do anything about it unless they need to. 

KELLERMAN:  Yes, but you know what?  They will still arrest people selling marijuana.  Now, where are the people who are smoking the marijuana getting the marijuana?  It‘s still this kind of bogus system ...

CARLSON:  Yes.

KELLERMAN:  ...of yes, you can go buy it from a marijuana...

CARLSON:  Exactly.

KELLERMAN:  But as long as nobody sees, but he we‘ll still arrest—and... 

CARLSON:  It‘s exactly what I like.  Gray areas, hypocrisy, unspoken arrangements, an understanding that‘s informal.  That‘s how the world really works.  We should recognize that. 

KELLERMAN:  That‘s how it changes.  You got people to socially accept it at a certain—I—ultimately, I agree. 

CARLSON:  Max Kellerman.

KELLERMAN:  I‘m playing devil‘s advocate here.

CARLSON:  A deeply reasonable man and a committed proponent of marijuana.  Thank you, Max. 

Coming up on THE SITUATION tonight, Ray Nagin isn‘t the first American mayor to lose his mind.  He‘s just the latest.  Where do Marion Barry and Jerry Springer fit on our list of the “Top Five” mayors gone wild?  We‘ll tell you in just a moment. 

Plus, cops find an arsenal of bomb making materials in the bedroom of a man suspected of shooting a Nevada judge and killing his own wife on the very same day.  We‘ll update you on the nationwide manhunt when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANESSA MCDONALD, PRODUCER:  Coming up, a judge throws out a rape case because a prosecutor was late to court.  Can you really do that?

Plus, Dan Rather takes a parting shot to CBS on his way out the door.

CARLSON:  Details of that messy divorce when THE SITUATION returns in just 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Tonight‘s “SITUATION Crime Blotter”, cops find bomb making materials, ammunition and written allegations of corruption against a judge in the bedroom of a Nevada man accused of killing his wife and shooting that judge on the very same day. 

Darren Mack is suspect in the June 12 stabbing death of his estranged wife Charla, and also in the sniper shooting of family court judge Chuck Weller.  Weller survived and is recovering.

The FBI has now added Mack to its most-wanted list. 

Last time we showed you a videotape of a pair of bullies beating up a 10-year-old on a school bus in Michigan.  The 13- and 14-year-olds have now been charged with assault, and one of the boys has been suspended for the rest of the year.

The victim, 10-year-old Chester Gala, skipped two years of school, so he goes to class and rides the bus with older kids like the ones who beat him up. 

And an Ohio judge has thrown out charges against a man accused of raping a 16-year-old girl because the prosecutor was 45 minutes late to trial.  The prosecutor says he called the judge‘s office several times to tell her he would be late.  Judge Eileen Gallagher said, quote, “You don‘t show up, too bad.  Don‘t treat me like a punk.” 

The prosecutor has filed an appeal.  The judge, a total nut case. 

Well, a tearful admission today for the mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut and about reports he‘s abused cocaine while in office.  He says it‘s true. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR JOHN FABRIZI (D), BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT:  Over the course of a number of years, I have abused alcohol and used cocaine occasionally.  About a year and a half ago, I recognized that I had a problem, and I sought professional help to address the issue. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  And yet you‘ll notice his nose is still running. 

Mayor John Fabrizi was forced to come clean after an alleged coke dealer claimed there‘s a video tape that shows him using the drug.  He‘s not planning to retire, but Fabrizi‘s confession could expose him to criminal charges.  This isn‘t the first time an American mayor has come under the scrutiny of the law. 

In tonight‘s “Top Five”, other city leaders whose indiscretions have forced them to fight for their political lives, sometimes with inexplicable success. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON (voice-over):  They‘re elected to uphold civil law and order, but sometimes these models of outstanding citizenship have brought dishonor to the honorable office of mayor. 

He once championed an anti-gay agenda, so it was quite a shock to the people of Spokane when Mayor James West was accused last year of molesting to Boy Scouts back in the ‘70s and using his office to lure young men. 

West denied everything—well, not everything.

JAMES WEST, FORMER SPOKANE MAYOR:  I visited a gay Internet chat line and had relations with adult men.  I don‘t deny that.

CARLSON:  Nicknamed America‘s first hip-hop mayor, Detroit‘s Kwame Kilpatrick enjoys living like a recording artist.  He travels with an entourage, and has been accused, correctly, of dipping into city coffers for his personal entertainment. 

Last year, “TIME” magazine named Kilpatrick one of the nation‘s worst mayors.  Still, Motown voters reelected him for a second term. 

Even more shocking, perhaps, was the re-election of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, a storm he attributed to God‘s anger over U.S. presence in Iraq.

When pressed to explain floundering relief efforts, Nagin blamed the federal government.  Things got even stormier when he revealed his vision for the future.

RAY NAGIN, MAYOR, NEW ORLEANS:  This city will be chocolate at the end of the day. 

CARLSON:  As a Cincinnati lawmaker back in ‘71, Jerry Springer broke the law by soliciting the services of a hooker. 

JERRY SPRINGER, FORMER CINCINNATI MAYOR:  I‘m not a perfect person, but neither am I the devil incarnate.

CARLSON:  The voters eventually forgave Jerry and elected him mayor six years later.  He‘s led a respectable career since then.

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

CARLSON:  He told FBI agents in 1990 he was set up, but there was no way D.C. lawyer Marion Barry could contest this, caught on surveillance video smoking crack with a lady friend in a hotel room. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Put your hands on the wall.

CARLSON:  His honor went to prison but was reelected to a fourth term in 1995.  Since then Barry has been busted again for cocaine and marijuana use, and let‘s not forget tax evasion. 

MARION BARRY, FORMER D.C. MAYOR:  I‘m going to serve, I‘m going to serve, I‘m going to serve.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Still ahead on THE SITUATION, being the hard hitting, silver-haired future of television news is tiring work.  Anderson Cooper took a break tonight for some girl talk with Angelina Jolie.  We‘ll have the details when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Just when you thought it couldn‘t get any better, in steps Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  That‘s right.  That‘s the way I think of it.

How was the show tonight, Tucker?

CARLSON:  Great.

GEIST:  I didn‘t see a second of it.  I don‘t know if you heard, there was an interview over on another network, Anderson Cooper and Angelina Jolie. 

CARLSON:  We were talking about Iraq on this show.  I missed that.

GEIST:  A sit down with Gina, and it was compelling.  It was fascinating.  There‘s—we don‘t have footage of the actual interview.  It‘s embargoed.

CARLSON:  How was it, as someone who saw it?

GEIST:  I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed it.  Particularly the part I liked best, was when Anderson asks Angelina, do you ever want to turn to the paparazzi, who spend their lives and money chasing you around the world, and just say, “Hey, guys.  Take the money you‘re spending on pursuing me and go to the Congo and see what‘s going on over there?”

Because I think—I think if we send the paparazzi over there, the world will be a better place.  They can see what is going on. 

CARLSON:  With that, that‘s coverage right there.  I mean, that‘s hard news.  Did he really ask that?

GEIST:  Sure he did.

CARLSON:  Boy.

GEIST:  A dispatch from the edge. 

CARLSON:  I‘m sorry—I‘m sorry—I‘m speeding home to my TiVo.

GEIST:  Or a dispatch to the Beverly Hills Hilton, where they did the interview.

CARLSON  After 44 years, Dan Rather, speaking of Beverly Hills Hilton.  His run at CBS ended today with a simple press release.  CBS announced Rather has agreed to leave the network five months before his current contract expires.  Rather did not mince words in his own press release, saying, quote, “My departure before the term of my contract represents CBS‘s final acknowledgement after a protracted struggle that they had not lived up to their obligation to allow me to do substantial, substantive—another “S” word—work here.  Real work.

GEIST:  You know, people take shots at Dan Rather.  I honestly like him just out of amusement. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

GEIST:  I think he‘s kind of funny.  And just as a tribute, I want to read—just remind people of those 2000 election lines.  “If a frog had side pockets, he‘d carry a handgun,” Tucker.

Bush has run through Dixie like a big wheel through a cotton field. 

We all can picture that image, can‘t we? 

CARLSON:  I certainly can.

GEIST:  And of course, “This race is hotter than a Laredo parking lot.”  I love that man.

CARLSON:  So good.

Lewis the Cat, who made national headlines when he terrorized a Fairfield, Connecticut, neighborhood to live to see another day.  A state judge declared today that Lewis does not have to be euthanized.  The just instead ordered Lewis placed  under permanent house arrest.  At least six people, including an Avon lady, were bitten and scratched in separate attacks, perpetuated by the cat.  Not clear if any of them deserved it.

If Lewis is spotted outside his owner could face six months behind bars. 

GEIST:  Tucker, as you know, we discussed this.  I was for the death penalty in this case.  I think it sends a terrible message to other cats, like you can just walk around and scratching and claw people and go home under home arrest.  It‘s a bad message, it‘s supposed to be a deterrent.  Let‘s use it that way.

CARLSON:  You‘re tough.  You‘re tough.. 

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  As tough as Anderson Cooper.

That‘s THE SITUATION.  Thank for watching.  We‘ll be back here tomorrow night.  Tune in.

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

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