updated 8/22/2006 11:03:50 AM ET 2006-08-22T15:03:50

Guests: Jeralyn Merritt, Mike Sandrock, Michael Graham, Flavia Colgan

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Thanks. And welcome to the show, coming to you today from Washington, D.C.

First, new developments in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case.

John Mark Karr, whose possible confession, or whatever it was last week, set off an international media firestorm. He‘s back in the U.S.  today, but everything about this case seems doomed to turn into a circus, including Karr‘s return flight from Thailand.

Here with more, NBC News‘s Michael Okwu. He‘s in Los Angeles.

Michael, what is the latest?

MICHAEL OKWU, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tucker, I can tell you this, amid very heavy security, Karr deplaned from his overseas flight last night, was escorted into a helicopter, and then arrived here at the correctional facility in downtown Los Angeles. The big development at this hour, Karr is expected to be present at a court hearing, an extradition hearing here in Los Angeles tomorrow morning.

Just this morning I spoke to Patience Van Zandt, a lawyer who has represented Karr in the past, specifically in a child pornography possession case back in 2001. She said she spent about three hours with Karr overnight with Karr last night here in the jail, offered her legal representation, but he turned her down. Essentially saying that he is probably not going to fight this extradition and that he‘s willing to go off to Colorado and face the charges there, some of which she had to say this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OKWU: Was he happy to see you?

PATIENCE VAN ZANDT, FMR. ATTORNEY FOR JOHN KARR: I think Mr. Karr would be happy to see any friendly face right now.

OKWU: OK. Why is it that—if you can just expound on that a little bit more. He says that he does not want to be represented by anyone here in the state of California. He wants to get back to Colorado and take care of it there.

Could you tell me a little bit more about why that is the case?

VAN ZANDT: I think Mr. Karr is very anxious to be able to exercise his right to face the charges that are being brought against him. And he knows that those charges are in Boulder, they are not here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OKWU: If, in fact, Karr does not fight extradition, he is likely to be put on a plane as soon as possible and arrive in Colorado possibly as early as tomorrow night—Tucker.

CARLSON: Well, speaking of Karr and plane flights, we‘re showing video right now on the scene, Michael, with his flight back from Thailand yesterday where he was seen eating pate and prawns and sipping champagne.  Why was he flying business class on a flight like that? And who paid for it?

OKWU: Well, it‘s unclear at this point who paid for the ticket. We know that it probably cost upwards of $2,000 or more for that one-way business class ticket.

You‘ll recall that for those several days when there was all that media scrutiny on him, which continues, of course, to this day, that the issue was, how do we get him out of Thailand and back to the United States as soon as possible? And one presumes that they tried to book a flight as soon as possible and that was the only seat available.

That‘s why much is being made about what he ate on this flight. But the fact is, he was sitting in business class—Tucker.

CARLSON: Yes. And the fact is, I guess he was coming voluntarily.

Michael Okwu in L.A., thanks.

So with the press coverage spinning out of control, you‘ve got to ask yourself, how good is the case against this guy?

Joining me now to talk about that, criminal defense attorney Jeralyn Merritt.

Jeralyn, welcome.

JERALYN MERRITT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hi, Tucker.

CARLSON: How strong is the case? Is this open and shut? I mean, what do you make of this?

MERRITT: Well, it‘s certainly not open and shut. And we don‘t even know if there is a case.

You know, we don‘t know whether they have any physical evidence against him, we don‘t know whether they can place him in Colorado. We don‘t know whether the handwriting is going to match, whether his DNA is going to match.

What do they have?

CARLSON: Well, they have what appears to be a kind of confession. I mean, if you‘re the prosecutor, if you‘re the D.A. in this case, how gingerly do you approach a guy like this man, who seems unbalanced, but who knows? Maybe he is not. I mean, how do you—there must be a lot of trepidation over at the prosecutor‘s office right now.

MERRITT: I‘m sure there‘s a lot of trepidation. His statements were, one, strange. Two, may not mesh with the facts as they know it. And three, if they are hoping that they‘re going to interrogate him once he comes back to Colorado, I think they have another thing coming.

He‘s going to get a lawyer appointed for him in Colorado, if he doesn‘t hire one. That lawyer is going to tell him to stop talk talking.

CARLSON: But what‘s the point? I mean, if this is a—well, let‘s star at the beginning. How often in your experience do prosecutors come up against false confessions? Are they common?

MERRITT: Yes. They‘re a lot more common than the public thinks.

People will falsely confess to a crime for a wide variety of reasons.  It could be anything from wanting their 15 minutes of fame, to being goaded into what they are saying by the people who are interrogating him.

CARLSON: So let‘s say this is a false confession. What would be the point for this guy to fight the charges if he is making up his confession in the first place? In other words, if he wants to be charged, why would he fight the prosecution?

MERRITT: Well, because he‘s going to have a lawyer, and the lawyer is going to fight the prosecution for him. That‘s what lawyers do.

We hold the government to its burden of proof. It is their obligation to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. And a lawyer would not hesitate to say to the jury he thinks he killed JonBenet, but he didn‘t.

CARLSON: Does the D.A. have more than we know about at this point? It seems like the prosecutor—prosecutors have gone out on a limb here to some extent. Do you think they have more information?

MERRITT: You know, Tucker, I thought they did the first day. But after Mary Lacy‘s press conference, I started getting very concerned. And I‘m not sure that they have anything else.

I think they were looking for a way to bring him back, and they used an arrest warrant, which I don‘t think is entirely appropriate, because they are supposed to have probable cause he committed murder to issue an arrest warrant for him. You don‘t issue an arrest warrant for murder just because you think that the children in Thailand are in danger or because you think the guy is a flight risk.

CARLSON: No, that is exactly right. There has been a lot of speculation today about the ransom note left at the murder scene more than 10 years ago and this man‘s connection to it.

Do you know anything about that?

MERRITT: Well, I know what people are saying. And, you know, they‘re saying that because there‘s a phrase that starts with the initials “SBTC” in the ransom note, and it was in a high school yearbook that he signed, that maybe he wrote the ransom note.

I know that from speaking to some of the district attorneys who worked on the Ramsey case early on that the mystery of SBTC was cleared up a long time ago and they don‘t think that he has any connection to it.

CARLSON: Interesting. Do you know what they believe “SBTC” refers to?

MERRITT: No.

CARLSON: What about the Ramseys? I mean, they are—they are kind of at the center of this. We‘ve heard little about and nothing from them.

For years, there was speculation that they were involved in the killing of their daughter. What‘s—what‘s the speculation among people who follow this case carefully? And do we have any idea of what Mr. Ramsey thinks of this development?

MERRITT: OK, both questions. I think you‘re going to find a split of opinion here in Colorado.

I think you‘re going to find that some people still want to believe the Ramseys did it, and other people are happy that Mr. Karr has been arrested because they want to see the Ramseys cleared. So I think, you know, a lot of people have a predisposition. And, you know, that‘s where I think that they are going with that.

I personally think that the Ramseys were cleared, you know, although not officially, a long time ago, because the Boulder district attorney, the same one, Mary Lacy, came out two years ago and said that she believes, based on federal court opinion in Georgia in a libel suit involving the Ramseys, that the evidence weighs towards an intruder.

CARLSON: Interesting. You had said a minute ago that Karr, once he gets involved and wrapped up in his legal defense, may decide not to cooperate with prosecutors. Can he turn down legal help? Can he just say, “I don‘t want a lawyer”?

MERRITT: Well, he can, but then there‘s going to be a competency hearing, I would think, to see whether or not he is competent to proceed pro se. I don‘t expect him to proceed pro se. I think either if he doesn‘t have funds, a public defender will be appointed for him—and we have a fabulous public defender‘s office here, particularly in murder cases and with DNA.

But if for some reason the public defender‘s office is conflicted out and he doesn‘t have money, they could appoint a lawyer off what we call the alternate defense counsel list.

CARLSON: Yes.

MERRITT: And it‘s also possible that there is some lawyer who is going to want to do it for a reduced fee or pro bono for the publicity.

CARLSON: It‘s going to be a tough—I mean, if this does go to trial, it‘s going to be a pretty tough case. I mean, the coverage has been so completely overwhelming. How accurate do you think the coverage has been of this case, or these developments so far?

MERRITT: I think the coverage has been very inaccurate, and I‘m sorry to say that. But I have been commenting on this case since the week that she died, and half of the times I‘ve commented by blood pressure will just soar because I am hearing things that I just know aren‘t true.

CARLSON: Well, give me a very quick example of something or a couple of things you think that are untrue that are being repeated.

MERRITT: OK, that John—that John Ramsey may have been involved and that he may have sexually assaulted his daughter. That there is no way an intruder could have come in because John Ramsey put the suitcase under the window. There‘s no way an intruder could come in because there were no footprints in the snow.

It wasn‘t snowing. John Ramsey didn‘t put the suitcase there. And there is no evidence that any—either Ramsey had anything in their past that would indicate that they were even remotely capable of this horrible, savage...

CARLSON: Well, that‘s such an outrageous allegation to make against anyone absent hard-proof videotape. I mean, who would say—who has said something like that, suggested that Mr. Ramsey molested his child? And I don‘t know anybody involved, by the way. I‘m not carrying water for anyone.  But that‘s such an awful thing to say.

Who would say that?

MERRITT: Early talk show hosts said it. Tabloids said it. That was part of the—you know, that was part of the early gestalt of this case.

You know, half the people thought Patsy Ramsey did it because she was angry JonBenet wet her bed.  And the other half thought that Patsy Ramsey did it because she found John doing something with JonBenet.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  It‘s unbelievable.

MERRITT:  Unbelievable, what the Ramseys went through.

CARLSON:  I wish these people would keep their dime store psychoanalysis to themselves...

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  ... be quiet, and get in another line of work.

Jeralyn Merritt, thank you.

MERRITT:  I agree, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Good.

MERRITT:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Good for you.  I knew I liked you. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Thanks for coming.  Thanks for coming on. 

MERRITT:  Sure. 

CARLSON:  Still ahead:  He says he killed JonBenet Ramsey, but who led investigators to John Mark Karr?  We will talk to the missing link in this case just ahead. 

And withdraw from Iraq?  The president says, not on my watch.  But is that a plan for victory or just a pretty clever bumper sticker? 

The story when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Coming up:  You knew it had to happen.  We go right to the top and bite the hand that feeds us.  See it for yourself in a minute on “Beat the Press.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MARK KARR, SUSPECT:  Don‘t make (INAUDIBLE) up again.  Come here, Christa (ph).  Don‘t make me have to lower you down in that well again.  You ain‘t going to (INAUDIBLE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Well, it is pretty clear that John Karr has a long history of weird behavior, as evidenced by that home video from 1992.  But when did investigators first suspect him of this crime, and why?

Well, it all comes down to a chance meeting in a Paris, France, bookstore.

Mike Sandrock, a sports writer from the Boulder newspaper “Daily Camera,” met Karr in 2002.  He joins us now from Boulder.

Thanks, Mike, for coming on. 

Explain to our viewers who don‘t know how this encounter between the two of you led to where we are right now. 

MIKE SANDROCKrMD+IT_rMD-IT_, WRITER, “THE DAILY CAMERA”:  Well, I was in—in Paris in the summer of 2002, going to Switzerland to cover a mountain race, stopped in Paris for a week. 

I always go over to the Shakespeare and Company bookstore to find out about Hemingway, to visit with all the young novelists and poets who congregate there.  John Karr was one of the just many young Americans who were hanging out there. 

CARLSON:  It‘s—it‘s a great bookstore.

How exactly did you wind up...

SANDROCK:  It is, yes.

CARLSON:  ... in a conversation with him about this case?  And what did you think? 

SANDROCK:  Well, it just started out just sitting around, a bunch of people, about a half-dozen of us, sitting around, talking just about Paris, Europe.  He said he was traveling around the summer. 

Someone asked me where I was from.  I said I was from Boulder.  They said, what do you do?  I said, I am a journalist. 

And he said, oh, do you write for “The Daily Camera”?  And I said, yes.  And I was a little bit surprised he knew the “Daily Camera” newspaper.

Also, then, he then immediately started asking about the Ramsey case, what I thought about it.  But he didn‘t do that until we were alone.  As long as there was a bunch of people around, it was more the typical conversation.  When he got us alone, then the conversation got very intense.  And he knew so many details about the case.  I was really surprised. 

CARLSON:  Were they details that you could have learned from reading about the case in the newspaper?  Or did he seem to have knowledge no one else had? 

SANDROCK:  Well, at the time, he had such a vast body of knowledge, Tucker.  I was really surprised. 

But, in hindsight, it‘s all stuff that he could have gotten from the documentaries that Professor Tracey produced, from the news articles and magazine articles and all the TV shows.  So, it‘s—it is all stuff that he could have gotten elsewhere. 

CARLSON:  Did he explain why he knew so much about a murder case like this? 

SANDROCK:  Well, that is interesting. 

I did kind of pursue that a little bit.  We were talking.  And, when I started getting to those kind of questions, he would sort of pause a little bit.  And he had this—a couple of times, he had this little smile, where he would stop.  And I always had the feeling that there was something else going on in his mind that he didn‘t—he wasn‘t telling me, but that, if I pursued the conversation, that he would relate more to me. 

CARLSON:  Now, what—this guy, from my vantage point, seems like one of the creepiest people, maybe in world history, I mean, just a profound weirdo.  But who knows.  I haven‘t met him.

What is he like in person?  Do you get that vibe from him, that there is something wrong with him? 

SANDROCK:  No.  At first, no, not at all.  He was—at first, he was just normal.  Like I said, he was just one of the typical hundreds of backpackers that flow through Europe during the summer. 

But once I started talking to him—and, at first, he was talking a lot about the Ramsey case.  And I thought it was just a typical person who was obsessed with the Ramsey case, like a lot of people are about the death of Princess Di or the World Trade Center collapse recently. 

But he—as conversations went on, I remember specifically one conversation upstairs in the bookstore, the second floor of the bookstore, where he starting talking more about the specifics of the case, and specifically about the manner of the death of JonBenet. 

And I just got a little—I got very uncomfortable just talking about, you know, how she suffered, and things like that.  I started backing away.  And that is when he asked me about what I thought—who I thought did it.  And I said, well, I really don‘t have an opinion, but some people think the parents did it.  Some people think there was an intruder. 

And he kind of, you know, just had that smile again.  And I started to ask him what he thought.  And it was at that point I knew that—I had this feeling back then, if I—if I just asked him, I say, “Well, who do you think did it?” that I might have—I am sure we would have continued the conversation, and he might have revealed to me some of the things—things that he revealed to Professor Tracey. 

But I just felt so uncomfortable about it.  And it‘s just such a—a terrible topic to talk about, that I backed off and stopped the conversation. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  It‘s—it‘s—it‘s pretty gruesome. 

Now, what conversations have you had, if any, with authorities about him? 

SANDROCK:  With the authorities, just one conversation with the district attorney‘s office, right across the street from us. 

They were very professional.  And I think that was this spring, right before the big 10 kilometer road race we have here in Boulder called the Bolder Boulder.  That‘s why I remember it was before that.  So, it was this spring. 

And it was just the questions about where we met, how I met him, and did he have any—did he give any indication of where he was traveling to and how he supported himself.  That—those were the—the main questions.  And, of course, they asked whether he had said if he had been in Boulder or not. 

CARLSON:  I—I hate to ask you to get subjective, because you work for a newspaper, but, quickly, bottom line, your opinion, if you would.  Do you think this guy did it? 

SANDROCK:  Well, that‘s a good question. 

I have been thinking about it.  And, the more I think about it, I am beginning to think that he didn‘t do it, for a lot...

(CROSSTALK)

SANDROCK:  ... for a lot of different reasons.  But that is—that‘s kind of the gut feeling I have, just after going over the case, and talking about it.  I‘m just—that‘s what I am beginning to think. 

But I also think that he is implicated in the case somehow, also. 

CARLSON:  Well, it sure sounds it. 

Mike Sandrock in Boulder—thanks a lot, Mike. 

SANDROCK:  OK.  Thank you. 

Still ahead:  MSNBC gets taken to the woodshed in our “Beat the Press” segment. 

Stay tuned for that. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “Beat the Press.” 

First up, we‘re going to take—going big.  We are taking a swing at our own general manager, Dan Abrams.  Dan‘s show, “THE ABRAMS REPORT,” went off the air over a month ago, when he took over MSNBC.  Dan is an executive now, though it didn‘t seem that way when the JonBenet Ramsey news broke. 

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN ABRAMS, GENERAL MANAGER, MSNBC:  What NBC News has confirmed is that John Ramsey, the father of JonBenet, has been told by authorities to expect an arrest in connection with the case, and that an arrest was made overseas. 

This is a suspect in connection with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, not a witness, not a peripheral player, but a suspect. 

This really came as a total shock to everyone.  I mean, I think that many people had put this case behind them. 

If he didn‘t do this...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  ... then he succeeded in whatever sick game he is playing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  The question is, who is running MSNBC?  I, for one, haven‘t been paid.  There is no one here to sign the checks. 

On the other hand, consider it‘s something to be proud of.  Over at CNN, Jon Klein runs the show.  Do you think he could host an hour of television?  How do you think that would rate?  Not well.  So, in the end, we‘re proud of Dan. 

Next up: more MSNBC News, in fact, not just news, but major breaking news.  Fortunately, you didn‘t even have to turn up the volume on your television set to know what that breaking news was.  Everything you needed to know was right there on the banners for you:  Ramsey suspect had champagne.  He had dinner that included pate and fried king prawns.  Ramsey suspect drank champagne on board.  Ramsey suspect got up to go to the lavatory.  Ramsey suspect watching in-flight movie.  Ramsey suspect tapped flight attendant on shoulder and asked for more peanuts. 

No, those are not actually breaking-news banners, but they could have been.  And that‘s the point.  Embarrassing.  It is not breaking news when anybody has a glass of champagne on a long airplane flight.  Sorry.  Even if you are the main suspect in a famous cable news-inspired or -fueled murder case, it‘s not breaking news.

And, finally, on Friday‘s “Nancy Grace,” guest host Jane Velez-Mitchell talked with CNN correspondent Susan Candiotti about the possible connection between the ransom note in the JonBenet Ramsey case and a yearbook signed by suspect John Karr. 

Candiotti doesn‘t seem to think there is any question the two are directly related. 

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “NANCY GRACE”)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN REPORTER:  Someone went and looked at the ransom note again, the ransom note left behind by, you know, presumably, the killer of JonBenet Ramsey.  And it had these initials on it. 

And read them out for me again there, Jane.

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST:  Oh, yes, sure.  “S-B-T-C.  At the very end of this three-page ransom note, it says actually, “Victory.  SBTC.”

CANDIOTTI:  Which shall—stands for those very words that he left in the inscription, what—“Shall be the conqueror.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  “Stands for those very words.”

Now, wait a second.  This is journalism.  You are not supposed to jump to conclusions here.  Yes, the letters S-B-T-C should stand for “Shall be the conqueror.”

On the other hand, they could also stand for “Stop bullying the clown,” or “Swimmers bury their caps,” or “Sun beats through clouds,” “Sometimes bats talk Chinese,” “Silver bells toll constantly,” or even—and this is worth considering—“Shan‘t be the conqueror,” not shall be, shan‘t be. 

The point is, we have no idea what those letters stand for.  So, we probably shouldn‘t pretend we do know. 

Well, how would you like to help us “Beat the Press”?  Give us a call and tell us what you have seen—the number here, 1-877-BTP-5876 -- operators standing by. 

Still to come:  Hillary Clinton makes her 11th appearance on the cover of “TIME” magazine.  Is it a sign she is ready to run for president?  Of course it is. 

Also ahead:  Is illegal immigration killing this country?  Why Pat Buchanan says the United States is going the way of the Roman Empire. 

That‘s all when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, Joe Lieberman calls on Donald Rumsfeld to resign.  Is he just trying to divert attention from his own stand on Iraq?  And you don‘t have to be little to play little league baseball it turns out.  One 6‘8” player is dominating the little league world series this year.  More on that in just a minute, but right now here‘s a look at your headlines. 

MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC ANCHOR:  I‘m Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”  It‘s a down day for Wall Street with the Dow Jones Industrial Average off by 36 points, the S&P 500 dropping around five, the NASDAQ off by more than 16 points.   BP denying allegations that it manipulated inspection data from oil pipelines in Alaska.  The “Financial Times” reports that the EPA is investigating those allegations.  Leaks in the pipeline recently shut down the Prudhoe Bay oil facility in Alaska, stopping 400,000 barrels a day of oil production.   The federal government says that by 2011 automakers will be required to tell car owners if their cars include data recorders.  The airplane style black boxes can record information about crashes, like the car‘s speed or when the brakes were hit.  And United and American Airlines canceling announced hikes in business-class fares.   Last week both airlines boosted business class fares $5 one way, $10 roundtrip.  That‘s your “market wrap” from CNBC, now back to Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Time now for a look at the day‘s most interesting stories with a pair of the country‘s most interesting people.  Michael Graham, host of the “Natural Truth of Michael Graham” on 96.9 FM talk in Boston and MSNBC contributor Flavia Colgan who joins us from Burbank, California.  Welcome to you both.  First up, President Bush increasingly unpopular on Iraq.  Here‘s how he defended his policy at a news conference earlier today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  Imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein was there stirring up even more trouble in a part of the world that had so much resentment and so much hatred that the people came and killed 3,000 of our citizens.  What did Iraq have to do with what? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The attack on the World Trade Center.  

BUSH:  Nothing, except for its part of—and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack.  

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Michael, what the hell is he talking about?  I mean I don‘t want to think the president—

MICHAEL GRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I have no idea.

CARLSON:  He seems to be suggesting again that Saddam was responsible for 9/11, are you offended by that?  

GRAHAM:  Has he been diagnosed with ADHD or something?  I could barely follow his conversation and I have a six year old son.   President Bush‘s problem is that we are so far beyond talk in Iraq, that he—if he had the eloquence of Ronald Reagan and the political genius of Adelaide Stevenson, none of that would make a difference.  You have to win.  And here‘s the deal on a war.  There‘s only one option that‘s acceptable, victory.  And President Bush right now cannot explain to people who support the war in Iraq, like me, how he plans to win it.   And the alternative to not winning is simply unbelievable and inexcusable.   Unacceptable and inexcusable, I‘m sorry. 

CARLSON:  I mean Flavia, doesn‘t—I mean I‘m totally adamantly opposed to not simply the war, but also the incredibly dumb ideas that led us to war.   However, Michael has a very good point, which is defeat in Iraq would be a disaster for America, the world and for the way Americans see their own country.  Shouldn‘t democrats be thinking of helping to find a way to avoid defeat there?

FLAVIA COLGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Yeah but I think that is exactly what strategic redeployment is going to do.  And I think that Michael is exactly right, which is where we are basically beyond talk.  When you have a weekend, this past weekend where 20 people die, 300 people are injured, and this morning the army and the military said that it was a weekend of relative calm and little violence, I think that gives you a window into the fact that we really are in the middle with basically bull‘s-eyes on our head in the middle of a civil war spending billions and billions and billions of dollars which I certainly would prefer we were spending it, you know, with the TSA getting the types of scanners and things we need in our airports, you know securing up our borders.  

CARLSON:  Oh, come on!  But hold up, you just said that the U.S.  government described the situation in Iraq as good because it was calm with relatively little bloodshed.  Isn‘t that and should not that be our goal for the Middle East, Michael? None of this utopian nonsense about bringing peace and prosperity and happiness and changing human nature for the better?  Isn‘t the best we can hope for in the rest of the world is that people are not killing each other in huge numbers or trying to kill us? 

GRAHAM:  No, absolutely not and Tucker you know I love you like the brother I never had, but you‘re totally wrong.  Because the option of—we had two options under the Tucker plan, dictatorships we like and whacks out Islamists who hated the dictatorships.  Those are the only two options. 

Either you‘re with the dictators or you‘re an Islamist whack job who wanted

to kill us.  There has to be a third way eventually.  President Bush has

the only plan.  If you‘ll notice, I‘ll notice you and Flavia you have no

suggestion for how we can end the threat of terrorism without a third leg -

but President Bush is screwing it up  

CARLSON: Aren‘t the dictators in the Middle East at this point our truest allies? We bark in Egypt with General Mouchard in Pakistan, the house of Saud in Saudi Arabia, without them we would have no war on terror.  We get all of our information from them and Israel for that matter.  Not a dictatorship but don‘t we want stable dictatorships that like us? 

GRAHAM:  A dictatorship that‘s moving towards freedom and democracy, it‘s moving towards hope for its people, it would be a much better transitional step than Islamic whack jobs, no doubt about it.  But how are you going to move them?  The only way to move them is to change around the play on the ground.  But President Bush is screwing up the mission.  And this is what I wish my fellow republicans would look at.  There is no partisan, there is no yelling, I love Rush Limbaugh, but you can‘t debate, argue, finesse or mock your way out of this.  Yes John Kerry is a dope, that doesn‘t mean that George Bush isn‘t screwing up this vital mission.  We have to win.

CARLSON: That‘s actually a totally fair point.  Now to another hot topic, I want to ask you about this Flavia, illegal immigration.  Pat Buchanan has a new book out where he compares modern day America to the Roman Empire just before it fell.  Is illegal immigration killing us, a lot of people feel that way, I‘m certainly one of them.  Flavia, tell me why it‘s not changing this country dramatically? 

COLGAN:  Well first of all, I think that the conversation is the wrong one.  I mean republicans always seem to like to have scapegoats.  2002 it was the blacks, 2004 it was gays are ruining America, now it‘s going to be all of our problems are because of illegal immigrants.  Look—

CARLSON:  2002 -- wait, slow down, stop.  You just said 2002 it was “the blacks”? I don‘t even know what that means.  

COLGAN:  Affirmative action. 

CARLSON:  I covered that election and I don‘t know what you are talking about. 

COLGAN:  And we were both on during that election and affirmative action given everything that was going on was taking up far too much time in the talking points memo. 

CARLSON:  Why‘s that, it‘s not scapegoating black people to be opposed to affirmative action, many black people are opposed to it.  I mean what an unfair thing to say.

COLGAN:  No, ok.  Let‘s back up, what I‘m saying, given Iran, North Korea, Iraq and so many other things, I think that a lot of republicans talking about this they realize that Iraq is, for 85 percent of Americans, the most important issue.  60 percent of them want to pull out.  They realize they have to differentiate themselves from the president, so this is why, I think, immigration will be a very problematic issue with republicans. 

CARLSON:  You‘re right.  Ok there are political reasons people are latching on to this issue.  However, objectively it‘s real.  Tens of millions of illegal immigrants are coming to this country changing the demographics of the nation dramatically, more quickly than they‘ve ever been changed ever.  This is really, you can‘t pretend this is just race-bating, it‘s real.  

COLGAN:  I‘m not pretending at all and I think that it‘s a very real issue which is why I  was very disappointed that the comprehensive immigration plan that was put forth before the summer that republicans stalled and it had a bunch of sham hearings all summer which accomplished nothing.  Look, we have to secure our borders.  Since the Bush administration has come in, hold on, since I let you speak Michael for a while.  Since the Bush administration has come in, the acquisitions on the border have been down 41 percent.   We have only had 48 convictions of employers which I think is a number, a very big hammer we could be using.

CARLSON:  That‘s a pretty fair point Michael.  Hold on Flavia, let‘s let Michael respond to that.  Michael, how do you respond to that?  

GRAHAM:  First of all, nobody—it‘s hard to imagine anybody who could be doing a worse job securing our borders than George W. Bush unless it‘s maybe Vicente Fox might be doing a worse job for America.  We had three enforcement actions in the year 2004, three.  We have 12 million illegal immigrants that are working for three very large companies apparently in the George Bush vision.  So I am agreeing completely but I want to ask Flavia, who supports this whack job amnesty proposal that President Bush by the way supports, what happens to the first illegal immigrant who comes into America the day after your amnesty goes into effect Flavia, what happens? 

COLGAN:  Well I think, do you mean the, all the stuff that they‘re saying, do you pay your taxes and if you haven‘t disobeyed the law?

GRAHAM:  What happens to the first illegal immigrant who comes to—

COLGAN:  Is that what you‘re referring to?

GRAHAM:  No I‘m referring to the fact that after you get your amnesty that you want, after we reward all these people for breaking the law, after we reward people for violating—committing identity fraud and tax fraud.  And when you get your amnesty the next day another illegal immigrant will show up and we won‘t deport him either.  The fact is until there is enforcement there is no law.

CARLSON:  I think Flavia that‘s a fair point, that‘s right.  In 1986, 20 years ago, Ronald Reagan attempted virtually the same thing, it passed, it became law, there wasn‘t amnesty and we saw what?  A lot of people predicted a jump in people coming here illegally.  Why wouldn‘t that happen again?  Of course it would.   If you are for this you‘re for illegal immigration.  That‘s the truth. 

COLGAN:  Well what I‘m hoping, and again focusing back is that we can be—spend a lot more money, do a lot better job at securing our borders, cracking down on corporations.  I also think that we need to stop seeding a lot of our diplomatic power, need to get a lot more engaged with Mexico on this issue and try to create more of a partnership.  But I do not think that it‘s practical, I mean look, this is a very complex issue.  Do I think that the immigration policy, the comprehensive plan is one that‘s going to solve everything?  No, but I do not think it‘s practical to deport tons of Americans. 

CARLSON:  A partnership with Mexico, why should we partner with a country that is trying to undermine our national security for its own economic benefit?  I mean we shouldn‘t. 

GRAHAM:  Tucker, we already are. 

CARLSON:  I know we are.  Partnership -- 

GRAHAM:  We have this—

CARLSON:  There‘s too much of partnership going on.  Right, why don‘t we tell them what‘s what? 

GRAHAM:  I agree.  

CARLSON:  Michael I just want to—if we don‘t get to Hillary Clinton I‘m going to overheat from immigration.  Hillary Clinton calms me down.  An amazing statistic for both of you, she has been on the cover of “Time” magazine 11 times.  My question to you Michael, does this help her?  Does this hurt her?  In what is very obviously shaping up to be a campaign for the White House, this publicity?

GRAHAM:  Just let me just say, I hope that the 12th comes up soon, because I want the whole calendar.  And soon I‘ll have the whole Hillary calendar, I‘m very excited about that.  It doesn‘t matter at all.  Hillary is going to do what she wants to do and it‘s up to her.  The nomination is hers if she wants it.  This is meaningless.  She‘ll be on the cover of “Time”, “Newsweek,” “Home and Garden,” “Popular Mechanics,” it doesn‘t matter.  And it doesn‘t matter in 2008 either because Hillary Clinton is not going to be elected president in 2008 under any circumstances, period.  For one obvious reason—the first woman elected president of the United States is not going to be a witch and that‘s just the way it is.   There‘s a certain—America is not ready for it, that‘s it.  And it‘s not fair, it‘s not unfair, it‘s just the way things are.  

CARLSON:  If you want a woman for president, what about Barbara Boxer, what about Diane Feinstein, people who have actually done something for their country, have served in the Senate for infinitely longer than Mrs.  Clinton has.  Who actually have impressive records?  I mean why not them?  I don‘t get that.  Why is that Flavia? If you want a woman for president, why one of the least experienced people in national life, Hillary Clinton? 

COLGAN:  Look, Tucker, I have never supported Hillary Clinton on this program or any other for president.  I think it‘s very south (INAUDIBLE) with all of the points you could make about why not having Hillary, to say she‘s a witch.  I mean absolutely there are other women who I think the country will --.  But one point I won‘t to bring up “Time”, I think it‘s absurd that she‘s been on the cover 11times.  I think it‘s absurd she‘s on the cover this month where 35 words are dedicated to the federal court opinion basically saying that the wireless tapping stuff was unconstitutional.   I think this is ridiculous for her to be getting so much hype and I don‘t as a democrat support her or think that she is a great candidate for us, because I don‘t think she can win.  

CARLSON:  What about your liberal friends, what about friends you know who are involved in politics who are liberals?  Most liberals I know don‘t seem to support her, what‘s your experience?

COLGAN:  No, my experience is that a lot of liberals have been very upset with her, not only that they don‘t feel that she hasn‘t taken on a lot of the big issues and instead of focus on you know flag-burning bills, but that she always has tried to have it both ways and hasn‘t had a very strong position on Iraq, wasn‘t on the right thing on the bankruptcy bill.  But yet no one‘s going to trust her as a conservative because they still remember and those coke-bottle glasses.  Look, the point of the matter is, that it‘s not about her being a witch or whatever, I just do not think as a democrat that she can really win anything south of Arlington, Virginia.  And as someone who worked for a governor, I think that someone like Warner, I think that there are so many possibilities in the Democratic Party.  And given the state of the Republican Party, as Chuck Hagel would say, going in the right direction, I think we got to have a strong candidate to beat them. 

CARLSON:  If that‘s true, if what Flavia is saying is true, then wouldn‘t republicans be praying for a Hillary candidacy and are they?  I mean sweep aside all the B.S., like what do they really want do you think?

GRAHAM:  I pray every night that Hillary Clinton is a nominee.  The only republican who could lose to her is Newt Gingrich.  But then again knowing where my Republican Party is right now, they‘re probably going to nominate Newt Gingrich, so who knows.  But I wan to say something about where liberals are.  One of the advantages of doing talk radio in Boston is I get to talk to people on the street, not you know pundit types and editorial writers.  But just rank and file voting, activist liberals.  They love Hillary.  They pine for Hillary.  It‘s beyond reason.  Do not—you point out that she will not carry as many states as John Kerry, they don‘t care, they just want her.  And people find a way usually to legitimize what they want.  And so it‘s up to her, if she‘s smart she‘ll stay out.  If she‘s smart, she‘ll look at 2012. 

CARLSON:  Nobody can, nobody can ever resist running for president.  I

mean it‘s just it -

GRAHAM:  But if president—you‘re probably right.

CARLSON:  Thank you both, I appreciate it.  

GRAHAM:  She‘s tough though.  

CARLSON:  Yeah she is, but she‘s an addict like they all are.  Joe Lieberman calls for Donald Rumsfeld‘s resignation because things aren‘t going well in Iraq he says.  But wait, doesn‘t Joe Lieberman support the war in Iraq? We‘ll try to get his story straight next.  Plus, we just did two segments on the JonBenet Ramsey murder case.  But I still don‘t get why people are interested as they are.  Maybe someone can explain it to me when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Hey kids, the circus is in town.  And the ringmaster of this media hyped freak show is self-professed child killer John Mark Karr.  We haven‘t seen this much airport arrival buzz since The Beatles first came to America in 1964.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He doesn‘t like all these cameras and stuff. 

But he did spend a good half hour primping himself prior to landing. 

CARLSON:  And if this sad spectacle demonstrates nothing else, it is perhaps that the media don‘t have a monopoly on morbid curiosity, as proven by Boulder, Colorado‘s newest tourist attraction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Out of curiosity we just thought we would look up the home.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Look, I know that this is the most intensely followed story in America right now, but here‘s what I don‘t understand.  This is a murder case that is 10 years old.  The man at the center of this new incarnation of this story is a guy all of us, certainly every single one of us here in the press, believes is a nut case, who probably didn‘t do it and is claiming he did simply to get attention.  And yet we are taking it very, very seriously.  I don‘t get it.  But you know what, we‘re going to continue to cover it in the hopes that maybe some day I will get it.  So look forward to more stories on that subject tomorrow.

Now to a story I really don‘t get, “Snakes on a Plane”. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Look what slithered into movie theatres over the weekend, after months of internet chatter “Snakes on a Plane” opened as box office champ.  For a film that‘s not a sequel or based on a comic book super hero, snakes had some surprising bite behind its prescreen publicity.  

SAMUEL L. JACKSON:  Enough is enough.  I have had it with these [beep] snakes on this [beep] plane. 

CARLSON:  But beyond this weekend, moviegoers may have had enough, too.  After all a relatively (INAUDIBLE) $15 million debut is nothing to scream about in Hollywood.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t get it.  I don‘t get it.  

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Here‘s what I don‘t get.  I haven‘t seen the movie and I probably won‘t find time to see it.   I‘m not even attacking the movie.  But for us to act shocked when its opening weekend doesn‘t meet expectations, when we know, we being those of us who work in this business, the hype behind this movie.  We know that different websites have been, let‘s be honest, probably paid by the studio to promote this movie.  And yet the public doesn‘t turn out to see it? Of course not because it‘s all phony.  The hype.  That‘s all it is, hype.  Why don‘t we just say so, I wish we‘d be more honest about that.

Now to a man I just don‘t get, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.  His support for President Bush on the Iraq war probably cost him the democratic primary in that state.  Now it sounds like he is changing his tune.  Listen.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, (D) CONNECTICUT:  Things have gone so badly after Saddam was overthrown. 

CARLSON:  Once a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman now concedes there are some major problems with the pentagon‘s top brass.  

LIEBERMAN:  With all respect for Don Rumsfeld, we would benefit from new leadership to work with our military in Iraq.  

CARLSON:  Lieberman‘s march to a different drumbeat comes at a time when he‘s fighting for re-election but he insists politics have nothing to do with his call for a change in military strategy.  

LIEBERMAN:  The sooner that the Iraqis can take over control of their own destiny, the better it will be for them and for us. 

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  So here‘s the story.  Joe Lieberman has supported a bad war for dumb reasons in the most self righteous, possible way for more than three years.  Now, you can look at him and say I disagree with you, but up until this point you can at least say I respect you for sticking to your beliefs.  Now, he loses this primary and all of a sudden guess who is the great trench and critic of the war in Iraq?  Oh, it‘s Joe Lieberman.  The point is you can‘t be both a man who bends with the wind and a man of principle.  Pick one, Joe, it‘s too late.  Stick with the man of principle.  It‘s all you had.   But why is a 6‘8” man playing baseball with a bunch of little leaguers.   We‘ll tell you how he qualified for the team when we come right back.    

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time to put all that serious news about death and politics and JonBenet Ramsey behind us for a moment and turn now to the man who serves as a ray of light in an otherwise dark and forbidding world.   He‘s Willie Geist, he joins us now. 

WILLIE GEIST:  Tucker, kind and insincere words.  I appreciate them so much.  Of all the developments, Tucker, in the JonBenet Ramsey case, there may be none more shocking than suspect John Mark Karr‘s hair in this home video released today.  The footage shows Karr singing at a friend‘s wedding in1987 and then just hanging out being creepy in 1992.   This tape proves that if nothing else, Karr is at least guilty of having one of the worst mullets I‘ve ever seen.   And that‘s saying something, Tucker.  I grew up in New Jersey in the 1980‘s, so I know bad mullets.  We call that one a business party.  It‘s business in the front and a party in the back all the time.  

CARLSON:  Is it any wonder this man is reportedly seeking sex reassignment surgery.  I mean he just gave up, you know he couldn‘t make it as a man, that‘s pretty obviously. 

GEIST:  Exactly.  But he does not touch the gold standard of mullets, Mr. Billy Ray Cyrus, there he is my dear friend.  And also we wanted a little window into what you might look like with a mullet.  Not bad, actually.

CARLSON:  So good I like it actually.

GEIST:  No, you should work that look.  Well speaking of creeps, Tucker, there are many people who say Kevin Federline is a talentless backup dancer who hit the lottery when he married Britney Spears.  Well I wonder if this performance on the “Teen Choice Awards” last night changed their minds.  I doubt it.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRITNEY SPEARS:  Please give a warm welcome to my man, Kevin Federline.  

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Well, that‘s not very good, Tucker.  Obviously, the easy thing to do here is to mock, but you can go back and look at the transcripts.  You and I have been pro-Federline from day one because just to recap, five years ago, he was wearing a wife beater living in his basement.  Now he‘s married to Britney Spears, a millionaire performing on national television, so.  

CARLSON:  As someone who is right now in the depths of dance training, I can tell you those moves are harder than they look.  

GEIST:  Tucker one more item, I know you have been following the little league world series closely again this year because of the big money you have laid with your offshore bookie.  But for those of you who haven‘t been watching, we want to introduce you to Aaron Durley.  He‘s a 13 year old little leaguer who‘s 6 feet 8, 256 pounds.  He plays for the Arabian American team, whatever that is.  Durley wears size 19 shoes.  Let me just make the obvious point Tucker, let‘s get that kid on a basketball court, baseball is probably not his game.  And as a Knicks fan, I‘d like to know what he‘s doing this winter.

CARLSON:  But also maybe this is legal, but it‘s like picking your nose in public.  Just because you can doesn‘t mean you should.  You know what I mean?

GEIST:  I kind of, not really, we‘ll talk after the show.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist, that‘s all we‘ve got for tonight.  Thanks for watching, up next “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews, see you tomorrow.

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

END   

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