updated 8/28/2006 12:33:48 PM ET 2006-08-28T16:33:48

Guests: Oliver Thomas, Jenny Backus, Terry Holt, Pierre Rehov

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Thanks and welcome to the show, coming to you from Atlanta, Georgia.

First up, Mayor Ray Nagin attacks New York.  The man who famously said New Orleans should be a “chocolate city” has embarrassed his hometown again.

Here‘s what he said to Byron Pitts of CBS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR RAY NAGIN (D), NEW ORLEANS:  You guys in New York City can‘t get a hole in the ground fixed.  And it‘s five years later.  So let‘s be fair. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Well, if you think Nagin apologized for those words, think again. 

Here‘s what he said earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAGIN:  I‘m a very direct person.  You guys know that.  If you ask me a question, I‘m going to answer it as best—I appreciate it.  Now, you may not like some of the words I use, but for the most part nobody has disputed, you know, the content of what I‘ve been trying to say. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Here with the latest on the controversy, NBC‘s Ron Mott standing by in New Orleans.

Ron, what is the latest? 

RON MOTT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hi there, Tucker.  Good day to you.

Well, a lot of people are shaking their heads in wonderment this afternoon about those comments.  One of those people is the mayor himself, the person who made those comments. 

He says he doesn‘t understand what the big deal is here.  He says please keep in mind that it‘s only been 12 months since Hurricane Katrina devastated this city and there is much, much work to do, but he would also contend that much has been done. 

Now, earlier this morning, the governor of the state of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, apparently got up and got on her computer and got a statement out that seemed to be aimed at distancing herself from those comments.  She wrote—she did not mention the mayor by name, I should point out, but here‘s a little bit of what she wrote in this statement:

“New Yorkers knew firsthand the devastation felt by the people of Louisiana during those unforgettable days of rescue following Katrina.  Just as the people of Louisiana quickly moved to help with recovery from 9/11, the people of New York returned the favor in ways we will remember forever.”

And again, as I say, the governor did not mention Mayor Nagin‘s comments directly, but it does appear that the timing of this statement this morning was aimed at trying to refute some of that sentiment that is expected to air this weekend on the “60 Minutes” program. 

Now, we should also mention that this is not the first time Mayor Nagin has run into controversy head on.  Back in January, on the Martin Luther King Jr.‘s holiday, a day of racial conciliation and racial unity, this is what the mayor had to say back then. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAGIN:  And I don‘t care what people are saying uptown or wherever they are.  This city will be chocolate at the end of the day. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOTT:  All right.  Now, we should also point out that the mayor apologized for making those remarks, apologized to anyone who was offended. 

Now, perhaps his CBS comments were in direct contrast to the statements—or, I should say, the statistics that he is defending.  He believes there has been much recovery here in New Orleans that seems to get buried when you hear statements like that.  Some of the things—two of the things he pointed out this morning, 75 percent of the pre-Katrina sales tax revenue collection is back here in New Orleans, and employment levels, 70 percent of pre-Katrina levels—Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Ron Mott in New Orleans.

Thanks a lot, Ron. 

Well, Mayor Ray Nagin, of course, is no stranger to controversy, but my next guest says, “Right now our political leader, our political father is Ray Nagin.  So for the next four years we‘re going to sink or swim with him.” 

Oliver Thomas is the city council president and he joins us from New Orleans. 

Mr. Thomas, thanks for coming on. 

OLIVER THOMAS NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT:  Hey, Tucker.  How are you doing, man? 

CARLSON:  I‘m great. 

And I‘m—I think you are one of the most reasonable people in city government in New Orleans and I‘m glad to talk to you... 

THOMAS:  Well, thank you. 

CARLSON:  ... because I‘m confused once again by how you wound up with a mayor like this.  This is a pretty over-the-top thing to say, it seems to me.  I mean, considering that 9/11 was a terror attack and this was a national disaster that he mismanaged, how dare he? 

THOMAS:  And the people of New York have been more wonderful to us than just about anybody around the world.  I‘m just glad he didn‘t say he wanted to fill up the hole in Manhattan with a bunch of chocolate.  So at least—at least he didn‘t go that far. 

Look, Tucker, you guys know the mayor, we know the mayor.  So, you know, look, he speaks on the run, and most of his stuff isn‘t scripted.  And I‘m sure he‘ll apologize for that remark at some point.

But, you know, understand that for the rest of us, New York is my second favorite city behind New Orleans.  And New Yorkers are my second favorite people behind New Orleanians.  If I have to apologize for him, I will. 

CARLSON:  But Mr. Thomas, I mean, really, you are an ambassador for your city, a great diplomat, but I have to get you on the specifics here.  You said, “Given an opportunity to apologize, he will.”  He was given an opportunity, he didn‘t. 

I mean, don‘t you think comments like this hurts your city?  Your city needs all the help it can get.  It still does.  And don‘t you think it alienates New Orleans?

THOMAS:  Yes.  Yes.  Well, it really does.  And hopefully people will forgive him again. 

You know, we‘re planning a trip to New York to talk about investment opportunities.  And we‘ll probably be up there in the next couple of weeks.  And that‘s not going to go well with a lot of the investors and New Yorkers who are looking at our city to help us with our recovery. 

So it‘s fortunate that it happened.  It happened.  But also, Tucker, you know, look, you‘ve been an ambassador for us, too. 

You know, a lot of people here who are not saying the wrong things, a lot of the wrong—and not doing a lot of the wrong things, we can‘t allow them to suffer.  So, you know, look, forgive the mayor.  As council president, I apologize for him.  We need New York and New Yorkers and everybody else around the world if we‘re going to be successful. 

CARLSON:  Well, he made this comment, of course, in response to Byron Pitts‘ pointing out that there is still a lot of devastation in the city of New Orleans.  There are still parts of the city that look like Dresden after the Second World War. 

And the question is, why?  I mean, for instance, Ground Zero, the hole in the ground he referred to...

THOMAS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  ... that was cleaned up in eight months and 19 days, that was cleaned. 

THOMAS:  Correct.  That‘s right.

CARLSON:  Why isn‘t the devastated part of New Orleans more clean than it has been? 

THOMAS:  Well, let me say it should have been, but there are a whole

lot of things that—and I‘m not really blaming anybody, but, look, this -

80 percent of our city was underwater, 188 structures or housing units were completely damaged or severely destroyed. 

Should more have been done?  Yes.  What the mayor probably should have said was he should have talked about some of the good things that were going on instead of using New York as an example of what he thought was not -- it wasn‘t a fair example.  And I‘m sure he didn‘t mean it—well, hopefully he didn‘t mean it like it came out, but he should have highlighted some of our—some of our successes, not blame New York or talk about what‘s not happening in New York. 

Look, I would hope that moving forward, as we get some of the resources for the role at home, you‘ll even see the recovery go a lot quicker. 

CARLSON:  One of the things you and I have talked about before is the response of your police department to Hurricane Katrina...

THOMAS:  Yes.  Oh, yes.  Yes.

CARLSON:  ... the looting of Wal-Mart by some of your police officers. 

THOMAS:  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

CARLSON:  You said at the time you were appalled by their conduct. 

Do you think the police department has been remade?  Is it a good police department now? 

THOMAS:  Well, they are working on that right now.  The police foundation, a lot of our criminal justice system, there is currently a meeting and studies that are going on right now to improve that system. 

And the police chief, the mayor, most about everybody in the criminal justice system is involved in trying to make sure we have a better-manned, more efficient ad more productive police force.  The citizens of our city are owed that moving forward.  So hopefully in the next few months you‘ll see a lot of those things happening. 

CARLSON:  How much—a year later, how much federal money has the city of New Orleans received at this point? 

THOMAS:  We have a $120 million loan that we hope should have been forgiven.  That‘s been forgiven other places.  We have $150 million bank loan. 

Other than reimbursement funds, we have—and Tucker, let me say this: I was in D.C. at the Press Club the other day and talked to a lot of international press.  If the federal government really wanted to help us quickly—and I‘m not—because the president has been great, he really has.  And people shouldn‘t really be beating up on him. 

I would have loved to see Congress increase our allocation in home funds, affordable housing funds, health care, transportation funds.  All cities qualify under federal formulas.  If they wanted to help us in affordable housing, they could have increased our funding in that area without us going through a special appropriation, or advanced our ‘08 --

‘07 and ‘08 funds or ‘06 -- 0r ‘08 and ‘09 funds to ‘07 so that we could have more funds to do things like affordable housing and cleanup. 

So hopefully they‘ll reconsider and we‘ll start getting more money to the city to help with recover, because as of—as of to date we haven‘t gotten that much directly to the city. 

CARLSON:  Well, I have to say...

THOMAS:  Contractors—contractors have made a lot of money. 

CARLSON:  ... if I were you—look, I am totally sympathetic to New Orleans, as is every person who has spent a lot of time in your great city...

THOMAS:  Yes.  Yes.

CARLSON:  ... but I can just tell you what you already know, which is your mayor alienates people who like your city, members of Congress who want to help you.  I would march down to his office and tell him to be quiet for the next four years.  I think that‘s the best thing you can do.

THOMAS:  Well, I did some of that this morning.  We were kind of—and I‘ve tried to make him promise not to say some things.  But we don‘t—we cannot afford to continue to alienate the rest of this country and the rest of the world. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

THOMAS:  You know, I had—I had a lunch with Speaker Gingrich maybe about a month or so ago.  And he was really right on target.  He said that one of the things we‘ve really got to start doing is using some of our examples here to talk about a lot of the good things, make sure that the city is doing what it needs to do to be responsible, stop alienating the rest of the country...

CARLSON:  Amen.

THOMAS:  ... and really highlight a lot of our strengths right now.  So I think you have been right.  And I think he‘s right.  And I think we all need to come together and start doing that. 

CARLSON:  All right.

Oliver Thomas, head of the city council of the city of New Orleans.

Mr. Thomas, thanks for coming on. 

THOMAS:  All right, Tucker.  Thank you, man. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, a majority of Americans call the war in Iraq a mistake, and yet two top generals there say things aren‘t as bad as they seem to be.  What do they know that we don‘t know? 

And “The New York Times” takes on the Duke rape case.  Some say the newspaper is doing the prosecution‘s job.  If you read the story this morning, you probably agree.

Details on that when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Now to the latest in the Duke rape hoax. 

“The New York Times” entered the fray this morning with an extensive report.  The writers say they examined 1,850 pages of evidence gathered by prosecutor Mike Nifong‘s team, and here‘s their conclusion.  “It shows that while there are big weaknesses in Mr. Nifong‘s case, there is also a body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury.”

Well, joining me now to explain, a man who has read all the documents in question, NBC News chief legal corespondent, Dan Abrams, who also happens to be the general manager here at MSNBC. 

Dan, welcome.  What did you think of this piece?

DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC GENERAL MANAGER:  I thought it was shameful.  I thought it was basically an editorial on the front page of what is supposed to be the news division of the newspaper. 

This is a statement by them that, while on the one hand there are weaknesses, on the other hand, the prosecution has a case.  It totally glossed over the major weaknesses in this case and the inconsistencies in her story. 

I mean, I haven‘t seen all 1,850 pages.  I‘ve seen the first 1,300 pages, which were all the documents that existed when Mike Nifong decided to indict.  And he doesn‘t have nearly enough to move forward with a case. 

And I think to just say “on the one hand, on the other hand,” is shirking their journalistic duty here. 

CARLSON:  Well, walk us through, if you would, the highlights of what you think are the weaknesses in this case. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.

So, the accuser gave a written statement to the police.  And they say, well, her statement became consistent once she got over the initial shock of it. 

Not true.  April 6th, weeks after the incident, she says about what happened, “They separated us,” meaning her and the other stripper, “at the master bedroom door, while we tried to hold on to each other.”

Problem with that?  It‘s totally inconsistent with the statement of the other stripper, who says, I didn‘t see her for about five minutes.  Apart from that, I was with her all other times and I didn‘t see anything happen.

Second problem, the accuser statement to the sexual assault nurse. 

She talks about one of the names she says of one of the guys.  “Brett was

carrying me on one side and Nikki” --  meaning the second stripper—“on

the other side.  I kept telling them, No.‘”

So, to the sexual assault nurse she‘s saying the second stripper was literally helping to push me back into the house.  And yet, to the—in her written statement, she‘s claiming, we were trying to hold on to each other as they tried to force me into the bathroom. 

Finally, in the second stripper‘s statement, she says, “... (the accuser) told me we should go back to the house because there was more money to be made,” meaning the second stripper is saying she‘s the one who wanted to go back in. 

So, for them—for “The New York Times” to suggest, yes, there are some inconsistencies here, but the accuser‘s statement became consistent according to the lead investigator, is to basically throw up their arms and say, you know what?  It doesn‘t really matter what the actual participants said.  We‘re going to rely on the summaries from the lead investigator who filed this document much after the fact. 

I think that they did really a horrible job here. 

CARLSON:  So, basically, you have a case in which there is no DNA evidence, no physical—no real physical evidence that I can tell.  Everybody who was on the scene except the accuser has a different version of what she claims happened. 

ABRAMS:  And she has a different version, depending what—at what point you were asking her. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Right. 

So, I mean, this case amounts to what exactly?  What is the reason Nifong indicted? 

ABRAMS:  Well, I don‘t know.  I mean, I think—well, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he believed and believes her account.  But that doesn‘t justify him moving forward. 

And with regard to today‘s story, it certainly doesn‘t justify “The New York Times” coming forward and making it sound like it‘s an “on the one hand, on the other hand” news piece when, in my view, this was clearly an editorial on their part.  It is—look, I‘m giving my opinion about this.  You give your opinion about it.  We admit, it‘s our opinion.  This is my analysis of the facts in this case. 

For “The New York Times” to come forward on the front page and claim it‘s just an objective assessment of the 1,850 pages, either they didn‘t read them or they got snookered.

CARLSON:  Right.  Or they don‘t understand what they read. 

ABRAMS:  Well, that‘s possible, as well.  Again, I‘m giving them the benefit of the doubt as well. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  So am I.  Stupidity is actually the nicest explanation at this point. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Now, they raised the question of a man named Gottlieb (ph)...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  ... who they say provided to Nifong an account of the case that fills in the blanks, essentially.  In those 1,300-odd pages that you‘re referring to that first came to light...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  ... the defense said, look, there are all these holes in the case.  Then this character Gottlieb (ph) shows up with—I believe he‘s a police investigator...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  ... with 30 pages of things that he remembered after the fact that fill in the holes. 

What do you make of that? 

ABRAMS:  Well, he‘s one of the lead investigator.  Even if you take him at face value, that doesn‘t—that doesn‘t deal with the problems that exist with the actual participants‘ statements. 

You can say, well, yes, Gottlieb (ph) says that he interviewed this person and the sexual assault nurse said that there seemed to be trauma, et cetera.  That‘s fine.  And that‘s not irrelevant.  But it ignores the actual statement of the sexual assault nurse, who quoted the accuser talking about what happened to her. 

And that account, in and of itself, is totally inconsistent with the accuser‘s own account that she gave in a written statement later on.  So, whatever Gottlieb (ph) said or didn‘t say, or whether he was doing it to fill in the holes or he was doing it to help make the case here, it almost doesn‘t matter.  But as a journalistic matter, I don‘t understand why they would be relying on that, as opposed to the actual statements from the participants. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t understand at all.  But I was...

ABRAMS:  This one gets me, Tucker.  This is one of those days when I‘m sorry I still don‘t have a show. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Thanks for coming on this one, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Tucker.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Dan Abrams. 

Thanks, Dan. 

Still to come, could a fifth year of high school cut the cost of a college education?  One prominent politician thinks so.  That story is ahead.

And we never thought we would see the day, but there is a line Nancy Grace won‘t cross.  We‘ve got it on tape.  It‘s coming up on “Beat the Press”. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “Beat the Press”.

If you were to take a poll of the 50 least sympathetic figures in world history, most people would likely put Ann Coulter near or at the top of that list.  But what happened on last night‘s “Hannity and Colmes” on the FOX News channel might make you feel bad even for Ann Coulter. 

Take a look at this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR:  I know you are trying to imitate Alan Colmes, but at some point he does let me answer. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  OK.  Let‘s go—Michael, why don‘t we talk about the things that the Democrats actually are doing here... 

COULTER:  OK.  Well, goodnight.  It was nice being here. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... about the fact that all of the—the Republicans have voted against, all the things the Democrats have brought up, like increasing funding for border security, increasing funding for border security?

COULTER:  I think I‘m going to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... increasing funding for—for port security, increasing funding for airline security? 

I mean, isn‘t that true, Michael? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Real homeland security starts at home.

COULTER:  I mean, we‘re gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Wow.  That just—she just prattles on, ignoring Ann Coulter.  Bad manners. 

I must say, I rarely felt bad for Ann Coulter, but I did by the end of that.  I guess the lesson is, even if everyone despises you, even if you are the most loathe person in western civilization, you still, you know, deserve politeness, in my view.

Next up, Nancy Grace.  As we point out repeatedly on this show, Grace is a woman almost entirely without boundaries of any kind.  There is virtually nothing creepy or weird or repulsive Nancy Grace won‘t gleefully repeat on the air. 

Some days she puts on a nonstop hour of violence porn.  And yet, it turns out Nancy Grace does have at least one limit.  There is one line she won‘t cross. 

Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There‘s a number of things that point to an intruder.  You have an open window, you have a suitcase at the base of that window with glass on top of it.  These are all obvious signs that an intruder entered this home. 

NANCY GRACE, HOST, “NANCY GRACE”:  Those are crime scene photos taken in the home of the JonBenet Ramsey.  The other photos we did not deem appropriate to air. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  So there you have it, Nancy Grace.  She will talk about the private parts of a dead 6-year-old murdered victim, she will show you the hair torn from the 6-year-old murdered victim, she will describe the death, the murder of that 6-year-old in loving detail night after night, staring into the camera, and yet she won‘t show you the actual dead body, the corpse of the 6-year-old girl.  That is the one thing Nancy Grace, or, more likely, her producers won‘t do. 

Good for Nancy Grace.  She does have standards.  At least one, anyway.

Well, how would you like to help us “Beat the Press”?  Give us a call and tell us what you‘ve seen.

The number here, 1-877-BTP-5876.  Operators standing by.

Still to come, is Hillary Clinton ducking a debate with her Senate challenger?  And is that a pretty smart move, after all?  Maybe Hillary Clinton wouldn‘t do so well in a debate. 

Also ahead, more on Ray Nagin‘s backhanded swipe at New York City. 

The latest on that story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Still to come, who‘d be in favor of admitting kids to schools based on race?  Some school districts are doing just that and parents are rightly offended.  Also ahead, the latest outrage from New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. We‘ll get to 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 market wrap from CNBC.  It was a lackluster day on Wall Street, checking the final numbers.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 20 points today, the S&P 500 down just short of a point.  The NASDAQ in the green, up just by three points.  A federal judge stopping Northwest Airlines flight attendants from going on strike.  The flight attendants want a better contract.  Northwest is the nation‘s fifth largest carrier.  The judge saying today that he needs more time to examine the case.  Coca-Cola is being sued as part of an effort to make it eliminate ingredients that can create benzene.  Benzene is a cancer causing substance that forms in some drinks after they are exposed to heat or light.  Coke says the lawsuit is about money not consumer safety.  And Toyota is saying it may delay production of some types of cars.  The company president says he wants to put extra focus on quality control.  That‘s your market wrap, now back to Tucker.

CARLSON:  Time now for three on three, where we welcome two of the sharpest people we know to discuss three of today‘s most interesting stories.  Let‘s get right to it.  Joining us from Washington, Democratic strategist Jenny Backus and Terry Holt, republican strategist and former National Republican Committee Senior Adviser.  Welcome to your both.

TERRY HOLT:  Hey Tucker.  

JENNY BACKUS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Hey Tucker.

CARLSON:  Hey, first up.

HOLT:  Bring it on.  

CARLSON:  Bring it on, all right.  The latest outrage from Ray Nagin, (INAUDIBLE) bipartisan agreement on this.  But as you both know the New Orleans mayor responded to a question about post Katrina reconstruction saying quote, “you guys in New York can‘t get a hole in the ground fixed and its five years later, so let‘s be fair.”  Fair, he‘s my question to you Jenny, the narrative on the democratic side is George W. Bush, if it‘s not responsible for Katrina and some democrats have implied that he is, because he won‘t sign the Kyoto Treaty.  But even if he isn‘t, he‘s essentially responsible for the destruction of the Gulf Coast and particularly of New Orleans.  Does it make it harder to argue that when you have a lunatic in office like Ray Nagin who is clearly incompetent?

BACKUS:  First of all I disagree with Ray Nagin‘s incompetent.  Ray Nagin is doing what he does best, which is getting you guys a little excited and putting some interest on a problem that‘s really bad.  Have you been to New Orleans lately Tucker?  It‘s disgusting.

CARLSON:  Yeah I know.

BACKUS:  There‘s cars, there‘s buildings that aren‘t rebuilt.  There‘s $100 billion of federal funding that hasn‘t shown up and the federal government just hasn‘t done what they need to do to rebuild the city.  

CARLSON:  Wait, wait, wait a second.  If that‘s true, and I‘m willing to believe the federal government has screwed it up, because they screwed it up at the very beginning, I‘m not defending the federal government here.  But I‘m merely asking this question, if that is true, then why Jefferson, St. Bernard, all the parishes right around New Orleans, they don‘t have rotting garbage in the streets.  Why does New Orleans have it, why not the other parishes? 

BACKUS:  Well I think first of all, the other parishes are still struggling with a lot of the rebuilding issues and second of all, they‘re smaller.  New Orleans got hit in a much larger scale.  There‘s huge neighborhoods that have been decimated and there hasn‘t been enough people back in the city.  I mean you walk through the city you know, all of us have had a good time in New Orleans, but you walk through the city now, it‘s like walking through a ghost town now.  They don‘t have the bodies, they don‘t have waiters in the restaurants, they don‘t have enough people manning the streets. 

CARLSON:  Why is it Terry that republicans sit back and allow as they so often do, their opponents to paint this story, the story of Katrina as a Bush-related disaster?  They don‘t have the juevos to point out that in fact the city of New Orleans fell down too.  Why don‘t they say that?

HOLT:  Well in fact, you know, Mayor Nagin is a faux pas factory.  I mean this guy, they have to defend the fact that the city council chairman had to go on TV and apologize for him.  The fact of the matter is, I mean it used to be that in politics New Orleans and Louisiana as a state was so corrupt and so foul and so bad, we used to call it the Beirut of American politics.  And it hasn‘t changed.  There‘s corruption problems and I think, it doesn‘t do any good to point the finger at how mismanaged a city it is.  I think republicans and the president have focused on how we rebuild it, how we get it fixed.   How we bring it back.  

BACKUS:  What is his definition of --  

HOLT:  Can you imagine that this guy, the ambassador for this besieged city, picks on the World Trade Center bombings, the largest terrorist attack, the largest loss of American life? I mean he‘s got to raise money and he‘s completely falling down on the job, he‘s an idiot. 

CARLSON:  See there you go pointing fingers.  But let me congratulate you for doing that.  This is the time to point fingers, it‘s always the time to point fingers because without pointing fingers, nothing gets better, speaking of rebuilding.  That‘s why I was for it after 9/11, in Iraq.  And let‘s talk about Iraq.  There‘s a strange report out of their today, General John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander there of course in the Middle East, he said yesterday quote, “I think there‘s been great progress in the security front here recently in Baghdad.”  Is he spinning?  Is the tide about to turn in Iraq?  What do we make of this Jenny Backus?  I mean this is not what the president seems to be saying, not what democrats are saying, but this guy knows what he‘s talking about.  So what‘s the answer?

BACKUS:  Well on your fine NBC Nightly News last night I saw this report they teased it out, the number of deaths per day has gone from 24 to 21.  I mean, this is all relative, it‘s much, much worse in Iraq than it was three months ago, than it was last year.  And we are not being honest about the fact that our troops are caught in the middle of a civil war.  And even in the reports after Abizaid says that, I mean they‘re not willing to knock down these Shia militias that are going through the streets.  We have to be truthful.  And I think the president was really wrong this week.  

CARLSON:  What do you mean truthful, do you think Abizaid is lying, do you think General Abizaid‘s lying? 

BACKUS:  I think he‘s talking about the minute report from week to week and not looking at the long-term picture, which has been the administration‘s problem all along.  The president was way wrong.  He said what could be worse if we take our troops out it would be worse.  Why would it be worse to stop reducing the number of American deaths that are involved in Baghdad?  Redeploying troops that have been over there for two years to go to Baghdad for another year to get caught in the middle of a civil war.  I don‘t see how that‘s better, I would rather save American lives than put more American lives at risk.  

CARLSON:  It‘s obviously better for American troops because they won‘t be getting killed, whether it‘s good for America and its place in the world is an entirely separate question.  But I mean, tell me Terry, why is that General Abizaid sounds a lot more hopeful about Iraq than the president himself?  In last press conference earlier this week, he didn‘t sound like he was very hopeful about Iraq at all.  He wasn‘t promising improvements.  

HOLT:  No and I think there has been a fairly steady march toward a much more realistic and dour perception of what‘s happening in Iraq, with every public official across the board.  I‘m not sure that I‘d want to be a democrat though, I mean hoping that things go bad in order for things to go well for your party, that‘s not good.  

BACKUS:  That‘s not fair or true, Terry. 

HOLT:  It is Jenny, from the very beginning your party has hoped for disaster on the international state for this president, so that you could get your candidates elected. 

BACKUS:  That is just—I mean you‘re going against your president who says that republicans shouldn‘t make things positive.  

CARLSON:  Wait, one at a time here.  

BACKUS:  Here‘s the problem Terry.  We have come up with solutions, we‘ve raised questions, we‘ve put legislation forth in congress to get more equipment to the troops, to raise questions about oversight, like why Halliburton hasn‘t rebuilt Iraq yet. 

CARLSON:  Let me interject here.  Jennie are you looking me straight in the camera I guess and telling me that whining about Halliburton is a solution?  Here‘s the question, the question is this.

BACKUS:  Tucker.  All right, bring it on. 

CARLSON:  Does the United States have a role to play in rebuilding the Middle East? Does the United States have a moral obligation to help people countries that are not democratic?  Those are the questions, ok.  Democrats have been silent on both of those.

BACKUS:  We haven‘t been stalling on them, we absolutely have a moral responsibility to rebuild Iraq, we helped destroy it.  And that‘s why you have to have oversight of Halliburton who has these huge contracts and they‘re not doing --  

CARLSON:  So basically you‘re taking the same position as President Bush, you‘re just arguing about the details. 

BACKUS:  No, I‘m not.

CARLSON:  Yes you are.

BACKUS:  Because President Bush is in charge, he‘s in charge and he hasn‘t done anything about it.  That‘s why we need a change in 2006.  We need to start doing something about fixing Iraq. 

HOLT:  The American people only have one thing on their mind, and that is that this country and that their children going to school be more safe and secure.  And so sometimes that means going to war and making sacrifices on the international stage, but you have to have a coherent internationally national security policy, one that pushes terrorism out of this country and into their country.  We need to be on offense and that hasn‘t changed. 

BACKUS:  Can you explain to me how Iraq makes us safer.   

HOLT:  Even if we don‘t feel good about what‘s happening in Iraq, it‘s far better that we fight terrorism in Iraq than we do here.

BACKUS:  We‘re not fighting terrorism.

CARLSON:  Jenny, may I just say one thing.  The thing that confuses me I think more than anything about Iraq is how there are democrats, prominent, very prominent democrats who are far more hawkish on Iraq than I am.  Chief among them, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who by the way this week wisely ignored her challenger in next month‘s New York democratic primary, John (INAUDIBLE), the guy she‘s running against.  He‘d like to debate her.  She‘s not going to debate him on the Iraq war.  She does not want to talk about Iraq with an opponent of the war in Iraq.  My question to you Jenny, this is a serious one.  I think Hillary Clinton is a clever person, but she has never held herself up or allowed herself to be cross-examined in the press the way most politicians at her level have.  Can she run for president without giving long interviews with no ground rules?  I‘m not sure she can.  

BACKUS:  Two words to you on Hillary Clinton and debating, Rick Lazio(ph).  Hillary Clinton can take on and debate anybody she wants.  She‘s extremely smart.  She‘s one of the smartest people you‘ve ever seen out there and she can explain her positions on the war.  

CARLSON:  She‘s not one of the smartest people I‘ve seen out there.  I like Hillary Clinton, I think she‘s not stupid, but she‘s not that smart actually.  I mean let‘s be real here, you know that she‘s not as smart as Barbara Boxer, she knows she‘s not as smart as many democrats in the congress and in the senate.  I mean you‘re going to tell me she‘s as smart as Joe Biden?  You know that‘s not true.

BACKUS:  I actually disagree with you.  So it‘s a healthy disagreement.

CARLSON:  Are you being serious?

BACKUS:  Yeah I think Hillary Clinton is extremely smart.  Have you ever watched her in the senate? 

CARLSON:  Yes I have. 

BACKUS:  She has a fantastic grasp of the issues.  She can boil stuff down.  She has a wide-ranging curiosity.  I think you‘re wrong.  

CARLSON:  It just seems to me and maybe you have noticed this too, Terry. Maybe this plays into republicans‘ plans for the 2008 election when I think we all believe she‘s going to run.  There hasn‘t been many moments where Hillary Clinton has sat down, say like John McCain for instance or even John Kerry in the last election.  Those guys sat down with the press for hours upon hours upon hours and answered any question.  You kind of have to do that.  I can‘t think of a single example in the last 12 years where Hillary Clinton has ever done that.  

BACKUS:  She has done it but I think it‘s a fair question. 

HOLT:  Well I think it‘s a terrific opening for other people in the democratic primary process to maybe get a leg up here.  Because the person who is more familiar, who can mix it up, who has a better sense of humor is going to have a tremendous advantage in the air and media.  If Senator Clinton persists in this over control of every aspect of her campaign, she‘s going to miss some critical opportunities for the kinds of things that happen in campaigns that energize and excite people.   And I think she ought to really consider it, I mean she has smart people who work for her.  Let‘s get her ready to go and debate the guy.  She‘s such a prohibitive favorite.  I mean this is kind of a classic incumbent strategy though.  You know, ignore your opponent as long as you can and then he‘ll never get any traction and you‘re win.  

CARLSON:  I think she‘s doing the right thing.  No, no of course, and Jenny, I mean to be honest, I mean anybody who‘s been around politics knows she‘s doing the right thing, it would be stupid of her to debate.  I‘m not attacking her for not debating, I understand why she‘s not debating.  I just think it will be very interesting when she runs for president to see her sit down and talk for an hour and answer any question.  Maybe she will be much better than I imagine she will.  Maybe she will. 

BACKUS:  Well here‘s the deal, I agree.  Here‘s the place where all three of us agree here which is that I think this next set of elections, both ‘06 and ‘08 are going to be a lot about accountability.  Can people answer the questions that are put forward to them?  John McCain, you know the great truth teller, is like all over the map all the time, you saw him flip-flopping on Iraq this week.  So I mean I think it‘s going to be really interesting how much everyone is going to put themselves -- 

CARLSON:  Yeah we‘ll see, you can‘t control a presidential race and she‘s about to find out.  Jenny Backus, Terry Holt, thanks very much both.

HOLT:  Thanks Tucker.

CARLSON:  Well is racial diversity in our schools a worthwhile goal?  And should the government be shoving it down the throats of parents whether they want it or not?  President Bush doesn‘t think so, others disagree.  We‘ll explain the debate.  Plus, what makes a suicide bomber kill himself?  We‘ll meet the producer of a shocking new documentary that takes us inside the minds of suicide killers.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Hey kids, how would you like to go to high school for five years instead of four?  That‘s what one lawmaker wants you to do.  We‘ll tell who you this evil man is.  And speaking of evil, we‘ll take you inside the mind of a suicide bomber.  All that when we come back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time to check out today‘s stories that I just don‘t get.  We begin with a legal tug of war that‘s been haunting parents and school kids for half a century now.  The debate over immigration remains heated.  Now the Bush administration is urging the Supreme Court to strike down school integration programs that exclude some students because of their race, the color of their skin.  The White House is siding with white families whose kids cannot attend choice public schools because they don‘t fit the districts so-called integration guidelines.  Parents argue that forced racial diversity is unconstitutional as old fashioned segregation.  Here‘s what I don‘t get, why everyone doesn‘t recognize that that‘s of course true.  In both cases the government is excluding people because of the color of their skin.  That‘s the only reason.  The way they look.  The God-given hue of their skin, that was immoral then, it‘s immoral now.  How‘s this, people can go to whatever school they want, regardless of skin color.  Sorry, the government gets out of the racial classification business 100 percent, we all feel better about ourselves.  It will be a better country, let‘s do it now.  And now to a different sort of school thought. 

Here‘s a tough question for teens to ponder.  Would you be willing to put up with a fifth year of high school if it made college more affordable?  That‘s the idea of Chicago Mayor Richard Daly.  Daly thinks skyrocketing college tuitions would be less of a squeeze on middle class families if the state were to pick up the tab for an extra year of schooling.  Ah, there‘s an idea that doesn‘t make sense.  Here‘s my question, why not just try to make college less expensive.  The mayor is on to something when he says college is too expensive.  It‘s crushing to middle class families, because it is, but will adding another year of high school solve the problem? No, two things will.  Putting moral pressure on colleges to lower their tuitions, maybe dig into some of that money they have in bank accounts, that endowment they keep.  And second, recognizing that not everybody needs to go to college.   Not everyone benefits from college, not everybody should go to college.  Let‘s be honest about it and lower those prices.

And finally, a sneak peek at an explosive new documentary. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We are teaching the children that to fight is the only thing that make (INAUDIBLE) people very frightful.  Furthermore, we are teaching them that we have the right to do it. 

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Ever wonder how a human being can strap a bomb to his body, walk into a crowd of innocent civilians and blow up everyone including himself?  Well “Suicide Killers” which debuts tonight in New York hopes to shed some light on that terrifying question.  This documentary features interviews with would be suicide bombers now jailed in Israeli prisons and their revelations about their true motives may shock most filmgoers.  I don‘t think I get anything about suicide bombing.  So for an explanation for the motives of these people, who better to bring in than the filmmakers himself, Pierre Rehov joins us from New York.  Pierre, thanks for joining us.  

PIERRE REHOV, DOCUMTNARY FILMAKER, “SUICIDE KILLERS”:  My pleasure.  

CARLSON:  What motivates these people, it may be hard to boil it down but to the extent you can, tell us? 

REHOV:  Well first of all, it‘s of course a result of a long-time brainwashing in a society which is a very repressive one and you end up with a lot of  kids unfortunately nowadays who would dream of  becoming suicide bombers the same way kids in America would dream of becoming engineers or doctors or run a big company.  And this is a methodology which has been built over the years and it‘s obviously connected to religion and to a very oppressive religion, one in which is some extreme states as it occurs in Palestinian territories. 

CARLSON:  So is hatred the motive? In other words, do people kill themselves because they despise the people they are killing in the process?  Or because they really believe they‘re going to get those virgins? 

REHOV:  They really believe, if we are talking about the males, they really believe that they are going to get the 72 virgins.  I mean not only that but they showed me some Korans that they are reading in which it‘s absolutely written that they‘re going to get the girls in the afterlife.  And not only the girls, everything which is forbidden in the present life that they have.  So we end up with this very high level of frustration, they end up hating their own body, their own temporary flesh and they‘d rather see the afterlife where everything which is forbidden on this life, all of a sudden by a miracle becomes authorized.  And you know, wine, girls and party.  

CARLSON:  So in other words, if we could get some of these guys, say one virgin here, they‘d be willing to forego the 72 virgins at least for a while?

REHOV:  It‘s more complicated than that.  Because lately we interviewed a suicide bomber who is living in Gaza, he‘s married with three kids and he‘s still dreaming of the virgins in the afterlife.  It‘s one of the problems, it‘s not the only reasons why obviously.  But you know basically what they are trying to do is to get rid of what they think is impure.  To some level of brainwashing, they draw a line between purity and impurity.  Everything Islam is pure.  Everything not Islamic is impure and they feel like being the hand of God, of Allah and have the duty of getting rid of this impurity, including themselves.  

CARLSON:  Is there any force in the Islamic world arguing against suicide bombing? You almost never hear anybody, at least in the western press, speak up and say this is wrong.  Are there large groups of people in say Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, in the region who are against it?

REHOV:  Well unfortunately, there are not that many but thankfully there are some.  And the problem is that, again, in a very oppressive society, it‘s very hard to speak up.  So even though some people would like to stop the phenomenon, they just don‘t dare say it.  Right now, if you put polls outside, if you make polls inside the Palestinian territories, you‘re going to have a very high rating of people in favor of those suicide attacks.  But in 10 years from now, everything comes down, and they‘re not afraid of speaking up any more.  The same people will be against it.    

CARLSON:  Interesting.  All right.  The movie opens tonight.  Thanks a lot for joining us.  

REHOV:  My pleasure.  

CARLSON:  Well it would be quite a story if Osama bin Laden really had led Maryland police on a high-speed chase yesterday.  Believe it or not the real story of what happened is even better than that.  We‘ll tell you what it is when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  By this point in the show you probably think you know what has happened today in the news.  Well, yes and no.  We‘ve told you a lot but there is still more and Willie Geist has it.   From headquarters Willie Geist.

WILLIE GEIST:  And Tucker, chief among those stories, there is now, an addition to the bets about “Dancing with the Stars,” on pinnaclesports.com there is now a proposition bet.  Who will go farther, Tucker Carlson or Jerry Springer? There is a lot of buzz about you in the gambling community, Tucker.  

CARLSON:  There always is, Willie.  

GEIST:  I just put the down payment on my house on it, by the way.  So please don‘t let me down.  

CARLSON:  I‘m not going to let you down.  

GEIST:  Tucker, I know you have thought about eating charcoal, but do you really have the guts to do it?  I don‘t think so.  This guy does, he‘s an Iranian man who snacks on hot coals.  You can see his friend heating up the coals here until they glow and then the man pops it into his mouth like a bonbon.  He says patience, mental focus, and of course just a hint of chemical imbalance, are the keys to eating hot coals.  Tucker, we‘ve talked a lot lately across all these cable networks about the threat of Iran.  Is it real, do they have the guts, are they crazy enough to throw a nuke at the United States?  Well it seems to me their young people are eating coals, the answer is yes. 

CARLSON:  Actually, I think it‘s an emphatic yes Willie.  If you would do that, you would bomb Tel Aviv and Washington, there‘s no question about it.  

GEIST:  No question.  Young people are eating hot coals, we‘re all in trouble in the west.  So there‘s the evidence.  Tucker you know sometimes you just can‘t do better than the original wire stories.   So I‘m just going to read you something off the “Associated Press” wires today.  Here‘s the lead.  Dateline Ocean City, Maryland.  Quote, “A West Virginia man claiming to be Osama bin Laden led Ocean City police on a high-speed chase that ended in a crash.  He then threatened officers with a blender.”  Now Tucker, I haven‘t seen a photograph of the man, but sources tell us he is decidedly not this man.  Police say 26 year old Tino Borgeno, who is not the world‘s most wanted terrorist, led police on a chase before slamming into three cars.  As police surrounded his car, the man brandished that blender.  He was quickly subdued, and the kitchen appliance was seized.

This was flawed from the word go.  If you‘re a 26-year-old white guy from West Virginia, it‘s a tough sell to say you‘re Bin Laden.  And B, I don‘t know what he planned on doing with the blender.  Was he going to like make a smoothie and throw it at the cops and (INAUDIBLE) maybe?  I don‘t know, what was the plan, that‘s what I‘d like to know?

CARLSON:  The plan was, I‘ve got it on whip.  Don‘t make me take it to liquefy.

GEIST:  That‘s right.  Watch out for those Cuisinarts.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist.

GEIST:  All right Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thanks Willie.

GEIST:  See you.

CARLSON:  That‘s it for us tonight, thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL”.  Have a great weekend.

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

END   

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

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