updated 8/29/2006 11:45:47 AM ET 2006-08-29T15:45:47

Guests: Wayne Barrett, Sam Seder, Hugh Hewitt, Laura Schwartz, Peter Geiger

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  And welcome to the show. 

A stunning development today in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case:  John Mark Karr, the schoolteacher whose so-called confession to the killing set off a worldwide media frenzy, is now a free man.  Prosecutors suddenly dropped their case against Karr today.  That‘s after news broke that there was no match between his DNA and that found in the murdered 6-year-old‘s underwear. 

Legal experts have said all along the DNA match was crucial to this case.  So, what happens now to John Mark Karr and to this case? 

Joining me now to answer those questions, MSNBC legal analyst Susan Filan.  She‘s in Boulder, Colorado.

Susan, does this mean John Mark Karr is soon to be wandering the streets of America?

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Yes, it does.

We just got a press release from the sheriff‘s office.  It says that Los Angeles—excuse me—California did not request that the sheriff‘s office keep Mr. Karr in custody.  Since there is no request to detain him, and this jurisdiction is not filing charges, he will, in a very short period of time, be absolutely a free time. 

It is going to take a little while for him to get processed out of the jail.  He is in a blue jumpsuit now.  He has got to get back in civilian clothes, get whatever personal effects he came in with, a watch, whatever.

But when that is all done—and it doesn‘t take that long—the doors will open.  And out he will walk.

CARLSON:  So, does this mean, Susan, that prosecutors believe he made it all up?  And, if they believe that, isn‘t there a criminal penalty for that? 

FILAN:  Well, he did not give a false statement to police.  Remember, Tucker, he gave false statements to journalists, to the media.  He made false statements to that professor with whom he had an e-mail relationship.

But, in his mind, he did not believe that those were false statements.  So, there is no offense for, basically—what is the polite word for B.S.-ing somebody?

CARLSON:  Huh.  So, this means, at this point, prosecutors believe he did nothing wrong; he committed no crime? 

FILAN:  Well, certainly not in connection with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. 

They may be looking at him.  My guess—and just my guess—is that they are looking at his computer for some kind of evidence of other participation in child pornography.  But had they had evidence—and, again, that wouldn‘t have been in Boulder, Colorado, because prosecutors now believe he really never was in Boulder, Colorado, around the time of her death.

It may be somewhere else.  It may be off a—a computer in Thailand.  That would be up to international authorities.  But, as it stands, this district attorney has no more jurisdiction authority over John Mark Karr.  She is done with him.  It‘s over.

CARLSON:  Then, why did they arrest him in the first place?  It was clear from literally day one to a lot of people in the media—I don‘t know you included, but many people I know—that this guy was most likely an attention-seeking nutcase, who was making it up.  What was—on what grounds was he arrested? 

FILAN:  That‘s a great question.  The district attorney, Mary Lacy, issued a very lengthy statement in...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I‘m sorry.  Here, I—here, I asked you a question, Susan.  I‘m—I am afraid I am going to have to cut you off right there, because we are going to go right now to a news conference now in progress, I believe in Colorado. 

Here it is.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JOE PELLE, BOULDER COUNTY, COLORADO, SHERIFF:  ... has given us a teletype, and does want to extradite him on the five counts of child pornography that he faces in California. 

So, he will remain in our custody for the officials in California.  He is no longer in our custody on any Colorado warrant. 

QUESTION:  So, he was actually in court for a while?

PELLE:  He was at—he was transferred to the court earlier today. 

QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

PELLE:  Prior to 2:00, I believe.  It was in preparation for the hearing this afternoon. 

QUESTION:  He thought he was going to (OFF-MIKE)

PELLE:  We all did.  This was all—this has all occurred to us in the last couple hours, the changes. 

But we have received a teletype from California, confirming that they are willing to extradite him on the charges they have there.  And, so, he will be returned to the jail.  He will be held in our custody, until California can make arrangements for the extradition.

QUESTION:  Do you have an ETA on that?

PELLE:  Some time in the next hour or so, probably. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  What was his reaction to the news that he—he wasn‘t going to be charged?

PELLE:  You know, I am not aware of that.  I have been busy talking to everybody else, and have not had an opportunity to catch up with the deputies that are actually transporting him. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  ... seen him personally, sir?

PELLE:  I saw him on the day he arrived.

QUESTION:  Where is he right now, Sheriff? 

PELLE:  He‘s in a patrol car.  He is probably on his way back to the jail.  If he is not, he will be shortly from the west end of town.

QUESTION:  Do you happen to know where he was when he got the news? 

PELLE:  Well, he got the news at the—in the justice center, I‘m assuming, with his attorneys.

(CROSSTALK)

PELLE:  But I—I don‘t know the—all those details. 

I just know that we were asked to—first of all, we were advised that we were not holding him for Colorado, but we did receive information from California that we would be holding him for them.

QUESTION:  Will you still keep him in isolation?

PELLE:  The—probably, nothing will change, as far as his housing arrangements, because the assessments that were made initially upon his—his arrival would stay intact. 

QUESTION:  Will they bring in to the sally port?

(CROSSTALK)

PELLE:  Yes, they will.

And what we will ask you guys to do is the same thing we did the other day.  If you want to go around that—that east curve, and get some pictures, that‘s fine.  I just ask that you not block the driveway and that kind of thing, so...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Do you have any idea of when he‘s going to be leaving?

PELLE:  I think he will probably be here pretty soon.

(CROSSTALK)

PELLE:  Oh, as far as California? 

Well, normally, the extradition process is about a 10-day process.  And I—as far as California goes, it‘s really up to them, as far as their transportation arrangements and all those sorts of things.

(CROSSTALK)   

PELLE:  No.

QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

PELLE:  He would be entitled to an extradition hearing in Colorado. 

And he would be entitled to fight extradition, just as he was in California, or he would be entitled to waive extradition, which would speed the process up. 

If he decides to fight extradition, it could be a long time.  It could be 30 or 60 days.  If he decides to waive it...

QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

PELLE:  No, I haven‘t talked—we are not going to talk to him. 

That‘s not our job.  That‘s—that‘s between him and his attorneys. 

QUESTION:  What do you think about this?

PELLE:  I don‘t have...

QUESTION:  Does this happen often?

PELLE:  What?  Does what happen often?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  ... the district attorney actually...

PELLE:  Do we get mobbed by the media every day?  No.  Do we have a high-profile case every day?  No.

(CROSSTALK)

PELLE:  What we are doing, we‘re—we‘re just doing our job. 

We are maintaining custody of this gentleman.  We‘re making sure that

he is safe.  We‘re making sure he does not escape.  We‘re making sure the

community is safe.  And we will do what the court asks us to do, as far as

his transfer to the California authorities

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Does this put—does this put an end to the investigations?  I mean, is it going to really just—the fact that this has now gone south...

PELLE:  You know, I am not the right person to ask that question.  And that‘s not my role. 

My understanding is that the district attorney office is going to have a panel discussion, and put the warrant out, and the affidavit out, and talk to everybody, and—and allow questions to be asked tomorrow.  That‘s my understanding.

QUESTION:  Do you know (INAUDIBLE) Sonoma County jail?

PELLE:  I have no idea.

QUESTION:  Can you tell us what (INAUDIBLE) And then you said you only saw him twice (OFF-MIKE)

PELLE:  He...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

PELLE:  As far as I know, he has been polite and cooperative, and I don‘t think there are any issues with the...

(CROSSTALK) 

QUESTION:  Has he had any access to watch television?  (OFF-MIKE)

PELLE:  He has had very limited access to the television.  And he has had regular access to newspapers. 

QUESTION:  Have you spoken to deputies from Sonoma County yourself?

PELLE:  We have not.  All of this has been done on teletype. 

QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE) What is teletype?

PELLE:  Computer messaging through a secured network.

QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE) And do you think—do you know if they are going to be actually arriving here before (OFF-MIKE)  

PELLE:  Normally, they would not.  Normally, they would allow the extradition proceedings in Colorado to take place.  Once the extradition proceedings have taken place, then, they would make arrangements to transfer him to California.

QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE) The next time that John Mark Karr walks out of this jail, he will have handcuffs slapped on him by other—by other officers from Sonoma County?

PELLE:  I can‘t guarantee that.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE) likely scenario?

PELLE:  If Sonoma County follows through, and wants to extradite him, and he goes through his Colorado procedure, then, he would be in custody and would be transferred in a secure manner. 

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  Sir, can you explain why there was a press release sent out saying that he had been released from your custody? 

PELLE:  Yes.

He—he had been released.  He had been taken away from the jail and taken to the justice center.  We were getting mobbed here.  I think people were anticipating that he was going to be released out of this facility and free to walk on the sidewalk and talk to you. 

In the meantime, we have had contact with the California warrants.  They entered their warrant into the computer.  And they confirmed that they wanted to extradite him. 

So, we took custody of him again on the California charges, and we‘re bringing him back to the jail.

QUESTION:  So, was he ever out of custody?  Or was he always in...

(CROSSTALK)

PELLE:  No, he has always been with somebody.  So...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION:  When did you get contacted by California?

PELLE:  Just an hour ago. 

QUESTION:  When they heard that the charges were dropped?

PELLE:  Yes, apparently.

(CROSSTALK)

PELLE:  All right. 

(CROSSTALK)

PELLE:  Yes. 

All right.  Thanks, guys. 

QUESTION:  Thanks, Sheriff.

QUESTION:  Thank you, Sheriff.

CARLSON:  There you heard it, live, a press conference led by the very laid-back Boulder County sheriff. 

The news is this.  John Mark Karr is not a free man, contrary to what we reported just moments ago.  He is going to be held in jail in Colorado.  The state of California is asking to extradite him back to California to face charges on some unspecified child porn crimes he has been accused of committing. 

Here‘s what you have. 

You have Susan Filan, who joins us now again from Boulder.

You have the state of California holding this guy initially, sending him to Colorado, Colorado putting him in custody.  Then, they gave him up.  Then, California is taking him back. 

Do these people know what they are doing, the prosecutors? 

FILAN:  Tucker, is that a question to me?  I could not hear you.

CARLSON:  It is a question to you, Susan.  What is going on here? 

FILAN:  Well, look, I mean, just seconds ago, I was reading something saying, Sonoma County, California, authorities did not request that the sheriff‘s office hold Mr. Karr; consequently, he was released.  That comes from the Boulder commander Phil West. 

That is that how fast this story is moving.  And, then, you just heard a press conference saying California does want to hold him, which, in my opinion, is the right thing.  I was going to say, shame on California for just letting him walk out, when we know that he has a predilection for pedophilia and child porn.  So, it‘s the right thing for California to come get him.

But I will tell you what is going on here, Tucker.  This is our system of justice at work.  This district attorney tried to get his DNA samples from him when he was in Thailand.  She got samples, submitted them to her person here who was going to conduct the test. 

He said:  These are tainted samples.  They do me know good.  The sample that I am using from the crime scene, from the underwear, contains a DNA mixture, which means I need a clean buccal swab from the mouth. 

Were they to do that, they would have tipped him off that law enforcement was closing in on him.  That‘s when he became a flight risk. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

FILAN:  That‘s why she got an arrest warrant.  A judge granted that arrest warrant based on probable cause. 

When he was in custody in Thailand, he refused twice to give those swabs.  She got it from him here.  It excluded him.  She is letting him go.  California is going to pick him up.

CARLSON:  An—an amazing story that has—that has not ended, even now. 

Susan Filan, in Boulder, Colorado, with the latest—thanks a lot, Susan.

So, we have this:  John Mark Karr, suspected in the killing of JonBenet Ramsey, he confessed to it.  It turns out he is not the one, according to DNA evidence.  But he is not a free man.  He is being sent back to California some time in the coming days to face charges on possession of child pornography.  We will, of course, bring you the latest as it happens.

And, for the meantime, we will be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Coming up:  What made a guest give the audience the finger on Bill Maher‘s HBO show?  See for yourself on “Beat the Press”—when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Hurricane Katrina was such a black mark on the Bush administration that the president‘s approval ratings still have not recovered a year later. 

Meanwhile, the disaster that was 9/11 elevated Rudy Giuliani to hero status and made him a rock star in the Republican Party.  The question is, does the myth match the reality?

My next guest is the co-author of “Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11.”  Wayne Barrett joins me from New York.

Wayne, thanks for coming on. 

Giuliani, no hero on 9/11, I mean, this is the most counterintuitive possible statement.  What do you mean by it? 

WAYNE BARRETT, AUTHOR, “GRAND ILLUSION: THE UNTOLD STORY OF RUDY

GIULIANI AND 9/11”:  Well, it‘s five years later, Tucker, so, I think it‘s time to look beyond the—the—the performance that he put in that day, which was, in many ways, magnificent. 

I think—you know, and the book makes this book—he—he really filled the void that the country needed.  He stood up that day, and—and was quite eloquent.  He empathized, the thing we would least expect from him.  New Yorkers were used to the tough-guy mayor.

But this book is really an assessment of what he failed to do, and the things he did in the seven-and-a-half years prior to that as mayor that contributed to deaths that day, that contributed to the debacle of the city‘s response.  And it‘s an assessment of the aftermath of 9/11, how he has marketed it at Giuliani Partners, and the role that he played in managing ground zero so badly that now thousands of construction workers and—and firefighters and police officers have all kinds of respiratory problems.

CARLSON:  Well, but before we get more specific about the—the specific indictment of him that you prepared in this book, back to what you first said a second ago, that he behaved in this courageous way on 9/11.

Isn‘t that really what we elect leaders to do?  I mean, there—there is no foreseeing a 9/11.  And don‘t we elect these guys, hire them, so they can inspire us?  And isn‘t physical courage one of the main things that does inspire us?  Giuliani was courageous.  Bush, on 9/11, was not courageous, did not return to Washington.

Isn‘t that why we look back and lionize Giuliani? 

BARRETT:  It‘s one of the great ironies of Rudy‘s life that probably the dumbest thing he has ever done—and he‘s a very smart man—was to put the command center at—in the World Trade Center complex. 

That‘s the reason why he is the icon of 9/11.  Otherwise, he would have been going to the command center in Brooklyn, where Mayor Bloomberg now has it.  And he might have been the picture of efficiency, because we quote John Farmer, who was the staff attorney who wrote the 9/11 Commission report, as saying that the fact that the command center was in the World Trade Center that day costs lives, because it was never operational.

It was never functional that day.  So, yes, Rudy is the hero because he was there.  But he was going to the command center, not to the scene of the crime.

CARLSON:  Right. 

BARRETT:  He was going to the command center.

And, if the command center had been elsewhere, where it should have been, he would have been in a—in a sterile room, making, hopefully, efficient decision, with all the video, all of the communications that were necessary to make command-and-control decisions that day.

CARLSON:  But what difference would it have made?  I mean, in the end, the reality of these two jetliners hitting these two buildings, 2,700 people being trapped inside, none of that would have changed.

BARRETT:  Well, this is not me talking.  This is John Farmer talking. 

There would have been a structural engineer present that could have, looking at the videos, predicted the collapse of the building.  As you know, the helicopter pilots, the NYPD pilots, did predict the collapse of the buildings.  But that information was not relayed to the fire chiefs. 

Well, if you had an operational command center, then, all of that information would have been shared between the departments.  And the fire department would have known what the police department knew, which was that the buildings were going to collapse.

CARLSON:  I wonder, though, even if—it sounds like your book is pretty tough on Giuliani. 

I wonder if, even if every single thing in your book were beyond dispute, would it make any difference?  I mean, it looks like he is running for president.  A, do you think he is running?  And, B, do you think that the public perception of him as the hero of 9/11 can ever be undone, regardless of your book?

BARRETT:  Well, there‘s a powerful—the powerful visuals stick with people a long time.  The spin sticks with people a very long time. 

We are hoping that some of these facts will make a difference.  I think, if you look at the book, it‘s a very factual, densely factual, presentation of one misstep after another misstep in the seven-and-a-half years that he was mayor that preceded it.  So, hopefully, facts will matter in the end, in terms of assessing his performance.

We have a compelling visual.  He was covered with soot.  He was pointing north.  He was saying to people, we are—we are going—we are going to get through this.  And he was a powerful leader in that moment. 

But it‘s much more—leadership is much more than whether or not you stood there and—and said the right things on a particular day.  Even on that day, he made decisions—we have a whole chapter that recounts, minute by minute, what he did that day.  And he made decisions that day that cost lives. 

We think we lay out a very compelling case that he made monstrous decisions that—that, over the course of these seven-and-a-half years, from the radios, to the bunker, to the command-and-control protocols, that really resulted in—in grave problems on that day.

CARLSON:  Boy, that is not—that is not the public perception at all.

Wayne Barrett, facts do matter.  And I am not endorsing your book, but I agree with that point, anyway.

Thanks for joining us.

BARRETT:  Thanks for having me.

CARLSON:  Coming up:  The results are in.  John Mark Karr‘s DNA reportedly does not match the DNA found at the JonBenet Ramsey crime scene.  And now we are hearing, charges will not even be filed against him. 

Well, I still don‘t get it. 

And it‘s our old pal Anderson Cooper back on “Beat the Press.”  He shares his special insights on Hurricane Katrina when we return. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “Beat the Press.”

If you are like most Americans, you live a pretty busy life.  Job, children, maybe grandchildren, charities, obligations, it‘s a lot, so much that—let‘s be honest here—there may have been a day or two over the past 365 where you did not get a chance to think deeply about the destruction and suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina last year. 

But, whatever you do, don‘t let CNN‘s Anderson Cooper know about it. 

He will hate you for your selfishness.

Here is what Cooper told “The Hollywood Reporter”—quote—“A piece of America was cut out and decimated.  I think it‘s unconscionable that any of us can move on from it so quickly.  Personally, I feel I made a commitment to try to get answers and continue to focus, and not just move on and forget it.  It‘s so easy in cable news to move on to the next thing, and shame on any of us if we let that happen.” 

That‘s right.  Shame on any of us for not pondering the deep badness of Katrina. 

Well, it turns out, Anderson, that the world moves on.  And that‘s why we move on.  And, over the last year, we have had a lot of things happen.  Al-Zarqawi was killed in Iraq.  Slobodan Milosevic died.  Fidel Castro handed over power, after almost 50 years.  Ken Lay was convicted, and died six weeks later.  Israel went to war with Lebanon.  And, oh, yeah, the Islamic Republic of Iran came closer to getting nuclear weapons.

A lot has happened.  Not all of it rates as well as Hurricane Katrina did, but, unlike history itself, ratings don‘t move on.  Some stories get great ratings.  Others get bad ratings.  You missed one that got great ratings.  And I am sorry that we are not all still talking about it.

Next up, writer Christopher Hitchens on HBO‘s “Real Time With Bill Maher.”  That show tends to get pretty heated among the panelists.  But, on Friday, the audience crossed the line. 

Watch how Hitchens reacted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER”)

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, “VANITY FAIR”:  The Iranian president says that one member state of the United Nations should be wiped physically from the map, with all its people.

BILL MAHER, HOST, “REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER”:  Yes. 

HITCHENS:  He says the United States is a satanic power.  His—members of his government, named members of his government, have been caught.

(CROSSTALK)

HITCHENS:  Have been caught sponsoring death squads.

He has lied...

MAHER:  Yes. 

HITCHENS:  He has lied to the European Union about his nuclear program.

MAHER:  But you know that a lot of...

HITCHENS:  He says he believes the messiah is about to come back.  Who is looking for a war here?

MAHER:  So does George Bush, by the way. 

HITCHENS:  President Bush has said...

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

MAHER:  I‘m not—that‘s not facetious.   You...

HITCHENS:  That‘s not facetious.  Your audience, which will clap, apparently, at anything, is frivolous.

(BOOING)

HITCHENS:  (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you.

MAHER:  I‘m just—I‘m just...

HITCHENS:  (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Christopher Hitchens...

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  ... American hero.  He may be British, but he is an American hero. 

Look, it‘s finally time someone stood up to the tyranny of the mob on that and every show with a studio audience, an audience always completely in the pocket of the host, an audience of orangutans who will bark and laugh and clap at cue. 

Good for him for telling them what he told them, something we can‘t show you on TV. 

Good for you, Christopher Hitchens.

And, finally, Glenn Beck, over on CNN Headline News, who gets the award today for the maybe the most outrageous thing said recently on TV. 

Listen for yourself

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “GLENN BECK”)

GLENN BECK, HOST:  I work at Radio City in—in Midtown Manhattan.

And out by the doors, you know, like where, you know, the office kitchen is, in Braille, on the wall, it says “Kitchen.”  You have—a blind person would have to be feeling all of the walls to find “Kitchen.”  Just to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) them off, I‘m going to put—in Braille on the coffee pot, I‘m going to put, “Pot is hot.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Yes, he is making fun of blind people.  Amazing.

Well, how would you like to help us “Beat the Press”?  Give us a call. 

Tell us what you have seen—the number here, 877-BTP-5876.

Still to come:  One year later, and Katrina is still a dark cloud over the Bush administration, but does the president deserve all the blame he has received? 

And why Conan O‘Brien is in hot water for an Emmy skit that some say crossed the line—that story when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “Three on Three,” where we welcome three of the sharpest people we know to discuss three of today‘s most interesting stories.  Let‘s get right to it.  Sam Seder, host of “Majority Report” on Air America radio, he joins us from New York City.  Hugh Hewitt is the host of the nationally syndicated “Hugh Hewitt Show,” he is in Irvine, California, today/  And Laura Schwartz (ph) is a Democratic strategist, she comes to us from Chicago. 

Welcome one and all.  Well, the big news today, of course, a year ago today no one could have dreamed the magnitude of the storm that was about to hit the Gulf Coast.  But President Bush could not have imagined the negative impact one hurricane would have on his presidency.  So was Katrina the final nail in his coffin? 

Sam, it seems to me that on a political level, yes, I mean, Katrina is what made it OK for people to criticize the president about everything, including and especially Iraq.  But it does seem like some of the criticism, a lot of it maybe, and I was in New Orleans at the time, was unfair.  I mean, first and foremost, it‘s a local and state concern, and they screwed up bigger than anybody.

SAM SEDER, HOST, “MAJORITY REPORT:”  Well, I think that George Bush‘s

the first nail in his coffin was actually his attempt to destroy Social Security.  And that, I think, softened him up a little bit.  I mean, frankly, yes, there were failures on the local level and on the state level, but really the failure that exhibited with the—with FEMA during Katrina really happened back in 2001, when George Bush appointed Joe Albaugh, a guy who had no emergency management training experience, and whose number one job was to privatize FEMA, and destroy its capacity to respond to a crisis like that. 

So I don‘t think it‘s just the nail in the coffin of George Bush, I think it shows the failure of conservative ideology, which is based on this premise of hating government.

CARLSON:  Oh, I don‘t know.  I mean, FEMA, as far as—I mean, I have been in Washington since 1985 on and off, and FEMA has always been a joke as far as I came to remember. 

SEDER:  No, that is not true. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Actually, it is true.  Actually, it is true.

SEDER:  Under Bill Clinton, James Witt got bipartisan support.

CARLSON:  I know James Lee Witt.  He‘s a great guy.  But I‘m merely.

SEDER:  . for how well he performed.

CARLSON:  . saying—and.

LAURA SCHWARTZ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Yes.  An emergency management professional that was appointed to that position. 

CARLSON:  Do you remember—I know this is a cherished memory of the Clinton alumni, you know, something they actually did.  FEMA—they sent FEMA out every time there was a heavy rain in California. 

Hugh, how many times did you see FEMA on the ground in California responding to a tree blown down in a wind storm?

HUGH HEWITT, HOST, “THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW”:  Well, I think FEMA did a good job in the Clinton years.  I think they have done a pretty good job, except Katrina, in the Bush years.  But I also don‘t believe that any natural disaster defines a presidency.  I wonder if any panelists will tell me a major natural disaster during FDR‘s presidency or Lincoln‘s presidency.  They don‘t matter.  They don‘t decide political events. 

SCHWARTZ:  But this is the biggest one of all time. 

HEWITT:  Well, I don‘t think it is the biggest one of all time.  I mean, talk to the Krakotoans.  I happen to think that what is going to matter for George Bush is the Iraq war and immigration.  The reason his numbers are down, but they are coming back up, is that terror is back on people‘s mind.  After next week‘s series on the coming of 9/11, they are going to rise further.  And in the fall he will win for the fourth time in a row, despite Sam, despite Laura, despite even your network, Tucker.  He will win another victory.  And then we are going to be wondering what happened.

SEDER:  I don‘t know what polls Hugh is looking at, but I haven‘t seen any bump for George Bush.  And the fact of the matter is, is that when Katrina hit it was clear that here is a guy who had no caring, really, enough to leave his villa in Crawford to come out and help these people, but really what he showed fundamentally is this notion that you can privatize key functions of our government, is a failure.  It does not work. 

But people cannot.

HEWITT:  Sam, how much has Congress appropriated? 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Laura, wait.  Sir, I want to ask you a question.  I don‘t think anybody would say, and I don‘t even think the president himself would say the White House did—or the executive branch did a great job responding to Katrina.  But when all is said and done, it was a natural disaster, it is an act of God.  Don‘t you feel better, Laura, as a Democrat, attacking the president on decisions he actually made, say, the war in Iraq or, as Sam said, his position on Social Security, as Hugh said, his position on immigration? 

I mean, those are actual policy questions, why not attack him on those? 

SCHWARTZ:  Well, because, this is a policy question.  What about him getting videotaped coverage of the media coverage of Katrina because he was not tuned in enough, or sitting in the conference room down in Crawford, Texas, on vacation, saying, we are going to do everything we can. 

You know, when you can‘t take care of your people at home, when you can‘t take care of your own, people take that personally.  And I think that‘s why right now even a year later people are still taking it personally.

CARLSON:  Well, look, nobody—the government in the end doesn‘t take care of us.  Our neighbors, our friends, our family takes care of us.  Government.

SCHWARTZ:  Well, when you come to a FEMA, that‘s there for you...

CARLSON:  That‘s a big lie... 

SCHWARTZ:  That‘s putting your house back together, putting a blue tarp on the roof.

CARLSON:  . that the left spreads.  Well, OK.  Here is the question.

SEDER:  In fact, that‘s exactly what Joe Allbaugh said to the Senate Committee when he was up for nomination, that he felt that FEMA was—there was to much expectation that FEMA could help people.

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

SEDER:  And he went ahead and he destroyed FEMA and look what we get. 

CARLSON:  No, he didn‘t—that is just hyperbole.  In the end, you take care of yourself.  Sorry, that‘s just the truth.  And if they tell you otherwise, they are lying to you.

SCHWARTZ:  Hey, you know, some of these people can‘t, and that‘s what we are faced with.  I worked with FEMA for a month last fall, and the folks that work with FEMA, the case workers, these people that just work their heart out for this agency... 

CARLSON:  I‘m sure they are great people.  I‘ve met a lot of them, I‘m not attacking them.

SCHWARTZ:  . were very upset because they did not get the support that they needed.

CARLSON:  OK.  I‘m—then what will it add up to?  That‘s the question.  President Bush‘s popularity is in the tank.  Democrats look poised to take the House, it seems to me possibly even the Senate in this fall, but Democrats are very capable of screwing this up, as you all know.  As my friend James Carville put it, quote: “You have to go back to 1974 to find such a favorable environment.  If we can‘t win in this environment, we have to question the whole premise of the party.”

Hugh, you said something I disagree with.  But I am interested in knowing why you said it.  That you think the president‘s party, the Republicans are going to win in the midterms.  Is that because you think the Democrats are going to screw it up? 

HEWITT:  No, I think the Democrats have defined themselves by expectation of taking the House and the Senate, and I don‘t think they are going to get either of them.  And you will remember your friend, James Carville wearing a paper bag over his head for similar pronouncements two years ago. 

Tucker, what I would like to ask Laura and Sam about Katrina, do either of them know how much Congress has appropriated, either of them, for Katrina relief? 

SEDER:  Oh, it has been billions. 

HEWITT:  I didn‘t think so.

SEDER:  But you have an agency that‘s.

HEWITT:  No, it is not.  It has been $110 billion (ph). 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  . $110 billion, 110.

HEWITT:  It has been $110 billion.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ:  . and even the conservatives are cringing because all that money is going back into the federal agencies that screwed it up in the first place, like George Will and.

HEWITT:  It was a fact-free zone there.  It was $110 billion, of which $77 billion has been released by the Bush administration, of which.

SCHWARTZ:  But through these same federal agencies, nothing is going to community.

HEWITT:  . only locals have only spent.

SCHWARTZ:  . block grants, like even the conservatives want. 

HEWITT:  . $33 billion.

SEDER:  This is exactly the.

CARLSON:  Actually.

(CROSSTALK)

SEDER:  You have an agency that believes in subcontracting.

CARLSON:  . $44 billion. 

HEWITT:  Thirty-three billion, Tucker, only.

SEDER:  . its responsibility.  This is the problem.

HEWITT:  . $33 billion.

(CROSSTALK)

SEDER:  . to a trough where corporate interests can go and dip their mouths in it.  That‘s what you get.

HEWITT:  I know, it‘s all Enron.  I know, Sam.  Only $33 billion has actually been spent by the state and local authorities, most of it in Mississippi.  What we‘re watching in the Katrina replay is a reminder that Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin botched this tremendously.  They have botched the recovery.  And now over.

SEDER:  It is not simply New Orleans.  And it is not.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Slow down, stop, whoa, whoa, hold on.  I want to get—very quickly, let‘s just go around.  I want to hear—Hugh, you‘ve said a second ago that you don‘t think the Democrats are going to pull it out, which is interesting and, of course, I hope you are right, though I don‘t think that you are. 

Sam, I am interested to know, as a pretty aggressively partisan Democrat, are you willing to concede that your party often does screw it up, that they are—whatever their merits, they are not very good at winning elections or have not been in the last generation or two, do you think they are going to pull it off this time or are they going to blow it yet again? 

SEDER:  Well, you know, I don‘t know.  I mean, I don‘t know if I am necessarily a partisan Democrat.  I mean, I really.

CARLSON:  Well, you sound like one to me. 

SEDER:  I‘m not really that much of a prognosticator.  But I would say that you have seen in the past, I think there was a hard a adjustment that the Democrats had to make to become an opposition party.  And I think there are certainly people, like Joe Lieberman comes to mind, who have not done enough diligence in trying to hold this administration accountable for the consistent amounts of screw-ups that they have been involved in. 

So I don‘t know.  It is—I would like to think that the Democrats would take one of the houses.  And, frankly, I would like to think that the American people have had enough of this.

CARLSON:  Well, Laura, I mean, look back to the last election.  I mean, people—you know, I remember I took a lot of grief for predicting that Bush was going on lose.  That was not a reflection of my desire, that was merely what I thought the environment was going to produce. 

I mean, Bush was incredibly weak going into the last election, he turned out to be a much better campaigner, his team much more able than the Democrats.  But also, let‘s be honest, the Democrats were horrible.  John Kerry ran a terrible campaign.  I watched it.  I‘m sure you did too.  It‘s possible that they will screw it up again, don‘t you think? 

SCHWARTZ:  No matter what, no matter what our advantage is going into the fall, we have to, number one, go forward as a united Democratic Party, and number two, keep on the defense.  If we just go offense, we are going to miss that whole new direction that they‘re planning out, the six in ‘06. 

We have got equal money for the first time in a long time, so the Democrats have to remain focused, stay on the defense, put their programs out there, and win this through to the end, take back the House and maybe even in the Senate at this point.  But we have got to keep our eye on the ball.  We can‘t lose it now.  

CARLSON:  OK.  For those of you who weren‘t watching.

HEWITT:  Actually, Tucker, they do not have equal money.  If you look at The Wall Street Journal this morning, they are $50 million behind the Republicans total.  They do not have equal.

SCHWARTZ:  We also have staff in every single state, which we.

HEWITT:  . organization.  And she cannot.

SCHWARTZ:  . haven‘t had in a long time. 

HEWITT:  Well, you had them last time too with the orange hats and Howard Dean in Iowa.

SCHWARTZ:  No, not the DNC staff.

HEWITT:  You guys are always all hat no cattle when it comes to delivering the vote.  There is in the generic ballot, in the Hotline, it is a statistical dead heat.  The Democrats have lost 8 points in four weeks.

SEDER:  Well, I have got to agree with Hugh that the Republicans have always been very good at suppressing the vote.  We saw what happened in Ohio 2004.  We saw the long lines.

HEWITT:  I love that, give him a cable show.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ:  . they can‘t get out the vote, they‘ll keep us the votes that went out there for the other guy back. 

CARLSON:  All right.  All right.  For those of you who were watching.

HEWITT:  I love it when the nutters come out.

CARLSON:  . C-SPAN last night, Conan O‘Brien, by most accounts, did a pretty good job hosting last night‘s Primetime Emmy Awards.  But his opening skit caused some controversy today.  In his spoof of the show “Lost,” Conan was shown on a plane that was about to crash into a deserved island.  Critics say this was all in pretty poor taste given the plane crash that killed 49 people in Kentucky earlier the very same day. 

Now it seems to me—I‘m not flacking for NBC or Conan O‘Brien, who is, by the way, a pretty good guy, I understand why people are annoyed, on the other hand, you have to draw distinction, it seems to me, between a spoof that is intentionally offensive, like some of the Islamic ones of 9/11 we saw five years ago, and one that is completely unintentional, such as this one. 

They don‘t need to cause offense.  I don‘t think we ought to take any. 

Hugh, do you agree?

HEWITT:  I don‘t think I agree with you on this, Tucker.  It was a “Heidi” moment.  It was like when Bud Selig called the all-star game a tie.  There are some things you don‘t do.  I don‘t blame Conan O‘Brien.  It‘s a producer error.  They ought to have been able to trust him to go with a more somber opening, perhaps remembrance of that and can a produced piece. 

But there is so much momentum on a show like this, so much built into the elements that the producer made a mistake.  And I heard the mayor of Lexington—Louisville talking about this today, and I think his caution to the networks was well taken.  It will go down in television history as the kind of faux pas that teaches people in the future to be very responsive to late breaking news.

CARLSON:  What do you think, Sam.  Are your.

SEDER:  You know, Tucker, I kind of agree with you.  But, frankly, I don‘t watch award shows, I would like to see them all banned.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  On what—I mean, I agree with you, of course, instinctively.  But on what grounds would you like the see them banned? 

SEDER:  Taste. 

CARLSON:  Taste.  OK.

SEDER:  Just pure taste. 

CARLSON:  Wait.  You want a television showed banned on taste grounds?  Are—you have been living in America for the past couple of decades, I guess.

SEDER:  I have tried to get a toehold somewhere, Tucker. 

HEWITT:  Sam‘s upset that Jack Bauer won.

SCHWARTZ:  I‘ve got to tell you guys, I started watching that freak show an hour before and watched until, you know, an hour after.  But, yes, Hugh, I am absolutely with you on this.  You know, especially because, you know, in a couple of weeks, we are coming up on the anniversary of 9/11, five years later, when passengers on an airplane were used as human missiles.  And they had some time.  Maybe use “Gilligan‘s Island” instead of “Lost,” or the three-hour tour scene coming in from Gilligan instead of the plane going down.  I think it‘s just a tough time.

CARLSON:  There ought to be a standing open in all awards shows, a “Gilligan‘s Island” spoof, I think that is always safe. 

Laura, thank you.  Sam, Hugh, thank you. 

SEDER:  Thank you, Tucker.

SCHWARTZ:  Thanks, Tucker.

HEWITT:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  The CIA leak has been non-story in my view from day one.  New details prove the so-called controversy is more Whitewater than Watergate.  We will console the disappointed conspiracy theorists when we come back after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time to check out today‘s stories I just don‘t get.  First up, the crumbling case against suspected against suspected JonBenet Ramsey murderer John Mark Karr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. Karr is—has been portrayed by the media as a mentally unstable, attention-seeking, and he is none of those things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Despite what Karr‘s attorney may think, the jury is still out on her client‘s mental state.  But as for his self confessed role in the murder of JonBenet, well, that may be an open and shut case tonight because DNA evidence from the crime scene does not match the suspect‘s apparently.  Now prosecutors have decided not to file charges. 

What was the fuss about in the first place and why didn‘t someone ask the media?  That‘s what I don‘t get.  Every single person I know who is covering and/or talking about this story from almost day one said this guy likely didn‘t do it.  He is crazy, he is making it up, he is seeking attention, and no, he did not kill JonBenet Ramsey. 

That was almost the consensus in the press.  I don‘t know if we expressed that to you out there on the air, but we all thought that, I can tell you that.  Is this a surprise?  No.  And I hope we don‘t pretend that it is. 

Now to something I really don‘t get, there is new insight surrounding outed CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  White House officials were deliberately targeting Joe Wilson and did indeed—tipping off reporters to Valerie Plame.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was Newsweek correspondent Mike Isikoff.  He and writer David Corn have a new tell-all book about who blew Plame‘s cover and why.  They point the finger at this guy, Richard Armitage.  The former deputy secretary of state, and Colin Powell‘s best friend reportedly admits he spilled the beans to newspaper columnist Bob Novak three years ago. 

But colleagues claim Armitage was not out to get Wilson for his ardent criticism of the Iraq war.  They say it was merely a slip of the tongue.  Here is what I don‘t get, why have we made such a big deal out of such a minor story from day one?  I‘ll tell you why.  Because the lunatic, paranoid, conspiracy theory-ridden left has made it into example A of the Bush administration‘s evil deeds. 

This story, they say, is a metaphor, this is an example of the Bush administration crushing someone.  The neocons in the administration crushing someone to get their war in Iraq.  Oh, wait a second though, Richard Armitage is not a neocon.  He is close friends with Colin Powell, that liberal icon.  He was not out there pushing the war like Richard Perle and all the evil neocons. 

Wait a second, the story doesn‘t make sense, does it?  Will the liberals admit this?  I hope they will.  If you dislike the Bush administration, dislike the Bush administration for honest reasons, Iraq, immigration, Social Security, but not for some stupid made-up story about Valerie Plame.  Please.  What an insult. 

And finally, a chilling forecast that requires an explanation right now. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is very urgent sir, our climate is changing violently and it is going to happen over the six to eight weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I thought you said this would not happen for another 100 years or so? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I was wrong. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Don‘t expect Mother Nature to help with the heating bills this winter because it‘s going to get quite nippy, maybe not to magnitude of a Hollywood disaster, but the newest addition of the Farmer‘s Almanac is predicting frigid conditions from coast-to-coast, maybe 20 degrees below seasonal norms this year.  A word to the skeptics, the 188-year-old publication boasts an 80 percent accuracy rate. 

Here is the question, whatever happened to global warming?  I need an explanation from our friends at Farmer‘s Almanac.  If the world is getting hotter, why will this winter be so harshly cold?  Peter Geiger is the editor of the Farmer‘s Almanac.  He joins us from Portland, Maine. 

Peter, welcome. 

PETER GEIGER, EDITOR, FARMER‘S ALMANAC:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  I am a little confused, not that I don‘t believe everything in the Farmer‘s Almanac, but with all this talk of global warming, we are certain to see a warmer winter, that would be the assumption, anyway.  You are saying we are going to have a much colder one, how does that work? 

GEIGER:  Well, I think, first of all, it was two winters ago we had a very cold winter, and so last winter was warmer.  We think that this year based upon a formula that we have in the almanac and the way we do our weather that the Northwest in particular, the central northern states and in New England are going to be particularly cold. 

We think the South will be cold.  But I think it‘s all relative.  This year in particular we believe that the cold air from Canada is going to swoop down and hit the United States, whereas the last couple of winters, there were fast moving jet streams and it just did not happen. 

So we think people should brace for it.  Our Web site is farmersalmanac.com, you can check us out and see what we are saying. 

CARLSON:  Does a colder winter mean a winter with more snow? 

GEIGER:  Well, in some cases, yes.  I think in New England and in the Northwest, and in the central part of the country, in the Plains states, you are going to see a great deal more snow than we had the last winter.  But I don‘t think it is going to be a record-setter.

CARLSON:  Some of the forecasts in the Farmer‘s Almanac, as I understand it, are made up to two years out.  How can that—I mean, how can those be accurate if, you know, my weather man is off almost every day, and he is making daily predictions, how do you get them two years out? 

GEIGER:  Well, the fact it, we can‘t change our mind every day, and the fact that we do it two years in advance, we are doing by regions of the country.  And so we are not going to tell you when it will start snowing and when it will stop snow, but we will tell you when we think the big storms are coming.  We see four major storms on the East Coast, one in December, two in February—two in February and one in March.  And that‘s going to be your winter on the East Coast.

CARLSON:  What kind of storms?  I mean, heavy duty, cancel the flight storms? 

GEIGER:  Yes, heavy duty snowstorms.  Yes, you have you to go to the Farmer‘s Almanac or go to our Web site, farmersalmanac.com, check it out, because it will give you the specifics right there.

CARLSON:  Now do you go back every year and check your forecast against reality as it happened? 

GEIGER:  People who write to us—had a gentleman who wrote to us from the Katrina zone saying that we were pretty accurate because we called for a hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast on the 27th of August, while it might 28th, 29th, or 30th, but we were given credit for it.

CARLSON:  As far as I know, you‘re pretty accurate, pretty amazingly accurate.  That‘s amazing.

GEIGER:  Well, I think that we have a good track record.  It has been 190 years and we are still doing it. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I appreciate it.  Peter Geiger, thanks. 

GEIGER:  Thank you so much.

CARLSON:  Well, Kevin Federline continues to entertain his way out of Britney Spears‘ shadow.  We already know he can rap, I think.  Now K-Fed shows off his acting too, we‘ll tell you which top-rated network show is giving him a shot when we come right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Well, for a balanced news diet, we finish today as we always do, with Willie Geist at headquarters—Willie. 

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  Hey, Tucker.  The countdown is on.  Fifteen days until “Dancing with the Stars.” Tuesday, September 12th.  Get your canned goods, your bottled water, duct tape the windows, because Tucker is dancing on national television.  We have got a sneak peek at his shoes in a New York Times piece yesterday. 

There they are.  I don‘t know where to begin, Tucker.  Should I start with the pants that are eight inches too short?  The two-inch heels on the Capizios (ph), or the short white athletic socks?  Looking good, my man.  I cannot wait.  Fifteen days away. 

Now one other piece of breaking news.  It appear Kevin Federline may have a paying job.  It is true.  People magazine is reporting that Mr.  Britney Spears has landed a role on the highly-rated CBS show, “CSI.” Seriously, Federline reportedly began shooting his scenes last week.  He is playing a teenager who harasses police investigators.  The episodes will air this fall and it is fun to watch this guy blossom before our eyes. 

Not to say I told you so, again, Tucker, just add it to the list.  Now he‘s starring on a highly-rated television show.  You tell me.

CARLSON:  I know, but now that he has got job, it kind of wrecks it, though.  You know what I mean?

GEIST:  I know.  It‘s not as fun anymore.  But the guy is a star, bottom line. 

CARLSON:  Willie Geist.

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Great defender, thank you, Willie.  That is our show tonight.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL,” 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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