updated 8/30/2006 11:10:23 AM ET 2006-08-30T15:10:23

Guests: Bobby Jindal, A.B. Stoddard, Frank Donatelli, Steve McMahon, Al Sharpton

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Thanks and welcome.

One year to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the numbers tell an awful story: 1,464 dead in the state of Louisiana alone, 135 people still listed as missing.  More than a quarter of a million people gone from New Orleans and the surrounding area. 

And an estimated 22 million tons of debris.  That‘s enough to fill the Superdome more than 13 times over.  Some six million tons remain on the streets of New Orleans. 

But numbers alone cannot tell the whole story.  We went to the Gulf Coast right after Katrina struck last year.  Here‘s some of what we saw and heard in the wake of one of the deadliest storms ever to hit this country. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Help us.  Please, help us. 

CARLSON:  The ocean just came right through here? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It came from that direction, actually.  From actually where the canal is over there. 

CARLSON:  And that‘s—that‘s why it eliminated—across the street there used to be buildings, and there is literally nothing.  Just pilings.  That‘s it.

We spent the good part of a morning in an airplane hangar in Baton Rouge talking to some of the National Guard pilots, Black Hawk helicopter pilots who have been flying sorties in and out of New Orleans to rescue people stranded in that city.  They couldn‘t have been a more impressive group.  I think any American would be thrilled and proud to have his son grow up to be one of these guys.

You can see behind me there‘s a holding place where thousands of refugees from New Orleans, from the city, from the parts that have been submerged under water, have been taken, many by helicopter.  Some of them have been waiting here for days. 

MSNBC got a call a couple of days ago from Gloria Buchanan (ph) saying that she was alone, no one had come to help her.  She was running out of water and she had no food.  We didn‘t have a lot, but we brought her some instant soup and a couple bottles of water. 

Hold on, Rev.  Are you going to look in that camera and tell me that the city of New Orleans did a good job of evacuating its poor people?  Are you going to tell me they did a good job making preparations for something they knew was coming?

REV. AL SHARPTON:  I‘m saying that the city—the city of New Orleans...

CARLSON:  Because they didn‘t.  And you know they didn‘t. 

Right in the middle of the street we came upon the body of a middle-aged man.  He appeared to be about 40 yeas old.  He had a wedding ring on.  And he was dead.  But he was lying there about five feet away from children, and he had apparently been there since 11:00 p.m. last night. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In Iraq we had a mission to go pick this guy up and bring him here.  Here, it‘s get as many people out as you can.  Try to save as many lives as you can.

CARLSON:  Which is more stressful? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This. 

CARLSON:  Why? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Dealing with our own people. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Well, even a year later, parts of the city of New Orleans are still in ruins.  How much progress has really been made there? 

Here with that, NBC News‘ Donna Gregory.  She‘s in the city of New Orleans. 

Donna, what do you think?  How does it look a year later? 

DONNA GREGORY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, Tucker.

Well, remember, a year ago the city was literally under water.  Now a lot of the debris has been removed, but it—we liken it to chipping it away at a mountain with a teaspoon.  If you look at the mountain, you can see how much work you have ahead.  But a lot of work has been done. 

There are a lot of areas that have the power restored, that have the neighbors helping each other clean up, that have a lot of the work done.  But then you just go across a bridge or down across the other side of a levee and you see there is so much work that still needs to be done.  So there are some cases of the haves having the means and the opportunity to get their homes rebuilt, and the have nots still waiting for checks from the government, still waiting to find out if they will even have a place to rebuild their home once the levees are completely shored up and brought up to the government standards. 

So, still lots of unanswered questions here, but today, on the anniversary of the storm that roared through this city, there is a sense of togetherness, there‘s a sense of hope, there is a sense of determination.  There are people here who desperately want to have their lives back. 

CARLSON:  Donna, I was amazed to learn just today that there are still large parts of the city of New Orleans that don‘t have electricity or gas, down in the Lower Ninth Ward, for instance. 

Is there any explanation for that? 

GREGORY:  Well, we haven‘t heard any official explanation.  They simply turned the power on in the grids that obviously would make the most sense in terms of bringing money back into the city.  They started, of course, in the central business district, and the French Quarter, where the tourists go.  They had to get the hotels back up and running so they could get more people to come into town to spend money to create more money flowing into the economy so they could afford to do more work. 

So we read somewhere today that 50 percent of the power is still not turned on.  But in the areas that most people would come and visit, you do have power. 

So, it‘s a little deceptive.  The areas that we go, we see power.  But there are cases, St. Bernard Parish, where there are areas that don‘t have power.  But we did see working stoplights there. 

So it‘s pockets of despair that you still see throughout the city.  But I don‘t want people watching to get the impression that there‘s no hope here, because there certainly is, and there is the most determined spirit that you can find in any city of the country, people who desperately want to rebuild. 

CARLSON:  Mayor Ray Nagin, who was just, of course, reelected, promised during his last campaign that he would rebuild the entire city or oversee the reconstruction of all of New Orleans, including places like the Lower Ninth Ward, that are in an obvious floodplain. 

Do people think that‘s going to happen?  Does it look like that‘s going to happen? 

GREGORY:  Yes, it‘s hard to tell at this point.  He did meet with President Bush a couple of times today, and yesterday as well, and they did have some candid conversations about money and how much money is coming into the city, how much more the city believes it needs.  And quite frankly, the city does need more money to come here. 

But he did speak to residents of New Orleans at a bell-ringing ceremony this morning in honor of the exact moment when the levees breached.  It was at 9:38 Central Time.  And he told New Orleanians that it‘s time to take control of their own rebuilding. 

In fact, he said that if it‘s taking too long to get a government check, maybe you should just put on a pot of beans and have your neighbors come over with a hammer and nails and get some of the work done.  So he is telling people to, you know, continue this grassroots effort, if you will, to build this city back up again. 

CARLSON:  All right.

NBC‘s Donna Gregory in the city of New Orleans.

Thanks a lot, Donna. 

GREGORY:  Sure.

CARLSON:  Well, Katrina‘s path of destruction spread across the Gulf Coast, of course.  And in Biloxi, Mississippi, some witnesses said the destruction reached biblical proportions. 

So what is it like there today? 

MSNBC‘s own Joe Scarborough is on the scene in Biloxi with the latest. 

Joe, what do you think?  You know the area well.  Are you impressed by the rebuilding? 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  I am.  I‘ll tell you what, though.  If you first came in here, like my executive producer, Chris Witt (ph) came in with me as we were driving in yesterday, couldn‘t believe how devastated the area was.  I said, “It looks great compared to this time last year.”

And anybody that‘s been through a hurricane knows really the biggest challenge is getting rid of the debris, getting rid of the homes.  You‘ve got to break them down.  You‘ve got to get rid of obviously not just the wood, but all the twisted metal.  And that process is still going on in Pensacola, Florida, two years—my hometown—after Hurricane Ivan hit.

They have already cleared away most of the debris here today.  There was a grand opening at the Beau Rivage.  You had leaders—actually, political leaders—that were being cheered, appeared to be extraordinary popular here.

Mississippi, unlike New Orleans, most people here are very positive.  They think their leaders have done a great job.  And even though 100,000 of them are still living in FEMA trailers—and I talked to some of them two days back—they are still very positive. 

And they say, “Hey, you know what?  We‘re on the road to recovery and things are looking up.”  And especially if you look at the grand opening of the Beau Rivage, where so many of the people that I saw the first day when I was in Biloxi on the streets that were homeless, they work for the Beau Rivage.  It really is the economic engine that drives the Mississippi Gulf Coast right now. 

It‘s reopening today a year later.  It‘s really a remarkable achievement.  And you could just see—just such a huge difference between how Mississippi politicians and business interests work, compared to what‘s been going on in New Orleans for the past year.  A big contrast. 

CARLSON:  Joe, what are those—yes, it sounds like a huge contrast.  I mean, a bunch of ways.

What specifically do you think the differences are between the way the reconstruction has been handled in Mississippi and the way it has been handled in Louisiana? 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think in Mississippi, they have just been aggressive from the first day.  You have had Ray Nagin, of course, a guy that we—everybody knows, just botched up the recovery in New Orleans.  Ray Nagin escaped into a hotel suite, according to Doug Brinkley and so many other people.  He was out of it for the first three or four months.  Kathleen Blanco was so confused the first week she admitted to reporters she didn‘t know what day it was. 

Over here, you‘ve had Haley Barbour working with Trent Lott, working with Thad Cochran, also working with Gene Taylor, the Democratic congressman that represents this area.  They were—all four of them very aggressive, stood shoulder to shoulder, demanded results from Washington, D.C.  And there just wasn‘t any infighting. 

Everybody worked together.  There weren‘t a lot of people pointing fingers.  And I think the people of Mississippi actually saw that leadership.  And as Haley Barbour told me earlier today, they weren‘t sitting around whining and moping and asking why the federal government wasn‘t here.

They actually—they actually started working together aggressively.  And, you know—and somebody said to me today, a guy that‘s in charge of economic development in Mississippi—and it‘s a great point—he said, “We don‘t care that we weren‘t on the news.  We quietly rebuilt.  And some top businesses have actually taken great notice.”

CARLSON:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  “Businesses that used to be established in New Orleans now are looking our way because we did rebuild so successfully.”

So, a lot of pride.  A lot of pride, Tucker, and a lot of hope that they‘re on the road to recovery. 

CARLSON:  Thanks a lot, Joe.

MSNBC‘s Joe Scarborough on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thanks.

Still to come, talk about must-see TV.  The president of Iran wants to debate our president, George W. Bush, and it‘s all live on television.  It sounds crazy.  Is it?

And one of America‘s most wanted is behind bars today.  He‘s not a terrorist, not a murderer, a man whose crime is pledging lifelong love to more than one woman. 

Has the U.S. Justice Department lost its mind completely? 

That story when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  All along the Gulf Coast, Katrina‘s wounds are still fresh even a year later.  And in New Orleans, some people are losing patience. 

My next guest says, “This has been a one-year case study in bureaucracy and red tape at its very worst.”

Congressman Bobby Jindal joins us from New Orleans. 

Congressman, thanks for coming on. 

There is so much lying about the reconstruction in New Orleans, particularly by politicians.  You are one of the few I trust to tell the truth.  How is it going so far, from your point of view?

REP. BOBBY  JINDAL ®, LOUISIANA:  You know, look, there are signs of progress.  We‘re very grateful for this country‘s generosity.  We can definitely show you neighborhoods that are thriving, that are coming back.  But it‘s also fair to say that we‘re not as far along as we should be a year after the storm. 

A year after the storm, the state has gotten $12 billion to give out in bloc grants.  Homeowners are just now going to begin to get those first checks.  A majority of homeowners won‘t get those checks for months, for several weeks, for months. 

Not only that, you look at the...

CARLSON:  Wait.  Congressman—Congressman, may I stop you there?

JINDAL:  Sure.

CARLSON:  If you could just explain that.  It‘s my understanding that those checks or checks very much like them in Mississippi have been going to homeowners for about a month, maybe more. 

Why have they been held up in Louisiana? 

JINDAL:  Well, you know, like so many things, we are just waiting for our state and local leaders to make hard decisions.  Congress approved $6 billion for Louisiana in December, another $4 billion in May.  But it‘s not just the housing and the homeowners, there is still not a plan for healthcare, there‘s still not a comprehensive plan where people can return.

Whether they should return, how they should rebuild, uncertainty and delays.  Actually, the enemy of progress.  The longer the recovery process drags out, the less likely families are going to come back. 

All you have to do is contrast the bureaucracy, the red tape with what‘s going on in the private sector.  You look at church groups, volunteer groups.  They gutted over a thousand homes in St. Bernard Parish because they didn‘t want to wait for the government.  They said we can do this even more quickly than the government can do this. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  So has there been—you said—a minute ago, you alluded to the waste that‘s going on.  This is an awful lot of money.

How is it being spent?  Give us some examples.

JINDAL:  Well, you know, FEMA says—itself says—talks about $2 billion in waste.  They were giving money to people with fake Social Security checks.  And it‘s not only that.

You look at the overspending, $175 for a square of plastic that should have cost $5; $27, $28 a cubic yard for debris removal that should have cost $8 to $10; $75,000 for trailers that will last 18 months.  It would have been far more cost effective to give the money directly to families. 

You see all these examples.  You see money going to people for Hawaiian vacations while people with real needs aren‘t getting the help that they—they genuinely need.  The frustration—I mean, those of us that have watched this, that have been involved with public policy, it doesn‘t surprise us to see bureaucracy—government bureaucracy act like a bureaucracy. 

What would have made more sense is to get those resources directly into the hands of families, small businesses.  Going back, I wish that we had repaired the levees, made people safe, helped homeowners, helped the economy, but be more aggressive with tax incentives to get people back to work.  I think putting people back to work would have helped our region recover so much more quickly than putting billions of dollars in the same agencies that have proven themselves to be bureaucracies, and that is both at the state and the federal level. 

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s right.  I mean, New Orleans, you know, one of the greatest cities in the world, in my view, but it had a lot of problems even before Katrina.  And those problems are probably the result of those agencies‘ ineptitude, it seems to me. 

Do you fear that waste, fraud and abuse to the extent it‘s going on in New Orleans will make the rest of the country really cynical about reconstruction efforts? 

JINDAL:  Oh, absolutely.  I think a couple of things happened. 

One, as taxpayers, we should be worried about every dollar that gets wasted.  It‘s also a dollar not going to a family or a business that might need it.  But I absolutely do worry that the country‘s attention will run out before the region‘s needs are met. 

And that‘s why—you know, sometimes the government adopts policies that makes no sense.  At one point they told families, we‘ll pay for you to stay in hotels.  We‘ll pay for you to evacuate, as long as you stay there.  If you try to come back to work, we‘re not going to help you, we‘ll kick your families out, which makes no sense. 

There are good people on the ground here that want to go back to work.  They are not looking fore handouts.  They want to rebuild their homes, get back to work. 

My hope is that we can focus the relief efforts on things like levees and flood protection so people can be safe.  We focused the relief efforts on things like oil and gas, royalty sharing, so Louisiana is treated fairly so we can meet our own needs.  But all of this...

CARLSON:  Right.

JINDAL:  ... we‘ve got to be transparent with the taxpayers‘ money. 

CARLSON:  Oh, boy, that is a tall order in Louisiana.  I hope you achieve it.

Bobby Jindal, the congressman from Louisiana.

Thanks. 

JINDAL:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Coming up, a Democratic blast from the past.  John Kerry is on the war path again over the 2004 election.  Is complaining about ancient history really a winning strategy for his party?  Maybe it is.

And here is how Katie Couric looked just one month ago.  Well, CBS has given its new star quite a makeover.  Pretty dramatic.  You‘ll see it in a minute on “Beat the Press”.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “Beat the Press”.

First up, Katie Couric and the people over at CBS News. 

We all know that models and movie stars are often airbrushed in magazines, but network news anchors?  Take a look at this picture of Katie.  It was taken in May.  It looks good to me, but apparently not to CBS. 

Here‘s that same picture, sort of, in September‘s issue of the CBS-owned “Watch!” magazine. Notice the differences?  What have they done to Katie Couric? 

Well, they have given her an eating disorder, as far as I‘m concerned.  She looked better in the first picture.

Katie Couric is going to be 50 yeas old in January.  Fifty-year-old women don‘t look like swimsuit models.  They‘re not supposed to.  And let‘s be honest.  Katie Couric looks a whole lot better than most 49-year-old women in this or any other country. 

So leave Katie‘s picture alone.  It‘s insulting.  Moreover, she‘s a news anchor.  She‘s not a Jell-O wrestler.  I mean, she can look like a good looking 49-year-old.  She doesn‘t have to look hot.

Come on.  Knock it off. 

Up next, ABC‘s “Nightline”.

During an interview that included a fair amount of criticism of New Orleans‘s district attorney Eddie Jordan‘s (ph) work post-Katrina, his assistant decided that enough was enough.  Watch what happened. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  At that point, Jordan‘s assistant announced she was ending our interview, that the district attorney didn‘t want to answer any more questions or hear any more criticism. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The questions are stupid. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They are not honest questions, sir. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They‘re stupid.  They‘re not honest questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And it‘s over.  Nice meeting you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jordan said he would never again in his life be interviewed by me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Which is probably good advice.  If Brian Ross (ph) calls you up and wants an interview, chances are you should probably turn him down or leave for a country with no extradition treaty. 

But, look, here‘s the question: Does Eddie Jordan (ph) have any idea what he has done in the history of television?  No one has ever helped himself by running out of an interview, ever, ever. 

Tom Cruise tried it in an interview this last spring.  Did it help him? 

No.  Dropped by Viacom.

So Eddie Jordan (ph), take a clue.  Never walk out of an interview.  It makes you look guilty. 

And finally, a lesson for everyone who walks around wearing a microphone for most of the day.  Let‘s all learn from CNN Kyra Phillips‘ mistake as she shares some family gossip while chatting up a colleague in the bathroom today. 

Listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR:  Mom‘s got a good vibe?  Good.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  At the federal level and state level and at the local level. 

PHILLIPS:  Of course.  Brothers have to be, you know, protected.  Except for mine.  I‘ve got to be protective of him. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE)

PHILLIPS:  Yes.  He‘s married, three kids, but his wife is just a control freak. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Excuse me.  I can‘t breathe from laughing.  Breaking news over at CNN.  Kyra Phillips‘s brother is married to a woman who is a control freak. 

I‘m sorry.  I‘m laughing, partly out of nervousness, because I, like everyone who works in television, knows it‘s only a matter of time before this happens to me.  But you‘ve got to wonder right now what Kyra Phillips‘ brother‘s wife is doing.

I bet she‘s mad.  Poor Kyra Phillips.

Well, how would you like to help us “Beat the Press” when they‘re not beating themselves, as you just saw? 

Give us a call and tell us what you see.  And the number here, 877-BTP-5876.

Operators standing by.

Still to come, war of words.  It could be the debate of the century, George W. Bush versus the president of Iran.  Place your bets when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, the Reverend Al Sharpton is standing by live in New Orleans with an update from his perspective. 

And if you think John Mark Karr is scary, wait until you see who scares John Mark Karr. 

We‘ll get to all of that in just a minute, but right now here‘s a look at your headlines. 

(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.  Joining us now from Washington, A.B. Stoddard, she‘s associate editor at “The Hill” newspaper. From Chicago democratic strategist Steve McMahon and in Washington, D.C. republican strategist Frank Donatelli, welcome all three.  First up, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today challenged President Bush to a televised debate on world issues.  He said he wants to show the proposals of the Iranian nation on how to run the world better, different from the U.S. method of use of force.  The White House declined that offer. Not surprisingly.  A.B. Stoddard I‘ve heard a couple of liberals today chortle and say were this debate to take place, I‘m sure Ahmadinejad would kill Bush.  Because Bush is so stupid and inarticulate, I think the political affect to the extent there is one, is different.  I think people hear that and they sort of take Bush‘s side even if they don‘t like him. 

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  Well I don‘t think President Bush is really fond of debating, but there are other reasons why his administration says no to this and Ahmadinejad is doing this, you know obviously knowing about the way that we conduct ourselves with rogue nations.  We don‘t allow world debates with the president of the United States but this is something he is doing, really taking advantage of his emboldened position, Iran‘s emboldened position in light of Thursday‘s deadline at the U.N.  It‘s important, sort of a personal power play for him at home.  It helps him domestically with his own popularity and he‘s sort of taking a page from the Sheikh Nasrallah plate at the Arab street.  When you thumb your nose at the United States, you‘re popular in the Arab streets, so it could really help him. 

CARLSON:  I think that may be true.  Steve McMahon, if you were running a campaign against George W. Bush, something that no one will ever do ever again.  Let‘s say you were, would you cut a spot that said, you know, afraid to debate Ahmadinejad, would lose if he did.  I mean would you try to use this to your advantage in a campaign? 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST :  No, I mean I think people already have whatever opinion they have of President Bush and his command of the facts and his ability to conduct a debate about world affairs with anybody.  But this sort of reminds me, I mean is it just me or does this sort of smack of something that you might see in the World Wrestling Federation.  I mean this guy comes out, we‘re going to debate the president.  I mean come on, it‘s an obvious effort to distract attention from the issue that he‘s going to have to confront in two days, which is the entire world is breathing down his back and there‘s about to be a boycott of Iran.  I think the president‘s problem isn‘t debating him, the president‘s problem is going to be what happens when oil prices go up to $100 a barrel and there is a revolt here in America. 

CARLSON:  Well Frank Donatelli, if you had to sum up our policy toward Iran, our Iran policy, assuming that we have one, but let‘s say you know, you‘re running a campaign and Iran was the central issue and you had to in one or two sentences explain where this president stands on that question, how would you do it, what would you say?

FRANK DONATELLI, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Talk tough and hope to back the Iranians down and try to use the world community to bluff the Iranians back.  Tucker, I think this would be great television, as they say.  I would sure love to negotiate the parameters of this debate.  I mean imagine the correspondent from the “Terrorist Times” asking the president a question or how could you keep Ahmadinejad‘s answer to 90 seconds without him blowing a gasket?  You know one of the great diplomatic tribes in American history was Adelaide Stevenson during the Cuban missile crisis questioning the Russian ambassador and saying I‘m willing to wait until hell freezes over for your answer.  The president‘s probably too busy, but why not the vice president or maybe even the secretary of state? It would be great television.  

CARLSON:  No that is an excellent point.  Now speaking of politics, is anyone going to tell John Kerry that nobody likes a sore loser or for that matter, a conspiracy nut.  He was out campaigning in Ohio for democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland.  Senator Kerry accused Strickland‘s republican opponent that would be secretary of state Ken Blackwell of helping to suppress the democratic vote in Ohio during 2004 in the presidential election.  Steve McMahon, I‘m just not convinced this is a winning issue for anybody.  I mean 118,000 votes, that‘s the margin by which Bush won in Ohio.  Kerry didn‘t claim voter fraud at the time or in the year after.  It‘s too late, it seems to me.  Do you agree? 

MCMAHON:  Well Tucker I don‘t think it‘s about what happened in 2004.  It‘s about what‘s happening in 2006.  Blackwell‘s in a race against Ken Strickland to be governor of Ohio, Senator Kerry is trying to raise money for him and he‘s stoking everything he can stoke.  The fact is, in African American precincts people had to wait eight to 10 hours in line.  Now that shouldn‘t have happened, you can argue about why it happened, I think there are a lot of different theories floating around.  But he was trying to raise money for Ted Strickland‘s campaign and I suspect it‘s going to work. 

CARLSON:  Wait, hold on.  A.B., let me just read you quickly in one sentence what Kerry is alleging, quote, “Blackwell used his office, secretary of state of Ohio to abuse our democracy and threaten basic voting rights.”  That‘s a crime as far as I can tell you.  He‘s accusing Strickland‘s opponent of a felony?  Is this kind of a big deal or no?

STODDARD:  He didn‘t do this two years.  I disagree with Steve, it‘s not about 2006, it‘s about 2008.  This is a state where democrats smell blood.  This is a purple moment for Ohio.   It‘s trending towards the democrats, if you‘re reading the polls about the republican troubles there.  And John Kerry is jumping on a very good moment, he is just fomenting the anger in sort of the activist left base in Ohio.  It‘s what he needs if he wants to run for president again.  It‘s actually sort of a core of his best supporters and this is going to be helpful for him.  Ted Strickland doesn‘t need his money.  Ted Strickland is 25 points ahead of Blackwell, according to Rasmusen(ph) yesterday.  This is just a presidential move and it‘s probably a good one.  

CARLSON:  That‘s an interesting point.  Frank Donatelli, you have been around republican politics a long time, know everybody in it.  Nixon in 1960 faced this dilemma where he felt like the election had been stolen from him.  There was some evidence maybe it had been with the help of Mayor Daley in Chicago but he didn‘t say much about it.  Did that help him in 1968?  I mean what‘s the smart move politically for John Kerry if he wants to be elected president two years from now?  

DONATELLI:  Yeah Tucker, who would have thought Richard Nixon would have been a better loser than John Kerry.  In point of fact, Ohio was not that close, as you point out.  He lost Ohio by about the same margin that Richard Nixon lost the whole country.  And Nixon had a legitimate argument but didn‘t press it.  Here‘s why this is a bad idea for Kerry.  Elections can never be about the past.  To the extent that Kerry reminds people of 2004 where he lost, that is going to hurt him.  He needs to be focused on the future, because democrats do not want to be reminded about what happened in 2004. 

CARLSON:  They don‘t want to be reminded?  Steve, go ahead. 

MCMAHON:  I was just going to say, I think Frank‘s generally right about elections are about the future not the past.  On the other hand, and you don‘t want to remind people that you lost.  But if people become convinced that the election was some how taken from you, as it was from Al Gore and as John Kerry seems to suggest it was from him in Ohio, then that‘s a different matter.  

DONATELLI:  But Steve Al Gore is the perfect point there.  Gore complained and complained and he pulled out of the 2004 race.  Why?  Primarily because he knew that if he ran again, the focus would be on 2000 and not 2004. 

CARLSON:  It also seems to be foolish to run on this, when you have all sorts of issues to run against republicans on.  And in fact, here‘s one right here.  Warren Jeffs, the fugitive leader of a polygamist Mormon group in Utah was arrested outside Las Vegas late last night.  I‘m dead serious.  Jeffs was on the FBI‘s top 10 most wanted list for allegedly ranging marriages between underage girls, about 16 year old girls and older men.  The 50 year old Jeffs faces charges of sexual misconduct.  This guy A.B.  Stoddard was on the FBI‘s 10 most wanted list.  His crime was wanting to enter into lifelong arrangements with women or facilitating that between a man -- 

STODDARD:  No? 

CARLSON:  I‘m serious, was this guy trying to undermine America, was he trying to over throw our government, destroy our way of life, murder our citizens?  No.  What the hell was he doing on the top 10 list?

STODDARD:   I think what you‘re doing unfortunately is what those young girls did, you‘re judging a book by its cover.  Because Mr. Jeffs looks like the nice pharmacist from the neighborhood drug store.  But he‘s actually being charged with sexual assault on a minor.  And what we have to remember, is despite Osama bin Laden and many people who‘ve murdered lots of adults, maybe 25 years ago, who grace the top 10 list of the FBI is that, in law enforcement, crimes against minors, particularly against children are really a top priority.  And I think we‘d all agree that they should be.  Lots of resources are put towards capturing any criminals who violate minors.  And he is now considered one of them.  And they made him a priority by putting him on that top10 list.  And you can argue whether or not that‘s a useful thing but in the community of law enforcement, that‘s a top priority.  

CARLSON:  Well here‘s what bothers me Frank Donatelli, here‘s the attorney general of Arizona, Terry Goddard, and this is his sort of victory lap speech he gave after the capture, quote, “I think this is the beginning of the end of the tyrannical rule of a small group of people over the practically 10,000 followers of the FLDS sect.” That‘s Jeffs‘ religious group.  So basically the attorney general is saying we want to bust up this religion because we disapprove of it.  Right?  The federal government or the state government and the local government, government at any level does not have a right to wreck religions because it disapproves of them.  Sorry.  So today it‘s this little creepy weird Mormon sect, tomorrow it maybe the Episcopal Church.  I don‘t know.  I mean the point is, government shouldn‘t be allowed to do that.  

DONATELLI:  Well I know you‘re Episcopalian so let‘s hope that we don‘t make that jump.  

CARLSON:  No, but you know what I mean, or Catholics or whatever.  I mean, it‘s wrong.

DONATELLI:  I agree with that, but he was charged with a lot of other crimes.  I did take a look at your 10 most wanted list.  He shares that list with among others, Osama bin Laden.  It‘s kind of odd to know that Osama bin Laden is on the list.  Would we not recognize him if he weren‘t on the top 10 list?  But in this particular case, there were a lot of other crimes, Tucker, besides polygamy that he was charged with.  I found it odd if you looked at the other names on the list, but there are no standards governing the FBI‘s 10 most wanted.  

CARLSON:  Apparently not.  Now Steve you‘re a liberal, you worked for Howard Dean.  Tell me you‘ll defend the alternate lifestyle that is plural marriage, come on? 

MCMAHON:  Pedophilia Tucker is not an alternate lifestyle that‘s recognized any where as a legitimate one.  And this guy is basically—

CARLSON:  It‘s not pedophilia, the girls were 16 and you are allowed to get married at 16 in every state in this country. 

MCMAHON:  Tucker, some of them were as young as 13.  And it‘s pedophilia, any way you cut it.  And listen, you know whether you are a catholic priest and you are a pedophile or you are this guy and a pedophile, it seems to me that the laws of society rule over the laws of the church.  And if you‘re trying to hide behind the laws of a church to commit pedophilia, they ought to come after you.  I‘m sorry.

CARLSON:  This is hard nosed group here today.  All right, thank you all I appreciate it very much.  Well playing politics with Katrina, it‘s a year after the storm and the finger pointing has not let up.  We‘ll ask the Reverend Al Sharpton when he refuses to blame any one but the president.  That‘s all next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  The Reverend Al Sharpton is here.  We‘ll ask him why his party insists on using the Katrina disaster as a political cajole.  Plus, Saddam Hussein gets a taste of “South Park” in his prison cell.  We‘ll explain when we come back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  I usually tell you about three stories every day that I don‘t get. Well today I‘m so perplexed by a single story, we‘re going to dedicate the entire segment to it.  The one year anniversary of hurricane Katrina, I need an explanation right now on why President Bush continues to bear the entire brunt for the incompetence of New Orleans‘ leaders. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Bush administration deserves a lot of blame from this and they will take their lumps deservedly so.  But to say that the city of New Orleans has no responsibility to its own citizens is a ludicrous statement and you know it.  In any case. 

                REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  I didn‘t say they had no

responsibility, I‘m saying they did not have the resources and I‘m saying

that the factors lay at the door of this president.  He can come in four or

five days later and take photo ops but he will have to explain in history

where he was for those two days when he was missing in action while people

were dying in his country.  

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Reverend Al Sharpton voicing his sentiments only days after Katrina decimated New Orleans.  One year later, the Reverend Al remains just as adamant about who‘s at fault for the disastrous aftermath.  In face he is in New Orleans monitoring Mr. Bush‘s there today. Reverend Sharpton says if the president does not address his own neglect, it will be a rewrite of history.  Here to give me an explanation right now, the Reverend Al Sharpton himself joining us from New Orleans.  Rev. welcome.

SHARPTON:  Thank you, thank you.

CARLSON:  It‘s been almost a year since we had the conversation I just put up on the screen and we‘ve learned a lot, including this.  It turns out that the Bush administration spent more on flood-related building in New Orleans in the five years before Katrina than the Clinton administration had.  That this administration spent more money in Louisiana on flood control than in any other state by far.   Has your view that the Bush administration‘s entirely at fault for this, has that changed in the past year? 

SHARPTON:  Well first of all, to say you did better than the guy before you and neither one of you did enough is hardly a defense.  The fact of the matter is, whatever was spent was not spent to rebuild those levees.  And I said a year ago and I say today, there are a lot of people at fault here.  Certainly, the mayor could have done more in terms of the immediate evacuation.  Certainly, the governor could have done more.  But the mayor and the governor could not have responded to a three-state crisis.  They could not deal with those levees without federal funds, and no one, including Michael Brown, can take the fall for George Bush remaining silent for days while Americans watched on television, citizens on roof tops holding up signs saying, help us, people dying on live television and the president said nothing.  He can‘t blame anyone for his silence. 

CARLSON:  No you‘re right, I actually I agree with some of what you‘re saying.  I think that the president is isolated as all presidents are.  Maybe this president more than most presidents.  And that was really obvious.  Hold on, but it doesn‘t change—and so I think you‘re right.  And at the time I criticized him and his administration and I feel the same way today.  Here‘s my point though, in the last year, all this federal money has gone down to the region.  I think it has been fairly distributed.  Certainly, there‘s a lot of it.  Why is it that Mississippi is so much farther along than Louisiana? That implies maybe state government makes a difference and the one in Louisiana is not as good as the one in Mississippi, don‘t you think?

SHARPTON:  Well I don‘t think that it does imply that.  I think that Mississippi has gone further along because Mississippi may be wasn‘t as far back in terms of levee causing complete demolition of places like the south of the ninth ward.  I think that you‘ve got to also deal with what is the damage compared to what it needs for recovery.  So what happened in Mississippi was atrocious.  What happened in Alabama was atrocious.  What happened in Louisiana was atrocious.  You must provide based on need, not provide based on comparative dollars.  

CARLSON:  Here‘s what I don‘t get.  You‘re in New Orleans right now, I‘m going there soon.  I‘m sure you have seen parts of the city that are fine, the French Quarter uptown weren‘t that damaged to begin with.  But other parts, particularly the lower 9th ward are still filled with debris, still look like they‘ve been flattened by a natural disaster as they have been.  Why hasn‘t the cleanup been completed?  I mean it‘s been a year, you can tow away all the dead cars in a year.  It‘s a finite spate.  Why hasn‘t the local government done that, I don‘t get it at all? 

SHARPTON:  I think that is a very legitimate question, it‘s a question that we‘re asking here today and a lot of people are asking.  There‘s no excuse for debris not being picked up, for cars still being there.  There is no excuse that electricity is not working in part of the lower ninth ward.  There is no excuse for a lot of it, including the fact that the levees still could not take a hurricane above a certain number.  There is no excuse that today the bus drivers in New Orleans are given pink slips because the FTA is not giving enough money to the city.  That‘s federal.  So I think there is enough blame to go around.  Unfortunately, there‘s not enough recovery to go around.  But I think the president sets a national tone, he failed to do it, that‘s why a lot of the blame went there.   Do I think Nagin has some blame? Yes.  And I think even he has said that, the governor does.  But the president cannot in one level say, I am the leader of the country, and in another level blame mayors and governors equal to me. You can‘t have it both ways.  

CARLSON:  Well he actually, as far as I know, the administration hasn‘t been blaming mayors and governors.  I have been, they have not.  I think they‘re weak and cowardly in a lot of ways and that they won‘t say what‘s true because they don‘t want to be criticized.  I haven‘t heard Bush say that.  I wonder though, back to Nagin.  I‘m sure you know Nagin, you probably talk to him or are going to talk to him soon.  Why does he keep popping up in the news saying these outrageous controversial things that merely alienate people from New Orleans?  The other day he compared the situation in his city to ground zero and he seemed to criticize New York and the aftermath of 9/11.  That‘s not helpful.  Why does he keep saying things like that?

SHARPTON:  You know I have many friends, two of whom say a lot of things often that cause controversy, that doesn‘t mean that they are not my friends. One of them is Ray Nagin, the other is Tucker Carlson.  I take that with a grain of salt.

CARLSON:  But I‘m not running a city thank God. And I wouldn‘t be good at it because I‘d make people mad. 

SHARPTON:  I think first of all when Mayor Nagin said that they had not rebuilt where there was the terrorist attack, I‘m a New Yorker that is a fact.  And one of the reasons they haven‘t rebuilt it is a lot of arguing going on between the state, the city and developers.  So I mean it‘s crazy.  People can tell people you could say things better or you could couch it better.  The fact of the matter is, that we are not recovering in New Orleans.  People died.  People‘s families are still split and we can knit pick and play gotcha or we can try and rebuild this city.  I choose to rebuild the city fairly and equally.  That‘s the mission here.  

CARLSON:  Or we can do both, we can point fingers and rebuild.  I‘d take the preferred outcome.  The Reverend Al Sharpton, in New Orleans, live, thanks a lot Rev.  

SHARPTON:  Thank you.  

CARLSON:  A programming note, tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern, Lester Holt hosts an excellent documentary called rising from ruin.  Last year our cameras followed three families devastated by Katrina as they struggled to recover.  Tonight don‘t miss it, 10:00 p.m. eastern, right here on MSNBC. 

A couple of creeps go Hollywood.  We‘ll tell you which comedy Saddam Hussein has apparently been watching while in jail on trial for genocide.  And wait till you hear which big star John Mark Karr wants to play him in a movie about his life.  All that in a minute, we‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  And now time for a man who always turns off his microphone before he enters the men‘s room, Willie Geist at headquarters. Willie?

WILLIE GEIST:  I don‘t turn it off, I just stay quiet Tucker.  Want to continue the countdown, “Dancing with the Stars” let‘s check the old tote board, 14 days till “Dancing with the Stars”, two weeks from today, families will huddle around their televisions, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, to watch Tucker Carlson dance on national television.  We cannot wait, Tucker.  

CARLSON:  Thank you Willie. 

GEIST:  As you know, no one gets closer to a story than our friend and colleague Rita Cosby.  And yesterday she proved that quite literally.  In this photograph of freshly released JonBenet Ramsey murder suspect John Mark Karr, you see Rita‘s face on the left pressed against the passenger side window, trying to get some answers out of car.  Picture in newspapers all over the country today, Contessa Brewer talked to Rita about the photograph this morning. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONTESSA BREWER:  Was he creeped out looking back at you?

RITA COSBY:  Was he—yeah, yea, it was worse for him. 

BREWER:  All right, thank you Rita.  

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Tucker, let me just say something.  How would you like to be the other reporters in Rita‘s path as she went for that car as it pulled out of the garage?  That‘s like being in a war zone.  You start to think about your family.  How important is this story?  I mean you just kind of get out of the way, right?  Rita is getting that story so just don‘t even try. 

CARLSON:  Oh I‘d be at the JetBlue terminal at the nearest airport getting ready to fly home.  When I see Rita Cosby on a story I just give up.  

GEIST:  Rita always wins, you know that Tucker.  

CARLSON:  I do. 

GEIST:  The good news for John Mark Karr, he will not be charged with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.  The bad news, there probably will not be a movie made about his life either.  In emails with University of Colorado Professor Michael Tracy, Karr said he thought Johnny Depp should play him in a movie about JonBenet‘s murder.  Karr predicted the film would make $1 billion at the box office.  Another sign of his instability.  Johnny Depp great actor, good range, but if I‘m his agent, I‘m advising him to pass on this project.  I don‘t think it‘s good for him.  I think he‘d hand it off maybe to the third or fourth Baldwin brother.  

CARLSON:  I‘m not sure who the third or fourth Baldwin brother is, but if he‘s out of rehab, I‘m sure he would be ready.  

GEIST:  It‘s Steven and Daniel, three, four. 

CARLSON:  Oh Steven and Daniel, yeah, I know Steve.  I mean, what would the movie be about, I don‘t think the guy has actually done anything, other than write creepy e-mails.  

GEIST:  He did pull a good one over on the world, which is kind of interesting. But I wouldn‘t watch the movie.  Any way, Tucker I know you have been wondering how Saddam Hussein has been passing the time in jail since he was dragged out of that hole in the ground three years ago.  Well according to one report, Saddam has been watching the “South Park” movie, perhaps against his will.  “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Tre Parker told a film festival audience they have it on good authority that U.S.  Marines guarding Saddam have made him watch the movie repeatedly.  This is a scene from it right here in the movie, Saddam has a homosexual relationship with Satan.  Now Tucker, I have not reviewed the Geneva Accords lately, but I‘m pretty sure there is nothing in there about showing prisoners the “South Park” movie.  And by the way, who knows, maybe he likes ironic American cartoons.  Who‘s to say?

CARLSON:  You notice that in that still from “South Park” movie, Saddam looks like the dominant partner, Satan is kind of cowering. 

GEIST:  Well actually if you have seen the movie, he is in fact the dominant partner, it‘s quite disturbing.  But I don‘t know, Saddam might like it because inside every genocidal dictator there‘s a little sense of humor.    

CARLSON:  Willie Geist, who‘s sweet on the surface. That‘s our show, thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Norah O‘Donnell.  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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