updated 9/1/2006 11:21:13 AM ET 2006-09-01T15:21:13

Guests: Brad Blakeman, Ken Timmerman, Mark Shurtleff, Heidi Harris, Stephanie Miller, Rich Masters

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show. 

I‘m Tucker Carlson. 

Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs agrees to waive extradition in a Nevada courtroom.  More on that story in just a few moments.

But first, our top story of the day.  The White House unveils its new campaign to scrub support for the Iraq war and save the Republican Party in the midterms. 

Here‘s President Bush defending his war strategy in a speech to thousands of veterans at the American Legion convention today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  General Abizaid, our top commander in the Middle East region, recently put it this way, “If we leave, they will follow us.”  And he is right.  The security of the civilized world depends on victory in the war on terror, and that depends on victory in Iraq.  So the United States of America will not leave until victory is achieved. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Some are arguing the president shouldn‘t be judged entirely on Iraq.  In today‘s “L.A. Times,” Jonah Goldberg writes, “Political dissatisfaction with the president rests entirely on Iraq and overall Bush fatigue.  The rest amounts to little more than Iraq-motivated brickbats gussied up to look like free-standing complaints.”

“Look, things obviously could be a lot better, but they could also be a lot worse.  John Kerry could be president.”  Which is not a bad point.

Well, here are some facts, though. 

We‘ve been at war in Iraq for just about as long as we fought in World War II, about three and a half years.  In that time, 2,639 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, the U.S. government has spent $22 billion helping to rebuild that country.  By any measure, this war is the elephant in the room, so why not judge the president on how it‘s going? 

Here to answer that question, Brad Blakeman, former deputy assistant to the president.  He joins us from Washington.

Brad, welcome. 

BRAD BLAKEMAN, FMR. DEPUTY ASST. TO THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  How about that?  Why is it a bad—why is it unfair?  Why is it dirty pool to judge the president on how Iraq is going? 

BLAKEMAN:  Because there‘s so much more to the war on terror than Iraq.  As the president said in his speech, this is not a regional conflict anymore.  This is a—this is a worldwide epidemic of radical Islam.  So you can‘t divorce the war in Iraq to the war on terror.

Look what Saddam did when he was in power.  He offered $25,000 in American currency to homicide and suicide bombers in Israel.  They export terror the same as Iran did, through Hezbollah in Lebanon. 

And the president, what he‘s saying and what I think it‘s fair to say is, this war on terror transcends Iraq.  We must be successful in Iraq because the war on terror is coupled to Iraq.  But the two are inexplicably merged together. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I mean, inexplicable is the word for what you just said.  I mean, look, it‘s a president and an administration wanting to have it both ways, wanting to say Iraq is the centerpiece of our war against radical Islam and it‘s an important war, we had to fight it.  On the other hand, don‘t vote against us if you don‘t like it. 

I mean, that‘s ridiculous. 

BLAKEMAN:  No, it‘s not ridiculous.  I mean, the American people certainly are going to make up their mind in November.  But what the president is trying to do is try to tell the American people that the Democratic strategy of cut and run in Iraq runs much deeper than the war in Iraq.  That our success in Iran is going to  send a message, and hopefully a positive message, to the rest of those who seek to do us harm.  And that is, we‘re going to finish the job, we‘re going to root out terrorism, we‘re going to take it to them before they take it to us. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Let‘s—let‘s—rather than talk about the president, let‘s just go ahead and quote him.  I‘ll opening up my little red book of Bush quotations here.  Here‘s something the president said today, this very day, hot off the presses. 

“We know that by history and by logic that promoting democracy is the surest way to build security.  Democracies don‘t attack each other or threaten peace.”

Democracies like the one run by Hamas maybe, or the recent war in Lebanon, which, by the way is, a democracy that Hezbollah participates in.

I mean, this is nonsense.  This is silly.  This is not reality.  Democracy does not ensure peace.  We know that now, don‘t we? 

BLAKEMAN:  It does not ensure peace, and sometimes democracies, unfortunately, make very poor decisions and they learn by it.  Hamas is learning a terrible lesson, that the leaders that you elect, beware, because we‘re not going to be dealing with people who, you know, have—have one line and that is Israel should be destroyed.

CARLSON:  Really?  That‘s not—whoa, Brad, that‘s not what the president says. 

BLAKEMAN:  In Lebanon—no, the president says...

CARLSON:  Wait, the president doesn‘t say the litmus test is support for Israel.  Here‘s what the president says—quote—I‘m quoting the president‘s words.  I‘m taking the president‘s words and throwing them right back at you.

Here‘s what he said today: “We will take the side of democratic leaders and reformers across the Middle East.”

Is that right, we‘re going to take the side of reformers against the Saudi government, the Egyptian government, against General Musharraf in Pakistan?  No. 

In case after case, we take the side of despots, of people who are not democratically elected and never will be.  Why?  Because they‘re pro-American and good for us. 

We should take the sides of despots when it helps us.  This is crazy rhetoric.  This is utopian, left-wing, whacko rhetoric that is dangerous. 

BLAKEMAN:  No, it is not dangerous. 

CARLSON:  Yes it is.

BLAKEMAN:  What the president said is the type of democracies like we have, are rooted in the fact that we respect the differences in people.  But not all “democratic regimes” are truly democratic. 

CARLSON:  Well, so we shouldn‘t be supporting the Saudis?  Or should we support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt over the Mubarak government?  The Muslim Brotherhood is for democracy.  Mubarak is not.  Should we support the Muslim Brotherhood?

BLAKEMAN:  We support those regimes that best align with our policies. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

BLAKEMAN:  And our policies in the Middle East, first and foremost, is the protection of Israel, the right and respect of each other and their sovereignties.  And not all governments are going to be as good as we would like them to be.

But it‘s going to be a long time in the Middle East before the Middle East reflects anything of a democracy like we would like to see nation by nation.  And we‘re realists, we understand that. 

CARLSON:  All right.  I mean—we‘re not realists.  We ought to be.  We‘re in fact a left-wing government posing as a conservative government.

That‘s my view.

Brad Blakeman, you are an articulate defender of this left-wing government, though, and I appreciate it. 

BLAKEMAN:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thank you.

Now on to another hotspot in the Middle East, Iran.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s regime is apparently ignoring today‘s U.N.‘s deadline for freezing its nuclear program.  Now the Pentagon believes Tehran could be only five years away from building its first atomic bomb. 

So, in the face-off with Iraq, who blinks first, us or them?

Joining me now, the author of “Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown With Iran,” Ken Timmerman.  He‘s also the executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran.  He joins us from Washington. 

Ken, welcome.  What are we going to do about this?  Are we going to do anything about it? 

KEN TIMMERMAN, NEWSMAX.COM:  Well, let me just tell you what‘s going to happen in the next couple of weeks, Tucker. 

There is a U.N. Security Council resolution which is standing on the books that gave us the deadline today for Iran to comply, and obviously they have not complied.  That resolution actually calls on—for sanctions against Iran for its noncompliance. 

Now, we‘ve been hearing in the press that the Russians and the French and the Chinese are very unhappy about this.  They don‘t want to have economic sanctions on Iran.  But, you know, they could wheeze and complain all that they want, but they‘ve already signed up to sanctions when they signed on to Security Council Resolution 1696. 

So, we are going to see some sort of sanctions on Iran in the next couple of weeks. 

CARLSON:  But haven‘t we had sanctions in one form or another since the Carter administration?  And what good have they done?

TIMMERMAN:  We‘ve had unilateral American sanctions in Iran, with the exception of a short period during the seizure—the taking of the U.S.  hostages in Tehran when there were international banking sanctions.  But this will be the first time that there are some kind of international, multilateral, U.N.-enforced economic and probably diplomatic sanctions.

What that means is a travel ban on Iranian government officials.  That‘s something the Iranians really care about. 

CARLSON:  But what if—what if Iran says, you know, “Let‘s be real here, you do that to us, Russia, France, we‘re going to cut off your oil”?  I mean, isn‘t that sufficient to get the Russians, for instance, to name one among many, to do their bidding?  I mean, are the Russians really going to side with us if the Iranians cut off their oil?  No. 

TIMMERMAN:  Well, the Russians don‘t import oil from Iran.  Russia is, you know, the second largest oil exporter in the world.  But the Russians care about nuclear contracts in Iran.

CARLSON:  OK.

TIMMERMAN:  That is certain.  And they care about other contracts in Iran. 

But look, the Russians have signed on to this U.N. Security Council resolution.  It‘s going to be very difficult for them to back out now, unless—unless the State Department does a Belgian waffle.

I mean, remember that the Belgians‘ great gift to the art of diplomacy has been the waffle.  If the Russians do one of those, we‘re in trouble.  If the State Department does one of those we‘re going to be in trouble.

CARLSON:  Can the United States, should the United States realistically threaten force?  I mean, it seems that we‘re watching this movie in slow motion, Iran is building a bomb, we know it, we haven‘t done anything about it so far. 

Should we just say continue and we‘ll bomb you? 

TIMMERMAN:  Well, you know, Tucker, I have said for years to this administration and the Clinton administration we have a great option, which is help the Iranian people.  This regime is tremendously unpopular inside Iran. 

Ahmadinejad was elected with possibly 8 to 10 percent participation at the polls.  It was massively boycotted, that election.

We should be helping the people of Iran to get of this regime.  We haven‘t been doing it.

My fear is that we are soon going to be left with the worst possible option, which is military force.  I don‘t think we have a good certainty of getting all of Iran‘s nuclear and missile sites.  There‘s a great deal of clandestine activity going on there today as we speak.  And if they have any of their capability left, they will launch the next day on Israel and to anybody else who‘s within range. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Ken, just tell me quickly in one sentence, do you think after—you know, Iran is watching carefully the U.S. experience in Iraq.  Do you think at this point Iran fears that we would against them militarily, or do you think they think that we‘re, you know, not capable of hurting anyone anymore? 

TIMMERMAN:  Well, first of all, they don‘t fear us acting militarily against them.  Second of all, they actually welcome destruction.  Ahmadinejad believes that the end of the world is near and that he can hasten it through a massive, destructive world war. 

So that‘s what we‘re up against.  We‘re up against a religious zealotry, which is extreme. 

CARLSON:  That‘s terrifying.  Much more terrifying, I would say, than Saddam Hussein, by a—by a factor. 

Thanks a lot, Ken.  I appreciate it.

TIMMERMAN:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Still to come, the Warren Jeffs media frenzy.  The captured polygamist from the 10 most wanted list is all over the headlines today.  But could it be John Mark Karr all over again?

And the presidential snuff film.  Why some people are outraged by a drama that imagines the assassination of George W. Bush, written, produced and directed by foreigners. 

We‘ll tell you all about it when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Now to a story that is far from fading from the headlines, the capture of Warren Jeffs.  The polygamist leader who was a fixture on the FBI‘s 10 most wanted list will not fight extradition to Utah.  But his story is generating a lot of controversy, especially on this show.

Here‘s what Utah‘s attorney general had to say yesterday when I asked him what exactly Jeffs has been accused of doing. 

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK SHURTLEFF, UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL:  So what is your point?  What is your point other than sitting back in your ivory tower and trying to second-guess law enforcement? 

CARLSON:  Here‘s—here‘s my point, and here‘s—OK.

First of all, again, just to school you this, this may come as news to you, you have a right to second-guess law enforcement if you want. 

(CROSSTALK)

SHURTLEFF:  I didn‘t say you have one, but you sound stupid when you do because it doesn‘t sound like you‘ve educated yourself to the problem. 

CARLSON:  My question is really simple.  Please just answer it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I‘ll ask the question again of my next guest, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. 

Mr. Shurtleff, thanks a lot for coming on.

SHURTLEFF:  Thanks for having me back.

CARLSON:  I know it angered you yesterday when I asked what exactly Mr.  Jeffs did.  Mr. Jeffs sounds like a creep to me.  I‘m not defending the guy.  But it‘s interesting, I think, that—how difficult it is to find out exactly what this guy is accused of doing. 

We called your office last night.  We just had a producer call over there less than an hour ago, talked to a PIO who couldn‘t tell us even the age of the girl who he is accused of being involved in raping. 

Just tell us in ordinary English what exactly he‘s accused of doing. 

SHURTLEFF:  I‘ll try to make this monosyllabic enough, OK?  He‘s accused of rape, I‘ve said it several times.  Two counts of first-degree felony rape, punishable by five years to life in prison. 

And that‘s what it is.  I mean, what else—what else can I say?  What don‘t you understand about that? 

CARLSON:  I want to know what he‘s accused of doing.  I know what the charges—the legal charges are rape.  I have the indictment right in front of me.  It‘s very nonspecific. 

But I want to know—it says that he aided another to commit sexual intercourse with a person older than 14, younger than 18.  OK.  But what does that mean?  He convinced—pushed a girl in what way to marry an older man? 

I mean, tell us what actually happened and when it happened.  I‘m confused as to why it‘s so hard to get this information. 

SHURTLEFF:  Well, it‘s not hard at all. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Then please provide it.

SHURTLEFF:  And you also have to understand that this man is entitled to a hearing in a court and we‘re not going over the facts in this case with you. 

CARLSON:  Wait.  You‘re calling the guy a rapist.  You can‘t tell me what exactly you mean by that? 

SHURTLEFF:  He was an accomplice to rape, which, in the law, if you assist, if you facilitate, if you encourage, if you‘re part of a rape occurring, then you can be charged as an accomplice.  And that‘s what he did.

This man has had the power over his people and over young girls in particular for years to order—on the punishment of burning in hell if you don‘t follow his commandments...

CARLSON:  OK.

SHURTLEFF:  ... to marry older men and to have sexual relations with older men.  And if they complain, if they try to get out of it, then, again, the prophet who speaks for got on earth tells them if you don‘t do this then you‘ll burn in hell. 

CARLSON:  OK.  So...

SHURTLEFF:  But it‘s a huge power that he has over people...

CARLSON:  He sounds—look, he sounds like an awful guy.  And again, you know, I don‘t understand or approve of his religion.  I don‘t approve of the way he lives.  Everything you‘ve said about him turns my stomach. 

But I also have concerns about the power you wield as the attorney general of your state.  You have the power to take people‘s freedom away.  So I think it‘s fair of me to ask you directly what exactly this guy did wrong.  So when you say he committed rape, you are not saying he has sexual intercourse with anyone.  You are saying he somehow aided in someone else sexually—physically assaulting a girl? 

Is that correct?  Just be clear.

SHURTLEFF:  As I explained to you yesterday, you don‘t have to have sexual intercourse to be guilty of rape.  If you‘re holding the rape victim down, you can be guilty.

CARLSON:  Right.

SHURTLEFF:  If you‘re an acomplice, the law allow that to happen.  And, yes, that‘s what he‘s been charged with.

CARLSON:  OK, good.  Not all of us are attorneys general.

So it‘s nice to know specifically or more specifically—still, you won‘t give details—what exactly he‘s accused of. 

Here‘s the other part that gives me pause and gives me some concern.  And I think it‘s—I‘m right to feel this way.

It is your continued attacks on not simply Warren Jeffs, but on his religion and his leadership of this church.  Now, again, this church seems like a pretty crackpot group to me, but I‘m an Episcopalian. 

But my point is, as a government official, it doesn‘t seem to me it‘s your place to attack this man‘s religion.  Here‘s what you said.  Quote—you‘re quoted—I believe this is from the “Salt Lake City Tribune.”  “He‘s behind bars.  He‘s in a jail jumpsuit.  And I hope his people see him as that, that he‘s not god on Earth, that he‘s not invincible, as he told them.”

Is it, again, your place as a government official to tell his followers that he‘s not an appropriate religious leader?  I mean, it‘s their religion, isn‘t it?

SHURTLEFF:  Well, who I‘m speaking to are his victims and proposed victims.  People haven‘t come forward because they are afraid of him and the power that he held over them, running a $150 million enterprise, which you may call religion, but it was an organization that abused women and children with the wrapping of religion around it. 

And I‘m not judging the religion.  I - I work with a lot of polygamists who have the same religious beliefs that he does but abhor the practices that he‘s—he‘s performed. 

CARLSON:  Right.

SHURTLEFF:  And so, no, it‘s never been about the religion.  It‘s been about victims of his, and I believe there are many more. 

CARLSON:  OK.

SHURTLEFF:  In fact, we pursue those and we want those people to come out and say, you‘re safe, he can‘t hurt you anymore.  Come forward and help us bring evidence against this man. 

CARLSON:  I have no—I have no doubt that there are many more victims.  I‘m wondering, though, about the victimizers.  You are alleging that Jeffs somehow facilitated a rape of an underage girl by another man. 

What is that other man being charged with?  And is he behind bars? 

SHURTLEFF:  He is—he will be behind bars if he‘s charged.  In fact, I haven‘t charged Warren Jeffs.  He‘s being charged by the Washington County attorney with my full support and backup on it.  But...

CARLSON:  Wait.  So the man who actually had sex with the girl, where is he right now? 

SHURTLEFF:  I‘m not sure.  He could have been charged in Arizona or in Utah, but if we can charge him he will be charged. 

CARLSON:  What do you mean you‘re not sure?  I thought, you know, you‘re devoting your life to bringing justice to this case.  The guy who actually committed the case physically, you don‘t even know where he is? 

SHURTLEFF:  First of all, who says I‘m devoting my life to...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  It seems—I mean, you‘re coming on this show to talk about it.

SHURTLEFF:  You asked me to come on your show.

CARLSON:  You‘re talking about it with great passion and intensity. 

SHURTLEFF:  You asked me to come on.

CARLSON:  I want to know why you don‘t about the actual rapist.  Where is he?

SHURTLEFF:  Tucker—Tucker, I don‘t know where the actual rapist is.  But he will be charged.

CARLSON:  Ooh, what a surprise.

SHURTLEFF:  We‘ve charged others.  We charged a police officer with having unlawful sex with a 16-year-old and put him behind bars.

Other men, other people have been—there are now outstanding indictments on eight men.  Grand juries have brought back indictments on eight other men who were ordered—young girls were ordered to marry them.  They‘re all being charged. 

CARLSON:  OK.

SHURTLEFF:  I‘m just not sure if this particular man yet has been charged. 

He will be.

CARLSON:  OK.  Well, I‘d get right on that if I were you because it sounds like, you know, he deserves to be brought to justice.

Mr. Shurtleff, I appreciate your coming on.  Thanks.

SHURTLEFF:  Thanks for your advice.  And, hey, any time you want to know more about it, come out to Utah, I‘ll take you down there.  I‘ll introduce you to the victims, and then you can better understand.

CARLSON:  It‘s a great state.  That‘s why—that‘s why I‘m surprised that you don‘t even seem—“I don‘t know where he is,” you said. 

I don‘t know, I would—I would get on that, though.  It does seem important and worth following up on.

SHURTLEFF:  Thank you very much.

CARLSON:  Thanks.

SHURTLEFF:  We‘ve got our hands full right now with Warren Jeffs. 

Appreciate you giving more attention to it.  Thanks.

CARLSON:  Coming up, who‘s to blame for the Kentucky plane crash that killed 49 people this weekend?  The latest tragic information just ahead on that.

And what‘s in the water over at “The View”?  Two stars are slimming down dramatically by slightly suspicious means.  We‘ve got the story when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “Beat the Press.”

First up, while covering the Katie Couric air-brushing scandal yesterday, some of our anchors here at MSNBC dug up their own publicity shots to show just how easy it is to give someone a Photoshop makeover. 

Take a look at the show and tell put on by our friends, Amy Robach and Tessa Brewer (ph) and Alex Witt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY ROBACH, MSNBC ANCHOR:  I have my publicity photo up here for a reason, David, because I wish my skin looked that good.  Please ignore the wrinkles on the actual poster itself.

But if you look at it, I mean, clearly, my picture has been air-brushed. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Let‘s put up my publicity photo here for a second.  Look, they‘ve managed to make me look shy and demure and retiring.  I mean, if that‘s Photoshopping (ph), that has changed who I am. 

ALEX WITT, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Can‘t we just take a look at my promo shot?  I mean, granted, it is considerably different—there you go.  It‘s certainly different than how I look now.  My hair is shorter.  And, you know what?  The photo—I‘ve got flawless skin. 

Let me tell you, it had to have been touched up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  You know, one of the effects of this Katie Couric story breaking is that a lot of us can come forward and admit that we, too, are victims of air-brushing.  Now it can be told.

I‘m going to add my voice to the chorus of my friends at MSNBC.  There‘s a before picture, before air-brushing, before Photoshop.  And there—there‘s the after. 

You‘ll notice a difference.  Tragic, but true. 

Well, in other Photoshop news, the P.R. department at “The View” is painting a rather Rosie picture of Rosie O‘Donnell.  The newest member of the ladies‘ roundtable says she is also a victim of air-brushing abuse. 

After checking out her new self in the show‘s publicity picture, she said today on her Web site, “Look at the amount of white space between my arm and body.  Barbara and Elizabeth seem to vanish there in my underarm.”

Well, she‘s not the only one.  We‘re beginning to fear that maybe something about “The View” had a pretty radical affect on people‘s physical experience. 

You remember Star Jones?  When she started “The View” she looked very different.  There‘s the first Star Jones.  That‘s when she began her gig on ABC‘s “The View”. 

Then on the right-hand side of your screen you see what was left by the time she left the program.

“The View,” the most effective weight loss program known to man. 

Well, we‘ve been on the Kyra Phillips story from the very moment it broke on Tuesday.  We will continue to update you as news warrants.  That‘s our pledge to you, the viewer.

There are new developments today in that saga.  Just two days after her nationally broadcast bathroom break, the CNN anchor will read the top 10 list on David Letterman‘s show tonight.  If you somehow haven‘t seen the clip, we show it to you again here for gratuity‘s sake and for the sake of news. 

Here it is.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE)

PHILLIPS:  Good. 

Of course.  Brothers have to be, you know, protective.  Except for mine. 

I‘ve got to be protective of him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE)

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Kyra...

Yeah, baby? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Your mic is on.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CARLSON:  You know how Anderson Cooper pledges never to forget what happened during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans?  We pledge never to forget what happened with Kyra Phillips in the bathroom at  CNN.

We heard Kyra call her sister-in-law “a control freak.”  Well, here‘s a photograph published in the “New York Post” today of Phillips with the sister-in-law in question in better times. 

The woman told “The Post” she would rather not comment on Kyra‘s criticism of her. 

Wow.  She must have been mad.  As a control freak, she just didn‘t want to lose control. 

Well, still to come, is the GOP headed for a big fall in November?  Why one conservative observer calls the party “pitiful.”  It‘s going to be ugly, he says.

And why some cartoon characters better kick the habit or else. 

That story when we come back in mere moments. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, outrage over what some people are calling a presidential snuff film.  And the latest on the Kentucky plane crash that killed 49 people this weekend.  We get to both of those stories in just a moment, but right now here is a look at your headlines. 

(MARKET UPDATE)

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.

Joining us from Washington, Democratic strategist Rich Masters; from Burbank, California, Stephanie Miller, she‘s the host of the nationally syndicated “Stephanie Millie Show”; and from Las Vegas, radio talk show host Heidi Harris. 

Welcome to you all. 

RICH MASTERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Thanks, Tuck.

CARLSON:  In today‘s “Los Angeles Times,” Jonah Goldberg says it may be time to give President Bush a break.  Goldberg thinks all the complaints about the president really come down to one thing:  Iraq.  And he says Bush shouldn‘t be judged entirely on that. 

And he may be right, Heidi.  Here‘s my question though.  I actually think it‘s totally fair to judge Bush on Iraq.  Bush thinks, from his behavior, that it‘s fair to judge him on Iraq, because that‘s essentially what he‘s running on, what his party will be running on in the midterm elections.  My question is:  Is that a smart strategy, to run on Iraq? 

HEIDI HARRIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, you‘re going to have to.  You‘ll going to sink or swim based on Iraq.  Obviously, people are going to judge him every single day on making this huge decision to go into Iraq.  So it‘s fair.  I think some of the other criticism—I agree with Jonah Goldberg—some of the other criticism may be levied at him that‘s really not entirely fair.  But when it comes to Iraq, hey, you make that decision and you‘re going to have to handle the conditions one way or the other. 

CARLSON:  Good for you.  Good for you for saying that.

Stephanie Miller, let me just say, I completely agree with that.  It‘s Bush‘s decision.  Fifty years from now, we may consider him a genius.  More likely we‘ll consider it, you know, a bad choice, whatever.  Isn‘t that the issue, though, Iraq?  To see people, you know, attack Bush for Hurricane Katrina—former Vice President Gore seemed to imply Bush was responsible for the storm itself because of global warming.  Why not just focus on what matters?  Why do liberals go off into nutcase land with attacks like those? 

STEPHANIE MILLER, HOST, “STEPHANIE MILLER SHOW”:  Into what land?

CARLSON:  Well, why not focus on—if you hate Bush because of Iraq, why not just say so?  Why not—you know, why are liberals always accusing him...

MILLER:  OK, first of all...

CARLSON:  ... of being in league with Halliburton or, you know, getting mad at him about Katrina, things that really aren‘t the point? 

MILLER:  OK.  Well, first of all, I don‘t hate Bush.  I don‘t know anyone that hates him.  I don‘t know him personally.  I think his policies have been disastrous. 

CARLSON:  You don‘t know anyone...

MILLER:  And if the advice to him...

CARLSON:  Wait.  You don‘t know anyone who hates Bush?  I know, like, 1,000 people who hate Bush.  Where do you live?

MILLER:  No, not hate him personally, not like, oh, let‘s see, people who hated Bill Clinton. 

CARLSON:  Wow.

MILLER:  But my point is that, if that‘s his strength, if running on invading a country that was no threat to us, that had no weapons of mass destruction, that‘s now created a Shia crescent across the entire Middle East, that is an unnecessary quagmire that has killed, you know, countless thousands, if that‘s his strong suit, I say, “Go with that.  Yes, run on that.” 

CARLSON:  OK. 

Now, Rich, you‘re a Democrat, but I don‘t think you‘re a crazy partisan.  You‘re a clear thinker.  If you were a Republican—and you live in Washington—and this is an honest question—what would you run on?  What do you think the president‘s party ought to run on in the midterm elections? 

MASTERS:  If I was giving them advice, I think that they‘re doing the right thing.  They should run on Iraq.  I mean, you know, the oldest strategy in the book—and if you look at Karl Rove‘s politics and this president‘s politics, they run directly at weaknesses.  Well, Iraq is clearly the president‘s largest weakness. 

And he can either sit back and say, “I made a mistake,” or he can run at it, embrace it, and try to convince the American people that the way the war was handled and what he is doing makes sense.  I personally don‘t think it makes sense, and I don‘t think most of the Americans think it makes sense, but he‘s running directly at his largest weakness, which is one of the oldest political tricks in the book.  Because I‘ve got news for you: 

There‘s nothing else he can run on, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  It‘s totally smart.  I mean, watching Bush speak is a cringe-making experience.  It is, as a friend of mine once said, like watching a drunk man cross an icy street.  So, of course, Bush makes fun of himself in public all the time.  He‘s very clever. 

Well, speaking of making fun of Bush...

MILLER:  You know, Tucker, I think that, ever since you‘ve gotten rid of the bowtie, you‘ve been getting more blood to your brain.  You‘re starting to see things the way the rest of us do. 

CARLSON:  No, I don‘t know.  I‘ve just covered Bush.  I‘ve been around Bush a lot.  And in person, you never get the feeling that Bush is dumb.  Bush is actually not dumb at all.  And when you‘re with him, he conveys exactly what he wants to convey.  You understand exactly what he means. 

The second he gets on a podium—I don‘t know if it he‘s tense, I don‘t know what it is—he sounds like a moron.  And it‘s a big problem.  He‘s not a moron.  And those of, you know, us who have been around him know that. 

HARRIS:  I think it makes him sound human, quite frankly. 

CARLSON:  Maybe it does.  Maybe it does.

HARRIS:  There‘s so much criticism about that.  I would rather have someone sound genuine than sound constantly rehearsed, and I appreciate that about President Bush. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Well, I want to know what you think of this, “Death of a President.”  In a new British docudrama set to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next week, President Bush is assassinated.  The film‘s director says he wanted to show the effect Bush‘s death would have on the war on terror.  Many outraged Americans are saying they‘d rather not see it.

Here‘s what Peter Dale, the head of the company who created the film, says.  He says the drama is, quote, “a thought-provoking critique of contemporary U.S. society.  It‘s a pointed political examination of what the war terror did to the American body politic.” 

And I wonder, Stephanie, if we really need foreigners critiquing our body politic.  Maybe they can just be quiet for a moment.  Do you think that would be a good strategy? 

MILLER:  Well, first of all, I don‘t think we‘re in charge of what films they can or can‘t make in Britain. 

CARLSON:  No, unfortunately, we‘re not.  But let‘s say we were. 

MILLER:  I apologize for not being a liberal that will defend the president being assassinated. 

(LAUGHTER)

I know that I was booked to defend this film, but...

CARLSON:  Good for you.  You don‘t need to apologize.  I don‘t want you to be unreasonable.  I like it when people are reasonable.

MILLER:  No, I mean, I just am saying, I don‘t think that we can control what films they do or do not make, you know?  So, I mean, that‘s all I can say.  At least this doesn‘t have Madonna in a cross in it, you know. 

CARLSON:  Rich Masters, it seems to me, if I were running the Republican Party, I would make more of things like this, because I think the one thing that all Americans can agree on—except for people maybe on the fringes on either side—is that criticism, sort of, you know, the arrogance of the French and I would say particularly the Brits, the kind of dismissive tone they adopt when they talk about America, it‘s very annoying. 

Why don‘t the Republicans jump on this and say, “You know, they hate us; therefore, we must be doing something right”?

MASTERS:  Listen, I think they absolutely will.  I imagine that the free publicity that the Republican National Committee is going to give to this movie that probably would have gotten no attention on its own will be extraordinary. 

And unfortunately, it says a lot about the American body politic that a film something like this could actually be out there, and not only be out there, it‘ll probably be pretty successful.  And I think a lot of it is the remnants of the kind of presidency that George Bush has chosen. 

He has become a bitterly polarizing president who has put, I think, the Republican Party long ahead of public policy in this country and he has decided that, if you are a moderate and you‘re a Democrat, we‘re coming after you.  It‘s all about pure power with these guys.  And I think it‘s really, really unfortunate.  And I think the success of these films on both on the left and the right are a direct result of the more partisan, bitter partisanship that we see here. 

CARLSON:  Boy, I just see—you know, having lived in Washington for 15 years thereabouts and lived through Clinton, the first Bush, then Clinton, then Bush, I see almost all the bitterness on the left right now.  I don‘t think that‘s a partisan point.  I‘m not saying that because I‘m not on the left; I‘m saying that because that‘s really what I see.  The haters right now, and this hasn‘t always been the case, they‘re on the left. 

I mean, Heidi, do you see that?  I‘m sorry, go ahead?

MILLER:  Tucker, can I just jump in to say there is difference?  With Bill Clinton, they were criticizing him personally and for his personal life.  We‘re criticizing policies that, I think, clearly have been disastrous...

(CROSSTALK) 

CARLSON:  Well, to some extent, you‘re right.  The criticism of Clinton was very personal.  I think you‘re absolutely right.  And that‘s why it didn‘t work very well; that‘s why Clinton‘s numbers went up after impeachment.  That‘s why, you know, people had sympathy Clinton, because the attacks were so personal.

However, I see a lot of the attacks on Bush as personal.  You know, he‘s moron.  Particularly the attacks on his religion.  He‘s a religious nut.  People hate Bush on some level, I believe—liberals do—because he‘s an evangelical.  They think he wants to impose Christianity on our country, and they hate evangelical Christianity. 

HARRIS:  But why do they feel so threatened by him? 

MILLER:  No, I think people tend to do that when you say God made you president and God wanted you to invade Iraq, people tend to right away get all crazy.

CARLSON:  He hasn‘t—apart from stem cells, which you could argue about—he hasn‘t pushed a religious agenda on this country.  He‘s not any kind of religious whacko.  I mean...

MASTERS:  And, I mean, listen, I don‘t think anyone on the right criticized Bill Clinton, because Bill Clinton, you know, throughout much of his presidency used biblical quotes and went to his faith.

CARLSON:  I criticized him. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... from day one.  He was always waving the Bible around. 

He got in trouble he had all these phony preachers over to the White House. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... Christianity made we want to throw up.  And it makes me want to throw up just thinking about it now. 

MASTERS:  Less so than George Bush though, I mean, by far. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t like it when anybody claims the mantle of God in political office.

HARRIS:  But why are so many people threatened?  Why isn‘t he entitled to discuss his faith and say, “Listen, it‘s what guides my life”?  He‘s not asking his faith to guide anybody else‘s life.  So what‘s the big threat?  Why are people who are secularists so threatened by the faith of those of us who are Christians?  And I am a Christian myself.  I don‘t understand it. 

MILLER:  Well, you know, Heidi, I may be a secularist, but I‘ll tell you what I pray for:  I pray for the peace and prosperity we had under Bill Clinton, to have that back.  That‘s what I would like back. 

CARLSON:  Well, you know what?

HARRIS:  You mean the peace we had September 10th, you mean that peace, not the peace of September 11th

MILLER:  Pardon me?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  If I can just say, if I can give a glimpse into the future here, Stephanie, you‘re obviously not probably going to be voting Republican in the midterm election.  It looks like...

MILLER:  Oh, and I was so close to it.  I‘ve been debating back and forth, back and forth. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  It looks like everybody I know believes...

MILLER:  You know, Tucker, I‘ve been dancing back and forth like you‘re going to be on “Dancing with the Stars.”  I can‘t decide. 

CARLSON:  Listen to this.  Bob Novak, formerly of CNN, now with FOX, still a columnist, pretty smart about politics, quite smart, follows the races, congressional House and Senate races closely.  He says the outlooks for Republicans in the midterm is, quote, “pitiful.”  He goes on to say, quote, “Any way one looks at it, the odds are clearly stacked against the GOP and in favor of Democrats.” 

Rich, you follow this stuff closely.

MASTERS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Step aside from your own political beliefs for a second. 

What do you think is going to happen? 

MASTERS:  Well, I mean, I think all indications are that it is headed this way, headed toward Democratic takeover of the House.  And then there‘s a new poll out this morning, Tucker, that shows the hard-core conservative knocking off Lincoln Chafee in his Senate seat. 

CARLSON:  Amen.

MASTERS:  So there are Senate seats that are going to clearly be in play.  But taking off my partisan hat, this race, these House races and the Senate races are going to be very close.  And if Democrats are running around doing the end zone dance right now, I‘m urging them not to.  And I don‘t think we are.

We‘re rolling up our sleeves.  We‘re coming out with an agenda.  And I think that the leaders in both the House and the Senate need to start preparing at some point for us to take over governing.  And we need to take over and have a progressive policy agenda.  We can‘t come back for the two years—if we take over Congress—with anything other than a hard-core policy agenda, if we‘re going to go into ‘08 with any kind of expectations. 

CARLSON:  Stephanie Miller, if you could boil down very quickly the Democratic strategy for governing or the idea behind the Democratic Party circa 2006, what would it be?

MILLER:  Well, I think that we have, you know, a smarter strategy to deal with terror, to deal with the war in Iraq.  You have to be strong and smart, and I think that‘s what the president is missing.  How many catch phrases has he gone through?  “Making progress,” “stay the course,” “adapt to win,” “Islamofascism,” “cut and run”... 

MASTERS:  “Mission accomplished.” 

MILLER:  Yes.  I mean, you know that you‘re grasping for straws when you can‘t even find one and stick with it.  You know, now it‘s just like...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Maybe you guys can bring better slogans to D.C.

MILLER:  ...”terrorists will kill you.”

CARLSON:  Heidi, hey, Heidi, finally, Heidi, you obviously are in touch with a lot of conservatives that call your show.  Do Republicans you talk to, do they believe that their party is about to eat it? 

HARRIS:  Well, here‘s the problem, Tucker.  I think that a lot of Republicans get so furious—there really is a double standard.  Republicans expect more, I think, from their politicians than Democrats do.  Democrats don‘t toe the line; they don‘t even know where the line is most of the time.  If Republicans do anything wrong, Republican voters tend to get disgusted and say, “Well, fine.  I‘m just not going to vote.”  So that doesn‘t help...

(CROSSTALK)  

CARLSON:  You‘ve got a president who wants America to be more like Mexico, you know?  I mean, he lost my support on that, the immigration stuff.

HARRIS:  No question about it. 

CARLSON:  Not on my team, anymore.  Thanks you all very much.  I appreciate it.

MASTERS:  Thanks, Tucker.

MILLER:  Something we can all agree on:  He‘s done a really bad job on border security.

CARLSON:  Yes! 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  All right.  Thanks. 

Another politician who supported the Bush administration‘s war in Iraq cuts and runs away to try to save himself.  What a loser.  Why won‘t these flip-floppers apologize for backing the war in the first place?  We‘ll discuss that when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time to take a look at today‘s stories I just don‘t get.  We begin with a growing trend here in Washington that I don‘t get:  the shifting winds of war. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS ®, CONNECTICUT:  All of you are patriots.  All of you are good people.  All of you I know want to see success in Iraq, and I pray that we see it, but I think that we‘ve got our work cut out for us. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That‘s Republican Congressman Chris Shays of Connecticut.  He once derided Democrats for demanding a phased pullout from Iraq.  But now the lawmaker is doing an about-face.  Faced with a tough re-election campaign, Shays is now proposing his own timetable for withdrawal of American troops. 

He admits buckling under the pressure of growing antiwar sentiment in his state.  And Shays said he now believes it‘s time for the Iraqi people to take control of their own destiny.  I feel like retching. 

Chris Shays is one of the reasons we‘re in Iraq right now.  If he‘s going to repent, he should repent of the ideas that got us there.  Does he still believe that the U.S. has a moral obligation to impose democracy on other countries?  He should have to answer that question.  It‘s not enough to say, “It‘s not going well.  I think we ought to adjust our tactics.”  The question is:  Does he still support the ideas?

Please, someone, ask him that. 

Next, I really don‘t get the latest cat fight over censorship and cigarette smoking.  Tom and Jerry have been Saturday morning TV stars for more than a half a century, but now the fur is flying over the pair‘s occasional kick for nicotine.  After a single British viewer complained that the cartoon was setting a bad example for kids, Time Warner decided to alter the offensive scenes, and that sparked an animated debate:  Should decades-old art, because that‘s what it is, be censored to satisfy current trends?

Some parents argue that protecting kids should be the primary concern here.  Here‘s what I don‘t get:  Liberals argue that violence or sex in movies doesn‘t encourage kids to commit violence or have sex, but somehow one person lighting a pipe in a 50-year-old cartoon is going to turn your kid into a nicotine addict?  That‘s insane. 

So if we think that kids are that affected by what they see on television, we ought to take a very close look at what‘s on television, all the sex, all the violence.  Maybe we should, come to think of it.

And finally, the latest news about what may have led to the deaths of 49 people in Lexington, Kentucky, when a jet crashed there last weekend.  It needs an explanation right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The controller worked a shift from 6:30 a.m.  Saturday morning, and he went off-duty at 2:30 p.m.  On Saturday night, he went back on duty at 11:30 p.m., and he was on duty until the time that the accident occurred. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  The lead federal investigator reveals that the air traffic controller on duty at the time of the disaster had slept just two hours between shifts and he was the only one manning the tower when the Comair jet went down, even though federal regulations require at least two controllers on watch.  Aviation experts tell us this is a common interaction at small airports across the country. 

Well, so just how common are these types of dangerous one-man double shifts at small, regional airports that many of use every day?  We need an explanation, we need it now, and there‘s no one better to give it than NBC News‘ Robert Hager, who knows everything there is to know about aviation.  He joins us from Hanover, New Hampshire. 

Bob Hager, thanks a lot for coming on.  Can you give us some perspective on this?  It sounds horrible; is it? 

ROBERT HAGER, NBC NEWS ANALYST:  Yes, actually, there are not too many airports where this is the case.  And what happened here, I think more important than the fact there‘s only one controller on duty—because Sunday morning at 6:10 a.m. when the crash occurred—more important than only one controller on duty is the fact that there was so little to do. 

I mean, the shift that he‘d worked, that double shift almost, with nine hours in between, only two hours of sleep, and kind of odd hours of finishing work and coming back.  During the night, after he reported in for duty, the first 5 ½ hours of this shift, nothing happened.  No planes departed from midnight until 3:00 a.m. in the morning.  Then only a couple planes departed from 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., then comes the crash.  I think it was just the dullness of that and not paying attention. 

CARLSON:  Well, whose job is it to tell the pilot which runway to take off from?  Is that something the air traffic controllers do?

HAGER:  That‘s the controller.  And he told him.  He told him the correct runway to take off on.  So let‘s not get confused.  I mean, a basic fault here, the basic human error is on the part of the pilots.  They are the ones who are responsible for the runway that they take off on, and they‘d been directed to the correct airport. 

The controller, it doesn‘t say the controller has to watch what that plane is doing.  This controller said he went on to administrative duties, but, gee, there was not much activity, you know?  And the controller is supposed to scan the runways and be generally aware of what‘s happening all the time.  So the controller has to bear some responsibility, too. 

CARLSON:  And finally, this is the kind of accident you could imagine happening.  If there is a runway at a commercial airport that‘s for general aviation, too short for jets to take off from, you would think that they would close it off maybe?  Or had anyone ever thought that something like this might happen? 

HAGER:  Well, general aviation planes have to take off, too, so they got to leave that runway open.  And through history, there have been, you know, so few accidents.  Gosh, you‘ve got to go back to the 1960s for an accident like this in the U.S., where a plane actually took off from the wrong runway, although pilots and controllers have made very basic human errors in other areas all through the years. 

There was a plane in Singapore that took off on the wrong runway with a heavy loss of life.  So you wouldn‘t ordinarily expect this.  I mean, it‘s just so elementary an error. 

CARLSON:  Huh.  That‘s amazing and amazingly sad.  NBC‘s Robert Hager, the definitive voice on this and all subjects related to aviation, thank you very much. 

HAGER:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  We‘ll give you one guess why this teenager might be headed for the “Guinness Book of World Records.”  If you say biggest stamp collection, you are wrong.  We‘ll tell you when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Just when you thought it couldn‘t get any better, here is Willie Geist at headquarters—Willie?

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  It‘s about to get a whole lot better, Tucker, better than you, anyway.

Twelve days countdown to “Dancing with the Stars.”  Get ready.  It‘s going to be a great day.  The pressure is mounting.  We had Springer on yesterday.  He all but challenged Tucker to a duel.  It‘s going to be great.

Also Tucker, in the “Washington Post” today on their Web site, they posted a picture of this man—you might recognize him—identified in the caption as Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.  It looks a lot like David Mark Karr to me.  As far as we know, Mehlman not involved in the death of JonBenet Ramsey, although the case is still open. 

(LAUGHTER)

Tucker, one item for you:  This 14-year-old Nepalese boy may only be 20 inches tall but his dreams sure are big.  He‘s making a push to be included in the “Guinness Book of Records” as the world‘s shortest boy.  His family has petitioned Guinness, which does not yet have a world‘s shortest boy category.  Long overdue, if you ask me.

The boy and his family currently touring Nepal to raise money.  It‘s nice to see the parents exploiting the child.  I don‘t want to crush this guy‘s dreams, but isn‘t the world‘s smallest boy an infant?  If he wants to come back when he turns 18 and go for world‘s smallest man, talk to me then.  You‘re not the world‘s smallest boy.  Just sorry.

CARLSON:  Plus, that kid is like 4.  Willie Geist, thanks.

That‘s our show.  Thanks for watching.  “HARDBALL” with Norah, it‘s right now.

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

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