updated 9/13/2006 11:53:42 AM ET 2006-09-13T15:53:42

Guests: Joel Stein, Cheri Jacobus, Richard Cohen, Alex Bennett, Mark Williams, George Hamilton

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show, coming to you from Los Angeles. 

I‘m Tucker Carlson. 

Just hours away from my “Dancing with the Stars” debut, I‘m beginning to wonder if it was a good idea.  I‘ve been around the world in some very weird places, interviewed some creepy people, and yet this?  Well, tonight, for the first time, I‘ll be dancing on a live network TV for an audience of millions of people who will be voting on me and whether I get to come back. 

One man who I hope will be voting for me—hoping, anyway—“LA Times” columnist Joel Stein, who today wrote a piece about “Dancing with the Stars.”

Joel, welcome.  We wanted—I wanted you to come here really for moral support. 

JOEL STEIN, “LA TIMES”:  Yes.  Yes.  Don‘t let what people are saying bring you down. 

CARLSON:  What are people saying, Joel? 

STEIN:  Just ignore it. 

(LAUGHTER)

STEIN:  You have a great partner.  You‘re the best cut (ph) man in the business. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

STEIN:  You‘re going to be OK.

CARLSON:  The best cut (ph) man.

STEIN:  Just walk it all off.

CARLSON:  What‘s the best strategy, do you think? 

STEIN:  For you?

CARLSON:  Yes.

STEIN:  Don‘t fall. 

CARLSON:  Don‘t fall.  But if I do fall, actually, it seems to me this is a show where a lot of ordinary decent Americans are watching.  I think there‘s a sympathy vote inherent in falling. 

STEIN:  That‘s one strategy.  I‘d also get in the other guys‘ heads if you can. 

CARLSON:  How do you do that? 

STEIN:  You know, like Jordan used to.  Just kind of trash talk Joey Lawrence a little bit.  He‘s bald now.  It‘s going to freak people out.  Get him thinking about his head instead of his steps. 

CARLSON:  I‘ve seen Joey Lawrence dance.  It‘s very hard to trash talk from your back, as they say.  Do you know what I mean?  It‘s hard to trash talk if they are objectively better than you. 

STEIN:  Right.  Yes.  Is there anyone you‘re better than? 

CARLSON:  There may be some.  I haven‘t—I mean, I hope I‘m better than Jerry Springer, but what do you think?  I mean, it seems to me Jerry Springer‘s got a lot of dynamic working in his favor.

STEIN:  Yes.  Well, he‘s got a lot of fans who are the kind of people that might call in a lot. 

CARLSON:  You think so?

STEIN:  Whereas your fans might not be watching.

CARLSON:  Yes.  We‘ve got to get our base out. 

What is—if you were me, what would your pitch be to American, say to Jerry Springer‘s fans? 

STEIN:  Oh, do you get to beg? 

CARLSON:  Yes, of course I get to beg.

STEIN:  Oh.

CARLSON:  This is—this is all about begging.  This is about—this is and election. 

STEIN:  This is like a high school election? 

CARLSON:  No, this is like a national—this is like the presidential election. 

STEIN:  Gee.  Wow.  I guess—well, you‘re not going to wear the bow tie, right?

CARLSON:  No.

STEIN:  All right.  That‘s huge right there.

CARLSON:  Think so?

STEIN:  People like you for that.

CARLSON:  Actually, I‘m beginning the evening wearing the bow tie, then the bow tie will be removed by force by a muscular Russian woman in a bikini, if I‘m not letting too much out of the bag here. 

STEIN:  You‘ll win.

CARLSON:  You think so?

STEIN:  You think Springer‘s doing something like that?

CARLSON:  Probably.

STEIN:  Definitely.

CARLSON:  Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  If there‘s anything, you know, cheesy and bikini-related that he can use to his advantage, he will.

How much do you think of this is the partner?  Does that matter who your partner is?

STEIN:  Well, I was talking to someone from ABC last night, and she was a big fan of yours.  She was hoping you don‘t get eliminated, but she was concerned. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  She‘s concerned.

STEIN:  But she said that maybe one of the hot chicks who you‘re competing against will get knocked off because in past years they always won because they were hot.

CARLSON:  Right.

STEIN:  But this year there‘s a bunch of hot chicks, plus the partners are hotter.  So I—and you‘ve got a hot partner.

CARLSON:  So you think there‘s a hotness fatigue going on in this country? 

Five years after 9/11 are we really finally fed up with physical beauty? 

STEIN:  I think there‘s just a lot on this particular show.  So not that you‘re not a handsome man.

CARLSON:  Right.

STEIN:  But I‘m just saying I don‘t think that‘s going to hurt you as much as other things.

CARLSON:  But there‘s a (INAUDIBLE) hotties?  It‘s like hottie overload? 

STEIN:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  Do you think I should pander to the judges on the show? 

STEIN:  Oh, yes.  Always pander to the judges, right?  Are you bringing some kind of cupcakes?  Cupcakes are good. 

CARLSON:  I‘m not bringing anything. 

STEIN:  Bring cupcakes. 

CARLSON:  I‘m bringing—really?

STEIN:  Yes.

CARLSON:  You think gifts?

STEIN:  Yes.

CARLSON:  The problem I have is that a number of the judges are foreign.  And they‘ve come to our country and they basically have made a living insulting American citizens.  And there‘s something about it that annoys me.

STEIN:  One thing I know about foreign judges from the Olympics is they are really susceptible to bribes. 

(LAUGHTER)

STEIN:  So usually drugs and hookers, but cupcakes I think might work, too.

CARLSON:  Cupcakes or Rolex watches.

STEIN:  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

CARLSON:  And do you think as a journalist—you‘re obviously a famous columnist. 

STEIN:  I cover the hard issues. 

CARLSON:  Yes, you do.  I know you do.  I was once...

STEIN:  You were a wonderful...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Before I got stuck to this.

Do you think—is this death, basically?  Or let me put it another way.

STEIN:  Right.

CARLSON:  If next season the “Dancing with the Stars” people called you, and they might, what do you say? 

STEIN:  I‘d say no.  I‘ve learned from you.  I‘m sure.

CARLSON:  OK.

STEIN:  Yes.  This isn‘t good for you career.  This isn‘t good for your self-esteem.  I don‘t see how this is helping you other than if you get remarried, you‘ll be able to dance at the wedding.

I don‘t see what good this is for you.

CARLSON:  Well, for one thing, I get to wear clothes I would never wear. 

STEIN:  That‘s true.  Do you get to keep them?

CARLSON:  Of course I do.  I get to keep the high-heeled shoes.

STEIN:  See, I bet you don‘t.  Did they tell you you get to keep them?

CARLSON:  No, they didn‘t.

STEIN:  You‘re not going to get to keep any of that.

CARLSON:  Really?

STEIN:  Yes.

CARLSON:  I‘m in a union.  I think the regulations specified I get to keep my costume.

STEIN:  I bet they take back the orange silk shirt and the grape (ph) huggers. 

CARLSON:  As long as—as long as they give me the high-heeled shoes. 

STEIN:  Wow.

CARLSON:  Unbelievable.

STEIN:  You‘re a brave man, though.  I‘ll give you that. 

CARLSON:  Thank you.  Well, reckless, brave, there‘s a fine line. 

STEIN:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Joel.  I appreciate it.

STEIN:  Nice seeing you.  Hey, good luck.  I will text vote you, or whatever. 

CARLSON:  I‘ll need it.

Thank you.

I‘ll be performing tonight live.  “Dancing with the Stars,” 8:00 p.m.

Eastern on ABC.  You don‘t want to miss it.  That goes without saying. 

Now to the news of the day.

Armed Islamic militants attacked the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria, today, but security forces fought them off successfully.  Three militants and one Syrian officer died in the battle.  There were no American casualties.

No official word yet on who was responsible.  Al Qaeda, of course, is suspected.  That attack came just hours after President Bush‘s speech on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. 

Here‘s part of what the president said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  On a bright September morning it became clear that the calm we saw in the Middle East was only a mirage.  Years of pursuing stability to promote peace have left us with neither.  So we changed our policies and committed America‘s influence in the world to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  The White House says the war on terror is all one war. 

Afghanistan equals Iraq, equals Hezbollah, equals Hamas, equals Syria.  Some people say hold on, though, 9/11 is not a blank check, and not all terrorists are the same, not all threaten the United States. 

Who‘s right?  That question for Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus. She joins us from Washington. 

Cheri, welcome. 

CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  I think—I think that is the question.  There are many people, I would say most Americans, who buy everything the president says about al Qaeda.  They understand this country is under attack by Islamic radicals who want to kill us, but they‘re not certain that Iraq is the place to fight those Islamic radicals, or that the war there is helpful to the larger war on terror. 

Which is to say, you can separate the war in Iraq from the rest of the war on terror, can you not?

JACOBUS:  Well, I guess technically you could separate every different type of terrorist into little sub groups, but I think we know that the overall broader approach is to make sure that there are no terrorists that can attack our homeland.  And that‘s where this administration has been successful, Tucker.

We have not had another attack on our homeland in five years, and that‘s something that we haven‘t heard a lot about.  But I—but the president has been remarkably consistent in his message for years now.  And so the criticism that perhaps he‘s been political with his speech, I think are ridiculous.  He hasn‘t changed his message because of the politics or the polls. 

CARLSON:  Well, actually, I tend to agree with part of what you said.  One, I think—I think this administration does deserve some credit for no attack in the last five years.

JACOBUS:  Just some, right.

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  It‘s not clear—I mean, who knows what—you know, is it that they‘re not trying to attack us, is it that we‘re intercepting the attacks before they occur?  Who knows?

But I give the Bush administration some credit for that.  I do.  I think it‘s fair to.

And I also think it‘s fair for the president to defend his Iraq policy in public on any day of the year.  So good for him.  I‘m not attacking him for that.

But I am saying that I think it is a little bit sneaky, maybe dishonest, even, to pretend that all terrorist attacks are the same.  For instance, Dick Cheney goes on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, this Sunday, with Tim Russert and says Saddam Hussein—he says this a couple of times—paid for suicide bombers.

Well, that‘s true, but those suicide bombers were in Israel.  Now, I support Israel as fervently as anybody in the world supports Israel, but a suicide bomb in Israel is not the same as a suicide bomb in Manhattan.  I‘m sorry, they‘re different.

JACOBUS:  Well...

CARLSON:  This is our country.  That‘s a foreign country.  Let‘s be real. 

JACOBUS:  Look, well, let‘s be real, too, and then look at what the world would be like if Saddam Hussein were still in power.  I mean, were we supposed to after the—again, the second attack on the World Trade Center -- the first one being in 1993 -- was this the president—was this president supposed to sit there and have Saddam Hussein thumb his nose at the U.N. inspectors even longer, do it more, just let things go on as usual and act like the United States will just sit there and take it and take it and take it? 

The fact is, this administration, this president took responsibility for it.  He did the hard thing.  And his message does not change with the polls, and that‘s where I have a great deal of respect for his leadership. 

CARLSON:  No, it doesn‘t.  No, and I respect that, too.

JACOBUS:  It would be so easy for him to, you know, sort of tap dance around.  No pun intended.  I know you‘ll be doing that this evening. 

But, you know, he could be putting his finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.  And he knows he can‘t afford to do that, that from a security standpoint we can‘t afford it.  And so he‘s doing the right thing. 

CARLSON:  No, I actually give the president a lot of credit for being a tough guy and for being a man of principle and not someone who, you know, is not beholden to the polls.  He‘s not.  He‘s not Clinton, and I give him credit for that.  However...

JACOBUS:  And he has not been pretending all terrorists are the same.  I mean...

CARLSON:  No, actually—actually, they definitely have.  They have been pretending that—you know, it‘s all part of this continuum that Iraq is really the same as Afghanistan, when, in fact, it‘s not. 

For instance, I think—to get back to the question of invading Iraq, you know, the Soviet Union was every bit as evil—I think you could argue much more evil than Saddam ever thought of being.  Certainly the Soviet leadership killed many more people than Saddam killed, and yet we allowed the Soviet Union to exist.  We didn‘t try to invade it, we didn‘t try to go to war with the Soviet Union.

We tolerated the Soviet Union, tried to keep it contained until it collapsed.  And that kind of worked actually, didn‘t it? 

JACOBUS:  Well, and we also knew that  Saddam Hussein would—was trying to kill as many of us as he could.  Eventually, he did kill 3,000 of his own people.  Who‘s to say that he would not have gone ahead and tried to get—or actually gotten the weapons of mass destruction.

We know he had the chemical and biological weapons.  We know he was willing to use them.  He wanted the world to think he had other weapons of mass destruction.  He wouldn‘t let the U.N. inspectors in.

You know, in a post-9/11 world, that‘s just not something we can tolerate. 

So, you know, this is called preventing terrorism, preventing...

CARLSON:  All right.

JACOBUS:  ... yes, better we get him before he gets us, Tucker.  And that‘s what it boils down to.

CARLSON:  I‘d like to see us apply the same standard to a couple of other countries I have in mind.

Cheri Jacobus, though, thank you very much.  I appreciate it.

JACOBUS:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Still to come, it is almost unthinkable.  A bin Laden victory in the war on terror?  But what if the terror mastermind has already won?

And only a few hours to go until “Dancing with the Stars.”  The first night‘s tonight.  This is my last chance to get advice from a veteran of the show and a Hollywood legend. 

That person joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Today‘s attack on the U.S. Embassy in Syria is just the latest battle in the war on terror.  My next guest, though, says that war is already over and Osama bin Laden won. 

In today‘s “Washington Post,” Richard Cohen writes, “It is not merely that bin Laden has not been captured or killed... it‘s rather that his initial strategy has borne fruit.  He succeeded beyond his wildest expectations when the U.S. responded to 9/11 by invading Afghanistan and, in a beat, then going to war in Iraq.  It remains mired in both countries to this day.  From bin Laden‘s standpoint, this has been a glorious victory, made possible by the totally unforeseen incompetence of the Bush administration.”

“Washington Post” columnist Richard Cohen joins us from New York. 

Richard Cohen, welcome.  I‘m a huge fan, as you know.  I never—you know, I never pretend not to be a big Richard Cohen fan, which is why I‘m confused by this column. 

I completely disagree.  I don‘t think it‘s our fault we invaded Afghanistan.  Didn‘t we have to?

RICHARD COHEN, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Yes, we did, absolutely.  And I endorsed it.  But what I‘m saying is, if you look at from bin Laden‘s point of view and what his strategy was, his strategy was to lure the United States into Afghanistan, as the Soviets had gone in years earlier and bleed us there. 

That is understandable.  But then we went into Iraq as well. 

CARLSON:  Right.

COHEN:  And if you look at us five years later, we‘re in both countries. 

We‘re stuck in both countries. 

Bin Laden could not have conceived how well this plan would work.  Besides that, he‘s alive and free somewhere. 

CARLSON:  But he hasn‘t attacked us.  And isn‘t that the only measure that in the end really matters?  I mean, you could...

COHEN:  No, no, no.  Not to him. 

To him—you have to look at it from his point of view.  What he wanted to do was to lure us into the Middle East, where he could bleed us.  And he‘s done exactly that. 

He had—not only that, he‘s recruited or terrorist organizations have recruited additional terrorists in Iraq.  The tide has turned against us in the Middle East.  I mean, public opinion runs against us severely in most of the Middle East countries.

From his point of view, he‘s a big winner. 

CARLSON:  So how do we respond?  I mean, how—I mean, how should we have responded?  I mean, apart from not going into Iraq—which that‘s a big apart from—but still, should—I mean, should we not have gone into Afghanistan, or should we have gone in and pulled out after a couple of years? 

What should we have done differently?

COHEN:  No, no, no.  We should have gone into Afghanistan because Afghanistan was sheltering bin Laden and al Qaeda...

CARLSON:  Right.

COHEN:  ... and they killed thousands of Americans.  We had an absolute obligation to even score, to do what the president did.

But we had a further obligation to stick it out in Afghanistan, to bring in enough troops and bring this man to justice.  Instead, he escaped at Tora Bora.  We didn‘t do the jobs ourselves, and he‘s still free.  And Afghanistan now, the Taliban is being resurrected and has increased violence.  And something new for Afghanistan, suicide bombings. 

So we‘re doing badly in Afghanistan, we‘re doing pitifully badly in Iraq.  And somewhere, somewhere bin Laden has to be saying, “I can‘t believe it‘s worked as well as I thought it would.”

CARLSON:  Or maybe he‘s languishing in the back of some damp cave in Waziristan, suffering day in and day out.  And isn‘t that better than him just dying in Tora Bora?  I mean, is he in charge of anything?  Maybe it‘s a good thing that he‘s suffering out there in the wilderness? 

COHEN:  His fate in some sense is immaterial.  What‘s more material is whether or not his strategy was successful.  And in that sense, it is.

I hope he‘s suffering somewhere.  I mean, I hope he gets what he deserves. 

But the fact of the matter is, he remains a symbol in the Islamic world.

He‘s issuing these tapes one after another, so he can‘t be suffering all that badly.  He‘s out there somewhere.  We haven‘t gotten him.  We said dead or alive, it‘s he‘s alive and free. 

CARLSON:  What about—the Bush administration from day one has said that American policy inspired terrorism because over the years we‘ve coddled these repressive regimes throughout the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, the Pakistani government.  What do you think of that?  We continue to of course play nice with those regimes, and I personally think we should, but what do you think of that?

I mean, should we pull back and, you know, force democracy in these—in various countries in the Middle East?  Would that help?

COHEN:  First of all, you know, it‘s not us to impose democracy anywhere in the world.  We can‘t do it.

We can encourage it.  We can say, look, it‘s the way you should go, it‘s the way we would like to go.  But the fact of the matter is—the harsh fact of the matter is—is if you toppled the Mubarak regime in Egypt tomorrow, you‘d have a hell of a problem on your hand with the Muslim Brotherhood. 

The threat in the Middle East is fundamentalist Islam.  It‘s terrorism.  The threat to the United States is not Mubarak or in Jordan, King Abdullah...

CARLSON:  Right.

COHEN:  ... or in Saudi Arabia, another King Abdullah. 

CARLSON:  I actually couldn‘t agree with that more. 

Richard Cohen, from “The Washington Post.”

Thank you very much.

COHEN:  Thanks, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, I never thought I‘d see this day, but this morning in New York, an Arab-American in “The New York Post” apologized for 9/11.  Why?  What did he say and what does he mean? 

We‘ll have that all just ahead.

And he‘s been dead for only a week, but already some people are blaming “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin for the attack that killed him.  We‘ll tell you who is blaming him and what they‘re saying when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “Beat the Press.”

First up, CNN and the perfect example of not checking with your reporter before laying out the facts.  Pay close attention to the first graphic at the bottom of your screen, then listen to what the reporter has to say. 

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MILES O‘BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR:  Let‘s just talk a little bit about the military response here.  I assume they scrambled fighters.  Are there fighters that are escorting that aircraft right now? 

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m glad you asked me that.  I was about to get to it.  No.  As of now no fighters have been scrambled.  Let me just double-check off camera.  That is correct.  No fighters have been scrambled as of now. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  “NORAD scrambles jets.”  Actually, NORAD doesn‘t scramble jets. 

America declares war on Liechtenstein.  No, just kidding. 

Make up your mind, CNN. 

Next up, “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert lightened the mood at one point by asking Vice President Dick Cheney about his hunting.  When asked if he‘s gotten over his accidental and non-fatal shooting of a hunting buddy, the vice president lightened the mood even more. 

Take a look at this exchange from this Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don‘t know that you ever get over it.  Fortunately, Harry‘s doing very well, Harry Whittington. 

TIM RUSSERT, “MEET THE PRESS”:  You‘ve talked to him? 

CHENEY:  Yes, I have.  He‘s a good man, and he could not have been more gracious and more generous.  But it‘s not the kind of thing I don‘t think anybody could ever forget. 

RUSSERT:  Should I be relieved you didn‘t bring your shotgun in today? 

CHENEY:  I wouldn‘t worry about it.  You‘re not in season. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  If you watch that show this Sunday, you know that remark came at the end of a full hour during which Tim Russert barbecued the vice president.  If I had been Dick Cheney, I would have resigned.  And yet, despite that, he comes out with what is a pretty good line.

Not bad.  Dick Cheney giving credit where it‘s due.

Still to come, Al Gore versus Hillary Clinton?  It could happen, especially with the former vice president getting support from some pretty unlikely quarters.  Find out who‘s backing him.  We have that news when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, one Arab-American writer is taking a lonely but principled stand.  He‘s apologizing for 9/11. 

Also ahead, “Dancing with the Stars” just hours away, but it‘s not too late for some advice from a legendary former contestant. 

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

(NEWSBREAK)

TUCKER:  Time now for three on three, where we welcome two of the sharpest people we know to discuss three of today‘s most interesting stories.

Joining us from New York City, Alex Bennett.  He is host of the “Alex Bennett Program” on Sirius Satellite Radio.  And from Sacramento, California, radio talk show host Mark Williams.  Welcome both.

First up, something I never thought I‘d see an Arab American apologizing for 9/11.  In today‘s “New York Post” writer Emilio Kareem Dabul (ph) says quote “I‘m sick of saying the truth only in private, that Arabs around the world including Arab Americans like myself need to start holding our own culture accountable for the insane violent actions that our extremists have perpetuated (ph) on the world at large.”  End quote.

A remarkable thing to say, Alex Bennett and I wonder if an appropriate thing to say.  If you picked any other culture, if a group of Methodists had perpetrated 9/11 you can bet the Methodist Church would be on its knees for the next century or so undergoing an exercise of self examination, but we have not seen that from the Arab world.

ALEX BENNETT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I think it‘s kind of ridiculous in a way.  If it makes him feel good, fine.  But is anybody like George Bush apologizing for the Crusades because he‘s a Christian?  The fact of the matter is only a stupid person would blame Arab culture or blame Muslims in general for the acts of a group.

CARLSON:  I think part of what you‘re saying is right but there‘s no question that radical Islam is at the root of the terrorist acts of 9/11 and most of the terrorism we‘re facing around the world.  There‘s something about the way the religion is being interpreted right now in 2006 that has gone very, very wrong and has the Muslim world struggled with that.

BENNETT:  You could probably say the Ku Klux Klan was radical Christianity. 

There are radical elements in any religious group.

CARLSON:  I don‘t know why you‘re ignoring an obvious point.  That doesn‘t exist anymore and the people who perpetuate (ph) 9/11 do so why not get to the bottom of it?  It‘s an obvious question.

BENNETT:  Because maybe we should come to terms with the fact that most of the world‘s problems have been caused by religions reading their literature in a manner that only suits them.  I think we have Christians who are extremists in this country.  We have Jews who are extremists.  We have extremists in all religious groups.

CARLSON:  Mark, what is the reluctance to admit what is obvious to every normal person who is not drunk?

MARK WILLIAMS, TALK RADIO HOST:  I wish I understood.  Here in California, when an al Qaeda cell was busted not far from Sacramento, I got together with the imam of the mosque and tried to stage what we were billing the million Muslim march.  The mosque had about 2,000 members out of a population of 40,000.

I got exactly three people.  I got the imam, the local director from CAIR, surprisingly enough, the Council on Arab-American Relations (sic) and just a guy off the streets, a Muslim off the streets.  I wish I knew.

I really do wish I knew but I think Alex has got his wing nut a little too

tight because what we have is a member of the culture telling the culture -

just like Bill Cosby has been saying to black men, take responsibility. 

I know that‘s the antithesis of the left, but take responsibility.  And we do need to question a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable political speech to blow somebody‘s head off.

CARLSON:  Alex, let me put it this way.  I understand people, and you‘re

clearly one of them, are wary of scapegoating.  I agree with you.  I think

BENNETT:  It‘s not a question of being wary of scapegoating.

CARLSON:  OK.  I think that‘s fair if you are.  Why not just admit the obvious that this extremism is growing out of an interpretation of a very specific religion.

BENNETT:  Mind you for a moment, maybe blame religion itself and the extremism that it brings out in some people.

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know because the Lubavitchers and the Lutherans aren‘t doing it right now, the Muslims are.  So that‘s .

BENNETT:  Yeah, but during the Crusades the Christians were doing it in the name of Christ.

CARLSON:  At which point it would be really important for the Christians to say to ourselves what the hell has gone wrong with our religion?  And I think they did that, which is why the Crusades are no longer in progress.

WILLIAMS:  With all due respect to Alex, I don‘t care what‘s causing them to try to kill us.  All I care about is they are trying to kill us and they can be as savage and barbaric as they want but in their own neighborhood.  Stay off my front lawn.

BENNETT:  You‘re being xenophobic is your problem.

WILLIAMS:  That‘s not xenophobia.

BENNETT:  Visit the rest of the world and find out what other people are

like and maybe

WILLIAMS:  I‘ve been there.  I landed in Baghdad under fire in a C-130.  And by the way Tucker I wouldn‘t dance in public to save my life.  You‘re a braver man than I.

Alex, it‘s called Islamic jihad, Alex, get a grip.

CARLSON:  Here‘s an interesting bit.  Let me stop you right there.  Because I can see the argument you‘re having.  I think this next story actually may inform it.  Brett Stevens (ph) in the “Wall Street Journal,” you may have seen it, I think asked a very interesting question.  He writes quote, “Why is it so frequently that people that have the most at stake in the battle against Islamic extremism and the most to lose when Islamism wins, namely liberals, are typically the most reluctant to fight it?”

Alex, that‘s a fascinating—I had this conversation who a friend of mine who is a left-wing lesbian.  And she was a defending .

WILLIAMS:  Got it all going for her, doesn‘t she?

CARLSON:  A great person, someone I like a lot but she was essentially defending this lunatic Islamic group.  I said to her when they win, when al Qaeda takes over the United States, who do you think is going to be the first to be hung up by his or her thumbs?  Me or you?  No, you.  You are.  Why are you defending them?

BENNETT:  Face it.  To begin with al Qaeda is not going to take over the United States of America.  There aren‘t enough of them.

CARLSON:  You get point.

BENNETT:  No, I don‘t get the point.

CARLSON:  You think they hate you more or Mark?

BENNETT:  Listen.  If I let Jerry Falwell take over this country, he would not want the lesbians or anyone else, either.

CARLSON:  He wouldn‘t kill them, and that‘s the difference.

BENNETT:  I don‘t know, we haven‘t let Jerry Falwell go far enough.

CARLSON:  Why is it when the Ayatollah Khomeini took over Iran in 1979 there was one group in the United States that actually said nice things about him.  Was it the right?  No.  It‘s the left.  So why are liberals defending the least liberal regimes in the world?  Is the obvious question.

BENNET:  I think, again, because we‘re not xenophobic.  We believe .

CARLSON:  Ha ha, OK.

BENNETT:  It‘s xenophobia.  I mean, I listen to your other guest and he‘s spouting all these right-wingisms.

WILLIAMS:  The enemy really is gelled soles getting on airplanes.

BENNETT:  You know why the imam and his people didn‘t get together with you?  You‘re a right winger.  They don‘t trust you.

WILLIAMS:  They were organizing with me.

BENNETT:  Apparently they weren‘t because you only got four people there.

WILLIAMS:  Even the Muslims couldn‘t find more than three Muslims to denounce terrorism in the name of Allah.

BENNETT:  You right wing people, you‘re just so naive about everything.

WILLIAMS:  What right wing?  My hometown is Boston.  Cut me some slack.  We‘re talking about people who want to kill us.  And Alex you will be among the first to go.

BENNETT:  That attitude you‘ve got going—means Osama won because you‘re fearful.

WILLIAMS:  I‘m afraid of people who are too oblivious to realize that a freight train is coming down the track at them and they are too idiot I can to get off the track because they say that train doesn‘t really mean to hurt me the.

CARLSON:  Clearly we all agree there are things that there are to be afraid, we disagree about what they may be.  Here‘s one I think we can all agree is frankly a terrifying prospect.  It comes from our old pal Pat Buchanan.

He says this about Al Gore.  He proclaims if the former vice president ran for the Democratic nomination right now, Pat Buchanan predicts he would beat Hillary Clinton.  Whatever you think of Pat‘s politics, he‘s a pretty smart prognosticator.

The idea of Al Gore, I think both of you, Mark, we‘ll start with you.  You agree.  Even the Democrats don‘t want that.

WILLIAMS:  If he does, from Pat Buchana‘s lips to God‘s ear because that would be the Talk Show Employment Act of 2008.  Rush Limbaugh and I and guy like me are lighting candles every Sunday praying for just such an event.

Now, the Hildebeest is just an amoral politician.  Al Gore is nuts.  I‘ve met the guy.  I‘ve talked with the guy.  I stood 10 feet from him at a moveon.org thing I crashed in DC watching him billow and sweat like a racehorse that‘s been drugged out or something.  He wasn‘t but his nostrils flared.  The guy‘s nuts, and he‘s angry.  He was up there talking about how President Bush is agitating for the assassination of judges.  And then he said if the Supreme Court doesn‘t get its act together people just may rise up against him.

I mean, the guy is out of his mind.  It would be very entertaining.  I think the Hildebeest would take him down.  I just wish the Republicans had someone other than George Allen, who is a great guy, but I wish we had a little more to choose from in the Republicans.

CARLSON:  Alex Bennett, what do you—and be honest.  I know we‘re on television, but tell the truth.  The idea of Al Gore getting the nomination, you don‘t welcome that, you‘re not a masochist, are you?

BENNETT:  Absolutely I am a masochist.  If I were really a masochist I‘d want Hillary to run.  I don‘t think Hillary can win.

CARLSON:  Why?

BENNETT:  Because I think she‘s got too much baggage.  I think it‘s going to go all the way back to the Clinton administration.  And it‘s just not going to happen.  OK?

I think Al Gore has a slightly better reputation than years ago and has somehow gotten people to understand him a little more and feel sensitive towards him because he‘s not a close-up fuzzy person.  And I think the movie helped, the book certainly being on the top of the bestseller list hasn‘t hurt, either.  I think he‘s the best of the lot so far, and that‘s a sad thing to say about the Democrats.

CARLSON:  But will you concede something that Mark said.  I believe him when Mark when he says he‘s been around Al Gore.  Because his description of Gore talking is exactly what I‘ve seen a lot of times on the road with Gore.  He‘s a zealot.  He‘s a podium pounder.  He‘s a very intense, almost religious figure.  Does that make you uncomfortable as someone who is uncomfortable with religion?

BENNETT:  No.  Conviction does not make me uncomfortable.  Knowing what a guy is about and having him sell me a bill of goods then do something else afterwards is not something I want in a candidate and I feel that with Gore what you see is what you get.  And it‘s not a bad person, it‘s a fairly good human being who has the best instincts at heart.

And I don‘t think he would be a bad choice for the Democrats, I wish there was better.  That‘s all, I‘m saying.

CARLSON:  I‘m on your side.  Alex Bennett and Mark Williams, we can all agree Al Gore please run, too.

WILLIAMS:  Hey, don‘t break a leg.

BENNETT:  And happy dancing.

CARLSON:  Thanks guys.  Yes.  That‘s right.  Tonight is the night I‘ll be “Dancing with the Stars” in just a couple of hours from now.  We‘ll get some last minute tips from one of last season‘s biggest stars when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time for a look at today‘s stories I just don‘t get.  We begin with news from the world of higher education.

One of the nation‘s oldest and most prestigious university, Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. is ending a decades old tradition.  It‘s the so-called early admissions program.  It allows high school seniors to ply for the college of their choice in the fall thereby giving them a head start for the heated race for top schools.

But Harvard‘s interim president says a program puts low-income applicants at a disadvantage.  Why?  Because he says students who are more affluent and more sophisticated are more likely to apply for early admissions.

We‘ll see if other top notch colleges across the country will follow Harvard‘s lead and no doubt they will, but think back, what exactly is going on here?  Harvard is saying if you get your act together, if you are organized you shouldn‘t be rewarded for that?  Huh.  Well in life you are rewarded for that.  Why not start rewarding people for it early.

Next, the reaction from the so called animal lovers, the animal rights movement about the untimely death of crocodile hunter Steve Irwin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There is no evidence that Mr. Irwin was intimidating or threatening the stingray, my advice is that he was observing the stingray.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That conclusion by Australian investigators apparently has little bearing on the sympathies of PETA, the animal rights group.  Members of PETA admit they are neither surprised nor upset by Irwin‘s death last week.  In the opinion of a PETA spokesman, Irwin made a career of antagonizing wild animals.  That, he says is a very danger message to send to children and in other words, Steve Irwin deserved it.

PETA goes out of its way to alienate those of us who have sympathy for animal rights who would be on PETA‘s side.  But time and again, PETA has to prove it is so crazy as to be unsupportable.  PETA, what a bunch of lunatics, and it‘s a shame.  Finally, something‘s afoot on primetime television tonight that in all honesty deserves an explanation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  After two months of competition, 20 challenging routines and hours of dedication, we can now reveal the champions of “Dancing with the Stars,” Drew and Cheryl.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  This evening I‘ll join a proud roster of amateurs, all very committed dancers who have been asked to strut their stuff on ABC‘s “Dancing with the Stars”.  True some feats or in this case feet are best left to the professionals, nevertheless, I intend to put my best food forward tonight against such opponents as Jerry Springer and Harry Hamlin.

I can‘t think of anyone, though, I‘d rather have seeing me off to “Dancing with the Stars” than the great George Hamilton.  He was a contestant on the show last season.  He joins me now on the roof of CBS Television City in Los Angeles with advice.  George, what‘s your advice?

GEORGE HAMILTON, ACTOR:  Well the roof‘s there.  You can jump now and break a leg.

CARLSON:  That‘s a very dignified way to go.

HAMILTON:  Well, I came home with four broken ribs and a busted knee.  They saw Seabiscuit written across me.  I‘d be in for one show and they would have to shoot me.  But the truth of the matter is you‘re going to find out tonight how you get involved in it.  Your ego is going to get involved in it and you‘re going to say, I‘ve got to do this, I‘ve got do it for all my friends and before that you‘ll be doing things like Master P that I‘m doing it for the homies, for my friends in the hood.  And G to the Gizzy, H to the Hizzo—I‘ll say I‘m doing it for all my homies in Palm Beach and Beverly Hills.

CARLSON:  Did your homies appreciate that?

HAMILTON:  Yeah.  I went down to the Sunrise Home and there is some shut-ins.  There was a cook there that could teach me better tango then I was learning there.  And I had a lot of help.  So I was doing it for my homies.  Yeah.

CARLSON:  What do the winners have?  What does it take to win?  What matters?

HAMILTON:  Well, you have to realize that Drew was a pit bull Drew Lachey was a pit bull.  You couldn‘t stop him.  He was a boy band dancer, and last year you had Jerry Rice.  Now Jerry Rice would win on any field because he was a competitor.  I‘ve got to think that Stacy Keibler was the one that should have won.  She got three tens the last night.  But the thing about it is—I‘m sure you‘ve got a lot of heart.  You‘ve gone the distance in this business.

CARLSON:  I‘ve got some heart, yeah.

HAMILTON:  You‘ll find out if you just don‘t worry about the lower part, you‘ll learn the steps.  Smile a lot.  That was my thing.  Just smile as much as you can and when you go out there feel the music, feel the humor.  There is a joke in this.  Don‘t let them get in your face.

And the last thing I can suggest is take a double Red Bull and double Starbucks coffee espresso, and you can float.  You‘ll watch your body doing things you can‘t imagine.

CARLSON:  But can you go over the top?  If you‘re that wired can you go to far and become a parody of yourself?

HAMILTON:  No.  I am a parody of myself.  What are you talking about?  I‘m an 8x10 glossy.  There is nothing real about - the real thing about the show is you‘re put in a vice there, and you can‘t get out.  You‘ll want to shoot yourself at some point.  If you get down to the last two dances in one week, which you‘ll do, you can‘t imagine.

You‘re double parked.  You lose your breath, you lose your turn.  You‘re in trouble there.

So you‘ve got to learn as many steps.  My suggestion is don‘t do anymore, don‘t even ask me anymore questions.  Start working on your steps.  Go in there tonight and have fun with it all.  People will love you.  If you‘re sweating it, and you are and I am too for you, because you‘re in a major situation, they are going to see that and they are going to feel that, but at the same time everyone would feel that, so go and say aren‘t we having fun?

CARLSON:  Well you‘ve been here a long time.  You were the last contract employee of MGM.  You‘ve been in Hollywood.  You‘ve done many, many movies.  You were not nervous doing this I bet then?

HAMILTON:  Doing your show?

CARLSON:  Yes.

HAMILTON:  You‘ve got this all down.  You‘ve got a camera and this thing.  I got to tell you, I‘m not as glib at doing this as you are.  I did this for a little bit and it‘s much harder.  This thing down there, they are going to get a camera in you and they ever going to push you and say do this and it‘s going to spelt you a little bit.  Don‘t let it bother you.  Don‘t let them put words in your mouth.  They‘ll put words in your mouth. 

You‘re having a bad time, aren‘t you, it‘s difficult right now.  Say, no.  I‘m having a great time.  And I did.  I got Stacy Keibler to look at.  I have to admit I would shamelessly flirt with her.

CARLSON:  Did you make any headway?

HAMILTON:  No, unfortunately - she‘s in a commercial with me.  She‘s actually ahead of the game than I am.

CARLSON:  What about the judges?  Did you like them?

HAMILTON:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  You‘ll find Bruno is outrageous.  He likes Hollywood, he likes glamour and all of that stuff.  Len is a very proper British gentleman whose got great sense of honor and integrity and Carrie Anne is just so beautiful and she‘s really sweet.  She‘s just terrific.

You‘ve got a lot—but that‘s only half of it.  Remember, you‘ve got the people watching you and you‘ve got a lot of fans.  So plead.  Don‘t even ask.  Plead to them.  You can balance the field out.  There are some really great dancers there, I‘m sure.  But don‘t—Be shameless about it.

CARLSON:  You would be a great senator.

HAMILTON:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  And finally, tell me, do you have a preshow ritual that helps you deal with the nerves?

HAMILTON:  Yes.  I do.  I take four Valium, six Vicodin, I use Thorazine and a rubber ballpoint hammer which gets me - the truth of the matter is I go in this realizing when I go into something like this that really relate to your nervousness, they relate to your humor.  They don‘t relate to you not being part of it.

And so if you go in there and admit it, and have fun with it, they‘re with you.  And generally I realize in life what you put out is what you get.  So if you go in and put in 100 percent effort and are thankful and know they‘ll back you for that, they‘ll get it.  If you go in saying I‘m not really that good and they shouldn‘t be voting for me, they won‘t.

CARLSON:  George Hamilton.  You ought to right a book.  Thanks.

HAMILTON:  I appreciate it.  I‘ll do it.

CARLSON:  Be sure to tune in tonight to see if we can put this great advice to use.  “Dancing with the Stars” is on tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

After a couple years in hiding, former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey turns up, he is on Oprah‘s couch.  We‘ll tell you what the self proclaimed gay-American spilled to Oprah when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  We headed out here to Los Angeles to do this program and we did not go alone, we didn‘t, we brought Willie Geist.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC PRODUCER:  You have to have this accessory when you come to L.A., Willie Geist.  My tan feels so insufficient sitting in George Hamilton‘s chair.  We‘ll have to check the white balances.

CARLSON:  I can honestly say I never suck up to guests.  George Hamilton is one of the most interesting people I have talked to this year.

GEIST:  So cool.  He was hanging out on the roof with us for an hour.

CARLSON:  He moved to Los Angeles in 1957, and then moved to Venezuela to become a bullfighter.

GEIST:  We all have our little ...

CARLSON:  So cool.

GEIST:  He‘s the coolest.

Tucker, I have breaking news.  Yahoo.com, one of the most trafficked and important Web sites in the history of the world has officially predicted that you will win “Dancing with the Stars.”  It went up on their Web site moments ago.  Tucker Carlson.  They say the bow tie is appealing.  They don‘t know you don‘t wear a bowtie any more.

CARLSON:  Yahoo!?  Isn‘t that the most trusted name in news?

GEIST:  One of them.  On the Internet, perhaps.

Tucker there may be concerns from your point of view, and you are walking into something that is unfamiliar to you.

CARLSON:  Yes, I am.

GEIST:  You might be concerned much you are going to embarrass yourself, but let me remind you of the level of embarrassment we have subjected you to.  Here you are at a cat circus with a Russian mute (ph) clown.  There is a chimpanzee jumping around on the set with you, and I think you are about to see something really special, which is Tiny Kiss, and there they are.  That‘s a Kiss cover band of drunken little people.

The list goes on and on and you also had “The Hedgehog,” Ron Jeremy.

CARLSON:  You make such a good point, Willie.

GEIST:  Tucker, I guess the shame train left town a long time ago, my friend.  You have got nothing to worry about.

CARLSON:  You are so right.  You are right.  If you can do a cat circus, can you do “Dancing with the Stars.”

GEIST:  Yes.  “Dancing with the Stars” doesn‘t even crack the top 10 of most embarrassing .

CARLSON:  Dignity, what‘s that?  Forget it.

GEIST:  Go for it Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thank you.

GEIST:  Believe it or not, there is some other important news in the world, including the following, Phoenix sheriff Joe Arpaio, known as American‘s toughest sheriff .

CARLSON:  I know him personally.

GEIST:  Here‘s why.  Today he made 2,600 inmates walk from their old prison to a new one while wearing nothing but pink underwear and shower shoes.  The prisoners made a four block hike while handcuffed together as helicopters, dogs and police escorted the humiliated throngs.

May I ask how do you know America‘s toughest sheriff?  What is your relationship?

CARLSON:  Years ago, Willie, I wrote a book about crime, believe it or not, and I went to Phoenix, Arizona, Maricopa County, Arizona, for a month, to talk to Joe Arpaio, and I left Arizona really having a lot of sympathy for criminals.  He was making them eat the butt ends of discarded balogna.

GEIST:  How does he get away with that?

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  Nobody has a lot of sympathy for criminals.  Some of these guys haven‘t even been convicted yet.  It does make you into an ACLU lawyer spending 20 minutes there.

GEIST:  The pink underwear, it‘s just over the top.

CARLSON:  It‘s pretty funny, though.

GEIST:  Tucker, as you know, most human train wrecks eventually end up coming to a stop on Oprah‘s couch.  That‘s where they—The former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey spent some time today taping on the loveseat that was made famous by Tom Cruise.

McGreevey was there promoting his new book, “Confession,” which we can‘t wait for, coming out in a couple weeks.  You will remember he resigned a couple years ago after going public about that extra marital affair with a man, and not just that, but appointing one of his gay lovers as head of homeland security in the state of New Jersey.  I don‘t have a lot of sympathy for Jim McGreevey, I‘m sorry.

CARLSON:  Does he work in television?

GEIST:  Who, Jim McGreevey?

CARLSON:  Yeah.  That does sound like the kind of thing television producers would do.

GEIST:  It totally does.  But Oprah makes everything OK.  If you get Oprah‘s forgiving, Oprah‘s blessing, you can write the book, “The Confession,” everything is OK.

CARLSON:  The confession that you are gay.  Everybody is gay.  I think you know—Who cares if you are gay.  People are going to buy the book.  Jim McGreevey, you‘re gay.  How compelling.  I can‘t wait to read the whole story.

GEIST:  There may be questions tonight about your sexuality when you are wearing that satin blouse.

CARLSON:  Only if you could see what I‘m wearing beneath the satin blouse.

GEIST:  No, I don‘t want to know.

CARLSON:  The questions would be answered.

GEIST:  We‘ll leave that to the imagination.  And I would say one final time, friends, a vote tonight for Tucker is a vote for America.

CARLSON:  I agree with that.

GEIST:  Perhaps you hate America, and that‘s your right in a free society, but if you love this country you will vote for Tucker Carlson 8:00 p.m.  Eastern on ABC‘s “Dancing with the Stars.”  Vote Tucker, cable news nation.

CARLSON:  I want to make this a lot plainer.  I never pander to you, the audience because I have too much respect for you.  But not today.  Today I am pandering.  Now I am asking you, just vote for me, please.

GEIST:  Please.  You want to stay another week.  That‘s the bottom line.

CARLSON:  Thanks America, and thank you, Willie.

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.  Good luck.

CARLSON:  See you tomorrow, man.  And that‘s our show from L.A.  Thanks for watching.  See you tonight on “Dancing with the Stars”.  Let‘s go to HARDBALL with Chris.

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

END   

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