updated 9/15/2006 1:00:49 PM ET 2006-09-15T17:00:49

Guests: Bruno Tonioli, Tanika Ray, Sara Bennett, A.B. Stoddard, Andrew Wilkow, Willie Geist

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show.  I‘m Tucker Carlson, coming to you from Los Angeles, where my brief shining moment on “Dancing with the Stars” has come to an end.  It‘s bittersweet. 

In the worlds of Richard Nixon, “I have never been a quitter.”  He said that in 1960 after the election was stolen from him.  But like Nixon, I will bow to the will of the American people. 

Here‘s how it all went down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BERGERON, HOST, “DANCING WITH THE STARS”:  On this first week of competition, the couple with the lowest score and therefore leaving right now, Tucker and Elena.

I have to say of everybody, even including Jerry Springer, you probably came outside of your comfort zone further than anyone.  And I applaud you for that.

CARLSON:  I loved it.  I loved it.  I loved it.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON:  It was a long way from my normal life.

BERGERON:  Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And you did it well.

CARLSON:  And there are no—there are pockets in your dance trousers. 

BERGERON:  Yes, that‘s right.

Are you OK with this?  I mean, you‘re the first one out.

CARLSON:  Are you kidding?  I‘m totally OK. 

BERGERON:  Yes.  Are you and Kenny Mayne going to meet for drinks later? 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  You know, I left a message for Kenny Mayne.

BERGERON:  Did you?

CARLSON:  Right before I came out here, and I said, “No matter what happens, thanks for convincing me to do this.”

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Is he the one behind it?

CARLSON:  Yes, totally.

BERGERON:  Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON:  Well, of course.  I figured Kenny Mayne would know, you know, what it was like. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And who are you going to put your chips behind? 

CARLSON:  Jerry Springer.  Come on.  He‘s the other talk show host. 

You know?  I mean...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You‘ve got to support your own kind.

CARLSON:  He‘s a member of the union.  I‘m totally on his side. 

BERGERON:  Now, what about your lovely, incredibly talented partner? 

CARLSON:  Well, she‘s wonderful.

BERGERON:  Anything you want to say to her?

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON:  Yes, thank you.  I mean, this is literally the—outside of wife, I would say the most patient woman I think I‘ve ever meet. 

BERGERON:  Yes.

CARLSON:  I mean, this—it was like Einstein teaching addition to a slow child.  You know what I mean?

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  And time after time, she just—you know, “Let‘s do it again now.”

BERGERON:  Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Joining me now, the man who gave me a score of three even while wearing a “Team Tucker” pin. 

BRUNO TONIOLI, JUDGE, “DANCING WITH THE STARS”:  You deserved it.

CARLSON: Bruno Tonioli joins me.

TONIOLI:  Don‘t you complain now. 

CARLSON:  You are—you are a bitchy man, I have to say. 

TONIOLI:  No, I come from love.  There‘s no—there isn‘t a inch of bitchiness.  How you say, bitchiness.  I don‘t know what you‘re talking about. 

CARLSON:  Well, that actually is my theory, Bruno.

TONIOLI:  What?

CARLSON:  Is that—and this has always been my theory, is that you looked on, you gazed upon our dance routine and you fell in love a little bit.  I mean, let‘s be honest.  And in order to cloak that love, you lashed out in anger. 

TONIOLI:  No, I have to say—I have to say, I‘m very surprised, because you‘re obviously a very, very smart guy.

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know...

TONIOLI:  “Dancing with the Stars,” sitting down for 30 seconds, it‘s like giving me a loaded gun and say, shoot me.  I mean, I just—I don‘t know, there must have been something.  I don‘t know what you were thinking. 

CARLSON:  I‘ve got to be completely honest with you

TONIOLI:  Why did you sit for 30 seconds?

CARLSON:  Because I was told to.  I never once thought of it.  When you criticized it, I had no idea what the hell you were talking about. 

TONIOLI:  Yes, but think about the—they were going, “Is he going to stand up?  Is he going to stand up?  What is he waiting for?”

CARLSON:  It was all part of the routine.  I don‘t know.  It made—let me just put it this way, it made sense.  Like all really bad ideas, it made sense at the time. 

TONIOLI:  It was a serious misjudgment.

CARLSON:  Yes, it was.

TONIOLI:  Because—because it takes two to tango. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

TONIOLI:  You know, you should have thought, OK, hold on a second here, this is my first performance.

CARLSON:  Right.

TONIOLI:  I spend most of it sitting down.  Those judges are going to hammer me. 

CARLSON:  Well, actually, my thought was—and I‘m sure this is Elena, my partner‘s thought...

TONIOLI:  Yes.

CARLSON:  ... who‘s a wonderful woman, by the way, and I‘m not blaming her for my of my misdeeds.

TONIOLI:  She‘s great.  She‘s wonderful.

CARLSON:  ... intentional or otherwise, but I think the idea was the less dancing I did, the better for everyone. 

TONIOLI:  It backfired.  It wasn‘t a good idea.  It wasn‘t—and if you ever come on the show, don‘t sit down. 

It‘s called, “Dancing with the Stars,” not “Sitting with the Stars.” 

CARLSON:  I know it is.

Now, what was interesting to me is obviously I work on—I mean, I‘ve worked on a lot of different pretty contentious shows, I like debate.  You know, It‘s pretty hard to hurt my feelings, unless you‘re my wife...

TONIOLI:  I‘m sorry.

CARLSON:  Oh, you did not hurt my feelings.  I promise you.

TONIOLI:  Oh, good.  I come from love. 

CARLSON:  I know you do.

TONIOLI:  Whatever I say, as harsh as it may sound...

CARLSON:  Oh, no.  No.

TONIOLI:  ... it comes from a good place.

CARLSON:  But I knew that.  I could feel that.

TONIOLI:  Yes.

CARLSON:  You know, think of yourself as Vladimir Putin and me as

George W. Bush.  I looked into your soul and I like what I saw

TONIOLI:  We are doing our jobs.  Don‘t we?

CARLSON:  We absolutely are.  Like Wile E. Coyote.

But I know that not everybody else on the show is as insensitive and thick-skinned and hard-headed as I am, and I‘m convinced that others had their feelings hurt by you.

How do you feel about that? 

TONIOLI:  Well, I cannot—you cannot approach this and say, “Oh, I‘m going to hurt somebody‘s feelings.”  You have to do your job.

CARLSON:  Right.

TONIOLI:  And you have say what you see and you have to comment upon it, and you have to be truthful to yourself. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

TONIOLI:  I mean, you cannot start thinking, because you will never be able—it‘s like a parent.

CARLSON:  Right.

TONIOLI:  You have to kind of scold the child from time to time...

CARLSON:  Yes.

TONIOLI:  ... to get them where you want them to go.  And some people need a little bit of a kick in the ass.  Can I say that? 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Of course you may.  It‘s cable.

TONIOLI:  OK.

CARLSON:  But...

TONIOLI:  And that—you know, and that sometimes gets them shaking and they come back, if they stay on the show...

CARLSON:  Yes.

TONIOLI:  ... and they work on that.  It gives them a jolt. 

CARLSON:  So it‘s really—I mean, you‘re a teacher? 

TONIOLI:  Yes, we‘re teacher commentators. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  There was some question backstage last night.

TONIOLI:  Yes?

CARLSON:  And I‘m not going to name names, but some of the other dancers were a little bit wounded by what you said.  And the question arose...

TONIOLI:  What?

CARLSON:  “Who is this guy and where does he get the authority to make those kinds of pronouncements?”

Now, I stood up in your defense.

TONIOLI:  Oh, did you?

CARLSON:  This may surprise you.  No, I did.  I said, “This Bruno, he is not merely a judge.  This man has been in the arena.  He has danced himself.”

TONIOLI:  Thirty years. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.  You were—and our viewers may not know this

in an Elton John video.

TONIOLI:  I was.  I was.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  And we were lucky enough to get a copy of that video. 

TONIOLI:  Oh, not again.

CARLSON:  And I want to put in on the screen.

TONIOLI:  It‘s like a curse.

CARLSON:  It‘s like—well, I don‘t know.

TONIOLI:  I am not a sex symbol.  Stop showing my ass on TV.  I‘m not Paris Hilton.

CARLSON:  No, I think—I believe you‘re in some kind of Banana Hammock bathing suit.  Are you in there? 

TONIOLI:  Oh, here we go.  Crotch shot.  Here we go.

CARLSON:  Is that you?  Oh, my gosh. 

TONIOLI:  Oh, my god.

Mario Lopez...

CARLSON:  Bruno, that‘s not you, by the way. 

TONIOLI:  That‘s not me, no. 

Don‘t do—do black—anything black and crotchy (ph). 

CARLSON:  Now, if you were critiquing yourself—let‘s pull yourself out of yourself, OK?

TONIOLI:  Yes?

CARLSON:  You‘re looking on, this is a “Dancing with the Stars” routine here, and you see this guy...

TONIOLI:  Well, no, you can‘t compare it because...

CARLSON:  ... in this little grape snuggle (ph) outfit that you‘re wearing, sashaying across the screen, what‘s your comment?

TONIOLI:  Well, that‘s why I stopped dancing, because they were using me for my body.  And I actually have a brain.  And I said, “This is it.”

CARLSON:  You want to be taken seriously, don‘t you?

TONIOLI:  I want to be.  I had done 20 movies

Show “Ella Enchanted.”

CARLSON:  But you want to direct, don‘t you? 

TONIOLI:  Well, I don‘t care.  I want to work. 

I mean, I‘m not—I‘m not big-headed, you know.  I‘m just—I‘m happy to work.  I‘ve been doing this since I was 18. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

TONIOLI:  I‘ve done 20 films.  Show “Little Boys.”  Show “Ella Enchanted.”  Show “The Gathering Storm.”

CARLSON:  Yes.

TONIOLI:  You know, they keep showing my ass.  You know?

CARLSON:  But tell me your critique of that.  So you see that...

TONIOLI:  There‘s a very—this is a classic video, by the way.

CARLSON:  Yes.

TONIOLI:  And this was done in 1983. 

CARLSON:  Where was it shot? 

TONIOLI:  In Cannes.

CARLSON:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

TONIOLI:  And actually, this video was made up as we went along.  The choreographer‘s name was Arlen Phillips (ph).

CARLSON:  It looks a little disjointed to me, I have to say? 

TONIOLI:  What do you mean disjointed? 

CARLSON:  I‘m not sure—there is not a consistent narrative.

TONIOLI:  No.  You know, there wasn‘t.

CARLSON:  Now, hold on.  With all these—all these guys wearing the Banana Hammock...

TONIOLI:  Just shut—let me tell the story. 

CARLSON:  ... and he is wearing...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  No, let me critique this.  Let me just say, Bruno, I have some real concerns about your role in this. 

TONIOLI:  OK.  All right.

CARLSON:  In this debacle, in this mess you call a music video.

TONIOLI:  This is a classic

CARLSON:  In this ongoing horror show.  Call it a classic...

TONIOLI:  Absolutely rubbish.  Ask the public.  This is one of the most requested—most requested pop promos ever made. 

CARLSON:  I‘ll be certain to call the public and find out.

TONIOLI:  Yes.  Let the public vote.

No, but I tell you the story.  There‘s a very, very good story to this. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

TONIOLI:  This wasn‘t actually—was supposed to happen. 

CARLSON:  Oh.  Well, now you‘re making excuses.

TONIOLI:  There was—there was a scripted story...

CARLSON:  OK.

TONIOLI:  ... but what happened with—they were supposed to shoot videos. 

CARLSON:  Right.

TONIOLI:  Just before we were supposed to start shooting the original version of this video, the director, the cameraman, the focus puller (ph) were doing a tracking shot on the pier in front of...

CARLSON:  They were killed by a tidal wave?

TONIOLI:  They ended up in the sea with the camera, with all the film of the prior, of all the...

CARLSON:  Kind of the dog ate the homework thing. 

TONIOLI:  It was a disaster.

CARLSON:  Yes.

TONIOLI:  So they had to go—everything was just terrible chaos. 

CARLSON:  OK.

TONIOLI:  Two days later we‘ve got to shoot a video, and they say, OK, this is the—let‘s do something here.  It was incredible. 

CARLSON:  Let‘s be—let‘s be honest.  You‘re busted.  We got you. 

We got the video.  We got you in the embarrassing little costume.

TONIOLI:  You‘re dealing with me here.  This is a classic. 

CARLSON:  It‘s a classic.  It‘s a classic.

TONIOLI:  This is an Elton classic. 

CARLSON:  There is a fine line between a classic and a debacle.  I‘m not sure where it is. 

Bruno, you...

TONIOLI:  Well, Tucker said that.  I say this is a classic.  It‘s up to you guys.  This is a classic video. 

CARLSON:  You‘re a star.

TONIOLI:  It was a pleasure.

CARLSON:  Thank you, Bruno.  It really is.  Thank you.  Good to see you again. 

TONIOLI:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  Well, I‘ve made my peace with the results of the vote, but really where did I go wrong? 

Here with expert analysis, “Extra” correspondent Tanika Ray coming to us from New York City. 

Tanika, welcome.  What‘s your analysis of this? 

TANIKA RAY, “EXTRA” CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Tucker.  How are you?  I just wanted to make you feel good. 

(LAUGHTER)

RAY:  I‘m really good.  You know what?

CARLSON:  I‘m doing great.

RAY:  Tucker, I‘m really happy for you.  I thought you were fantastic last night.  I really did.  I was rooting for you.  You made me proud. 

CARLSON:  Well, thank you, Tanika.  You‘re very, very sweet. 

I actually was not upset, but call me on egomaniac, I really didn‘t think it was coming.  I guess you never—you never see it.  You know, the boss calls you in for a drink and the next think you know you‘re walking down the road talking to your lunchbox wondering how you lost your job. 

RAY:  Yes.

CARLSON:  That was kind of my experience.

RAY:  So even when it was down to the two couples you were feeling good about yourself, huh?

CARLSON:  Well, I am a man deep in denial.  Not just on this, but on many topics.  I literally had no idea.  I mean, I‘m the guy, you know, when I get pulled over for speeding and I never believe it‘s actually me who‘s being pulled over.  You know, I kind of look around for the—you know, the other speeders.

No, I had no idea.

RAY:  Perhaps you are an egomaniac.  Good to know.

CARLSON:  Is that correct?  Say I‘m a deeply optimistic person.

So what do you—who is going to win this?  I mean, from the two shows you‘ve seen, really the only one show with a lot of dancing in it, who looks strong? 

RAY:  Yes.  You know what?  I have to say there were so many surprises.  I didn‘t know who was going to pull to the front, but it seems that Emmitt Smith might be the frontrunner this time. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

RAY:  He was fantastic.

CARLSON:  He was tremendous.

RAY:  Were you back stage saying, “Hey, Emmitt, can you show me how to shake your hips like that?”  Because he had it going on. 

CARLSON:  He did have it—he was excellent.  And also, there is something about Emmitt Smith that you like.  I mean, you just look at Emmitt Smith and he just seems like a decent, good guy, which I can report he is.  But he just exudes niceness, and I think that‘s—that‘s a big part it.

Though, I have to say, I think Mario Lopez and Joey Lawrence, strong, too.

RAY:  Awesome.  Awesome. 

And you know what?  Emmitt Smith, there‘s something really smooth about him.  But I really thought that you were going to win over the crowd.  And this is your secret weapon.  Are you ready to see it? 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

RAY:  Here you go.  I thought that was going to win them over. 

CARLSON:  That‘s painful actually, Tanika.  Though thank you for replicating it.  I haven‘t really watched myself.  I‘ve been deep in my scripts every time we put up coverage of it because it‘s painful to watch.

RAY:  No, you need to watch it.  It was fantastic.

CARLSON:  Was anyone less strong than you thought?  Was anyone not as good as you imagined? 

RAY:  Yes.  I thought that Harry Hamlin was going to be a lot better than he was.  You figure he sat in the audience and watched his wife all last season, they must have been practicing at home.  I‘m sure Lisa was, like, “Come on, Harry.  Let‘s do it again.”

So I was surprised.  He was a lot stiffer than you were, I have to say.  I thought you really pulled it off.  So that was a shocker for me. 

CARLSON:  Well, I think I‘m just much less, you know, aware of the consequences of my ludicrous behavior than he is.  But actually, I thought Harry Hamlin, who is a very good guy and a very smart—very smart guy, Harry Hamlin‘s, you know, not your average actor at all.  An impressive person, I think.

RAY:  No, no, no.  I think—Tucker, I think everybody‘s great.

CARLSON:  But he think he took a lot of grief—he took a lot of grief that he didn‘t deserve.  I didn‘t think he was as stiff, and it was one of those things where, you know, if someone says, well, you know, you‘ve got something in your teeth, and all of a sudden you‘re completely paranoid about, you know, having lettuce or pepper in your teeth, it was one of those things.

I didn‘t think he was that stiff, but maybe, you know—maybe I‘m stiff, too.  I don‘t know.

RAY:  You are stiff, Tucker.  But you know what?  That‘s what I‘m saying.  Your facial expressions made your stiffness not as stiff, if you know what I mean. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

RAY:  Harry was very stern in the face, he didn‘t give, like, the camera love like you did, so that‘s why I thought he was a little stiffer than you. 

CARLSON:  What did—what did you think of Jerry Springer?

RAY:  You know what?  He was fun to watch as well. 

I really thought that you and Jerry were a lot of fun.  You didn‘t take yourselves too seriously.  It was about the new experience.  You had a blast and we could all tell.  So I thought you and Jerry had a similar sort of zest for the competition. 

CARLSON:  So you cover television.  Tell me, what do you think of the ratings?  Twenty million people sounds like—I mean, who are these people?  And why this show?  I mean, that‘s a huge number for modern standards. 

RAY:  Well, I think it‘s not just this show.  I think it‘s the fact that celebrities are taking over reality shows. 

Remember when—I don‘t know if—you probably remember this, when reality shows first came out.  It‘s like, what are the stars going to do now that regular people are taking over television?  Then celebrities got involved with reality TV, and it seems to be working really, really well. 

I think it‘s this, I think it‘s “Celebrity Duets,” I think it‘s “Skating with the Stars.”  I think all those shows are really, really attractive to middle America.  And I‘ve got to say, for a chick in New York to watch it, it was pretty exciting for me, too. 

CARLSON:  Do you think there will come a time when everybody in America is classified a celebrity? 

RAY:  Pretty much.  Are there—is there any normal person left in America?  I‘m not sure.  Everybody is on TV at one point. 

CARLSON:  There will be no one to watch.

RAY:  Maybe no one.

CARLSON:  Tanika Ray, someone I will also watch from “Extra.”

Thanks, Tanika. 

RAY:  Bye, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thanks.

Still to come, our in-depth coverage of “Dancing with the Stars” continues.  Did you notice this mystery guest star in last night‘s show?  We‘ll reveal his identity just ahead. 

And you may never hear me say this again, but today I agree with Sean Penn.  Shocking but true.  I‘ll explain in a minute. 

By the way, I‘m on “The Tonight Show” tonight.  So tune in for that. 

It will be good. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.

There is a crisis brewing in America‘s schools.  Our kids may not be getting as good an education as we thought.  The problem?  Homework. 

You may think the more the better, but there is new research that suggests any homework at all may be a waste of time for most kids and a pain for their parents. 

My next guest is the co-author of “The Case Against Homework.”  Sara Bennett joins us from New York.

Sara Bennett, thanks very much for joining us. 

I think our viewers without small children at home may be a little confused by your argument.  Can you sum it up for me quickly?  Why is homework bad? 

SARA BENNETT, AUTHOR, “THE CASE AGAINST HOMEWORK”:  Homework is taking away time for kids do other things that they need to do after school like play, if they‘re young, have a family dinner, pursue some of their passions, whether it‘s music or art or sports.  Homework is taking up too much of our kids‘ time.  And most of the homework that our kids are bringing home doesn‘t have any value. 

CARLSON:  What do you mean—wait, family dinners, play, passions?  What about Maya Angelou novels?  I mean, shouldn‘t kids be—no, I mean, the idea is that nothing is more important than homework.  And there are kids, you know, don‘t know enough, and the reason they don‘t know enough is because they‘re not doing enough homework.  And the last thing they ought to be doing is playing.

I mean, that‘s the idea. 

BENNETT:  Well, that‘s the idea, but that‘s not what the research says.  The research shows that homework in the elementary school has no relationship to achievement.  So our kids are spending an awful lot of time doing something that doesn‘t have any value. 

And even as you go up in the years, it‘s shown to have only a very teeny correlation to achievement, and achievement means how well are they doing on the teacher‘s tests.  So, actually, reading Maya Angelou novels, that‘s great, but not if it‘s assigned from school and then they have to do all the things that school says that belong with that, looking up vocabulary words, answering questions at the end of the chapter.

CARLSON:  Right.

BENNETT:  All of those things top educators say is not good homework. 

CARLSON:  And it‘s—you know, it‘s so obvious if you have children, especially kids who love to read, as my kids do, to watch them not want to read great novels because they were assigned by their school.  It‘s tragic, it‘s heartbreaking.

“I don‘t want to read this.”  You know, this coming from a child who loves to read.  It‘s almost like any association with school wrecks a book for kids.

Why? 

BENNETT:  Why?  Because what‘s happening is the way kids are being told to read is it‘s an external reading.  I mean, reading is actually a very internal kind of thing.  You bring your own relationship to reading. 

But the way school is assigning reading these days—and this is a pretty common assignment that we were talking about—is it imposes the teacher‘s view on reading.  And so...

CARLSON:  Right.

BENNETT:  ... nobody wants—you don‘t want to be interrupted every five minutes when you‘re reading or when you‘re watching a great movie or something like that.  You want to have that experience. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

BENNETT:  But school is taking that away from our kids, and unfortunately kids don‘t read for pleasure anymore.  And the number one reason given by their parents is too much homework. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.  And you turn them into obedient little robots. 

This is—everything you‘re saying is not only, I think, counterintuitive, but goes against the conventional wisdom so completely I fear that your words are going to be lost, that people will not listen to what you‘re saying.  Who are you up against?  Who is for homework in this society? 

BENNETT:  Well, I don‘t know.  That‘s a good question, because I think homework is part of our fabric of society, but I haven‘t actually been able to find too many people who say, you know, the more kids sit and do their work every night the better they‘re going to do. 

And teachers have actually study not studied homework in they‘re teacher training, the research behind homework.  The studies show that there‘s no correlation between homework and achievement.

So I don‘t think that this message is going to fall flat.  I think that when parents really understand what the research says and even educators—when we were researching the book and speaking to educators and said, “So, what did you learn about homework anyway?”  And they would throw up their hands and say, “You know what?  All we were ever told is we were supposed to give homework.  We weren‘t told why or the purpose.”

You know, it really opens up a discussion and people start to think about it. 

CARLSON:  So then why—I mean, if they don‘t even know why they‘re assigning it, why are they assigning it?  I mean, that‘s—that‘s so dumb that I feel contempt for someone who would assign homework and not even know why he‘s doing so. 

BENNETT:  You know, a lot of teachers assign homework because they‘re told to assign it.  It used to be—it used to be that they thought that the parents wanted it.  And I think that was part of the increase. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

BENNETT:  Part of the increase is because we‘re in a very big testing mode right now, and so things that the teachers can‘t get to during the day they‘re sending home to practice at night. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

BENNETT:  But that doesn‘t mean that our kids are learning them.  Actually, our kids would be so much better off just having time to be on that sports team that they wanted to or practice their music...

CARLSON:  Amen.

BENNETT:  ... or the family dinner is actually the biggest single predictor of academic success and emotional stability.

CARLSON:  Yes, that‘s exactly right.

BENNETT:  And yet kids forego it.  They run away from the dinner table to do their homework. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

Sara Bennett, you are speaking the truth, and you speaking a really, really important truth, and I—I just—I hope you win this battle.  It is so vital.

Thank you very much for coming on. 

BENNETT:  Thanks so much.

CARLSON:  Coming up, the U.S. Army had hundreds of Taliban fighters in its sights in Afghanistan.  It never pulled the trigger.  The shocking story of how the U.S. Army let every one of those Taliban members escape. 

And outrage from Saddam Hussein‘s trial.  Why was the judge sucking up to the deposed dictator? 

That story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “Beat the Press.”

Tuesday night, Willie Geist became the inadvertent face of “Dancing with the Stars” by sitting directly behind the host.  Last night it was our executive producer, Brad Como (ph).

Brad was a little less nonchalant than Willie.  Watch this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Phone and Internet votes make up the other half. 

The couple...

The first four couples who are definitely continuing to the next round. 

Singing legend Tom Jones.

Join us after the break.

And it‘s really one of the coolest things that we‘ve ever done.  One of our brave viewers...

BERGERON:  “Dancing with the Stars,” the results show. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER:  That was Brad, our EP beneath the arrow.  And when I asked him, “Brad, you shouldn‘t be looking into the camera,” he said he was reading the teleprompter.  Even as a spectator he could not stop producing. 

That‘s the way producers are.  They can‘t control themselves.  They produce whether they want to or not.  It‘s a compulsion.

Next up, a shakeup over at CBS.  Sure, anchors often bring their assistants with them, maybe a producer or two when they switch jobs, but their doctors?  Well, if Katie Couric—if you‘re Katie Couric, absolutely. 

Elizabeth Kaledin, CBS‘s medical correspondent for 10 years, was just replaced by the doctor who set up Katie Couric‘s now famous colonoscopy live on the “Today” show in March of 2000.

New York gastroenterologist Dr. Jonathan LaPook is officially now the network‘s medical correspondent.

Here‘s what Kaledin had to say, “I am heartbroken by the loss of my job.  I‘ve spent 20 years working to get to this point only to be replaced by someone with no journalistic experience only because he‘s a doctor.  My reporting career is unblemished.  I‘m well-liked, I work hard, I‘ve been loyal to CBS.”

Only because he‘s a doctor?  I don‘t know, that should be a pretty good reason to hire a medical correspondent, it seems to me. 

On the other hand, I kind of like this idea, you‘re doctor becomes the medical correspondent.  Does your gardener become the environmental correspondent?  Does your housekeeper start reporting on interior design?

I mean, it‘s got to—the full package.  Pretty impressive.

Still to come, from “Ali G”  to “Borat,” Sasha Baron Cohen may be the king of comedy, but we hear they may not be laughing at the White House. 

We‘ll tell you why when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, the Army had hundreds of Taliban guerillas in it‘s sites in Afghanistan and let them escape.  The shocking story.

And “The Last Dance:  My Brief Glorious Career in Reality Television”, it‘s all in just a minute, but right now here‘s a look at your headlines. 

MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC MARKET WRAP:  I‘m Margaret Brennan with your “CNBC Market Wrap”. 

The Dow losing some steam after gaining ground earlier in the week.  The Dow dropping almost 16 points.  The S&P 500 losing almost 2, the NASDAQ, the only one in the green, just up by 1 point.

The big story today, is Ford‘s decision to offer buyouts to all 75,000 union members, the UAW agreeing to allow those buyouts.  The company‘s COO for the Americas, Ann Stephens (ph), also announcing that she‘s retiring.  All do this is part of a restructuring plan that will be detailed tomorrow morning, around 7 a.m.  The company is dealing with billions in losses.

Microsoft introducing its answer to the iPod, it‘s called the Zune and it should be available in the U.S. this holiday season. The Zune features wireless technology and three-inch video screen. 

And Segway recalling 23,000 of it‘s personal scooters. The problem is a software glitch that causes the scooters to suddenly reverse potentially throwing the rider.

That‘s your “Market Wrap” from CNBC.  I‘m Margaret Brennan.  Now back to Tucker.

CARLSON:  Time now for “3 On 3” where we welcome two of the sharpest people we know, counting myself, to discuss three of today‘s most interesting stories. Joining us from Washington, D.C., from “The Hill” newspaper, associate editor, A.B. Stoddard, and from New York City Andrew Wilkow, host of the “Andrew Wilkow Show” on Sirius Satellite radio. 

Welcome both.

ANDREW WILKOW, HOST, “ANDREW WILCOW SHOW”, SIRIUS:  Thank you.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  Hi, Tucker.

CARLSON:  First up, could the White House be winning finally the hearts and minds of Americans when it comes to the war in Iraq? It sounds unlikely. But listen to this.  This month the administration rolled out a major PR campaign to turn the tide of public opinion, it looks like a modest success, according to the polls.

The latest “Wall Street Journal”/NBC News poll, shows the president‘s approval rating at 42 percent, that‘s up from 38 percent in June. 

A.B. Stoddard are you surprised by this?  Do you think its real?

STODDARD:  I think—I don‘t know if it‘s going to last, because there is so much that can happen in the next eight weeks, but certainly from the time the members of Congress left for the summer in August, gas prices were up, we were in the middle of this conflict between Israel and Lebanon and things were just terrible.

And now we‘ve had the anniversary of September 11 and the president is taking such a proactive posture that when I spoke to Republicans today, they were just exuberant about the meeting they had with him. I don‘t know what kind of—I don‘t know what Karl Rove put in the goody bags at that party today, but boy were they happy. 

And I think they‘ve decided that the White House making a full frontal push, is enough. I think they‘re going to hold their nose and jump in the pool.

CARLSON:  They were charmed by the president, everyone is charmed by the president and everybody appreciates ...

STODDARD:  But they think it‘s working.

CARLSON:  They think its working. They think Republicans are going to hold onto both Houses in Congress?

STODDARD:  The Republicans feel in the last, I think, 10 days that they have a much better shot in holding their losses in the battleground states, Upstate New York, Connecticut, Indiana, Pennsylvania, than they did a few weeks ago when they were still on their recess in August.  And there has definitely been a shift—that might not last, but they feel so good today.

CARLSON:  Interesting.

Andrew, what‘s your assessment of this, what‘s your explanation for this .

(CROSSTALK)

WILKOW:  This president has never really watched polls and we know that. Not to mention we see these polls that Americans want Democrats to take control of the House and Senate, and we hear this and that poll. But the one poll where the Republicans are always strong is—what?  The war on terrorism.

There are a lot of people out there that might be angry at conservatives or Republicans, or incumbents or whatever, but when it comes right down to pushing that lever I think the average American is thinking safety and security.  And the polls say the president has been strong on it.

CARLSON:  But clearly the sticking point and the tough sell is Iraq. I mean still the numbers on that war, that conflict are terrible for the White House perspective, I think from any American‘s perspective. Most people think it was a mistake that we went in and think that we‘re not doing well there.

So it seems remarkable to me that the president has been able to conflate the larger war on terror with the war in Iraq?  But are you saying he‘s done it?

WILKOW:  When you hear the Nancy Pelosi‘s and the Teddy Kennedy‘s and the rest of the elite Democrats, that we see on the nightly news every night, saying we‘re not safe, we‘re not secure. It‘s a miserable failure.

CARLSON:  Right.

WILKOW:  And then the average American looks around and says well, we haven‘t been attacked.  How do you combat actual fact?  How do you combat results?

CARLSON:  That actually, A.B., wasn‘t this the original, I thought, very smart strategy that Karl Rove was going to roll out of reminding Americans what you get when you elect a Democratic Congress, that Nancy Pelosi will actually be speaker of the House, what happened to that strategy? Is that in play still?

STODDARD:  I am of the mind that most people in America don‘t know who Nancy Pelosi is.

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  So I don‘t buy into that.

WILKOW:  I know who she is.

(LAUGHTER)

STODDARD:  I know you do, but I think that if you look at the polls, you‘ll see that there is a nice majority that doesn‘t know. So I don‘t think that‘s the greatest tactic.

I think that conflating the war on terror with the war in Iraq, is a tough challenge for the White House.  Just remember, this is September 14.  We‘re just on the heels of the anniversary. In a few weeks, it might be all Iraq again.  And it might be really hard for them to get their message out.  But confusing the two is very easy to do this week.

CARLSON:  There was—going back five years—there was only a single member of Congress, that I remember, Barbara Lee of Berkley, California, who voted against the invasion of Afghanistan. That‘s always been a popular war; Americans understand why we‘re there.  It‘s morally justified, and most people agree.

Given that, this news, out today does raise important questions about what we‘re doing there. The U.S. passing up a chance to strike a major blow against the Taliban. It turns out the military says it has, quote, “no regrets” about an incident that happened in July when a predator drone took this photograph, showing 190 Taliban fighters apparently gathered for a funeral at a cemetery.  Military commanders decided not to attack saying they, quote, “hold themselves to a higher moral and ethical standard than their enemies.”

I don‘t think I remember when I‘ve heard anything this dumb, Andrew.  Do you?  I mean this is an administration that says, we‘re going to do anything we can to win this war on terror.  And I think they actually do a fine job in a lot of cases. Well, they‘re not going to bomb a Taliban funeral—why exactly? I mean, I literally don‘t understand.

WILKOW:  Well, it seems like we‘re governing to the critics here or at least the administration has to address the critics, and so do the U.S.  military. When we got Zarqawi, and international journalists asking did you take care of the body with regard to Muslim customs?  You know you‘re going to hear Geneva Conventions.

CARLSON:  Right.

WILKOW:  I look at it like this. They were looking at a funeral for a Taliban member that our forces killed in the first place, I say why not make it 191. They were right there. It wasn‘t like innocent civilians, there weren‘t women and children. It looked like a revolutionary, you know, the British lining up. We could have got them—I say, we should have a dirt Zamboni go right over them.

CARLSON:  Again, A.B. Stoddard, this is exactly the kind of flinching that the Bush administration, on the record, but mostly off, has attacked the Clinton administration for engaging in, you know.  They had at least five opportunities to take bin Laden into custody but they didn‘t, because they were worried about hurting bystanders.  And the Bush people scoff at that, and here now they‘re practicing the same kind of behavior.

WILKOW:  Look at how this is getting covered, though. You and Matt Lauer lecturing the president about possible water boarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.  It sounded like Matt Lauer, to me, was more worried about Khalid Sheikh Mohammad being dunked under water than the fact that the guy planned 9/11.

(CROSSTALK) 

CARLSON:  So, A.B. don‘t you think there‘s ...

STODDARD:  I think ...

CARLSON:  But there‘s a difference.  There is a moral difference between water boarding and bombing combatants, isn‘t there?

STODDARD:  There are rules for engagement that are kept very secret.  And I think it‘s easy five years into this to become armchair generals about this.

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  Whenever, I read about Osama bin Laden hiding out in the tribal areas on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Waziristan—or whatever it is—I always wonder if the Pentagon could just snap their fingers, and just redeploy over there and get the job done. 

But on the heels of Haditha, Abu Ghraib and everything, I think that we just can‘t see from here what kind of a calculation they have to make.  And I asked Jack Murtha, the congressman from Pennsylvania this question today, because I was interested in his response. He has taken a strong stance against the Iraq war.  He never misses an opportunity to criticize the administration.

He said, you know, they probably did the right thing. You have to really think about how many enemies you can kill and then how many more you make.

WILKOW:  We know why Jack Murtha is doing that.

CARLSON:  Yes, I don‘t know.

Just I understand the theory, the idea, but this is a group against which we‘re fighting a war. It‘s not clear they can hit us more anyway.

But speaking of our enemies, or whether you know a group is, or is not, an enemy of ours—border fence. Could a border fence stop illegal immigrants?  Could that fence be one step closer to being built? The House of Representatives voted today to authorize the Secure Fence Act that would require the construction of 700 miles of fencing along our border of Mexico. The Senate, of course, has yet to act.

Will it act, A.B. Stoddard? Is this just an election season ...

STODDARD:  This is a press conference.

CARLSON:  You know, is this a grand stand?  It‘s a press conference?

STODDARD:  This is a press conference. This is a great move by the House Republicans who are completely in the driver‘s seat on a major, major issue.

The majority of Republicans in the White House and in the Congress and combined with the Democrats are supporting—they have the votes for the guest worker program, the comprehensive immigration bill that President Bush wants to deal not only with beefing up the border, but with dealing with the 12 million illegal workers in this country, and give them the path to earn legalization. 

But what the House Republicans has managed to do is completely take this away for the rest of the party and from the White House.  And they‘ve been driving this to bay for months. They actually pulled out a portion of the bill they passed last December and put it on the floor today.  And they‘re going to go out and tell their constituents that—I guess it‘s an authorization—they haven‘t come up with the money today.  They‘ve authorized for the money to be spent if Congress finds it.

And then it‘s really a question of whether or not they can put the Senate in a corner and make vulnerable Republicans, in tough races, vote on this once they‘ve supported a guest worker.  So, this is just really for the House Republicans.  And I think they‘re doing a great job at this.

CARLSON:  But, Andrew, the president still doesn‘t support this.  I

mean, this is essentially the opposite tact from the one the president has

endorsed.  This is the enforcement only, or enforcement initially approach

and Bush is totally against it. Is he not?  Or has he changed his view?

WILKOW:  For the life of me I don‘t understand that one.  For the life of me I can‘t figure out the president on this.  Callers to my program and other conservative leaning talk radio programs, it—and I know he never watches the polls, but this is not a 51/49 thing.  The overwhelming number of Americans don‘t want the borders porous.

And the one thing I see with a lot of politicians is they‘re afraid of the racial component. The question that I‘ve always had is, if let‘s just say for the sake of argument, Mexico really did get it together and there wasn‘t an economic problem there, sending their people here. 

CARLSON:  Right.

WILKOW:  What if it was Canada?  What if these were French Canadians coming down in the droves, by almost 12 million, do you think we would be worrying about the racial component to the argument?  That‘s what I always ask.

CARLSON:  Interesting question.

A.B. Stoddard, is it so clear, though, that you know, the overwhelming majority of Hispanic voters are for illegal for immigration?  I don‘t think that is so clear.  I mean, it seems like a lot of Hispanic-Americans, American citizens of Hispanic origin are against illegal immigration, too?

STODDARD:  Well, we have discussed this before. It depends how you ask the question. Generally speaking the Hispanic community would like, you know—are the ones who are attending these rallies and organizing these rallies, that are now actually having poor showings, but they want this to be addressed.  There are a lot of Hispanics voters who want a comprehensive plan passed out of the Congress. 

And I think that you can also find other ones who also want the borders to be secure.  I mean this is a—that‘s a very—immigration is a very tricky issue that way.  I think it is depends how you ask.  And I think a lot of—most people believe if you are on one side you are an extremist.  Because you can‘t—if you want to secure the border you can‘t deport all the illegals.  And if you want to reward illegal behavior, you get into trouble there, in terms of future flow of immigrants.  So it‘s really—there is no black or white here, unfortunately.

CARLSON:  And both parties are united in my view in support of illegal immigration.  So we‘ll probably get nothing down.

(LAUGHTER)

A.B. Stoddard, Andrew Wilkow, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Those Canadian authoritarians strike again. Why are they harassing Sean Penn? We‘ll tell you in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

CARLSON:  Time for a look at today‘s stories “I just don‘t get”. First up, Canada‘s commissars of political correctness deep into Sean Penn‘s business.

Penn is being panned by critics at the Toronto Film Festival, but it‘s not his latest movie that has them fuming, it‘s for lighting up a cigarette inside a hotel. They just enacted a tough anti-smoking law and locals expect even Hollywood big shots to obey it, or pay the consequences.

That could add up to a $300 fine should Canadian authorities decide to put the heat on Penn.  I don‘t agree with Sean Penn‘s politics, though, he‘s actually a decent guy and pretty smart, a perfectly appealing person in real life. 

But here‘s the question.  Here is what I don‘t understand.  Is this the biggest thing going on in Canada in 2006? Sean Penn lighting a cigarette in a hotel?  That‘s the worst thing happened in the province of Ontario, if it is fact a province?  Come on! Get your priorities right, lighten up Canada, please.

Next, another actor and yet another possible international incident.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think that the cultural differences are vast, and I think he‘s a delightful man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

CARLSON:  Delightful? Not to the people of Kazakhstan. Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, otherwise known as Ali G, has tweaked tempers in that country with his upcoming film in which he plays Borat, a supposed Kazakh journalist.

Kazakhstan finds the character so offensive, rumor has it leaders there are meeting with President Bush to demand that he take action against Borat.  The White House meanwhile denies Borat ranks presidential attention.  But then, again, Kazakhstan is a petroleum-rich nation and the rumors persist. 

Kazakhstan, lighten up! Join Canada in the ranks of nations, lightening up.

Actually, I‘ll be honest, it‘s pretty offensive. I can see why they‘re mad.  But they shouldn‘t admit they‘re mad. That just incites people like Borat to more.

And finally, a bizarre moment from Saddam Hussein‘s genocide trial.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (Speaking in Arabic)

CARLSON:  That‘s the chief judge presiding over Saddam‘s case telling the court that he doesn‘t consider the deposed leader a dictator.  He just thinks Saddam is misunderstood.  This friendly exchange between judge and defendant is all the more shocking considering Saddam is on trial for murdering tens of thousands of Kurds back in the 1980s.  Prosecutors have asked the judge to step down.

See, here‘s the problem with having has your goal the creation of an independent democratic state.  You can‘t step in and make things better when you see them go awry.  That‘s the problem.  All of these soldiers, our soldiers, have died to make Iraq a free country.  And we‘re going to stand back and let devolve into some sort of lunatic state in which the judge openly sides with the defendant in the case and there‘s nothing we can do about it?  That‘s a shame.  That‘s a shame.

Well, say it ain‘t so, Whitney and Bobby.  We‘ll have complete team coverage of the break up that‘s rocking the very foundation of marriage.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

CARLSON:  Welcome back to our show live from Los Angeles. Look who we found, wandering Venice Beach this afternoon, Willie Geist.

WILLIE GEIST: I was so dejected, I was out all night drinking.  I was wandering Venice Beach.

No, actually, Tucker I will say in a rare moment of seriousness.  You made us very proud. You might have gotten kicked off last night. You were a good sport. You were fun. Everybody loved you. After the show people were coming up to us from the show, near tears, no joking, producers saying we wish Tucker was still here.

If they had that in their control, they could have fixed it. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK) 

GEIST:  They didn‘t want it that badly.

CARLSON:  It makes me so sad to give you this.

GEIST:  Yes, it hurts me more than it hurts you. But really you did great.  And you provided some great moments from me. Never in my life did I think I would be sitting somewhere next to Jerry Springer‘s wife looking across the stage at Jose Conseco giving Mario Lopez a standing ovation.  That‘s like the perfect storm.

CARLSON:  It really was. A harmonic convergence LA style.

GEIST:  It was awesome.  But we had a lot of fun, Tucker, thanks to you. Good job.

And programming note, tonight, Tucker Carlson on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. Check it out. Tucker is going to be on. I don‘t know exactly what they will have you do yet, but I have a feeling it might be dancing related.

CARLSON:  I can‘t wait. I‘m game for anything. You cannot embarrass me.

GEIST:  We have some really important news to get to.

It turns out scientists now know, for a fact, men are smarter than women, Tucker. There is a Canadian study, conducted by a male, ironically, a male psychologist found, he studied the aptitude of 17 and 18-year-olds.  He found that males have higher IQs by an average of 3.5 points He accounted that men have larger brains. We know that.

He also said this is really why there is no glass ceiling in the business world. It‘s just that women, are in fact, less smart than men.  This is not coming from me. I want to reiterate that.  This is empirical evidence. I‘m a big believer in science and the numbers don‘t lie.  I don‘t know what else to say.

CARLSON:  Do you know why this study isn‘t true, it‘s self canceling, because if men were really smarter in women they would never admit so in public. Because if you want to get along with women you don‘t say things like that.

GEIST:  No, that‘s right.

CARLSON:  So I officially—I abhor the study. It is a lie and I‘m opposed to it.

GEIST:  It‘s also Canadian.

CARLSON:  That‘s the other point.

GEIST:  That‘s going against it.

Now, it brings me no joy really, Tucker, here in Hollywood to tell you about the next story.

CARLSON:  OK.

GEIST:  Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown—the dream couple, the Ozzie and Harriet of our day—Splitsville. Looks like they are headed for divorce. A representative for Whitney confirming they have been split up.  There is confusion whether it‘s actually—filed for a divorce or whether it‘s a separation—either way, things are not going well.

They were together for 14 years, Tucker; 14 years of beautiful, beautiful sweet love. She, of course, the beautiful siren; he the bad boy of hip-hop. But somehow they made it work all these years. I‘d like to know what came between them.

CARLSON:  So you are saying their marriage is on the rocks, it‘s cracked up? Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

GEIST:  Hey! 

(LAUGHTER)

Whoa-hoo!  Somebody has been in Hollywood a little while.

(LAUGHTER)

GEIST:  You know what is funny, they have said, they have gone on the record and said that they were addicted to each other. It‘s just nice to see there is an addiction that they can in fact kick.

(LAUGHTER)

Unfortunately, it‘s their relationship.

CARLSON:  Addicted to love.

It‘s interesting. I don‘t know them. I have never met either one of them, but even by the standards of Los Angeles, I‘ve noticed—I come out here lot, they are considered pretty far out.

GEIST:  They are really far out there. They live outside Atlanta.  There was rumors of drug abuse, something along those lines.  In and out of rehab, but I thought these kids had what it takes to make it. What is this about marriage itself? If these two can‘t make it, who can?

CARLSON:  All I know is that the “Star” magazine and “National Enquirer” some other impeachable organ of journalism, reprinted a photograph not long ago of Whitney Houston‘s private bathroom, which was littered with empty boxes of Newports, Krispy Kreme wrappers and stuff like that.  It was a pretty grim scene.

GEIST:  She has some harsh habits.

GEIST:  Finally, I just want to say, Bruno, the gentleman we had on the show earlier, a great man. He was a little hard on you. He called your dancing an awful mess, wanted you out of the chair. Maybe he was right, maybe he was wrong.

A good man, to add to the surrealism, I spent most of my day chasing him around Burbank trying to find him and spending time with him. This whole montage of things has made this an incredibly exciting, fun, and bizarre week. I thank you for it.

CARLSON:  Anything I can do. If there is a reality—another reality show I can join—I‘m totally up for it.

GEIST:  Biggest Loser”?

CARLSON:  On to “Fear Factor.”

GEIST:  Let‘s do it.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist, thank you.

GEIST:  See you.

CARLSON:  That‘s our show from Los Angeles.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  See you tomorrow.

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

END   

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