updated 9/20/2006 10:52:09 AM ET 2006-09-20T14:52:09

Guests: P.J. Crowley, Sam Harris, A.B. Stoddard, Mark Williams, Don King

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show.  I‘m Tucker Carlson.

Lots to get to today, including a plan to pay poor people for sending their kids to school. 

And later, a new explicitly Christian film division from Rupert Murdoch plans to court evangelicals. 

But first, our top story.  Tough talk at the U.N. today.  President Bush cut out the middle man in his speech and made his case directly to the people of Iran. 

Here‘s part of what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  To the people of Iran, the United States respects you.  You deserve an opportunity to determine your own future, an economy that rewards your intelligence and your talents, and a society that allows you to fulfill your tremendous potential.  The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation‘s resources to fund terrorism and fuel extremism and pursue nuclear weapons. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  No word yet on what the people of Iran thought of the speech, but the president does seem to be having some success with the American people.  The latest “USA Today”-Gallup poll shows a bump in his approval rating.  It is now up to 44 percent.  That sounds low, but it‘s Bush‘s highest in a year. 

Will the president‘s speech today do anything to convince the government of Iran, though, to give up its nuclear program? 

Here with the latest, NBC‘s Rehema Ellis at the U.N. 

Rehema, what is the latest from there?

REHEMA ELLIS, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, the latest from here, Tucker, is

that we have spoken with the Iranian mission and asked them specifically if

there was a change of mind or a change of position on the part of Iran‘s

president based on President Bush‘s speech.  And they said, it‘s unlikely

that Ahmadinejad even listened to what President Bush had to say.  And in

addition to that, they say President Bush did not say anything different in

reference to his position regarding Iran‘s development of nuclear power. 

And therefore, they said, it‘s not going to be a change.  You cannot expect a change from Iran‘s position based on what President Bush said here at the United Nations. 

They don‘t think it‘s anything different.  They think it‘s just the same story that they‘ve been hearing all along.  Or the same position, I should say. 

CARLSON:  No surprise there.  Now, a couple of hours from now, maybe even less than that, the Iranian president, Ahmadinejad, will be speaking before the United Nations. 

Any sense of what he‘s going to say? 

ELLIS:  Well, I suspect that you might think he‘s going to maintain his position on his country‘s development of nuclear power.  While the United States has said that there should be some international sanctions imposed against Iran, particularly since Iran has defied the United Nations‘ deadline—I think it was May 31st for them to halt any kind of nuclear development—Iran didn‘t go along with that and says that it is not working on nuclear development for a nuclear weapon, but it wants nuclear energy.

That has been Iran‘s stand all along.  It continues to be the stand today.  So it‘s likely that Iran‘s president is going to say something in that respect when he speaks before the body today. 

CARLSON:  OK.  One of the most oil-rich countries in the world needs nuclear energy. 

ELLIS:  That‘s their position. 

CARLSON:  Rehema Ellis, can‘t wait to hear it.  Thanks very much. 

Well, the jury is still out on the White House‘s Iran strategy, but what about the opposition strategy?  Democrats are pretty vocal when it comes to criticizing the Bush administration‘s plan on Iran, but when it comes to their own plan, there are awkward silences. 

Joining me to filling in the blanks, P.J. Crowley.  He‘s senior fellow and director of National Defense and Homeland Security for the Center of American Progress in Washington. 

P.J., welcome.

Tell me what you thought of the president‘s remarks today. 

P.J. CROWLEY, SR. FELLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL DEFENSE AND HOMELAND SECURITY,

CENTER OF AMERICAN PROGRESS:  Well, obviously he had some sharp comments for Iran, Syria, and for groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, and rightfully so.  I didn‘t sense—see a sense that the United States has committed itself to actually do anything, so I don‘t think that the president‘s speech is going to change the status quo.  And particularly with respect to Iran, the status quo is working against us, not for us. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Well, I think that‘s—there‘s bipartisan consensus on that.  There‘s no question the status quo is bad in this case. 

But for really since I‘ve been alive, anyway, the mantra from the Democratic Party in a variety of international conflicts has been, let‘s get the international community involved.  Let‘s impose sanctions.  Let‘s get, you know, the whole world behind our position.  In this specific case, we saw just recently, very recently, the president of France, Jacques Chirac, say, no, France was not going to go along with sanctions against Iran. 

What does it say about that strategy generally?  You know, rattling the world community?  If you can‘t even get the world community to unite behind sanctions against Iran, you know, what‘s the point? 

CROWLEY:  Well, I think the key over the long term is that—that we‘ve had our diplomatic relations with Iran frozen since 1979.  If we‘re going to resolve the full set of issues between the United States and Iran—and they are plentiful—obviously, you know, Iran‘s behavior, its pursuit of nuclear weapons, it‘s support of terrorism, and so on and so forth.  Ultimately, the United States and Iran have to have a direct conversation. 

The real difficulty going back to 1979 is, how do you do that?  And ultimately, I think the administration is working a two-track strategy. 

I think the threat of sanctions is appropriate.  We have to make sure that we keep consensus within the international community.  Whatever sanctions do emerge from the U.N. honestly are going to not hurt Iran, particularly with oil at $60 or $70 a barrel. 

CARLSON:  Right.

CROWLEY:  What is more intriguing is what the Europeans are doing.  They‘re trying to set the stage, create a minimal set of circumstances, a temporary suspension of uranium that gets the United States and Iran talking. 

That is really, you know, the ultimate solution.  The real question within the Bush administration, because they don‘t really have an Iran strategy because they‘ve got, you know, pragmatists like Condi Rice on the other hand, they‘ve got hard-liners like Rumsfeld and Cheney on the other, and they can‘t come to an agreement. 

So even if the Europeans succeed in opening the door, the real question is whether the United States will walk through. 

CARLSON:  Well, actually, I would not describe—personally would not describe Cheney and Rumsfeld as hard-liners.  They seem more like Utopians to me.  But a semantics distinction.

But here you say we need to have a conversation.  The U.S. needs to talk to Iran. 

Iran wants nuclear weapons for understandable reasons.  It doesn‘t want to be pushed around.  We don‘t want them to have nuclear weapons, also for understandable reasons.  We don‘t want to go with them, we don‘t want to see them destroy Israel. 

So we each—we have opposite points of view.  When is the conversation going to change? 

CROWLEY:  Well, I mean, I don‘t think that—you know, first of all, it‘s clear that Iran has not mastered the very difficult technology of being able to produce, you know, fissionable bomb-grade material.  I really do think the intelligence community is right about that. 

CARLSON:  Right.

CROWLEY:  You know, this is a challenge that will take them several years. 

So we have time on our hands. 

At the same time, I don‘t personally think that Iran has made that strategic decision.  I believe they‘re pursuing nuclear technology so that they could build a bomb if they chose to.  Whether they have chosen to pursue a nuclear weapon, I‘m not sure. 

There are many countries around the world that have the ability to build a bomb, but have chosen not to.  But I think we have to have the discussion to test the proposition and find out really what their long-term intentions are. 

CARLSON:  Well, how about this?  “TIME” magazine is reporting that the United States military is readying for air strikes against Iran if it doesn‘t stop enriching uranium.

What do you think of that?

CROWLEY:  I think it‘s the dumbest idea that you could possibly do. 

CARLSON:  Why?

CROWLEY:  There are no viable military options with respect to Iran.  Now, you have to understand, when you—when you look at military options, you know, what are we trying to accomplish and what are the costs involved in military action?  Obviously, we could take...

CARLSON:  Well, wait, wait, wait.  Let me stop you right there. 

If you start out the conversation with Iran, conceding from day one that you‘re not going to actually do anything about it, what kind of leverage do you have?  If you take a military option off the table you‘re not really in a position to negotiate, are you? 

CROWLEY:  Well, I‘m not saying that you take the military option off the table.  I think that we have to be realistic, particularly with respect to our experience in Iraq, in understanding that we will have limited military objectives here and we will suffer very significant consequences, even if our military action is successful. 

We could use military action from the air or naval forces, you know, to delay the day that Iran gets a nuclear bomb.  We could set their program back a number of years.  But in order to really transform Iran into a constructive player in the Middle East, you‘ve got to go through a regime change to.  To do that, you‘ve got to put boots on the ground.  And right now, we have no spare boots. 

CARLSON:  But, see, here‘s why—look, I think the Bush administration‘s foreign policy has been really stupid in a lot of ways.  But here‘s why having Bush in office still may be better than having a Democrat in office, and it‘s this: everybody knows Bush is a stone-cold psycho with his finger on the trigger who might actually, you know, commit troops.  He might invade your country, and that makes people obey and pay attention and come around to your point of view. 

Nobody is going to believe a Democrat will do anything like that. 

CROWLEY:  Well, I mean, I would suggest, Tucker, that the experience is the opposite.  We‘ve gone through five years of confrontation with North Korea, we have nothing to show for it.  We‘ve gone through five years of confrontation with Iran, we have nothing to show for it. 

I mean, these are two very complex, longstanding, you know, challenges to the United States.  But really, what you need to have is serious engagement.  And then, if that engagement fails, you are able to present a case to the—to the international community that you‘ve gone through every conceivable option besides military force. 

We‘re a long way from that.  So even a discussion of military options to me is several years down the road. 

CARLSON:  So winning over Belgium‘s public opinion, that‘s where—that‘s where you lose me. 

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  Well, I tell you what, Tucker, you know, we can—we can never say that we‘re going to win the war on terror when the United States is as isolated as it is today. 

CARLSON:  Well, maybe. 

CROWLEY:  It makes a big difference.

CARLSON:  P.J. Crowley, thank you very much.  I appreciate it. 

CROWLEY:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Still to come, anti-Christian violence continues in the Islamic world today.  And the West continues to apologize for it.  But why? 

And Madonna tries to get to you pay attention to her once again.  Why you shouldn‘t just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.

Do liberals instinctively make excuses for Muslim extremists?  My next guest says so and he‘s a liberal.  “Unless liberals realize that there are tens of millions of people in the Muslim world who are far scarier than Dick Cheney,” he wrote recently in the “LA Times,” “they‘ll be unable to protect civilization from its genuine enemies.”

The man who wrote that is Sam Harris.  He‘s the author of “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation.”

He joins us from New York.

Sam, Welcome.

What exactly—I mean, give us your thesis in one sentence here.

SAM HARRIS, AUTHOR, “THE END OF FAITH”:  Well, there‘s a—I‘m arguing against dogmatism, really, and there‘s a liberal dogma which suggests if the poor people of the world were simply treated well and given enough economic opportunity, they can be guaranteed to be reasonable and tolerant.  And that‘s clearly not true. 

We have—we are facing in Islam a kind of death cult.  This is not to say that we‘re at war with all Muslims, but we‘re absolutely at war with Muslims who think that cartoonists should be beheaded for drawing cartoons, or who think women should be stoned to dealt for adultery, or who think that converting away from the faith is a capital offense. 

And so we have to realize that it is possible to be well-educated and to have economic opportunity.  And to think you‘re going to get 72 virgins in paradise, as witnessed by the fact of 19 guys who...

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

HARRIS:  ... flew planes into our buildings all had college degrees and many of them had Ph.Ds.

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.  I mean, and you don‘t see a lot of terrorists coming out of Burkina Faso, you know?  Or the poorest places in the world are actually not spawning terrorism.  It‘s western Europe.  But...

HARRIS:  And there are a variety of studies that—that back that up, that show that support for suicide bombing, for instance, actually goes up as you correct for literacy and education and economic opportunity. 

CARLSON:  I completely believe that absolutely. 

But back to the West and our reaction to this and this weird masochism at the center of our society, it seems to me, why is it, for instance, when cartoonists in western Europe are threatened with beheading, that some in our country—and I have to say they tend to be liberal—seem to make excuses for the people threatening violence against the cartoonists or the people threatening violence against the pope, or the people who are basically against free speech? 

Why do liberals in this country seem to be on their side?  I don‘t get that at all. 

HARRIS:  Well, it‘s interesting.  I think liberals almost by definition don‘t know what it‘s like to really believe in god.  They don‘t know what it‘s like to be sure that the book they keep by their bedside is the literal word of the creator of the universe and that death is a—is a—merely a passage to an eternity of happiness.  So they find it very difficult to believe that anyone actually believes this stuff and is motivated by the content of their religious beliefs. 

And so liberals, when they see the jihaddists looking into the video camera and say things like, “We love death more than the infidels love life,” and then he blows himself up, it‘s the liberal in our society, the religious moderate or the secularist, who is left thinking that‘s just propaganda, that‘s not really why he blew himself up.  Whereas our own religious lunatics, quite frankly, are in a better position to understand that people really do believe these things. 

CARLSON:  The irony for me has always been that, you know, if the jihaddists ever took power in this country, the first people who would be rounded up and executed, probably slowly, would be liberals, would be seculars, would be gays, would be the very same people who are always making excuse force radical Islam.  It seems like—almost like masochism to me or self-hatred, or something. 

HARRIS:  Well, it is.  I think there‘s this—there‘s this idea that Western power is, at its roots, malevolent. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

HARRIS:  And, you know, it is not serving us at the moment, because what we need—because the irony is that the liberals of the world, the secularists, should be in the best position to see how divisive religious dogmatism is, how our world has been shattered unnecessarily by these competing religious certainties for which there really is no evidence. 

I know you and I differ on some of these—these questions, but liberals should be in a position to call a spade a spade and show that people really are dying for god.  And in many respects they‘re the least able to do this. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  And we need them, frankly.  There are a lot of very smart, thoughtful, articulate liberals out there who I think we need in the war on terror. 

Let me read you something you wrote that I thought was very provocative. 

“There‘s ever reason to believe that a terrifying number of the world‘s Muslims now view all political and moral questions in terms of their affiliation with Islam.  This leads them to rally to the cause of other Muslims, no matter how sociopathic their behavior.”

The point here is—that you‘re making—it‘s not just a small percentage of people who have gone crazy.  It‘s a large number of Muslims around the world who are sympathetic to these acts of craziness.

Is that what you‘re saying? 

HARRIS:  Yes.  We, quite frankly, don‘t know what percentage it is.  But there‘s every reason to believe that it‘s—that it‘s a percentage that were we to learn it, would terrify us. 

It‘s not one percent, it‘s not half of a percent.  Even if it were only one percent, you‘re talking about 14 million people.  And I‘m sure it‘s an order of magnitude or more beyond that. 

And that is troubling, because this religious solidarity, this reflexive identification with a religion, no matter how ill-behaved the adherents, that is really running our—the possibility of a global civilization into the ditch.  Because we have to be identified as human beings first. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

HARRIS:  We can‘t be Christians against Muslims, against Jews. 

CARLSON:  Amen.  Amen.

Sam Harris, I disagree with a lot of things you say, but I think you‘re a very brave man and very smart.  Thanks for coming on.

HARRIS:  Thank you for having me on.

CARLSON:  Coming up, a modest proposal from one big-city mayor: pay the poor millions of dollars for sending their kids to school and for going to the doctor.  Just the kind of idea you‘d expect from a billionaire.  But does make sense? 

We‘ll debate it.

And back away from your televisions, please.  Nancy Grace is armed again. 

Another scary “Beat the Press” when we return. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “Beat the Press.”

First up, an unusually dangerous Nancy Grace.  Last night, right in the middle of a segment, Grace whipped out a knife. 

A warning.  This a little scary. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY GRACE, HOST, NANCY GRACE:  Many of us on the staff didn‘t know exactly what a filet knife is.  Well, this is a filet knife.  It‘s a nasty little piece of work, and apparently that is what may have been used on this mom. 

Now, her 10-day-old baby girl, gone. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I don‘t know about you, but I just crossed my legs involuntarily.  And the scariest part is that‘s not the first time she‘s been armed on the air. 

Watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE:  With the intensity of the stab, the perpetrator‘s hand—and I‘ve seen this in several cases myself—goes down the sheath of the knife.  And the perp‘s hand actually gets cut on the murder weapon. 

The reason this 12-gauge shotgun will be imported into evidence is because to work it, Mary Winkler had to go through so much to kill her husband.  She‘s about my height, 5‘2.  To pull back, load, and aim and pull, that takes quite a bit of effort. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Now, look, even in cable television there is a role for common sense.  And let‘s be honest with each other.  Is it a good idea to let Nancy Grace be armed on the set?  No, it‘s just not.  It‘s not a good idea.

Disarm Nancy Grace, please, for the sake of the rest of us. 

Well, next up, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, she was on “Hannity and Colmes” last night.  During a conversation about her latest book in which she described women as “slutacious (ph) hussies,” Dr. Laura tried to clear up the age-old question of why some women just don‘t want to have sex with their husbands. 

Here‘s what she said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. LAURA SCHLESSINGER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Women have been so brainwashed growing up in this culture since the feminist movement, which had wisdom in its beginning and then got totally off track, that men are oppressors and you have to work and just be frayed at the seams because you‘re working, you‘re coming home, you have the kids, you have all these responsibilities, you‘re tired, you‘re annoyed.  Anything he asks is an intrusion.

And women sacrificed this beauty, this gift from god, their sensuality and their sexuality.  I always tell them, “Why would you turn down a perfectly good orgasm, my dear?” 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Ew.  Can‘t we just both agree, right message, wrong messenger? 

Talk about talking about something you know nothing about, obviously.  Ew. 

I bet you $20 that 80 percent of the people who watched that last night swore off sex for at least a month. 

And finally, one from “Your World With Neil Cavuto” over in the FOX News Channel.  Cavuto and his producers have been trying to figure out a way to discuss global literacy.  It‘s a worthy topic that, let‘s be honest, is also a little dull.  And somebody came up with this idea. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL CAVUTO, “YOUR WORLD WITH NEIL CAVUTO”:  President Bush making his pitch for global literacy today, an issue that is near and dear to my next guest, even though they‘re not politically on the same page.  They‘re using their popularity to help educate and give supplies to America‘s kids, especially in needy areas. 

With us now is the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish, Darius Rucker and guitarist Mark Bryan. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  You‘ve got to be kidding.  Hootie & the Blowfish on global literacy?  That‘s ridiculous. 

That‘s like—that‘s like Don King on the president‘s poll numbers, which actually is not that bad of an idea.  Come to think of it, Don King and the president‘s poll numbers might be pretty good television. 

We‘ll see.  Stay tuned.  Maybe we‘ll do something like that.  Maybe it‘s not so dumb after all. 

Maybe we need to take a cue from the FOX News Channel.  Stay tuned. 

Still to come, President Bush makes his case.  He takes it directly to the people of Iran.  The question is, were they listening? 

And liberals have more to fear than anyone from Islamic radicals.  So why do they make excuses for Muslim extremism?

That story when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, New York‘s billionaire mayor wants to pay poor people for sending their kids to school. But wait, don‘t the rest of us do that for free? Stupid us.  And the Bush administration‘s unlikeliest defender ever, Don King. We‘ll get you all that news in just a minute. But right now here‘s a look at your headlines.

MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC MARKET WRAP:  I‘m Margaret Brennan with you

CNBC MARKET WRAP. 

Stocks falling despite easing inflation as a coupe in Thailand rattles international investors. The Dow Jones industrial average closing down 14 points. The S&O 500 off by 3; the Nasdaq ending the day down more than 13 points. The August producer price index up a tame .1 of a percent, thanks to easing oil and gas prices. Factoring out food and energy the PPI actually fell .04 of a percent. 

Today saw another sharp drop in oil prices, down $2.14, to $61.66 a barrel in New York trading.

Bad news from Yahoo!. The Internet giant lowering its fourth quarter outlook as major advertisers cut spending. Meantime, Chrysler is cutting third quarter dealer deliveries by 24 percent, after projecting a $1.5 billion third quarter loss. Chrysler‘s chairman blaming dismal summer sales.

Now, back to tucker.

CARLSON:  Time 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 Washington, D.C., the associate editor of the “The Hill” newspaper, A.B. Stoddard; and from Sacramento, California, radio talk show host, Mark Williams.

MARK WILLIAMS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:   Hi.

CARLSON:  Welcome to you.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  First up, the showdown at the United Nations today; in his speech, President Bush took aim at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, though not by name.  Ahmadinejad is expected to fire back in his address later today, probably in about an hour and a half from right now.  The White House strategy on Iran is becoming clearer.  What is the Democratic strategy, though, A.B. Stoddard?  Is there one?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOC. EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  The Democratic strategy on Iran is the same as the strategy on Iraq, which is to find fault with how the Bush administration is dealing with these countries. Obviously, they‘re very critical of the war in Iraq, but they don‘t have a specific plan of their own, should they take power, or they haven‘t articulated it yet.

When I asked a very key senator, today, what he would like President Bush to do on Iran, he couldn‘t come up with an answer. He said the problem is—we don‘t talk to our allies and now we‘re in position where we don‘t have a solution and none of these sort of tactical maneuverings would have ended up—none, we wouldn‘t have these problems with allies dropping off and these fights over sanctions, had we been talking to them all along.  So it‘s more criticism, more of the same.

CARLSON:  P.J. Crowley, when I talked to him a minute ago, made the point that it is an impossible situation militarily. There‘s no good military option.  And we ought not to be saber-rattling.  You often hear Democrats imply that. You they are willing to come out and say that?  It seems to me you want to at least have the threat of violence behind you.  But do you think Democrats seem to be willing to say that we shouldn‘t threaten anything, maybe?

STODDARD:  I don‘t think the Democrats are willing to get specific on anything right now. They‘re in a really good position, Tucker, because everything the Bush administration does is wrong. I mean, no one—the Bush administration doesn‘t have a strategy in Iraq or Iran. And this is good for the Democrats, they don‘t have to get specific.

CARLSON:  Well—should they? Mark, should they get specific? If you think about it, is much as it‘s tempting and I do it all the time, to say to the Democrats, what‘s your idea? I don‘t know, they‘re not in charge of anything right now. Should they have an idea?

STODDARD:  They‘re not?

WILLIAMS:  Yeah, they should have an idea. The Democrats are like the mother-in-law from hell. They‘re right there to tell you everything that‘s wrong with what you‘re doing. But they‘re not willing to suggest anything to do to fix it and set it straight. I‘m still waiting for the Democrats to come up with an alternative to anything that this president has proposed.

STODDARD:  That‘s true, they don‘t have to right now

CARLSON:  So, Mark—put it in three sentences; what should we be doing in Iran? We‘re sort of watching this movie, roll forward in slow motion. We know that at some point fairly soon they‘re going to have a nuclear weapon. What can we do about that, exactly?

WILLIAMS:  I wish I knew. I really do wish I knew.  We‘re watching 1938 unfold all over again in the Middle East on a lot of fronts, and Iran is just one of them. 

We need this country to get together and to step forward and battle with these people on all different levels. It‘s not just a military deal, there are economic sanctions. The French are standing in the way of economic sanctions now. Why? Because the French are probably making a buck off what‘s going on in Iran, the way they were making a buck of Saddam Hussein. 

Until we tell the U.N. that it‘s a useless, worthless—waste of New York real estate, kick him out, and proceed with our own defense, with our own allies, we‘re up in the creek on this one.

CARLSON:  I‘m kinda for that.

We‘re spoke earlier in the show to Sam Harris, and he made the point that the liberals seem confused about who the enemy is.  The monster under the bed is not George Bush of Dick Cheney, but in fact the Islamic extremists who want to kill us. 

Now, I‘m not trying to be mean, A.B., but I know just from liberals I‘m friends with, a lot of liberals don‘t get that. There is this kind of instinctive defense, or this desire to stand up for people who attack us, that I just don‘t get, at all.

STODDARD:  I don‘t think that we‘re talking about people who hate to be hated. And—the other side, which is people who don‘t mind being hated. I really am going to take the middle of the road here. I disagree with Sam Harris‘ doom and gloom scenario, it‘s a little too scary for me actually.

And I‘m going to go with President Bush who made a sweeping foreign policy speech today at the U.N. General Assembly, appealing to moderate nations to join together to triumph over radicalism. And I don‘t think he‘s ready to give up in the battle to win the hearts and minds of Muslims who are moderate, who are not intent on the extremists‘ path.  And I‘m going hope that he‘s going to be successful.

CARLSON:  But I‘m wondering why aren‘t liberals standing up for the pope? I mean—as weird as that sounds—on principle, you would see liberals standing up and saying—look, we don‘t agree with what the pope said, maybe, about Islam. But he has a right to say it without having a nun murdered or churches burned in the West Bank, for instance. Why aren‘t liberals standing up for free speech on this subject?  Why didn‘t they stand up for those cartoonists in Western Europe? I don‘t get that?  It seems like a natural kind of liberal issue.

WILLIAMS:  Tucker, the antithesis of liberalism, is standing up for free speech.  Political correctness is all about suppressing free thought, free expression, the liberals on the left and the Democrats in this country have sided with the extremists as the aggrieved party from the beginning of this. Going back to 1979, when Jimmy Carter gave the extremists their own country in Iran.

CARLSON:  See, I—and keep in mind, of course, the only people I‘m aware of who applauded the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran were the international left. Here‘s what I don‘t get, we‘ve got a pretty good deal with the West, liberal, with a small l, western society, where you can say and do what you want to do as long as you don‘t bother other people. It‘s great and it‘s under attack from lunatics who want to destroy it and make it authoritarian, what to create a fascist society, basically.  I think we really need the left to stand up and be counted and I don‘t think they are being.  I actually understand it, at all.

WILLIAMS:  Well, actually, Tucker—

STODDARD:  The left is not in power.

WILLIAMS:  I would argue that the Left is being counted and counted very loudly in the streets of this country.  And they‘ve made their position very clear. They don‘t like this country.  They hate George Bush even more than they this country.  And I think there is an element in this country, especially on the Left, that would be very happy to see the extremists prevail.

CARLSON: I don‘t think it‘s about Bush. Because you can be not impressed by Bush, as I am not impressed by Bush a lot of the time and I‘m appalled by the war in Iraq.  And you can still see—so, I‘m not reflective of Bush support at all, but you can still see the war on terror for what it is. It‘s a battle of ideologies—

WILLIAMS:  Well, you disagree with the president‘s ideas.

CARLSON:  It‘s freedom in the West against their authoritarian vision.  And I think the left, whether they‘re in power or not, could really help, sort of stand up and articulate why we should fight.

WILLIAMS:  See, they‘re just angry.  When you talk with a Liberal, they‘re in emotional agony. Listen to them whine. One of the websites that was complaining about you, Tucker, one person posted, I can‘t even post today, I‘m too emotionally impacted by the harm of the war.

I mean, give me a break, they‘re nuts.

CARLSON:  About me?  I think I‘m actually kind of reasonable. A.B.

Stoddard, don‘t you think I‘m kind of reasonable?

STODDARD:  Well, yeah, absolutely.  You are.

WILLIAMS:  You disagree with the president on issues, these people

hate the man viscerally

(LAUTHER)

(CROSS TALK) 

STODDARD:  Go ahead.

CARLSON:  Here‘s an issue that actually I think is—I‘m not sure what I think. Low-income people, should they be rewarded financially for doing the things the rest of us do routinely. Things like going to school, visiting the doctor? New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, suggested yesterday, that poor New Yorkers ought to be paid for making healthy life choices.  He claims that giving people financial incentive to improve their lives will help to break the cycle of poverty. The money, by the way, would be raised privately.  So it‘s not a question of government paying for this.

But, A.B., do you think there‘s something kind of patronizing about giving poor people money for doing things that normal people do, as a matter of course, like sending their kids to school. 

STODDARD:   Well, this government has given money away in the past without really stringent requirements for improving their lives.  So, let‘s remember that this would be an improvement on that. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Actually, a good point.

STODDARD:  But also I am a reporter in Washington, covering the federal government which refuses to tackle anything.  So, my hats off to Mayor Bloomberg fro showing some leadership and rallying enough, you know, interest and commitment in the private community.  I think it‘s really impressive. 

WILLIAMS:  It‘s insane.

CARLSON:  Huh?  That‘s a pretty good point, Mark, that I hadn‘t thought of, but yeah the federal government hands away money to people who don‘t deserve it and gets nothing in return.  Here‘s an idea of using private money to get people to do the right thing.  What is wrong with that?

WILLIAMS:  I have an idea, how about we stop giving money away for doing nothing and we stop this insane notion that if we subsidized poor, we‘ll get fewer poor.  You get more of what you subsidize, you get less of what you tax. How about we tax the poor?

CARLSON:  Well it does sort of make you wonder though, A.B., when immigration, as much as I think it‘s out of control, an illegal immigration is bad for the country, one thing you‘ve got to say about immigrants is they‘re not begging. Right?  You never see immigrants begging, I never see them, anyway, in any city I‘ve ever lived in. They come here with nothing, they‘re literally the poorest people in this country and they succeed because they work hard.

STODDARD:  And they work harder than the rest of us.

CARLSON:  Exactly, right.  So, what does that tell you?  Maybe it tells you it‘s not necessarily about poverty. It‘s about something else.

STODDARD:  Look, I just, I would just like to see—governments big and small, local and federal, trying to solve really big, important problems. And I think Bloomberg - if he pulls this off, you know, it‘s apparently worked in other countries. I think it‘s better to try something than nothing at all. And there‘s so much stalemate here on immigration and everything else, that I do think it‘s definitely worth a try.

CARLSON:  All right.

WILLIAMS:  Throw some money at it.

CARLSON:  Thanks, to you both.  I appreciate it.

For all the protests surrounding “The Passion of Christ” it grossed more than half a billion dollars and that gave Rupert Murdoch an idea. Fox finds God, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

CARLSON:  President Bush‘s poll numbers continue to climb. What‘s he doing right all of a sudden? We‘ll ask one of the president‘s biggest celebrity supporters, next. Plus, Martha Stewart stirs the pot with one of her celebrity cooking rivals.  We‘re back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

CARLSON:  Time for a look at today‘s stories “I just don‘t get”.  We begin with the confessions of a 48-year-old pop star.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADONNA SINGING:  Now, your love is out (ph), it‘s getting cold (ph), like a virgin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Defying pleas and protests from Christians around the globe, Madonna continues to rock fans with her Confessions World Tour. During the show she‘s suspended from a cross, while wearing a crown of thorns. Still she‘s is packing them in at every stop. Tickets in Japan are going for $4,000 a piece.  And now NBC reportedly considering jumping on the Confessions bandwagon with a deal to broadcast the spectacle in November.  The network says it is waiting to see the special in its entirety before making a final decision.

Here‘s what I don‘t get—why are people still paying attention to Madonna? Hanging on a cross? Wearing a crown of thorns? Ooh, shocking!  That‘s so 1983 anyone who is shocked by that has clearly been living in the woods for 20 years. What would be shocking is if she got on stage and like took communion non ironically—or believed in something.

But mocking Christians? There‘s not one thing that is shocking about that. Madonna—you are old, go away. Please, do not incite this chick by paying attention to her.

Next, a new move by entertainment mogul Rupert Murdoch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:   Our only major quarrel is with your total lack of morals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:   Our skimpy costumes ain‘t so bad, they seem to entertain your dad.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

CARLSON:  From the studio that brought you “The Simpsons” comes a new morality play. It appears that FOX has found God. Murdoch‘s company is planning to produce a dozen new films each year, under the new logo, Fox Faith.

Very subtle.  As the title implies, the movies will cater to the vast Christian audience that distrusts conventional pop entertainment, but flocks to religious-themed movies, such at “The Passion of the Christ”.

The idea here is that that evangelicals are so dumb that even if you‘re a thoroughly secular, thoroughly cynical entertainment executive living in Hollywood, California, you can name your network FOX Faith and convince them that somehow you‘re on your side and they‘ll pay money.

Maybe they will. I hope not, though. Because then they really will be as dumb as people say they are, and I don‘t believe that.

And finally, what‘s behind President Bush‘s rebound in the polls?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:   We also believe strongly that as the world becomes more free, we‘ll see peace. That‘s what we believe. And we‘re going to act on those beliefs.

MUSIC, BEE GEES:  Jive talking

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

CARLSON:  Despite mounting American casualties in Iraq, the president continues to talk tough on his commitment to the Middle East. As opposition to the war grows on Capitol Hill, so do President Bush‘s approval ratings.

After languishing for most of the year with poll numbers in the 30s, the president now holds a 44 percent approval rating, according to the latest Gallup Poll. Yet, keep in mind when the Vietnam war shot down Lyndon Johnson‘s ratings to a similar score in 1968, he knew his political reputation was history, and he dropped out of the race.

So what does it all mean? Why are Bush‘s numbers up? When you want the real story about what‘s going on inside the White House in Washington, D.C., there is needless to say, but one place to turn, to legendary boxing promoter and self-appointed Bush spokesman, Don King. He joins us from New York. 

Don, I‘m glad you‘re here.

DON KING, BOXING PROMOTER:  Tucker, nice to be here.

KING:  Great to see you. What is the story with the president‘s numbers? Why is he more popular than he was last year?

KING:  Because the people believe in what Bush is doing. Regardless they rest in the fact that his enemies fear him, his friends support him, but collectively, they both respect him. And that type of respect, whether you like him or dislike him, is what‘s carrying the tide. Because in this time of crisis, where you have terrorism and terrorism anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere. You find a man who stands steadfast. Says what he means, means what he says, and this is what‘s carrying the ball.

CARLSON:  So even if people disagree with Bush, they think he‘s tough and he doesn‘t change his mind and they admire him for that? Is that the idea?

KING:  Absolutely. It gives you the opportunity to be content and rest securely with a man like Bush at the helm because he says what he means, he means what he says and he stands steadfast with his war on terrorism, in spite of the popularity polls or whether it‘s unpopular. He does what‘s right.  It‘s a matter of conscience and he stands there, in support of the American people, which he leads, loves and respects.

CARLSON:  You don‘t think Hillary Clinton would do the same? When and if she‘s elected in 2008?

KING:  Every party that‘s out of office will always find room to criticize the party that‘s in office. That‘s natural. If the Democrats were in, the Republicans would be doing the same thing. But we as American citizens have to find that we highly resolve that those who have put themselves in harm‘s way, those who have died in the cause of freedom, shall not have died in vain.

CARLSON:  Right.

KING:  This is what Bush makes constantly plain to everyone. Even the Democrats are happy to have the guy in office right now. You know—

CARLSON:  You‘re not going to sell me on that, I don‘t think.

KING:  They‘re really are happy that he is there. Because he‘s the

type of person that really leads this country in a time of crisis

CARLSON:  I don‘t believe it.

KING:  That we need.  That‘s true.

CARLSON:  You‘ve been a Bush man for a long time. I‘ve interviewed you about Bush a number of times going back a number of years. Two years from now it‘s all over, though. No more Bush, he goes back to the private sector. No doubt he‘ll be having dinner with you. But we‘ll have a new president, and it could be a Democrat. It could be Hillary Clinton. Will you be as big a fan of Hillary Clinton‘s if she‘s elected? Are you going to support her?

KING:  I‘m going what you call a fan and a lover of America. That‘s why I call myself a Repli-crat. I‘m for whoever is for the American people, black or white, alike.  And who is best for them. That‘s what I will support.

But you rarely have seen a president as revolutionary as Bush, that will in the time of what will be a dormant president, after knowing that he can‘t be re-elected, still will not pass the ball to those who are coming behind him. He is confronting the issues head-on. And this is the type of strength that you have to love and admire and respect, regardless of what your personal opinion may be of him.

CARLSON:  How do you think he‘s doing on Iran? He spoke today, the president of Iran, Ahmadinejad, is going to speak shortly. How do you think Bush has been doing?

KING:  He‘s been doing great. I thought his speech was very sobering.  I did not get a chance to hear it all, because I was running around promoting the Eighth Wonder of the World, this is great Russian giant, 7 foot, 2, 335 pounds, that will be fighting in big Red October on HBO on Saturday, October 7.

CARLSON:  No, wait, wait, he‘s seven feet tall in you can‘t be a seven-foot tall boxer.

KING:  Yes, you can. Tucker I want you to be there, because only through your startling eyes, when you carry the mission to friend and foe alike that a great happening is taking place in Chicago at the Allstate Arena on October 7, it Nicholai  Valuweff (ph) against Monty Barrett (ph), it will be on HBO. If you can‘t be there to see it live and in living color, you can check it out on the screen.

CARLSON:  Wait, wait, wait, wait, Don --- 7‘2”—is that legal? Is he really that big? In his stocking feet, he‘s over seven feet tall?

KING: Yes, he‘s over seven feet tall. And he‘s the largest man ever in the history of the sport to be a world champion. He‘s the largest heavy weight champion in the history of the sport. And so now he‘s making his American debut as a champion here in America, in Chicago on October 7. So I call it Big Red October.

CARLSON:  Well—wait. You just said a second ago that you‘re above all, the promoter of the America, the United States of America. And yet, this guy is a foreigner, a Russian. There a lot of Russians, there are a lot of Eastern European boxers these days, I‘ve noticed. You can‘t find any Americans to fight?

KING:  Let me say this, this is an American—this is a derivative of one of our late, great Americans. President Ronald Reagan, when he was at The Wall, he said, Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev—tear down this wall.  Well, this is the aftermath of tearing down the wall. Giving Russians an opportunity to ascribe to freedom and democracy, to try to gain fame and affluence in that progress. 

Now we have four former Soviet Union world heavy weight champions.  There‘s no American, nowhere, all four world organizations has a former Soviet Union as the former heavyweight champion of the world.  I endeavor to go out and try to put them all together to bring one undisputed champion to the world. And let everybody be able to relate and identify.

In the meantime, search for a real Rocky Balboa. We need a Rocky. 

Rocky, where are you? But this is what makes the excitement in the game.  All roads lead to the Russian giant, which I call the Eighth Wonder of the World.

CARLSON:  OK.  Basically, they‘ve won. They won the Cold War, they tore down The Wall and we got 7‘2” Russian boxers. You know what, Don King, I‘m always on your side, almost no matter what you‘re promoting.  So, thank you very much.

KING:  Tucker, thank you.  Wait we got one more Tucker, on 11-4 I have another Russian champion, but he‘s not as big as the giant.  He will be fighting in Phoenix, Arizona, in John McCain‘s territory. We‘re going out there with John McCain, Senator John McCain, and we‘re going to put on a big fight in Phoenix, Arizona on 11-4, November 4, we call it Red November.  And Phoenix in and it will be on Showtime. We have Lakiavich (ph) fighting a guy that‘s terrific. And his name is—Shannon Brigs.

CARLSON:  I want to go to the fight. But we‘ve got one of the executives at MSNBC is getting married that night. So we can‘t go. So I‘m going to be TIVOing it.

Don King. Thank you.

KING:  Then as a wedding present, you look at it on Showtime and on HBO. A wedding present, I‘ll bring the whole wedding thing over to Chicago and to Phoenix.

CARLSON:  You‘re an amazing promoter. Thank you, Don.

KING:  I love you, Tucker.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  I love you, too.

KING:  God bless America. And God bless our president, George Walker Bush.

CARLSON:  See you.

If you look closely. You‘ll notice something odd about this cat.  We‘ll tell you how to teach your pet this neat trick when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

CARLSON:  Welcome back.

Time for our own version of Don King, Willie Geist

Willie.

WILLIE GIEST, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Tucker, I love America, too. All I left at home, though was the jean jacket with my own image airbrushed on it.  Forgot to bring it to work today.

Yeah, we are playing both extremes. Yesterday Kinki Friedman (ph) gave you the finger, today Don King told you he loved you.

CARLSON:  And I told him back, isn‘t that sweet?

GEIST:  Tucker, what you‘re looking at right now is something exceptional.  It‘s Lola, she is the eight-week old cat who can walk on her front paws. She was born with longer back legs than front legs.  So she has compensated by teaching herself to walk on her front paws.

The Denver shelter that is holding Lola has received so many offers to take her it is holding an essay contest to determine her new owner.  Now, Tucker, no body asked me, but I think talent like this should not be squandered in some kid‘s backyard in Denver.  You know where Lola needs to end up?  That‘s right the Moscow Cat‘s Theater, right here on Broadway.  They‘ve visited our show a couple of months ago, as you‘ll remember.  They walk tight ropes, they dance, they ride walking horses. I think Lola would fit in nice with the mute Russian clown, don‘t you?

CARLSON:  Those were the single smelliest guests we have ever had.

GEIST:  They didn‘t say a word. But I think that Lola would fit in nicely. She‘d be paid handsomely.  I think they ought to let her in the circus.

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.  Do you think the heat in celebrity chef kitchen is getting too hot for Martha Stewart? “The New York Post,” “Page 6”, which would never print rumor or innuendo, reports Martha may have sent spies to infiltrate a taping of cooking rival Rachel Ray‘s new show. A Post source says a group of Martha‘s staffers was booted from the Rachel Ray studio because the lied about who they were. A spokesman for Stewart says the group was asked to leave the taping but not because of any wrong doing.

Now, Rachel is new on the block. I know, she‘s new here, but let me tell you, you do not want to tangle with Martha.  She has been locked down and she will shank you and not think twice about it.  You don‘t want this fight.  You are new in the joint, learn a little more.

CARLSON:  She puts a bar of soap in a sock. Oh, yeah, she knows all the tricks from inside.  She is tough. I‘m still on Rachel‘s side though.

GEIST:  Yes, but don‘t mess with Martha.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist! 

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Willie.

That‘s our show for the day.  Thanks for watching.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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