updated 9/21/2006 11:06:40 AM ET 2006-09-21T15:06:40

Guests: Ryan Lizza, David Frum, Sam Greenfield, Andrew Wilkow

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

Lots to get to today, from the controversy over Virginia‘s Senator George Allen‘s religion, to Rosie O‘Donnell‘s latest outburst on “The View,” which you have got to see to believe. 

But, first, our top story today: the U.S. under attack at the United Nations.  For an organization that is supposed to be about diplomacy, there has been some pretty undiplomatic rhetoric coming out of the U.N. this week.  But, today, it reached a high point—maybe a low point—with Venezuela‘s Hugo Chavez.

The left-wing leader bashed President Bush in language that went way over the top, even by his standards.  He called Bush, among other things, “the devil.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (through translator):  The president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world, truly, as the owner of the world. 

I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday‘s statement made by the president of the United States.  As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums, to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation, and pillage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: “Came to share his nostrums”?  “Pageant of exploitation, domination and pillage”?  You just can‘t make this stuff up. 

Meanwhile, Iran‘s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad skipped the crazy talk.  But he was just as fiery in his denunciation of the U.S. yesterday. 

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator):  The question needs to be asked, if the governments of the United States or the United Kingdom, who are permanent members of the Security Council, commit aggression, occupation, and violation of international law, which of the organs of the U.N. can take them to—can take them to account?  Can there be a more vivid case of discrimination and more clear evidence of injustice? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  So, who is the crazy one here?  And does this country have anything to fear from Venezuela or Iran?

That‘s the question for the author of “An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror.”

Joining me now from Washington, David Frum, a former aide to President Bush and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. 

David Frum, welcome.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Is Hugo Chavez—clearly a bad guy—is he deranged?  What do you make of what he said today?

DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT BUSH:  He is—he‘s not at all deranged.  He is a classic Latin American authoritarian populist. 

And he is a populist presiding, as they so often do, over a crumbling economy, this despite unbelievable oil prices.  And Venezuela is a major oil exporter. 

His—his ability to sustain his political power—and—and he‘s not a dictator—he fiddles with elections, but he‘s—he is—he is an elected official—depends on his ability to keep stoking the anger and resentment that some sectors of Venezuelan society feel, and to be a star on the international stage, which he has just made himself. 

CARLSON:  Does the U.S. have anything to fear, though, directly from

Venezuela?  I know that, under Chavez, that that country has been importing

arms in a way it never has before.  And—and there has been some talk of

of Venezuela helping to foment revolution in—in the rest of the hemisphere.  But is that a real concern, or is that just rhetoric?

FRUM:  Oh, I think it‘s a real concern, I mean, that—that Colombia, which is next door, has had chronic instability.  And there do seem to be weapons flows from Venezuela into Colombia.

But it‘s not a kind—it‘s not the kind of global menace that—that Iran is. 

CARLSON:  Back—and to Iran, what was the point of Ahmadinejad‘s speech?  And what did—what did you make of it?  What do we learn about him from what he said? 

FRUM:  Well, you know, Ahmadinejad is not a dictator either.  He‘s the front man for an oligarchy.

There is a group of very powerful ruling clerics, who have become extremely rich in—in Iran.  And they, together, form a ruling committee.  So, as crazy as we think he is, he is—he‘s maybe the crazy face for a group of people who have got some very clear-eyed aspirations to power in the Gulf.  They are racing to complete a nuclear bomb.

And the reason—whatever Ahmadinejad wants, the reason that the other mullahs want that bomb is not to start a nuclear war with Israel, but in order to push the United States out of the Persian Gulf, to prevent the United States from being able to defend friends like Kuwait, the way it did in the 1980s and 1990s, and to make Iran the dominant power, on top of the biggest pool of oil in the entire world, at a time when the price of oil is probably going to stay quite high. 

CARLSON:  So, this is about the region, then?  I mean, this is about Iran‘s dominance in the region. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But, why then, if that‘s the case, then, all the rhetoric about Israel?  I don‘t understand that.  That—that merely inflames the rest of the world.  It makes Israel possibly nervous enough to preemptively strike Iran.  It doesn‘t seem to get Iran anything.  Why is he always going on about the Jews and the Holocaust and destroying Israel?  Why does he talk like that? 

FRUM:  Well, it does—look at it from his point of view.  It actually does get him something, which is, look, here is Iran, big country, Persian, not Arab, Shiite, not Sunni, a country that has fought—that fought a long war against Iraq, as representative of the Arab world, back in the 1980s. 

Now he‘s about to try to get nuclear weapons—or the ruling oligarchy is.  They‘re going to use this to try to dominate the region.  They want to send a message to the Arabs, who might otherwise be terrified of them:  See, the reason we want this bomb is not so we can bully you, and take your oil, and push away your American protectors, and leave you at our mercy.

CARLSON:  Right. 

FRUM:  That‘s not why we want it.  We want it so we can defend you against the insidious global Jewish menace. 

CARLSON:  Ah.

FRUM:  And, you know, you look at some polls in places like Egypt, and that propaganda does seem to be working, and to reconcile some Arabs to Iranian—to an—an Iranian bid for domination they might otherwise have feared. 

CARLSON:  That—that‘s actually a very—I think it‘s a very plausible point.  I mean, I have—I have been to—I have spent a lot of time in that region.  And that stuff, as crazy as it sounds here, that—you know, they buy that stuff there. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I mean, they—they go in hard for that.  You know, the—the Jewish conspiracy, they believe in it.  I mean, it‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

FRUM:  They sure do.

CARLSON:  It‘s unbelievable. 

FRUM:  And—and it‘s almost enough to reconcile them to the other thing they are terrified of, which is Persians. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  No, that‘s—that‘s a very interesting point.

But what about the threat that they must understand they face from us?  I mean, there have been reports in the last couple of days that the U.S.  military is preparing potential strikes, missile strikes, against Iranian nuclear facilities.  They must know that there is a chance we are going—we‘re going to press the button.  Are they afraid of that? 

FRUM:   They don‘t—they are not acting like they are afraid.  And, frankly, there is not a lot of reason for them to be afraid. 

I mean, these stories that have appeared in various magazines do have the air of bluff to them, that, if you are preparing for a confrontation with Iran, this is a serious military power.  You would do a lot more than send a few corvettes into the—into the neighborhood, that to—for—

President Bush,for example, would have to be now rallying international opinion. 

I mean, Iran has defied all kinds of international resolutions, is in breach, or past the deadline, for the Security Council.  And, if President Bush were planning something, I—I cannot imagine that he would have missed the opportunity to say at the U.N., look, that you missed—Iran has an August 31 deadline to stop enriching uranium.  They continue to do it.  They‘re a menace to the world.  The world must act. 

I think the fact that he did not say that suggests that he knows there is no help for him at the U.N.

CARLSON:  That‘s right. 

FRUM:  And it‘s kind—it‘s kind of hard to see how the United States does this, without getting at least enough U.N. approval to persuade the Germans and the French and the—the British to go along with the United States. 

CARLSON:  Which I suspect we‘re—we‘re not going to get.

Tell us what...

FRUM:  That‘s right. 

CARLSON:  I‘m we‘re—we—we sit, as Americans, and watch these two guys speak, and you sort of wince, and you can‘t believe they are saying this stuff out loud, and who are these crackpots?  They look like cartoon characters.

How, though, are they received at the United Nations?  Is that the way, do you think, the delegates to U.N. think of these people?  Or are they treated like statesmen when they show up there?

FRUM:  Well, I think Chavez and Iran are—I mean, I think Chavez is pretty widely seen as—as a buffoon and—in his region.  And it‘s—this is one of those, you know, first time, tragedy, second time, farce.  He‘s a farcical rendition of Fidel Castro. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

FRUM:  But—but the Iranian mullahs, these are very frightening people.  And they have a record of—of murder and assassination in many member states of the United Nations, not just against Israel, as we know, and not just in Iraq, but also in Argentina, also in Germany and in France.  They have committed assassinations on the soils of those countries.

They killed Americans in Saudi Arabia in 1995...

CARLSON:  Yes. 

FRUM:  ... for which there has never been a reckoning.

So, I think people—look, at the U.N., you know, the meaner you are, the more respect you get. 

CARLSON:  Yes, that‘s, boy, pathetic, depressing—interesting, though.

FRUM:  I‘m afraid so.

CARLSON:  Thank you very much. 

FRUM:  Tucker, thank you. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, David.

Still to come:  Senator George Allen, now he is under attack for everything but his record—details from the weirdest political race in America. 

And you don‘t often hear a pope apologize.  Pope Benedict, though, is doing a lot of apologizing lately.  But why?  What exactly is he apologizing for?  And should he be apologizing?

That story when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come:  Oh, Rosie what have you done now?  You would think the queen bee of “The View” would be done shocking the rest of us, but you would be wrong.

Plus:  An ostrich causes chaos here on MSNBC.  See it all for yourself.  That‘s on “Beat the Press”—when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

George Allen‘s campaign for reelection to the U.S. Senate has turned into one of the weirder races in recent memory.  Allen has faced accusations of racism, since he referred to an Indian man as “macaca,” whatever that means, several weeks ago.

Now he is under fire again for responding angrily when a reporter asked whether his mother was Jewish, of all things.

Here is a clip from Monday‘s debate between Allen and challenger Jim Webb. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Could you please tell us whether your forbearers include Jews, and, if so, at which point Jewish identity might have ended?

(BOOING)

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN ®, VIRGINIA:  You know what?  I am glad you all have that—I‘m glad you have that reaction. 

You know what our—our first freedom in our country was?  Freedom of religion, where people‘s rights are not enhanced, nor diminished on account of their religious—religious beliefs.  And to be getting into what—what religion of my mother is I don‘t think is relevant.  Whether one person believes in whatever their beliefs may be is not relevant.

And, so, I would like to ask you, why is that relevant, my religion, Jim‘s religion, or the religious beliefs of anyone out here?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Senator Allen publicly embraced his Jewish ancestry a day later. 

But why are Allen‘s critics focusing on everything but his record?

Joining us now, a reporter who has covered Allen extensively, Ryan Lizza, senior editor of “The New Republic.”  He joins us from Palo Alto, California.

Ryan, welcome.

That‘s...

RYAN LIZZA, SENIOR EDITOR, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  How you doing, Tucker?

CARLSON:  That—I‘m doing great.

That‘s the question, though.  Why are—in the—the last days of a race that could be about the defining issue of our time, Iraq...

LIZZA:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  ... why are people arguing about pointless things, the religion of Allen‘s mom?  Like, who cares? 

LIZZA:  Yes. 

Look, when the—when this race is not about Allen and his—his views on race, it is about the war in Iraq.  So, it gets into the serious stuff once in a while. 

But I—you know, look, I think race is a big part of Allen‘s record, and that‘s why it has become a—a big issue in this campaign.  And every time the issue of race or identity or ethnicity comes up in this campaign, George Allen says something very odd, and—and, to some people‘s eyes, troubling. 

The part we did not play in that clip there, Tucker, is where he accuses the reporter of casting aspersions on his mother.  And, to a lot of people, the suggestion was, well, there is something—it—Allen interpreted the question as—as something wrong with being Jewish, in other words, that the reporter...

CARLSON:  Oh, give me a break. 

LIZZA:  ... was attacking his...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  So, not only...

LIZZA:  Well...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  So, he‘s—so—so, he‘s Jewish and an anti-Semite?

I mean, pick one.  I mean, look, you know, Allen...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Come on, that‘s so unfair and dumb.  Allen says, look...

LIZZA:  Well, what was the use of—what was the point of using the word aspersions, then? 

CARLSON:  Well, here‘s—look, I am not in any way carrying water for George Allen. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  And I actually like his opponent.  I like his opponent quite a bit. 

But here is the point.  Allen said—and I think this makes sense—he said, people have asked me...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... and I think this reporter herself had asked whether or not he learned the world macaca from his mother...

LIZZA:  Right. 

CARLSON:  ... who is from Tunisia.

LIZZA:  Right. 

CARLSON:  And maybe that‘s some sort of Tunisian or possibly even a Yiddish word.  Whatever.  They are dragging his family into it.  Like, what does his mom have to do with...

LIZZA:  I understand.

CARLSON:  ... anything at all? 

LIZZA:  All right.  Well, let me make the case for that. 

Here is—here‘s the issue.  When—when the whole macaca-gate came up, people were trying to figure out, did Allen know what this strange word was?  And, it turns out, you look into the word macaca, and it turns out that it‘s a slur in North Africa that whites used against Arabs and blacks.

Well, it turns out that Allen‘s mom is French-Tunisian.

CARLSON:  Right. 

LIZZA:  So, a lot of reporters wondered, hey, is this a word that George Allen maybe heard growing up around the house? 

CARLSON:  No, but who cares?

LIZZA:  No.  Now, look, it‘s...

CARLSON:  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  The person to whom he said it was neither—was neither Arab, nor black, for whatever that is worth.  And, moreover...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... who—who cares if...

LIZZA:  He was dark-skinned.

CARLSON:  ... if he was? 

No, but, I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA:  The question—the question...

CARLSON:  Look, he said it on tape with a smile on his face.  Do you really think that, if he perceived it as a vicious slur, he would have said it in a room full of people, with videotape cameras rolling?

LIZZA:  Well, I mean, it‘s shocking that he said it at all. 

He said—I mean, the whole clip didn‘t make him look so—so good.  I mean, he did say, you know, something—at least—even if macaca is—didn‘t—he didn‘t know it was a racial slur, that was an embarrassing clip, he had to know, no matter what.  So, maybe he...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t—I don‘t find it embarrassing at all. 

And you know what I embarrassing, is when...

LIZZA:  You didn‘t find it...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... is when smart people waste their time on questions like, is macaca a slur?  This is a guy who has...

LIZZA:  Look, I understand.

CARLSON:  ... supported—who has voted for the war and supported the war in Iraq, in which, you know, thousands of Americans have died, for three years. 

LIZZA:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  OK? 

LIZZA:  Look, I take your point. 

CARLSON:  He is facing off—OK.

So, this is, as you know—and I—and I hate, you know—I hate to say—I hate to see smart people get caught up in it.  It‘s basically a Democratic campaign tactic that is used every two years.  It‘s, the Republican is always a secret racist. 

LIZZA:  I...

CARLSON:  I mean, you have seen it, because you covered a lot of campaigns.

LIZZA:  I agree with you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Yes. 

LIZZA:  Look, I agree with you.  There is nothing worse than race-baiting and nothing worse than...

CARLSON:  Yes. 

LIZZA:  ... Democrats unfairly tarring a Republican as a racist.

But, on the other hand, sometimes, people do have issues with race.  And George Allen has a long history of insensitivity on race.  And I think that‘s undisputed. 

CARLSON:  Oh, I don‘t know.

LIZZA:  And it goes back to the guy wearing a Confederate flag in high school, to showing off a Confederate flag in his living room.  And, look, you could have a debate about what that means.  But the guy was from Southern California.  He didn‘t—he wasn‘t from the South. 

CARLSON:  Well, I...

LIZZA:  And it—you know, it goes right through to issues when he was governor.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I guess I think that‘s weird.  But I guess I don‘t find it, A, that interesting or, B, that revealing, or, C, certainly...

LIZZA:  Well...

CARLSON:  ... not more revealing than the guy‘s public votes on positions and issues that—that really kind of matter.  Like, who cares if he wore a—a Confederate flag?  So, he is a weird guy.  I mean, what does that have—really have to do with anything? 

LIZZA:  Well, look, his views on race are—are not insignificant.  And there is pretty a big African-American population in Virginia.  And most African-Americans don‘t consider the Confederate flag something that they want their senator displaying on their person or in their home. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

LIZZA:  So, I think that‘s not an insignificant issue. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  OK.  Well, I don‘t like the Confederate flag either, but, I mean, I don‘t—I don‘t think...

LIZZA:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  I just think, look, again, this is—it‘s all a huge distraction.  And it‘s—do you—do you—and, just, I am asking you this as a reporter who is covering this race.

LIZZA:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  Do you think that the Webb campaign, which was...

LIZZA:  Right. 

CARLSON:  ... planning from the beginning to win on Iraq, has...

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA:  Right. 

CARLSON:  ... shifted its focus to questions of George Allen‘s racist views, supposed racist views? 

LIZZA:  I don‘t—I think that they had absolutely nothing to do with, but—do with this—this stuff coming out. 

But I think, look, their opponent was—was shooting himself in the face every—every—every few weeks.  Obviously, they are going to take advantage of that politically.  I doubt, when Webb got in this race, that he wanted—wanted the race to be about Allen‘s views on—on racial issues.  You—I think you‘re right about that.  He probably wants it to be more about Iraq.

But, look, if Allen is going to be stumbling, they‘re—you are going to, you know, stay out of his way and let him stumble. 

CARLSON:  You think...

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA:  But, look, I—I—I think a lot of these—you can make fun of these the—the macaca thing.  You can make fun of this...

CARLSON:  Right. 

LIZZA:  ... strange question that this reporter asked.

But, at—at the core here, there is an issue of George Allen‘s views on race.  And that‘s worth exploring.  And I agree we can go overboard.

CARLSON:  I just think Americans are so uptight about race, I just

think it‘s—it‘s—it‘s—people—everybody can just lighten up, just

you know what I mean?  Like, take a deep breath...

LIZZA:  Well...

CARLSON:  ... and concede that, you know—you know what I mean? 

Like, none of us is blameless.  All of us are probably too uptight. 

LIZZA:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  Just, whew, you know, de-accelerate a little bit...

LIZZA:  Yes, I hear you.  I...

CARLSON:  ... on the subject. 

LIZZA:  I agree with you in—in principle.

But, sometimes, it‘s—sometimes, people are overly sensitive on race.  And, sometimes, race is an important issue.  And I think, in this campaign, for the most part, George Allen‘s views on race have been—have really been worth exploring. 

CARLSON:  All right. 

Ryan Lizza of “The New Republic,” thanks very much. 

LIZZA:  Take care. 

CARLSON:  Coming up:  Since when did Arnold Schwarzenegger become a screaming liberal?  Well, since he started running for reelection.  And he is not alone.  Why are so many Republicans running for reelection as if they were Democrats?  Interesting. 

And think Rosie O‘Donnell can‘t say anything else to shock you?  Think again—that story on “Beat the Press” when we return. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “Beat the Press.” 

First up: our show. 

As if our viewers were not enough, it looks like Rehema Ellis had quite the cheering section on hand yesterday during her report for us from the United Nations. 

Listen to the rousing applause she receives. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REHEMA ELLIS, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  And I think it was May 31 for them to halt any kind of nuclear development.

(APPLAUSE)

ELLIS:  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.

They don‘t think it‘s anything different.  They think it‘s just the same story that they have been hearing all along. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

ELLIS:  Or the same position, I should say.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON:  No—no—no surprise there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Rehema Ellis, clearly mistaken for a head of state by many of the delegates at the United Nations.  She deserves that applause.  Anybody who covers the U.N. deserves that, and a lot more. 

Well, next up, reliable Rosie O‘Donnell.  When Rosie talked about dogs licking kids‘ behinds last week, we didn‘t think it could get any worse, any weirder, any sicker than that.  But, yesterday, she came pretty close when talking about how much she loved Oprah‘s season premiere. 

Watch, and be prepared to squirm. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE VIEW”)

ROSIE O‘DONNELL, CO-HOST:  So funny to me.  I...

(LAUGHTER)

O‘DONNELL:  I—literally, it was a Depends moment. 

(APPLAUSE)

O‘DONNELL:  I was watching yesterday.  I needed an undergarment to catch all of the urine...

(LAUGHTER)

O‘DONNELL:  ... because I—I had to put a towel on my couch, I was laughing so hard. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  You know, when Rosie O‘Donnell got that job, all of us expected, you know, this is going to raise questions of taste, questions of political bias.

Little did we suspect it would raise questions of hygiene, week after week. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  You just can‘t turn away.  I think “The View”‘s numbers are up, and I‘m not surprised.  I mean, it really is car-wreck TV.

And, finally, a moment we just could not pass this up—hours ago, MSNBC‘s Chris Jansing put Jay Barbree‘s report on the space shuttle on hold for this breaking news. 

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  The reason this chopper is up—and I am not making this up—is that there is an ostrich on the loose on a playground at a school in Maiden, North Carolina. 

These police officers are on their way to an ostrich on the loose.  It could be a serious situation, I guess. 

Jay Barbree, do you have a comment on this? 

(LAUGHTER)

JAY BARBREE, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, you‘re doing great, Chris.  You are doing great. 

(LAUGHTER)

BARBREE:  I don‘t know.  Is that breaking news?

(LAUGHTER)

JANSING:  I don‘t know either, Jay. 

(LAUGHTER)

BARBREE:  I don‘t know.

JANSING:  The answer is, I don‘t know.

BARBREE:  I got a bicycle crash down here. 

JANSING:  But—but, seriously, we‘re going to—we‘re going to...

BARBREE:  You want to cover that one, Chris?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  I am with Jay Barbree.

Chris Jansing did a great job.  You think it‘s hard to anchor a presidential election, a shooting?  Yes, it‘s nothing compared to going with an escaped ostrich for breaking news.  That takes skill.  And she has got it. 

Still to come:  Oprah Winfrey is threatening to sue her number-one fan.  And you won‘t believe why. 

And want weight-loss surgery free of charge?  Move to Austin, Texas. 

The state could pay for your gastric bypass—that story when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, the pope issues yet another apologize to Muslims proclaiming his deep respect for Islam.  What is it exactly about the violence of the last couple days he respects, though?

Plus is Arnold Schwarzenegger leading a national moving of Republicans to the left.  We get all that in a minute, but right now here is a look at your headlines.

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  I‘m Milissa Rehberger and here is what is happening.

The e.  coli outbreak that is linked to fresh spinach spread to two more states today.  The outbreak has now sickened at least 146 people and 23 states, and one person has died.  Investigators are still trying to pinpoint the source of the outbreak, and meanwhile officials kin to warn do not eat fresh spinach.

Authorities in Missouri charged a woman they say slashed the throat of a young women last Friday then stole her 11 day old baby.  The suspect is being held on a million dollars bond.  The baby was found safe last night, and the suspected kidnapper arrested.  Court documents say she learned about the new baby from a welcome home sign in the yard.

And a Soyuz space capsule carrying a new U.S.-Russian crew and the first paying female space tourist docked today with the International Space Station, Iranian born American telecommunications entrepreneur Anashay Ansari (ph) reportedly paid $20 million for the adventure just like the three male space tourists before here.

Now back to TUCKER.

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

Joining us from New York City, Sam Greenfield, he is the host of the morning show on WWRL Radio.  Also Andrew Wilkow, host of the “Andrew Wilkow Show” on Sirius satellite radio, welcome both.

We spoke a little earlier about the pathetic attacks on Virginia‘s Senator George Allen during his campaign for re-election.  Allen was asked about his mother‘s heritage as it relates to the now infamous macaca comment, and is this really the best his opponents can do?  Macaca.  I mean seriously, look, Sam, I don‘t understand this.  I did not understand it when the so-called story broke, and we were supposed to care that he called some guy “macaca,” come on, who cares, but when it gets to the stage of asking about his mother‘s religion, I mean, people should be ashamed to ask a question like that, I think.

Don‘t you?

SAM GREENFIELD, WWRIL RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  You are talking about politics.  I did not know that shame and politics every had anything mutually .

CARLSON:  People fall short of standards but we ought to have standards even if people don‘t rise to them, right?

GREENFIELD:  Where are the standards in elections, when they say things about peoples‘ wives like they did in .

CARLSON:  Well they should not.

GREENFIELD:  But they do.  People always in polls say they eschew negative advertising but negative advertising is what people vote for the guy they want to have vote for them.  Absolutely.

CARLSON:  You‘re telling me?  I have covered a lot of campaigns.

Negative advertising works, there is no doubt, and negative advertising is by and large accurate advertising, and I defend negative ads most of the time.  I just think when you pull peoples‘ families into it, that‘s foul, and that ought to be out of bounds, don‘t you think?

GREENFIELD:  We do you think that?

CARLSON:  Because people are not responsible for their relatives.  You don‘t choose your parents.

GREENFIELD:  But it‘s not what they said, it‘s what he said.  They said is it true that your grandfather was Jewish, and he said, I don‘t appreciate you casting aspersions.

CARLSON:  That is so unfair.  He‘s a Jewish anti-Semite?  I don‘t get what point are you making?  I don‘t really understand.

GREENFIELD:  I think the point is simple, if you think me asking about your grandfather‘s heritage is something to be aspersive (ph), I think it does say something.

CARLSON:  What do you mean it says something?  What are you saying?

GREENFIELD:  I am saying if someone says to me, is your grandfather from Poland?  I resent that.  What does that indicate?  Come on, Tucker, stop it.

CARLSON:  I would be mad if somebody—that‘s one of the reasons I would

never run for office, because I don‘t want anybody to ask—I would flip

out if somebody every brought my family into I in

GREENFIELD:  He did not ask if your grandfather smoked crack, he asked is your grand father Jewish, that‘s all.  What is bad about that?  You can you ask me that.  It‘s no big deal.

CARLSON:  It‘s nobody‘s business.  Am I the only thing that thinks it‘s nobody‘s business.

GREENFIELD:  When you run for office, everything is everybody‘s business.

ANDREW WILKOW, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Can you imagine if a reporter did the exact same thing to Barack Obama and asked him about his Caucasian identity?  He would have gone through the book on that one.

GREENFIELD:  He wrote a book about it.

WILKOW:  It doesn‘t matter.  If a reporter and asked him in a sort of, I got you moment they were so in love with him over a race, if somebody had reported that out, a reporter, unnecessarily I might add, people would have lost their minds.

John Kerry tried this one, and all of the sudden he is back to being a full on Catholic, and nobody asked him about his Jewish ...

GREENFIELD:  I agree with you about that.  I thought that was hysterical.  And I will tell you what this is, the underbelly of this is Republicans jealous of Democratic candidates who suddenly have Jewish relatives are trying to take over this field.  That‘s what this is about.

CARLSON:  Come on.

GREENFIELD:  George Pataki, rabbi.  I‘m telling you, this is how it starts.

WILKOW:  What‘s so funny is the moveon.org crowd was calling Joe Lieberman, Jew Lieberman.

GREENFIELD:  That crowd?

WILKOW:  That crowd, that group.

GREENFIELD:  Did moveon.org do that or did another blog do that?

WILKOW:  One of the blogs .

GREENFIELD:  Not moveon.org.

WILKOW:  What is the difference.  It‘s all the left.  There‘s lots of anti-Semitism on the left and you know it.

CARLSON:  Now that we are on to religion, let‘s move even broader now to the pope, who continued his unnecessary apologies to Muslims today.  The pope told an audience at St. Peter‘s Square that he has, quote, “deep respect for Islam.”  The pope is responding to the violent reaction of Muslims to a 14th century quote he read during a speech about their religion last week.

Andrew I think it‘s time for the pope to stop apologizing, because it for

makes all too clear that the rest of us are being held hostage by the

violent responses of a small minority of people.  When they don‘t like what

you say, murder other people and I‘m talking about Islamic radicals.  Why -

I think the pope strengthens their hand when he sucks up to them as he is so doing.

WILKOW:  Is he apologizing for saying it or is he sorry they are offended by it?  There are three parts to a message.  There is the sender, the medium and the receiver.  Is he upset - sorry that they are offended or is he sorry that he said it?  There is a difference.

CARLSON:  I dunno.  You could parse what he said, and he did in fact say that he is sorry that they are mad, which is sort of a non-apologize apology, but the point is somebody in authority ought to stand up very soon and say look, we may have a difference of opinion, we may disagree with one another.  That does not give you the right to murder nuns, for instance.  And it seems there is a double standard where if you insult Islam, oh, you‘ve insulted the Prophet, we get to set your house on fire now.

No, those aren‘t the rules.

GREENFIELD:  This is so patently stupid.  The pope never said anything bad about anybody.  He quoted somebody who said something bad and he said this is an example of how not to behave, and these people who are protesting don‘t even know what he said.  You know what the problem is, he said “Mohammed”.  That‘s the problem.  They are nuts.  He has already said he is sorry if he offended anybody, he is the pope, and let‘s move on.

CARLSON:  I agree with you.

GREENFIELD:  Once again, I say this all the time, where are the moderate Muslim leaders saying excuse me, but the whack jobs, where they are getting barbecue fluid is beyond me, who are burning the pope in effigy, they don‘t represent us and we are ashamed of them.

CARLSON:  I agree with you completely.

GREENFIELD:  I find myself in agreement with Sam, but follow the logic on this one.  If this is not state sponsored and there is not someone bigger behind this, back when the Danish cartoon controversy hit, where did they all the sudden get all those Danish flags from in the middle of nowhere in Pakistan?  You don‘t just go down to the convenience store and pick up a Danish flag.

CARLSON:  You don‘t.

On the other hand, I have no doubt—we know that there are at least two Islamist political parties in Pakistan that were behind those demonstration, but also that‘s a bit of a dodge because it ignores the fact that this is popular opinion in is a lot of Islamic world, that Jews are evil, that Israel doesn‘t have a right to exist, that the United States .

WILKOW:  Well, their set of rules are like this, and it‘s kind of like moral relativism on the left.  It is we can say and do to you, you just can‘t say and do back.  There is no notion of tolerance, there is no notion of a level playing field.  The idea of a dialogue or the freedom of speech is lost on this bunch.

GREENFIELD:  Lefties love freedom of speech.

WILKOW:  No they don‘t.

GREENFIELD:  Now shut up, Andrew.

WILKOW:  Can I go to a guy pride event and burn a gay pride flag?  You think an ACLU lawyer .

GREENFIELD:  A ACLU lawyer would defend you.

WILKOW:  Well, I will not hold my breath for that one.

CARLSON:  Hold on.  I want to ask you about domestic politics for a second.

Republicans appear to be, at least according to a piece in “The New York Times,” which I think is accurate, taking a hard left in their efforts to get re-elected.  California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, for instance, among the Republican gubernatorial candidates making liberal issues the center peace of his campaign.  Schwarzenegger is playing up position on issues like the environment and the minimum wage.

Some say Republicans are trying to distance themselves from President Bush and appeal to moderate voters.  That‘s clearly what is going on.  But it seems to me that this Andrew is a poor strategy, because in the end one of the reasons Republicans are so unpopular, one of the reasons this president is so unpopular is because none of them really believe anything, and that turns off voters more than anything.

WILKOW:  What is this - I love some of these issues that they call liberal or progressive.  Whoever said the environment issue was owned by the liberals.  What is funny about liberals on the environment, they talk about reducing this gas or this output or that output but they never talk about it for China, or for India or Africa, and all of a sudden environmental science becomes environmental socialism.

GREENFIELD:  Actually they did talk about it and it was called—they did do it for the rest of the countries and it was called the Kyoto agreement and we didn‘t sign it.

CARLSON:  I spend more time outside than any environmentalist I know.

WILKOW:  Yeah but none of those countries even signed on to it.

CARLSON:  Before we get into Kyoto, I am interested in the domestic politics, leaving aside the environment - you can attack that question from both sides, but the fact is, and I think the “New York Times” is right that a lot of Republicans who are passing themselves off as more liberal than perhaps they really are - why?

GREENFIELD:  Schwarzenegger has been more left than right on social issues, and more right than left on economic issues.  Always.  That‘s never been a hallmark of his.  He has never been a conservative on social issues at any time.  And by the way, his strategy is working.  He is 11 points up in the polls and a year ago he was at 31 percent, so it‘s working.

WILKOW:  He is up in the polls because he is Arnold Schwarzenegger.

GREENFIELD:  He was down in the polls.

WILKOW:  I don‘t think Republicans are going to the polls saying I am going to vote for him because he is a straight up Republican.  It‘s like Jesse Ventura and Sonny Bono, no offense, they are voting the name.

CARLSON:  I think that‘s right.  It‘s a liberal state.  Let‘s be honest. 

It‘s California.

GREENFIELD:  In their own way they were voting the name with President Bush.  People vote on names.  He is the son of a president.

WILKOW:  I don‘t people were voting for Bush as much as they were voting against Gore.

GREENFIELD:  Schwarzenegger has better approval ratings.

CARLSON:  I want to ask you two quickly, can either of you, starting with you, Sam, can think of anybody running statewide in 2006 who is running as a traditional conservative, except Santorum I guess?

GREENFIELD:  Let me see.  Who is running - Bob Casey.

CARLSON:  A Democrat, of course.

GREENFIELD:  What can I tell you?

CARLSON:  He is, of course, far more conservative than many Republicans.

GREENFIELD:  He is.  He absolutely is.

CARLSON:  Andrew, is this a season where it‘s not really possible to run as an out of the closet conservative?

WILKOW:  No.  I think conservatism is a little more nuanced than saying you are a conservative.  Conservatives and liberals and Democrats and Republicans are all individual people, with different views and values.  You don‘t—you know who I am really watching, my favorite race to watch now, was, I thought Kweisi Mfume was going to take the Democratic nod to run for Senate against Michael Steele who ran unopposed.  But apparently all the good liberal voters didn‘t vote for Kweisi Mfume.  I am watching Michael Steele, he is my guy.

CARLSON:  He is an interesting guy.  Thank you both, very much.  I appreciate it.

GREENFIELD:  Thank you very much.

CARLSON:  Andrew and Sam, thanks.

Well, they still have not identified that mysterious debris flying around the space shuttle Atlantis.  Is NASA worried about getting our astronauts home safely?  We will get a life report on that in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time for a look at today‘s stories I just don‘t get.  First up, why a vote for Oprah might be a vote for legal action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I am trying to get Oprah to experience a presidential aha moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was 69-year-old Patrick Crowe (ph) explaining why he is casting a ballot for Oprah in 2008.  But don‘t even consider the idea of the chat queen turning in her TV throne for the Oval Office.  Oprah‘s lawyers are making that perfectly clear to Crowe who is spearheading a Web site draft endorsing Oprah for president.  The retired Kansas City schoolteacher is being threatened with a law suit if he continues to use Oprah‘s name and likeness in his campaign.

On the one hand, Patrick Crowe looks like a pretty odd guy, let‘s be totally honest, and on the other, suing somebody for suggesting that you run for president?  That‘s kind of odd behavior even for Oprah.  Could it be that she is mad that he is letting the cat out bag?  Could it be that Oprah is in fact planning to run for president in 2008?  Could it be?  It could be as far as I am concerned.

Next, how leaders in one Texas community are dealing with a weighty issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Come here.  I am going to eat you.  I am bigger than you, and I am higher on the food chain.  Get in my belly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Obesity may be funny in Hollywood but it‘s no laugh in Travis Count, Texas, and that‘s why commissioners are tipping the scales of health benefits in a whole new direction.  They are going to allow up to 15 employees per year to undergo weight loss surgery at county expense.

Each procedure might cost local tax payers as much as $25,000.  The commissioners say it‘s an investment, though, because untreated obesity could lead to more expensive medical care down the line.

Of course, obesity surgery could also kill you, at which point that would be pretty expensive.  The bottom line is, we don‘t know the long term effects of obesity surgery.  Yes, in the short term you lose a ton of weight and that‘s a great blessing if you‘re very fat, but in the long term does it really make you unhealthy?  What does it do?  We just don‘t know.  It‘s probably a little too soon for a city to be paying for people‘s stomach reduction surgery at public expense.  That‘s my prediction.  Probably not a good idea.

And finally, Houston, you do have a problem, or maybe not.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It appears to be roughly rectangular in shape.  We have no idea because there is no scale to put with that photography how far away it is or how big it was.  So we still have a bit of a mystery there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was shuttle operation manager Wayne Hale.  He concedes he and his colleagues are at a loss to explain what the heck that strange this is that is floating around the Atlantis.  But the bigger question remains, could that debris put the astronauts in jeopardy should they attempt to land the craft?

So far the ship‘s robotic camera reveals no damage to the outer hull, but NASA engineers say it is best to postpone Atlantis‘ return to earth until tomorrow while they attempt to identify their space odyssey.  Does this debris put our astronauts in danger as they attempt to return home?

Let‘s ask NBC‘s Tom Costello.  He is live at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  Tom, what‘s the status?

TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Is that why you are playing “Ground Control to Major Tom,” I am standing here at the Kennedy Space Center?  I get it.

CARLSON:  Plus, it‘s a great tune.  Any excuse.

COSTELLO:  It is good.  Well they think they actually solved this one and they are not concerned.  Here is what they think it is.  It‘s called a shim stock, it‘s a plastic piece of really filler that kind of slides between the shuttle‘s protective tiles.  It really was not supposed to be there to begin with, they think it kind of accidentally got carried into space, they noticed it sticking out early in the mission and then when they today inspected the belly of the shuttle looking for any signs of damage or anything that might be missing, guess what turned up missing?  The shim stock that the noticed earlier in the mission, it‘s gone.

Remember that soundbite you ran from Wayne Hale.  That was last night.  He said it appears to be rectangular and floated away.  Well look at this, it is exactly rectangular, and it‘s plastic, it is very a pliable, if you will, and they think this is exactly what was floating away.  And so they are now convinced the shuttle is clean, and there is no damage to the shuttle and there is nothing missing from the shuttle, other than the shim stock, the filler, and so they have gone ahead and cleared Atlantis to return tomorrow at 6:21 Eastern Time here at the Cape.  Tucker?

CARLSON:  Are these mission becoming more perilous or are we just paying closer attention, or are we more rattled since the tragedy a couple years ago?  What‘s your perception?

COSTELLO:  I would say yes to b and c.  I don‘t think - this is my own perception, my own opinion, I don‘t think they are becoming more dangerous, I think what has happened, since the Columbia disaster, in 2003, there has been incredible focus on ensuring that nothing like that ever happens again.  They have got now 100 cameras trained on the camera as it launches into orbit.

In addition they have now outfitted the shuttle‘s robotic arm with censors and high definition, high resolution cameras, so they can scan the shuttle‘s exterior looking for any signs of damage.  They never had that before and so they are taking all of this new data in.  Keep in mind they‘ve had 115 flights, they have never before had this kind of a thorough inspection.  So it‘s a learning process.  A learning environment.

But they are now absolutely convinced the shuttle was clean, and nothing to be worried about and they can come on back to earth.

I personally, having talked to the NASA administrator, the program managers, I think the shuttle is probably never been safer, and the program has never been safer, but now they are worried, and they will take nothing for granted because they don‘t want to yet again chance that some of their astronauts might die on reentry.

CARLSON:  Tom, can you give me the finally the 20 second explanation of what this mission is hoping to accomplish?

COSTELLO:  Well, this mission was tremendously successful.  They carried a 17 and a half ton cargo into space, and they added a massive addition onto the International Space Station, and they have now got to complete the space station in the next four years.  They have got about another 14 missions to do it in.  It‘s very important that all of these missions go smoothly.

CARLSON:  Major Tom Costello at Ground Control  Thanks, Tom, we appreciate it.

COSTELLO:  You bet.

CARLSON:  Tiger Woods‘ swimsuit model wife is caught in the middle of an international incident over porn.  Her husband is declaring war.  We‘ll explain what‘s going on when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time for a much-needed Willie Geist injection.  From headquarters, Willie Geist.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC REPORTER:  Thank you very much, Tucker.

Most people probably think you were kicked off “Dancing with the Stars” last week, and you were to the naked eye.  But I just recommend that the folks tune in maybe for a little by to the show tonight and see if our old friend doesn‘t pop up again.  I won‘t give away any secrets.  But tune in. 

OK.

CARLSON:  We‘ll see.

GEIST:  We have some breaking news, disturbing news you can use, actually, Tucker.  I‘m sure you‘re aware of Goo-Goo, the giant panda, Goo-Goo the giant panda at the Beijing Zoo.  He had a visitor today.  It was a 35-year-old tourist who after drinking four pitcher of beer, decided to get into the panda enclosure and give the big old bear a hug.  It turned out Goo-Goo was not into the hug.  Bit the man.  The man incidentally bit the panda back and this is the part I don‘t get.  A 15-minute scuffle ensued.  How did the panda let the man stay around for 15 minutes?  That‘s kind of a lame panda.

CARLSON:  That‘s so great!

GEIST:  Here a great quote from the guy.  He said, “I just wanted to touch it.  I was so dizzy from the beer.  I don‘t really remember much.”

But he‘s OK.  The good news is he was OK.  He was bitten in the leg and got a few stitches.

CARLSON:  I‘ve heard that explanation before, by the way.

GEIST:  God, it‘s too good.  The lesson stay out of the panda cage, especially if you‘ve had four pitchers of booze.

CARLSON:  Definitely.

GEIST:  Anyway, Tucker.  You know what they say about pulling a tiger‘s tail.  It is not a good idea also with Tiger Woods.

A magazine in Ireland where the Ryder Cup golf tournament is being held this week printed an article entitled, “Ryder Cup Filth for Dublin” that attacked visiting golfers and their wives.  It included a pornographic picture purported to be of Tiger‘s wife, former swimsuit model Elin Nordegren.  The problem is the photograph was not Tiger‘s wife at all.  And Tiger didn‘t like that.  Today he called the magazine‘s action unacceptable.  The publisher has apologized.

Now Tucker, apparently Tiger sees it as a bad thing to have his wife mistaken for a porn star.  I guess we all see the world a little differently, don‘t we?

CARLSON:  I‘m on Tiger Woods‘ side in this case.

GEIST:  Also the criticism is that American women are too attractive.  Only the Irish would say that.

CARLSON:  She does sound a little on the Swedish side I have to say.

GEIST:  She is Swedish, actually.  Tucker, some people spend their entire lives trying to find Jesus.  Others conveniently find him right at their front door.  Anna Glover (ph) of Conroe, Texas says she sees the face of Jesus on the floor of her front foyer every time she turn on the light.  There he is.  The image is created by light traveling through the patterned glass on her front door.  And I will just say, Tucker, it is a nice story.  But isn‘t she using Jesus as a doormat right there?

CARLSON:  That is an excellent point.  And leave it to you, Willie, to step back and see each story in context.  I must say that looks very much like the shroud of Turin.

GEIST:  Yeah it does, I think it might be coming from a projector.  The image is a little too good.

Finally, Tucker, cell phones obnoxious by their very nature.  They ring in movie theaters.  People talk loudly on them in crowded elevators and those blinking Bluetooth headsets, do not get me started about those.

But now a Swiss company has made a phone that is in a class of obnoxiousness all its own.  It‘s called the Black Diamond and it costs $300,000.  That‘s 300 grand, as in the price of a home.  The phone has a diamond navigation button, thank goodness, and another two karat diamond on the back.  The body is made of titanium.  The Black Diamond will be available next year.

Tucker, I will say for $300,000, that better come with a cigarette lighter, adaptor and a belt clip totally free of charge.  That‘s just outrageous.

CARLSON:  Just more evidence this really is Rome in the later years.

GEIST:  It is.  It‘s almost over.  Have fun now, because it‘s almost over.

CARLSON:  I think that every day.  Willie Geist.

GEIST:  Have fun, Tucker.  See you tomorrow.

CARLSON:  That‘s our show for tonight.  Thanks for watching.  Up next. 

HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS.

We, meanwhile, will see you back here tomorrow.

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

END   

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