updated 9/22/2006 11:15:44 AM ET 2006-09-22T15:15:44

Guests: Al Franken, Jeffrey Steinberg, Jenny Bachus, Heidi Harris

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

Lots to get to today, including Al Franken on the state of American politics, and a children‘s book that aims to make your child into a faithful Democrat. 

But first our top story: two world leaders and their Bush-trashing tour of the USA.

Here is Venezuela‘s Hugo Chavez, who yesterday called President Bush the devil. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELA (through translator):  ... who choose a president, elect a president with whom we can talk, with whom we can be able to work.  Treat them like brothers, like equals.  But not this gentleman that you have now.  He walks like this cowboy John Wayne, walking like this. 

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  If you‘re looking for an inflammatory sound bite, clearly Hugo Chavez is your man, though Iran‘s Mahmoud Ahmadinejed is not far behind.  Today he again raised questions about the existence of the Holocaust, and he insisted Iran has a right to so-called peaceful nuclear weapons programs.  But are lunatics like Ahmadinejed and Chavez actually helping the White House make its case in the war on terror? 

Here with the latest, NBC‘s Mike, on Capitol Hill.

Mike, what is the latest reaction to—particularly to Chavez‘ speech today in Harlem? 

MIKE VIQUEIRA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, you know, it‘s funny, Tucker.  We‘ve heard nothing from silence from Republicans here on Capitol Hill.  Perhaps they are following the lead of administration people. 

Ambassador John Bolton, Secretary Rice and others have said that they have no comment.  Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, they have no comment in response to which Chavez said to the chamber and what‘s said up in the Bronx earlier today. 

What we are hearing is from Democrats.  They are not necessarily rushing to defend the president, but they are condemning President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. 

Nancy Pelosi was first out of the blogs today.  She said that Chavez has demeaned himself and demeaned Venezuela.  “I think Hugo Chavez fancies himself a modern day Simon Bolivar, but all he is an everyday thug.”

And then it was Charlie Rangel.  You know, Chavez, in that little clip you played, was up in the Bronx donating some money for low-income heating assistance.  Rangel thanked him for the money but wasn‘t so kind when it came to his remarks yesterday. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK:  Even though I‘m fully aware that he and President Bush enjoy these personal attacks on each other, they can do politically what they see fit to do.  But you don‘t come into my country, you don‘t come into my congressional district, and you don‘t condemn my president. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VIQUEIRA:  Tucker, everything has to be seen in a political context up

here.  Democrats beating Republicans to the punch, criticizing Chavez

heavily, do not want to be accused of coddling the man by remaining silent

Tucker. 

CARLSON:  It‘s very interesting.  And in my view, very, very smart. 

Mike, what do you hear about a deal that has been reached apparently between the White House and Arizona Republican Senator John McCain about torture? 

VIQUEIRA:  Well, all day long here in the Russell Office Building where I‘m standing now, negotiations have been going on between the national security advisor, the secretary of state, and not only McCain, but John Warner and Lindsey Graham, this core of recalcitrant Republicans who were leading this fight against this legislation.  Remember, it was the Supreme Court who told the administration that if you want to carry on these tribunals, if you want to treat the prisoners—prisoners in the war on terror the way you have been treating—treating them, you‘re going to have to go to Congress and get a law written to do what you have been doing. 

Well, the administration did just that.  What they didn‘t count on was John McCain standing up and saying the way you‘re going about it is wrong.  You cannot change the Geneva Conventions—or at least the United States‘ interpretation of the Geneva Conventions dictates on how you treat prisoners—in order to get done what you want to get done. 

So these negotiations, of course, have been going on for about a week now.  They have come to a head, and it appears that they do have a resolution—Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Interesting.  Thanks, Mike.  I appreciate it. 

VIQUEIRA:  You got it.

CARLSON:  NBC‘s Mike Viqueira on the Hill.

Thanks.

So how surprising is it to hear Democrats and Democrats alone, really, at this point attacking Hugo Chavez and, in effect, rushing to the defense of the Bush White House? 

Here with his take on it, as well as other political news of the day, Al Franken.  He‘s, among other things, the subject of a new documentary, “Al Franken: God Spoke.”

Al Franken, I love—I love the title of that.  What do you make of this?  What do you make of Nancy Pelosi and of Charlie Rangel essentially coming to Bush‘s defense? 

AL FRANKEN, “AL FRANKEN: GOD SPOKE”:  Well, I—I agree with it.  I mean, what Chavez said was—was outrageous, especially at the U.N.  I mean, I could see him maybe doing that, you know, in Caracas.  But no, you don‘t do that. 

No, I think that it was totally appropriate.  I‘m not sure why more people haven‘t spoken out against it. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I mean, I agree with that.  On the other hand, I mean, Chavez says this kind of thing every day.  Fidel Castro, who has been coddled by Democrats for almost 50 years, says this almost every day, and nobody says boo about it. 

Why now?  Why Chavez? 

FRANKEN:  Well, I don‘t know—I don‘t know what you mean by “coddled”.  I mean, I think, for example...

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  The Democrats have defended—many Democrats have defended, in essence, Fidel Castro over the last four decades or so.  Or at least you don‘t hear them complaining about his attacks on Bush.  Let‘s just leave it at that.

But why Chavez?  Why now? 

FRANKEN:  Well, you don‘t hear Republicans complain about their—you know, Fidel‘s attacks on Bush, because then you would be doing it every day.  This was at the U.N.  This was in front of the—you know, of the General Assembly, and it was a totally inappropriate place to do it, and it was an awful thing to do, to compare—you know, you just don‘t do.  It was stupid, it was silly. 

CARLSON:  What do you think of the Bush administration‘s decision to remain silent and not say anything?  And apparently, congressional Republicans following suit and not commenting on it. 

FRANKEN:  Bolton did say something.  He said, “I‘m not going to comment, but I wish that Chavez would let...”—“can practice his freedom of speech in the General Assembly, that I wished he would let Venezuelans practice their freedom of speech.”  And I‘m not sure how accurate that is about Venezuela.  He may be right, but I‘m not sure that freedom of speech isn‘t allowed in Venezuela. 

CARLSON:  It seems to me all this helps Bush.  I mean, having reminders that there are people out there who hate us, not just hate the administration, but hate America, and who are, you know, possibly spending their free time thinking of ways to hurt us.  That helps Bush, because that‘s basically the case he‘s making, isn‘t it, that we have these enemies who want to hurt us and I‘m here to protect you? 

FRANKEN:  It cuts two ways.  He‘s also made a lot of enemies and made it a lot worse in the world.  I mean, Admadinejed wasn‘t there when Bush came in, and I think that by declaring them one of the “axis of evil,” even while they were helping us in Afghanistan, really didn‘t do us a lot of good and may have moved the moderates in Iran toward Admadinejed. 

So I think that—yes? 

CARLSON:  Well, but, I mean, of course Iran is believed to have been behind the 1996 attack on the Khobar Towers, right, where all the Americans were killed, and the 1983 barracks bombing in Beirut.  You know, 200-odd Marines killed then. 

I mean, they have been essentially at war with us for decades.  You don‘t think that‘s Bush‘s fault, is it? 

FRANKEN:  No, but I do think that you have seen—I mean, our strategy had always been - in fact, the strategy of the neocons when we went into Iraq was to form this Jeffersonian democracy.  I think it was going to be about three weeks.  And that would put pressure on the mullahs because the moderates in Iran would want to have exactly what they saw in Iraq, and the moderates would—would take over.  So I do think that things have gotten worse regarding our relationships with—our relations with Iran since Bush attacked Iraq, yes. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I mean, there‘s no doubt...

FRANKEN:  The question about that...

CARLSON:  ... the neocons didn‘t understand anything about Iraq or the Middle East, and they were completely wrong, and that the war is something of a disaster as a result.  But one thing they were right about is that radical Islam is a problem.  It is the destabilizing force in the world today.  And that radical Muslims are out to kill us. 

They get that.  I think there is a feeling on the part of many voters, particularly in the middle, that Republicans get it better than Democrats get it.  Do you think that‘s true? 

FRANKEN:  I think some people believe that, and I think the administration wants people to believe that.  I think the administration has—and, you know, Rumsfeld said we don‘t have a metric to decide are we creating more jihadists than we‘re killing.  And I think—I think we have. 

I think we have made our situation far worse than if we had simply stayed in Afghanistan, worked to make that a—the best society we could, and contained Iraq, which didn‘t have weapons of mass destruction.  We had inspectors in there. 

CARLSON:  Right.

FRANKEN:  I think we—I think we made the situation a lot worse by not—by not getting—by—by doing a preemptive strike on Iraq. 

CARLSON:  Right.  OK.  I agree with some of that.

FRANKEN:  And blowing it.  And blowing it.  And torturing people, too. 

Remember that. 

CARLSON:  Right.  I mean, that‘s not our official policy there. 

But, look, speaking of bad situations...

FRANKEN:  But we did it.

CARLSON:  ... Air America radio, does it still exist?  Do you still work there?  Is it going bankrupt?  What‘s the truth? 

FRANKEN:  I was on today. 

CARLSON:  OK.

FRANKEN:  And as far as I know I‘m on tomorrow.  And I don‘t think we‘re going bankrupt, but I don‘t know for sure. 

I know I‘ve flown United Airlines recently, and they had gone bankrupt for several years.

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s true.

FRANKEN:  So, bankruptcy sometimes is a way of reorganizing something.  So I don‘t—I don‘t know for sure, but I don‘t think we‘re going anywhere.

We‘ve—you know, MSNBC can‘t afford a good ear piece.  No, this is actually...

CARLSON:  You‘ve got to bring your own next time, Al.

But you had said—you had said the other day...

FRANKEN:  Do you bring your own?

CARLSON:  Yes—no.  Look, I‘m promiscuous.  I‘ll take any ear piece they give me.

FRANKEN:  OK.  Yes.

CARLSON:  You had said the other day that you weren‘t getting paid, you hadn‘t been getting paid recently.  And it made some people wonder if the experiment in liberal radio was—was failing. 

Do you think?  Are you getting paid?  And do you think it‘s going to be around a while? 

FRANKEN:  Well, I said that there was a cash flow problem. 

CARLSON:  Right.

FRANKEN:  And the reason I knew that, that no cash was flowing to me.  And so it was meant sort of as a joke, although it was a stupid thing to say because it was true. 

I don‘t think it says that the experiment in talk—in liberal talk radio is a failure.  We have, like, 90-some affiliates.  You know, if you look at something—and I hate to say it on MSNBC, but if you look at something like FOX News, they lost somewhere in the region of $500 million before they started making a profit. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

FRANKEN:  They had to pay, what, $10 a viewer to get on cable? 

We don‘t have that kind of capitalization.  I mean, if we—and if we did, we would be able to buy stations and all this stuff. 

So I think that considering the limited capitalization that we have had, that we have done actually rather well.  And I have had like—you know, there have been victory laps being done this week by people like O‘Reilly, who I guess al Qaeda wants to kill.  Is that what he says?  Is that what O‘Reilly is claiming? 

CARLSON:  I haven‘t—if that‘s what he‘s claiming, you know—I was going to mock him about that today, but who knows?  They have done more demented things than that. 

Tell me about god speaking.

FRANKEN:  And he has done more—he has done more demented things, too.  But the only...

CARLSON:  Yes, maybe he has.  I mean, who knows?  Who knows what the truth is? 

But tell me about “Al Franken: God Spoke,” a documentary following you around.  I don‘t think it‘s you‘re movie, right?  Have you seen it?  Is it good?  Should people see it? 

FRANKEN:  No, I have seen it and I like it.  And it was a relief, because the Pennebakers did it.  It was actually Chris Hegedus and Nick Doob, who were directors for the Pennebakers.  They did “War Room,” which I‘m sure you‘ve seen.

CARLSON:  Yes.

FRANKEN:  And some other great films.  So when they came to me and said, “We want to follow you around,” I said, “Sure.”  And it really was their film.  So they followed me around, and after a while, you forget the cameras are there. 

And they edited it.  And I was really nervous when I sat down to watch it.  You know?

I was thinking, I wonder how I‘m going to come off.  And I watched the film and it turns out that I‘m a terrific guy. 

CARLSON:  Is that—are you really? 

FRANKEN:  Yes.

CARLSON:  That‘s funny.  I didn‘t know that.  So I guess I‘ll have to see the movie.  Maybe it will convince me. 

FRANKEN:  I guess you do.  Yes, I‘m funny, inspiring. 

CARLSON:  Al Franken...

FRANKEN:  Yes, go ahead. 

CARLSON:  No, I think you can—you can be very funny.  And I will

watch it.  “God Spoke”

Al Franken.

Al Franken, thank you very much. 

FRANKEN:  Tucker, thank you. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, the president of Iran taking a beating in the headlines, but is he actually the victor in a P.R. war with the White House?  There is a scary thought. 

And what kind of parents would use embryo screening to choose the sex of their baby in utero?  It‘s happening in an astonishing number of clinics in this country, but is it playing god, is it a good idea? 

That story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Would it shock you to learn that some parents in this country are using embryo screening to choose the sex of their children?  A recent survey found that 9 percent of all such screenings were done for no medical reason at all.  They were simply to allow parents to choose either a boy or a girl.  But isn‘t that playing god? 

That‘s a question for my next guest.  He is Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, and he‘s the director of the Fertility Institute‘s Gender Selection Program.  He joins us from Burbank. 

Dr. Steinberg, thanks for coming on. 

Isn‘t that playing god and isn‘t it wrong to discard embryos because they are the wrong sex? 

DR. JEFFREY STEINBERG, THE FERTILITY INSTITUTE:  Well, we see nothing wrong with it.  And well over half the American population has no problem with it.  Based on the data from the patients coming in, we estimate that there is well over 84 million Americans that actually harbor a very strong interest in this technology. 

CARLSON:  OK.  I don‘t know where you got your figures about the public supporting it.  I would be interested to see that. 

But leaving aside even what the public thinks about it, I mean, isn‘t there something even on a visceral level kind of odd about deciding the physical characteristics of a child?  I mean, why—why stop there, I guess is my question, with the sex.  Why not... 

STEINBERG:  Well, there may be some good—there may be some good reasons to just stop there.  And certainly we haven‘t reached that—that bridge at this point. 

There are many, many reasons that we hear.  It‘s been an educational experience for us also. 

Couples come in.  The woman is 41 years old.  She has no children.  She has been told she may get a chance at one baby.  And she tells us she has always dreamed of having a daughter. 

Would we crush that dream?  Would we deny her that dream when in our laboratory is the technology to help her with that? 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Well, I mean, that‘s—you know, that‘s the case you‘re using as an example, but as you know, in countries where this is widely practiced, where sex selection using abortion is widely practiced, China and India, for example, overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly, 90 -- in the 90 percentile, people choose boys, not girls.  And the result, as you‘re also aware, right, is this—is a huge number of men and a much smaller number of girls in this generation coming up now.  And it‘s caused a social crisis in Japan—in China and India. 

You‘re not concerned about something like that happening here? 

STEINBERG:  Well, it exactly makes our point, Tucker.  In other words, we‘re able to totally eliminate the need to carry out an abortion for anyone‘s desire to have a boy or a girl.  There is no abortion involved in what we do.  And, in fact, there are many scientific publications that demonstrate that when you allow couples to choose, 50 percent choose boys and 50 percent choose girls. 

There are definitely cultural biases, such as you mentioned in China.  However, when you add the whole world up, we‘re not going to upset the balance because it‘s going to come out 50-50. 

CARLSON:  You say that.  I‘m not—I mean, I see no reason to believe that.  Again, in the two countries I‘m aware of where it‘s widely practiced it‘s overwhelmingly a matter of getting rid of girls, not boys. 

But back to my first question, why stop there?  If you‘re going to decide the sex of your child, why not decide personality traits that your child has?  Why not—you know—why not? 

STEINBERG:  Well, we don‘t know.  And again, we‘re not saying we should do it.  We‘re saying if we come to that point, we‘ll go to society and ask society what they think.  So we‘ll go to the legislators to ask the legislators what they think.  We‘re not at that point. 

You know, the potential for this is basically unlimited.  Where we have gone so far is extremely limited, and we feel poses no threat to anyone. 

CARLSON:  Really?  How about this?  Slate.com has a very interesting piece today that says three percent of IVF-PGD clinics—I believe that‘s the sort of clinic that you run—report having couples who seek to use this technology in order to make certain they have children born with deficiencies, who are deaf, for instance. 

This is apparently a case of deaf parents going in and saying, I want my child to be deaf like I am.  Can you—can you help me? 

What do you think of that? 

STEINBERG:  I haven‘t seen the study.  If it was published today, I haven‘t had a chance to read it.  I would venture that this is something that, like sex selection technology, needs to go to the professional committees that look at these things. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But what do you think?  I mean, since you deal with this sort of thing every day?  What‘s your gut reaction to that?  Don‘t you think that‘s probably the creepiest thing you have heard this year?  Or no, you think that‘s fine? 

STEINBERG:  You know, it sounds distasteful on the surface to me. 

CARLSON:  That‘s as—that‘s as strong as you can respond to that?  I mean, people intentionally having a child who‘s born deaf?  You don‘t—you can‘t just say point blank that‘s wrong? 

STEINBERG:  I can‘t say that it‘s wrong.  I can say that I probably would not do it, but again, there are things that have to be looked at, the studies have to be looked at.  I haven‘t seen it.  And again, you‘re of on a really far-fetched extreme. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  It doesn‘t sound that far-fetched to me.  I mean, I would have said if you told me 10 years ago you could choose a child‘s sex, I would say that‘s pretty far-fetched.  I mean, I don‘t know.  Who knows? 

STEINBERG:  Tucker—Tucker, if your appendix bursts tomorrow, are the physicians that save your life playing god?  Because nature would have you die.

CARLSON:  Yes, I think—no, I think that‘s actually a totally reasonable sounding thing to say that is, in fact, a kind of sophism.  It‘s not a logical argument.  But it sounds reasonable right off the top there, because I‘m not saying that just because something happens inevitably that it‘s the right thing. 

That‘s not the case I‘m making.  But I am saying that choosing the sex of your child may be opening up a Pandora‘s box that‘s frightening, but you obviously don‘t feel that way. 

Dr. Steinberg, thanks for joining us. 

STEINBERG:  Well, the box hasn‘t been opened.  In other words, we‘re aware of the technology.  We‘re involved in the development of the technology. 

The technology is not there.  I can—I can let you know that we have requests for eye color, and we can‘t do eye color.  However, if your child has albinism, the lack of eye pigment is going to cause your child to go blind in many instances. 

CARLSON:  Right.  I mean, there are good uses and bad uses.

STEINBERG:  Should we not investigate how to make eye color? 

CARLSON:  There are frivolous ones, like choosing the sex of your child.  And preventing albinism is probably not frivolous.  I don‘t know.

STEINBERG:  There is a lot of people that don‘t feel—that don‘t feel it‘s frivolous. 

CARLSON:  Apparently not. 

Thanks, doctor.

STEINBERG:  It‘s—you know, we‘re a country of dissent.  Dissent is health.  It‘s health for the country.  It‘s healthy for medicine. 

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m dissenting from your position.  Thanks for joining us. 

Coming up, bad news if you‘re in Congress.  Only 25 percent of Americans think you‘re doing a good job.  And with the president‘s low approval ratings, do Americans think the government is on the wrong track?  Apparently, they do.

And you never know what‘s going to happen during a live shot, but here is a reporter who manages to keep her cool despite one very awkward moment.  It‘s an amazing piece of tape.  We‘ve got it on “Beat the Press.”  We‘ll show it to you when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “Beat the Press.”

First up, the local FOX station in New York City and correspondent Lisa Evers, who earned her hazard pay during this report from outside a New York City ballpark, or a concert, rather. 

Watch this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA EVERS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  This is a hot outdoor concert that is bringing everything from hip-hop to rock ‘n‘ roll together on one stage.  Now, another advantage of this I.D. system is that the lines are very, very short.  The lines are very, very short.  And—OK, thank you.

Obviously everyone is having a good time here.  Back to you in the studio.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I‘d hire her.  Lisa Evers ought to send that tape out to prospective employers at other networks.  She‘s great.  Tough.  Nothing rattles Lisa Evers.

Next, another little gem from a local FOX station.  This one in Utica, New York.  It‘s a case of the weatherman gone mad.  I have watched this clip over and over and over, and I still cannot figure out what triggered this outburst.  Maybe you can. 

Watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It looks like our weather will get warmer over the next couple of days, but we have to go through a few snow showers first.  Your complete forecast, all the day‘s news straight ahead on the FOX Live at News (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  We unfortunately have to bleep that.  I‘m sorry we do because it‘s so over the top that you‘ve got to wonder, what is this guy saying?  As one of my producers said today, it‘s almost what you imagine dogs say when they hit the electric fence.  It‘s like an outburst of Tourette‘s Syndrome.  It‘s amazing.

I would hire that guy, too. 

Coming up, Bill O‘Reilly says al Qaeda is after him.  He‘s on an al Qaeda death list, whatever that is.  Is he really a target or is he making it up? 

That story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Still to come, falling gas prices aren‘t just good news for drivers.  They‘re great news for the Republican Party.  We‘ll tell you why.

And from the other side of the aisle, a children‘s book that aims to lure your kids into the Democratic Party and keep them there.  All that in just a minute.  But right now, here‘s a look at your headlines.

(NEWSBREAK)  

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 Washington, D.C., Democratic strategist Jenny Bachus, and, from Las Vegas, Nevada, Heidi Harris, talk show host on AM-840, KXNT.  Welcome both.

JENNY BACHUS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Hi, Tucker, thank you.

HEIDI HARRIS, KXNT, TALK SHOW HOST: Hey, Tucker.

CARLSON: First up, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose name I can now pronounce.   The president of Iran has been in the headlines all week, under fire for taking aim at the U.S.  But is he actually winning the PR war with the White House?

It‘s an interesting question, if you think about it. 

Heidi, you have heard people say actually if you listen to the guy, he sounds more reasonable than you might expect for a Holocaust-denying, nuke-acquiring Iranian president.

On the other hand, I think his very existence helps Bush, because it reminds people that, in fact, we do have enemies and those enemies want to hurt us.

What do you think?

HARRIS: I think that‘s absolutely true.  And, of course, he sounds like a reasonable person.  He‘s trying the best, as you said, to win the media war and to try to win over the people who are just not—I guess they‘re foolish enough to believe he‘s not evil or they don‘t really care and maybe the media is fawning so much over Ahmadinejad because they want to stick it to Bush.

Those who hate him, “Ha, we‘ll just make a big fuss about him and make you look bad, President Bush, take you off the TV screen for a few days.”

CARLSON: Jenny, I heard someone I know well, actually, who I like, who‘s a bit liberal, the other day said, “You know, that Ahmadinejad he sounds smarter than Bush.”

I mean, do you think that there are other liberals that feel that way? 

I mean, up against Bush...

BACHUS: No.

CARLSON: ... do you think, when this guy shows up in our country, does he make Bush look more sympathetic or less?

BACHUS: I think two things.  One is Ahmadinejad is a total fanatic.  I mean, this guy has said that he wants to end Israel as we know it.   He uses fiery populist rhetoric.

You know, sometimes it sounds like he sounds like John Boehner in the House Republicans.  But, no, he‘s a guy who fires up the crowd.  He is pursuing fanatical policies and I don‘t think anybody in this country agrees with his positions, especially when it comes to the state of Israel.  

Secondly, I do think, though, that his...

CARLSON: What do you mean the state of Israel?  Everyone keeps saying that the state of Israel and they‘re against the state of Israel.  And he clearly is an anti-Semite and a deranged holocaust denier.

On the other hand, it‘s not just Israel he‘s against.  It‘s us.

BACHUS: I agree.

CARLSON: He‘s against Israel.  He‘s also against the United States of America, where we live.

BACHUS: Well, he is against the United States of America, although what you accurately pointed out is he‘s on a PR campaign to try to say that it‘s not—that he doesn‘t have a problem with the people.  Both President Bush and he had the same message.  We don‘t have a problem with the people of your country, we have a problem with the leader.

And we do, this country has a problem with Iran.  But I think this is a bad thing for Bush in terms of his foreign policy, and that‘s where I disagree.  I think that right now we have not put enough focus on stopping people like him. 

We have been bogged down in a war in Iraq and we have taken our eye off the ball in terms of having a strong diplomatic, punishing foreign policy.   We have not put troops into Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the terrorists are actually plotting and the Pakistani government has given them a free zone, a free area to go and practice terrorism at will.  

We‘ve taken our eye off the ball, the true national security threat.  So I think voters feel that way.  I think it doesn‘t matter what party you are, but people are scared right now and they‘re scared because they think that the Bush policy on focusing on Iraq and in a war that we can‘t win is making us less safe, not more safe.

CARLSON: I want to get to Heidi in just a second, but very, very quickly, Jenny, is it the Democratic position that we ought to put troops in Pakistan?

BACHUS: Well, there are some people that want to redeploy into Afghanistan and have the ability to get into Pakistan, if we need to.   The Bush administration gave...

CARLSON: But they have like a sovereign government there.   Don‘t you think that government would collapse in about 15 seconds if we‘re seen putting U.S. forces there?

BACHUS: Well, I don‘t think the president should roll over and just let Pakistan establish a free zone for the Taliban, who are our sworn enemies inside Afghanistan and who are much more closely tied to the terrorists for 9/11.                  

CARLSON: Heidi, what exactly is the plan, the Bush administration plan for preventing Iran from building nuclear weapons?  I don‘t really understand it.

HARRIS: Well, it would be very tough to go in there and invade them and, obviously, they have more than one nuclear location.

So you can‘t go in and do what Israel did years ago and bomb them.  I mean, you‘re going to have to take action.

The best thing you can do is try to get him to stop it on his own.  Is he going to? Probably not.   But to say for a moment the Bush administration don‘t have their eye on the ball, they have their eye on the ball.  They‘re fully aware of the threat. 

That‘s why they‘re not speaking with him.  There is no diplomatic relationship whatsoever with him, as it should be.  They are watching him very, very closely.   They‘re fully aware.

And, yes, we do still have troops in Afghanistan, but those terrorists are up and down, in and out of those mountains day and night in all of those areas.  We‘re doing the best we can to catch them and we are catching major, major terrorist leaders.  We can‘t get them all.

BACHUS: But what‘s wrong with taking the troops out of Iraq, where we‘re cut down by everybody‘s standards?  It doesn‘t matter what party you are, inside of a civil war, where we‘re losing hundreds of American lives every couple of months, and what‘s wrong with taking those troops over to Afghanistan, where we admittedly have made less progress instead of more progress since 9/11?

CARLSON: May I ask just one thing, Jenny?  What about the argument that Democrats often make, and maybe there‘s something to it, that the presence of American troops makes people hate us and produces more terrorists? 

So, I mean, it‘s not such a simple matter of just putting more troops in.  We‘ve got a 140,000, 130,000-odd troops in Iraq.  That‘s not calming the country down.   It‘s inflaming it.

BACHUS: I agree.   I think the troops in Iraq have not been given a clearly defined mission by this administration, whereas in Afghanistan we have a clearly defined mission. 

We were there to get Osama Bin Laden.  We haven‘t gotten him yet.   Now we‘re there to knock back the Taliban.  We have a very clearly defined mission.

Right now, in Iraq, I don‘t know what that mission is.

CARLSON: All right, well, what about, Heidi, gas prices?  All of a sudden, the president seems to have some leeway in the polls.  People are happy with him, happier than they were last month.  And it may be because the average tank of gas has fallen to about—the average gallon, rather, has fallen to about $2.50, and Bush appears to be getting some of the credit for that.  

In fact, there was a study recently that showed his approval rating is tied almost directly to the price of gasoline.   People seem to be giving the president credit for cheaper gas.  He does not deserve credit for cheaper gas, does he?  Does any president?  No, I mean, it‘s the market that determines that, correct?

HARRIS: No, no, absolutely not.  He doesn‘t deserve all the credit.   But it‘s interesting, those people who say that President Bush and there‘s some kind of oil cartel in charge of everything and it‘s all a matter of fixed marketing, obviously, their argument is over with as soon as gas prices go down.

Which is another reason, back to Ahmadinejad for one moment.   When oil prices go down per barrel, that affects people like Chavez and Ahmadinejad.  It affects their power and the money they make in their countries with the oil.   So no wonder they want to try to come here and try to—well, not in Ahmadinejad‘s case, certainly—try to make nice.

CARLSON: It‘s enough to make you want to endorse solar power, you know, just seeing those guys and how wonderful it would be to bankrupt them.

HARRIS: Well, I would love to.  I want to see us drill over there.  There‘s a new finding, as you know, in the Gulf.  I‘d like to see us take advantage of that.

But the oil is in our own country first and tell Ahmadinejad and Chavez to stick it.  That would be the ultimate goal for me. 

CARLSON: Jenny Bachus, I read recently that Carolyn Kilpatrick of Michigan, the Congresswoman, Democrat, from Detroit, said at a public gathering today that she was suspicious about the drop in oil prices and the suggestion was that the Bush administration was somehow moving the price down in order to help Republicans for the midterm election.

I‘ve heard a number of people say that privately, liberals say that privately.  That‘s crazy, is it not?

BACHUS: I don‘t know if it‘s crazy or not.  I mean, this is an administration that met—you know, Dick Cheney convened an energy task force behind closed doors and this administration refused to let people know who was there. 

This is a time when oil company executives plead the fifth when they are brought in front of the Senate.  Look, I mean, I agree with your basic premise that...

CARLSON: Do you think the administration can control international oil prices?  I mean, I don‘t think anybody can.

BACHUS: I think the administration has a lot—no, this is what I think.  I think the administration, and we‘ve known it, Tucker, you‘ve know it since you started writing about this administration  in 2000.

This administration is incredibly close to big oil.  They came from it.  Cheney ran Halliburton.

CARLSON: Right.

BACHUS: The head of the oil industry. 

CARLSON: That‘s true.

BACHUS: Bush was an oil company executive.  They have a lot of say inside this industry.  They have a lot of their interests in mind.  They have pursued policies that have helped the oil industry over consumers.  And they are not doing anything.

I mean, look, I actually agree with Heidi that we should not be so dependent on foreign oil.  But we‘re not doing anything inside this industry to have energy independence. 

I don‘t think it‘s drilling more holes in the ground.  It‘s putting more dollars into research and technology that makes cleaner burning fuels, explores alternatives, and tries to wean us off this dependency of foreign oil.

HARRIS: Well, why not do both? Why not do both?  Why not drill all the oil we have right here in our own nation to make ourselves energy intelligent and that way we‘ll have more resources available to explore alternate ways of doing it?

BACHUS: Because there just isn‘t as much.  I mean, look, they found more oil inside the Gulf.  There was a story on “NBC” news the other night.

HARRIS: That‘s right.

BACHUS: But you know what?  That oil is gone in years.  I mean, the amount of oil that we have in this country versus the countries where we‘re having so much trouble in terms of national security is just mind-boggling.  We‘ve got to do other things.

CARLSON: Here‘s a question related to petroleum.  Should car manufacturers be held financially responsible for global warming?  Supposedly, a product of fossil fuels.  The state of California is seeking billions of dollars in damages from General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan.

It‘s all part of a lawsuit filed yesterday by the state.  The suit says greenhouse gases from the company‘s cars are a public nuisance to that state‘s environment and public works, and, therefore, the state of California somehow is entitled to get money from the automakers. 

See, the thing that confused me about this, Jenny, is every car sold in the state of California, and I‘m from there, I can promise you this is true and everybody that lives there knows this, is held to much different standards than any other car sold in the United States. 

Every car basically has the stamp of approval of the state of California on it.  You can‘t sell a combustion engine in that state unless the state allows you to. 

And now, all of a sudden, they are suing the makers of those engines?

BACHUS: Well, let‘s get the lawsuits in order.  Actually, the automakers are suing the state of California for exactly what you just described. 

But, look, what this is—first of all, let‘s do the politics first.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is doing everything he can to run as a Democrat in order to win this governor‘s race. 

CARLSON: You‘re absolutely right, he certainly is.

BACHUS: And this is definitely—he‘s been all over the issue of global warming, rightly so.  I‘m glad that—you know, we‘ll take a convert even if it‘s for political reasons. 

But the second point, in terms of this lawsuit, look, this is just more evidence that people do not trust the current state of government on the federal and the state level.  The American people and company and people who are trying to effect change are turning to the courts because they are seen as a last resort where actual people can get their voices heard.

CARLSON: No, no, this is not—hold on.  This is not actual people. 

This is the state of California.  This is the attorney general.

BACHUS: Well, hello, the attorney general representing...

CARLSON: This is the government trying to steal money from the private sector.  This is the status quo at work here.  This is not the people.

BACHUS: But they‘re sending—no, but it‘s not the status quo in the sense of the place where you can effect change and you can change corporate business and have more corporate accounts, it‘s a pretty sad testament, but that you can have more corporate accountability inside the courts than you can through the normal channels of government.

You‘re certainly not seeing it here in Washington. 

CARLSON: Corporate accountability.  This is kind of scary.  I mean, it seems to me—Heidi, do you the—look, I‘m not defending the car companies.  I think actually they are responsible for making a lot of really crummy cars and I‘m not show for the car companies at all.

However, they owe the state of California billions of dollars?  How does that work?

HARRIS: They don‘t owe the state of California billions of dollars.  There is no proof, by the way, that they‘re causing global warming or even that there is such a thing as global warming. 

What about all the hurricanes we heard about last year that were supposed to get worse and worse and worse?  Haven‘t had a worse this year than last year.

So there‘s not even evidence of that.  There are a lot of people who are experts who disagree on that fact in itself.  So it‘s ridiculous to go after car companies as if they are destroying a planet.  It‘s just ludicrous.

CARLSON: Is there a consensus, Jenny, and answer this honestly, there may be a consensus that it‘s getting warmer every year.  We can measure that.  But is there a consensus that automobile engines are responsible for the rise in temperatures?  I don‘t believe there is a consensus.

BACHUS: If you don‘t want to say consensus, I think there‘s an absolutely growing majority and the facts are there.  Look, Tucker, I believe the scientists.  I choose not to try to live in the world of Michael Creighton and fantasy and fiction like the president does in terms of this problem. 

There is definitely a problem.  Air quality, global warming, all those things are tied to like how we control our cars.  And, you know, I think this is a message lawsuit.

I mean, will they get billions of dollars?

CARLSON: OK, so it‘s message lawsuit.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: So when a car costs you as your house and poor people can‘t afford them, just remember it was the state of California that started all of this.

You know what I mean?  I mean, cigarettes cost $6 a pack now.  Why? 

Because of the lawsuits against the tobacco companies.

BACHUS: And you think it‘s right for kids to smoke?

CARLSON: I‘m totally against smoking.  I‘m merely saying...

BACHUS: We shouldn‘t have measures that make it harder?

CARLSON: I‘m not defending smoking.  I‘m merely saying when you sue companies that manufacture products, those products become more costly.  Cars are not cigarettes.  People need cars, OK?  It‘s not a joke when cars become beyond the reach of the average person to buy.

BACHUS: Well, it‘s not a joke when you have global warming impacting this country. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I‘m sorry, unfortunately, I‘ve gotten so excised, I‘ve blown all our time cues and I go to go, I‘m sorry.  Thank you both very much.   I appreciate you, many things.

BACHUS: Thank you, Tucker.

HARRIS: Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON: It‘s never too early to start brainwashing your child into thinking like a Democrat.  The latest in political bedtime reading when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time for a look at today‘s stories I just don‘t get.  First, why voters might be saying throw the bums out this November.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NORM ORNSTEIN, POLITICAL ANALYST: Infighting over how to resolve the issues over wiretapping and an inability to deal with the basic budget problems, that is a pretty toxic stew to take forward to say to Americans, “Keep us in power.” 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: That‘s political analyst Norm Ornstein, explaining why there could be a revolt at the voting booth seven weeks from now.  In fact, a new survey by the “New York Times” and “CBS News” confirms that an overwhelming number of Americans have a negative view of the Republican-controlled Congress.

Just 25 percent of people responding said Congress is doing a good job.  Most of them think our lawmakers deserve reelection.  Specifically, voters are upset by what they perceive as Capitol Hill‘s lack of accomplishment during the past two years and they believe their representatives are too closely tied to special interest groups to understand their needs.

They always say the same thing in every single poll, “They‘re not doing enough in Congress.”  Well, if they knew what Congress was trying to do, they‘d be happy Congress wasn‘t doing more, A.  B, if you‘re so unhappy with Congress, why don‘t you vote it out?

Do you know what percentage of members of the House of Representatives got reelected two years ago?  Over 99 percent.  The figure was 96 percent in the Senate.  Every two years we see the same kind of polls, “I‘m mad at Congress,” but the voters always do the same thing.  They always vote for the exact same people, and so the Congress never changes.

So yada yada yada, I‘m not taking you seriously until you put your voting where your opinions claim to be.

Next, why politics makes sense for strange bedtime fellows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN FEMALE: How about you, can you buzz-buzz?

CARLSON: If there was any doubt we‘ve closed the book on Dick and Jane, here‘s the definitive proof.  It‘s a new children‘s book.  It‘s entitled, “Why Mommy is a Democrat.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: The publishers describe it as a nonjudgmental explanation of the Democratic Party‘s policies, peace and tolerance, as they put it.  Still, if parents read between the lines, they might see the book‘s not too subtle swipes at President Bush and his fellow Republicans.  Fans say it‘s perfect bedtime reading for Democrats of all ages.

It is, of course, propaganda and it‘s always and everywhere wrong and creepy and should be obviously a bad thing to do to impose your politics on children.  It doesn‘t matter who your politics happen to be.  Kids ought to be immune from politics.

Be quiet, don‘t push it on them.  Childhood should not be a political time of life.  They‘ll be enough time for that later.  Knock it off.  As if people needed to be told.

And, finally, British billionaire Richard Branson shares the wealth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD BRANSON, BRITISH BILLIONAIRE: We‘re very pleased today to be making a commitment to invest 100 percent of all future proceeds to the Virgin Group from our transportation chest, both our train businesses and our airline businesses, into tackling global warming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: The head of the Virgin Group joining forces with Bill Clinton to combat one of the hottest issues on the planet.  Branson‘s pledge to the cause could amount to $3 billion over the next 10 years, possibly anyway.

That money will be used to develop alternative fuels and to search for ways to stop the emission of greenhouse bases, which scientists claim are destroying the earth‘s atmosphere and causing global warming.

And maybe they‘re right, maybe there‘s something we can do about it. 

Maybe Richard Branson‘s money will help.  Maybe not.

On the other hand, $3 billion could go a long way to fighting cancer or malaria or AIDS or even diarrhea, which kills millions of people around the world every year.

Probably a safer bet, probably better to save the people you know you can save than to spend your money on a cause that may be unwinnable.  Just a suggestion.

I don‘t have billions of dollars myself, so who am I to say. 

Well, would you send your child on a field trip to Michael Jackson‘s theme park?  You may soon have that frightening option, not that you‘ll take it.  We‘ll explain when we come right are back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  You have been waiting for it for the past 56 minutes.  But now that time has come, time to see Willie Geist.

WILLIE GEIST: If you‘ve been waiting for me, you have a sad life.  Let me just say that.  Tucker, they thought you were kicked off “Dancing with the Stars” last week, but they couldn‘t get rid of you.  Your mug turned up on the show against last night, interviewing the judges as a journalist, not a dancer.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Good evening, I‘m Tucker Carlson.  Last Wednesday, I was ejected from the show after only a single episode.  I left with my head held high, but with questions.

Tonight, I come for answers.

UNKNOWN MALE: I know you probably bitterly disappointed to be voted off the first week, but somewhere in your heart, weren‘t you just a tad disappointed that you couldn‘t come back, do your four or five hours?

CARLSON: To me, it was a little bit like euthanasia.  It was sad, but necessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST: Good line, Tucker, good line.  You know, I like to see you grill those judges every week, especially Bruno.  “What an awful mess,” he said about you.  That still irks me.

CARLSON: I love that guy.   I actually like him a lot.

GEIST: No, he‘s my favorite, he‘s my favorite.

All right, Tucker, it turns out you and your “Beat the Press” thugs aren‘t the only ones going after Bill O‘Reilly. The “FOX” newsman tells “ABC‘s 20/20” he‘s been targeted by no less than the world‘s most dangerous terrorist organization.  O‘Reilly said the FBI warned him personally that he is on an al-Qaeda death list.

He called the news a little disconcerting.  O‘Reilly said he gets death threats each day, most of those, of course, coming from members of his own staff. 

Tucker, I didn‘t know Bin Laden was such a big cable news guy.  We‘ve got to get you on a death list.  It‘s a measure of your popularity.

CARLSON: That O‘Reilly has no self-awareness at all.

GEIST: No.

CARLSON: He just cannot see himself clearly.  It‘s sad.

GEIST: That‘s what I love about him, Tucker.  And you know what?  For a guy $200 million in debt, Michael Jackson sure seems to have a lot of theme parks.  Jackson has been spending a lot of time in Ireland lately, partially, reports say, because he wants to open a $500 million leprechaun-themed amusement park.

Why didn‘t we think of that, Tucker?  Our source tells Ireland‘s “Daily Mirror,” quote, “Michael is deadly serious about this idea.  He loves the whole idea of leprechauns and the magic and myths of Ireland.”

CARLSON: Willie, you made that up.  I know you made that up.

GEIST: No, I did not make that up at all.  He‘s actually looking at property right now.  And I‘m worried about his obsession with small people.  If he can‘t be with children, he‘ll be leprechauns.  A little sick.

CARLSON:  I just got the shivers.

GEIST: Sorry.

CARLSON: Willie Geist, thank you.

GEIST:  We‘ll see you tomorrow.

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

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

END   

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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