updated 9/25/2006 11:14:33 AM ET 2006-09-25T15:14:33

Guests: Charles Barron, Nile Gardiner, Rosa Brooks, Pat Campbell, Alex Bennett, Jim Pruett

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

A lot to get to today, including President Bush‘s reaction to the news the U.S. threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the stone age.  And radio adds warning the people of Houston to arm themselves against Katrina evacuees.

But first, our top story. 

It may be hard to believe, but Hugo Chavez‘s unconventional P.R.  campaign may be winning him fans right here in the U.S.  Venezuela‘s dictatorial leader savagely attacked President Bush yesterday, calling him a drunk and comparing him to Satan.  Now he‘s trying to win over Americans by offering to sell low-priced heating oil to the poor.  That‘s a tactic that‘s been widely condemned, but not by my first guest.

He says, “I think Hugo Chavez is a humanitarian.  I think he‘s helping the people of Harlem and the south Bronx.”

Joining me now from New York, Councilman Charles Barron. 

Councilman, thanks for—thanks for coming on.

COUNCILMAN CHARLES BARRON (D), NEW YORK:  Well, thanks for having me. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t agree with you about almost anything, but I didn‘t realize you were naive. 

BARRON:  Well...

CARLSON:  It sounds like you are naive.  Let me—I want to read back a quote.  This is something you said yesterday.

You said you believe that President Chavez is “a humanitarian,” and that his sale of fuel oil to poor people in the United States is “not a political ploy.”

What do you mean it‘s not a political employ?  It‘s the essence of a political ploy.

BARRON:  Well, Tucker, that‘s why you were thrown off “Dancing with the Stars,” because you‘re out of step. 

CARLSON:  OK.

BARRON:  You are clueless about what‘s going on in the world of Venezuela, in the world of our communities in Harlem.  It was not a political ploy. 

He‘s helping 17 States in the United States.  He‘s helping countries in Africa, in the Caribbean, in Europe, and even in Asia.  He has been to China, using the amount of oil that he has to barter with other countries to get things for his country and to eradicate poverty. 

I think Tony Blair and George Bush should follow the humanitarian efforts of Hugo Chavez.  You know what‘s really...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Wait, this is—I‘m sorry, Councilman.  Have you ever been to Venezuela?  Have you ever been to Africa? 

BARRON:  I‘ve been to Africa.

CARLSON:  Our poor people—well, I have, and I can tell you this:

our poor people here are rich by the standards of the third world.

BARRON:  Well, no—you know what you‘re not looking at, Tucker, and that‘s why you got thrown off the program?  What you‘re not looking at is there is a gap between rich and poor in America that‘s wider than that in Africa, than that in these other countries. 

CARLSON:  That is—that is—that is literally not true. 

BARRON:  So how do you have—it is true.  How do you have $2.7 billion—trillion of a budget and you can‘t even provide heating for Harlem?  Why don‘t Bush heat Harlem and then Hugo Chavez won‘t have to? 

CARLSON:  Actually, there are federal and state programs...

BARRON:  Yes.  Well, it is not reaching Harlem. 

CARLSON:  ... that provide heating fuel to—well, OK.  That‘s...

BARRON:  Well, it‘s not reaching Harlem.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... that‘s totally false.  But let‘s—look, arguing the facts with you is a losing proposition, from my point of view, because you‘ll never concede that you‘re wrong.

BARRON:  Right, because you‘re out of step and you‘re clueless.

CARLSON:  So let me—let‘s—OK.  Let‘s get to the truth of this. 

You and others on the international left like anyone who attacks the United States government.  That—I mean, this is longstanding tradition going back 45...

BARRON:  That is such a...

CARLSON:  No, that‘s true.

BARRON:  No, that‘s a brainless argument.  Do you know why you say that? 

CARLSON:  No, it‘s true, though.

BARRON:  So you don‘t have any intellectual discourse with us around the facts. 

CARLSON:  OK.  I attempted that, and you just told me there is a greater wealth disparity in this country than in Venezuela...

BARRON:  There is.  The rich...

CARLSON:  ... which is totally provably false.

BARRON:  The rich—the rich in this country are so rich that the gap

do you know in New York City we have a $53 billion budget?  We have a billionaire mayor, and the most impoverished district in the nation is the south Bronx.  Forty-two percent poverty.

CARLSON:  Yes, that‘s—that‘s true.

BARRON:  It‘s Charlie Rangel‘s Harlem.  Thirty-three percent poverty.

CARLSON:  I wanted—I wanted to get to that.

BARRON:  And why is that?

CARLSON:  Charlie Rangel‘s, who‘s neither a right-winger nor a defender of President Bush, said yesterday...

BARRON:  And also—right.

CARLSON:  ... that it was disgraceful that Hugo Chavez came to this country and attacked the President as the devil.  What the hell does that mean, anyway?  Speaking of a stupid thing to say.

But what do you make of that?  Charlie Rangel, is he a tool of the right wing now?

BARRON:  Well, first of all, it was stupid for George Bush to call the “axis of evil.”  Just put a “D” on “evil” and you‘ve got “devil”.  How come he can call three countries the axis of evil, and how come Ronald Reagan can cause Russia “the evil empire”? 

So, if you can use those theological terms, then a man that participates in devilish acts, like bombing Iraq, based upon lies, killing tens of thousands of Iraqis, 2,500 Americans, a man who can play golf while we are dying in New Orleans with Katrina, those are devilish acts.  And he‘s earned the title very well. 

CARLSON:  So you think—you think it‘s fair to call the President of the United States the devil? 

BARRON:  Most appropriate.  This President.  Most appropriate.

CARLSON:  Boy, that is just—that is deranged. 

BARRON:  You can call it deranged all you want.

CARLSON:  As I‘ve said before, I can‘t imagine—I can‘t imagine who elects you to office.  But let‘s get back to Mr. Rangel...

BARRON:  Well, I can‘t imagine who would let you on the air with the limited amount of intelligence you have and knowledge you have on foreign policy. 

CARLSON:  You crack me up.  But let‘s get back to Mr. Rangel here.

BARRON:  You crack me up, too.

CARLSON:  Wait—slow down—who‘s a follow Democrat. 

BARRON:  Right.

CARLSON:  I want—I want you to tell me that he‘s a tool of the right, that he‘s a tool of President Bush.  Is that the case? 

BARRON:  Let me—let me tell you what Charlie Rangel did.  Remember, he said you shouldn‘t personally attack people.

CARLSON:  Right.

BARRON:  How about him saying Cheney, the vice President, wasn‘t mentally fit to hold office?  Remember that? 

CARLSON:  Yes, I do.

BARRON:  What happened, Charlie?  Let‘s be consistent, Charlie.  What happened? 

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know, it just...

BARRON:  What happened?

Well, I‘ll tell you what‘s going on, because they do want to be chairs of the Ways and Means Committee.  They are trying to get the Democrats in, and they are warming up to the Republicans so they can get more power. 

It‘s interesting that Charlie hasn‘t been consistent.  He called Bush more names than Chavez did.  And he said that Cheney wasn‘t mentally fit to serve.

CARLSON:  Yes, but don‘t you see—but there‘s a distinction here. 

And I think that Mr. Rangel...

BARRON:  Oh, man.

CARLSON:  ... explained that distinction yesterday. 

This is the final question I want to ask you, Mr. Barron.

BARRON:  Yes?

CARLSON:  Don‘t you think there‘s something off-putting of a foreigner, the head of a foreign country, not an American, a Venezuelan, coming to our country and attacking our President as the devil?  That‘s a little different than a fellow American, a fellow citizen critiquing this government. 

BARRON:  No, it isn‘t.

CARLSON:  Oh, it‘s not different, it‘s the same thing?

BARRON:  Tucker, listen.  He came to the United Nations.  That‘s where the world meets.  It so happens to be in America.

CARLSON:  No, this was actually at a church in Harlem.

BARRON:  No, he said it at the United Nations.

CARLSON:  Yes, he did.

BARRON:  He called him a devil, so don‘t try to change it.

CARLSON:  Well—no, no.  But he said it again in a church in Harlem...

BARRON:  So what?  So what?

CARLSON:  ... and thereby...

BARRON:  He said it at the United Nations, where the world meets and they criticize world leaders there.

CARLSON:  All right.

BARRON:  He has a right to do that.

CARLSON:  If—let me just ask you this.  If Idi Amin...

BARRON:  Oh, please.

CARLSON:  ... was handing out free turkeys in Harlem, would you applaud that, too?

BARRON:  Please.  Please.  I‘m not dealing with no idiotic hypotheticals.

CARLSON:  OK.

BARRON:  The reality is—the reality is, Hugo Chavez is a humanitarian.  Bush and Blair should follow his lead.  A good man.

CARLSON:  That‘s so demented, I don‘t know what to say...

BARRON:  Good man.

CARLSON:  ... other than thank you, Mr. Barron...

BARRON:  You‘re welcome.

CARLSON:  ... for coming on and making all of us feel reasonable by comparison.  I appreciate it.

BARRON:  Have a good day.  Learn how to dance, Tucker.

CARLSON:  OK.  Thank you.

So, is Hugo Chavez part of the new anti-American axis of evil?  And how much a threat is he?

My next guest says his words, Chavez‘ words, were “the strongest attack from any foreign leader on U.S. soil in decades.

Nile Gardiner is a fellow at the Heritage Foundation.  He‘s also director of the Margaret Thatcher Center.  He joins us from Washington.

Nile, welcome.

NILE GARDINER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  How seriously should we take these words from Hugo Chavez, and what do they mean? 

GARDINER:  Well, first of all, I should say your previous guest actually is living in cloud cookie land if he thinks that Hugo Chavez is some sort of Democrat who‘s helping ordinary, poor Americans.  That‘s frankly ridiculous.

CARLSON:  Oh, of course it‘s ridiculous.

GARDINER:  Hugo Chavez really is a petty dictator, a wannabe Hitler, basically.  Someone who I think does pose a significant strategic threat to the United States. 

He sits on 5 percent of the world‘s oil reserves.  He is getting very chummy and cozy with the Iranians.  He is a strong supporter of major state sponsors of international terror, including Iran and Syria.  He‘s just done a huge $3 billion arms deal with the Russians.

This is a man who frankly does pose a major international strategic threat to U.S. interests.  He should be taken seriously despite his best clown impersonation earlier this week. 

CARLSON:  Wait.  Why would he be in league in any way or have contact, for that matter, really, with the Syrians?  Syria is nowhere near Venezuela.  It‘s not clear what common interests they have apart from both despising the United States?  Is that what brings them together?

GARDINER:  Well, Chavez sees himself really as the strongman of Latin America.  And he does see himself also as an icon of the global anti-American movement.  And therefore, he is aligning himself with many of America‘s very worst allies. 

And President Bush is right to call North Korea, Iran, Syria an axis of evil.  And Chavez is doing his very best to join that particular club.

He‘s an individual, I think, who is stirring up a great deal of trouble in Latin America.  He is someone who is brutalizing his own population.  He is oppressing freedom of speech. 

He is turning his country into an impoverished tin pot dictatorship.  And he‘s a man who certainly, I think, offers only a negative vision for the world.  He is certainly, though, a figure, I think, who should be definitely on U.S. radar screens as a major potential long-term problem. 

CARLSON:  Well, he does seem a bit buffoonish.  And I‘m not simply saying that because he is anti-American, but because literally he does seem like the sort of person you wouldn‘t take very seriously.  He does seem like, you know, one of your drunk relatives at a family reunion.

Who does take him seriously?  Where is Hugo Chavez taken as a serious figure?  Where in the world?

GARDINER:  Well, I think he‘s a very popular figure in many Latin American countries.  He‘s becoming quite a big figure in Africa.  He‘s already aligning himself with some of the most brutal dictatorships on the African continent, including Sudan. 

He‘s a popular figure in parts of the Middle East.  The Iranians certainly take him very seriously.

Venezuela is applying for a nonpermanent two-year seat on the U.N.  Security Council.  The Iranians would like to have the Venezuelans there in order to block a move towards sanctions.

So the Venezuelans do see themselves as major international players, despite having a complete buffoon as their leader. 

CARLSON:  And finally, why—you mentioned a moment ago a $3 billion arms deal with Russia.  Why would Venezuela need $3 billion worth of weapons? 

GARDINER:  Well, I think that Venezuela would like to become perhaps the regional superpower in Latin America.  It‘s a very aggressive country with an aggressive leader at the moment.  And therefore, they are aligning themselves very closely with both Russia and China in terms of trying to get some very lucrative military deals.  Also, they‘re selling a great deal of oil to China. 

And they do see themselves as a major power broker in the region.  And the Russians and the Chinese see Venezuela certainly as an important buyer of arms and also as an important long-term trading partner. 

CARLSON:  Interesting.  Scary. 

Nile Gardiner, thank you very much. 

GARDINER:  Thanks very much.

CARLSON:  Still to come, President Bush the torturer-in-chief?  That‘s the charge from at least one critic.  She joins us to explain in mere moments.

And, a so-called new direction from the Democratic Party.  Any direction is better than no direction, of course, but will this one play with voters? 

We‘ll tell you when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

My next guest raises the question, is President Bush the torturer-in-chief? 

In an op-ed in today‘s “Los Angeles Times,” Rosa Brooks rights, “Legally and morally, many of the alternative interrogation methods championed by our president are torture, plain and simple.  And there is no doubt at all that they are cruel, inhuman and degrading.”

“Bush isn‘t stupid.  He understands that it‘s far too late for him to leave a legacy that won‘t be a source of shame to future generations.  So he‘s going for second best: a congressionally delivered ‘get-out-of-jail‘ free card.”

Rosa Brooks is special counsel to the Open Society Institute.  She joins us from New York.

Rosa Brooks, I don‘t think I‘ve ever agreed with a single thing you‘ve ever written or said ever, but I‘m always really glad to have you on, so thank you for joining us.

ROSA BROOKS, SPECIAL COUNSEL, OPEN SOCIETY INSTITUTE:  Great to be here, Tucker.

CARLSON:  I think Bush is actually making a pretty good point.  He says that the Geneva Convention Article 3, the part that prohibits cruel and humiliating and degrading treatment outrages upon personal dignity, that‘s actually pretty vague.  And in our legalistic times we need a much more pointed and specific definition of what is and what is not torture.

That sounds right to me.

BROOKS:  I don‘t think it‘s vague at all, Tucker.  First of all, I think that most of the actual techniques Bush has been talking about, that we know he‘s been talking about, it doesn‘t really take a rocket scientist to figure out that they satisfy that definition that they are cruel, that they are degrading, they are humiliating.

Second of all, we‘ve had court decisions, United States court decisions in other forum that do flesh out exactly what that means.  We have known what that means for 50 years.  Nothing has really changed. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know, though. I mean, it seems to me that being behind bars it cruel and degrading, holding someone against his will. 

BROOKS:  No, but...

CARLSON:  You know, circumscribing his movements, forcing him to eat certain foods.  I mean, it‘s all degrading.

BROOKS:  Remember—remember, we‘ve got—we‘ve got a Constitution which has the 8th Amendment, prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. 

CARLSON:  Right.

BROOKS:  That‘s pretty vague sounding, too.

CARLSON:  Right.

BROOKS:  But, in fact, it doesn‘t prohibit being confined, incident to legally mandated punishment, et cetera, et cetera.  Our courts know exactly what that means.

Every now and then new issues come up, they have to go a little bit further.  That‘s what courts are for.  That‘s what courts do.

What Bush is doing right now is he is trying to create a situation where no court will ever get to decide whether what has happened has violated our law, has violated our obligations under the Geneva Conventions. 

CARLSON:  Well, I suppose the difference is, of course, that our Constitution binds only us and our government, our behavior as Americans, whereas the Geneva Convention is an international accord that‘s open to interpretation from many different nations.  So why is it about... 

BROOKS:  Wait.  No, no, no, no.  That‘s a—that‘s a misconception. 

We‘re talking specifically about the War Crimes Act...

CARLSON:  OK.

BROOKS:  ... which is 1996.  It‘s part of federal criminal law, which incorporates into our domestic federal criminal law, the idea that violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions are war crimes under U.S. law. 

That‘s legislation that was passed overwhelmingly by the Republican-dominated Congress in 1996.  This isn‘t a bunch of foreigners telling us what to do.  This is our law. 

CARLSON:  Well, it could be a bunch of foreigners telling us what to do.  I mean, the international—you know—OK, look, let‘s just back up two steps here.

BROOKS:  That‘s a little paranoid.

CARLSON:  Yes, let‘s just—I don‘t know.  I mean, the things that I was paranoid about 10 years ago have all come to pass.  So you can‘t be too paranoid as far as I‘m concerned. 

BROOKS:  No, well, I‘ll tell you one thing, when Bush is out of office, I wouldn‘t advise him to take any vacations in Europe, that‘s for sure. 

CARLSON:  No, and I suspect he won‘t be leaving west Texas probably ever.

BROOKS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  But here‘s—here‘s the kind of grander point. 

BROOKS:  Right.

CARLSON:  Your peace, you know, addresses specifically torture, but it doesn‘t mention, it doesn‘t even hint at who might be tortured here by the Bush administration. 

BROOKS:  OK.

CARLSON:  I mean, if you step back a little bit, you can understand, I think, a little more the rational behind all this. 

BROOKS:  So you‘re saying they‘re bad guys.  They‘re bad guys, so it‘s OK to torture them. 

CARLSON:  I‘m not saying it‘s OK to torture them.  I‘m saying it is, though, worth recognizing that there are bad people who do want to kill us.

BROOKS:  There are—there are—there are a ton of...

CARLSON:  And if this is being not done...

(CROSSTALK)

BROOKS:  Let me—let me—let me tell you what I‘m worried about. 

I‘m worried about several things.

Number one, we don‘t know that all of them are bad guys, because most of these guys have never been before any kind of tribunal.  The people who were just transferred to Guantanamo have not previously had any kind of legal process.

I don‘t like taking the executive branch‘s word for it, because their record is not so great.  So, number one, we don‘t know that all of them are bad guys.  Some of them we do know are not actually bad guys.

CARLSON:  Right.

BROOKS:  So, number one, I‘m worried about the innocent people and the small fry mixed up in this.

Number two, even if they are bad guys, I think this country is supposed to stand for certain basic values.  That there are certain things that you just don‘t do to anyone.

CARLSON:  Right.  That‘s fair.

BROOKS:  Number three, I think torture doesn‘t work. 

Number four, yes, there‘s a very, very serious threat facing this country today, and our interrogation policies have multiplied that threat more than we can imagine.  It‘s going to take generations to undo the damage this president has done. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Then—then since we‘re basically out of time and I don‘t have time to address all four of those points, how about just number three? 

BROOKS:  Number three.

CARLSON:  If torture doesn‘t work—and you often hear the left say that, “Torture, we know torture doesn‘t work”...

BROOKS:  Right.

CARLSON:  ... how do we know that?  And if it doesn‘t work, then why do people who do this for a living—this being interrogate suspects—why do they still rely on torture in every country, including countries that are very sophisticated, like Israel?  Why—why do they use torture if it doesn‘t work? 

BROOKS:  Because it‘s—it‘s the—it‘s a weapon of the week.  And that‘s what‘s so embarrassing about this. 

We‘re supposed to be a strong country.  Torture is what people do when they‘re absolutely clueless, they don‘t have the first idea of what to do, and they‘re just thrashing out.

There are better ways of getting intelligence.  There are more effective ways of getting intelligence.  We know how to do it.  Most of the professional interrogators who have weighed in on this, including professional military interrogators, including former CIA interrogators, have said this is just stupid. 

It undercuts our broader goals in the fight against terrorism.  It is ineffective.  It‘s just hurting us on every possible level and it‘s against the law. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Rosa Brooks, articulate, as always, even if you are wrong.  I don‘t know if you are.  But anyway, thank you for joining us. 

BROOKS:  Absolutely right.  I‘m totally right, Tucker.  Thanks for having me.

CARLSON:  Thank you, Rosa. 

Coming up, the White House is “taken aback” after an interview by Pakistan‘s President Musharraf.  We‘ll tell you what he said just ahead.

And Americans think the economy is looking up.  We may be headed for a fall.  That story in just a moment. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “Beat the Press.” 

First up, a misspelling of the most painful kind.  Yesterday the FOX news show “DaySide” reached new heights with this typo.  Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Here‘s a country that hid its nuclear program until it was revealed by a dissident.  The IAEA says there are still many questions left with their nuclear program.

Mr. President, why should anyone trust what you say?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Wow.  We all make mistakes.  We do it all the time on this show.

But if you‘re misspelling the name of your own show—I‘m not even against marijuana.  You know, I‘m not even a big drug war guy, but if you are smoking so much dope at work that you can‘t even spell “DaySide,” that‘s too much.  Stop.  Slow down.  You know, get sober.

That‘s my advice.

Next, our clip of the week, courtesy of FOX‘s local New York City station.  Reporting from the field can be tough, but this report from Lisa Evers brings it to a whole new level. 

Watch and admire how she handles herself. 

(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:  Look at that.  She is tough, that Lisa Evers, who I believe, by the way, was married to Curtis Sliwa, head of the Guardian Angels, someone who sat in for me once on this show.  Maybe she learned her toughness being married to him.

In any case, Lisa Evers, if I had a had I‘d take it off to you.  You are unflappable.

Still to come, should you be tested for HIV?  Should everybody be tested for HIV?  The government‘s plan for universal testing just ahead.

And this will sound funny coming from me, but America has way too many television sets.  I‘ll tell you why when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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, Alex Bennett host of “The Alex Bennett Program” on Sirius Satellite Radio.  And from Orlando, Florida, Pat Campbell, host of “The Pat Campbell Show” on 540 WFLA.  Welcome to you both. 

First up, did former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage threaten to bomb Pakistan, quote “Back to the stone age?”  That‘s what Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf says, here is part of his interview with “60 Minutes‘” Steve Croft, followed by Armitage‘s response.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE CROFT:  What did Armitage say to your director of intelligence right after September 11? 

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF:  The director of intelligence told me that he said be prepared to be bombed.  Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age. 

CROFT:  Richard Armitage said that you should be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age? 

MUSHARRAF:  Yes.  

CROFT:  Were you insulted? 

MUSHARRAF:  Yes.   I thought it was a very rude remark.  

ARMITAGE:  I said I would never issue a threat that I couldn‘t deliver on, and there‘s no way I could deliver on such a threat so I‘m absolutely confident I never uttered it. And others who were in the room with me will say the same thing.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  President Bush claims he was taken aback by the report.  But why, Pat, when it comes down to it?  The Taliban would not have existed, the Taliban of course who protected al Qaeda, which bombed this country on 9/11.  None of that would have been possible without the intelligence services of Pakistan, the ISI, which cuddled the Taliban, paid for the Taliban. I mean that‘s beyond dispute, we know that.  What‘s wrong with threatening Pakistan in the wake of 9/11, seems like it makes sense to me? 

PAT CAMPBELL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.  I like that kind of tough talk backed up by tough action.  But I‘m thinking of starting the Dick Armitage for president campaign down here in Florida.  My only problem with this Tucker is the fact that it didn‘t go far enough.  Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan right now.  If we know these kind of threats work with Pakistan, why didn‘t we use the threats again to make them cough up Osama?

CARLSON:  Because Pervez Musharraf for all his problems, is the best we‘re going to get in Pakistan and he is sitting atop a country that is much less moderate than he is.  And so, you know, if we force his hand, if we‘re seen pushing him around, he could be toppled by the lunatics who predominate in that country and that would be terrible. 

CAMPBELL:  The lesser of two evils.  

CARLSON:  I think that‘s exactly right.  But I mean, here‘s the real question I want to ask you both.  To you Alex first.  Do we believe him?  Do we believe Musharraf, doesn‘t he have a domestic audience that wants to hear this?  I mean isn‘t he essentially saying to his constituents back in Pakistan, look, I‘m forced to play along?  I‘m being bullied by the United States so forgive me for what I do, isn‘t that potentially what‘s happening here?

ALEX BENNETT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well I think if you look at the two from afar which is all any of us can do, Probably Musharraf looks like the most honest of the two.  I mean Armitage doesn‘t come across as exactly a quiet talking guy.  I think if he did it, it was bad diplomacy towards people we really needed and who at least had some desire to be our friends. 

CARLSON:  Why is it bad diplomacy to say look, you know you‘ve been helping out the Taliban.  You‘ve been helping out people who are responsible for killing 3,000 Americans.  You knock it off or we‘re going to kill you.  That seems like a completely fair thing to say.

BENNETT:  Because you‘re not going to get much that way.

CARLSON:  We got a lot that way, didn‘t we?  

BENNETT:  I don‘t think we got a lot.  I mean Osama bin Laden is still living on the Pakistan border up near China.  I don‘t think any of that talk helped.   I don‘t think anything we did in Afghanistan has really helped.  It‘s just simply taken the dust and spread it all over the planet.  

CARLSON:  Well wait a second.  I mean I don‘t know.  I thought liberals were supposed to have human rights as a sort of major concern.  It‘s supposed to be a major component of our foreign policy.  The Taliban five years ago were executing gay people and were forcing women to wear these ludicrous outfits.  

BENNETT:  Did you hear me defend the Taliban?  I mean I said the only

CARLSON:  No you said nothing good has come out of our occupation of Afghanistan.

BENNETT:  I‘ll have to admit, the only good thing that came out of our occupation of Afghanistan at the time was the women being able to get out of the burkas and start having a life for themselves.  But, as time has gone on and we‘ve diverted our attention to Iraq, it seems like they‘re getting back into the burkas again and the Taliban is getting back into power.  So what have we done? 

CARLSON:  Maybe they want to wear the burka.  That‘s actually something we need to start considering.

BENNETT:  That‘s a great style.  

CARLSON:  Howard Dean laid out the democratic vision for America in a “Wall Street Journal” piece today in case you missed it.  He spent most of the piece attacking the president and the Republican Congress for finally getting around to a couple of paragraphs about his party‘s ideas for balancing the budget and fighting the war on terror.  What‘s interesting to me Alex is what he doesn‘t say.  So here‘s I‘m sure you have read the piece. 

BENNETT:  I had a quick chance before the show went on.  But basically, you know I‘m not that fond of Howard Dean.  Let me get that straight.  As a lefty, I‘ve been rather disappointed in the democrats.  I mean, hey, they‘re the only party I have got, and I think that they‘re all over the place.  

CARLSON:  Here is something he doesn‘t say.  And this is something that maybe the Democratic Party can‘t say because of Clinton.  But he goes on to talk about the loss of manufacturing jobs and he blames the decline in unions and he blames the Bush administration for that.  I mean it‘s actually so stupid it‘s almost not worth talking about.  But here‘s one thing he doesn‘t mention which is actually not stupid and worth talking about, and that‘s free trade.  You know whenever you think of free trade, there is no question its hurt our manufacturing base here in the United States.  He doesn‘t even mention that.  Is that because Clinton pushed free trade or what‘s the story there, what do you see there?  

BENNETT:  You‘re not going to find an argument with me if you‘re going to say that Clinton made some big mistakes with NAFTA for instance. 

CARLSON:  Right.

BENNETT:  Because a lot of our jobs are going overseas, they‘re going away from here.  I mean, you know, we talk about Wal-Mart which I guess may be in the next discussion.  But a company like that, you look at their shelves and almost everything is made in China. 

CARLSON:  Right.

BENNETT:  It‘s not made by Americans here and that‘s what economy is, is to get the jobs here.  I think that Dean and the Democrats have to speak to how they‘re going to get the jobs back, how they‘re going to get somebody like GM and Ford and Chrysler back in the game again.  And I think that that‘s what the next nominee for their party has to be able to do.  

CARLSON:  Pat here is one thing that Dean says that is true and I think kind of important.  He says the average American household had debt, there was 132 percent of disposable income.  In other words, people owe more than they‘re making.   People are really in hock.  They have bought more than they can afford during the Bush years.  They‘ve been doing it for years but its gotten worse in the last six years.  There is really no arguing that.  Why don‘t the Republicans ever say anything about that?

CAMPBELL:  Well, I don‘t know that that‘s George Bush‘s fault that we‘re living beyond our means.  

CARLSON:  I‘m not saying it is, but I mean, why don‘t they mention it? 

Because it‘s kind of a big deal don‘t you think?

CAMPBELL:  Yes it is and I read Howard Dean‘s article this morning and it‘s a lot of the same old dog and pony trick here.  One of the things he‘s talking about is tax relief for the middle class. The reality is talk is cheap.  His party‘s own record betrays him.  I remember when the Democrats were in power in 1993 and they passed the biggest tax increase in the history of the United States.  I‘m 40 plus years old, the only guy that‘s ever put money back in my pocket is George W. Bush.  He did it not once but twice.  Here in the state of Florida you know, talking about the economy, things are going well because I‘m riding to the studios here, gas has dropped almost 70 cents a gallon in the Orlando area in the last couple of weeks.  And that‘s a positive boon for the economy here.  So, you know, all the talk about the negatives, the down side.  Look, if the Democrats really wanted to stick out and make a case for a successful candidate, whether it‘s Hillary in 2008, what they ought to seize on are the two issues where George Bush has dropped the ball, border security and getting Osama bin Laden.  If they grab those issues and capitalize on them, they actually could be successful in 2006, 2008.  

CARLSON:  I completely agree.  If the Democrats got out there and said look, Bush is beholden to his friends in big business who want cheap labor, labor that undermines American wages, you know they want to bring people in, mistreat them, pay them nothing and send them back to Honduras, that‘s what his campaign contributors want and he‘s doing their bidding.  That‘s pretty true actually and I think that would make people mad enough to vote against them. Well a new poll shows Americans are increasingly optimistic about the state of the economy interestingly enough.  Fifty four percent of people who responded to an “LA Times” “Bloomberg” survey said the economy is doing well.  That marks a significant increase from a couple of months ago, but is that optimism warranted, are we really doing well?  Alex, Pat just said and I agree with him that gas prices are --  

BENNETT:  You know it‘s funny that we use gas prices as the touchstone for how we‘re doing in our economy. 

CARLSON:  I‘m not sure we should be ordinary people do, don‘t you think?

BENNETT:  I mean I guess, the only thing I and George Bush agree with is this addiction to gasoline.  I mean it makes us just as depressed when it‘s high, it gets us happy when it‘s low.  And we base our whole economy on the gas.  You know gas isn‘t the touchstone of the economy.  To a person who‘s got some money who‘s got a job, who‘s doing ok, hey, the economy is great.  And to the guy who doesn‘t have a home or he‘s out of work or he‘s struggling for a job, the economy stinks.  That‘s it in a nut shell.  And it‘s depending on how many people out there actually feel their economy isn‘t good. 

CARLSON:  But I mean that‘s always the case.  But it just seems to me that gas prices are the one thing that everybody can understand.  

BENNET:  Well, if you want to be really paranoid, you can say that Bush has some control over the gas prices in this country because he was in the business and that he sees the election coming along in November, you know.  

CARLSON:  Well I know a lot of Democrats think that, but if you could just very, very quickly explain to me how one man, even the president of the United States can control the international petroleum markets?  How does that work exactly? 

BENNETT:  I think just by causing a feeling of not being safe.  Every time we say something is not safe, every time there‘s a—for instance the Lebanon situation, gas prices went up.  Well, he‘s certainly in control of either exacerbating those situations or cooling them down.  And right now they‘re all cooled down.  We haven‘t had any hurricanes and that hasn‘t been a problem, you know.  I can‘t say that he has any control over hurricanes. 

CARLSON:  Really? Because I‘ve actually heard Democrats saying he does, that in fact global warming causes storms, and Bush is encouraging global warming because he‘s a racist and wants to hurt black people in New Orleans or something.

BENNETT:  That I agree with, but you know.

CARLSON:  It‘s so demented.  Pat, don‘t you think, you know gas prices are not I agree with Alex I have to say a valid measure of our economy, something as large as the economy.  Whoever is elected in 2008 is going to have to deal, it seems to me, almost without question, in a dramatic reduction in the price of houses.  People all of a sudden are going to be in deep trouble because they‘re houses aren‘t going to be worth as much as they have borrowed against them, don‘t you think?  

CAMPBELL:  Look to Florida.  Part of the reason we enjoy such a robust economy down here is our low taxation rate.  We don‘t have a state income tax.  One of the things they‘re actually talking about doing, because Jeb Bush gets it down here and his soon to be predecessor Charlie Crist gets it as well, is they believe in putting money back in my pocket.  They‘re actually talking about rolling back real estate taxes in the state of Florida to 2003 levels because they know by putting more money in my pack, it‘s going to stimulate the economy. They get it, that‘s why Florida, there‘s a thousand people every week that move into this state and that‘s why we enjoy one of the most robust economies in the entire country.  

CARLSON:  Yeah, I would also say, not to take anything away from your very excellent governor, but it‘s pretty sunny there, and I think that may have something to do with why people move there.  

CAMPBELL:  That has something to do with it, you‘re right. 

CARLSON:  Alex and Pat, thank you, I‘m master of the obvious. Thanks for joining us.  I appreciate it.

CAMPBELL:  Thank you.

BENNETT:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Residents of Houston, Texas are being urged to arm themselves to protect themselves against Katrina evacuees.  It sounds outrageous but is it actually good advice? We‘ll discuss it with the man who gave that advice when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  The average American home now has more televisions than people. That‘s good for me, I work in cable.  But what does it say about America? Plus Diane Sawyer and Clay Aiken get into a slap fight over his sexuality.  We‘ll tell you about it, we‘re back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time for a look at today‘s stories I just don‘t get.  First, an ounce of prevention that could ultimately save the lives of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, NEW YORK‘S HEALTH COMMISSIONER:  It‘s a win-win.  For a person living with HIV, they can get linked to care, they can protect themselves.  For their partners and their family they can reduce their risky behavior.  

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That‘s New York health commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden, supports the idea of every American between the ages of 13 and 64 getting tested for the AIDS virus.  The recommendation comes from the Centers for Disease Control.  They note that there are a quarter of a million people in this country infected with HIV and don‘t know it.  Some fear the stigma of testing positive, but the doctors say the quicker those people can get on anti-viral drugs, the better chance they have of prolonging their lives.  Of course.  Here‘s the question, here‘s what I genuinely don‘t understand.  It‘s been 25 years since the AIDS epidemic first arose in this country, 25 years.  The obvious response is test people so they know.  More information is always better.  Why has is taken 25 years to get this obvious recommendation that is good for the public health? Because a small highly aggressive group, very aggressive group of politically motivated AIDS activists, for whom public health was never the highest goal, have prevented it.  What‘s their motive?  I can‘t even begin to understand it, but they are to blame.  People have gotten infected with this disease and died because of it.  They ought to be ashamed of themselves.  

Well next, have we become a nation of voyeurs?

A new study by Nielsen Media Research reveals the average American home now has more television sets than it has people.  There are nearly three sets in the average house and only two and a half residents.  That‘s statically speaking, not literally two and a half.  Researchers say the trend is do largely to the advent of the flat screen television, which now makes it easier to put sets where they haven‘t been before.  Is that a good thing?  Far be it for me to argue against the technology that pays my mortgage, television.  I watch television, nothing wrong with television.  But if you have more sets than people in your house, isn‘t there something kind of depressive and passive about that, a little bit?  If you have a set for instance in your bathroom?  Pull back.  Pull back a little bit.  That sounds a little addictive to me.  Not to pass judgment.  Finally one year after hurricane Katrina, another potentially violent storm looms on the horizon.  

This latest storm isn‘t threatening New Orleans but rather Houston, Texas, where a quarter of a million evacuees were sent after Katrina hit.  About 120,000 of them remain in the city, now long time residents are blaming the newcomers for their city‘s dramatically rising crime rate.  One gun shop owner has gone so far as to run a radio ad, advising his fellow Houstonians to arm themselves against the evacuees.  Jim Pruett warns the crime problem will become much worse should evacuees run out of federal assistance. Well as you can imagine those ads are causing quite a bit of controversy in Houston.  Here to explain them, the man behind those spots, Jim Pruett.  He‘s a radio talk show host and owner of Jim Pruett‘s Guns and Ammo in Texas.  Jim Pruett welcome.  What exactly did you say in the spots and what did you mean? 

JIM PRUETT, HOUSTON RADIO HOST & GUN SHOP OWNER:  Tucker thanks for having me on the show. It‘s fantastic.  And it‘s not only fantastic, it‘s incredible.  But here‘s exactly what I said in the spot and I want to make sure everybody understands it.  It starts out, “When the Katricians themselves are quoted as saying the crime rate is going to go up if they don‘t get more free rate, then it‘s time to get your concealed handgun license.”  Now, Katrician, the one thing you mentioned, whenever we say arm ourselves against evacuees, that‘s not against all evacuees.  I think 15 percent of the population of Houston, Texas is now made up of evacuees.  Many of these people have gotten jobs. A matter of fact, down the street, a man and wife were uprooted from Louisiana, they have gotten jobs, they‘ve gotten their little girls in school.  They are now Houstonians and that‘s fantastic.  But when we talk of the Katricians, that‘s a term that I got from the police, I wish I would have come up with it.  But that‘s to denote the criminal element of the evacuees.  Not all of the evacuees, the vast majority of the evacuees are now great Houstonians.   

CARLSON:  But you‘re of course being denounced as a bigot for saying this. Is it true—is it provably true that Katrina evacuees are causing a disproportionate amount of crime in your city? 

PRUETT:  Well they‘re either contributing to the crime, matter of fact the statistics are, according to HPD, Katrina evacuees are suspects or victims in 59 of Houston‘s 262 homicides between January 1st and August 26th.  And of course they have different levels of crime. And it‘s not that they‘re causing the majority of crime, we certainly have our share of it with M.S. 13, illegals coming across the border who were unlawful in their own country and just the regular criminals that were here before. 

CARLSON:  So one out of five murders are apparently involved in one way or another with Katrina evacuees.  That‘s kind of amazing. Are you selling more guns because of this?

PRUETT:  Absolutely.  At Jim Pruett‘s Guns & Ammo, I would say we‘re up 50 percent from last year.  

CARLSON:  What are you selling, what are popular models? 

PRUETT: Well, number one we do the concealed handgun class, and the popular models are Kimbers, colts, just a variety of weapons that are small and concealable. 

CARLSON:  Have you had any run ins with Katrina evacuees?

PRUETT:  I haven‘t myself, but I have to tell you, if I go outside the store across the parking lot, I‘m not sure I‘m going to run into a Katrina refugee or a M.S. 13 member of just a crack head that‘s going to hit me with a crow bar.  You can‘t be assured that that‘s going to happen.  You see, people need to understand that the police are not your bodyguards.  The police will of course if you get abducted or beaten up or something, they‘ll come investigate and they‘re good at what they do and they‘ll probably catch the bad guys. But you are responsible for your own immediate safety and we suggest the best tool of course is a handgun.  And if you‘re going to have a handgun on your person or in your car in Texas, you must have a concealed handgun license.  

CARLSON:  Right.  Jim Pruett, we‘re out of time.  In one sentence, tell me what do you carry?

PRUETT:  I carry a Kimber 45.  This is my Kimber, there are many like it, but this one is mine.  I must master it as I must master my own life.  And I will.  

CARLSON:  I bet you will.  Mr. Pruett, thanks for joining us, I appreciate it. 

PRUETT:  Hey thanks for having me on the show man, it‘s great. 

CARLSON:  Thanks.

There are big ratings for last night‘s season premier of “Grey‘s Anatomy” on ABC, but there was also some big controversy. A major gaffe spoils the show for some views.  We‘ll explain when we come right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  We turn now to a man you can be certain no matter where he is, he‘s packing heat, Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST: I‘m going to leave that alone because I‘m always packing heat.  Tucker, I have some breaking news here which has been breaking all day but it‘s just breaking now on our show. 

CARLSON:  That‘s our kind of breaking news, honestly.

GEIST:  Six Flags Great America in Illinois, if you will eat a live Madagascar hissing cockroach upon your arrival at the park, you get to ride all the rides free.  It starts next month, it‘s part of a Halloween promotion.  All you have to do is eat a live cockroach and you ride all rides for free. It sounds like a good deal to me.  Would you do it Tucker?

CARLSON:  Willie you know me well enough to know I would do it instantly, I wouldn‘t even hesitate.

GEIST:  I knew the answer, I was asking for the viewers.  Of course you would do it.  Well as you know, last night‘s season premier of “Grey‘s Anatomy” set up some compelling new plot lines.  If you‘re a fan of the show and you can‘t wait to see what happens next, just call a friend in Canada.  Thanks to a satellite slip up of some kind, Canada‘s CTV broadcast the show‘s second episode instead of the premier.  Whoops.  Canadian “Grey‘s Anatomy” groupies are outraged.  A spokesman for CTV said, “The good news is episode two is fantastic.”  Live it to a Canadian to look on the bright side.  Tucker, I invite you at this time to take this isolated story and turn it into a larger point about the incompetence of Canada.  Go!

CARLSON:  It‘s too easy Willie.  It‘s really, I feel like I‘m beating up a retarded cousin almost.  

GEIST:  I knew you were going to say that.  I‘m going to move on quickly.  Maybe nobody will notice you said it.  Tucker, it is in fact the rhetorical question on everyone‘s mind.  Is Clay Aiken gay?  Diane Sawyer asked Aiken to address the near certainty on “Good Morning America.”  The one time “American Idol” runner up did not appreciate it.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLAY AIKEN:  At some point it becomes just really rude, you know. 

DIANE SAWYER:  You think I‘m rude for asking? 

AIKEN:  I don‘t understand why you want to know.  I don‘t understand why it‘s any of your business. 

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Tucker, I like Diane Sawyer and I genuinely have no interest in Clay Aiken‘s sexuality.  But I‘m going to side with Aiken on this one for one reason.  I fear the Clay Mates.  That is the terrorist organization masquerading as Clay Aiken‘s fan club.  Last time we spoke ill of him they sabotaged your “Dancing with the Stars” campaign. 

CARLSON:  I completely agree. 

GEIST:  I‘m scared, so Diane none of your business.

CARLSON:  I don‘t want a rattlesnake in my mailbox, so I totally agree.

GEIST:  Tucker, one other thing.

CARLSON:  None of your business he hissed.

GEIST:  If you eat the cockroach you don‘t get into the park for free, you get to skip the line.  I misspoke, I‘m so sorry.

CARLSON:  That‘s even better actually.  I‘d do it in a second.  Willie Geist, thank you Willie.  That‘s our show, thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.  See you back here Monday.  Have a great weekend.

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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