updated 10/12/2006 5:23:07 PM ET 2006-10-12T21:23:07

Guests: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Peter Fenn, Cheri Jacobus, A.B. Stoddard, Al Sharpton

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

We‘ve got a lot to get to today, including what looks like certain defeat for Republicans next month in the midterm elections.  But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong?  Could the Democrats be headed for a fall?  If anyone could screw up imminent victory, it is the Democrats.  The question is, will they? 

And the Reverend Al Sharpton accuses Joe Lieberman of race baiting.  He‘ll tell us why in a minute. 

But first, the top story of the day: North Korea versus the axis of evil.  In a State of the Union Address in 2002, President Bush threw down a challenge to Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, three countries he dubbed as the “axis of evil”. 

Here‘s what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.  The United States of America will not permit the world‘s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world‘s most destructive weapons. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Well, nearly five years later, Iran is refusing to back down on its nuclear program, Iraq is descending into civil war, of course, and North Korea now claims it has tested a nuclear weapon.  So was the “axis of evil” speech the moment when  America foreign policy began to go horribly wrong, or was it proof that the president was actually right all along, those three countries were evil? 

Joining me now to consider that question, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida.  She joins us from Miami.

Congresswoman, we‘re honored to have you.  Thank you. 

REP. Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think for a second that the president‘s speech drove North Korea to create a nuclear weapon.  Some on the left are suggesting that.  That‘s stupid. 

I do wonder, however, and I wonder if it‘s coincidence or not, these three countries this administration focused its efforts on, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, are all more threatening to the U.S. now than they were six years ago when the president came in. 

Why is that?

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN ®, FLORIDA:  To paraphrase Billy Joel, Bush didn‘t start the fire.  This had been going on. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

ROS-LEHTINEN:  And what he said is—he called it what it is. 

Now, President Clinton may have had good intentions in thinking that you could engage North Korea, that you can ease sanctions on North Korea, that you can even provide North Korea with missile technology or nuclear technology in hopes and wishing and praying that it could come true, that North Korea would become, instead of the bully, the good kid in the classroom, but it didn‘t work.  And now we‘ve got President Bush, who correctly classified North Korea as part of the axis of evil.  And now it‘s time to fully investigate who has been providing North Korea with the—with all the hardware, all the technology.

CARLSON:  Well, wait a second, Congresswoman.

ROS-LEHTINEN:  Who has been benefiting from this and who has been dealing with them?

CARLSON:  I agree with—wait.  But hold on.  I—of course I agree with you that North Korea is evil.  I never had a problem with the president describing them as such.  Good for him.  He‘s telling the truth. 

But the whole point is to keep them from creating nuclear weapons.  Isn‘t that—isn‘t that—that ought to be the focus of American foreign policy: don‘t let the crazy people have the bomb.  And now the crazy people have the bomb.  So there‘s no excuse for that, is there? 

ROS-LEHTINEN:  Well, this is part of the blame America first crowd.  I mean, we‘ve got to admit to ourselves that they are evil dictators in the world, and no matter what the United States says about them, whether we call them good guys or bad guys, they are going to be inherently evil. 

CARLSON:  I agree. 

ROS-LEHTINEN:  And what they want to do is sell this nuclear technology to others.  So this—it‘s in the selling of this arsenal that it‘s most worrisome, and most of the—most of the state actors, like China and Japan, or South Korea, what they wanted is a more stable North Korea.  They didn‘t worry so much about a nuclear North Korea. 

CARLSON:  Well, then...

ROS-LEHTINEN:  Well, thanks goodness now they have woken up and they‘re willing to perhaps place sanctions on an actor that should have had sanctions all along. 

CARLSON:  Boy, I hope so.  Though, of course, it‘s a little late, because, again, they have the bomb. 

But I wonder if North Korea is evil—and I believe that North Korea is evil—why are we giving them aid?  Why is the Bush administration giving an evil regime food aid?  Why is that? 

ROS-LEHTINEN:  And we should—we should really rethink that strategy. 

What we should do is force...

CARLSON:  But why have we been doing that?  That‘s kind of crazy.  Why would we give free stuff to evil people? 

ROS-LEHTINEN:  Well, I know.  We do that because we naively believe that by doing so it will not create a problem for China or South Korea by having an invasion of refugees on their—on their shores.  And what we need to do is, hey, China, if you‘re so worried about this humanitarian crisis, then you provide the aid. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ROS-LEHTINEN:  South Korea, if you are worried about refugees coming across the border, then you give them all the—all the goods that they want.  But the United States should not be part and parcel of that, because all of that stuff is fungible.  The best fed and the best equipped army is the North Korean, while the—while the people of North Korea are starving.  So this is aid that‘s not really getting to the people of North Korea. 

CARLSON:  No. 

ROS-LEHTINEN:  And I agree—I agree with what John McCain said today.  Another thing that we need to do is get a better missile defense system, and it‘s the Democrats in the House and the Senate that have been stopping us getting the full process for this protective missile defense policy. 

CARLSON:  And I—I agree with you there, and I‘m not for a moment suggesting—because I don‘t it believe—that the Democrats have anything they do.  They don‘t.  And I think their ideas are mostly dumb. 

However, they‘re going to criticize—they have been already criticizing this administration for not preventing nuclear weapon development in North Korea, for allowing the North Koreans to get the bomb.  And I wonder—let‘s just be honest for a second—is there anything the Bush administration could have or should have done over the past six years to prevent what happened yesterday?  Or was it inevitable? 

ROS-LEHTINEN:  It is unbelievable.  This is such a farce. 

First they say that we had a rush to war, that we didn‘t try the diplomatic way through the U.N.   We should have passed more resolutions.  We should have held hands and sung “Kumbaya”.  And then in North Korea, they say, oh my gosh, we‘ve been stalling, we‘ve been through all this diplomatic song and dance for six years.  We‘ve had this—this six-party talks that North Korea has not complied with. 

So we‘ve got the diplomatic route.  Even today we‘re still going to the United Nations Security Council to get sanctions.  And so Bush gets criticized if we go to war and he gets criticized if we go the diplomatic route. 

What else is there?  I mean, those are...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, let me criticize—hold on.  Let me criticize Bush—let me criticize Bush from the right.  My criticism always comes from the right of Bush.  Bush is actually kind of liberal, in my view, especially on foreign policy. 

Why are we going to the U.N.?  If the point of the Bush administration‘s foreign policy has been to say the U.N. is ineffective, it does nothing, it does not keep the peace, and it doesn‘t do anything in our interest, why now are we saying we‘re waiting for the so-called international community to act?  Why aren‘t we acting alone?  I don‘t get that. 

ROS-LEHTINEN:  Well, because we know that international sanctions are far more effective than unilateral sanctions.  However, I don‘t think that the United States has said we‘re not going to impose further sanctions on North Korea by ourselves. 

What we want to have is international sanctions, and this is the time for the U.N. to once again—they‘re given a test, are you a credible international organization?  Are you really going to have the force of law?  Are you going to impose sanctions that are verifiable on this terrible dictatorial regime that‘s starving its own people?  Or are you just going to pass another resolution? 

So I agree with what John Bolton is doing in the U.N.  These are get-tough sanctions, and also do a full investigation as to who‘s been cooperating with this North Korea arsenal, buildup that‘s been out of control. 

CARLSON:  So there‘s really—so we‘ve got two down, one to go.  There‘s Iraq sliding towards civil war—and that‘s a generous way to put it.  A lot of military personnel on the ground believe there‘s a civil war going on.  You‘ve got North Korea testing nuclear weapons yesterday, the day before. 

Now you‘ve got one left, Iran.  We can‘t allow them to get a bomb, too, can we?  What exactly are we—and by “we” I mean Bush—going to do to stop that? 

ROS-LEHTINEN:  You‘re so right.  You‘re so right, because Iran is carefully looking at what the international community is going to do in North Korea. 

If we give North Korea a free pass, then Iran will become emboldened.  They‘re going to continue the path of this downward destruction.  They‘re going to keep building this arsenal that we know is directed against a country like Israel, that the leader says it wants to wipe Israel off the map.  Against the United States‘ interests, against Europe. 

And so it‘s interesting that Iran was present in July when North Korea had their missile capability test.  Now, there‘s a lot of interplay there between Iran and North Korea. 

We‘re putting North Korea as a test case, and Iran is definitely watching what we‘re doing.  If we take no action, just shame on us, because heaven knows what‘s going to happen.  The time for action is now, and the time for the U.N. to step up to the plate is long overdue.  It‘s got to come now. 

CARLSON:  And very quickly, Congresswoman, are we certain this was a nuclear explosion?  I mean, there are some experts who are saying—I don‘t believe for political reasons—that possibly this was a conventional explosion designed to mimic a nuclear explosion.  We‘re positive they have the bomb?  We‘re positive?

ROS-LEHTINEN:  Well, we‘re not.  We‘re not.  And I think Secretary Rice has been very careful in stating that if—about North Korea‘s intentions, and not specifically about its actions. 

A lot of experts have said that they don‘t believe that all of the hardware was on display, and that what they‘ve seen on the tests that they‘ve conducted, perhaps it was not what we thought.  But the intentions are clear, and as we know, Kim Jong-il always wants to get attention, and the best way he can get attention is to do these—these kind of—these kind of tests. 

They‘ve certainly gotten the attention of the international community.  The question is, are we going to build up our missile defense technology?  Are we going to sanction North Korea?  And we‘re going to verify that those sanctions are in place. 

We can blockade that area.  We can make sure that goods are not getting in and out of North Korea.  And we can pressure China and South Korea and Japan to do the right thing and get tough with us.  There‘s a lot that we can still do. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida.

ROS-LEHTINEN:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thanks a lot for joining us.  I appreciate it.

ROS-LEHTINEN:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Still to come, who will you vote for next month?  Every major poll shows the president‘s party headed for ignominious defeat at the hands of the Democrats.  But don‘t rule out a November surprise.  It may not happen.

And is Denny Hastert passing the buck on Mark Foley‘s page problems?  And does yet another congressman have some explaining to do about Foley?

That story when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

If you believe the pollsters, Democrats have got it made this midterm election season.  Republicans have fallen behind by double digits in every recent major poll.  “USA Today” has 59 percent voting Democratic and 36 percent Republican in a generic match-up.  The CBS News-“New York Times” poll gives the Democrats 49 percent and the Republicans 35.  An ABC News-“Washington Post” poll puts Democrats at 54  and Republicans at 41 percent. 

But with a month to go before the election, can Democrats hold on to their lead or will they screw it up again? 

Here to answer that question, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn from Washington. 

Peter, welcome. 

That is the question.  Every liberal I know is convinced that somehow from the jaws of victory, the Democrat Party will snatch (ph), right?  Or whatever.  They‘ll screw it up at the last moment. 

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Are you talking about the circular firing squad, the Democrats here? 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

FENN:  Is that what you‘re talking about?

CARLSON:  They always manage to blow it. 

FENN:  Now, Tucker, come on.  President Gore, President Kerry, President dukakis?  How far back do you want me to go here? 

CARLSON:  How are you going to do it this time, is the question.

FENN:  Listen, I can hardly imagine that for once in my life that the conventional wisdom in Washington, D.C., which, of course, is right now that the Democrats are heading for a resounding victory, will finally turn out to be correct.  But the fact is that the Democrats lead the Republicans on every major issue, including terrorism.  Obviously the war in Iraq continues to get worse by the day. 

This is a Congress that has passed basically absolutely nothing other than $270 billion in earmarked funds for bridges to nowhere in Alaska.  I mean, the list goes on and on. 

The public is so fed up, Tucker, that the—that the positive job ratings of this Congress even before the Foley scandal were in the neighborhood of 20 percent.  Now one would think that they might have even gotten to single digits, and that would mean that Congress, their staffs, and their relatives are the only ones that are supporting them, and I‘m not even clear about the relatives. 

CARLSON:  Whoa, but wait a second.  So that is...

FENN:  I mean, how can we blow this?

CARLSON:  We have seen that before.  I don‘t think—we haven‘t seen it this dramatic in 12 years, probably.  But we‘ve seen year after year, cycle after cycle, the approval rating for Congress pretty darn low.  And yet the election rate of individual members of Congress in the last cycle and 2004 was literally in the House of Representatives over 99 percent, Republicans and Democrats were re-elected.  Incumbents just won because they were incumbents. 

Do you think you can actually break that cycle?  Will people who have been in Congress for a couple of terms lose because the ratings are so low for Republicans? 

FENN:  You know, it is true that what has happened is that universe in the House of 30 to 35 so-called in-play races has jumped to 80, 90, 100 now.  No question about that.  But as you say, there‘s more—there was more turnover in the Politburo than there has been in Congress. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

FENN:  I mean, your best chance of getting elected to Congress as a challenger was to wait until your incumbent member died.  But I do think, Tucker, that this time with the president‘s low approval ratings, with the sense—you know, Newt Gingrich said it very well language spring.  You know, the bumper sticker for the Democrats should be, “Had enough?”  And it is true that a lot of people have just about had it. 

CARLSON:  And it almost seems like—and not to take away anything from Democrats, but, OK, to take away something from Democrats...

FENN:  Right?

CARLSON:  ... it seems like more that the Republicans are losing, collapsing under the weight of their own ludicrousness, than it does that the Democrats are winning.  For instance, you saw the poll we had up in a minute ago.  By far Iraq is the dominant issue, 80 some percent of people asked say that‘s the issue upon which they‘re voting.  And yet relatively few Democrats—Ned Lamont‘s one of them—but very few I would say overall are running exclusively on Iraq. 

It seems like the Republicans are kind of blowing it, but Democrats aren‘t doing anything to make themselves more appealing. 

FENN:  Well, you know, I do think it‘s a hard choice.  I mean, do you run on Iraq?  Do you run on the lack of a health care bill that has not passed this Congress?  Do you look at retirement security which has been a disaster for this Congress and the Republicans?  Do you look at their efforts to privatize Social Security? 

There are an awful lot of things for Democrats to talk about here.  But I think—look, I think what the public wants here in all seriousness is some balance.  They want a sense that folks are going to finally get together and get some things done. 

And you know, I mean, we‘ll see how it all ends up, but I do think that voters right now, at least in the current mood, are saying, look, Republicans are in charge of the Senate, they‘re in charge of the House, they‘re in charge of the presidency. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

FENN:  Some could argue they‘re in charge of the Supreme Court.  Look, we need some balance put back in they system. 

CARLSON:  Well, I think that‘s right.  People instinctively want divided government.  Even—you know, you could argue about whether that‘s a good goal or not, but I agree that people right or wrong kind of want that. 

What about North Korea?  Is that something you‘re going to see Democrats running on in the past three weeks—in the final three weeks of this election? 

FENN:  You know, this president seems to love to talk to his friends, but will never talk to those who oppose him or to his enemies.  I think that—

I think this situation, North Korea, is very serious.  I think we have to be very careful how we deal with it. 

I think we have to bring in other allies, like the—like the Chinese, obviously the South Koreans.  The Japanese have a very serious stake here.  But, you know, this president has done—I think he‘s a one ball in the air kind of guy.

And Iraq is that ball in the air, and he can‘t—he can‘t deal with this.  And I honestly think that the policy that they have had over the past six years of basically no negotiation is coming back to cost him. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I know—and I bet you—and unfortunately we‘re out of time, because I would love to just say this.  But I would just say I‘ll bet you dinner that you will not see more than a handful of Democrats running on the idea we ought to open negotiations directly with North Korea. 

Maybe I‘ll be wrong.

FENN:  Well, I think you can put that in combination now with sanctions if they indeed did explode. 

CARLSON:  We‘ll see.  I bet they won‘t run on it, but maybe they should. 

FENN:  You may be right.

CARLSON:  Peter Fenn, thank you. 

FENN:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  Coming up, the Senate has approved a 700-mile-long fence with the Mexican border, but Mexico does not approve, and they‘re threatening to go to the United Nations to stop us.  Does Mexico have veto power over our border policy?  We‘ll debate it. 

And what could be a preview of the presidential race.  John McCain goes after Hillary Clinton with both barrels.  We‘ll tell you if he hit her when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for “Beat the Press”.

First up, “The O‘Reilly Factor” and the segment they‘re promoting for tonight‘s show.  Keep in mind that just yesterday the criminal regime of North Korea became only the eighth nation in world history to test a nuclear weapon.  Also, there‘s a midterm election less than a month away in this country. 

With all that in mind, O‘Reilly‘s show is teasing the following segment on the FOX Web site right now. 

“Celebrity abortions: Which stars admit having one?  And why are they coming forward now?”

Can you imagine any segment in worst taste than that?  Can you imagine any segment you‘re less excited to actually watch than celebrity abortions?  Boy, is that repulsive. 

All of the things I‘ve done in TV that I don‘t feel good about, I‘ve never done anything like that.  Not to be self-righteous. 

Next up, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson on CNN.  Those of us in TV like to flatter ourselves that every program is unique and uniquely memorable.  And yet sometimes you get the feeling that‘s not exactly the case. 

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR:  Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, thanks very much for joining us.  Always good to have you in “The Situation Room”.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO:  Thanks, Chris (ph). 

BLITZER:  Wolf.  I don‘t know who Chris is, but it‘s Wolf. 

RICHARDSON:  Wolf.  Thank you, Wolf. 

BLITZER:  Thank you. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Do you know what?  No matter who you interview in TV world, he‘s always just come off an interview with Chris Matthews.  It‘s amazing.  We‘re all—we‘re all getting Chris‘ seconds, and we‘re proud to, by the way.  Absolutely proud to. 

Thanks, Chris. 

Still to come, Mark Foley‘s page problem.  A second congressman says he knew but didn‘t go public.  Is there more to that story?  There probably is. 

And Barbra Streisand out of control.  Why she dropped the “F” bomb on a fan in the middle of her recent concert. 

That story when we come back.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  We‘ve got breaking news now.  We want to take you to MSNBC world headquarters and Alison Stewart for an update—Alison. 

ALISON STEWART, MSNBC ANCHOR:  All right, Tucker.  Thank you so much. 

We‘re getting some amazing pictures, some very dramatic pictures coming out of Iraq to us from Baghdad.  You can read the lower third there.  “Explosions rock Camp Falcon just outside of Baghdad.”  It is 11:28 p.m.  there right now. 

MSNBC News bureau in Baghdad, the bureau chief said there have been a series of explosions near the Camp Falcon area located just outside of Baghdad, and CPIC is confirming that there was an explosion at an ammo dump, which would explain these amazing dramatic pictures in the night sky of Baghdad.  It exploded at Camp Falcon.  The U.S. military base is south of Baghdad. 

No word yet on any casualties.  At first, reports that these explosions—as you can see right there on your screen—were near the Green Zone, but that is not true.  It was at Camp Falcon, which is in the exact opposite direction of the Green Zone. Once again, breaking news out of MSNBC, explosions rock outside of Baghdad, an ammo dump apparently on fire.  We‘ll continue to work this story.  Stay with us for more details. 

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Time now for “Three on Three”.  Welcome two of the sharpest people we know to discuss three of the day‘s most interesting stories.  Joining us now from Washington D.C., Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus.  Also from Washington, A.B. Stoddard, an associate editor of “The Hill” newspaper.  Welcome both. 

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATED EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  First up, it appears that Republican Senator John McCain out of Arizona is taking on both Clintons, Bill and Hillary.  McCain accuses the former president of failing to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and wants to remind Senator Clinton of her husband‘s failed policies. 

McCain‘s comments came in response to Hillary Clinton‘s statement attributing the North Korean threat to the Bush administration.  Here‘s what Senator Clinton said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  Some of the reason we are facing this danger is because of the failed policies of the Bush administration, and I regret deeply their failure to deal with the threat posed by North Korea, and I hope that the administration will now adopt a much more effective response than what they have up until now. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  A.B. Stoddard, I actually have to say, I‘m on McCain‘s side, this self-righteous little person Hillary Clinton is there.  I mean, look, I think the Bush administration blew it.  Clearly, they‘ve got the bomb, so, you know, we screwed up.  But the screw up has been going on for a long time, and I don‘t think it‘s fair to say it‘s the last six years that‘s the problem.  It‘s the last—I don‘t know -- 12 years, I mean, right?

Do you think McCain‘s going out on a limb here by reminding Mrs.

Clinton of her husband‘s policies?

STODDARD:  No.  It‘s not surprising to me that McCain says we shouldn‘t talk directly to North Korea and that he‘s defending the Bush administration policy on North Korea. 

But I—I was not prepared for the McCain-Hillary, “let‘s talk about the last two administrations fight,” that I did expect in the next two years.  I just thought it wasn‘t going to start until after November 7. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  So it made me a little tired, frankly, because I just wasn‘t ready for it, and I know that we‘re going to spend just way too much time comparing these two administrations. 

I wonder when McCain is going to get around to talking about Bush One‘s North Korea policy. 

But, you know, I don‘t have a dog in this fight.  I just think that it‘s a preview of what‘s to come. 

CARLSON:  Why—I mean, what‘s in it for McCain right now?  I mean, leaving aside the merits, and as I said, I agree with McCain, but it is a little early politically.  Do you think this is just him reacting, or is it part of his strategy?

STODDARD:  I mean, I think that—well, he‘s going to be taking on Senator Clinton very soon, and he must, and I think he‘s probably under pressure from the conservative establishment to start taking her on very soon. 

I think the Republicans are worried about losing the Congress.  I mean, there‘s a lot of political pressure on McCain to position himself and to try to get himself into a position of strength for the presidential race. 

But he‘s also, you know, been in the habit in the last two years of defending the Bush administration.  I think he honestly agrees with them in principle, but politically he has really worked hard to not talk about the fact that he believes Donald Rumsfeld should resign.  He does believe that, but he‘s been quiet about it.  And to really come to—to you know, the defense of the administration when he can. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Cheri Jacobus, I mean, is this part of McCain‘s effort to win his way back into the hearts of the Republican base?  I mean, do you see this part of the strategy?

CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  You know, you have everybody can have something different to say about John McCain depending upon which month it is and which subject we‘re talking about. 

CARLSON:  Right.

JACOBUS:  The fact of the matter is John McCain, a high profile senator, is calling another high profile senator on the carpet for her comments. 

And the fact is we should be looking at what happened during the Clinton administration in order to help explain where we are now.  You can‘t just lay this situation with North Korea in George W. Bush‘s lap.  That would be unfair, and that would be playing politics. 

So Senator Clinton is now finding herself in the your uncomfortable position of having to finally play with the big boys, and yes, that means she is going to have to occasionally answer to what the last Democratic president did during his administration when she just happened to be first lady.  I think—I think she‘s...

CARLSON:  Yes, how weird is it that it‘s her husband, though?

JACOBUS:  Well, you know, and that‘s—this is the only reason she‘s in a position now to be—to be looking at the presidency herself, being a freshman senator, is because she was first lady.  So if you can‘t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. 

The fact is this is maybe where it starts.  And I think what we‘re seeing is John McCain doing what John McCain does, whether he‘s running for president or not.  And I think for Hillary Clinton to try and slide this under the rug or say this is not the time to play politics makes her look weak. 

CARLSON:  Well, this is time to play politics.  We‘re less than a month before a political election, before the midterm election.  The latest polls...

JACOBUS:  It‘s just after North Korea allegedly did some tests. 

CARLSON:  No, of course.  I mean, look—yes.

JACOBUS:  I think it‘s perfectly appropriate for the Senators to be commenting on this, and I don‘t think that anybody can say, “Well, this is just because John McCain is looking to run for president.”  This is John McCain.  This is the guy we know.

CARLSON:  I agree with that.  I just—you know, look, politicians play politics.  That‘s what they do.  And so whenever they come out there and go now is not the time to play politics, that‘s kind of your job. 

Speaking of politics, the latest polls show Democrats, huge lead in the race for controlling Congress.  We were just talking, Peter Fenn and I, about this.  A lot of Democrats I know are convinced their party somehow is going to screw it up.

Cheri Jacobus, taking, you know—step outside for a second of your partisan affiliation.  Do you think honestly that there‘s any chance that Democrats won‘t prevail, won‘t take one or both houses of Congress back in the midterm elections?

JACOBUS:  Republicans certainly aren‘t taking anything for granted, and certainly Democrats should not, as well.  But when you look overall at the polls, yes, it looks like Republicans are doing poorly. 

But I find it difficult to believe that an average voter out there is going to vote out somebody that they‘ve been voting for, an incumbent, which the majority of Republican incumbents, because of Mark Foley.  That‘s just not how people think. 

So speaking of stepping outside of politics, I think some of us need to step outside, mentally anyway, the Washington beltway and try and understand how real people think. 

The other difference between now and, let‘s compare this to when Republicans took over in ‘94, is that the number of competitive seats, the number of competitive seats this year in the House is far less than back then. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

JACOBUS:  So I think Republicans still have the edge in the generic ballot.  You know, you really do have to look at it case by case.  A little bit easier to try it possibly (ph) in the Senate, but not the House.

CARLSON:  Boy, you—you are rare.  I have not met many people who are saying that. 

A.B. Stoddard, what—are you sensing among Democrats, I mean, outwardly they sound very confident.  Are they in private as confident as they sound in public, or could they screw it up, do you think?

STODDARD:  I think that she‘s right, that in the end there‘s very possibly—it‘s very possible that Republican incumbents, more than we expect, you know, end up squeaking by.  And that‘s just simply because the Republicans—the incumbent retention business has been so perfected. 

You didn‘t e-mail your constituents in 1994. 

CARLSON:  Right. That‘s right.

STODDARD:  What they‘ve done ever since then, you know, with microtargeting, and get out the vote, ground operations, everything is so sophisticated now, that she‘s right, Cheri‘s right.  If you love your congressman and you‘re a little bit mad at the Congress as a whole, you know, we don‘t know how many of those incumbents will be, you know, helped in the last minute by a really good get-out-the-vote effort on the ground:

We can‘t let this guy, you know, lose his job.  Come on.  We‘re kind of mad about Iraq; we‘re kind of mad about the economy.  We‘re kind of mad about this and that. 

JACOBUS:  Yes.  People don‘t vote to send a message.  That‘s not how they think.  That‘s how we think. 

STODDARD:  But what we don‘t know is how many independents who maybe haven‘t voted in a while are coming to the polls, et cetera.  This is the problem, is that there‘s—there is sort of an angry decided vote, and those voters who have decided that the way the Congress has been run is not all right.  It is unsatisfactory. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  That if they ran their department that way, that they would get fired at their job.  Those guys are coming to the polls, and what we don‘t know now is how many of them there are.  And that will determine the outcome.

JACOBUS:  I think the biggest—the biggest unknown factor is if, actually, the Christian right will stay home or not.  You know, some of their leaders are hinting that they should. 

But you know, I think that it‘s absolutely wrong, and I don‘t think that Americans are going to respond to some so-called leader with a book or whatever saying, “Stay home.  You know, don‘t do your patriotic duty.”  Because I think these folks that they‘ve had a very important impact on American policy in the past decade. 

CARLSON:  Right.  You‘re talking about the Foley scandal. 

JACOBUS:  Well, yes.  But in terms of we‘re looking at control of the House and Senate...

CARLSON:  Right.

JACOBUS:  ... and I don‘t think people are really in the end going to stay home because one person says it‘s their moral duty.  I think people think it‘s their patriotic duty and moral duty to vote.  They‘ve had an impact in the past.

CARLSON:  Really?

JACOBUS:  I don‘t think they‘ll want to give up there. 

CARLSON:  Let me just say—let me just in very, very quick defense of not voting, I mean, sometimes there‘s no one good to vote for.  I enjoy not voting when I don‘t understand the issues under consideration or I don‘t like anyone running. 

JACOBUS:  I think you need to work on that, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I loved not voting in the last election. 

Well, this is one of the issues upon which people will be voting or not, is of course, the Foley scandal.  House Speaker Denny Hastert today vowed to fire any staffers who covered up that e-mail scandal. 

GOP Congressman Jim Kolbe is a member of the board that oversees the House page program, reportedly learned of memos from Foley to a former page way back in 2000.  It‘s unclear still if Kolbe forwarded the complaint from this page to House leaders. 

Earlier today Hastert addressed Kolbe‘s role in this very messy situation.  Here‘s what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), HOUSE SPEAKER:  He was on the page board.  That was his—in a sense his job to do that, that confrontation.  I don‘t know anything more about it.  If it‘s something that was of a nature that should have been reported or brought forward, then he should have done that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  So A.B. Stoddard, here‘s what I don‘t get.  Everyone‘s jumping on Foley.  I‘m not defending him Foley.  The guy‘s a creep, obviously. 

However, Kolbe, it turns out, was inviting pages, underage male pages, to spend the night at his house.  He says he wasn‘t there at the time.  But he still invited these kids to stay at their house, and he still had knowledge of, apparently, sexually explicit e-mails from his colleague, Foley.  Nobody‘s jumping on him for that.  Why is that?

STODDARD:  Well, I think Denny Hastert just hung him out to dry, but as well he should. 

CARLSON:  Nobody‘s mentioned the fact that he invited these kids to spend the night at his house.  He is a Republican.

STODDARD:  Tucker, we can‘t—we can‘t open up another page scandal right now.  OK?  With Jim Kolbe.  I mean, Jim Kolbe‘s retiring, and now people are going to hang him out to dry.  And as I said, maybe they should, because there‘s conflicting press accounts, actually, today about whether or not Kolbe knew that the e-mails were sexually explicit or not. 

But that said, I don‘t know how these members conduct their mano-a-mano confrontations in the chamber.  I know often during debate, for the C-SPAN viewers, they you know, come off the floor and punch each other. 

But these sort of—the fact that Jim Kolbe would find out about

these e-mails and not—even if he didn‘t know they were sexually explicit

and not make a concerted attempt to get this matter investigated is really strange to me.  “And my office told his office, but I didn‘t actually talk to him myself.”  I mean, that I don‘t understand, and that‘s really surprising to me. 

CARLSON:  And nobody seems to care.  See, Cheri Jacobus, that‘s what I don‘t get.  Nobody cares.  It‘s like...

JACOBUS:  Well, this is relatively new information.  I think people do care.  And...

CARLSON:  Well, I care. 

JACOBUS:  ... Speaker Hastert—Speaker Hastert has said anybody involved, any member involved in this would be asked to resign, just as Foley was. 

But you know, as you mentioned, you know, Kolbe is leaving anyway, so there‘s nothing that anybody can do.  If he were running for re-election, I think that he would be asked by his party leaders to step aside.

STODDARD:  Yes.  Definitely.

JACOBUS:  And that would be the correct thing to do.

CARLSON:  I‘ve never invited...

JACOBUS:  So that‘s probably why it‘s not a huge scandal, because there‘s nothing that can happen to him now. 

CARLSON:  I just think it‘s—I think it‘s pretty weird to invite underage pages to spend the night at your house.  I‘m sorry, you know.  Call me a right-wing maniac or whatever.

STODDARD:  They were dog sitting or something, I‘m sure. 

CARLSON:  Thank you both very much.  I appreciate it.

STODDARD:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  Coming up, why Al Sharpton is blasting Joe Lieberman for race beating.  The reverend himself joins us to explain when we come right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time for a look at today‘s stories I just don‘t get. 

First, a school of thought about teaching American kids about Islam. 

This could be a scene right out of Nico (ph), Oregon, where junior high school kids can actually earn extra credit by dressing like a Muslim, whatever that means.  It‘s all part of a so-called history lesson, but the course is raising eyebrows among parents, because it assigns students to learn Islamic prayers, study Ramadan, and behave as Muslims do. 

A district superintendent says they‘re supplemental school activities, but one civil rights attorney points out that such a curriculum wouldn‘t last 10 seconds if it were Christianity being taught, which is self-evidently true. 

What is it about American liberals that see something so threatening about evangelical Christianity and yet fail to see the threat about evangelical Islam?  Normal people see the difference instantly. 

Well, next, the latest salvo in the ongoing border war of words. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We‘re sending a clear signal that we‘re a nation of law, and laws will be enforced.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

CARLSON:  That clear signal turns out to be a 700-mile fence that may possibly divide the U.S. and Mexico.  President Bush gave the green light for the $1 billion project last week, despite strong objections from Mexican government officials. 

So now Mexicans‘ government is taking its case to the United Nations.  The nation‘s foreign secretary claims American immigration policy is being used to bolster Republican support for the upcoming midterm elections. 

And maybe it is, and maybe that‘s a domestic American political matter that is no business of the Mexican government‘s.  And maybe it‘s no business of the United Nations, either.  And maybe this country, as every country, has a right to control its own borders.  And maybe Mexico should learn that. 

And finally, a heated dust-up between the Rev. Al Sharpton and embattled Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman. 

Sharpton claims the Connecticut lawmaker is undermining relations between blacks and Jews just to get re-elected.  The rift between the two former political friends stems from Sharpton‘s alliance with Lieberman opponent Ned Lamont. 

Lieberman, who lost to Lamont in the Democratic primary earlier this year, criticized that alliance, while suggesting that Lamont‘s support for Israel is questionable. 

In a strongly worded letter Sharpton fired back.  He accused Lieberman of inciting race-based hysteria to salvage his political career. 

Joining me now to explain what exactly is going on, from New York, the Reverend Al Sharpton. 

Rev, thanks for joining us.  What is—I thought you and Lieberman were friends.  I thought he wanted you to endorse him.  What happened?

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST:  Well, I thought we were friends, too.  He did call me, asked for my endorsement.  I said, because he and I disagree on issues like the war, I couldn‘t, endorsed his opponent, and apparently was very helpful to his opponent. 

And then all of a sudden we are told by a “New York Times” story that he goes to a meeting with Jewish leaders and fundraisers, and says, “Isn‘t that a remarkable moment for our community when we look up and see Maxine Waters, the congresswoman from California, and Al Sharpton standing with Ned Lamont?”

It‘s sort of a wink-wink that, you know, he‘s with people that are not with us.  I think this is an absolute outrage. 

CARLSON:  Excuse me, excuse me.  What is that—I mean, be a lot more specific.  What does that mean, people who are not with us?  I mean...

SHARPTON:  Well, if you read the “New York Times” article, they say, the inference was that Ms. Waters as a congresswoman had not been supportive of Israel, and that there was some controversy with me and members of the Jewish community. 

I think that what is disingenuous about that is Lieberman did not see this as such a remarkable moment when I campaigned for him to be vice president in 2000 all over the country.  He didn‘t see it as a remarkable moment when he and I were mutually very friendly during the 2004 race. 

He was standing at the fundraiser with Mayor Ed Koch, who makes many appearances with me and Dr. Charles Overtree (ph) on the Second Chance program for nonviolent criminal offenders that we both—that we three worked together on. 

So to try and bait it in a disingenuous way because people opposed you, and to try to stroke some kind of division here, I think is outrageous.  And I think that it‘s also my responsibility to call him out on it. 

CARLSON:  But it‘s also—I mean, Maxine Waters, I think it‘s fair to say, is anti-Israel.  I don‘t think—you‘re not anti-Israel, are you?

SHARPTON:  Well, I don‘t think Maxine Waters is anti-Israel.

CARLSON:  Well, I think she is.

SHARPTON:  I think Maxine Waters has taken some positions that explain it.  But he had no problem accepting Maxine Waters‘ support in 2000. 

What I‘m saying is that if you want to condemn Maxine Waters or Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, you have a right to do that.  What you don‘t do is then, when you want them and they will support you, you are reaching out.  And when your opponent wants them and they decide because of the war...

CARLSON:  Right.

SHARPTON:  ... I‘m not in the race, then all of a sudden it becomes a remarkable moment. 

CARLSON:  I agree.  It‘s pretty disgusting, actually.  Now they‘re saying—I want to read you a line—I‘m sure you‘ve seen it—in “The New York Daily News” today.  This is what Mr. Lieberman‘s spokesman says.  Your letter complaining about all this “is a baseless extreme and divisive attack from one of Ned Lamont‘s closest advisors.” 

Are you one of his closest advisors?

SHARPTON:  I mean—here we go again.  I‘ve advised Joe Lieberman more than I‘ve ever advised Ned Lamont.  I advised...

CARLSON:  Are you one of Joe Lieberman‘s closest advisors, would you say?

SHARPTON:  I have given a lot more advice to Joe Lieberman than I have to Lamont.  So again, they‘re trying to play this fear game, this Willie Hornton strategy.  And it‘s really beneath who America thought Joe Lieberman was.

CARLSON:  Now, when you‘re not running the Ned Lamont campaign, you‘re at Barbra Streisand concerts, apparently.  You told me a minute ago you were there last night.  For our viewers who haven‘t seen this—well, actually, if you wouldn‘t mind, Rev, explain what happened at the Barbra Streisand show you were at last night. 

SHARPTON:  I went to see Barbra Streisand.  I‘m a great fan of Barbra Streisand.  She‘s from Brooklyn, you know, and not only do I politically agree but she‘s one of the greatest artists that ever was.  And she invited me along with a host of other people. 

And she does a part in the show about President Bush that is really comedy.  It‘s really comedy.  It‘s theater.  And well, some guy in the audience didn‘t like it, and he heckled.  And you know, she kept going on with the show.  And finally, she started singing again, and he heckled again.  And she gave him a great Brooklyn expression of gratitude. 

CARLSON:  “Shut the ‘F‘ up,” she said.  Is that correct?

SHARPTON:  That‘s what she said, and the audience loved it.  I mean, this is New York.  She‘s from Brooklyn.  And she let him know that she may be the great icon and the great diva, but still a Brooklyn girl.  And when she‘s ready to move on, she‘s ready to move on with her show. 

CARLSON:  I mean, she sounds so exquisitely horrible.  It‘s hard even

look, let me put it this way.  I‘ve seen you preach a number of times. 

When you preach a sermon on a Sunday, believe it or not, our audience maybe won‘t even believe, but you don‘t even throw that much in the way of politics in.  You kind of give your sermon. 

Don‘t you think she‘s got an obligation to her audience to shut up about her dumb political beliefs and sing your song?

SHARPTON:  Absolutely not.  I think that she has an obligation to be Barbra, and her politics is part of her.  And it was done as theater; it was done as comedy. 

I‘ve gone to a lot of shows where things like that was done.  And I think if you don‘t agree with her, you know that‘s theater.  You know it‘s Barbra Streisand before you come. 

I think the audience wanted somebody to curse this guy out.  Everybody had come to see Barbra, not to hear a guy who knew when he came in that Barbra Streisand doesn‘t like Bush.  So the nerve of him.  He got what he deserved. 

CARLSON:  Well, wait a second.  You‘ve been heckled—I mean, you‘ve been heckled probably like nobody else in American history has been heckled.  You get heckled all the time.  Do you scream, “Shut the ‘F‘ up”?

SHARPTON:  No, I don‘t.  But after Barbra, maybe I‘ll take a new leaf. 

CARLSON:  I hope I‘m there to see it.  The Reverend Al Sharpton. 

SHARPTON:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Advisor to Ned Lamont, fan of Barbra Streisand.  Thanks a lot.

SHARPTON:  Well, I‘m advisor to Joe Lieberman.  I advise him to retire; do America favor. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, Rev. 

SHARPTON:  All right.

CARLSON:  Coming up, bonjour Borat.  Sacha Baron Cohen brings his film to Paris with predictably hilarious results.  That story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Time for the “Final Roundup”.  Willie Geist on vacation somewhere.  Sitting in today, our friend and his, MSNBC executive Bill Wolff. 

Did you hear—did you hear what the Rev Sharpton said about Barbra Streisand?  Were you there, too?

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC EXECUTIVE:  As a matter of fact, I was.  There was so much to take away from that, Tucker.  First of all, if the Reverend Al is into Barbra Streisand, I may have to give her a second look. 

No. 2, James Brolin is such a lucky man on so many levels.  Of course, he is Mr. Barbra Streisand. 

No. 3, it seems to me that Babs failed to ask the first question when heckled that everyone should ask, and that is, what would Yentl do?

CARLSON:  What would—I don‘t think Yentl would say, “Shut the ‘F‘ up.” 

WOLFF:  Well, that‘s what I‘m saying.  I thought it was a misstep.  I mean, it showed sort of bad form, you know.  Have a little bit of a sense of humor about yourself, Babs. 

CARLSON:  She is so exquisitely awful.  If she didn‘t exist, the Republican Party would have to create her.  And in fact, I think they have created her.  I don‘t think she‘s real.

WOLFF:  I think she‘s real, and I think she‘s wonderful.  Again, Jimmy Brolin, lucky guy. 

But there‘s other news in the world of lighten up, Tucker.  The world‘s leading super genius, that‘s Sacha Baron Cohen, also known as Borat, has taken his campaign for Kazakhstan, against Uzbekistan, to comedy‘s last bastian, France. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SACHA BARON COHEN, COMEDIAN:  Hello.  Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and prostitutes.  Very nice.  How much?  I have five dollars (ph).

Premier Bush is a very wise man but not only this.  He is very strong. 

Although perhaps not as strong as his father Barbara. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOLFF:  Tucker, no matter your political stripe, I think everyone agrees that the world right now, given all the bad news, needs a hero, and I nominate Borat.  He is the greatest of all time.  I‘ve never seen anything like him.  I cannot wait for that movie to come out. 

CARLSON:  It‘s actually just when, you know, comedy itself has gotten kind of tiresome, he is a total genius.  I completely agree with that.  He makes fermented horse urine sound good. 

WOLFF:  He‘s fantastic.  I also remarked on the tepid response of the French.  The way to go, France, is either to be totally offended, making it even funnier, or uproarious laughter.  The tepid, sort of polite laughter, come on, France.  You can do better than that.

Tucker, I missed the top of the show.  Busy doing some middle managing.  So I assume this is just a recap of your lead story.  America‘s favorite landscaper, that‘s right, runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks has sued her ex-fiance, John Mason, for $500,000. 

Now, as I assume you and some member of Congress discussed, she wants $250,000 for her half of the house she says he bought with the money they got selling her heart-warming story of cold feet.  Two fifty in punitive damages.

She also wants back a ladder that belonged to her father, a gold-colored sofa, a new vacuum cleaner and wedding shower gifts. 

It seems to me three things.  No. 1, she‘s available. 

No. 2, she is about to come into some cash and merchandise.

And No. 3, a gold couch?  Classy. 

CARLSON:  Don‘t marry her.  The great Bill Wolff.  Thank you, Bill.

WOLFF:  My pleasure.

CARLSON:  See you tomorrow.

Thanks for watching.  “HARDBALL” with Chris up next.  See you tomorrow.

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