updated 11/16/2006 12:04:03 PM ET 2006-11-16T17:04:03

Guests: Jim Moran, Rich Masters, Michael Graham, Jennifer Palmieri, Tom Tancredo

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

We‘re in Los Angeles, still, and I‘m preparing for the encore performance tonight on “Dancing with the Stars.”  More on that later.

But first, our top story of the day, the contest for the post of House majority leader.  Jack Murtha and Steny Hoyer are the Emmitt Smith and Mario Lopez of Capitol Hill, but they can‘t dance around the fact this race is getting ugly. 

Last night, Murtha reportedly said ethics reform is “total crap.”  That‘s after he charged the other side has been “swift-boating” him with ethics questions.

Meanwhile, Steny Hoyer has been responding to charges that he is taking George W. Bush‘s position on the war in Iraq.

So will the first item on the Democrats‘ “to do” list be fracture the party? 

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

Mike, what‘s the latest?

MIKE VIQUEIRA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, you‘re right, Tucker.  It was last night that John Murtha went to address the Blue Dog Democrats.  That‘s a group of 44 fiscally conservative Democrats, considered to be a very vital voting bloc as they are near the center of the political spectrum here in a closely-divided Congress. 

Murtha was campaigning and he was talking to the Blue Dogs, asking for their support in his bid to oust Steny Hoyer as the number two Democrat in the House and become the majority leader.  When they have elections, the Democrats will—the Democratic Caucus meets tomorrow, just next to me here, as a matter of fact, to elect their new leaders.  Nancy Pelosi expected to be nominated by acclimation to be the next speaker of the House.

But, in that address to the Blue Dogs, Murtha said that in his opinion ethics reform is “total crap” and the only reason he is going to  support it is because Nancy—meaning his friend Nancy Pelosi—is asking him to. 

Now, Pelosi, of course, ran over the past year on the culture of corruption and cronyism.  That charge hurled at Republicans and apparently stuck as many voters coming out of the voting booth talking to exit pollers say corruption was right up there with Iraq as one of the most important issues. 

Now, Hoyer and Murtha have continued to go at it over who favors phased redeployment and withdrawal from Iraq and who doesn‘t.  Both men have signed letters, three letters since last summer, saying that they both favor a phased redeployment and oppose a stay-the-course strategy, although Murtha says he‘s much more strongly firmly in the camp of bringing them home. 

He was first out of the box, changed the debate.  He is credited with changing the debate on Iraq when he came out several months ago with Pelosi and insisted on a withdrawal to begin by the end of this year.

So, it goes down to the wire here.  It‘s a secret vote, Tucker.  Nobody knows who‘s going to vote for whom.

These commitments don‘t mean a lot when they get behind those closed doors.  Several people have told me, candidates who have been this before, say the only person you can trust in a race like this is the person who looks you in the eye and says, “I‘m not voting for you.”

Hoyer is considered the favorite, but we won‘t know until early tomorrow morning when the votes are counted—Tucker. 

CARLSON:  So—but, Mike, judging from the public commitments—you know, these guys always brag about how many votes they have sewn up—who is leading? 

VIQUEIRA:  Well, Hoyer claims that he has got enough to win.  He‘s been saying that all along.

Murtha has not made that claim yet, but Nancy Pelosi came out Sunday night and she backed her longtime friend and ally of 20 years, John Murtha, for the post.  They are very close.  They would seem to be ideological opposites, as well as being from—being from opposite ends of the country.  Murtha, of course, from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and Pelosi from San Francisco.

But they made fast friends some 20 years ago in the Appropriations Committee.  Murtha has backed Pelosi in her own leadership campaigns and those of other Pelosi allies.  And therefore, a lot of people are not discounting Murtha as the next majority leader because he has that backing.  Pelosi is working on Murtha‘s behalf. 

It‘s open to question just how hard she is working, whether she‘s—she has a lot to do these days as incoming speaker.  But there‘s no question that her surrogates are also working on Murtha‘s behalf.  We don‘t know how it‘s going to turn out.  Hoyer still has to be considered the favorite, though—Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Interesting. 

Mike Viqueira on the Hill.

Thanks a lot, Mike. 

VIQUEIRA:  Certainly.

CARLSON:  Well, ethics questions about Jack Murtha date back to the ABSCAM sting in the early 1980s when the congressman was caught on tape meeting with undercover FBI agents who claim they represented a bribe-offering Arab sheikh. 

Here‘s what happened. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I got—I went out and I got $50,000.  OK?  From what you‘re telling me—OK—you‘re telling me that that‘s not what—you know, that that‘s not what...

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  I‘m not interested, sorry. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.

MURTHA:  At this point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.

MURTHA:  You know, we do business for a while, maybe I‘ll be interested, maybe I won‘t.  You know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I‘m not interested.  At this point.  That was then.  Now Murtha has got Nancy Pelosi‘s support for the post of House majority leader. 

My next guest says, “This is hardball politics.  We‘re entering an era when, when the speaker instructs you to do it, you do it.”

Joining me now, Congressman Jim Moran, a friend of Jack Murtha‘s, joining us from Washington. 

Congressman, thanks for coming on.

REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA:  You bet, Tucker.  Good to be with you.

CARLSON:  It sound like when the incoming speaker of the House tells you to do it, you don‘t necessarily do it, since Steny Hoyer is ahead.  But what do you—what do you make of this?  I mean, is this—is this wise for a party that‘s running on ethics reform to nominate Jack Murtha?

MORAN:  Jack Murtha is a man of integrity.  He loves this institution.  And what he was referring to is—and, of course, he‘s a plainspoken guy.  This was a private meeting, although some of Mr. Hoyer‘s supporters chose to put this in a context that was damaging to Mr. Murtha.

But the fact is that he was referring to the fact that we need to have legislation to make members do the right thing.  He doesn‘t believe that—what Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney and Jack Abramoff‘s dealings are reflective of the Congress.  That those were aberrations, and they‘re being punished because they broke the law.

We—so we‘re going to do an ethics bill to take care of situations that were illegal and should be prosecuted.  He loves this institution...

CARLSON:  Well, I actually think he‘s got a good point. 

MORAN:  ... and he respects its members.

CARLSON:  I‘m on—actually, I‘m on his side.  And I like Jack Murtha, and I would be glad to see him get the job.  And I‘m not attacking him personally.

On the other hand, Democrats ran successfully on the idea that if elected, they would put through tougher ethics restrictions, make these rules stronger.  Isn‘t it really sort of hypocritical to the point of parody that a man who thinks the new ethic rules are “crap” would be the first guy to get promoted in a Democratic House? 

MORAN:  You know, there is a difference between passing legislation that gives the perception of reform and making sure that members obey the law and act with integrity, and in the kind of ethics that their constituents expect of them.  Mr. Murtha is going to demand that every member of the House act ethically. 

That is his determination.  And—but once we—once he is majority leader, he will implement Speaker Pelosi‘s intent to put that intent into legislation because it‘s a reassurance that many of your colleagues in the media and many of the groups around the country want.  So we‘ll put it into law, but Mr. Murtha doesn‘t think it needs to be law.  He‘s going to enforce it himself to make sure that members do the right thing. 

CARLSON:  So, do Democrats often support legislation they think is total crap?  Is that kind of—that kind of the way it works when you‘re a Democrat?

MORAN:  Oh, Tucker, you‘ve been up here a long time.

CARLSON:  Just—wait.  Now, hold on, Congressman.

MORAN:  You know the answer to that. 

CARLSON:  You just said...

MORAN:  We wouldn‘t use that term.

CARLSON:  ... he thinks it‘s total crap but he‘s for it.

MORAN:  But we do—we do a lot of things, you know, because we know the perception and—that it‘s going to have.  And perception has its own reality, particularly in the political sphere.

But the fact is that he doesn‘t think we should—we need laws to make people do the right thing.  People should do the right thing.  If they don‘t do the right thing, then they should be held accountable.  And Mr.  Cunningham and all of Mr. Abramoff‘s dealings, those people have been held accountable. 

Mr. Abramoff is now starting a prison term.  And that‘s the way it should be.

CARLSON:  Well, wait—what about—OK.  But what about Mr. Murtha?

You just saw the incredibly damning FBI tape.  He was an unindicted co-conspirator in ABSCAM.  You saw him say I‘m not interested at this point. 

He went on to say—we didn‘t show this, but here‘s what he said—“I expect to be in the f-ing leadership of the House.  And if you‘ve got anything said about you then, you‘ve got a problem.”

In other words, I‘d take your bribe but we‘ve got to be cool about it because, you know, I might be a big guy some day.

How do you—how do you explain that? 

MORAN:  Well, I talked to him about it, and he said that—he made it clear, “I‘m not interested.  I don‘t want your money.”  I didn‘t want—you know, he didn‘t want to—he wanted to be diplomatic, and he didn‘t know whether these people might be legitimate or not.  But he wasn‘t interested...

CARLSON:  Why would you be diplomatic with someone is trying to bribe you?

MORAN:  ... taking any money from them.  Huh?

CARLSON:  Why would you be diplomatic—why would you be diplomatic with someone trying to subvert the American system of democracy, A?  And B, why didn‘t he call the cops immediately? 

MORAN:  There were—there were other members involved, I guess.  And you know, he tries to give people the benefit of the doubt.  But the fact is, he wasn‘t interested.

And, you know, the FBI did find three members who were interested.  He was targeted.  That made him a co-conspirator, which is the term they apply.  But when you‘re unindicted, it means they don‘t even have charges to pursue an investigation.  That‘s what it means.

If you‘re indicted, they have sufficient charges to look further into the matter, leading possibly towards prosecution.  There wasn‘t even anything to—there weren‘t—anything that they could pursue in terms of charges, so the FBI dropped it.  That‘s what unindicted means.

CARLSON:  OK.

MORAN:  So, you k now, he was cleared.  And for 26 years he‘s dealt with this, and I think that he has shown by all of his actions that he loves this institution, he loves his constituents.  But most importantly, he loves his country.  He‘s devoted his life to this country.

CARLSON:  All right.

MORAN:  And we‘re proud of him.

CARLSON:  But he doesn‘t love the ethics bill.  It‘s total crap.  I love that.  I like the guy.

Thank you very much, Congressman.

MORAN:  He doesn‘t like superficial stuff.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Congressman.  I appreciate it.

MORAN:  OK, Tucker.  Sure.

CARLSON:  Still to come, the top general in the Middle East finds himself in the hot seat over Iraq.  What did he say in a fiery exchange with John McCain? 

We‘ll have that.

And Trent Lott‘s comeback.  He lost his leadership post four years ago over charges of racism.  Now he is the minority whip.  Smart move for the GOP?

That story in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  I regret deeply that you seem to think that the status quo and the rate of progress we‘re making is acceptable.  I think most Americans do not. 

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, CENTCOM COMMANDER:  Well, Senator, I agree with you, the status quo is not acceptable.  And I don‘t believe what I‘m saying here today is the status quo. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was General John Abizaid and Senator John McCain doing battle over the war in Iraq in hearings today before the Senate Armed Services Committee.  The new Democratic Congress promises to put pressure on the White House to change course in Iraq, but do the Democrats themselves have a plan, an exit strategy?

Most Americans believe they don‘t.  That‘s according to the latest AP-Ipsos poll.

So what should the Democrats do about Iraq? 

Joining me to answer that, Democratic strategist Rich Masters.

Rich, welcome.

Before I get to that, I just—I want to take—since you live in Washington, you‘ve been around a while, run campaigns, lobbying, you‘re in this world, I just want to know what you think of this remarkable meltdown taking place on Capitol Hill, this Steny Hoyer-Jack Murtha fight.  I mean, Democrats just won about 15 minutes ago.  They should be enjoying the fruits of their victory, and instead they‘re murdering each other.

What‘s that about? 

RICH MASTERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I mean, you know, listen, democracy and sometimes the inner workings of Congress is kind of an ugly thing.  This will be all over tomorrow, Tucker.  I mean, you know, this is part of the growing pains when a party continues to grow. 

I mean, there was—on the Republican side there was—in the Senate today—there was another fight that was internal as to who would be the whip.  Trent Lott, who left in disgrace as the majority leader, has now come back.  So you could say the same thing is happening. 

These leadership fights are very interesting for all of us here who have microphone—you know, looking through the microscope at what‘s going on in Capitol Hill.  But I think the general public doesn‘t pay much attention.  Come on.

CARLSON:  Oh, I would tend to agree with that completely, and these things are kind of an obsession in Washington and of limited interest outside, accept for this: Democrats won partly because—I would say largely because they said “We‘re the ethical party.”  This is the corrupt party, it‘s been in power too long, we‘re going to replace them and we‘re not going to cheat you.

The very first week after taking power you‘ve got tape of Jack Murtha in ABSCAM.  I mean, it‘s exactly counter to the message Democrats wanted to get out.

MASTERS:  Well, you‘re right.  I mean, from a—from a messaging standpoint, this is not—it‘s not leading with our best shot, quite frankly.  But listen, we don‘t know what the vote is going to be tomorrow.  And the other flip side to that is one of the reasons I think Democrats won was because Americans were fed up with the situation in Iraq.

And like it or not, Jack Murtha capsulized Democratic opinion on that, galvanized that.  And as a war hero, as someone respected in the Pentagon, he helped to drive that debate better than any Democrat did. 

So, he‘s now claiming that since the war on Iraq, I have a rightful claim to run on this.  We don‘t know what the votes are going to be, we don‘t know how the Democratic caucus is going to be.

Clearly—I‘m a message guy, and starting off with this message is not ideal.  But again, it depends on how the elections turn out as to how long this goes. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t even get the message, though.  I don‘t get the message.

I mean, I understand the message during the campaign was Bush has screwed it up in Iraq.  And I think most people agree with that.  I certainly do.

MASTERS:  Right.

CARLSON:  It didn‘t cause me to vote Democratic, but I agree with that message. 

Now, it seems to me, a need for a new message, which is here‘s what we do next.  And there is a great—a great way to go until the Democrats come to a consensus on that.  What is the Democratic position on that?  I don‘t know—I don‘t know what it is.

MASTERS:  Well, I‘m glad you asked, Tucker.  I mean, part of the problem of being in the minority like the Democrats have been for the last six years is that you really don‘t have a megaphone to really talk about your plans.  But Democrats agree on several different points.

Now, are there disagreements on how you get from point A to point B?  Yes. 

But they agree that we need to start redeploying our troops. 

We need to set whether you call it a deadline or whether you call it benchmarks, whether you call it checkmarks.  It doesn‘t matter.

Let‘s look, Tucker, at one of the things that has worked in Iraq.  When we put a deadline on elections in Iraq, guess what happened?  The elections came off.  And because we gave a deadline certain that no one could back off of. 

And so I think that just the election of a Democratic Congress has said to the Iraqi government that the United States is not going to have this open-ended status quo engagement.  And until we come to that point—so Democrats agree that we need to have a strategy to move out.  And move out not too soon.  We don‘t want to leave it in chaos. 

So we need to pressure the Iraqi government to have a political solution, whether that‘s, as Joe Biden suggests, we break it like—like we did in the Balkans, where we broke it up into...

CARLSON:  OK.  OK.  That‘s not a position. 

MASTERS:  It is a position, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I mean, with all due respect—no it‘s not.  It‘s, we‘ve got to pull our troops out at some point. 

I mean, that‘s—that‘s like, you know, children are our future.  It‘s—it doesn‘t mean anything.  Everybody agrees with it. 

Like, what is the plan?  How is that going to happen?  When?   

MASTERS:  Well, I think, first of all, you‘re already seeing because Democrats were elected—the president was reading the polls—the appointment of the Baker and Hamilton commission, a bipartisan commission, is basically going to give cover for the—for the president and the administration to do what they should have been doing and what Democrats suggested they did a long time, and that is setting up a timetable, a way to withdraw.  Because if we don‘t put deadlines on the Iraqi leadership and Iraqi security forces, they are never going to step up to the plate—

Tucker. 

CARLSON:  All right.  We will see.

MASTERS:  We will see.

CARLSON:  We‘re about to find out, because they are pulling out.  Not redeploying, but withdrawing.  Whatever.

Rich Masters, thanks. 

MASTERS:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Coming up, the Democrats aren‘t the only ones facing discord in the ranks.  Will conservatives rebel over Mel Martinez‘ move to the top spot at the Republican National Committee?

And President Bush makes his first trip abroad since his party‘s electoral rebuke last week.  Has he lost the respect of foreign leaders, and do we care?

That story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TRENT LOTT ®, INCOMING MINORITY WHIP:  I am going to shock you by starting off with the right frame of mind.  I defer on this occasion to our leader, and we will work together with him talking about substance more later. 

The spotlight belongs on him.

QUESTION:   But Senator, do you feel vindicated by the outcome of today? 

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, INCOMING MINORITY LEADER:  Why don‘t we—unless you want to...

LOTT:  No.

MCCONNEL:  Yes. 

Thanks.  Talks to you later. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Trent Lott may not want to talk about a comeback, but that‘s exactly what today‘s vote represents.

Meanwhile, many conservatives are up in arms over the selection of Senator Mel Martinez to head the Republican National Committee.

So was either development good news for the Republican Party?

Joining me now to talk about that, Michael Graham, host of “The Natural Truth,” 96.9 FM talk in Boston.

Michael, welcome. 

What do you think, first off, of the comeback of Trent Lott? 

MICHAEL GRAHAM, HOST, “THE NATURAL TRUTH”:  Well, first of all, in full disclosure because of Trent Lott‘s relationship with him, I was the only Republican political consultant to run a primary challenger against Strom Thurmond and lived to tell the tale.  So I was up close and personal.

And Trent Lott is to race relations what Jack Murtha is to ethics.  And that‘s why I am amazed watching this.  It‘s like the two parties are trying to out-dumb each other before the new session begins. 

I thought Nancy Pelosi, by the way, was going to have—show some leadership, some brains, be smart.  And to stick Jack Murtha in this early when—once again, he raises the issue of Democrats and their, you know, tradition of, you know, let‘s say, ethical challenges when they had power.  And then he also whips up the moveon.org crows.  He reminds normal voters who don‘t pay a lot of attention, oh, those kooks got what they wanted, didn‘t they? 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, wait, wait, wait.  But back to what you said, Trent Lott—

I mean, I‘ve never seen any evidence that Trent Lott is a racist.  And what has Trent Lott done...

GRAHAM:  Oh, absolutely.  I mean, first of all—wait, wait, wait.

Trent Lott ran and worked on campaigns in 1964, openly avowed (ph) racist. 

Not a surprise in America...

CARLSON:  In when?  In when?

GRAHAM:  In the 1960s.  And I agree with you.  But this is what Trent Lott never did. 

CARLSON:  That‘s 42 years ago.  OK.

GRAHAM:  He never said, “I was wrong.”  He never said, “You know what?  The attitudes I grew up with were the wrong attitudes,” which is why he had no defense when he said of Strom Thurmond that America would have been better off if this...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Jeez, I don‘t know.  I mean, you could say the same about every man over 60 in—you know, south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

I mean, I don‘t know.

GRAHAM:  Well, look, I‘m from South Carolina, I grew up in South Carolina.

CARLSON:  Right.

GRAHAM:  I got chased around and beaten up and called names by these people in South Carolina.  And the moment—the reason Trent Lott had no defense is he never had the moment where he said, “I was wrong.  Oops, I get it.” 

That world view that America had in the 1960s and particularly in the South, 1960s, was wrong.  And so he had no way to defend himself from it when he made his bonehead... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I thought he basically joined the NAACP, put on a dishiki (ph) and celebrated Kwanzaa, as far as I remember.  He was up there being blacker than thou.  I mean, I don‘t know if we‘re talking about the same guy.

GRAHAM:  After—after he said if only America had had a Dixiecrat segregationist president? 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I mean, I don‘t know.

GRAHAM:  You mean after that?  Yes, he said anything.

But here‘s the good news about Trent Lott.

CARLSON:  Yes?

GRAHAM:  There is a tiny bit of good news.  He‘s smart at politics, at the actual workings inside the Senate.

Bill Frist was a disaster.  He could not make the Senate work.

Now there are two smart people.  Mitch McConnell is great, Trent Lott is smart but evil.  And so, you‘ve got—you know, you‘ve got a good one-two punch for making the Senate actually work.

CARLSON:  And what about the new head of the RNC, Senator Mel Martinez?  Conservatives are upset because he‘s a liberal on immigration.  So is the president, for that matter.

He is a liberal across the board?  It doesn‘t matter? 

GRAHAM:  Frank Luntz—Frank Luntz did polling of switchers, people who had voted Republican and switched to Democrat this year.  The number one reason they switched, illegal immigration.

Mel Martinez opened borders and amnesty for all.  He‘s going to put his seal on President—the one thing President Bush will probably accomplish this session, abandoning border security and opening the borders and giving amnesty to immigration criminals who are already here.

Mel Martinez is going to lead that fight.  The good news, apparently, though, is he‘s mostly going to be giving speeches.  They‘re going to kind of define the job of the RNC up.

CARLSON:  Right.

GRAHAM:  So he may just be a cheerleader out there.  I hope so, because every time he touches policy it goes in the wrong direction. 

CARLSON:  Why would they—why would they choose, whoever makes these decisions, these secret, you know, panel of Republicans hidden somewhere in Washington, why would they choose a serving politician?  I mean, this is a job that takes...

GRAHAM:  Well, first of all...

CARLSON:  ... a lot of time.

GRAHAM:  ... George Bush chose Mel Martinez.

CARLSON:  Right.

GRAHAM:  This is who Bush wanted.  That‘s how it happened.

Bush—Mel Martinez was in HUD.  President Bush asked him to run for the U.S. Senate down in Florida. 

Mel did as he was asked.  You know, he‘s a team player.  And, you know, he‘s on the team now.

But here‘s the—once again, the weakness of having Trent Lott with his baggage, reinforcing an image of the Republican Party, fair or unfair, that people already have, is that you have—all of a sudden, you need a Mel Martinez to say to the American people that there is not a race problem or race issue or whatever inside the Republican Party.  Trent Lott raises issues that don‘t have to be there if you leave him on the back bench in Mississippi, where he belongs.

CARLSON:  God, this country has some screwed up attitudes about race, in my view.

Michael Graham, I appreciate it.  Thanks for coming on.

GRAHAM:  My pleasure.

CARLSON:  Still to come, President Bush gets advice from an unlikely source, a member of the Clinton White House.  Could it help turn around his presidency in 100 days?

We‘ll dissect it.

Also ahead, is the plan for a border fence dead?  And what will Congress do now to stop illegal immigration?

We‘ll have the latest on that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, President Bush and Vladimir Putin meet over what to do about a nuclear armed Iran.  It looks like the Democratic Congress will put the brakes on plans for a border wall.  What do we do now about illegal immigration, anything?  All that in just a minute, but right now here‘s a look at your headlines. 

MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC ANCHOR:  I‘m Margaret Brennan with your CNBC market wrap.  Another record breaker on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 33 points for an all time high of 12,251, the S&P 500 closing up more than 3 points, the NASDAQ up by a little more than 12.  US Airways shares taking flight today, up more than 16 percent after the airline announced a hostile takeover bid for bankrupt Delta Air Lines.  If approved, the $8 billion deal would create the nation‘s biggest airline.  A federal jury in New Orleans clears Merck in the 2003 heart attack of a man who was taking the painkiller Vioxx.  That makes six out of 10 trial victories for Merck, which still faces thousands of Vioxx related suits.  The last of Enron‘s former top executives is getting his punishment today.  Ex accounting chief Richard Palsey sentenced to 5 ½ years in prison.  And ousted Hewlett Packard Chair Patricia Dunn pleads not guilty to identity theft in the company‘s corporate spy scandal.  No trial date was set.  That‘s it from CNBC first in business worldwide, now back to Tucker.  

CARLSON:  President Bush is on his way to Singapore but today he made a brief stop in Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss ongoing nuclear disputes with Iran and North Korea, one of many issues putting strain on the relationship between Washington Moscow.  Joining me now with more on that NBC‘s Kevin Corke who‘s at the White House.  Kevin, what‘s the latest?

KEVIN CORKE, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, good day to you, you‘re right, obviously when it comes to Russia and its relationship with Iran, vies a vies the relationship with the U.S., it‘s a strained one because keep in mind they have a lot of ties with Iran, they do lots of business with Iran and quite frankly the Russians have made no secret about the fact that they would love to enrich uranium there and then ship it back to Iran for their own uses, presumably for energy uses and obviously not for nuclear war technology.  And so it‘s going to be difficult, a very, very difficult sell for the president to ever get Russia or even China for example to come fully onboard with the way the U.S. sees Iran.  And so that‘s always going to be delicate.  You talked about the stopover today, the president spending about 90 minutes with the president of that nation, Vladimir Putin, they had a gas and go at the airport there in Moscow.  The two gentlemen talking about a number of issues but also I should point out that they really spent a lot of time hammering on the finer details about an agreement that would allow Russia to join the World Trade Organization and that‘s huge for a burgeoning economy that they have in Moscow right now.

And speaking of economies, of course we‘re looking forward to the president‘s trip to Singapore and Vietnam and Indonesia, part of that eight day Asia trip we‘ve been talking about all week long Tucker.  And economics will be at the forefront in that particular trip too.  And they‘re going to talk about trade, but not just free trade.  You hear a lot of people talking about free trade and how does it work with the U.S. with these huge trade deficits, well the president is going to hammer home the idea of fair trade.  What that means is look, there are a number of artificial and intrinsic barriers that keep the U.S. on unequal footing with some of the emerging economies in that part of the world and so the president is expected to say, hey look, we want to keep doing business, we just want you to treat us as well as we treat you.  But you‘re right of course, the headline that all of us will be talking about is clearly what to do about the nuclear proliferation of the Korean Peninsula, the president will talk about that as well Tucker.

CARLSON:  So, Kevin, as I understand what you just said, the White House has essentially given up on getting the cooperation of Russia in our attempts to keep the Iranian nuclear program from going farther than it has gone? 

CORKE:  You will never hear them say given up but you certainly will hear privately among White House officials that look, they understand that the Russians are in a tenuous circumstance with Iran.  They are right there next to them.  They want to have an engagement with Iran because frankly they‘ve been business partners for quite some time.  This goes back decades.  And so they‘re not just going to turn their back on a trading partner, an important regional partner as well.  So while the U.S. may not get everything they‘re looking for from Vladimir Putin or the Russians in general, vies a vie, it‘s relationship with Iran, they may be able to exert pressure on Iran by working through Putin and I‘m sure President Bush tried to make that clear today. 

CARLSON:  Kevin Corke at the White House.  Thanks a lot Kevin.

CORKE:  You bet.

CARLSON:  One hundred hours, that‘s all Democrats say it will take for them to address issues like the minimum wage, the 9/11 commission and prescription drug costs when they officially take over Congress 100 days.  That‘s what the Center for American Progress, a liberal group, is proposing President Bush take to respond, those 100 hours.  They say he can redeem himself if he does it.  That group will propose an agenda next week explaining how.  

Joining me now with a preview Jennifer Palmieri, she served as Deputy Press Secretary during the Clinton Administration, she‘s now the vice president of communications for the Center for American Progress in Washington.  Jennifer, that‘s awfully nice of you.  You are offering—all you Clinton veterans are trying to help Bush. 

JENNIFER PALMIERI, FMR. CLINTON DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY:  You think I‘m such a partisan and we have empathy for the White House staff.  

CARLSON:  No actually I think you‘re one of the most reasonable Democrats I know.  I‘m always happy to talk to you.  But the idea that you are, after of course rooting for Democrats, helping Democrats win the House and the Senate, the idea that liberals are all of a sudden turning around to Bush and saying, you know, here‘s what you can do to help yourself, it does raise some questions.  

PALMIERI:  Well, you know, it‘s hard when you—I mean I‘m joking but

I‘m not.  It‘s hard when you see someone going through a similar situation

to what you went through when we were in the White House, you know, it‘s

hard to say, you know if you just tried to think through how this is

actually going to play out, and I see that if you look at just Bush‘s self-

interest and not the interest of the Republican Party, losing both

Congresses is probably the best thing that could have happened to him

personally.  Because if he hadn‘t, the best case scenario for him was going

to be that he held on to both Houses by a very slim margin, you know

neither of the Democrats nor the Republicans were going to want to work

with a lame duck unpopular president and everybody would just turn their

attention to the ‘08 presidential cycle and he would just become kind of a

caretaker.  And now he‘s a story again, he‘s relevant.  Now, you know, it‘s

part of it is just freedom being another word for nothing left to lose, but you know, he had to hit rock bottom and then he can build up from that and you guys love a comeback story.  

CARLSON:  Yeah, but also, there‘s maybe a moral element to this.  I mean it‘s good to get the tar knocked out of you in a bar fight every once and a while, it puts the world in perspective, it makes you humble.  No, I get that.  But what should Bush do? Give us a quick preview of your 100 day plan for Bush to redeem himself?

PALMIERI:  Well it‘s largely going to be progressive priorities that we‘re going to be proposing but things that—shockingly, but I would point out that although the voters want the Congress and the president to work together, they were clear that they wanted the Congress to take the lead.  But there are things with the tax code on EITC, there‘s some education reforms, there are some things with Iraq that we think that he would be willing to do, certainly immigration reform as you noted.  That‘s the one piece of legislation, it‘s clear that he and the House and the Senate agree upon.  So there‘s—

CARLSON:  Because he‘s at the leftward fringe on that question, I mean he wants to give amnesty to illegal aliens.  

PALMIERI:  He‘s not on the leftward fringe. 

CARLSON:  Of course he is, he‘s on the lunatic leftward fringe in my opinion.  But hold on, I want to get back to Iraq.  

PALMIERI:  There was an election last week.  

CARLSON:  Yeah, but there was an election, I‘m not sure there was a referendum on immigration and I think if there was a referendum on immigration, as there was in Arizona, I think the country would say pretty clearly, we have to stop this immigration problem we have.  But back to Iraq, you may be the first Democrat I‘ve talked to who has a concrete idea for what the president ought to do right away in Iraq.  What is it?

PALMIERI:  We actually, the Center for American Progress has had a plan for a while called strategic redeployment, which is to phase down troops starting immediately but to have them out within four to six months and redeployed to other hot spot areas of the globe where we think they can focus more successfully on terrorist networks. 

CARLSON:  So we should go invade a bunch of other countries, like where specifically?

PALMIERI:  No. We would have them have more focus on Korea for example, have people near to India and Pakistan in case there‘s some trouble breaking out there.  But there is—with nonproliferation, there are a lot of problem areas in the world. 

CARLSON:  We‘re going to invade India and Pakistan, I don‘t understand? 

PALMIERI:  Did I say invade.

CARLSON:  I don‘t know, you said we‘re going to have—

PALMIERI:  I said that we would have these troops standing by.  

CARLSON:  You‘re using all these euphemisms(ph), we‘re going to redeploy, but standing by where? 

PALMIERI:  There are not going to be, they will be, you know as we have troops in Korea, you‘re aware of that, you know.  They‘re there to try and keep the, you know monitor things, help keep the peace, make sure there‘s not, you know try to keep the handle on what‘s happening with the North Koreans in terms of nuclear weapons.

CARLSON:  Yeah, but then you run into this problem of sovereignty.  I mean countries actually don‘t want tens of thousands of American troops living within their borders, they don‘t want it in Korea, they don‘t want it anywhere else, where we‘re wanted. 

PALMIERI:  We are only going to go where we‘re wanted.  

CARLSON:  Well what use is that then?  I mean we‘re not wanted really anywhere, so then we can‘t really—name a country that wants tens of thousands of American troops?

PALMIERI:  And there‘s a hole in my bucket Tucker, but you have to start somewhere. 

CARLSON:  Well then where?  Name a country that is sort of eager for say 25,000 American troops to show up.  I can‘t think of one.

PALMIERI:  And we‘re not suggesting that there be 25,000 troops just show up.

CARLSON:  Ok, how about 2500, I can‘t think of any, I can‘t think of a single country in the Middle East that would publicly welcome American troops.  See that‘s the problem, it‘s like once they leave Iraq, we say they‘re going to be redeployed, yeah, they‘re going to be sent home, that would be redeployed.  

PALMIERI:  No, no, I mean that would be more popular frankly if they were sent home but they could be in Japan, in Korea and Germany.  I can‘t speak to how popular it‘s going to be within these country‘s borders but in terms of having a better handle on breaking up terrorists networks, we think that‘s a better way to do it. 

CARLSON:  What do you think, just off this topic, very quickly, you‘re a Democrat, you‘ve served in government and you know a lot of people currently serving, what do you think of the Democrats—they win last week, do this pretty amazing job, good for them, I‘m congratulating them.  And immediately convene a circular firing squad and have this completely self-destructive battle between Steny Hoyer and Jack Murtha playing out on the front page of every paper in the country.  It‘s so embarrassing.  

PALMIERI:  Every paper, Tucker, do you really think that anyone other than my parents who might be watching me outside of Washington care about this?  I think its part of a democracy, it‘s not always pretty and it‘s going to be over tomorrow and no one will ever care. 

CARLSON:  But how disorganized the party is, that they can‘t even keep this under wraps. 

PALMIERI:  I don‘t think—on the Republican side, they‘ve had their shares of Democratic battles with a little D as well. 

CARLSON:  Yeah, I mean they‘re pathetic, I‘m not defending them either, I just thought the Democrats just got elected that they would do better, but no, disappointing.  Thank you for your insight Jennifer Palmieri.

PALMIERI:  Thanks for having me Tucker.

CARLSON:  With Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid now in charge, will the border fence be scrapped?  That‘s what Democrats are threatening.  We‘ll ask Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  After only a week in power, Democrats are already talking about their plans to scrap border fence legislation.  Tom Tancredo will be here to tell us why he thinks that‘s a bad idea.  Plus O.J. Simpson tells a national television audience how he would have killed his wife if he had.  We‘re back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  When he tapped Florida Senator Mel Martinez to head the Republican National Committee, President Bush probably didn‘t anticipate criticism from members of his own party or more likely he didn‘t care.  Apparently Bush‘s attempt to gaining footing among Latinos voters is not sitting well with some conservatives, who are unhappy with Senator Martinez‘s liberal take on immigration.  All this while Democrats now in power in Washington are now considering alternative plans to building a border fence.  Joining me now is someone who‘s not a fan of the president‘s position on immigration or the Democrats‘ position for that matter.  He‘s got the right position, he‘s Congressman Tom Tancredo from Colorado.  Congressman welcome.

REP. TOM TANCREDO, (D) COLORADO:  Well thank you very much Tucker, pleasure to be here again. 

CARLSON:  So one at a time, Mel Martinez running the RNC, is this going to hurt plans for immigration reform? 

TANCREDO:  If he tries to take us in a direction where certainly a majority of our Congress doesn‘t want to go, it‘s going to hurt plenty.  And you know I don‘t know whether the president‘s going to let him have free reign in that or he‘s going to take it himself.  I just think, I‘m just giving him some advice he didn‘t ask for but I‘m going to tell him any way, stay away from this issue.  Stay away from immigration unless you‘re going to come into it on our side because otherwise you‘re going to lead us down the road to another big defeat.  

CARLSON:  Going back to the changes that may be taking place now with Democrats in control.  Just two weeks ago you were on this show talking about the bill to build the border fence that the president had signed, can Democrats undo that, how does that work?

TANCREDO:  Yes they can.  They can undo it through the appropriations process.  I mean we have to appropriate money for the construction of the fence.  They can in fact stop that project.  And you know, sometimes Tucker, I think that might be the most that they‘re going to be able to get.  And I think they may do that and I don‘t think they‘re going to be able to get much farther because the rest of it is going to—the policy stuff will require congressional action, on a thing like amnesty for instance.  So I just don‘t think right now they have the ability to do that.  Even in their own ranks, you look at all the people who ran for office as Democrats who ran as by God let‘s secure our border Democrats, let‘s do something about illegal immigration Democrats.  I think it‘s going to be rough sledding for them, even if the president comes.  You know, the president is giddy with excitement about the possibilities, but I don‘t think it‘s going to be as easy as they think.  However, this border fence thing, they can do.

CARLSON:  They can do?

TANCREDO:  They can stop it, yes sir they can. 

CARLSON:  And there‘s no recourse?  What percentage would you say of House Republicans are for a border fence? 

TANCREDO:  Well I‘d say 90 percent and they‘ve seen the writing on the wall.  It‘s taken my conference a little time to get to this position but when we passed it, it was with a significant, I   would bet 90 percent of the conference support, I can‘t remember the exact numbers now.  But you know what‘s good about this Tucker is it‘s a very visible—it‘s an easy thing for people to understand.  They know what the fence is all about and when the Democrats stop this, believe me, we‘re going to be out on the stump about it, certainly I will and people understand this.  It‘s clear, they‘re not going to build the fence. They‘ve come up with this stuff about, oh, don‘t worry, we‘re going to have sensors and monitors.  Hogwash.  You can have sensors and monitors across 2,000 miles, that‘s not going to stop anybody from coming.  We can‘t get to them quick enough, you need a fence.  You need a fence for more reasons than just simply the physical structure, the physical barrier.  I wanted a very clear signal to be sent to Mexico and to Canada that by God, this is a separate country, and here is where one ends and another one begins. 

CARLSON:  Just to make certain I have this clear, you‘ve heard Democrats in the last couple of days, say, well, we don‘t need an actual fence, we need a virtual fence, maybe a metaphorical fence, maybe kind of a fence that‘s more of a literary device than it is a barrier.  

TANCREDO:  Like the music man, think fence. 

CARLSON:  Think fence.  What about though a virtual fence, I mean you know everything else is virtual, why not have sensors? 

TANCREDO:  Here‘s the problem Tucker with it.  Unless we quintupled the number of people that we have on the border in terms of border patrol, being able to go everywhere where these sensors go off, it‘s impossible to stop the flow that way.  You will have sensors, you will have people, we have it right now, I was—I‘ve been in border stations where we‘ve watched on monitors, we‘ve watched people coming across.  You know there‘s a camera set up and they‘re tying their best, they‘re calling on the phone, get over to such and such a location.  By the time they get there of course, people are already across.  That‘s the problem is that we don‘t have enough people, human resources to deal with a virtual fence in actually stopping illegal immigration. 

CARLSON:  So if illegal immigration is such a great political issue for conservatives, if opposing illegal immigration helps you with the public and I certainly want to believe that‘s true, why did J.D. Hayworth, the congressman, very anti-illegal immigration congressman from Arizona lose last week? 

TANCREDO:  Well, I have to tell you, although I‘m certainly not familiar with the details of his campaign or what went on down there, I do know that there were other issues, Abramoff-related issues, there were other things that were in play in that campaign that had absolutely nothing to do with immigration.  And interestingly and perhaps ironically, here is J.D. Hayworth losing in Arizona, as you say, a very outspoken supporter of stopping illegal immigration.  While simultaneously the people of Arizona passed four or maybe five initiatives, all of which are designed to do something about illegal immigration.  So, believe me, where the issue was strictly illegal immigration, where people could actually, they went for our position on it.  It happened in Colorado.  We got our clocks cleaned in Colorado.  We lost the governor‘s race, we lost another constitutional office, the state legislature, while, by the way passing a referendum that said that the state could sue the federal government to pay for the cost of illegal immigration that we are suffering.  So believe me, where people could pick it out, they voted our way on it.  

CARLSON:  So they see the difference between the Republican Party and the issue and good for them.  Tom Tancredo, thanks a lot.  I appreciate it.

TANCREDO:  Exactly, pleasure.

CARLSON:  Coming up, a pair of celebrity shockers, O.J. Simpson tells Fox how he would have killed his wife he‘d he done it.  Plus Oprah waits by the phone for a wedding invitation.  Nobody makes Oprah wait by the phone.  Details when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  There it is the fabled Hollywood sign.  If we had a more powerful camera you could see beneath it a little pile of malt liquor bottles.  Those belong to Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST:  You caught me on Sunset yesterday sleeping on the sign last night.  I‘m so glad you‘re here, I would have missed all my appointments.  We‘ve had a good time out here, wouldn‘t you say Tucker? 

CARLSON:  I would definitely say that Willie, without divulging more.  

GEIST:  We saw an A—we‘re not going to go into the whole paparazzi game, but we saw an AAA list celebrity at dinner last night, sitting two tables away.  It was very exciting for the both of us.  Log on to find out more.  I don‘t know where, log on somewhere.  Tucker this is a disgusting story, I‘m sorry.  Eleven years ago a jury found O.J. Simpson not guilty of murdering his ex-wife and her friend.  He‘s maintained his innocence ever since but in perhaps the most tasteless television event in history, and that‘s saying something, O.J. will explain how he would have committed the murders if he had.  Fox will air a two-part interview later this month to accompany Simpson‘s new book, “If I Did It.”  Judith Regan who‘s company is publishing the book and will also do the interview, says she considers O.J.‘s story a confession to the murders.  Now Tucker this is obviously disgusting and we should point out NBC passed on this and good for them.

CARLSON:  Good for us.

GEIST:  But TV is about ratings and I will in no way defend this, so all I‘m saying is that people should not be surprised. You know what I‘m saying?  ABC put you dancing on national television that is disgusting in its own right. 

CARLSON:  Not as disgusting—I ran into someone, in fact since we‘re in Los Angeles I‘ll divulge this, last night whose friends with O.J. 

GEIST:  Yes he did.

CARLSON:  And she told me, it‘s a famous person, said that O.J.  sleeps with more women than anybody she knows.

GEIST:  Really?

CARLSON:  And I‘m calling out there to any American woman, if you‘re dating O.J. Simpson there‘s something wrong with you, don‘t do that.  

GEIST:  Yes, she said in fact he‘s constantly surrounded by four or five blonds at all times. Don‘t do that, it‘s bad for you.  Moving on Tucker, the most memorable moment of the Tom Cruise Katie Holmes courtship was Cruise‘s leap onto Oprah‘s couch.  It apparently wasn‘t memorable enough for Oprah to be invited to the couple‘s wedding in Italy on Saturday.  There we go.  Oprah claims to be fine with that, even says she‘s going to get them a gift.  Her feelings might change however when she hears that Brooke Shields was invited.  “The New York Post” page six reports Shields‘ plans to attend the wedding.  Shields and Katie Holmes have become friends even after Cruise criticized Shields publicly for using medication to treat her postpartum depression. Tucker did you get invited to the wedding? 

CARLSON:  I didn‘t, but talk about a parade of the whack jobs though.  

GEIST:  It‘s only the beginning.  And I have to just read quickly—

CARLSON:  I would go by the way and I have a friend who is going.  

GEIST:  To the wedding?

CARLSON:  Yes, I do.

GEIST:  Wow, you have to get the inside word.  Whatever you believe, fine, scientology fine.  I just want to read quickly in his scientology sermon, the priest says to Tom, now Tom girls need clothes and food and tender happiness and thrills.  A pan, a comb, perhaps a cat.  

CARLSON:  No!

GEIST:  Yes, written by Elron Hubbard.

CARLSON:  Great!

GEIST:  Finally Tucker, what does Snoop Dogg love?

CARLSON:  We know.

GEIST:  We know he loves gin and juice, we know he loves the chronic, and now we know what we have longed suspected, Snoop loves him some MSNBC.  When asked by “Stuff Magazine” about his favorite TV shows, Snoop said, “I like MSNBC when they be catching those child predators.  I love when they crack their—expletives.”  Well we love you back Snoop.  And I have to say Tucker, just to “Catch a Predator” you literally can‘t get enough of it.  I can‘t see it getting old ever.  Chris Hanson has become a folk hero, a great show, now completely validated by Snoop Dogg himself.   

CARLSON:  I love Chris Hanson.  I wonder what he means crack their expletives.  

GEIST:  I think I know, I‘ll tell you afterwards.

CARLSON:  I think that‘s so authentic man, it goes right over my head.

GEIST:  Snoop‘s always watching man.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist!

GEIST:  All right Tucker.

CARLSON:  That‘s it for us from Los Angeles, thank you for watching.  See you tonight on “Dancing with the Stars.”  Be sure to tune in, they need the viewers.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  See you tomorrow.

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

END   

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

Transcripts

Watch Tucker each weeknight at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,