updated 11/27/2006 11:17:31 AM ET 2006-11-27T16:17:31

Guests: Joshua Green, Peter Fenn, Karen Hanretty, Monica Crowley, Rev. Al Sharpton

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show, coming to you today from south Florida.  I‘m Tucker Carlson.

When the talk turns to politics this holiday weekend, as it inevitably will in Washington, topic A is likely to be Hillary Clinton.  Not her successful Senate re-election campaign, but her hotly-contested presidential campaign.  It‘s pretty much a given that she‘ll  run.  When it comes to whether she can win, that jury is still out. 

In an article in “The Atlantic Monthly,” my first guest says, “Clinton offers no big ideas, no crusading causes—by her own tacit admission, no evidence of bravery in the service of a larger ideal.  Instead, her Senate record is an assemblage of many, many small gains.  Her real accomplishment in the Senate has been to rehabilitate the image and the political career of Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

“Impressive though that has been in its particulars, it makes for a rather thin claim on the presidency.  Senator Clinton has plenty to talk about, but she doesn‘t have much to say.” 

But is saying nothing actually the smartest strategy for a candidate?

Especially if you‘re Hillary Clinton?  And can anything stop her?

Joining me now, the author of that article, Joshua Green.  He‘s a senior editor at “The Atlantic Monthly”.

Josh Green, thanks for coming on.

JOSHUA GREEN, SR. EDITOR, “THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY”:  Good to be with you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  You make the point—well, I just read the very last paragraphs of your piece, essentially saying that Hillary Clinton has rehabilitated her image but she has accomplished not a lot in the Senate legislatively. 

Does that matter? 

GREEN:  You know, I think to an extent it does.  Especially if you want to run for president. 

I mean, one of the interesting—one of the best political stories I think in the last six years has been what a surprisingly effective senator Hillary Clinton turned out to be.  I mean, I certainly wouldn‘t have expected it six years ago.  I don‘t think most people in Washington would have. 

But she‘s managed through a lot of hard work to rehabilitate her political image, she‘s won over friends and colleagues on the Republican side.  You know, she has really sort of improved on where she was during her husband‘ administration, when she was best known for the “Hillary Care” debacle. 

But if you look at her record and what she‘s actually done in terms of ideas she‘s supported, causes she‘s got behind, what really stands out about her record is the kind of caution and the tendency for risk avoidance.  And I think if you are really looking to run for president and energize the American voters, you‘ve got to come with bigger ideas than that.  And there really wasn‘t a lot of evidence in her Senate record that there are those bigger ideas. 

CARLSON:  The feeling you come away with after reading your piece, which is, I have to say, completely compelling, you have this a long section about her wooing Robert Byrd, the senior Democrat in the Senate, a very prickly, very difficult—in my view, sort of an awful guy.  But she really sucks up to him and succeeds in winning him over.  And you really get the sense this is a woman with awesome self-discipline. 

And I am wondering if that‘s not enough. 

GREEN:  Well, it‘s an interesting question.  I mean, one of the things that we discovered about Hillary Clinton in the Senate that I go through in a lot of detail in this piece is that she really does have phenomenal political skills. 

I make the case in the piece that they are better applied to the Senate than they are to the presidency or running for president.  I mean, what she is really, really good at is talking to people one on one, winning over her colleagues, winning over curmudgeonly old guys like Robert Byrd, who was actually the guy who really stopped her health care plan almost single-handedly back in 1993, ‘94. 

You know, she came to the Senate, she went to Byrd on bended (ph) knee, asked for his advice, won him over.  You know, he is about to be chairman of the Appropriations Committee, an extremely powerful guy.  That‘s a shrewd move for a senator to make. 

CARLSON:  Right.

GREEN:  But when your real skills are these kind of backroom politicking like you have to do in the Senate, that doesn‘t necessarily lend itself very well to the campaign trail, where you have got to be on TV, you‘ve got to speak before large crowds, and you‘ve got to show some passion and some vision. 

CARLSON:  Oh, I know.  I covered Bob Dole.  No, I was there.

GREEN:  Well, you know, I feel your pain. 

CARLSON:  I watched what happened, and it was painful, decent guy though he was. 

You take a look at her re-elect this last—the midterm, where she spent $30 million to beat a guy whose name I can never remember.  John Spencer, I think it was, but it will be lost to history very soon.

The point is, she couldn‘t have lost.  She spent more than any other Senate candidate, any Senate candidate in the country.  It seems to me an example of control-freakish behavior really at a level we are not used to seeing. 

Is that a help or a hindrance going into a presidential campaign? 

GREEN:  You know, I would argue it‘s a hindrance, actually.  I mean, one of the things she did in spending all that money was to build a small donor fund-raising list, which is really preparation for a presidential run.  So the $30 million figure is a little bit misleading. 

CARLSON:  Right.

GREEN:  On the other hand, millions and millions of dollars towards consultants.  And, you know, one of the things that you run into when you are running for president is you don‘t want to be over-consulted.  You don‘t want to become a captive to your consultants the way I think most people would agree Al Gore and John Kerry did.  And, of course, that‘s always been a knock on Hillary, is that she is scripted and overcautious. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

GREEN:  And may not have the kind of passion and fire in the belly... 

CARLSON:  You got access to her.  You actually talked to Hillary Clinton, which is not easy, as anybody has ever tried to do. 

GREEN:  It‘s a rare thing. 

CARLSON:  It‘s a test.  Yes, it is a rare thing.

I wonder, in a presidential campaign, which is basically, you know, a six-month-long press conference where you are constantly dealing extemporaneously with the press, can she handle that do you think?  Is she up for that? 

GREEN:  You know, I think—I think she probably is.  I mean, she strikes me as somebody who is very disciplined and far less likely than someone like, say, Howard Dean, for instance, to make some kind of a gaffe—or even John Kerry with his joke a couple of weeks ago.  She is so disciplined and scripted that she is not likely to sort of, you know, have that kind of pitfall or step in a pothole that way. 

The downside of that, though, is that if you are overcautious and over-scripted, you come across that way on television and you never really sort of connect with your audience.  And I think that that‘s going to be her real difficulty or the real challenge for her if she decides to run for president. 

CARLSON:  And finally, to sum up quickly, is there any chance she is not running, do you think? 

GREEN:  I can‘t imagine that that would happen.  I mean, I think the entire world, or at least the world of Washington, would just kind of stop in its tracks and, you know... 

CARLSON:  I think a lot of us would be out of jobs.  I don‘t know what we would talk about for the next two years. 

(CROSSTALK)

GREEN:  Well, I spent a year following her, so I would retire and try something else.  Maybe—maybe “Dancing with the Stars,”, but, yes... 

CARLSON:  Yes, you and I can open an insurance business. 

Josh Green, from “The Atlantic Monthly,” thank you very much. 

GREEN:  Thanks for having me, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  It‘s beginning to look like the Democratic side of the race for the White House could come down to one high-profile match-up: Barack Obama versus Hillary Clinton.  We‘re all keeping our fingers crossed for that.

Could he derail her best-laid plans? 

Joining me to speculate, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.  He joins us from Washington.  And Republican strategist Karen Hanretty in Sacramento, California. 

Thank you both for coming on. 

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Hey, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Peter, first off, what do you think of the odds Barack Obama gets in the race?  He‘s got to decide in the next couple of weeks.  Do you think he‘s a sure bet? 

FENN:  No, I‘m not sure he‘s a sure bet, but I bet it‘s better than 50-50 at this point.  I think he‘s getting a heck of a lot of encouragement from around the country.  Every place he goes he is treated like a rock star now.  He is second in the polls on the Democratic side, which is extraordinary for someone who has been in the Senate just a couple of years. 

So, you know, I think he is looking very seriously at it.  I mean, if Hillary Clinton is the 800-pound gorilla here, Tucker, then Barack may be the 600-pound gorilla. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

Karen, which do Republicans fear more, Hillary or Barack?  I mean, it seems to me a no-brainer you would fear Barack more, but I‘m not a consultant.  What do you think? 

KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, I‘m not sure about that.  Actually, I would fear Hillary more just because she‘s got more experience and she‘s married to one of the greatest politicians ever, Bill Clinton. 

But the question—you know, if I was Barack, I would ask myself, “What do I have to lose?”  And, you know, if he doesn‘t really have any skeletons in his closet, he doesn‘t have much to lose right now. 

And Republicans, I don‘t know that they need to fear him as much in the short term as they certainly should fear him in the long term if he runs.  I‘m not sure that he would have the infrastructure ability to actually win a primary.  He would be very formidable not just as a presidential contender, but as a political force in D.C. 

CARLSON:  I think, Peter, that the fact that about Barack Obama is black or his father was from Kenya is less a factor maybe than people are making of it.  The fact, though, that he, A, smokes cigarettes, and that is middle name is Hussein, you know, I think those are not actually insignificant.  Those do set him apart from your average presidential candidate.

One at a time, is either one of those a problem, and are they gong to be issues?

FENN:  Well, you know, I think smoking cigarettes will probably be all right for him.  It‘s not the greatest habit.  But look, I just got back from Prague, and everybody in that city smokes cigarettes, as far as I can tell. 

I‘ll tell you, though, Tucker, I think you will find that Sean Hannity will

probably use the “Hussein” name more than he‘ll use the “Barack” name if

he‘s the nominee.  And I think he‘ll get—but, you know, I think people -

he is so adroit and so capable and so effective at dealing with—with things like that that I think he‘ll handle it extraordinarily well. 

So I wouldn‘t—I wouldn‘t worry too much about that.  I think—I think the greater problem for him is just the fact that he hasn‘t been in the Senate that long and hasn‘t been in public life that long.  And folks will want to know whether he is ready and seasoned, and can he fill—fill the Oval Office? 

HANRETTY:  Well...

CARLSON:  But is it—Karen, is another six years going to help him?  I mean, I know you are probably not going to wind up working for Barack Obama, you‘re a Republican.  But if you were working for him, would you say to him, wait, you know, hold on, run the next cycle, run 2012?  You‘ll have had eight years in the Senate? 

No, would you?

HANRETTY:  No.  I think—you know, I think if he—if this is something that he thinks is potentially in his future he should do it now.  And he should do it now while he doesn‘t really have much of a record to run on. 

I actually think that that can help him.  This is a great time to introduce yourself to the public, really make yourself known as a leader within your own party.

Go out there and help other Democrats, which he did in this last election, which Hillary, by the way, also did.  And that‘s where a part of that $30 million went, is ingratiating herself to other Democrats, which is smart thing to do. 

But he can help Democrats in the upcoming election cycle just as he did in the current one.  But you what the other thing is?  He‘s—it‘s one—you know, Hillary Clinton has always been in the spotlight, whether she was the first lady of Arkansas, eight years as the first lady of, you know, the White House.  She knows what it‘s like to be in that spotlight. 

And it‘s one thing to go on a book tour, to go to Barnes & Noble and do your book signing and talk about, you know, these wonderful fluffy topics.  And isn‘t it great, you know, to talk about your life history and your family.  It‘s much different to be under the microscope.  And that‘s where you see if people crack or not.

CARLSON:  No.

HANRETTY:  And I‘m not saying he would crack, but I think that if he‘s serious about doing this in the future, this is a good time for him to do it, because he doesn‘t have a lot that can be scrutinized as far as his record is concerned.

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  I went to Barnes & Noble on a book tour and I found it tough.  I really did.  It was a defining moment for me. 

All right.  Karen and Peter, stay right where you are, if you would.

FENN:  Dealing with the public, right?

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

We will be right back. 

Still to come, it could be getting ugly between former allies John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.  Will a contest between them for the Republican nomination come down to money?  Does it always come down to money? 

Also ahead, Nancy Pelosi has not officially taken over as the speaker of the House of Representatives, and already her reputation is on the line.  Will another wrong move sink her? 

All that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Follow the money, always good advise when it comes to understanding politics.  It may be especially useful to understand the race now under way for the Republican presidential nomination. 

John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are now battling for the biggest Republican donors.  The winner of that contest likely to be the party‘s front-runner for the White House. 

Back now to talk about that contest, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.  He‘s in Washington.  Republican strategist Karen Hanretty, she‘s in Sacramento. 

Welcome to you both. 

FENN:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  Karen, who is lining up—who is lining up the biggest number of Republican donors, but not just Republican donors, but the kind of backbone of the Republican Party?  You know, the wise men, the guys who always pick the winner?  Who is the candidate who is getting those guys? 

HANRETTY:  Well, I think the candidate might be the candidate you didn‘t mention, which is Mitt Romney.

CARLSON:  Yes.

HANRETTY:  I mean, he‘s going to have a tremendous amount of spending power, I think.  And look what he‘s doing this week.  He is running to the right of John McCain, he‘s trying to make John McCain look like a liberal when it comes to same-sex marriage.  And I think that...

CARLSON:  Is that believable?  When you hear Mitt Romney talk as a movement conservative, an heir to Reagan, do you believe that or not? 

HANRETTY:  Well here—here is the thing.  I think he can turn himself into a movement Republican with—with the base around the country simply because they don‘t know that much about him. 

Look, they know that he is a Mormon.  They might know he‘s from Massachusetts.  I‘m not even convinced that they know that.  And I‘m not trying to discredit voters.  I‘m just saying that they haven‘t paid that close attention.

Really what they know about him is he‘s a Mormon.  And I think that...

CARLSON:  Right.  That‘s right.

HANRETTY:  I think that there is enough unknown about him that he can establish himself, create, recreate himself to the base between now and the primary.  And while John McCain—the base knows who John McCain is.  They‘re still very skeptical of him. 

CARLSON:  Yes, they are.

HANRETTY:  And Rudy Giuliani, as much as everyone says, well, of course everyone knows that Rudy Giuliani supports same—you know, gay rights and abortion, I don‘t know that they all know that.  I think really Mitt Romney is positioned right now from the conservative base and also from a money position. 

CARLSON:  But I wonder about—I wonder about religion, Peter.  And we make an awful big deal about race and sex.  You know, the first woman, the first black man, the first Hispanic, as if those are the pivotal distinctions in American society.  I think religion actually could be a bigger problem for Mitt Romney than race is, say, for Barack Obama or sex is for Hillary Clinton. 

FENN:  You know, it depends how he handles it, too, Tucker.  But I think you‘ve got this—this trial going on in Utah on polygamy, you have the evangelical right being very, very nervous about the Mormon Church.

CARLSON:  Yes, that‘s right.

FENN:  There‘s no question about it. 

I mean, you know, this is going to be very tricky stuff for Romney.  Coming from, as some of my opponents like to call it, Taxachusetts, the liberal bastion of Massachusetts.

CARLSON:  Yes.

FENN:  You know his record there will be under scrutiny. 

I think, though, that everybody is going to be under scrutiny here and fast.  I mean, the one thing that I would say about Giuliani, I‘ll tell you, they all will—all the conservatives know that he‘s—that he‘s pro-choice, that he‘s pro-gay rights, that he marches in gay rights parades. 

Look, my view right now is I have about as much chance of winning the New York City marathon as Rudy Giuliani does of becoming president of the United States. 

CARLSON:  Oh, no, you could do it, Peter. 

(LAUGHTER)

FENN:  With a lot of training, huh?  A 57-year-old guy, however old I am, I don‘t think so.  But here‘s...

CARLSON:  I don‘t know, though.  I mean, they put up with Bush all this time.  I mean, think - Karen, I mean, I agree with Peter completely that Rudy Giuliani is more liberal on social issues than Howard Dean.  Howard Dean is against gun control.  I mean, he literally is more liberal.

But I think that the, you know, so-called Republican right, you know, who are supposed to be completely wedded to the issues, has given Bush a pass on many questions like immigration, abortion, the war.  I don‘t know.  Are there any litmus tests left on the right? 

HANRETTY:  Well, you know, I think that—and I could be completely off base here—but I think that 2008 is going to be less about social issues than it has in the past.  I really do think that the electorate is—A, they want to win. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

HANRETTY:  And I think that if you look, you know, even - I just look at California as an example.  And I look at in 2003 and again in this year, how the real hard right conservative Christian conservatives—and sold out to Arnold Schwarzenegger who is, you know, pro-gay adoption...

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

HANRETTY:  Really doesn‘t even have a problem with same-sex marriage.  He just doesn‘t want to over turn a state initiative from 2002. 

CARLSON:  Right.

HANRETTY:  They were willing to overlook those things.  I think they might be willing to overlook some of those things with Rudy Giuliani.  And here‘s a thing about the Mormon Church, that, you know, maybe Democrats just aren‘t aware of it, but don‘t forget that it‘s Mormons who have helped pass a lot of these same-sex marriage bans throughout the country on initiatives. 

They are fabulous organizers.  They did it here in California with Prop 22 back in 2000...

CARLSON:  Yes.

HANRETTY:  And that—that initiative won I think like 2-1.  And so the Christian leaders, the Christian leaders who are in politics, know how the Mormon Church works, they know their ability to organize and to get—to win campaigns. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t...

HANRETTY:  No, I think...

CARLSON:   You are making smart points.  I just don‘t believe that the gay thing—I think it‘s tapped out.  I really do. 

FENN:  I do.  Tucker, I think you are absolutely right. 

CARLSON:  And I‘m not saying that—I‘m not coming out—you know, I‘m not coming out for gay marriage, but I think it‘s tapped out. 

FENN:  It‘s tapped out with the general public, Tucker, I think.  But, you know, what you‘ve got is you‘ve got a hard-core base of conservatives in these primaries.  They do not like Rudy Giuliani. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

FENN:  And you know where else it goes?  It goes to Supreme Court appointments. 

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s an excellent point.

FENN:  Suppose you have a president who is going to go to conservatives—not go to conservatives—excuse me—go to moderates.  You know, appoint pro-choice judges...

CARLSON:  Right.

FENN:  And that—that is a killer for conservatives. 

CARLSON:  I totally—I totally agree with you.  I hope someone still believes something.  I mean, it will be interesting.  We will find out. 

Thank you both very much. 

Karen and Peter, thanks.

HANRETTY:  Thanks, Tucker.

FENN:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Coming up, the White House looks to an unlikely ally for help in Iraq.  Is it a good idea to involve Iran? 

And Michael Richards‘ apology for his rant last week may not be the last word now that targets of his tirade are speaking us.  You could have predicted that. 

We‘ve got the story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We support the Lebanese people‘s desire to live in peace and we support their efforts to defend their democracy against attempts by Syria, Iran and allies to foment instability and violence in that important country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  But Iran and Syria likely will not stop with Lebanon.  As their influence grows in the region, what does that mean for Iraq and our plans to withdraw from Iraq? 

Joining me now to talk about that from New York City, MSNBC analyst Monica Crowley. 

Monica, welcome.  Thanks for coming on. 

MONICA CROWLEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hey.  Great to see you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  What does this—so, clearly, Syria and to probably an equal extent Iran flexing their muscles in the region—we‘re clearly pulling out of Iraq now, no matter what anybody says.  I mean, it seems obvious to me. 

What does that mean?  I mean, are they going to take over Iraq essentially when we do leave? 

CROWLEY:  You know, you posed the question, Tucker, will they take over Iraq?  They are already in the process of taking over Iraq, and they have been for the last couple of years. 

Iraq is flanked to the east by a terrorist regime in Tehran and to the west by a terrorist regime in Syria.  Both of these countries have been wholly unhelpful, and there I‘m being very diplomatic in my language, in the Iraq war.  They have poured in money, they have poured in weapons, and they have poured in terrorists to help destabilize Iraq. 

So the idea now that the United States would go hat in hand to these regimes and ask for help is ludicrous on its face.  These regimes do not want to see a functioning democracy in Baghdad.  In fact, they want the exact opposite.  They want such an unstable situation there that those two regimes can go in and carve up the country in ways that are advantageous to them. 

CARLSON:  But, I mean, at some point wouldn‘t it be useful to—I mean, if we are withdrawing and that is the plan—everyone from the president on down acknowledges that—I mean, we do at some point need to achieve a separate peace with both Iran and Syria on the question if Iraq, don‘t we?

I mean, when we pull out they‘re going to take over, as you said, anyway. 

Shouldn‘t we be planning for that in talks with them? 

CROWLEY:  Well, talking to Syria and Iran is sort of like, if you are going to talk to them in the context of Iraq, that is sort of like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.  You will have a terrorist regime in Iraq controlled to the east and to the west by two separate terrorist regimes. 

So when you talk about having a conversation with these people, you need to understand that if you are—if you intend to get some sort of concessions from them, whether it‘s help on Iraq, whether it‘s trying to abandon their nuclear program in Tehran, there has got to be some sort of understanding that they have on their side of the program here that they have some incentive to give up those things.  And Tucker, they don‘t. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Well, wait.  Hold on.  But what leverage do we have? 

CROWLEY:  The Iranians have absolutely no incentive to give up their nuclear program.  And since they are on the cusp of seeing America withdrawal from Iraq...

CARLSON:  Right?

CROWLEY:  ... what incentive do they have to help us?

CARLSON:  That is a very solid point.  And obviously our so-called allies in Russia and western Europe are not poised to enforce any kind of real sanctions against Iran...

CROWLEY:  Correct.

CARLSON:  ... for instance, much less Syria. 

So why exactly would either of those countries listen to us?  Do we have any leverage over them at all? 

CROWLEY:  You know what‘s interesting?  I‘ve heard a lot of people, including James Baker, who is putting together this Iraq Study Group for the president in a couple of weeks—I‘ve heard a lot of folks say that the great success of 1990 and 1991 under the first President Bush was that James Baker, who was then the secretary of state, was able to round up support from the Arab world, including Syria.  But what nobody says was, the only reason Syria was on board to remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait back in 1991 was because Syria‘s influence—Syria‘s interests happened to be conflated with America‘s interests at that one point in time. 

Things have since changed, and Syria and Iran and the rest of the Middle East really don‘t have much of an interest in helping the United States right now.  So this idea that we can send in the world‘s best diplomats...

CARLSON:  Right.

CROWLEY:  ... whether it is James Baker or Henry Kissinger, to try to go in and arrange the same sort of conditions on the ground, those conditions no longer exist.  And if these terrorist regimes, Tucker, like Syria and Iran see the blood in the water, they‘re like piranhas.  And there‘s no reason for them to let up or help the United States at this point. 

CARLSON:  Gee whiz.  Monica Crowley, you paint a grim picture.  In fact, I think you‘ve wrecked my day.  I mean that in the best of way. 

Thanks for coming on.

CROWLEY:  Optimistic.  Thanks, Tucker.  Great to see you.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Monica. Coming up, handicapping Hillary‘s chances.  A former candidate for president weighs in on her run for the White House. 

And Michael Richards clearly went too far the other night on stage, way to far.  But did his apology go far enough?  We‘ve got that story.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  It‘s time for Beat the Press.  First up, a dream for us on this program, it‘s a sage involving two of our all-time favorite, Rosie O‘Donnell and Clay Aiken, and a Beat the Press Kelly Ripa.  It involves hands, mouths, homo-phobia and the flu.  Here is how it all unfolded. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY RIPA, LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY:  That is a no-no. 

CLAY AIKEN, AMERICAN IDOL STAR:  Oh, I‘m in trouble.  I should just sit here. 

RIPA:  No, I just don‘t—I don‘t know where that hand has been honey.   

ROSIE O‘DONNEL, THE VIEW:  To me that is a homo-phobic remark.  If that was a straight man, if that was a cute man, if that was a guy that she, you know, didn‘t question his sexuality, she would have said a different thing. 

RIPA:  He reached across and covered my mouth with his hand.  I have three kids.  He is shaking hands with everybody in the audience.  I mean it‘s cold and flu season.  That‘s what I meant.  And to imply that it is anything homo-phobic is outrageous Rosie, and you know better.  You should be more responsible. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  It‘s hard to know who to root for, really.  Except in the end, I think you have to root for Kelly Ripa for taking on Rosie O‘Donnel.  And is it homo-phobic not to want Clay Aiken‘s hand in your mouth?  No, it‘s not.  It‘s common sense. 

Next up, MSNBC own Rita Cosby, Rita made a vow to her viewers once.  She said she will ask questions that everyone at home wants to hear, but no one has the brass to ask.  Well Rita meant it.  She took that promise seriously when she interviewed illusionist David Blaine from atop a crane last night.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RITA COSBY, MSNBC ANCHOR:  You have got to be dizzy spinning for three straight days. 

DAVID BLAINE, ILLUSIONIST:  The spinning actually helps because in this weather it keeps me really warm.  So the continual movement, besides keeping me warm -- 

COSBY:  Do you go to the bathroom, what do you do? 

BLAINE:  I stopped eating a couple of days prior and I stopped drinking.  So my system is pretty empty. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Oh, the old bathroom question.  Admit it, you were wondering the same thing.  But did you ask David Blaine what he does about going to the bathroom?  No you didn‘t.  Rita Cosby did.  Good for you Rita.

And finally, everyone has heard about cutbacks here at NBC, saving 750 million dollars, we‘re going to consolidate, we‘re going to share our resources.  It‘s all in the “New York Times.”  Well it turns out nobody is safe, not even NBC‘s Kerry Sanders.  Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY SANDERS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Gas prices, as I said, have gone a little up and down, as we all know.  This is two dollars and thirty two cents.  The average in the country right now is two dollars and twenty three cents.  So, we‘re actually paying a little bit more.  And for some reason my NBC card is not working.  Let‘s try this again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  It‘s really a lesson for all of us who work here at the peacock, even in the cable arm.  The lesson, take your paycheck in money orders. 

O.J. Simpson speaks publicly about his canceled book, If I Did It.  What did he do with all the cash from the book.  And more important, did dough it?  And by it I mean kill those people, answers when we come right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Michael Richards lost control of himself on stage the other night and said some ugly things about black people.  The Reverend Al Sharpton demanded an apology.  So Richards called him and apologized.  How did that conversation go?  Reverend Al Sharpton joins us in just a minute to tell us.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL RICHARDS, COMEDIAN:  You can talk, you can talk, you can talk, you can talk your brains out (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  (EXPLETIVE DELETED)  He‘s a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  He‘s a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  He‘s a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).  He‘s (EXPLETIVE DELETED). 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, my god. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  The best line, oh, my god, said an unseen woman.  That‘s for sure.  That was, of course, the infamous rant spewed by the former Seinfeld star Michael Richards at the Laugh Factory in west Hollywood last Friday night.  The saga has now taken on a life of its own, with everyone from David Letterman to Al Sharpton getting involved.  Richards appeared on Letterman Monday night to offer this awkward apology. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARDS:  I was at a comedy club trying to do my act and I got heckled and I took it badly and went into a rage.  And said some pretty nasty things to some Afro-Americans, a lot of trash talk. 

I am not a racist, that‘s what‘s so insane about this.  I don‘t—and yet it‘s said.  It comes through.  It fires out of me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Well, on this morning‘s Today Show one of the targets of Richards‘ tirade, Kyle Doss (ph), said Richards made no attempt to apologize to him personally.  Doss also said there was more to the incident than was caught on camera.  Watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KYLE DOSS, SAW RICHARDS‘ TIRADE:  There was stuff in the film that you guys didn‘t catch.  He even said stuff like, we had heels in enough money, he could put us in jail. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He can buy us. 

DOSS:  He can buy us, and he even said—he even told me—he was like, when I wake up, I‘m still going to be rich, but when you wake up, you‘re still going to be a N-word. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  The Reverend Al Sharpton yesterday called for Richards to apologize specifically to black people, and not just to David Letterman‘s, quote, white audience.  Richards did call the Reverend Sharpton, saying he wanted to beginning the healing process, whatever that is.  How did that go? 

Joining me now from New York, the Reverend Al Sharpton.  Rev, thanks a lot for coming on. 

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, ACTIVIST:  Thank you Tucker. 

CARLSON:  How was your conversation with Mr. Richards.  He apologized. 

Did you accept it? 

SHARPTON:  Well no, first of all, I said to him that it is not for me or any other leader of a civil rights group to accept an apology on behalf of a whole race of people.  I think that first he ought to apologize in a venue that expresses itself, but he ought to also apologize to those that he specifically offended that night, who you just showed on the Today Show. 

But he ought to also deal deep down in himself—where did this race hate come from?  You can‘t regurgitate something that you haven‘t put in you.  There is something that was in him, I told him, that came out and that, frankly, is still in a lot of people.  And if anything—

CARLSON:  Wait a second.  Wait, but Rev., didn‘t you call on him to apologize.  He did apologize.  I mean do you want him to go door-to-door and apologize to every black American? 

SHARPTON:  No, I called on him not to apologize in a venue that is not even one that is geared toward the people that he offended.  I didn‘t tell him to call me and apologize.  And calling me and apologizing at the studio, before I go on the radio, is not what I called for.  I didn‘t want an apology to me, nor am I asking him to go door-to-door.  I am saying, if it is his decision to apologize, he ought to do it in the appropriate venue to the people he offended, which is African-Americans. 

CARLSON:  So you said I don‘t accept your apology? 

SHARPTON:  I didn‘t hear you.

CARLSON:  Did you tell him that?  Did you tell him that you did not accept his apology? 

SHARPTON:  I told him did I not feel I was in a position to accept an apology for a people.  I feel that I am in a position to give him some advice and I would give him a platform.  I told him that I would not have a problem with him coming on my syndicating radio show.  I wouldn‘t have a problem meeting with others and setting up a group to deal with it, but I am more interested in him trying to deal with the inherent racial problems that still exists, that he has now become a symbol of. 

Too many people have acted like racism is something of the past.  Just last Monday we did the groundbreaking at the King Monument and people acted like things like this no longer happen.  Here we are, by the end of the week you have someone who we were all comfortable entertaining us in our living room in a racist rant that reminds us so much of the days that so many try to act like are far gone days. 

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  I mean, I have lived in this country for 37 years and I have never seen anything like that.  So why do you suppose he didn‘t go on your syndicated radio show?  And do you think that would go a long way toward making this right? 

SHARPTON:  Well again, the question is making what right?  I‘m not in a business of making riches right, I am in the business of trying to make America better.  And yes, it would go—if we are talking about an on-going dialogue and a guy like Richards could talk about how here he has had some very strong, but latent feelings and was able to adjust in Hollywood and become what he was. 

So, imagine those that may have these feelings that are in positions of power.  We need to have more sensitivity about this and we need to deal with the fact that, yes, we have made a lot of progress in the country, but we have a long way to go.  If he is interested in being part of that dialogue, as he heals his problem, because he certainly has a problem with race, then I think this is constructive.  Other than that, no one wants to part of just a P.R. campaign—

CARLSON:  Yes, but, I mean, come on, I mean, I think we are pretty sensitive.  I mean the guy just destroyed his life by saying this.  White people, black people, all people looked at that and said, yuch.  People don‘t like that kind of talk.  Nobody does.  You said—

SHARPTON:  The good news, Tucker, is that people found it unacceptable.  The bad news is that it keeps happening.  Is it Mel Gibson one day, it‘s him another day, it‘s Trent Lott a day before.  The fact is that we keep hearing about these things happening.  And you may not have, in 37 years, had to deal with it, but many of us have had to deal with it, in one form or another.  It may not be a tirade, but it‘s a reality to us. 

CARLSON:  Here is what I didn‘t understand.  You issued a press release yesterday in which you said, you know, yes, he went on Letterman, that is great.  But it is not enough because David  -- this is a verbatim quote—is a white TV show.  What the hell does that mean? 

SHARPTON:  No, what I said was, if you were quoting, is that Letterman is a fine gentlemen, but to go on his show in front of a mostly-white audience -- 

CARLSON:  No, you said—the press release said it was a white show. 

SHARPTON:  -- and in his viewing audience, is not to apologize to African-Americans.  The basic demographics of David Letterman‘s show is not the people that he offended.  And if you watched him on Letterman‘s show, the people in Letterman‘s audience was laughing and carrying on when he was making the apology.  They didn‘t take it seriously.  Many of them, I guess, didn‘t even know what was going on.  So, I mean, in many ways that added insult to injury.  The reaction of the Letterman‘s audience was certainly offensive, if they in fact understood what was going on.  Maybe they didn‘t know what was happening. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know anything about CBS‘s audience.  But I can say every white person I know was offended by it and I‘m proud to say that. 

SHARPTON:  Well that is good. 

(CROSS TALK)

SHARPTON:  Now I want to see us all try to make sure these kinds of things are not reoccurring. 

CARLSON:  Oh, I agree.  And as part of your crusade to bring about racial healing in this country, let‘s talk about O.J. quickly.  He‘s been back in the news.  He was acquitted because he‘s black, by a mostly black jury.  It was racial reasons --  

(CROSS TALK)

SHARPTON:  You state that as a fact.  I don‘t accept it as a fact.  I think it was—

(CROSS TALK)

SHARPTON:  I think O.J. was acquitted because the evidence was not there beyond a reasonable doubt. 

CARLSON:  Do you think he did it? 

SHARPTON:  The evidence clearly says that he was innocent. 

CARLSON:  So you think O.J. didn‘t kill his wife and Ron Goldman? 

SHARPTON:  First of all, I think a jury acquitted O.J.  Here is the problem of race. 

CARLSON:  Another jury said—

SHARPTON:  Tucker, here is the problem of race in America.  A man gets on a stage last Saturday and calls us the N-word for 20 minutes, saying that we would be hanging on trees 50 years ago with a fork.  You take a case that the only time a racial term was used was when Mark Fuhrman called us the N-word and you try to equate Mr. Simpson, who is clearly not representing anything but a defendant in a case he was acquitted, with a guy who just made a racial attack on every black in America. 

CARLSON:  I‘m not comparing Michael Richards with O.J.  I don‘t think they have a lot of common, except each has a racial element, of course. 

(CROSS TALK)

SHARPTON:  One had a racial element, the other made a racist tirade.  O.J. Simpson did not get up in that court room and call whites names for 20 minutes. 

CARLSON:  No, but he did murder two people and he got off because—for racial reasons—hold on. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  OK, I don‘t, for a second, mean to imply we are talking about the same thing.  But I am wondering though, just what you said a second ago.  You appeared to say you think O.J. didn‘t kill those two people.  I just know that can‘t be true.  You know that he killed them, don‘t you? 

SHARPTON:  The good thing about television is you don‘t have to appear to say it.  I can say it.  I said a jury acquitted him. 

CARLSON:  But what do you think?  I want to know what you think.  I want to know what Al Sharpton thinks.  Do you think O.J. killed those people? 

SHARPTON:  I have not seen enough evidence to convince me that he did kill them. 

CARLSON:  Amazing, OK.  Well on to—that is amazing.  You are in a very small group.  I mean you could all eat breakfast together—

SHARPTON:  Including the jury.  The group is the jury that heard the case. 

CARLSON:  Yes, who really ought to be taking more heat than they have, in my view. 

SHARPTON:  Well, but Tucker, the way to deal with racism, from Trent Lott to this guy, is to go to O.J.? 

CARLSON:  No, it‘s not to go to O.J.  O.J. is just in the news this weekend.  I know that as a noted commentator -- 

SHARPTON:  But O.J. has nothing to do with a racial issue. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  He the got off because he was black.  I mean.  that is why he got off, as you well know. 

SHARPTON:  According to who? 

CARLSON:  According to me and everybody else who watched that trial closely.  Come on.

SHARPTON:  There is no black or white or Asian on that jury that is saying he got off because he was black.  They say he got off because they didn‘t believe the evidence.  I don‘t think that in the cases that we are talking about, there is any room for doubt.  When a guy is standing on the stage, calling people the N-word, I don‘t need your analysis or interpretation.  He was emphatically racist.  So don‘t try to act like—

CARLSON:  I am not defending Michael Richards.  Are you kidding?  I am not the one who is talking to him on the phone, you are.  I find him repugnant. 

I want your take on a controversy that is taking place—unfolding in Washington now.  Nancy Pelosi apparently will replace the woman who we all believed was in line to run the intelligence committee, Jane Harman of California, with Alcee Hastings of Florida, both Democrats.  Alcee Hastings, of course, a former federal judge who was impeached and removed from the bench.  She is doing so partly because she is under pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus to do so.  Do you think this is a wise move? 

SHARPTON:  Alcee Hastings is the ranking member there.  The rules say the ranking member ought to have the committee.  He has the expertise.  He has the background.  He sat on that committee.  He is next in line.  I think for her to do anything other than that would be to change the rule on how the House is enacted. 

CARLSON:  But he was impeached and removed from a federal judgeship. 

SHARPTON:  And after that time there were questions about that impeachment.  But, after that time he was elected by the people in Florida and reelected several times and has served admirably.  Now, since you want to bring that up, how do you feel about Trent Lott, who had said a segregationist should have been president, and had he been elected, we wouldn‘t have problems anymore, becoming the number two many in the Republican party in the Senate.  Since you are asking questions off the issue, how do you feel about that, Tucker? 

CARLSON:  Oh, the poor Republican party.  I feel so sorry for them. 

SHARPTON:  Are you ducking the question, Tucker? 

CARLSON:  Oh, I am not ducking the question.  I don‘t—I don‘t know if it‘s politically smart or not.  I don‘t think Trent Lott—I don‘t think there is anything in his record to suggest that he is a racist.  I think actually—

SHARPTON:  What about his statement? 

CARLSON:  He came out—He now celebrates Kwanza, actually, every year, ever since then, just to show -- 

SHARPTON:  But what about his statement?  His statement, you would deny, is a racist statement?  

CARLSON:  No, it was an absurd statement. 

SHARPTON:  But was it racist?

CARLSON:  Anybody who get up in public and say I support segregation, I just don‘t believe that‘s what he was saying.  That‘s so demented. 

SHARPTON:  He said that he wished that Strom Thurmond had won.  And he said if he had won, we wouldn‘t be having these problems today.  I guess one of the problems we wouldn‘t be having is things like Al Sharpton talking to Tucker Carlson. 

CARLSON:  It‘s never a problem to talk to Al Sharpton, from my point of view.  Rev, thanks a lot for joining us. 

SHARPTON:  Thank you.  Have a nice Thanksgiving. 

CARLSON:  I hope that you do. 

President Bush offers a traditional thanksgiving pardon, but did the turkeys cheat death over a trip to Disney Land and were they rational to do so?  We‘ll tell you when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  You know, a moment ago I suggested that the Reverend al Sharpton is the only person I know who thinks O.J. didn‘t do.  That‘s not entirely true.  As proof, here‘s Willie Geist.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Thanks Tucker, and don‘t take my word for it.  O.J. was actually on a Miami radio station today.  He was asked, point blank, whether or not he did it.  And here it is.  Here‘s the quote, absolutely not.  No matter what everyone wants to say, I didn‘t do it.  So, case closed, as far as I am concerned that‘s it. 

Tucker, every year we have the pardoning of the turkey at the White House.  This year was no different.  President Bush pardoned Flier and Frier and sentenced them to a much worse fate, which is being the grand marshals in the Thanksgiving Day parade at Disney Land in California.  So, I feel bad for those turkeys.  It would have been better to go to the slaughter house.  Don‘t you think?

CARLSON:  They‘ll wind up there anyway. 

GEIST:  Actually, Keith Olbermann on “COUNTDOWN” tonight has a special about what actually happens to those turkeys, 8:00 Eastern, check it out, it‘s really good stuff. 

CARLSON:  Really, I will watch that.  I will watch that.

GEIST:  Tucker, when Britney Spears and Kevin Federline made their inevitable split official a few weeks ago, there were rumors that K-Fed had a sex tape he was considering making public.  Well, there‘s sad news to report today.  Federline‘s lawyers says there is no sex tape.  Earlier this month Spears sued US Weekly magazine, claiming she was defamed, when the existence of the tape was reported.  She actually lost that suit.  A Spears/K-Fed sex tape, Tucker, a little bit bittersweet, don‘t you think.   On the one hand you have Brittney, on the other hand K-Fed is in there.  We have seem him perform on stage.  I don‘t need to see any more of his performance. 

CARLSON:  There goes that wine and cheese viewing party I was having for my neighborhood. 

GEIST:  You can‘t get your hands on that one Tucker.  Finally, we in the media, Tucker, tend to give criminals a bad wrap.  So, as we embark on the holiday season, I thought we would tip our caps to one of the good guys in the felony business.  This image was taken from a security camera at a Greenwood, Indiana convenience store.  Police say the man walked up to the clerk, told him he hated to do it, but he had to rob the register.  The clerk then emptied the money and gave it to the robber. 

Now here comes the sweet part, the robber gave the clerk a 20 dollar tip for his efforts, handed him a 20 dollar bill and wished him a happy holiday season.  So, I just thought that was actually considerate and I thought we ought take a moment and just say—a pat on the back to that guy.  He could have taken it all for himself, and actually he‘s saying, you know what, I am not robbing you.  I‘m robbing the man.  Some multi-national corporation owns this place.  I‘m taking their money and I don‘t want to punish you for this.  So, good for him. 

CARLSON:  I‘m on your side.  What do you say you and I go trash a Starbucks tonight. 

GEIST:  Yes, let‘s go hold up a couple of liquor stores for the holidays. 

CARLSON:  That‘s our show. 

GEIST:  Tucker, happy Thanksgiving.

CARLSON:  Thank you for watching.  Thank you Willie.  Happy Thanksgiving.  And happy Thanksgiving to you too.  We‘ll see you back here on Monday.  I hope you will join us then.  Good night. 

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

END   

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

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