updated 12/4/2006 12:09:42 PM ET 2006-12-04T17:09:42

Guest:s Rick Warren, David Ignatius, Rob Tully, Rep. Steve King, Steve McMahon, Terry Holt

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Welcome to the show.  I‘m Tucker Carlson, our top story today, the man who could be the Democrats‘ best hope to retake the White House in two years.  That‘s right, man, not woman.  Barack Obama.  He was in the spotlight today, speaking at a global summit on AIDS at Pastor Rick Warren‘s California megachurch.  Also in attendance, conservative Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK, ® KS:  Last time, we were both addressing the NAACP and they were very polite to me, they were very kind and I think they kind of wondered who is this guy from Kansas and then Barack Obama follows and so it‘s, OK, now they‘ve got Elvis, now we are ready.  So this one I‘m a little more comfortable, but welcome to my house.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) IL:  There is one thing I‘ve got to say, Sam, though, this is my house too, this is God‘s house, so I just wanted to be clear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Barack Obama‘s stance in favor of legal abortion has some evangelicals up in arms but Pastor Rick Warren is defending his decision to invite Obama to the conference.  We will talk to Mr. Warren in just a minute.

But first is Barack Obama, the Democrats‘ new frontrunner.  And has Hillary Clinton missed her moment.

My next guest suggests possibly so.  He says, quote, “She may not get in this,” this being the presidential race, “if Barack Obama gets in.  I have never seen a reaction other than Bill Clinton in terms of excitement that people have to meet Barack Obama.  Some people just wanted to touch him.”

Just wanted to touch the hem of his garment in hopes of being healed.  Elvis, Jesus, wrap them together and you have Barack Obama among the Democratic faithful.  It is unbelievable.  That quote comes from Rob Tully.  He is the chairman of Iowa‘s Democratic Party who will be joining us in just a moment.  But I can tell you, living in Washington now that is absolutely true.  Barack Obama literally can‘t walk across Capitol Hill without being mobbed.  He has his own security guards, just paves the way for him.  It is that overwhelming, the response to Barack Obama.

Will he get in?  Well, he‘s going to New Hampshire for the first time.  Hillary Clinton has not done that.  He may be laying the groundwork for an organization in Iowa.  Keep in mind, it seem likes a long away way, the presidential election but in fact, just little over a year from now in January of 2007, so a year and a month from today, basically, we‘re going to have the Iowa caucuses which is the first contest, not a primary exactly, but the first instance in which the faithful get out and express their preference for one candidate over another.  That is really the kickoff of the presidential election season.

So the candidates who are going to get in may say they have a long time to decide, it‘s far too early.  They may say we are working now on the business at hand but that‘s all a lie. lifetime if you are going to run for president in 2008, you have got to be working on it right now, you have got to raise the money, you have got to get the organization in place.  We‘re going to go now to man who knows all about the organization required to win the Democratic nomination in Iowa, Rob Tully who is head of the Democratic Party there.  Robert, thanks for coming in.

Well, we‘ve lost the shot again from Iowa.  Things will work much better by the time the caucuses roll around a year from now.  I promise.  I also promise that this is really one of the great shows we‘ve done certainly this week anyway so you‘re going to have to take that on faith because of technical difficulties prevent us from showing any more right now.  But stay tuned.  After this commercial break it‘s going to be a great show.

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CARLSON:  Barack Obama‘s stance in favor of legal abortion has some evangelicals angry.  Rob Schenck, he is the president of the National Clergy Council, sent an e-mail to reporters that said this, quote, “Senator Obama‘s policies represent the antithesis of biblical ethics and morality, not to mention supreme American values.”

So will Obama‘s potential candidacy run into a road bock from evangelicals?

Here to talk about that, a man who knows Senator Obama well, Rick Warren, he is founding pastor of Saddleback Church.  He has just been with Barack Obama at an AIDS summit there.  He is also of course the author of “A Purpose Driven Life,” the best selling book, probably in the history of the world.

Mr. Warren, thanks for joining us.

RICK WARREN, SADDLEBACK CHURCH:  Thank you, Tucker.  Good to see you.

CARLSON:  Thanks.  How do you respond to that pretty straight-forward criticism that Barack Obama is responsible indirectly for the deaths of millions of unborn children and that you shouldn‘t have him as a result?

WARREN:  Well, first, everybody knows that I‘m staunchly pro-life.  If you have read the chapter two or 22 of “Purpose Driven Life” you know that I believe that God has a purpose of your life before you were even born and that abortion short circuits that purpose.

So that I would be criticized by pro-lifers is pretty ludicrous to me but the real issue is if you can only work with people that you agree with 100 percent, you will never get anything done.  Because I can‘t even get my wife to agree with me half the time.

And I want to be a uniter, we are trying to provide a coalition on civility.  My model is Willingham Wilberforce who got the abolition of slavery through Great Britain and the way he did it was by building co-belligerencies with people on different issues.  He wasn‘t necessarily an ally with them on everything they did.

But he would say—for instance I could work with feminists in their opposition to pornography without agreeing to all their agenda.

CARLSON:  Right.

WARREN:  And I can work with gay people in their opposition or attacks an AIDS without having to agree with them on everything.  And likewise with me.  We have to work with people we don‘t agree with in order to get anything done.

CARLSON:  Have you talked to Senator Obama about abortion?

WARREN:  Oh, yes, personally I have.  Of course, I have.  He knows exactly where is I feel.

CARLSON:  Yeah, Mr. Warren, I‘m sorry.  I lost you there for a minute.  Do you think that your having him finally on this topic, to having Senator Obama come to the conference, the implication is that somehow it‘s an endorsement of his candidacy or that he is using you along with Senator Brownback who is also running for president, for political ends?

Does that make you uncomfortable?

WARREN:  Not at all.  Actually we have 60 different speakers here at this conference, some on videotape, some live.  We‘ve had Bill and Melinda Gates, Bono.  The first lady, Laura Bush.  Senator Bill Frist, leaders in healthcare.  Leading pastors, Dennis Rainey, John Ortberg.  In the next session we‘re in, we had the president of World Vision, the president of Compassion, the president of World Relief and the president of Samaritans First, Franklin Graham.  And so we are actually bringing people who normally would not talk together on this issue.

CARLSON:  Do you think, Mr. Warren, that evangelicals as a group or evangelical leaders, anyway, have put too many of their eggs in the Republican basket?

WARREN:  I think it‘s dangerous when any political party co-ops any faith.  I think we need to stand for the greater good in our country.  I‘m looking for a coalition on civility of people who radically and fundamentally disagree with each other can still treat each other with dignity and respect.  I don‘t think it‘s right  to demonize people you disagree with.

I think Jesus said, we are to show respect and to love even our enemies.

CARLSON:  Amen.  I agree with you completely.

Tell me about Barack Obama.  Most people have heard of him.  They know that he is very popular among Democratic activists.  They know that he is running for president most likely.  They don‘t know much about Barack Obama the man.  Tell me about his faith.  You have talked to him about it.  What‘s your estimation?

WARREN:  Well, in the last session, I had two senators speak one the face of compassionate conservatism and I think the other is the face of compassionate liberalism and what they have in common is the compassion.  And that‘s why we brought them here, because they care about AIDS, not because all of their different viewpoints.

Both men did publicly express their personal faith in Jesus Christ.  Both of them are church members, they clearly have different political views and I would say, that I can show you Christians that run the whole spectrum politically.  And that‘s not what we‘re about.  This is not a political issue.  I‘m a pastor, not a politician and we are about trying to save lives.

CARLSON:  Well, good for you.  Have you talked to Barack Obama?  My impression is that you talked to him about his spiritual journey, his relationship with God.  What was your impression?

WARREN:  Barack Obama‘s pastor is Jeremiah Wright, one of the great, godly preachers in the black church and so I know he has got soul because he has got a good pastor.

CARLSON:  What do you think - there has been - when evangelical churches and Republican politicians meet it‘s often recently been on the subject of gay marriage.  Do you think the evangelical movement has spent too much time focusing on questions of homosexuality?

WARREN:  Well, I definitely believe that we should expand the agenda because I‘m tired of the church just being known for what it is against.  I want to church to be known for what it‘s for.  I am in no way lessening my convictions on what I believe about gay marriage or what I believe about abortion, but I do believe that there are other issues involved, including the 40 million people who have HIV-AIDS growing to nearly 100 million by the year 2010, 20 million deaths.

We‘ve had two holocausts in my generation, one them is the 40 million people, Americans are who are not here because of abortion and the other is the 40 million who are dying right now around the world because of AIDS, 20 million have already die.

I don‘t think one is more important than the other.  I think pro-life means you care about saving lives any way you can and that means malaria, that means poverty, that means waterborne eye diseases and many other things, not just one kind of protecting life, I am for protecting life.  All of life.

CARLSON:  Why do you almost never hear evangelicals talk in public about divorce?  Divorce has obviously a huge effect on literally most Americans, it destroys families, it really hurts children.  You would think that evangelicals would be the one group who would stand up and say actually, slow down, maybe divorce is not the answer, but you never hear that.  I wonder why?

WARREN:  Well, it‘s very easy why.  Because it‘s easier to point at people‘s sins that you are not doing and not point at your own sins.

CARLSON:  There‘s some evidence that there are evangelicals who are committing other sins too.

Not to beat up on Ted Haggard but you know what I mean, divorce is one of those things that everyone knows someone or is related to someone whose life has been hurt by divorce.  It‘s something addressed specifically in the Bible in a way that homosexuality, in fact, is not.  More explicitly is divorce mentioned.  And you just never hear anybody—is it just cowardice do you think?

WARREN:  I think it‘s caving in to culture.  I really do.  Because the Bible makes it clear that that‘s just as wrong as a number of other sins and it‘s become an acceptable issue.  The fact is, we have many, many children today growing up in America without fathers and that is creating a generation of chaos in my opinion.

And you can just see it on television, you can see it in the movies, you see it all around.  I look at these situations as this is not a culture war.  This is a war—these people are mission field (ph).  These are people who need the good news.  If I thought you could change lives through laws, I‘d probably be a politician.  But you can‘t change a heart through a law.  You can only change them through a spiritual encounter with Jesus Christ in the heart and that‘s what I believe and so I‘m working on hearts.

And the other thing is to realize that politics is always downstream from culture.  By the time something becomes a law, I‘m sorry, it‘s already in the water stream.  You have to look upstream and what‘s influencing culture right now is entertainment, sports and media and so if you want to influence culture you need to start in those areas, not politics.

CARLSON:  And finally, as we opened this by saying, took some heat from some evangelicals, isolated evangelicals about having Obama there.

WARREN:  Yeah.

CARLSON:  What about your own congregation?  You have got a huge congregation.  Did anybody give you grief about this?  And did they respond to Obama when he spoke today?

WARREN:  I didn‘t get any grief.  I had questions.  But this last week I did a message which we are actually posting on the Internet on saddleback.com and purposedriven.com is a site called - message called, “Why We Do What We Do” and it explains the convictions on why do we do what we do, why do we go where we go and why do we make the decisions the way we do.

We base all of our decisions on the Bible and that message is available, anybody can listen to that on the Internet sites.

CARLSON:  All right.  Pastor Rick Warren joining us.  Thanks very much.

WARREN:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Still to come, as the Democrats look for a winning ticket in 2008, could they really be thinking, brace yourselves now, of Al Gore?  Maybe they could.

And Mitt Romney‘s Mormon faith may not be his only problem as he considers a run for the White House.  We get the latest.  We‘ll be right back.

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CARLSON:  During a press conference with the Iraqi prime minister yesterday, President Bush lashed out at the suggestion that the U.S. should pull large numbers of its troops out of Iraq.  The president was responding to the recommendations apparently the Baker Hamilton Commission, when he said, quote, “This business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it at all.”

So which plan does have realism to it and is there any graceful way out of Iraq?

For answers now we turn to David Ignatius of the “Washington Post.” 

David Ignatius, thanks for coming on.

DAVID IGNATIUS, “WASHINGTON POST”:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  You have a really interesting column today in which you say the following, quote, “Every senior official,” I believe that‘s administration official, “I talked to recently agrees that the number of U.S. troops in Iraq must be reduced over the next year even if the sectarian violence remains high.  That‘s exactly the opposite of what they‘re saying in public.

IGNATIUS:  I‘m not sure—I think you need to listen carefully to the president.  He is saying that there‘s no graceful exit, which means there is no easy magic bullet that is going to make this smooth, but he is not saying that he wants the current U.S. force structure to remain what it is.  He doesn‘t want to get out in a hurry.  He wants to leave when the job is done but note the definition of what the job is changing in some important ways.  He is saying to Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, we want to accelerate the transfer to the Iraqi military to control of your country.  We want to be in the business of training and advising your troops.  That is different from what we‘ve done in much of the last three years when it was really U.S. troops trying to keep order.

And I think that definition of the mission is going to change.

CARLSON:  You also have in here, this is a column filled with things that I didn‘t know, you said that the administration officials quote, “are all for engaging Iran in principle.”  Have they said that in public?  Have I missed that.

IGNATIUS:  They have not said that in so many words.  President Bush said that to me in an interview in September which was in the “Washington Post” and he was quite clear in his wanting to engage Iran, speaking to the Iranian people, speaking to Iranian interests.

What I say in the column is that we believe that a breakthrough on the nuclear issue with Iran was imminent in mid September, our embassy in Bern, Switzerland, the capital of Switzerland, worked over a weekend to process 150 visas for Iranians to come with their national security advisor, Ali Larijani, to New York for what we thought would be a decisive breakthrough meeting that would open the way for negotiations.  I didn‘t happen.

But as the president said in Amman in his press conference, the Iranians now how to get to the table.  There is a very clear set of things the United States would like to see happen and I think the U.S. still, if the Iranians would make the gestures we have asked for, would like to have a dialogue with Iran about Iraq, about Afghanistan, about the nuclear issue.

CARLSON:  Sometimes listening to the administration spokesmen you get the feeling they believe Iran is just too evil to deal with.  It‘s interesting to hear they don‘t.

You also say the administration seems to be moving toward a pick a winner strategy in Iraq in which we would back one of the Shiite factions over and against anyone else.  It‘s a civil war and we pick who is going to win.

IGNATIUS:  Yep.  I think this is Tucker, this is delicate, dangerous to be honest.  I thinking picking a winner in a civil war is something that I don‘t like the idea of the U.S. military taking sides in a civil war fighting for one side against the other.

That said, there is a feeling in the administration that we need to recognize that in Iraq, there is a Shiite majority, 60 percent of the population roughly, so when we support Iraqi democracy, inevitably we are supporting a Shiite led government and its aspirations and when we are supporting the Iraqi military, which is the cornerstone of our policy, we have to understand this is a Shiite and Kurdish army almost overwhelmingly so in supporting that army we are supporting the Shiites and Kurds.  So I think it‘s rather than picking sides you can say we are trying to support Iraqi democracy.  We are trying to lean in the direction that the Iraqi majority wants to go.

CARLSON:  Right.

IGNATIUS:  That‘s what I see happening.

CARLSON:  But what is wrong with that.  Isn‘t picking a winner better than picking a loser of course?  Someone is going to win.  If it is a civil war.  There clearly is this conflict going on between different factions in Iraq.  Why not pick the side that is going to come out on top?

IGNATIUS:  I think that there is a difference between picking winner in a kind of ruthless realpolitik way.  When there was a civil war in Nigeria the British in the most cold blooded way decided that Biafrans were going to lose so they decided to support the other side in that civil war, pump them arms, pump them money.  That was a cold-blooded decision and that‘s not the kind of thing that I‘d like to see the U.S. do.

If we are talking about supporting Iraqi democracy, supporting the majority of the country, its aspirations, its institutions, yeah, that is a definition of our policy, but we have many people in the area who we need as friends, many of the neighboring countries obviously are Sunni Arab and if they see us taking sides against their fellow Sunnis in a civil war abetting in the slaughter of those people by Shiite death squads, that‘s not a position we want to be in.

CARLSON:  No, I can see that.  What‘s the global power barometer?

IGNATIUS:  The global power barometer—I in addition to writing my column for the “Washington Post” I moderate a Web site at washingtonpost.com called Post Global and we decided a few months ago that we are in the business in this Web site of giving about 50 journalists around the world a chance to have a conversation all the time about issues that matter and we decided let‘s create a tool so we can look at what the world is thinking in print.  We went to a group called Denver Research Group which monitors about 8,000 sources of information around the world for its corporate clients and we said let‘s see if we can build a tool that gives us a snapshot every day of what the world is thinking.

And if you go to our site you will see icons moving back and forth showing whether the United States, Iran, Israel, are up or down today in terms of global opinions.  I think it‘s kind of cool.

CARLSON:  Who is—over say the past month, broadest trends here, who is becoming more powerful and who .

IGNATIUS:  Over the last month, who is becoming less powerful significantly is the U.S.  This is telling us that the world and world media sees the things that we are seeing and hearing ourselves which is that the U.S. is bogged down in a war.  We are having trouble executing our strategy in that war.  We have had an election in which the policies of the president have been in many ways rejected.

And global thought is recognizing that and so you see movement in these icons.  We also can see that Iran is up.  We‘re down, Iran is up and that‘s reflected in what people say around the world about the Iranians and their goals.  I‘m not endorsing this as a good idea, I‘m saying we have to look at this dead in the eye to get it right.

CARLSON:  Both strike me as dangerous trends.  David Ignatius, thank you very much.

IGNATIUS:  Thanks a lot, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Still to come, Nancy Pelosi‘s pick to head the House Intelligence Committee.  Is this a move that will unite her party or bring more mockery.

That story when we come back.

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CARLSON:  We talked a moment ago about Barack Obama and his chances to be the Democratic nominee two years from now.  Is the Barack bandwagon now steam rolling Hillary Clinton?  Squashing her flat, has Hillary missed her moment?  My next guest says, maybe so.  Joining me now Rob Tully, chairman of Iowa‘s Democratic Party.  Rob, thanks for coming on. 

ROB TULLY, CHAIRMAN OF IOWA‘S DEMOCRATIC PARTY::  You bet Tucker.

CARLSON:  So, Hillary Clinton, I mean, You would think she would have your state, the first state, very important state, wired by this point.  She doesn‘t? 

TULLY:  I would probably say she does not.  I think that right now, although it‘s a little bit early, our governor just announced yesterday, but we anticipate that we are going to see a flood of candidates within the next month. 

CARLSON:  But I mean Hillary Clinton has just finished spending $30 million to beat a guy whose name no one ever knew.  The implication is that her presidential campaign is up and running and is, you know, furlongs ahead of everyone else.

TULLY:  Well, I‘ll tell you that she doesn‘t have anybody, at this point in time, organizing the state, but I anticipate probably after the last couple of days, she‘ll probably get on that pretty quick. 

CARLSON:  What do you mean? 

TULLY:  Well I just think that the rumors been going around that a lot of the other candidates are starting to form and getting to move forward with their campaigns.  I think right after the first of the year, we are going to see a lot of candidates that are going to announce and from that point on, it‘s going to be a mad dash to January of 2008. 

CARLSON:  The idea was, going back six months, that Hillary Clinton was so strong and that her financial advantage was prohibitive, basically, far other candidates, that she wouldn‘t even need to announce.  Nine months from now she could announce and she would be in good shape.  You think that‘s not true anymore?   

TULLY:  Well, but here‘s the thing I‘ll tell you about Iowa caucuses, we learned from the last caucus that everybody thought early on that Howard Dean was going to walk away with the Iowa caucuses and I am going to tell you, the caucuses are fluid all the way up to about two weeks out, and that‘s when it starts to tighten up and I don‘t think it‘s anybody‘s game at this point in time.  Keeping in mind, I agree with you Hillary Clinton is going to have a lot of money, but it isn‘t as much money in a caucus state as it is primary state.  It‘s about organization. 

CARLSON:  To what extent is Barack Obama organizing? 

TULLY:  Well, I know that he has contacted people here in the state and some pretty prominent people to at least ask advice, and the people that he has contacted would indicate to me that he‘s taking a very serious look at Iowa, and as you know, Barack Obama was here as a guest of Senator Harkin at his annual steak fry.  And I‘m going to tell you, it was pretty impressive.  I mean, this guy is a rock star wherever he goes. 

CARLSON:  When was the last time you saw a candidate greeted like Barack Obama was greeted? 

TULLY:  Bill Clinton. 

CARLSON:  What year? 

TULLY:  It would have been when Tom Harkin had his steak fry and had him out here, but he had already—well actually no, I take that back, it was in the 1992 election cycle and people just wanted to get close and wanted to touch him and that was the same thing with Barack Obama.  In fact, Mark Warner was here and I kind of felt bad for him because—I felt bad for him because he was almost ignored as people were literally physically trying to get close to Barack Obama, to touch him, to talk to him, to get their picture taken with him.  So right now he is the flavor of the month. 

CARLSON:  Hillary Clinton‘s position on Iraq is far, far to the right of the position of most Democratic caucus goers in Iowa, I think it‘s fair to say.  Is that going to hurt her?  

TULLY:  You know, time will tell, but I believe that it is going to hurt any candidates, whether it‘s Hillary Clinton or otherwise.  I mean, if you look at John Edwards.  John Edwards did his mea culpa after he had voted for the war, and made a major turn around by denouncing the war and calls, like a lot of candidates, and a lot of congressional candidates across the country, that we need to have a different—change in whether we are going to stay, there go there, but whatever is going on right now is not working. 

CARLSON:  Bottom line, do you think Barack Obama can win?  I mean, he‘s—people are just now beginning to hear of him.  He‘s only been in national light for two years.  Do you think he could honestly become president? 

TULLY:  I think Barack Obama could do that.  I think there‘s a number of candidates out there that could do that the same thing, but one of the things I think we have to remind ourselves, and people like yourself and others, we haven‘t really put him under the microscope yet, in terms of the scrutiny and once he turns the page and becomes a candidate, there is going to be a different Barack Obama out there that is going to have to face up to a lot of questions, in terms of maybe past votes he had in the Illinois legislature, and things of that nature.  And so, it‘s wide open. 

CARLSON:  They are going to be interviewing every girlfriend that guy ever had.  No doubt about it.  Thanks very much.  I appreciate it. 

TULLY:  You bet.

CARLSON:  Al Gore in 2008?  That is the latest from Washington.  After all, if you don‘t succeed at first, try again.  Just ask incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who did not succeed at getting John Murtha elected to majority leader, but skipped right over the other two top Democrats, Jane Harman and Alcee Hastings, when she needed a new head of the House Intelligence Committee.  She chose Sylvester Reyes of Texas. 

Joining me now from Washington to make sense of all this, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon and Republican strategist Terry Holt.  Welcome to you both. 

Steve McMahon, you‘ve been, I‘m sure, asked this question a lot in private recently, but how inept is Nancy Pelosi to pick two fights that she was almost certain to lose. 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:   Tucker, Tucker, Tucker, you are so skeptical and cynical.   

CARLSON:  I‘m not, actually.  I didn‘t expect her to be this bad.

MCMAHON:  Listen, I actually think that she is governing from the middle.  She has a caucus which, as you know, is pretty diverse and has a pretty wide ranging point of view on a lot of things.  She had a candidate for Intelligence Committee, who was a former judge who had been impeached by a five judge panel and then by a vote of 413 to three in the House of Representatives.  So, making a choice in a different direction probably was the safe thing for her to do.  Imagine who you‘d been saying today, Tucker, and I can only imagine, if she had gone with the impeached judge as chairman of the Intelligence Committee.  You tell me. 

CARLSON:  I agree.  No, no, no, it would have been Christmas early.  I guess—but the fact that she put forth both Mr. Murtha and Mr. Hastings, both of whom are -- 

MCMAHON:  She didn‘t put forth Mr. Hastings.  She, in fact, passed over Mr. Hastings, which is I think the point here.

TERRY HOLT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  She also passed over Jane Harman, who has an incredible amount of experience, who has a strong reputation in Washington for being fair minded and nonpartisan in a very nonpartisan area of national intelligence.  She passed her over for personal political reasons and I think that‘s one of the things we need to watch about Nancy Pelosi.  Does she govern—is she governing from the middle or is she governing from personal political reasons and I think passing over Jane Harman speaks volumes about Nancy Pelosi.  She may be more partisan, and you may laugh, but she may be a more partisan leader than even a guy like Tom Delay, who was sort of the last bull dog of the House of Representatives. 

MCMAHON:  Terry, in fairness to Nancy Pelosi, there‘s a rule in the House now, and you‘ll recognize this rule, because it was a rule that the Republicans brought in 1994, and they term limited significant committee chairmanships.  Jane Harman has been chairman of the committee.  Her term is limited and they would have to break the rules in order to keep her as chairman.

HOLT:  But that happens frequently. 

MCMAHON:  Well, it didn‘t happen very frequently over the last 12 years. 

CARLSON:  Speaking of ancient history.  I‘ll start with you first Terry.  Al Gore, there is talk from otherwise sober people that Al Gore may run again, that he can raise the money, that he has a built in constituency, that he‘s been right about this, that and the other thing, and that he could be the Democratic nominee.  As a Republican, do you take that seriously. 

HOLT:  I do.  I do.  I think that the Democrats have—he‘s been out of power long enough for people to have forgotten some of his weaknesses and to have built on some of his strengths.  He is still a very powerful leader in their party.  I think that because he‘s from the south he represents an electoral strength.  He has got national name ID.  He could go out and raise a heck of a lot of money, and I think that he has got Democrats, in this town at least, a little worried that they‘re going to have another gorilla in the game.  I think it‘s all good for the country to have a big fight about who the next president ought to be. 

CARLSON:  He‘s a gorilla Steve.  Are you worried that this guy might run, that this gorilla might run? 

MCMAHON:  Listen, I think it would be great if he ran, because if you go back and look at what Al Gore said about Iran—I‘m sorry, about Iraq.  We‘re now going into a new war phase.  But, if you go back and take a look in 2003 of what Al Gore said about going into the Iraq and the folly, the fact that he opposed the war, the fact that he was the elected part of one of the most successful administrations in history, and I could recite all the statistics, and the fact that he received more votes in a national campaign than George W. Bush.  So, I mean, he‘s a pretty good candidate. 

He came up a little short because of the Supreme Court, but he ran a pretty good campaign.  If you look back on the issues, it looks like he was right straight down the line, whether it‘s the deficit and the importance of protecting the surplus, protecting social security, whether it‘s the Iraq war.  And, you know, he doesn‘t have to go out and raise 100 million dollars, because he left public office in 2001 and became a member of the Google board.  And anybody‘s who has followed Google‘s stock knows that somebody who was there in 2001 as a member of the board has probably got a little bit of financial wherewithal.   

CARLSON:  His rich friends set him up, right?  Sort of in classic Republican fashion, wait no. 

HOLT:  You know, first he invented the Internet.  He brings some weaknesses. 

(CROSS TALK)

MCMAHON:  Seriously, he did have a very significant role in Google and how it‘s done over the years. 

CARLSON:  Oh, come on, his pals gave him a bunch of stock.  I wish that could happen to me.  Come on, he didn‘t do squat.

MCMAHON:  We all do Tucker, but the fact is, he was there in 2001 when none of us had ever heard of it and now we all have it on our desktops. 

(CROSS TALK)

MCMAHON:  It creates an opportunity for him to wait until the very end, and that‘s a significant political advantage for him. 

CARLSON:  I totally agree with that.  Terry Holt, tell me, the now former governor of Massachusetts, I guess still former, or about to be former, Mitt Romney anyway, running for president as a conservative, turns out he hired illegal aliens.  Some journalist tracked down his former grounds keeper in Guatemala.  Is this a big deal or no? 

HOLT:  Well, you and I talked about immigration before.  There are 10 to 15, maybe 20 million illegal immigrants in this country.  I don‘t see how it is that one time or another any of us, or all of us, haven‘t had an illegal immigrant working on our grass, or serving us.  Who knows.  I mean, Tucker this country is an open book when it comes to people coming into this country and working, because this is the land of opportunity and because people come here because they can—they can work and they can provide for their families both here and at home. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  That‘s a low glib.  Look, I have to pay the taxes of my house keeper.  I certainly don‘t want to.  But I‘m against illegal immigration.  I‘m just a talk show host, but I feel like it would be wrong of me not to, so I do. 

HOLT:  And ultimately, if this pattern is there, I think that he will have to suffer through a tough earned media.  This will be a hit.  He‘ll have to take, but it‘s certainly not the kind of media hit that is going to doom his political campaign.  I think the American people have become more sophisticated about immigration since some of Bill Clinton‘s, I can‘t remember who it was on his cabinet, that had hired an illegal immigrant as a baby sitter or something. 

CARLSON:  Right, no, it was his nominee for attorney general.

HOLT:  But we have moved decades beyond that kind of anger, where something like that would his campaign.  Mitt Romney is, I think, one of those folks that in the last several weeks has really had a surge of support and of interest and of visibility in the Republican race and I look for him to be a very serious candidate when we come down to the process next year. 

CARLSON:  Steve McMahon, quickly, do you believe this is a big deal? 

I mean pull back, nonpartisan, do you think it‘s a big deal?

MCMAHON:  I don‘t think it‘s probably that big a deal, but I do think it‘s somewhat stupid fifteen years after Bill Clinton had this problem for people who are interested in running for president to make this kind of a dumb mistake.  But frankly, I think the fact that he can‘t seem to figure out what his position is on abortion, which Christian conservatives take pretty seriously, is a much bigger problem for him than this illegal immigrant.   

CARLSON:  It‘s a problem with me.  I can tell you that.  Thank you both very much.  Steve, Terry, I appreciate it. 

With all the focus on Iraq today, it‘s easy to forget about the place where Osama bin Laden and 9/11 took us in the first place, Afghanistan.  We will talk to a U.S. congressman just back from the front lines there when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  The war in Iraq has now surpassed World War II in the length of time of U.S. involvement.  Almost 3,000 U.S. troops have been killed since the start of that war.  Lawmakers are torn over the issue of troop reduction.  Meanwhile, we still have tens of thousands of servicemen in Afghanistan.  The Taliban and al Qaeda are still there.  Osama bin Laden remains on the loose.  Are we doing any good in the Middle East?  With his answer, from Washington, Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa. He is just back from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Mr. King, thanks for coming on. 

REP. STEVE KING ®, IOWA:  Thank you Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Are we doing good in Afghanistan? 

KING:  We are doing good everywhere, across the board.  And, in fact, Afghanistan is the hardest one to find optimism in because their infrastructure has just never existed.  They are closer to the Stone Age than Iraq, by far.  And I believe we will be in Afghanistan longer than in Iraq, even giving a final victory in both places Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I buy that, and I don‘t think most Americans would complain about that.  They don‘t agree, however, with you suggestion that we send, what, 100,000 new troops to Iraq.  Very few people are saying that now.  Why should we do that. 

KING:  Really, my suggestion was between 100,000 to 150,000 more troops recruited, so that when we deploy them, they don‘t have to be deployed as often.  Because, especially our National Guard and our reserve components, even though they signed up for this duty, they didn‘t sign up for this many rotations, and it would take some pressure off of everyone if we could increase the numbers by 100,000 to 150,000.   

CARLSON:  But, I mean, would that be enough.  You‘re not suggesting that 100,000 or 150,000 would actually calm violence in Iraq, only that it would relieve the pressure on the guys already serving there? 

KING:  Yes, I would like to see them deployed back to the states to get a little more time with their family.  Some of them have had three, and some actually even a little more than that.  And that just gets to be too much.  We‘re asking a lot of our soldiers.  They‘re giving, but I think that we can take some pressure off of them if we increase our recruits.

CARLSON:  That‘s a really solid point.  Why aren‘t we doing that?  Is it too expensive? 

KING:  I just don‘t think that we‘ve advanced this legislation in Congress and we haven‘t talked about it.  We‘re going through a transition now of leadership in Congress and in leadership at secretary of defense.  So, I hope it‘s something we bring up in the 110th Congress. 

CARLSON:  So you‘re suggesting no net gain in troops on the ground in Iraq, but just putting fresher troops in. 

KING:  Yes, that‘s it.  And then I‘ll rely on the generals to make those calls, like the president does.  And I did sit down with General Abizaid, General Casey and a number of others and had those private conversations, with the door closed, and it gave me a lot better feel for what‘s going on over there in Iraq. 

It‘s far more complicated than one could divine by reading the news media here in the states.  It isn‘t just Shia and Sunni that are fighting each other, but it‘s Sunni fighting Sunni, Shia fighting Shia, al Qaeda fighting everybody, trying to get everyone to attack everyone, Iranians supporting insurgents, training them, funding them, and sending them in to Iraq, the Kurds sitting back on the sidelines, saying, well we can run our own country, if—but, if you can get the Shias and the Sunnis to call a truce, we‘ll be happy to be part of Iraq.  Now that‘s kind of the scenario that‘s going on here.  And Baghdad is really where almost all the violence is.  The rest of the country seems to be very peaceful, take off your flack jacket, put on your suit and go do business. 

CARLSON:  Parts of it, anyway.  I‘m not sure southern Iraq, at least from my experience there, didn‘t seem very peaceful to me.  But what about Osama bin Laden.  I think most Americans would kind of like to see that guy in handcuffs or dead.  How much money are we spending, for instance, to find him?

KING:  I don‘t know what those dollar figures are that‘s focused on that area, but I did go to a forward operating base out near the border with Pakistan and there it actually was somewhat peaceful and somewhat secure, but they are getting Taliban incursions going in to that area on a fairly regular basis now.  And as I asked the people there, where is bin Laden, you know, there are several different locations. 

They‘ll point to a place on the map, but right now if bin Laden is where we think he is, and the Taliban are also coming out of Pakistan to run raids in to Afghanistan, we simply can not prevail if they have a sanctuary in a sovereign nation like Pakistan, and I believe that Musharraf either has to go in there and take the Taliban out and perhaps find bin Laden at the same time, or we‘re going to have to put pressure on him and do it ourselves.  We just can‘t sit there and let them attack us from a sanctuary anywhere, whether that sanctuary is Pakistan or whether that sanctuary happens to be Iran.   

CARLSON:  Well, so you think we should send U.S. troops into Pakistan.  How long do you think it would be before General Musharraf was assassinated or overthrown, if we did that? 

KING:  Well, I think he has survived a couple of those by now and at some point—can they get him easier because we do that?  I don‘t think that makes him more vulnerable, but he possibly could be overthrown.  And that is part of your question, I understand.  I don‘t know the answer to that question.  I know we have to put pressure on Musharraf, and as that moves forward, we‘ll come closer to the answer to that question, but we‘ve got to put pressure on him.  We need more actionable intelligence on what‘s going on in the mountains of Pakistan.  Right now we‘re waiting for the Taliban to come to us, and that‘s not acceptable. 

CARLSON:  Yes, all right.  Congressman Steve King of Iowa, thanks a lot Congressman. 

KING:  Thank you Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Michael Richards has apologized to everybody else in the world for his tirade at a comedy club a couple weeks ago, so why not to the people he was yelling at.  We‘ll have the details of a possible peace summit—you can‘t make this stuff up—when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Have you seen those new pictures of Britney Spears on the Internet?  I haven‘t either, that would be wrong, but joining us now, a man who has, in fact, seen them, Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I took those pictures.  I don‘t want to talk about it.  Before we get started here Tucker, Ian Friedman, our great producer, is leaving us, his last day on the show.  He‘s going to greener pastures, Los Angeles, chase his dream to become a porn producer and we couldn‘t be more excited for him. 

CARLSON:  Remember that name.  He will be famous. 

GEIST:  Ian Friedman will be famous. 

In the meantime, Tucker, Michael Richards apologized to David Letterman, Jesse Jackson, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and most other United States citizens for his truly stunning rant at a comedy club in west Hollywood a couple weeks ago.  Now he plans to say I‘m sorry to the people he was actually screaming at.  Richards will apologize in person to the four men he targeted with racial slurs, two of them seen here on the Today Show. 

A retired judge will mediate the meeting, and decide whether Richards should pay the men for their suffering.  I have a feeling he will end up paying the men for their suffering.  It‘s just a question of how much.  He‘s got plenty of money.  It makes me a little sick, I have to say.  It‘s like when you rear-end the guy and let‘s exchange insurance.  Your neck doesn‘t hurt, your feelings don‘t.  I‘m sorry you were called bad names.  It was terrible, it‘s disgusting, but you don‘t deserve money. 

CARLSON:  It‘s a big, bad world out there.  I mean toughen up son.  I mean, I‘m not defending Michael Richards at all, of course, but I mean someone calls you—what about those sticks and stones things? 

GEIST:  Right, he‘s put himself in a position now by apologizing, all the way down the road he‘s going to have to pay these guys. 

CARLSON:  It sets a precedent that frightens me, as someone who offends people from time to time. 

GEIST:  Yes you do.  You offend me.  I want some cash.  Tucker, a story about a 61-year-old grandmother arrested in Arizona with 214 pounds of pot stashed in the trunk of her car would be remarkable on its own.  That‘s a lot of weed for a granny to be lugging around.  But the story reaches legendary status when we reveal her motive.  Law enforcement officials say Laticia Villareal Garcia (ph) was acting as a drug mule to support her out-of-control bingo habit. 

Garcia lives on welfare, but reportedly had won thousands of dollars playing bingo.  The prosecutor in the case said simply, the underlying issue is that she has got a bingo issue.  Now she might go to jail for three to 12 years, Tucker.  It‘s just a sad reminder of the destruction visited upon people‘s lives by bingo.  I think it‘s terrible, it‘s sad, and it‘s kind of a gateway game, where, next thing you know, you‘re selling Crystal Meth to play shuffleboard.  It‘s really sick. 

CARLSON:  Granny‘s a drug mule, greatest headline of all time. 

GEIST:  One more for you Tucker.  A new entry into the frivolous law suit hall of fame.  A woman is suing Kraft Foods, because there isn‘t enough avocado in the company‘s guacamole.  That‘s sad.  Grenda Listy‘s (ph) seeking unspecified damages and a court order barring Kraft from calling it‘s dip guacamole.  Listy said, quote, it just didn‘t taste avocadoey.  Kraft says it plans to relabel the product to make it clear that the dip is only guacamole flavored.  And Tucker, I have to say something, I had some of this Fanta orange drink, I‘ll be interested to see how much she gets, because I have a feeling this was not 100 percent fresh-squeezed orange juice and I want compensation. 

CARLSON:  Either that or they strained the pulp out. 

GEIST:  It was delicious though. 

CARLSON:  Willie Geist, thank you.

GEIST:  All right Tucker. 

CARLSON:  That‘s our show for today.  Thanks for watching.  Have a great weekend.  We‘ll see you back here Monday.

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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