updated 12/18/2006 11:10:56 AM ET 2006-12-18T16:10:56

Guests: A.B. Stoddard; Jim VandeHei, Karen Hanretty, Rosa Brooks, Patrick Gavin

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the Friday edition.  Our all-star panel will join us in just a minute. 

But first, to paraphrase a young Richard Nixon, after today we won‘t have Donald Rumsfeld to kick around anymore.  Rumsfeld left the Pentagon for good today, six years into his second term as secretary of defense.  Few are sad to see him go, though history is likely to judge him slightly more kindly than his contemporary critics.  Yes, that won‘t be hard.

As it happens, today is also the first anniversary of the Iraqi parliamentary elections, and it‘s also—and this has received virtually no coverage somehow—the day on which the war on terror officially ended.  That‘s right, it ended today.  We gave up.  There is no other way to interpret the Bush administration‘s decision to abandon identity tracking systems at the border. 

Consider this: If you enter this country legally, as the 9/11 hijackers did, we know who you are.  But if you decide not to leave the United States after your visa expires—and about a third of all illegal aliens and many of the 9/11 hijackers fall into this category—we have no way foolproof way of knowing that you are still here.  Congress recognized this crisis back in 1996 and ordered the Clinton administration to create technology that would departures at the border. 

Ten years and more than a billion dollars later, though, this administration has included that such technology is too cumbersome and too expensive.  In other words, the riches, most technologically advanced country in the history of the world is admitting—and even worse than that, accepting—that it has virtually no control over who crosses into its country, which is fine if you think that everyone who comes here is coming to America to make the country better.  But if you believe that even some of them are coming here to destroy us, it is unacceptable and we probably shouldn‘t accept it. 

On now to our all-star panel: A.B. Stoddard, the associate editor of “The Hill”; “The Politico‘s” Jim VandeHei; and Republican strategist Karen Hanretty.

Welcome. 

JIM VANDEHEI, “THE POLITICO”:  Good to be here.

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  So, maybe from your snorts I got the impression you think I‘m being hysterical about this, the failure of the tracking technology at the borders, but it does strike me, A.B., that if the United States government is admitting we don‘t know what they‘re doing once they come here, how can we fight a war on terror? 

STODDARD:  Well, imagine it‘s hard to track humans.  And of course it‘s not my job to do so, thank god.  But the homeland security officials move in mysterious ways. 

Earlier this year we found out that they were giving New York City less grant money than Kansas, I believe.  And I think that—I mean, I think that there is a lot of things, decisions made like this that we don‘t find out about.

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  And security priorities and spending priorities are made—they are in the eyes of the beholder.  There‘s probably a lot of decisions made, as I said, that are more important than this funding that is—that they have decided, you know, needs to go elsewhere.  Certainly there is a mountain of member projects on Capitol Hill that could be rescinded to pay for something like this, but it sounds like they haven‘t figured out to how to make it work before they—complaining about the money. 

CARLSON:  But it seems to me like they are giving up on the idea of making it work. 

And I just wonder, Jim, as a political matter, this question of immigration, this is the nexus of immigration and the war on terror.  You know, Figuringing out who is here so we can keep the illegals out and also keep the terrorists out. 

Who does this help?  I mean, which party benefits from fears about illegal immigration?

VANDEHEI:  Well, I think we got sort of mixed results out of the last election. 

CARLSON:  Right.  That‘s right. 

VANDEHEI:  And I think what‘s most surprising here is, like, the large number of people that are basically unaccounted for in this country.  And even if you had this system in place, do you really think the government is going to do a very effective job of tracking who is coming in and who is coming out?

Like, I think you‘re going to—you see stories like this in “The New York Times.”  And clearly, like, the Democrats are going to come out and say, well, now we need more funding for this.

And we are talking about a huge price tag.  We‘re talking about a huge bureaucratic maneuver to begin tracking these. 

So I think, like, Democrats obviously see—and I think Republicans saw it last time around.  You have this opportunity when you compare the two, when you compare immigration with the idea of national security, that it can be a political winner for the big segment.  Now when it comes to the dollars being put in the programs, it‘s not happening.  And...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  It‘s a better investment than trying to build democracy in some country that doesn‘t understand what the word means. 

VANDEHEI:  Right.  And the question is, at what point do you—at what point do lawmakers figure out—I mean, it‘s not just like throwing money at it and saying we are going to build—we‘re going to build a wall and we‘re going to keep people out.  There are a lot of people in this country that we cannot track, and that for reasons of practical matter, not political matter, you need to figure out what is going on.  You need to figure out how many illegal immigrants are here, but also, if someone is here, what sort of terrorist intent to track them down. 

This is going to be a big issue, I think, for the 2008 presidential election.  Like all elections probably for the rest of my lifetime are going to be about security, about this fear of terrorists.

CARLSON:  And I can see...

VANDEHEI:  So when people see this, it makes them nervous...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I could see Hillary or Barack Obama jumping on this.  It seems like an obvious...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  But both parties are jumping on it.

CARLSON:  They are.  That‘s my point.

But Karen, I want to ask you about Rumsfeld, who resigned today after sort of an amazing tenure, two different terms as secretary of defense.  Sixty-one percent of the population says good riddance.  He is disliked more than anybody but, say, Dick Cheney and Idi Amin. 

He has taken a lot of blame for this war.  And I wonder if that isn‘t unfair?  He didn‘t think of this war.  He may have made missteps along the way, but it wasn‘t his brainchild.  Why is he getting the blame?

KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  It wasn‘t his—it wasn‘t his brainchild, because he has really been the face of this war.  I mean, next to President Bush, Rumsfeld is the guy who, during “Shock and Awe,” was holding these daily press conferences.  He‘s the guy that we were watching almost like this rock star on TV. 

And when he is doing well, and when the war is going well, we all loved Rummy, and when things really started going badly, whether it was his decision or not, I think that, you know, he takes the blame.  Partly because he has got this attitude, you know, certainly in working with the media of, don‘t question what‘s happening, don‘t tell me things are going poorly.  They are going great, we‘re building schools.  Look at all the wonderful things you are not covering.  And he becomes very defensive.

And I think that as things go badly, that as the face of the war, when he doesn‘t respond, I think, to what the national mood is and how it changes, he is going to take a lot of that burden.  He is right now, but I think you are right that history—history—look, Rumsfeld said—you know, he has done a number of exit interviews with conservative journalists, columnists. 

He did an interview with Cal Thomas just the other day where he said, you know, look, this is a dangerous enemy.  This is a message I think that needs to be repeated more.  It‘s a dangerous enemy that is not going to surrender.  That you either capture or you kill—and I think history will move him right. 

CARLSON:  But he also said—I think it‘s right.  And in that exact same interview—and let me just say quickly, in 2001, just to remind us of how popular he was, “People” magazine named him the sexiest man in the administration.  He was 68 years old at the time.

VANDEHEI:  I think he still might be the sexiest man.

CARLSON:  Yes.  And he‘s also—look, in an administration full of BS artists and people who are in love with euphemisms, here‘s a guy who actually speaks English. 

Here‘s what he said to Cal Thomas: “I wouldn‘t have called it a war on terror, if it had been up to me,” he said.  “That war conjures up World War II more than it does the Cold War.  It creates a level of expectation of victory and an ending within 30 minutes of a soap opera.”

Furthermore, this is not a war on terror.  Terror is a weapon. 

When was the last time you heard anybody in the administration say something so clear? 

STODDARD:  I was really struck by that, and my thought was, when did he decide this?  When was—when did Donald Rumsfeld decide this and why haven‘t we heard about this before? 

I agree with you.  I don‘t think all the blame should not lie at his feet.  I think ultimately it falls on President Bush. 

If Donald Rumsfeld was running the Pentagon in a certain way in which he blocked out the military expertise, didn‘t take what they were saying into consideration, Bush should have known that.  At the end of the day he is the commander in chief.  He hired Donald Rumsfeld, and had the biggest, strongest hand in the way this war went. 

CARLSON:  Right.

VANDEHEI:  But let‘s not—let‘s not kid ourselves.  I mean, like, clearly, there were three people who were essentially running this war, and it‘s George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

CARLSON:  Right.

VANDEHEI:  And his popularity has always pretty much tracked where the popularity of the war is...

CARLSON:  As it should.

VANDEHEI:  Right.  And which makes a lot of sense, because, I mean, people are now very sour on the war, they‘re very sour on President Bush.  Of course they‘re going to be very sour on Donald Rumsfeld.  He might be fun and playful in a press conference, but that‘s not what people are looking for in a defense secretary. 

They‘re looking for competence...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I guess I just—I just wonder about all the geniuses who dream this up in their think tanks.  Like, what ever happened to all of them?  They‘ve kind of scampered away, and from the safety again of their offices...

VANDEHEI:  Turned into critics, a lot of them.

CARLSON:  They turned into critics.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I think they ought to be held to account.  They ought to have trouble finding work after this. 

VANDEHEI:  Hold them to—hold them to account, but, I mean—you can do that.  But, I mea, the American people will hold people to account in elections.  And that‘s what I think happened in the last elections.

CARLSON:  All right.

Well, we‘ll be right back. 

Coming up, as Senator Tim Johnson recovers, Democratic leaders pronounce their confidence about the balance of power on Capitol Hill.  Are they right, are they prematurely certain, are they a bit ghoulish?  Are we a bit ghoulish, for that matter?

We‘ll talk about it.  

Plus, it takes some thick skin to run for president, of course, and Barack Obama may not have it.  We‘ll expose his unusual sensitivity to questions about his ears when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  His family and friends are encouraged by his progress, but doctors say it is still too soon to see if South Dakota senator Tim Johnson will need further surgery, though he is responding to touch and his wife‘s voice, reaching out to hold her hand. 

Meanwhile, amid the talk of a shift in power in the Senate, should Johnson have to remove himself from office, Senator Harry Reid had this to say... 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: There isn‘t a thing that‘s changed.  The Republicans selected their committees yesterday, we have completed ours.  A very busy schedule today, going ahead and getting ready for the next year. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Really? 

Back to dissect that, our panel: A.B. Stoddard of “The Hill”; Jim VandeHei of “The Politico”; and Karen Hanretty, a Republican strategist. 

Karen, that sounds—it sounds, I don‘t know, like a challenge, almost.  Not a thing has changed.  Actually, something has changed.

What do you mean of Senator Reid‘s response?

HANRETTY:  Look, what is he going to say, one of our members is near death and maybe he makes it through and maybe he doesn‘t, and we‘re just going to put everything at a standstill to see what the outcome of this man‘s life is? 

CARLSON:  Right.

HANRETTY:  They should proceed.  There‘s a precedent for proceeding forward. 

I think Republicans are really smart right now not to try to play off of all of this.  And while they may be giddy inside—and actually, I done even think the Republicans, the mean-spirited Republicans that we are, are holding out hope that we can somehow retake the Senate because of someone else‘s morbid tragedy. 

CARLSON:  I hope not.  That would be awful. 

HANRETTY:  No.

CARLSON:  What happens...

HANRETTY:  But the news media certainly is doing their best to create a lot of buzz...

CARLSON:  Well, I think—it is real, though.  I mean, and now—yes, of course we are ghoulish and awful and have no soul.  I mean, that goes without saying.  But I think in this case it really is news.  I mean, this could bring about the turnover of the Senate.

HANRETTY:  But very unlikely, though.

CARLSON:  Yes, but unlike, well, how—I mean, Jim VandeHei, what‘s your take on this?

Let‘s say Senator Johnson is unable to serve and he is unable to serve before the swearing-in next month.  Is there any way Republicans don‘t take control? 

VANDEHEI:  They won‘t take control.  I mean, even if he can‘t serve...

CARLSON:  Right?

VANDEHEI:  ... they‘re going to see what his health is like.  And nobody is saying that he is not going to be able to serve at this point.

CARLSON:  Right.

VANDEHEI:  And truth be told, as long as he is alive—and he could go years without voting and still be a Democrat...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  In the 1940s, you know, people don‘t have indoor plumbing. 

I mean, you know, we didn‘t know that Roosevelt was in a wheelchair.

VANDEHEI:  Think about the Senate.  The Senate isn‘t—doesn‘t—it‘s not the House.  It doesn‘t have this set—this set—firm set of rules. 

They operate by tradition.  They operate—they make things up as they go.  They will decide what they are going to do.  And as long as Democrats have an effective majority with those numbers, they are the majority.

(CROSSTALK)

HANRETTY:  Joe Biden had brain surgery, and for seven months he was not able to vote.  I mean, there is precedent.

CARLSON:  But in that—you‘re—that‘s absolutely  right.  And there are senators who have been non compos mentis and nobody says anything about it because we are all too polite here in Washington to say, you know, Senator so and so is out to lunch. 

STODDARD:  That‘s right.  And the state—I mean, the state—South Dakota will be OK with Senator...

CARLSON:  But does South Dakota think it‘s going to be—I mean, in other words, can they really—can the Democratic Party really say, you know, yes, the senator is unable to serve, no, it doesn‘t seem like he will be able to serve in the future, but we‘re not going to replace him? 

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  First of all, right now, on December 15th, they are in a wait-and-see mode with looking at a prognosis of a recovery that would be a couple of months. 

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  So, first of all, no one is going to talk about any outcome right now because he is responding, and he‘s gone from critical to stable.

Now, they have 50 votes.  They have a one-vote margin to work with for organizing in January.  And they will proceed with him recovering, hoping that he will be back later. 

The Republicans have in their midst a senator from Wyoming who is recovering himself, being treated for...

CARLSON:  From leukemia.

STODDARD:  ... Craig Thomas, who is being treated for cancer.  And they‘re well aware themselves...

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  ... that every majority is—at this point of the Senate -

is one person away from serious trouble.  They are not planning to do anything. 

CARLSON:  But you don‘t think there is a question—and again, this is all jumping ahead, of course and I feel guilty.  But I‘m going to proceed anyway, blowing right past my guilt. 

There is a question of representation.  I mean, it is, after all, a democracy.  And, you know, people of every state have an expectation they‘re going to have two people casting votes on their behalf. 

Can this go—I mean, is seven months in this case too long for the people of South Dakota to go without... 

(CROSSTALK)

HANRETTY:  Not unless they are going to rewrite the rules.  The rules aren‘t going to be rewritten. 

I think that the real—the real message here is that, how precarious the majority is in the Senate and the fact that they are hanging on by a thread and they don‘t have a mandate after this past election.  And I think if the Democratic majority moves forward knowing how precarious their majority is...

CARLSON:  Right.

HANRETTY:  ... with this attitude that we have this mandate from the people to really push through and ramrod our own agenda, they are—they‘re delirious.  And I thin that this really highlights that. 

CARLSON:  See Democrats, though, they haven‘t been acting like they‘ve got a mandate.

VANDEHEI:  Think how disengaged voters are typically from the process. 

Do you really think...

CARLSON:  See, now you‘re depressing me when you get into this stuff.

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEHEI:  Do you really think that voters in South Dakota are going to march up to the steps of the Capitol and say, we want—we want this taken care of?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.  What have you done for me lately now.

VANDEHEI:  We need a two-vote representation, like Tucker said on his show the other day?  Absolutely not.  I mean, this...

CARLSON:  You don‘t think so?  You don‘t think our power extends even to South Dakota, is that what you are saying? 

VANDEHEI:  It may, but I‘m telling you, I just don‘t think that that‘s how voters react, particularly when they are not all that engaged in the political process.  They‘re worried about Christmas.  They‘re worried about the new year.

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  And they‘re worried about Senator Johnson.  And they‘re probably not...

VANDEHEI:  Right.

STODDARD:  ... going to confront his family and force a resignation before he is given a chance to recuperate. 

HANRETTY:  Right.

VANDEHEI:  And you made a point before that none of us talk about. 

When Strom Thurmond is 100 years old and...

CARLSON:  I wasn‘t naming names. 

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEHEI:  I‘m saying, like, are you getting effective representation? 

Well, apparently the people in that state thought they were. 

CARLSON:  There have been senators in their late 90s, that‘s right, about whom questions have been raised.  No, there‘s not doubt about that. 

Joe Lieberman, though—and I hate to call anybody a beneficiary of a tragedy—and this is certainly a tragedy—but he is empowered by this, is he not, Karen?

HANRETTY:  Joe Lieberman? 

CARLSON:  Well, sure.  I mean, he‘s—because, you k now, in a closely-divided body, the swing votes are always the powerful votes.  But here is a guy who conceivably could switch parties. 

HANRETTY:  Yes.  I don‘t think Joe Lieberman is going to be switching parties. 

STODDARD:  I don‘t either. 

(CROSSTALK)

HANRETTY:  Republicans are going to have to get the majority the good old-fashioned way and win—or cheat.

CARLSON:  He‘s more a Bush supporter than I am.

STODDARD:  I think Republicans pretend they want Joe Lieberman in the ranks and they actually really don‘t. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.  No, no, he won‘t (INAUDIBLE).

Barack Obama‘s ears in particular were burning when he read Maureen Dowd‘s latest column.  Could the frontrunner of the future be a lot more sensitive than he looks?

And the foreign policy freelancing of Florida senator Bill Nelson, once an astronaut, now a one-man State Department.  We‘ll tell you what he was doing in Syria. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for our daily Obameter.

There‘s no such thing as bad press, right?  Even when you might be running for president and it involves talk of your ear size?  Well, not true says the senator, who apparently was annoyed with “New York Times” columnist Maureen Dowd after she commented upon the size of his ears.

He set her straight when he bumped into her after his speech in New Hampshire the other day.  He told her, “You talked about my ears and I just want to put you on notice.  I‘m very sensitive about them.  I was teased relentlessly when I was a kid about my big ears.”

Maureen Dowd‘s response: “We are trying to toughen you up.”

So maybe he needs to toughen up.  But apart from that, is he ready to take on the presidency? 

Joining me now is someone who says, absolutely, he is.  “Los Angeles Times” columnist Rosa Brooks.

Rosa, welcome. 

ROSA BROOKS, “LOS ANGELES TIMES”:  Hi, Tucker.

CARLSON:  What a sensitive little man.  Don‘t make fun of my ears.

BROOKS:  Oh, I think you got this totally wrong.  He was teasing her. 

CARLSON:  Do you think so? 

BROOKS:  Yes.  I think he was teasing her and she teased right back. 

It was a nice moment. 

CARLSON:  Huh.  Well, if that‘s—if that‘s the case, you have de-fanged me immediately.  If he is mocking Maureen Dowd...

BROOKS:  I think he was.  I think he was.  And I think he did a good job.

CARLSON:  And mocking himself.

BROOKS:  And I think she came right back at him.  And it was—that‘s all it is.  You know, if he had ears that were three inches longer and were green I would be worried about him, because then it would mean that he was from another planet. 

CARLSON:  Yes, but you never know.  People—people tend to see themselves not as the rest of the world sees them. 

BROOKS:  Really?

CARLSON:  You make the case—yes, it‘s true.  It‘s true.  Anorexics think they‘re fat.

Your column today, you make the point that, yes, he doesn‘t have a lot of experience, but that‘s not such a big deal because we are not looking for someone with too much experience.  We don‘t want, like, a Donald Rumsfeld or a Dick Cheney.

BROOKS:  No, no, no.  That‘s not quote my point, Tucker.

CARLSON:  OK.

BROOKS:  My point is that he actually has a lot more experience than people give him credit for.  I think there‘s overwhelming media trope that says, oh, we‘ve got the experienced person, Hillary, on the Democratic side.  And then we‘ve got this new guy who has no experience.

He‘s got—he‘s got plenty of experience.  He hasn‘t been in the Senate as long as Hillary.  Hillary has only been in the Senate for a few years.  You know, he‘s got plenty of experience at the state legislative level, he‘s got plenty of experience as an organizer. 

I don‘t think there‘s any particular reason to write him off.  That‘s part of my point.

CARLSON:  Wait, wait, wait, wait.  I wouldn‘t make that point at all.  I think he has more experience than Hillary Clinton.  This is her first paying job in many, many years. 

BROOKS:  This is true.

CARLSON:  He was actually the rough and tumble of the state legislature.  I mean, no, this guy‘s got a lot more experience than her.  I mean, if you were to compare him to, say, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Boxer has got a lot more experience than either one.

BROOKS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  And she should be running for president, in my view, in the Democratic... 

BROOKS:  I think that, you k now, there are a lot of people who want to discredit Obama before he even gets started.

CARLSON:  Right.

BROOKS:  I mean, obviously, any other Democratic candidate would like to see him out of running because he is a tremendously appealing candidate.  And anyone on the Republican side obviously doesn‘t really want the Democrats to have a very appealing candidate.

And I think that the line that is being used, which actually doesn‘t have that much to it, is that he has got too little experience.  And we‘ll see.

You know, it‘s early yet.  If he runs, there may be all sorts of things that will make people say no, he is the not right guy.  But I think the motion that he shouldn‘t even try it because he doesn‘t have the experience is just crazy. 

And I also think that there is absolutely such a thing as—I wouldn‘t say too much experience, but if you misuse use your experience, if you draw the wrong lessons, if it makes you decide that you don‘t need to listen to anybody else because you already know everything, we have seen the catastrophic results of that already in the Iraq war. 

CARLSON:  But wait.  Here‘s—speaking of President Bush, I‘m reading your column...

BROOKS:  Speaking of President Bush, yes.

CARLSON:  I never miss your column.  OK.

BROOKS:  Right.  OK.

CARLSON:  You write this: “Experience like charisma can be overrated.”

BROOKS:  Yes, true.

CARLSON:  “Good presidents learn all they can, then they appoint smart, thoughtful aides.  People can fill the gaps with their own knowledge and serve as honest brokers,” et cetera, et cetera.

I‘m thinking, where have I heard that before?  I heard that in 1999, in Austin, Texas, from a Bush adviser who said, yes, he‘s callow.  He‘s only been the governor for a term and a half.

(CROSSTALK)

BROOKS:  You know what they forgot?  They...

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly the same argument.

BROOKS:  No, they stuck with all the pieces, except they forgot about the honest broker part.  That‘s what got lost somewhere in there.

He didn‘t have honest brokers.  He had experienced guys who were fighting old wars, who weren‘t honest brokers, who were putting him in a bubble, keeping him from getting dissenting views.

And that‘s the other thing I said in the column, is obviously you‘ve got to know what you don‘t know and you‘ve got to be able to create an environment in which you are actually nurturing dissent and not just stomping it out.  The problem with the Bush administration wasn‘t lack of experience.  It was that there was no dissent tolerated and no dissent that was ever allowed to get to the president.  And he didn‘t do anything to change that.

CARLSON:  In 10 seconds, he has admitted that he has done cocaine.  Do you think that‘s a problem?

BROOKS:  No.

CARLSON:  Yes.  I agree with that. 

BROOKS:  That was one second.  That was less than one second.

CARLSON:  Yes—no, it was very good. 

BROOKS:  That‘s an easy one.  That‘s an easy one.

CARLSON:  You‘re a pithy woman, Rosa Brooks.

Thanks a lot, Rosa.  I appreciate it.

BROOKS:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Coming up, how would you feel about your senator making a freelance trip to an official enemy of the U.S.?  Bill Nelson has done just that.  Does Florida have an its own foreign policy now? 

Plus, the men falsely accused in the Duke rape case were back in court today.  We‘ve got a live report on that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, the case against the Duke lacrosse players accused of rape continues to crumble.  Putting it to rest once and for all could be as simple as finding out who‘s the daddy.

We‘ll get to that in just a minute.

Right now, though, here‘s a look at your headlines.

(NEWSBREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Just in case you imagined the Duke rape case went away, we‘re here to tell you, it did not.  The accuser, who by the way, had no DNA from any of the students she alleged raped her, is on the verge of giving birth, nine months after the now infamous Duke lacrosse party. 

Meanwhile, all three defendants were in court with their attorneys today, asking for, among other things, a paternity test for the baby, once he or she is born.  Also in court was MSNBC‘s senior legal analyst and former Connecticut prosecutor Susan Filan, who joins us now. 

Susan, it turns out there is some question about how far along the accuser is in her pregnancy.  What‘s the latest?

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST:  Well it came out in open court today, Tucker, that she is, in fact, pregnant.  It looks like she was impregnated about two weeks after the alleged incident, and is due to give birth sometime around the beginning of February, but we are sure that there has been some complications with her pregnancy, and it‘s not clear that she is going to make it along that far. 

But the boys, through their lawyers, said to the court, we would like paternity test please.  And, interestingly enough, the state said we would to.  Let‘s just clear this issue up right away.  The state does not think, in any likelihood, it‘s going to come back that any of the accusers are the father.  Obviously the accusers say they are not. 

CARLSON:  Do we have the results, there were two DNA test taken in this case, one we heard was negative, implicating none of the players at the party.  The second, I‘m not sure we know the results.  Do we know them now?

FILAN:  The real news, Tucker, is that the boys are excluded, but why is that news since we‘ve known that since day one.  This has never been—

CARLSON:  Susan, I‘m sorry to stop you there, what does that mean, they‘re excluded.

FILAN:  Any samples that they gave do not match any samples that came from the victim, period.  They are 100 percent excluded as contributors of any genetic material found on her, and we know that multiple samples were taken from her, but we do know that there are other, unknown, male depositors of genetic material in swabs taken from her private areas, rectal swab, swabs from her underwear.  And so, we don‘t know who they are, but we know who they are not.  They are not the accused; they‘re not the three defendants.  They are also not anybody on the lacrosse team, period. 

CARLSON:  I know I speak for myself when I say that I think most men think of themselves as more than just depositors of genetic material, though I understand the need for a phrase like that. 

(CROSS TALK)

FILAN:  -- it could be skin cells.  It could be tears, blood, sweat. 

It‘s not always what you think when we say genetic material.

CARLSON:  But it often is.  Susan, is there any chance that this case is going to get tossed out?

FILAN:  Well, not by the prosecutor.  The prosecutor isn‘t going to dismiss the case unless the victim, witness, isn‘t willing to come forward.  We‘re going to find out whether that‘s the case February 5th, when the next round of hearings, and these are substantive, significant hearings that are scheduled to take place, a motion to suppress the identification, and a motion for change of venue.  She is going to have to testify as to how she made her identification. 

If she doesn‘t show up for that, chances are she is not showing up for trial.  But, will the prosecutor toss the case?  No.  Will the court?  The defense will certainly file that motion pre-trial.  If it‘s not tossed pre-trial, they will file it again after the state rests.  They will file it again after the defense rests.  They will keep filing it until either they win, or there is an acquittal, or there is a conviction. 

CARLSON:  There may be another option, Susan.  Nifong is, in my view, completely out of the control as a prosecutor.  That‘s come to the attention of members of Congress.  One of them, a Republican form North Carolina, has called for Nifong to step down or be removed.  What is the status of that? 

FILAN:  Well, it is brand new.  It just happened.  I can tell you that there is great interest from the defense that something happen to Nifong, who they believe is violating their client‘s civil rights, has crossed the line, is not just now guilty of prosecutorial misconduct, but has gone even further.  That‘s incredibly unusual, and terribly rare. 

What may end up happening is, if Nifong becomes a witness in this case, because he has to defend himself at the same time he is prosecuting the boys, they may have to appoint a special prosecutor, but the favor of court, just having sat in it today, was a very neutral, very fair, very balanced judge, who seems to not be swayed by hullabaloo, seems to be that this is going to take its course, and it‘s going to be a very fair and serious legal proceeding and it‘s a search for the truth, and whatever the right thing is.  It seems like, with this judge on the bench, the right results will occur.  The defense today thought today was a huge victory for them.  The state thought it was just basically another day in court. 

CARLSON:  I‘ll tell you, the right thing is for Mike Nifong to go to prison, ASAP.  I hope that happens.  Susan Filan, on the scene, thanks a lot Susan. 

FILAN:  Tucker, you have got a lot of fans down here.  A lot of people come up to me and said, please say Tucker, hello, and we love you.

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m not bragging but this is the one thing I‘ve called right in my life from the beginning.  I knew this was a crock and every day has confirmed that belief.  So, anyway, thanks for the update. 

FILAN:  Bye-Bye. 

CARLSON:  Now back to politics.  If Barack Obama makes a run for the presidency, he can look forward to, first and foremost, a ton of criticism.  Can he handle it?  Will he cry.  Back with us now, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of the “Hill,” the politicos Jim Vandehei, and Republican strategist Karen Hanretty.  Karen, were you won over?  I thought Rosa Brooks, whom I love.  I‘ll admit it.  I like Rosa Brooks.  She made a very good point.  Maybe he was joking.  Do you think he was joking?  

HANRETTY:  This pains me probably more than anything to say, that it‘s possible that the “L.A. Times,” of all papers, has persuaded me that I might have been wrong in my first judgment.  I think, you know—I think she might be right.  Maybe he was just, kind of, playing around coyly with Maureen Dowd.  Although, if he really is sensitive about this, he has got a lot coming.  I mean, look at how Condoleezza Rice and George Bush, and everyone else in the foreign press have been characterized, the horrible things that—the cartoons that have been made about them.  Can you imagine if Barack Obama was president the United States, how he would be pilloried, I think, in other countries, unless, of course, he sells out to the, you know, this whole Europe and, you know, --

CARLSON:  Sucks up to -- 

HANRETTY:  Well, yes, basically sucks up—thank you—sucks up to the foreigners, but if he really is sensitive about this, he has got a lot coming. 

CARLSON:  Now Jim, you‘ve obviously covered a lot of campaigns.  How many candidates have you seen, Wes Clark—excuse me—who seem the perfect candidate?  I mean, Wes Clark is the example.  He has everything going for him.  He‘s much smarter than I am, incredibly impressive resume, seems the right man, at the right time and just blows up on the campaign trail, because he doesn‘t have the experience? 

VANDEHEI:  Yes, I mean, I was on the plain when Wes Clark decided to run, that very first time that he actually met with reporters, and I remember listening to him talk to a staffer, and the staffer whispered to him, no, no, no, No Child Left Behind is the education law.  I knew it was big trouble from there.  So listen, I mean, Obama‘s going to have much bigger problems than the size of his ears.  I mean, the thing that‘s he‘s going to have to answer is going to be, does he have the gravitas and experience to president. 

Obviously, like whether this is a joke or not, there‘s so much scrutiny of you when you are running for office, but the scrutiny is going to be, you know, are you ready?  I mean, it‘s not just about making good decisions and bringing in the right people.  I think people are going to expect a lot, probably more in 2008 than they usually do from the presidential candidate, because you are going to have a president who is going to inherit a war or withdrawal from a war.  You‘re going to have a president who is going to have to continue to protect us from a terrorist attack, and also inherit a budget situation that is untenable. 

You can‘t continue to spend the amount of money that we are spending on entitlement programs and survive financially as a country.  So those are big issues and people are going to expect a lot.  And so he is going to have to prove that he has the right experience and the right judgment to be able to do that.  And that‘s the test for him.  I mean, he gave a great speech.  Great, loved your speech.  There‘s a lot of good speakers.

CARLSON:  I didn‘t even think it was that good, honestly.

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  I think he was better on the “Tonight Show.”  I mean, I sort of find the guy appealing.  I want to know if the bar might not—I mean, I see what you mean and I think it all makes sense.  I wonder if, in a perverse way, the bar might, in fact, be lowered, A.B., because the country is in this kind of funk.  This is, in some ways, the Carter years, right, and people are just looking for something new.  And maybe the new guy gets every benefit of every doubt. 

STODDARD:  Well, every new person gets the benefit of doubt for a while, and the ride will end for him.  But I think that—this is always going to be a balance of confidence and ego, with humility.  Can he—

CARLSON:  Just, that‘s exactly what Barack Obama said.  He said it takes an egomaniac to run for president.  He said that in an interview with the “Chicago Tribune” today, which i thought was a good point.

STODDARD:  But, if he survives this, you know, without all the experience that everyone says he needs to have, it would be because his personality could straddle being confident, but being able to say, I don‘t know about A., B., C.  And I‘m going to hire the right people and I will listen to them.  And that‘s always the balance for anyone coming in to the job of the president of the United States. 

VANDEHEI:  I just find it hard to believe that the American people—

I mean, that that‘s the composite that people are going to be looking for when they elect somebody that—well, you know, I‘m humble enough to realize that I have all these shortcomings.  They‘re going to want someone who can step to stage and say, like, I can see these big problems and I can fix them.  

CARLSON:  So why isn‘t Joe Biden the guy, though.  Because Joe Biden -

I mean, Joe Biden actually does know more about foreign policy than anyone in that chamber. 

VANDEHEI:  Foreign policy, correct. 

CARLSON:  No question. 

VANDEHEI:  He doesn‘t have that big of a following among Democrats and those of us that know him, like, he has a tendency to pop off and say things that are controversial.  And I think that‘s why a lot of the establishment says, well, we don‘t think that—

CARLSON:  No, he‘s got some personality issues.  There‘s no doubt about that. 

(CROSS TALK)

HANRETTY:  If Rosa is right, and he was laughing at himself, that will probably be his greatest asset as a campaigner, because we have a president right now who can‘t laugh at himself.  We have an administration that can‘t laugh at themselves, and I think that people, if—certainly in the beginning, they want someone who they can relate to, who can says yes, I have got these faults and laugh it off, and say now let‘s go look at the big vision.  I think there is a lot to be said for that.  I don‘t like his politics, but he is appealing. 

CARLSON:  When I say it makes me uncomfortable that Bill Nelson has declared himself secretary of state of Florida, and is off in Syria, a one-man diplomatic mission?  I mean, is that weird?

STODDARD:  Apparently he is not chief free lancer, because everyone is following behind him, Dodd, Kerry and others are going to do this.  And I think for George Bush, who is adamantly opposed to Jim Baker‘s recommendations, that he engage Syria and Iran, the only thing worse than doing so might be, I think, all Democratic senators in the months to come, going off and doing it themselves.  

CARLSON:  But Jimmy Carter did this to Bill Clinton, and I always felt sorry for Clinton when he did it.  Carter, when Clinton was president, was always running off to whatever hot spot Clinton was focusing on, whether it‘s Haiti or Bosnia or Kosovo, and making his own, sort of, you know, I mean, having diplomatic relations, so to speak, with the government of that country. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  I don‘t know, it just made it so much harder for the actual president. 

VANDEHEI:  It‘s certainly complicates Bush‘s life.  It‘s designed to complicate his life.  Obviously he does not feel philosophy that you should engage the Syrians and Iranian‘s.  There‘s a lot of people who will tell you that is intellectually a very smart approach.

CARLSON:  But should a U.S. senator be contradicting American foreign policy? 

VANDEHEI:  The president and the Senate, they have different jobs obviously.  One of the jobs of the Senate is to do oversight, and to figure out what might work, or what is not working and how we are dealing with the Middle East and with Iraq.  And there is a theory of thought, among a lot of Democrats and probably some Republicans, clearly Jim Baker among them, that you need to engage. 

So I think what they are doing is he‘s saying, listen, that‘s my role.  I‘m a senator.  I can go there, feel them out, see, is there is any wiggle room at all for diplomatic negotiations?  A lot of people might say, no, there is not, but I don‘t think that it‘s absurd for a senator to say listen, like, my job is to provide some oversight.  I‘m going to go there and see if there‘s an opening.  Does it undercut the president?  Absolutely, it undercuts the president. 

HANRETTY:  I think that this highlights, you know, there have been a couple people who have written op-eds in the past week, saying that the president needs to form a tight coalition.  He needs to bring in a couple of Democrats.  He just needs to swallow hard, admit that he needs their input.  And I think if he would do that, and he had thoughtful, well respected Democrats, that he was working on this, I think they could put the pressure on these other rogue senators, who want to go engage in their own foreign diplomacy, to sit down and shut up. 

CARLSON:  Rogue senators, I like—

STODDARD:  Karen is right.  This is happening because there is still a sense that he is not listening, and as long is as there is a sense that he is not listening, --

(CROSS TALK)

STODDARD:  -- are going to keep telling him that it‘s—

CARLSON:  I think you‘re blaming the victim.  I think when the next Democrat is elected president, which will probably be in two years, and, you know, it‘s the equivalent of Jesse Helms pops up and goes to whatever country, and starts undercutting them, I will defend the Democrats, I will.  I promise.  Thank you all, very much. 

Coming up, 34 years after America‘s most notorious burglary, the Watergate has a fresh problem and plumbers, once again, are involved.  We‘re not kidding.  We‘ll tell you more in a minute. 

Plus, what do Borat and Dick Cheney have in common this holiday season?  No, Borat is not tied to the oil industry and Dick Cheney‘s still not funny.  Stay tuned.  We‘ll tell you how they‘re connected. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Time now for our daily dose of gossip, and for that we welcome—we are proud to welcome Patrick Gavin of the “Washington Examiner.”  Patrick, what‘s going on at the Watergate?

PATRICK GAVIN, “THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER”:  Well, it‘s interesting, we got a little flash back to the Nixon years yesterday at the Watergate, which is where a lot of publications here in D.C. are housed, the “National Journal,” “Atlantic Media Company.”  The building manager there sent the following e-mail. 

CARLSON:  The Watergate is a big apartment building on the river, next to the Kennedy Center. 

GAVIN:  Which is obviously where the Nixon break-in happened and all

that.  So, the manager sent the following e-mail, the building is

experiencing a plumbing problem that is being worked on now.  This, of

course, had to require all the bathrooms being shut down, the ladies had to

switch bathrooms, switch floors and all that.  But it was funny thinking

that once again, going back to the 70‘s, we‘ve got plumbers

CARLSON:  The plumbers have hit the Watergate, once again. 

GAVIN:  So, a little flashback there.  We had another funny thing this week at Dick Cheney‘s holiday party Tuesday night, at his residence.  We all have probably seen the movie Borat, Kazakstan has now been on the map.  Well, interestingly enough, the Vodka being served at Vice President Cheney‘s holiday part was, of course, Snow Queen Vodka, which comes from where else, Kazakstan.  So Borat‘s influence—

CARLSON:  Is it made from fermented horse urine, or is it just straight potato Vodka? 

GAVIN:  I think you got it.  Cheney only serves the worst alcohol.

CARLSON:  Were the guest notified that this was Kazakstany Vodka?

GAVIN:  I‘m not quite sure that most people picked up on it.  I mean, our source, who was there, picked up on it, who is a huge fan of Borat, had said that this is just hilarious, that, you know, Borat‘s influence is making Kazakstan the most important country in the world now. 

CARLSON:  Is this common for foreign nations—nations like Kazakstan

to cater parties at the president or vice president‘s houses?  

GAVIN:  I don‘t think so.  I mean, they are not catering it.  I mean, their alcohol gets served there.  But, you never know.  

CARLSON:  Too tremendous.  What‘s the—any fallout from the Christmas parties this week at the White House? 

GAVIN:  Yes, there‘s a little bit of fallout that some reporters who went are concerned that they had a bit too much to drink.  And they‘re very sensitive about photos that have gotten out, about stories that have gotten out.  But—

CARLSON:  Reporters are sensitive about being caught drunk? 

GAVIN:  Go figure, yes.  

CARLSON:  What a bunch of woossies.  Are You serious? 

GAVIN:  I‘ve had a couple people be like, you know, please don‘t talk about this.  Oh please, don‘t publish this photo, or just make sure you know, I wasn‘t drunk at this event.  So, you know, of course, everybody had a great time, it looks like, but everybody came out of there the next morning, just definitely double checking if they behaved themselves. 

CARLSON:  That is the most embarrassing thing I have ever heard.  Jim Vandehei, you‘ve been a reporter for a long time.  Is this the influence of journalism school?  Is this where people learn to worry about being seen drunk in public?

VANDEHEI:  I‘m from Wisconsin.  I‘ve been known to have one too many pops once in a while.  You can take my picture next time. 

CARLSON:  Wisconsin has the—I think it has more bars per capita than any state in the world, right?

VANDEHEI:  At one point, I believe OshKosh, which I‘m from, had one of the highest per capita number of bars in the city.  It was like 127.  The city was like, you know 45, 50 thousand people at the time.  So there is beer in every corner.  It‘s a good thing.  It‘s America. 

CARLSON:  That‘s why there are many famous journalists from Oshkosh.  Does it bother you at all, Karen, that foreign nations are providing alcohol to the government at the highest levels?

HANRETTY:  No, what bothers me is that no one at this party had their cell phone, got a got any video of these reporters.  And that there is not YouTube video right now on the Internet of these people, because, as someone who works with reporters, talks to them, and has often laid awake at night thinking oh, I hope that off the record comment really doesn‘t show up with my name on it the next day—anyone who has worked with reporters really has no sympathy for their last minute anxiety over being outed. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  Since this is a gossip segment.  It‘s true, but it‘s not the sort of thing you would see on the front page, necessarily, of the “New York Times,” who was the drunkest of the reporters you talked to?  Who was the most ashamed of his behavior?  Who feared criminal prosecution more than any other? 

GAVIN:  You know, the last time I was on here you asked me a similar question.  You are just going to get me in trouble here. 

CARLSON:  Because I ask the tough questions.  I‘m not afraid to get right down to it?  Who would you say—

GAVIN:  Well, I would say the drunkest reporters were probably the ones that Kyle, who just left “Bloomberg” --  had an after party.  I think at Old Ebbets, or then it turned into the Hey Adams.  So, any reporter who went from the White House to that, and then went form Old Ebbet, which is a local bar here town, to Hey Adams, which is a hotel here in town—whoever went to that—so if you find out that they were at the Hey Adams, that means that they were partying from, for print reports, 4:00 p.m. to god knows how long? 

CARLSON:  OK, we‘re going to get right on it.  We are going to harness the resources of the MSNBC and track that town.  Patrick Gaving, thank you very much. 

GAVIN:  Yes sir.  

CARLSON:  Jim, Karen, thank you both.  Sometimes you just can‘t shake it, all the way home after you have had a few too many drinks.  This guy took a little rest stop on the railroad tracks.  We‘ll show you how this story wound up.  Not as bad as you might think.  We‘ll tell you when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  It‘s not all Iran and social security reform on this show.  Other things happened in the world too.  Willie Geist is here to tell us what they are, Willie.  

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, I have the much less important news for you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Hey, Willie, let me ask, before you get to the news, did you hear in our last segment, Patrick Gavin was telling us that there are some reporters in Washington who are afraid that their drunkenness at Christmas parties this week was caught on camera and they are ashamed people might find out they were drinking? 

GEIST:  I did hear that, and what I noticed most about it was how outraged and offended you were by that.  It leads me to believe that perhaps you‘ve been to one of these parties and not been ashamed at how drunk you were.  Is that possible?  

CARLSON:  No, there‘s no more drunkenness for me.  No, just on principle, you grew up in a family of journalists.  You know, I mean, that‘s a violation of the code.

GEIST:  No, it‘s part of the thing.  It‘s Hunter S. Thompson.  It‘s all good, come on, gonzo, go for it.  Well, speaking of drunks, Tucker, you know, railroad tracks rank very low on the list of places to take a good nap, but they are on the list now, thanks to this guy.  The incident happened a few months ago in Suri, England, but the man was sentenced today to 180 hours of community service.  He also got a little fine.  The unemployed man, who was reportedly once the director of a company, disrupted train service when he got drunk and passed out on the tracks.  It took railway officials nearly half an hour to wake him up and move him, believe it or not. 

Now, Tucker, I have taken a drink in my day, and I‘ve been—you know, I‘ve been off the charts, but I‘ve never been so drunk as to mistake heavily traveled railway tracks for my own bed.  I mean, that guy really tied one on, didn‘t he?  

CARLSON:  I‘m amazed that it took them an hour and a half to wake him up and move him.

GEIST:  Half on hour. 

CARLSON:  Oh, half an hour, still.  I had a roommate it took about 20 minutes, but half an hour, that‘s just epic.   

GEIST:  It‘s remarkable.  Apparently he drank a couple handles of Vodka and just decided that was the best place to take a nap.  Thank god nobody was hurt.  He disrupted the service.  He apologized, but kind of a bad scene.  Don‘t you think.

CARLSON:  Looks like a suicide attempt to me. 

GEIST:  I hope not.  Here is a good one for you Tucker.  The fake revolution was televised last night on Belgian TV.  State television broke into its programing with a phony bulletin, reporting that the Dutch-speaking half of the country had declared independence and that the king and queen had fled.  The gag was complete with the fake video of the royal family boarding a plane and celebrations in the streets—you see them right there—as Belgian citizens frantically called the station and journalists and governments around Europe scrambled to confirm the news.  State TV waited a full half an hour, talk about waiting half an hour, before flashing the words, this is fiction across the screen.  The stunt was called irresponsible, abhorrent and catastrophic.  Tucker, and I have today, no offense to Belgium, I learned more about Belgium today, reading this story, than I ever knew, you know. 

CARLSON:  Wait, are there still Walloons in Belgium?

GEIST:  Yes there are, the French speaking. 

CARLSON:  OK, that‘s my first question.  Second, is this the most exciting that has happened in Belgium in the last century or so?

GEIST:  When is the last time you heard Belgium‘s name?

CARLSON:  Great question, third, if this had, in fact, happened and the country had been split into two, would anybody notice?  It would be on page Z-19 of the “New York Times.” 

GEIST:  Jean Claude Van Damne would have noticed.  He is the favorite son of Belgium.  That‘s true. 

CARLSON:  Is he really?

GEIST:  Yes, he is.  The muscles from Brussels.  All right, finally Tucker, I have some unbelievable video to show you.  There is the romantic, you know, sort of, Rockewell view of how a firefighter rescues a cat from a tree, and then there is this.  An apartment fire outside Seattle, the firefighter climbs up the tree and just starts shaking.  There‘s no climbing up and giving it a delicate landing.  The cat jumped out of the apartment, onto the tree to save itself, and he was repaid with this.  The cat is OK, went down to a lower branch and eventually escaped, but I don‘t think I have quite seen a fireman‘s rescue like that, where you just go up and you say, you know what, I‘m in the going up that high.  I‘m going to shake until this cat falls. 

CARLSON:  Yes, it‘s like instead of performing the Heimlich maneuver, just shooting the guy with a steak in his throat.  But you know what the most amazing thing about the video, it was shot, our director is just telling me, from a news helicopter, which means there is a news director somewhere in this country, who dispatched a helicopter to shoot video of a cat in a tree.  That‘s amazing. 

GEIST:  Well, in his defense, there was an apartment fire and I think this is sort of an ancillary benefit of it, but, you know, it‘s breaking news.  It‘s all relative, but apparently it‘s breaking news. 

CARLSON:  Apparently it is.  Willie Geist from headquarters, thanks a lot Willie. 

That does it for us, thanks a lot for watching.  We‘ll back here tomorrow, same time, tune in then.  No won‘t.  It‘s the weekend.  Have a great weekend.  See you 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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