updated 12/19/2006 12:53:33 PM ET 2006-12-19T17:53:33

Guests: Terry Holt, Pat Buchanan, Peter Beinart, Christine Todd Whitman, Woody Paige, Jeff Dufour, Peter Beinart

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Welcome to the Monday edition of the show.  We‘re keeping an eye on the search for those missing climbers on Mt.  Hood in Oregon.  We‘ll keep you up-to-date on developments as they come in.

In the meantime though, General Colin Powell reappeared on the Sunday shows yesterday for the first time in a year to talk with CBS‘s Bob Scheiffer about Iraq.  We are losing Powell declared.  The last three and a half years have been a disaster he said, that has devastated our military and made us less safe here at home.

More troops are not the answer, Powell went on, but we ought to open direct talks with Iran and Syria about the future of the region. 

Powell‘s points weren‘t stupid, but they were notably and directly in opposition to current Administration policy.  If you‘ve never seen Colin Powell before, you would have had no idea he used to serve as secretary of state in that very Administration.  And you never, ever would have guessed that he was heavily responsible for the very war he was denouncing yesterday on TV.  But he was.

Colin Powell more than any other person probably apart from Bush himself, got us into the war in Iraq.  His speech before the U.N.  describing Saddam‘s weapons of mass destruction was the pivotal moment in the countdown to invasion.  Bush could not have done it without him.  So before Powell tells the rest of us what we already know about the disaster in Iraq, shouldn‘t he acknowledge his responsibility and take a moment to apologize? 

Powell‘s a smart man, but still a guilty one and there is no redemption without repentance.  Much more on that in a minute.

But first, to domestic politics, John Edwards declared he is going to

declare his run for the presidency sometimes between Christmas and New

Years, maybe the 28th.  He‘ll be rebuilding homes in the lower 9th Ward of

New Orleans at that moment.  In the age of Hillary and Barack Obama, is he

still a serious candidate though

Joining us now to bat that around—Republican strategist Terry Holt, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and the editor at large of the “New Republic” magazine, Peter Beinhart.  Welcome to you all. 

Peter, is he a serious candidate.  You saw Evan Bayh get out this weekend, very gracefully I thought by admitting that I can‘t win, so I‘m not going to run.  And good for him for saying that so directly.  But where is the niche that John Edwards fills? 

PETER BEINART, “NEW REPUBLIC” EDITOR AT LARGE:  If Obama doesn‘t run, I think Edwards is a strong candidate and an underestimated candidate.  First of all, he is very strong in Iowa where he did very well last time. 

Secondly, while we haven‘t been paying a lot of attention to him in Washington, off the radar screen, he has really developed very strong ties to labor and to the Democratic activists on the web in the last couple of years.  They like the guy a lot.  And remember, he ran a very good campaign.  he‘s a smart guy, he‘s a good campaigner.  He knows more than he did in 2004.  If it‘s just him and Hillary, I think he has a shot.

CARLSON:  I think, and you‘re right to mention Iowa.  Here Pat is the latest Des Moines Register poll—John Edwards 36 percent in Iowa;

Hillary, 16; Barak Obama, 13; Tom Vilsack, the governor, 11.  Among Democratic party leaders in the counties, 40 percent support John Edwards.  Does this matter? 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Oh yes, I think it does.  Look, if he can win Iowa—Iowa is what sent Kerry to the nomination.  I agree with everything that Peter said.  I think this is the brightest of the dark horses. 

What he has to do is get Barack Obama out of the way and frankly not have Al Gore step in.  Those two people you know consume all the oxygen, but if they are gone, I think he could beat Hillary.  he‘s moved to the left on the war.  He‘s anti-war.  You know, he‘s made his apology, his confession—if I had known et cetera.  So, I think if you get to Barack out of there and Gore doesn‘t run, he is the strongest candidate. 

CARLSON:  Can he raise the money.  It doesn‘t matter.  We all talk about—oh can he raise the money, but I mean, Newt Gingrich who I want to talk about in a minute, made I think a smart point the other day.  He said, in the age of the internet, in the age of Howard Dean, do you need to raise the money two years out?  Is that a factor?

TERRY HOLT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Yes, it still is.  You still need to have an incredible amount of money to really play in this game.  Barack‘s star is infinitely brighter, but he does have some of the same problems that Edwards had in the last race. 

You know, Edwards got into the last race before he became Kerry‘s running mate, with a speech and a smile and it got him pretty far.  I think he has an opportunity in this race to become a little broader, a little deeper, and now with some grassroots help in Iowa and maybe with a little bit more of a resume than somebody like Barack Obama, he‘s got a real chance.

CARLSON:  It‘s also about Hillary though isn‘t it?

BUCHANAN:   think his problem is this—his campaign, it‘s a nice campaign, he‘s anti-poverty, we‘re going to help the very poor and all the rest of it.  That‘s not where it is in 2006, 2007, 2008.  We‘re in Iraq.  We‘ve got problems like that.  You got he war on the middle class.

CARLSON:  You‘ve made the case that economic populism is the future. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, it is, I‘m talking , you‘ve got to deal with the middle—you have to go for the middle class here.  You‘ve got to go for everybody but the well-to-do.  If you‘re down there in whatever Ward it is down there in New Orleans that got sunk—that‘s not where it‘s at.   Those are the poor folks (INAUDIBLE). 

BEINHART:  I think Edwards understands something about where the Democratic mood is.  The poverty thing is not an accident.  First of all he believes in it, but he‘s trying to tap into the same thing that Barack Obama is.  There‘s a movie about Bobby Kennedy out right now.  Democrats are in that kind of mood.  The consensus mood in the Democratic Party is we want to move beyond the Clintonism, which was tinkering around the edges.  We want big passionate movements again.  And poverty taps into that precisely because it doesn‘t poll well.

CARLSON:  Well what are those ideas?  Not to put you on the spot, but can you give us ...

(CROSSTALK)

BEINHART:  The idea would be a much larger reconstruction of the American welfare state than Clinton tried.  Universal health-care, breeding some kind of broader social insurance program or the kind that Yale University‘s Jacob Packer has been talking about.  And probably some very large scale effort to renegotiate America‘s trading relationship through empowered international organizations.

HOLT:  That‘s a massive overreach.  It‘s not where the American people are. 

BEINHART:  But remember, Democrats are thinking long-term.  They are not, they will not, they are thinking about Barry Goldwater.  They are thinking about trying to lay the foundations for ideas that may take bloom in 10 or 20 years. 

BUCHANAN:  The trade issue is middle class.  It‘s what carried Ohio and Michigan.  It‘s what‘s helping the Democrats take back West Virginia.  That is big stuff.  You got jobs going over to China, a huge trade deficit.  The middle class and the separation for them and the rich—that‘s big stuff.  But poverty programs and big government, that‘s too much ...

CARLSON:  I‘m struck by what Peter said though, that this is—in the last election, the midterms to some extent, as well, a rejection of Clintonism.  It is almost self-conscious rejection of the sort of pro-corporate, moderate Democratic Party of the 1990s.

BUCHANAN:  Well, Obama is saying that Clinton Hillary and Bill are the class of ‘68.  Their at war—left-right wars, culture wars, that‘s yesterday.  The new generation comes along and brings this country together behind a great cause.  I think that‘s sort of the Bobby Kennedy aspect of it.

CARLSON:  Well speaking of yesterday Terry Holt, Newt Gingrich announced the other day what we all knew, which is the is preparing to run or pretending to prepare to run or whatever.  He is the smartest guy, maybe not as smart as he believes he is, but he is smart.  No, I mean, really.

HOLT:  That would be impossible.

CARLSON:  Well, it would be.  He is a megalomaniac, but who isn‘t.  I mean, I work in TV, OK.  Honestly, he is smart and he does have ideas that are grander, far grander than most politicians. 

HOLT:  And I think he is going to force our party, the Republican Party to come up with some new ideas.  You know, Newt was the architect of the basics, Ronald Reagan notwithstanding.  But in the Congress in 1994, his Contract with America was pivotal in giving people the opportunity to rally around something.  Newt is going to force this race to a point where the Republican Party has to come up with new ideas and have some debatable points.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  One of his new ideas is he says he will bring God back into the center of American life.  I‘m not sure the Almighty needs Newt‘s help to be quite challenging.  But let me say this, but Newt‘s—the most overrated thing in American history is a Contract with America.  No Republican ...

CARLSON:  Do you know anybody who read it?

BUCHANAN:  Nobody read it.  No Republican lost for governor, senator, or Congress. 

HOLT:  But everybody knew what the Republicans were going to do when they got to Congress, and it was a rallying point even if it wasn‘t.  I was in a race in ‘94, I didn‘t want my candidate anywhere near the 1994 Contract with America.  But it did give everybody a set of talking points and people knew what they were voting for and that‘s a huge thing.

BEINHART:  Except the polling showed that the vast majority of people had never heard of the Contract with America when they went to the polls.

CARLSON:  Well, it was only in “TV Guide” if you remember.  But is there—there is this feeling—I had dinner with someone last night—someone who is a well known conservative who was saying, with great sadness, that the conservative movement is—you get the feeling that it‘s sort of tapped out, at least for the moment.  Everything is cyclical of course.  But we are at the end of something.  Is Newt the guy to restart something new?

BEINHART: I think there is an opportunity.  I mean, he is genuinely interested in ideas in a way that you don‘t associate with most politicians.  And I think your point is right.  I think conservatives have been living on the legacy of a lot of ideas that were hatched in the early Reagan years, or even in the late 70s before Reagan took power.  I think conservatives for instance have to get very serious about the issue of health care.  It‘s not going away in American politics and I think if conservatives can‘t deal with issues like health care and then global warming, maybe not like Democrats do, but in their own way, I think they are going to be behind in American politics.

BUCHANAN:  You know if Newt not even going to consider this thing until September.  These guys are going raised a hundred, I mean a hundred million bucks, close to it.  McCain and they are going be out there and they are going have legs and they are going to be able to campaign in all the states.  newt make be able to make us light a spark in one of the early states, but I doubt he can go the distance if he‘s not ...

CARLSON:  And that may not even be—his goal may be to call attention to his ideas, which is itself not I don‘t know (INAUDIBLE).

Coming up—she was among the first of President Bush‘s original cabinet members to leave the Administration.  Christine Todd Whitman joins us next.

Plus, don‘t believe that marijuana is the number one cash crop in this country.  You‘re not from California—ask the government, it is.  is it time to liberalize marijuana laws.  A new report says yes, maybe.  Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  She‘s one of the first Bush appointees to bolt from the administration.  And that was back when things were going well.  Up next, we‘ll ask Christine Todd Whitman how she thinks things are going now. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Christine Todd Whitman was the governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001.  From there, famously she then moved on to President Bush‘s cabinet as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.  She was among the first Bush appointees to leave the White House, resigning in 2003.  Now, she is going nuclear, co-chairing the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, a group that stresses the importance of nuclear power. 

Christine Todd Whitman joins us now.

Governor, thanks a lot for coming on.

CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, CLEAN AND SAFE ENERGY COALITION CO-CHAIR: 

It‘s a pleasure.

CARLSON:  I think some people will be confused to hear you, a noted—well-known environmentalist, pushing nuclear power.  How does that work? 

WHITMAN:  Well, actually it works very well.  If you really are concerned about climate change, and I do think that‘s an issue about which we need to be concerned and take it seriously, nuclear power is really the only source—major of power that we have today, other than renewables, which don‘t go to base load, that doesn‘t produce any of the regulated gases and doesn‘t emit carbon.  So from a greenhouse gas perspective, from a cleaning the air perspective, nuclear is extraordinarily clean.  It‘s one of the cleanest forms that we have. 

CARLSON:  But then what is—what is the argument against—I grew up in southern California, where everybody was—it was like it was required by law you had to be against nuclear power.  The idea was it was very dangerous and despoiling the earth. 

What is the argument against it? 

WHITMAN:  Well, people are still afraid of that.  It‘s because of lack of knowledge of how highly regulated this industry is, the kind of safety criteria that they have to meet. 

The fact that we haven‘t—I mean, people look at Chernobyl and they say that‘s going to happen here.  That plant never would have been regulated in this country. 

And then they say, well, Three Mile Island.  Well, Three Mile Island, if you look at it, was a success story because, while there was a failure within the plant, everything that was designed to protect the public worked.  Nobody died from it, nobody got excess doses of radiation.  So it worked.

And the industry has improved dramatically since then.  Actually, 20 percent of our energy today is from nuclear.  And we‘re predicting—the Department of Energy is predicting that there‘s going to be a 45 percent increase in energy demand by 2030. 

CARLSON:  So, if it‘s such a good idea, if it‘s so good for the earth, why are environmental groups so opposed to it?

WHITMAN:  It‘s think it‘s a hangover—a hold-over.  As you know, I am co-chair of something called CASE Energy, Clean And Safe Energy with Dr.  Patrick Moore (ph), who is one of the founders of Greenpeace.  And he has decided that, while he started out opposing nuclear, that given everything he cares about in the environment, given the safety record of nuclear, the fact that it is so efficient, that when it is up—when nuclear facilities are up and running, they‘re providing good jobs, their construction is enormously profitable for the communities.  They—it also is also something that is very low cost when it‘s producing. 

CARLSON:  What about the waste, though?  That‘s got to be expensive. 

Why are we sending it all to Nevada? 

WHITMAN:  We‘re not sending it to Nevada at the moment.  That‘s been stopped.

Right now, they‘re all being—this waste is being stored on site, in pools that are designed to hold them for up to a hundred years.  So, there‘s still some time left.

But that‘s a concern that people have.  And it‘s something that we need to answer and need to take seriously, how do you long-term dispose of the waste?

But in fact, what‘s interesting and most people don‘t know is how quickly the radioactivity in the waste degrades over time.  So, within five years, it‘s about 90 percent less radioactive than it was when it was first stored there.  And there‘s recycling that‘s been going on—being looked at in France and England.  And we‘re actually part of that.  The United is States is looking at recycling, but in other countries, not here right now.

CARLSON:  I bet you in 20 years environmentalists will be on board, maybe sooner.

You were on the cabinet on 9/11, directly after 9/11 in the first month.  Was there talk about lessening American dependence on foreign oil? 

WHITMAN:  That‘s always been a concern that we‘ve had.  And that‘s one of the others, is that uranium is produced right here...

CARLSON:  Was the connection obvious right away?

WHITMAN:  Not a lot of that discussion.  You heard it more from people like yourself, who were looking at the broader picture.  Everybody who was dealing with a response to 9/11 was more looking at, “How do we prevent this from ever happening again?”

And one of them is clearly to look at where our dependence—where our oil is coming from.  And we should be concerned about that.

CARLSON:  Is this administration now, when you look at it and you talk to your friends or read about it in the paper, the same as the administration you left? 

WHITMAN:  It‘s evolved, shall we say.  And one of the things, I believe that the president in the State of the Union is going to have a new energy policy he‘s going to put out.  And I‘m very hopeful that it will recognize the issue of climate change as being something to address, and he has already has in the first energy bill recognized the power of nuclear.  And it would be great to see that continue to be—it‘s a part of the answer.  It‘s not the whole answer.  It‘s not the only answer.  But it needs to be an even more important part. 

CARLSON:  Who do you like in the 2008 race so far? 

WHITMAN:  Lord, we have so many possible candidates on the Republican side, I couldn‘t pick a winner.  I‘ve—one of the things that I‘ve said is that I have political action committee called “It‘s My Party, Too”.  And if it works, I would like the see the party at least honestly consider a Giuliani and McCain, a Tom Ridge, the governor out in Ohio, Elan DeLingle (ph) for the nomination.  They couldn‘t get through the process today.  And I just think it‘s too bad..

CARLSON:  You don‘t think McCain could get through the process? 

WHITMAN:  I don‘t think he could.  Even though he‘s very socially conservative, he‘s opposed the president on the war...

CARLSON:  Yes, he‘s not pro-choice.

WHITMAN:  No, he‘s not pro-choice.  He‘s very socially conservative.  But he is too independent for the people who control the process.  If it were an open process, I think he could easily.

CARLSON:  So McCain can‘t, I mean, who‘s the nominee going to be? 

WHITMAN:  Beats me.

CARLSON:  Sam Brownback, would you vote for him? 

WHITMAN:  No.  I mean, vote for him if he were the Republican nominee, it depends on who he‘s running against and what issues... 

CARLSON:  So there is Democrat you would vote for.  Would you vote for Hillary, you think? 

WHITMAN:  Again, it depends on—I don‘t see that happening, but, you know, again, you have to look at what issues are we talking about, how are they articulating the issues and who are the candidates. 

CARLSON:  What do you think of—i mean, you‘ve obviously been in politics long, so what do you think of Barack Obama?  Do you think it‘s real? 

WHITMAN:  I think he‘s to be very careful that he doesn‘t get hyped too far, too fast.  You know, when you look at him, he‘s certainly every—he‘s very articulate.  He‘s attractive.  Everything he‘s saying about the need to reach across the aisle and the need to make policy for the public is very important and I agree with that. 

His problem is, you know, he was a state senator, now he‘s been a U.S.  senator for two years.  That‘s pretty thin to then jump to the presidency.  And he‘s got to be careful not to let them push him too far, too fast because he is an attractive voice, an alternative to many who scared within the Democratic Party that it‘s going to Hillary Clinton. 

CARLSON:  Yes, and not even in the Democratic Party, just citizens of America.

Governor Whitman, thank you very much. 

WHITMAN:  Good to talk to you again.

CARLSON:  Coming up, Colin Powell spent Sunday talking the Baker-Hamilton to give it his history on Iraq.  Why should we listen?

Well, “Saturday Live”—Saturday night‘s all right for fighting unless you‘re a basketball player.  Who‘s to blame for the latest basket-brawl at Madison Square Garden?  And how big a deal is it?  We‘ll to a genuine expert on that subject when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  It‘s official, Robert Gates was sworn in today as secretary of defense replacing Donald Rumsfeld.  Next step, waiting for the unveiling of Gates‘ strategy for the war in Iraq, a war he believes we‘re losing.  On his side is former secretary of state Colin Powell, who calls the war, quote, “a civil war,” and doesn‘t think sending more troops to Baghdad will be of any help.

Here again our panel, Republican strategist Terry Holt, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan and the editor-at-large at the “New Republic” magazine, Peter Beinart.  Welcome. 

Terry, I was watching Gates‘ swearing in today and I caught this.  He described the governments in Iraq and Afghanistan in the best case scenario we leave behind, quote, “sustainable governments who are willing allies in the war on terror.”

There was not one mention of the absurd democracy position policy this administration had, that the Arab world needs democracy.  Have they given up on that?

HOLT:  I don‘t know, but it sure seems like it if you listen to Gates.  But ultimately this is and was originally about making sure that these countries didn‘t export terrorism to us.  It is the fundamental and essential goal of what we are doing over there.  But you know Gates, you know we‘re at war in Afghanistan and we‘re in a war in Iraq, but he goes into a war front in the Pentagon.  There‘s still a fundamental and huge difference about what these groups of generals want to do in the world, how they want to grow their particular thiefdoms.  And I think he‘s going to have his hands full, just with sorting out the bodies over at the Pentagon.

CARLSON:  Are you disappointed, Peter?  I know that your magazine sort of had endorsed the war for a while, but had in particular had nice things to say that the Arab world needs democracy ASAP?

BEINART:  Over the long term, I think that Bush is right and Tony Blair is right, that democracy and economic development are how—that‘s the reason that India is not producing a lot of terrorists, that Turkey is not producing a lot of terrorists.  There is nothing in the soil.

CARLSON:  Really?  That‘s their reason?

BEINART:  I think it‘s one of the big reasons, that when people don‘t have—I mean, you catch view of their terrorists, but when you...

CARLSON:  ... You don‘t think there are other reasons?  For instance, Turkey is an officially secular country.  India is a Hindu country.  I mean, that doesn‘t have anything to do with it?

BEINART:  Well no, but India has the largest Muslim population in the world and there are very few terrorists coming out on India and one of the reasons, I think is that people have some degree of hope and political freedom in that society, which they don‘t have in Saudi Arabia.  Whether you can do it in the short term is a totally different question. 

But I would depart certainly from Gates on Afghanistan.  I think on Afghanistan, we should be fighting for democracy as well as a government that is an ally in the war on terror in Afghanistan.

CARLSON:  Pat, you saw Colin Powell yesterday on CBS saying that this war is a disaster and really going out of his way to say nothing nice about his former boss, President Bush.  Doesn‘t he need to stop and say sorry to the rest of us for selling the war on phony pretenses?

BUCHANAN:  Well, I think he‘s taken the basically the Baker/Hamilton idea, which was the war was a good idea, it‘s been horribly fought, and he says we are losing the war, we have not yet lost it. 

I think one day, he‘s going to have to write a memoir where eh‘s going to have to explain to us whether he did the right thing when he stood up there at the U.N. frankly and almost persuaded me that we have to go to war, because he‘s talking about very serious stuff, possible nuclear stuff.  All these things that they are doing, break neck speed that really might imperil us.  I think he convinced an awful lot of people because he put his credibility on the line.  And he shouldn‘t have put his credibility on the line.

CARLSON:  Well yes, because the redemption story is familiar.  You do something terrible, you get caught in public, you get up, you say I‘m sorry, God forgive me and the American public forgives you.  You can‘t leave out the repentance part.

HOLT:  And he would be forgiven.  Colin Powell has this larger than life personality.  People do love him and we all want to know, what was he doing inside?  The papers were full of people saying that Colin Powell wasn‘t happy in the Bush administration.  But he‘s never articulated what was going on at all and I think that‘s what‘s missing.

BUCHANAN:  I know Colin Powell, he‘s a man of dignity and honor.  My guess is he believes he was very badly used by the guys at the CIA and the rest of them, that he was reluctant.  He was dragged into it, he made a terrible mistake and I think he does got to deal with it.

CARLSON:  What do you think?

BEINART:  As someone who has publicly apologized for my support of the war in Iraq.

CARLSON:  Yes, you certainly have.

BUCHANAN:  But you weren‘t that important.

BEINART:  No, mine was not very important, needless to say, probably to no one except for my mother and my wife, but I think that to be fair to Colin Powell.  If he was going to apologize, there are a list of people who should apologize for him.

CARLSON:  Who are the top three people on that list?

BEINART:  Well, I think Dick Cheney is the most important single person, clearly.

CARLSON:  But he‘s taken a lot heat for it.  Like everyone hates Dick Cheney because of it.  How about the people who‘ve gotten away with it?

BEINART:  Well in a way, I don‘t think Powell has.  I mean, I think that Powell knows that when he dies, this will probably be one of the first few lines in the obituary, not the fact that he was so critical in winning the Gulf War.  Not the symbol he was of American improvement of race relations.  This will be the coda of his career.

BUCHANAN:  You know, I don‘t think Cheney should apologize to anybody because he still believes in the wisdom of the war.  So does Rumsfeld, so does Bush.  People ought to apologize, the fellow we‘re talking about, Edwards and Kerry, if only I had known.  They‘ve got the right to stop this war and they didn‘t do it.  They took it off the table for the election of 2000.

CARLSON:  What about Hillary Clinton?  Barack Obama was against it from day one.  That man has nothing to apologize for.

BUCHANAN:  But Hillary still supports the war, she just says it was badly run.

CARLSON:  Hockey or basketball?  Can you tell the difference anymore?  Is the NBA in deep trouble?  The one and only Woody Paige will be along with his answer to that question and others.

Plus, congratulations Mr. and Mrs. America, you had a hell of a year.  Apparently at least as far is “Time” magazine is concerned.  Do we really deserve person of the year?  We won it, we‘ll tell you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

CARLSON:  Basketball, no pads, to tackling, no checking, not the most violent of sports, right?  Wrong, and once again proven so over the weekend when the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets got into this brawl following a Knicks fowl.  Both teams were fined.  Seven players were suspended.  And now there is talk Knick‘s coach Isiah Thomas might be behind it all.  Joining me now on speaker phone with the story, the legendary columnist for the “Denver Post,” and ESPN‘s “Around the Horn,” Woody Paige.  Woody, is Isiah Thomas behind this?

WOODY PAIGE, “THE DENVER POST”:  Yes, Isiah Thomas, actually, should be suspended longer than Carmello Anthony.  He was the instigator.  He was absolutely the man that was in control of the situation.  It was sort of a Neanderthal, macho, playground, kind of, end the game.  And it was just disgusting. 

CARLSON:  What is wrong with Neanderthal, macho, cave man behavior? 

This is professional sports.

PAIGE:  Well, you have a situation in basketball that is different from other sports.  In Hockey fighting is part of the landmark and the tradition of the game.  It‘s a way for them to release their frustrations, because they‘re using sticks, and they would rather they use their fist, sticks and glove.  And in football and baseball, you are separated from the fan, but in a situation, having lived the last three years in New York City, that, when you have got fans on top of you, paying thousands of dollars for a seat, it spills over into the crowd, as we saw November 4th or 5th in 2004, in Detroit, with the Indiana Pacers.  And then on Sunday night again—Saturday night you had a similar situation, in that the players ended up in the crowd.  The crowd didn‘t become involved in the melee, but you have a situation where guys are in shorts and tank tops, basically and—

CARLSON:  Yes.

PAIGE:  Fight is not a part of basketball. 

CARLSON:  No, I can see that.  They are not dressed for a brawl, anyway.  Why would Isiah Thomas encourage this?  I mean, it‘s on camera.  Millions of people are watching.  You‘re not going to get away with it. 

What‘s in it for him?

PAIGE:  Well, Tucker, there‘s a history here.  Isiah Brown—sorry, Isiah Thomas, basically, got rid of Larry Brown last year.  Larry Brown and George Karl are very close.  They both went to North Carolina.  George spent a lot of time being Larry Brown‘s fan and friend.  So, as a result of that, George Karl had spoken out distinctively during the summer about how Larry Brown had been abused and let go by the New York Knicks and he didn‘t get the money that was coming his way. 

So George Karl, obviously, went in there to try to embarrass the Knicks.  That‘s pretty easy, because the Knicks are just a sewage team, and have been for several years now.  And Isiah Thomas felt like he was running it up, which he was trying to blow them out at the end of the game, up by 19, leaving four of his five starters in the game.  So, Isiah Thomas told Carmello Anthony, the leading scorer in the league, don‘t go in the lane.  Basically said, if you try to do a layup inside, we‘re going to come down on you.  We‘re going to hammer you. 

That‘s exactly what happened when Denver‘s J.R. Smith got a ball after a steal and he tried to go the layup and he was basically molested, assaulted by one of the Knicks, and that led to the brawl, which was—it was just, as I said, a horrendous situation.   

CARLSON:  Yes, but it‘s great video, most important.  Woody Paige, thanks very much. 

PAIGE:  Thank you Tucker.  Good to talk to you. 

CARLSON:  Thanks.  Corn, hay, soybeans, all three have long been thought to be the cash crops of America, but marijuana, no way.  Think again.  According to government statistics, just released, the market value of marijuana produced right here in the U.S. exceeds 35 billion dollars a year.  It is the number one cash crop in twelve states.  Another reason to legalize it?  Back again, Republican strategist Terry Holt, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and the editor at large of the “New Republic” magazine, Peter Beinart.  Peter, as the liberal here, you‘re obviously for legalizing all drugs and giving them to kids.  What about marijuana—

PETER BEINART, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Except for my own, yes, or yours. 

CARLSON:  There does seems this—there does seem this, kind of, growing, unspoken feeling among Americans, under 50, that marijuana is going to be decriminalized at some point.  Is this imminent? 

BEINART:  Americans under 50?  I thought it was Americans around the age of 50 who were the ones who would really have the biggest experience. 

CARLSON:  The ones with glocoma. 

BEINART:  The people of our generation, we‘re really traditionalists.  I think there is—the war on drugs isn‘t an issue that gets discussed a lot in political campaigns, but my sense is that there‘s a lot of unease about it, that there are a lot people who don‘t spend a lot of time thinking about it, but when they are forced to think about, they do wonder whether it makes really so much sense for us to be spending huge amounts of resources, locking vast numbers of people up for doing something which really doesn‘t hurt anyone, but themselves. 

CARLSON:  Now Pat, 40 years ago, when Americans started smoking marijuana in great numbers, a lot of marijuana was grown in Mexico.  It was brown.  It was lost of stems and seeds and it was very week.  Thanks to American ingenuity, our marijuana, grown in this country, in doors in a lot of places, like Vermont, is the most powerful in the world.  That says something good about the American spirit, don‘t you think? 

BUCHANAN:  It does.  I wouldn‘t be surprised to see it all legalized one day.  These movements are moving in that direction.  Take a look at what organized crime used to do in the 1930‘s.  It had—what did have booze, and the numbers racket and gambling.  Now we legalize them all, and we get to tax them all.  So the government gets a cut of all of that stuff, right now.  It wouldn‘t surprise me if they legalize that down road and then the government gets its takes.  The government is basically organized crime, as the libertarians say. 

CARLSON:  It‘s disgusting—

BEINART:  Nationalize the whole industry. 

CARLSON:  I hate that.  When are Republicans, Terry, going to stand up and say, you know what, if the government, out of one side of its mouth, denounces cigarette smoking and heavy drinking, and drunk driving, drug use, compulsive gambling, and, on the other hand, profits from all of the above, when are Republicans going to say, we are not taking any more money from cigarette taxes, because it‘s wrong? 

HOLT:  The idea of legal marijuana gives me complete crazy fits.  I‘ve got a seven-year-old that I have got to teach about alcohol already.  I‘ve got to teach about cigarettes already, and now you‘re going to introduce marijuana at the 7-11?  Give me a break.  I mean, just because we‘re good at it, doesn‘t mean we should encourage it.  And I think—this is one where I am conservative as it gets.  No, no, no. 

CARLSON:  No, no, no, that‘s the Terry Holt position.  Did you see,

Peter, that the new “Time Magazine”—you‘re a magazine man.  You‘ve been

in magazines a long time.  The Man of the Year, I beg your pardon, Person

of the Year, is all of us.  It‘s all of us, according to “Time Magazine.” 

the managing editor, Richard Stangle said, basically if you pick one

person, you have to please millions, but if you pick millions, you have to

please nobody.  And they have essentially chosen millions.  All of us are -

who is the—the real man of the year is Ahmadinejad, isn‘t it? 

BEINART:  I think it‘s Ahmadinejad representing something else.  It‘s Ahmadinejad and Chavez and Putin.  It‘s the rise of an anti-American order that, using natural resources, that is basically able to block the United States.  China is part of that.  And make it much harder for us.  It‘s the end of the unilateral era in foreign policy.  I think that‘s what it is. 

CARLSON:  I totally agree. 

BUCHANAN:  You know, I got a column coming tomorrow.  Many of the year, person of the year, Ahmadinejad.  He really is.  What bothers me about the “Time Magazine,” what a complete total cop-out. 

CARLSON:  What a pander, don‘t you think?  Isn‘t it a pander?

BUCHANAN:  Yes, a pander, cop-out.  But look at 2001.  Let‘s face it, they should have had a cover with Osama bin Laden on one side and Bush on the other.  They gave it to Rudi, which is very nice, very positive.  They want to sell magazines, but I went through all their lists.  In the 1930‘s, F.D.R. three times, Stalin makes it, Hitler makes it, Churchill makes it.  Then in the 1940s, Truman twice, Eisenhower twice, George Marshall twice.  It was a serious magazine.  This is not a serious publication anymore.  It was a complete cop-out and I wish they had stayed, really, up on that level that at least people respected.  And you can‘t respect this decision.

HOLT:  I know one person who is going to be very happy about this.  My mom is going to be thrilled that I am the person of the year, but I‘m not sure how you write a whole magazine about me. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  What does that mean, Peter?  I don‘t know, again, sorry to appeal to you as the professional magazine editor here.  What does it mean that we‘re all man of the year? 

BEINART:  Well I should say—first time, I am a “Time” contradictor.  Second of all, I haven‘t read the article.  So, it sounds to me like they are trying to make a statement about the way in which the Internet and technology is changing the relationship between elites and people.  There may be something to that.  I haven‘t read the piece.  But I still would have gone with Ahmadinejad. 

BUCHANAN:  But isn‘t there something to the fact that they say, look, we put this guy, after his Holocaust conference, on the cover, and sales are going down the tube. 

BEINART:  Well, look, the truth is—I agree with you that in principle, it‘s the most important person, and that‘s why you put on Hitler.  It doesn‘t have to the best person, but in reality, in the public mind, those things are often conflated.  They would have taken a huge number of hits. 

CARLSON:  No, but there‘s so much. 

(CROSS TALK)

BUCHANAN:  The Ayatollah was on it in 1979. 

CARLSON:  Was he really?

BUCHANAN:  The Ayatollah was on it 1979. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  The Internet has made us all masters of our own destiny, has us all sort of co-equals in the opinion business, among other business, is a total crock.  The Internet has allowed us to read all sorts of people, but we still only read the same people, right? 

HOLT:  But culture is catalyzed by individuals.  Individuals are who belong on the “Time: cover, because those are the people that still shape our world and our opinion.  I think that it‘s worth doing that.   

BUCHANAN:  Tucker, I agree with you though.  Look, who are we going through?  I read the “Washington Post,” the “Washington Times,” these regular columnists I usually read.  Otherwise you get better access to them.  But how much difference is it really?

CARLSON:  -- and the “New Republic.”  I read Andrew Sullivan now, when he‘s got a one-man blog. 

BEINART:  First of all, there are new people and forces that have emerged very quickly, that have become very powerful, certainly in the Democratic party.  New bloggers, who nobody knew anything about. 

CARLSON:  Well that tells you everything you need to know, doesn‘t it?

BEINART:  Well, it‘s actually the way in which the Democratic party

has re-created a grass roots activist base, which they hadn‘t had since the

CARLSON:  Yes, but do they want that base?  I mean, talk about a scary group of people.  I mean, I‘m serious.  Do you ever go on the Internet?  It‘s hate unleashed.  Nobody ever says anything about it, but it‘s true.

BEINART:  Well, the funny thing about it, actually, is that these were the people who got very excited about Jim Webb, about John Tester, people who are actually strikingly not group.  That‘s the great funny secret of the left wing blogosphere.  It‘s really not that far to the left.  They are amongst the very people who wanted to throw gun control off the table—

HOLT:  But ultimately, they‘re not going to lead the nation.

BEINART:  No, they‘re very, very pragmatic and they desperately want the Democrats to win. 

CARLSON:  They‘re the most center.  They‘re willing to say, look, we don‘t even believe in anything you stand for, but you‘ve got the right party ID, therefore we‘ll support you.

BEINART:  No, they understand the politics of coalition, which is actually pretty politically sophisticated. 

HOLT:  They understand the politics of the mob.  Ultimately the Democratic party will still be led by someone who maybe has vision and has an agenda, and there will still be one chair in the Oval Office.  And I still think that this debate should be formed around the idea that individuals can catalyze a culture and can take it great places, and I think that‘s where “Time” missed out. 

CARLSON:  Pat, if the Internet had existed the way it does now, in 1996 or 1992, when you ran for president, it would have been different.  I‘m not saying you would have won, unfortunately, but I think it would have been very different for you money wise, don‘t you think?

BUCHANAN:  Well it does, but we did terrific.  I mean, we didn‘t do terrific, but we had 150,000 contributors.  I agree, on the Internet—as a matter of fact, I‘ve had guys call me and say, Pat, let‘s do it.  It‘s now our time.  Use the Internet and you can raise 20 million just like that.  Of course, 20 million just like that is nothing compared to what Hillary is going to raise. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right, scary.  Thank you very much.  Coming up, cigarette smokers be aware.  Your right to burn tobacco in public is about to go away, right here in the nation‘s capital.  Given the heavy responsibilities here in Washington, is that a good idea, or a recipe for violence?

Plus, Bare Naked Ladies on Capital Hill?  Which ones, when, where, why?  The daily scandal sheet is next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  As long as there‘s a Washington, there will be gossip and as long as there is gossip, we will bring it to you, and not even reluctantly.  Here with today‘s daily dose, Jeff Dufour of the “Washington Examiner.” 

Jeff, welcome.

JEFF DUFOUR, “THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER”:  Thanks Tucker. 

CARLSON:  No smoking in D.C.? 

DUFOUR:  No, it looks like the days of the smoke filled room could be at an end.  In fact they are numbered as we speak.  January 1st, the smoking ban goes into effect.  And what we are finding now is a lot of lobbyists, members of Congress and other consultants and power players are rushing to get their last cigars, their last puffs at these famous watering holes, Capital Grille, the Palm, the Prime Rib and a few of these other places like, that.  From what I hear, New Years Eve is going to be a large haze of smoke. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I bet it will.  So that‘s the city, which is administered by a very corrupt and inefficient city government, under which I live.  But then you have the federal part of the city, the Capitol right behind us, which has it‘s own set of laws, set by Congress. They are going to ban smoking there too? 

DUFOUR:  Well, interestingly, all federal buildings have banned smoking right now, but the legislature has exempted itself, and that looks like it could be at its end as well.  Nancy Pelosi, the new speaker, looks like she wants to ban smoking, specifically in the speaker‘s lobby, which is this area where members of Congress and the media can hang out. 

CARLSON:  What is she—I mean, what an uptight little person.  I mean, first of all you‘ve got members of Congress.  You have got Barack Obama, for instance, is a cigarette smoker.  You‘ve got John Boehner, smokes cigarettes, there are others.  Why does she care?  Is there a reason?

DUFOUR:  It‘s a health issue.  Henry Waxman, who is going to take over the government reform committee, he‘s been an anti-smoking crusader for a very long time, and I think she‘s going to taker her cue from him.  He wants to get rid of it.   

CARLSON:  He‘s a lot of fun, Henry Waxman. 

DUFOUR:  There‘s about 10 smokers, who are—that people know about and another 30 like to do the occasional cigar in the speakers lobby.  It can get quite smoky in there. 

CARLSON:  Yes, just leave people alone, is my view.  Speaking of fun, parties that Henry Waxman is not attending this year, what are the best Christmas parties in Washington? 

DUFOUR:  The best event, well, for members, Katherine Harris, from what I understand, threw a good one at her party.  Of course, she just lost in her Senate bid.  She won‘t be back.  Conrad Burns, who also won‘t be back—

CARLSON:  Saw him today at lunch, in fact.

DUFOUR:  He did a big one at Mount Vernon.  The best one I heard, congressional wise, is the Alaska delegation, who flew in their own Alaska food, smoked salmon, stone crab legs, these types of things.

CARLSON:  Who pays for these things. 

DUFOUR:  That‘s a good question.

CARLSON:  Industry.

DUFOUR:  Industry, the fishery, the fishing industry, I would expect.  And then, as far as lobbyists go, you‘ve got the Chamber of Commerce is always one of the biggest.  They‘ve got their building right across the street from the White House.  They pack it to the gills with staffers, members, lobbyists, and they had a bunch of ice sculptures.  They do a Christmas village thing.  They set up these whole visages.

CARLSON:  Pat, you grew up here.  Now, I know you‘re a Republican, but you ran—you‘re sort of independent.  Put on your independent hat here for a second.  Who throws better parties consistently over the last, say, 40 years, Republicans or Democrats?   

BUCHANAN:  Democrats used to.  I think Republicans have been power, but I haven‘t been invited to any of the parties, so I don‘t know how good they are.

DUFOUR:  A lot of them go to bed at 9:00 too, which makes it tough to  throw a good part. 

BUCHANAN:  Republicans used to be considered tremendous bores.  What did you call the speaker of the house, an uptight little person?  Did I hear that Tucker?

CARLSON:  Yes, I did.  Yes I did, and I‘m sorry.  I mean, look, I don‘t smoke.  Smoking is bad for you, but if you‘ve got one room in the entire place -- 

BUCHANAN:  -- the Palm for five hours with Waxman. 

CARLSON:  People have smoked in that room for 200 years.  I mean, why

do you know what I mean, it‘s the party of no fun.  Let‘s be honest. 

It‘s the party of sexual harassment law, do you know what I mean? 

BEINART:  People have been smoking around America for hundreds of years and now they can‘t lots of places.  I mean, you can either let people smoke or not let people, but why have it be different for Congress than it is for the rest of the country? 

BUCHANAN:  Usually they set aside a part of restaurants where the people can smoke, and you had lots of people—

BEINART:  I know, but who‘s going to be the waiter for that—get the second hand smoke. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think I‘ve ever met a waiter who doesn‘t smoke. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  Do you know a waiter who doesn‘t smoke cigarettes? 

DUFOUR:  Not off the top of my head, no. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.  I mean, come on.  What about freedom. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  Of course, I‘m not endorsing cigarette smoking.  It‘s terrible.  I‘m merely saying adults should to have the right to make bad decisions if they want.  

BEINART:  How about legalizing marijuana smoking also, in the speaker‘s bureau.  You know, that was our last segment.  

CARLSON:  Actually, I‘m not arguing against that.  You know, I‘m not arguing—actually, it might help with some of the rancor up there on Capitol Hill.  Thank you all, Jeff Dufour, thank you very much, from the “Washington Examiner.”  Pat Buchanan, Peter Beinart, thank you very much. 

Change the tone.  Nothing would do more to change the tone. 

Up next, why would anyone want to do this to Frosty the Snowman?  We‘ll update the search for two men with very cold hearts.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  That‘s the first 57 minutes of news, but that‘s not all.  For the rest we go, as always, to Willie Geist at headquarters.  Willie, how you doing? 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m doing well Tucker, thank you.  There is not a bigger advocate, a bigger non-smoking advocate for smokers than Tucker Carlson.  I just want to point that out again. 

CARLSON:  Thank you.  I am, because they‘re unpopular. 

GEIST:  They are unpopular.  And I want to remind our viewers, Tucker Carlson, when he checks into a hotel, always stays in a smoking room, not because he wants to smoke, because he wants to ensure their continued existence. 

CARLSON:  I feel sorry for the genuinely unpopular.  You know, we‘re always standing up and saying, oh, they‘re oppressed.  There are a lot of people who claim to be unpopular, who have the full support of the elites in this country.  It‘s fat people and smokers who everyone hates and I stand up for them. 

GEIST:  You should be a lobbyist for the smoking. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think so. 

GEIST:  We do have a little news for you.  If you were still having doubts about whether or not the end of western civilization is near, consider this story.  A British survey of 1,500 children under the age of 10 finds that kids believe achieving Britney Spears, Paris Hilton level Celebrity is the best thing in the world.  One of the questions on the annual National Kids Day poll was, quote, what do you think is the very best thing in the world?  Being a celebrity was number one, followed by good looks and being rich, at two and three.  Family and friends, sadly, were numbers six and seven, respectively Tucker.  Now they don‘t have things totally out of whack.  On this survey, when they were asked what the worst thing in the world, killing was number one.  So, at least they figured that out.  Also, most famous person in the world, god, followed by number two, George W. Bush.  So, the good news is, it doesn‘t matter what ten year olds think. 

CARLSON:  Well, That Is definitely the good news.  I love them.  Live with some, but no, I don‘t want them running the world. 

GEIST:  But you don‘t value their opinions. 

CARLSON:  No, not on that stuff, sorry. 

GEIST:  Well Tucker, there is no quicker way to insult a lady than by telling her she, quote, does not possess the sexual characteristics of a woman.  It is just not polite.  Well that‘s the unfortunate news Indian runner Santy Sutajaren (ph) has received from the International Association of Athletics Federation.  She will be stripped of the medal she won for the women‘s 800 meter run at last month‘s Asian games, because she failed a gender verification test.  That‘s right, she is a man.  The medical evaluation was performed by a team that includes a gynecologist, an endocrinologist, and a psychologist.  And Tucker, you talk about your awkward moments.  How do you approach her with that information?  Ma‘am, could we talk to you for a second?  We want to ask you something.  Don‘t take this the wrong way, but we have reason to believe that you‘re a man.  I mean, that has got to be a really bad moment. 

CARLSON:  That‘s worse than, when is the baby due?  I‘m not pregnant.

GEIST:  I know.  But you know what?  It does answer a lot of questions for her, now that she has this information.  She must have been sort of confused along the way. 

CARLSON:  Well, I think we just have a question of, you know, trans-gender rights or something. 

GEIST:  Hey, another advocacy thing for you.  Finally, Tucker, holiday spirit means different thing to different people.  To these folks here, it mean attacking an inflatable snowman with a screwdriver.  The Ohio man who owns the 12-foot blow up Frosty set up a hidden camera to catch the vandals in the act yesterday, after his snowman was attacked twice over the last couple of weeks.  Police are still looking for the two people, seen here viciously stabbing a defenseless snowman.  That is just sick, Tucker.  Although, I will say, outside MSNBC headquarters, we have one of these inflatable—just like that, an inflatable snowman.  And it is all I can do, every night, not to just poke it on the way out.  I don‘t know why.  I don‘t want—not screwdriver, not with such malice, but it would be fun to deflate it. 

CARLSON:  You would go to MSNBC cable jail faster than you can say, low ratings.  Willie, that would be—but you know what, this is actually, is disturbing.  This is like one of those markers, like setting fires, or torturing small animals.  If you stab Frosty the Snowman with an ice pick, there are worse things to come. 

GEIST:  Yes, I think it is going to be a long life for those two gentlemen.  But, I get what they were doing, but just don‘t do the screwdriver next time.  That‘s my thing. 

CARLSON:  I get what they were doing.  You‘re not a judgmental man. 

GEIST:  I‘m not.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist.

GEIST:  All right, Tucker, we‘ll see you.

CARLSON:  From headquarters, thanks a lot Willie.  Well that does it for us tonight.  Thank you for watching.  As always, we will back here at exactly the same time tomorrow.  We hope you join us.  Up next, Chris Matthews talks to Robert Deniro and Matt Damon on the “HARDBALL” college tour.

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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