updated 12/21/2006 11:24:30 AM ET 2006-12-21T16:24:30

Guests: Mark McKinnon, Michael Crowley, Stephen Moore, Dr. Charmaine Yoest, Mark McKinnon, Michael Crowley, Paul Bedard

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the show.  Iran‘s president declares his country a nuclear power and makes apocalyptic threats the U.S. and Israel.

Meanwhile, a new study shows that almost everyone in the last 70 years had premarital sex no matter what they said. 

That‘s part of what happened today, but the big news of course was

President Bush‘s morning press conference.  Here‘s a sample from that:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I am inclined to believe that we need to increase the permanent size of both the United States Army and the United States Marines.  I asked Secretary Gates to determine how such an increase could take place and report back to me as quickly as possible. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  President Bush calling for a bigger permanent military to fight the war on terror.  It‘s an idea that makes sense.  It has bipartisan support.  It‘s almost certain to happen at some point, but before it does happen, a few questions—most obviously, why now? 

The war on terror is more than five years old.  Why has it taken the Bush Administration this long to expand the military sufficient to fight that war.  In his moving speech to Congress in the days following 9/11, President Bush promised a conflict that quote “will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.”  Is it only now in December of 2006 that he has realized it will require more troops to accomplish that noble goal?  And if so, is it too late? 

According to the Army chief of staff, the U.S. can only add six to seven thousand new troops a year.  That‘s a dangerously slow pace for a nation facing imminent threats in multiple theaters around the world.

And it‘s a pretty major screw-up if you think about it for the Administration, particularly one that routinely brags about its commitment to the national defense.  Again, what took Bush so long.  That‘s the question and one of the questions we‘ll be answering our panel. 

Joining us, Republican strategist and former media strategist for President Bush Mark McKinnon.  Also, Michael Crowley, of the “New Republic” magazine.  Welcome to you both.

Mark, a simple question—what, I mean, I think everyone agrees with the goal increasing the side of the military, the Army and the Marine Corps.  We need it, everyone I think agrees with the president on that.  Why has it taken this long to come to that conclusion? 

MARK MCKINNON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, I can only imagine that the president was relying on advisers who, military advisers and joint chiefs and the secretary of defense who know what we need and that he was responding to their suggestions at the time.  I presume that their thinking has changed and he‘s responding to their options now.

CARLSON:  I don‘t imagine for a second it‘s Bush‘s job to know precisely how many troops we need.  How would he, he‘s the commander-in-chief, not the head of the joint chiefs. But somebody screwed up in a pretty big way, don‘t you think?

MCKINNON:  Well, I think as you review it, they probably needed more troops long before now.  So, somebody was giving the president bad advice, I would think. 

CARLSON:  Michael Crowley—this strikes me as part of a series of reversals, pretty sharp reversals, after the last, the midterm election last month.  Rumsfeld gets fired.  Rumsfeld, his motto almost was—we can do it with (INAUDIBLE) sleeker, quicker military.  All of a sudden, the president cans Rumsfeld and says we need a bigger more convention, land-based military.  I mean, are more changes to come? 

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “NEW REPUBLIC”:  Well, that‘s the mystery.  I mean, Bush is on this big listening tour now making a big show of all the advice and input he‘s getting as he makes these decisions, which strikes me as the job of the president. 

He seems a little self-congratulatory about this when it seems to be just kind of his basic function.  But you say, you know, was there a screw up here?  The screw up is the Iraq war.  We actually may not have needed a much larger military had we executed the Iraq war more competently and been able to withdraw our troops quickly, which was the initial plan.  At that point, we wouldn‘t have an overtaxed military, we wouldn‘t have these guys bogged down over there.  We need a larger military now because it looks like we‘re going to be stuck there for awhile and we have to be ...

CARLSON:  Well what scenario would that be?  Not to be mean about it or anything, but once you‘re suggesting that—it‘s one thing to say if we hasn‘t gone into Iraq, we wouldn‘t have needed them, but to say that if we‘ve gone into Iraq the right way, how exactly would we have gone into Iraq, toppled Saddam, installed a new government, kept the peace, and left, in five years.  I don‘t see how that could have happened? 

CROWLEY:  That‘s a fair question and I‘m not sure, I‘m not here to say we could have done that.  I do think from what I read, what people who know more about this stuff than I do say, had you gone in with more troops earlier, you would have had a bigger presence in the very beginning.  established more of a sense of law and order and security.  Not let looting run rampant right away and creating a psychological climate where anything goes and the Americans aren‘t really in charge. 

There are some people who argue that you might have been been able to kind of keep the genie in the bottle.  I don‘t know that that‘s the case.  But it does seem to me that we have this problem on our hands that we weren‘t expecting, so if you say why didn‘t Bush enlarge the military earlier—certainly Bush thought that we were going to be out there by now and did not think that we would have 140,000 guys over there. 

CARLSON:  I thought that.  Anybody who thought the war was an OK idea at the very beginning assumed that—even people who hated it, assume that. 

Mark you are an expert on political language and rhetoric.  How significant is the change in the president‘s rhetoric.  Last week, he said, last month rather, he said we‘re winning this war in Iraq.  Yesterday, he said to the “Washington Post” we‘re not winning.  It seems like a big deal is it?

MCKINNON:  I think it‘s a shift.  I think it‘s important that the president demonstrate that he has a realistic view of what‘s happening over there.  I think that that was an evolved response to the situation over there as he sees the realities on the ground and it‘s important that he communicate that to the American public as we go forward.

CARLSON:  Once you conceded that though, you have conceded something important.  I mean, you‘ve conceded that, for one thing, you were wrong for the last five years or the last three and a half years, and that‘s sort of a big deal ...

MCKINNON:  Well, I‘m not sure I agree with that.  I think that he can be looking at it in phases and saying at this phase it looked like from what he‘s hearing from the generals on the ground that things were going better than they are today and today they are going worse than they were six months ago.. 

CARLSON:  Does it make it harder for him to be the hope giver?  That‘s kind of his role in this war it seems to me is to buck up Americans to convince them that this is all worth it in the end and if he, the one last guy who really seemed to believe in this enterprise, is out there saying actually we are not winning, why should any of the rest of us have hope that we will win? 

MCKINNON:  Well, because I think it‘s important that the American people believe that we are not losing, which is also true.  And I think the important thing is to confront reality.  Try to adapt the plan and the strategy which the president is doing right now and say that we have options for going forward, which will allow us to win even though things are bad today. 

CARLSON:  Michael, Abizaid says, General Abizaid Centcom director, says he doesn‘t think more troops in Iraq are the answer and in fact, the presence of more American troops will inflame the situation. 

He said that on the record and we know he believes that.  The president has said for years that he follows the advice pretty strictly of his uniformed advisers.  Can he now add troops to Iraq? 

CROWLEY:  Well he can do what he wants.  He is the commander in chief.  I think so.  There are only a small, well it sounds like there are only a small number, I mean, as far as how many you could add, it‘s actually a pretty small pool.  But he can do it.

The thing that kind of gives me the heebie jeebies is that there‘s this friction now between the military leadership and it sounds like the White House.  And there was a reporter who asked today, what if the joint chiefs don‘t want to do this and you want to send more troops over to Iraq and Bush said, well that‘s a dangerous hypothetical.

I just made me very queasy.  I just don‘t like the fact that we‘re even at the point in the conservation now where Bush is saying it‘s dangerous that there‘s this conflict, potential conflict, between me and the generals.  I mean, you really want a close agreement and a good relationship between them, the civilian leadership and the military leadership and the idea that they are at each other‘s throats when we have a problem of this size on our hands is really kind of ...

CARLSON:  But in the end, don‘t you want, you wan‘t a civilian leadership.  I mean, the left has said from the beginning, oh, you know, it‘s all about the troops, and they should, people who have actually served in war ought to be making the decisions here right.  And if you haven‘t served, you‘re a chicken hawk and you have no moral rights to send other men off to die.  But don‘t we want civilian control of the military?  isn‘t that kind of like basic.

CROWLEY:  Sure.  I think you have to have civilian control.  I would say at this point, there‘s not a very good track record of judgment coming from the White House based on a large body of evidence we‘ve seen about how the people in the Administration, the policy makers have managed this war. 

So at the end of the day, Bush has to have the final say.  It just makes me very uncomfortable—can I just say one quick thing—I don‘t want to be glib about such an important subject.  But as far as Bush admitting we‘re not winning, he was starting to look like that guy, remember Baghdad Bob, who said, you know, the sands of Iraq are soaked with the blood of Americans.  You know, this was as the Marines were rolling into Baghdad.  Bush was—Bush could not maintain the state of denial anymore and fiction.  It what everyone knows and at some point the president has to seem like he knows it too.

CARLSON:  Well I don‘t know.  I disagree.  I mean, I hate the war passionately, but I like that about Bush.  I like the fact that he was in this kind of Teddy Rooseveltian way.  You know what I mean, almost like you don‘t believe what your eyes tell you.  I‘m the guy who knows the deep truth and the deep truth is victory.  I mean, I think it‘s important—failure is so scary. 

MCKINNON:  Yes and it‘s not an option.  It just can‘t be and so he is committed to finding and securing a way forward that amends the strategy and he is doing that now.  But failure is not an option as he said and it shouldn‘t be.  And it shouldn‘t be communicated that way from the president of the United States.

CARLSON:  I like a tinny bit of BS.  I know nobody agrees with me.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  He would say we are winning when I think we weren‘t.  It‘s OK to say we can win, we must win, we must persevere.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Coming up, the first President Bush welched on his no new taxes promise, it appears this president Bush possibly could be about to do the same thing.  When can we officially start calling him a liberal.  Good question.

Plus if you‘ve saved yourself for marriage—good for you.  According to a new study though, you probably didn‘t.  And neither did your parents.  Your grand[parents didn‘t either.  A revealing new study on premarital nookie lurks behind the next corner.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Read my lips: no new taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  The first President Bush famously went back on a promise.  Is the current President Bush about to make the same mistake?  It looks like he might.  Some conservatives fear this president is simply looking to leave a legacy. 

Here with his take on all that, Stephen Moore of the “Wall Street Journal” editorial page.

Mr. Moore, welcome.

STEPHEN MOORE, “WALL STREET JOURNAL” EDITORIAL BOARD:  Hey, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Is this president going to raise taxes against his previous pledges? 

MOORE:  Well, he‘s certainly flirting with that.  I mean, in today‘s press conference, he talked about everything being on the table.  And he was saying we can‘t take tax revenue increases off the table.  It sounds very similar to when George Bush went to the Andrews Air Force Base in 1990.  And I‘ve been hearing from conservatives around the country saying, what is George Bush doing?

The one thing that has kept conservatives in his camp to the extent they still are is the fact that he did these tax cuts that have worked very well.  So to raise taxes would both be a policy and political blunder.

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s the question.  What‘s the answer?  What is he doing?

MOORE:  Why is he doing it? 

CARLSON:  Why—well—in fairness, he hasn‘t done it.  He hasn‘t done anything of the sort.

However, here‘s what tony snow said about a related question the other day at the White House briefing. 

He said, quote, “I‘m not ruling it up, I‘m not ruling it down.”

As we‘ve seen in the past, definitions of these things get very squirrelly.

MOORE:  Right.  And what that means, what the Democrats hear, is George W. Bush has opened the door—swung that door open a little bit wider.  And what Bush wants to do is have a legacy issue.  He wants entitlement reform to be that issue.  But if he raises taxes, you know, what we say in our editorial, is he will make Hillary Clinton the next president of the United States because it will basically mean there‘s nothing left of the Republican Party if they raise taxes after these huge spending increases over the last five years. 

CARLSON:  Is—that is the only issue, you think? 

MOORE:  I think for conservative—economic conservatives, the one last saving grace of George Bush is that he cut taxes. 

CARLSON:  So is this—do you think this—is this a syndrome that you see in all two-term presidents...

MOORE:  Yes.

CARLSON:  ... the second term, the second half of the second term is consumed by the idea of a legacy.  With Clinton and the famously failed Arab-Israeli peace process...

MOORE:  Well, especially for George Bush because, you know, he‘s had failure in Iraq.  He‘s just suffered a humiliating defeat in the midterm elections.  And, yes, he is thinking about his legacy.  He got head handed to him two years ago when he tried to do the personal accounts. 

My feeling is he should say to the Democrats, look, I put on the table what I believed in with respect to Social Security.  Show me what you believe in.   What do you want to do?  Raise taxes?  Cut benefits?

CARLSON:  Who would stop it exactly?  I mean, it seems to me that in all fairness that Bush—it‘s easy to pound on Bush and often it‘s deserved. 

However, the Republican Congress has shown no more fiscal restraint than anyone else here.  There were as far out...

MOORE:  Yes, but I don‘t see them going along with a tax increase.  And I actually don‘t believe that—let‘s not forget, you‘ve got 40 to 50 newly elected Democrats in Congress, many of them in very marginal seats.  I can‘t see them wanting to go into their first reelection having raised taxes and cut Social Security benefits.

CARLSON:  But if the president gets out there and says, look, you know, we have this entitlement problem that threatens the future of our children and grandchildren, and the one way to—well, one component of the solution is to raise taxes on the very rich, you know, Dick Grasso (ph) and, you know, people who are getting $150 million bonuses on Wall Street.  Is anybody going to care? 

MOORE:  Well, the problem is, it‘s not just a tax increase on the very rich.

CARLSON:  I mean as a political matter.

MOORE:  But it‘s not though.  I mean, here‘s the thing.  You—

Americans pay the payroll tax up to $90,000 a year.  So what they‘re talking about is lifting that cap to say, $150,000 or $200,000 a year.  People who make $125,000 or a $130,000 a year do not consider themselves rich.  And those are the people who are going to—that sort of upper-middle class.  If you live in California and have a $125,000 income, as you know, Tucker, you are not rich by any means. 

CARLSON:  No, no, you‘re not.  And I‘m not sure anybody ever feels rich anyway.  So what does that mean?  I‘m sure Dick Grasso thinks he‘s, you know, could probably use another $150 million or so. 

But you always hear politicians say we‘re going to tax the very rich, we‘re not going to tax you, of course not.  No, you‘re good to go.  But we‘re going to tax the people that you don‘t know, the people you‘ve never met, the people you envy. 

MOORE:  Right.

CARLSON:  Is there a way to actually do that?  I mean, could you construct a tax that taxed only the people you‘ve never met?

MOORE:  Well, the top one—we just had an editorial on this today, and the numbers are surprising.  The income tax, the top one percent, the richest one percent, the Grassos and the Bill Gates of the world, pay 35 percent of the income tax.  They pay more than the bottom 50 percent.

CARLSON:  The top one percent pay...

MOORE:  ... pay 35 percent of the income tax.  And the bottom 50 percent pay far less than that.

So the top three percent pay more than the other 97 percent combined. 

So it‘s already a tax system very much skewed on the backs of the rich.

CARLSON:  But could you...

MOORE:  The backs of the rich.

CARLSON:  I like that.  And I think it‘s probably true.

But could you construct a tax that taxed the tenth of one percent and taxed them, you know, in a confiscatory way? 

MOORE:  (LAUGHS)

We need a tax for Tucker Carlsons. 

CARLSON:  I‘m sure not endorsing this.  Sadly, I don‘t fall into that category.  I wish I did.

But I was trying to think—and I‘m not endorsing this at all.  I‘m for smaller government.  Therefore, I‘m for less taxes because I don‘t think government should do the things that it does most of the time. 

However, as a political matter, why doesn‘t someone come up with that?

MOORE:  Here‘s the bottom line.  We do have an entitlement problem. 

And the entitlement problem is that the spending is growing out of control.  And the Republicans should say that, that‘s it‘s a spending problem, not a revenue problem. 

CARLSON:  But they‘re the ones who gave us a new entitlement in the last presidential term...

MOORE:  I cannot excuse that.

CARLSON:  So then why should we listen to a single thing they say?  They brought us a brand new entitlement we‘re going to be saddled with for eternity, this prescription drug nonsense.  And they‘re not telling us we need to, you know, pull back—I mean, they have no credibility. 

MOORE:  Let me just ask you this.  Republicans just spent their way—they‘ve broken the bank on spending over the last five years.  Now they come along and they go along with this big tax increase.  What in the world are the Republicans going to run on in 2008? 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.

MOORE:  That‘s the issue.

CARLSON:  That‘s the point at where I actually pay my Libertarian Party dues and just switch over completely. 

Stephen Moore, of the “Wall Street Journal”.  Thank you very much.

MOORE:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Coming up, the president of Iran declares his country a nuclear power and vows to make the U.S., Israel and the U.K. disappear like the pharaohs.  Biblical.  It‘s especially bad news with the U.S. Army stuck next.  So what do we do now? 

Well, as Dick Cheney, he is set to become the first-ever sitting vice president to testify in a criminal trial.  But should his former Chief of Staff Scooter Libby even be facing charges in the first place?

And old story gets new life when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Is George W. Bush about to get all tax and spend liberal on us?  Is he the modern Dukakis? 

Back again, our panel.  Joining us here in the studio, Republican strategist and former media consultant for president Bush, Mark McKinnon, also, Michael Crowley of the “New Republic.” 

Now, Mark, we were just talking about whether it‘s likely, possible that President Bush will raise taxes in order to bring about Social Security reform.  It seems pretty unlikely to me, but why wouldn‘t the White House just, you know, foreclose the option, say we will never do that.  Why don‘t they just say that?

MCKINNON:  Because I don‘t that‘s the way you should go into a negotiation.  If you‘re asking other partners in this equation, like AARP and others, and you want them to negotiate...

CARLSON:  Right.

MCKINNON:  ... you don‘t come in saying we‘re drawing the line.  You come in saying we‘re open.  We‘re going to put everything on the table.  We‘re asking them to put everything on the table so we should put everything on the table.

CARLSON:  So you think this is—do you think—I mean, bottom line, do you think there‘s any possibility the White House will go for a tax increase?

MCKINNON:  I think it‘s hard to tell.  I think at the end, though, I think this has been an intractable problem that nobody has had the courage to address politically, except for this president.  I think he has opened the door. 

And I think that he may be—because of where he is politically, the one guy who can actually get this thing done, particularly with the Congress as it is right now.  So, you know, I think when you think long term about what is important for the country, I think fixing Social Security is a lot more important. 

CARLSON:  And you think this could be part of a plan that‘s not just tinkering around the edges but an actual plan that does not include individual savings accounts.

MCKINNON:  As I said, I think they will go into it saying everything is on the table, but I think that the resident is committed to getting this done. 

CARLSON:  Michael, you saw the president today in his—rather, yesterday, actually, in his interview with the “Washington Post.”  He was asked directly—this is a small thing but I thought it was very telling.  He was asked, well, how do you feel about giving the District of Columbia a rote in the Congress? 

And he—this is like, the scariest possibility for conservatives everywhere.  I mean, give the District of Columbia—I mean, it‘s the most mismanaged city in the world.  It‘s almost 100 percent Democratic, except me. 

So Bush, rather than just saying, of course not, refused to answer the question.  Another marker to me, going soft ideologically.  Do you get that impression?  Is Bush more liberal than people give him credit for being? 

CROWLEY:  Well, I don‘t think he‘s actually more liberal.  I mean, I think he says—I think he says he—I don‘t think of him as liberal in any particular way.  He is not as conservative, in many ways, as people—as he likes to say that he is and some of his supporters do.  The—midwifing that Medicare entitlement, the Prescription Drug Plan is a great example of the rise in spending generally. 

But I still think it‘s very hard to believe that he raises tax rates in any significant way.  I mean, this has been his load star.  This has been the one thing, you know, all the slings and arrows coming at him, he is always there, and we‘ve cut the taxes, keep the taxes low. 

I think Mark‘s explanation makes sense as a negotiating tactic.  It probably is a way to get Democrats interested, to say something that they‘re not expecting. 

At the end of the day, unless it‘s the thing that you were pointing at, which is to kind of go after the CEO‘s who are getting these bonuses that just boggle your mind, I think there‘s a little bit of a populist backlash against that. 

And that‘s the one way you could sell something, but I just—you know, it just seems too targeted.  It just seems like it might not even be enough money.  But that‘s the only kind of—that‘s the only way I could maybe see him doing it, but it‘s just hard for me to believe that he‘s going to raise taxes. 

CARLSON:  Do you ever notice, Mark, that whenever this president does something bipartisan or whenever he gives outlet to his liberal impulses, as Michael just said, you know, shepherding, midwifing this Prescription Drug Benefit through the Congress, the liberals don‘t like him any more.  They still hate him.  They still hate him passionately.  He gets no credit for it.  As a political matter, it doesn‘t seem very smart to me. 

MCKINNON:  Well, but again, Tucker, I think as he said, he doesn‘t want to warm the seat and I think he would rather achieve real accomplishments than just get political points in the last two years of his administration. 

So long-term—listen, he‘s always going to be known for having cut taxes and for having kept a pretty strong economy through some pretty difficult times.  But if you can add to the equation and say that he also fixed Social Security... 

CARLSON:  Well, that would be great, but I just want to know—how about this?  How about one thing he‘s done recently in the service of smaller and more modest government?  I see the government getting bigger, its power becoming more profound, this administration pushing higher CAFE standards trying to micromanage our energy sector to a greater degree than ever.  I mean, this doesn‘t seem like a conservative administration.

MCKINNON:  Well, you know, but that‘s the kind of limited government role, but a role which attracted people like to then-Governor Bush as opposed to the Newt Gingriches of the ‘90s who were saying burn government down. 

CARLSON:  You make a good point.  He never pretended to be anything else.

(CROSSTALK)    

CARLSON:  That‘s right, as a former Democrat...

MCKINNON:  That‘s right.

CARLSON:  ... who was—right, that‘s a very good point. 

Then why don‘t—why do liberals hate the guy so much?  I mean, I‘m the scary figure.  I actually am on the pave the roads, protect the borders, get out of the way kind of government, but Bush isn‘t.  And so why do liberals hate him?  Why do they caricature him as this right-wing crazy when he‘s not? 

CROWLEY:  Oh, I mean, we need another hour, Tucker.  I mean, you‘re going to make me dial back.

CARLSON:  You‘re right.

CROWLEY:  Man, it‘s like—I mean, what more do you want than Iraq for starters?

CARLSON:  But they hated him before then. 

CROWLEY:  They hated him before then.

CARLSON:  They hated him as soon as he said Jesus was his favorite philosopher.  Everyone in my block started to break out.  They hated him.  I live in a liberal neighborhood.  They hated him for that.

CROWLEY:  Let me just say one thing, by the way, that, you know, Steve Moore was saying that it is a big policy mistake to raise taxes.  An interesting fact that, you know, one of my colleagues, Jonathan Shade (ph), who is a wonderful writer in economics always brings up—and I think it‘s a great one—Ronald Reagan raised taxes in the middle of his presidency...

CARLSON:  Yes, I know.

CROWLEY:  ...because he felt that the deficit was getting out of hand and he felt like it was the right thing to do.  And I don‘t think it was forced on him, you know, bludgeoned into his head by a Democratic Congress.  I mean, I think there were people in that White House who thought it was the responsible thing to do. 

Under Dwight Eisenhower, the top marginal income tax rate, I think, was 91 percent.  So there used to be a Republican Party that was not completely obsessed with slashing taxes for the rich and felt like you should have the budget somewhat in a semblance of balance. 

So Steve Moore does not represent the historical core of Republican Party economic thinking, and I think it‘s worth just reminding of that at this point in time.  It‘s not quite as heretical.  The economic theory surrounding Bush right now is kind of a new innovation. 

CARLSON:  Well, there are a lot of American attitudes, as you know, that have evolved for the better.  And maybe these are some.

Well, Iran‘s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says his country is a nuclear power.  Why should we believe anything this guy has to say though?  Do they really have the bomb?

And what‘s wrong with a country where nine in 10 of us had sex before we‘re married.  I don‘t know.  We‘ll find out.  We‘ll be right back to talk about sex.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

CARLSON:  Parents make sure your kids are listening.  We‘ve got breaking news, almost everybody has premarital sex.  According to a new sex study says nine out of ten Americans born after 1940 had relations before marrying.  It either says a lot about us, a lot about traditional assumptions, on morality, or both. Doctor Charmaine Yoest is with the Family Research Council.  She joins me now to discuss the findings.  Charmaine welcome.

DR. CHARMAINE YOEST, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL:  Hey, Tucker, I think you are have too much fun with this story. 

CARLSON:  Of course I love this story.  I‘m not sure what it means though.  What does it mean?  Is it good, bad?  Is it what you expected?

YOEST:  You know what Tucker, if this study wasn‘t so dangerous, I would think it was funny, because, you know, in graduate school, statistics 101, the very first thing you‘re taught is look to see who paid for the study.  The Goodmacher Institute (ph), who authored this study, is the research arm of Planned Parenthood.  And they got there money‘s worth in this.  This is very creative, very interesting, the way they have, kind of, put this together.  I think it‘s important for people to notice that a lot of the headlines that are coming out about this study are based on the finding about 40-year-olds.  Now, you know, Tucker, like who really cares about the pre-marital sex rate of 40-year-olds.  It‘s just not all that relevant. 

CARLSON:  Wait Charmaine, if you would just back up two steps.  What you are saying, as I understand it, is this a politically loaded study that doesn‘t represent what is actually happening in the country.  What would be the political motive of this group, or any other, to slant this study one way or the other?  Like what‘s the point?

YOEST:  Oh it‘s extremely political, because there‘s a huge fight coming up in January over abstinence funding at the federal level.  Planned Parenthood wants a big chunk of that money.  A third of their budget comes from federal funding, and they are very opposed to abstinence funding.  But, I don‘t want to run out of time, because I don‘t want to focus too much on the political angle of things.  Because it‘s really important that regardless of what the actual rate of pre-marital sexual activity—you and I are both parents. 

My daughter became a teenager this year.  When your kid comes and say, oh, everyone is doing it, that‘s never been an excuse that flies.  So it‘s really important for us to get behind these numbers and say, regardless of what the rate is, what‘s really good to be teaching kids?  And this study really glosses right over that and goes straight for the jugular, straight for the political point, to attack abstinence funding.  And so I really want to underscore the fact that it really is very dangerous for teenagers who are getting involved in pre-marital sexual activity. 

CARLSON:  Wait, but Charmaine, let me just ask you this, do you acknowledge that there‘s a huge, significant difference between a 14-year-old having sex and a 19-year-old having sex?  They‘re not the same thing.

YOEST:  Exactly and that was part of the point I wanted to go to is it scares me to think you have got your 14-year-old out there, listening to these headlines, oh, everyone‘s doing it, everyone‘s having sex, and completely missing background data on the explosion in sexually transmitted disease rates that we‘ve had in our country in the last several decades.  I mean, it‘s in epidemic proportions, Tucker.  And as a mother of several daughters, that‘s really, really troubling, because an awful lot of times these young girls don‘t get the message that they are more at risk—at 14 you are more at risk for sexually transmitted diseases than you are at 19, at 25, at 40. 

So, you know, it‘s very troubling when we see, you know, bought and paid for studies like this, come out and completely gloss over the realities of pre-marital sexual activity for these teenagers, and to make it seem like—In the study, he comes out and talks about normative, what‘s going to be normative in our culture and we‘ve got to focus on that question. 

CARLSON:  Well, presumably you could do a study on the occurrence of pre-marital sex, without making subjective judgments about whether it‘s right or wrong.  I mean, you could just say this is what happens, and I think we know from our first hand, you know, observations, that most people in this country do have pre-marital sex.  I mean, that‘s just true.  I would be willing to bet, you know, my car on it.  We just know that that‘s true, but because that‘s true, does that mean that we have to say to 14-year-olds go ahead and do it.  I mean, I‘m not sure one follows the other. 

YOEST:  Well, you know, but Tucker, when you say most people, you‘ve got to talk about who you‘re talking about.  This study—

CARLSON:  How about the majority of Americans.

YOEST:  -- talks about 40-year-olds.  Well, the majority of—at what age are you talking about.  You know, you and I can disagree about whether or not it‘s better to teach kids to wait for marriage or to postpone marriage, but I think it‘s really, really challenging when you start talking about most Americans without clarifying which age group you‘re talking about, because for teenagers, we need to be really consistent with talking to them about what is the healthiest way for them to lead their lives. 

CARLSON:  Charmaine Yoest of the Family Research Council, thanks for joining us. 

YOEST:  Thanks Tucker, Merry Christmas. 

CARLSON:  Merry Christmas to you.  Republican strategist and former media strategist for President Bush Mark McKinnon joins us, as does Michael Crowley of the “New Republic” Magazine, welcome to you both.  I don‘t want to—I mean, as much as I want to talk about sex for the rest of the show, I won‘t torture by doing so, but just one quick thing, -- 

MARK MCKINNON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I have ever an observation about the poll.  I think that there‘s also probably a finding in there that one out of 10 of those respondents were in a seminary or prison. 

CARLSON:  And does that count?  The Supreme Court says that‘s fine. 

MCKINNON:  Well, prison is probably --  

CARLSON:  I mean, is there a middle ground though? 

MCKINNON:  I agree with what you were saying.  So that‘s true, so what.  We should still be—that doesn‘t change what we should be doing with our teenagers and the message that we send.  It adds incentive. 

CARLSON:  But it‘s like the anti-drug messages of the 1980s.  When I remember them really well.  You know, I was in high school, it was like, you know, drugs will kill you.  There‘s a huge difference between smoking a joint and shooting heroin.  And that was never acknowledged in the advertising.  It was all drugs are the same.  That‘s B.S. and kids know it.

MCKINNON:  Yes, kids have pretty good—

CARLSON:  Maybe we could have an advertising campaign that says, you know, it‘s much worse to have sex when you‘re 14, or 15, or even 16.  It‘s probably too young to be having sex.  It‘s like not that good for you to do that.  You don‘t exactly know what you‘re doing.  Slow down a little bit, without saying sex is bad. 

MCKINNON:  I actually think there‘s a lot of organizations, like the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, which has had a 30 percent reduction over the ten years that it has been in existence.  Those organizations, the Hewlitt Foundations, others, and a lot of the political players that you see are moving to a more consensus, middle on these issues.  I think we are seeing a lot of progress, actually, on, you know, let‘s get away from—and this goes into sort of the issue of abortion, but let‘s talk about what happens before abortion.  How can we prevent that from happening in the first place.  So, I think there‘s actually a constructive dialogue going on in the country right now. 

CARLSON:  Michael, I must say, I mean, I‘m hardly prudish, obviously,  but I like the idea of those in authority turning to people under 16 or under 18 and saying, you know, slow down, don‘t have sex.  Why does that bother liberals so much?  Why does abstinence education make them go crazy?  Like why is that so sinister?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “NEW REPUBLIC”:  Well, to some extent I think it‘s because there are people who say—I mean, the question here is pre and post marriage, and I there is a movement who says that it‘s wrong to be having sex before marriage. 

CARLSON:  But that‘s a separate question, right.

CROWLEY:  I mean, there‘s just something ludicrous about that.  I don‘t think there‘s anything wrong with, you know, telling kids who are just in their early teens to slow down.  I don‘t think a lot of liberals do.  I mean, I think you‘re painting with a little bit of a broad brush.

CARLSON:  Well no, they do hate abstinence.  They—I mean, a lot of liberals get upset—When you use the phrase abstinence education at a dinner party where there are many liberals, you will get hissed at.  I‘ve seen it.   

CROWLEY:  Well, I guess I haven‘t actually seen that.  I think, you know, there should be a mix.  I think the problem is that it seems like—

Look, I think the problem is that people say, if you say that abstinence is the only way, and you don‘t offer other alternatives.  I‘m not an expert in this field, but my understanding is that the problem some people is they say you won‘t offer condoms, you won‘t offer safe sex instruction.  It‘s only abstinence, and if people refuse to hear the abstinence message, which a lot of them are going to do, based on what we know about human nature, and this study just confirms it, they don‘t have anywhere else to turn.  So they haven‘t been taught how to do it safely. 

CARLSON:  How to use a condom?  Do you need a masters degree to use a condom?  I mean, I‘ve never understood that.  What does that mean?

CROWLEY:  No, no, no, you know, you give them out in schools.  You make then available.  You prevent them from being too embarrassed to get them, or whatever.  

CARLSON:  I love this, kids don‘t understand how to use condoms.  Come on man.  Our country is in trouble if they don‘t.  Mark, the vice president, apparently, is going to testify at the trial of Scooter Libby.  Do you think he should?   

MCKINNON:  Well, I think it‘s, once again, another example of government investigation gone awry, and, you know, the ironic thing about all of this is the guy who actually leaked, Richard Armitage, is nowhere in the equation. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.  I mean, the whole points of this—that‘s right.  The whole point of this, as I remember—it was over a year ago, so my memory is growing a little dim, but it was to find who leaked the supposedly classified information that you was imperiling our very national security, and now we don‘t really care? 

MCKINNON:  Yes, I mean, the guy who leaked it, nothing‘s happening to him, and the information that was leaked turns out not to have been a crime in the first place. 

CARLSON:  Shouldn‘t we all admit this was a disaster, this investigation?  I mean, I don‘t know, I was the first to admit—one of the first to admit Whitewater was stupid, a waste of time, hurt all these people.  It was a bad idea.  This investigation has yielded nothing that helps our country. 

CROWLEY:  Well, I think there are two points.  One is that I think there‘s a political angle to this, which is not going to be in the courtroom, but does suggests that the Bush administration—that there was a kind of vindictive quality, and that people were being careless about information, even if it wasn‘t illegal.  People were being a little careless with information they should have been treating as a little more sacrosanct. 

On the legal side, yes, there was no crime, and it may be the case that the investigation should not have proceeded after Fitzgerald realized that, which seems to have been an early point.  However, if Scooter Libby did interfere with the investigation, which Fitzgerald, who seems like a pretty credible, serious guy thinks, there‘s got to be some penalty for that.  That‘s how the system works.  You can‘t throw smoke up when a prosecutor comes looking around.  And if that‘s what Libby did, he needs to be held accountable.  So, it‘s sort of a tragic ending for him if no law was broken, but, you know, if no law was broken, tell the truth, don‘t obviscate.

CARLSON:  That‘s sort of the Clinton argument.  Right, it wasn‘t about sex, it was about lying under oath and all of that.  Mark, quickly, do you think the president is going to pardon him Scooter Libby?  I mean, he clearly is a man who knows a lot, hasn‘t said much.  Should he be pardoned?

MCKINNON:  I don‘t think he will have to. 

CARLSON:  Really, you think he‘ll get off?

MCKINNON:  Yes.

CARLSON:  I hope he does.  I hope the jury in the District of Columbia lets him off.  Ahmadinejad says Iran is now a nuclear power.  This seems a much bigger deal than anything we heard from Saddam in 2003.  It‘s kind of huge news, we‘re playing it down for some reason.  How do we respond to that? 

MCKINNON:  One way we respond, is probably we don‘t meet with them over Iraq.  I mean, I like Joe Lieberman‘s line about meeting with them is like meeting with an arsonist who started the fire.  You know, to engage in bilateral talks, or multilateral talks with a nation that has now committed to not only wiping out Israel, but Britain and the United States.

CARLSON:  So, it‘s a moral question, we don‘t meet with really bad people? 

MCKINNON:  No, I just think in this case that there‘s no realistic sense that they would do anything but inflame the situation that they think is accruing to their political power. 

CARLSON:  OK, so they‘re just basically, we‘re just going to write them off as too unreasonable, too committed to their evil ways to deal with? 

MCKINNON:  I think there are different negotiations, in terms of the U.N. and the nuclear situation.  I‘m talking about bringing them into talks over Iraq.  There‘s nothing for them to do anything for us in that situation. 

CARLSON:  I doubt they would help us.  No, there‘s no doubt and the Baker-Hamilton report makes it sound like Iran and Syria are going to save us, unbelievable.  Michael, what do you think our options are?  Let‘s say Iran does have a nuclear weapon.  What do we do?  I mean, do we have to do something?  It kind of feels like we have to do something.  Israel will do something if we don‘t, won‘t they?  I would if I were Israel.

CROWLEY:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know what‘s going to happen.  I mean, it‘s really terrifying to imagine if people start dropping bombs on them.  You know, there are scenarios where it starts spiraling out of control, and they start sinking ships that are bringing oil around in the region and it starts to escalate and widen.  There was a great piece in the “Atlantic” some months ago, by James Fallows, trying to game out what a military campaign there would look like, and it did not look good. 

So I don‘t know.  You know, there may be some point at which we kind of have to learn to love deterrence again, right, and to say that we survived with the Soviet Union having an arsenal of nukes pointed at us for 50 years, and there was a system set up to prevent them from doing anything.  Unfortunately the Iranian leadership doesn‘t seem as rational as the Soviet leadership did.  There‘s this, kind of, religious martyrdom component, all of which is a way of saying, Tucker, I don‘t know. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t think we ought to be afraid to say deterrence works.  I agree with you completely.  Call me a liberal.  I agree. 

Coming up, careful what you download music lovers.  Democrats and Republicans have secretly plans to invade your iPods, secret until now that is.  We have them.  Also, listening to you through the fillings in your teeth. 

Plus, Bill Clinton hasn‘t been president for a long time, how come he‘s out presidenting the current president all these years later?  What we mean by that, find out when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  If you want the gossip on Britney Spears or Paris Hilton, we don‘t blame you, we want it too.  But you‘re in the wrong place for that.  For the spicy dish about goings on in the seat of your government, Washington, D.C., look no further.  For today‘s D.C. Dirt we turn to the man behind all of Washington‘s whispers, Paul Bedard of “U.S. News & World Report.”  Paul, thanks for joining us.

PAUL BEDARD, “U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT”:  How you doing Tucker?

CARLSON:  What do you know? 

BEDARD:  Nancy Pelosi, I bet you bought this whole story that she‘s a liberal, San Francisco Democrat. 

CARLSON:  I did actually.   

BEDARD:  You believe the media.  Well, let me tell you, in the ramp up to her being elected speaker of the House, on the 4th of January, she‘s going to turn out to be a Baltimore, blue collar, roots girl.   

CARLSON:  Just like her dad. 

BEDARD:  Just like her dad.  She‘s going to start—they‘re going to have, kind of, this victory tour.  She will start in Baltimore, in Little Italy, where she grew up.  She will have mass at Saint Leo‘s, the big church in Little Italy.  Then the whole day is devoted to, kind of, a party with the extended political family.  You know, her dad was a Congressman, the mayor of Baltimore, I think, for 11, 12 years.

CARLSON:  Yes, as was her brother. 

BEDARD:  I mean, an amazing story.  Then on Tuesday, she comes to Washington, goes to Trinity University, where she went to college.  In the staff they make a joke about how she went away to college, to Washington, D.C., 30 miles down the roads.  She‘s having mass there, a tea and then a big dinner at the Italian embassy, where Tony Bennett will sing.  It‘s going to be like a “Godfather” scene.  You remember when he married his daughter, and the singer came in and the whole thing.

CARLSON:  This is part of a larger trend I‘m sensing here.  The Democrats are now stridently pro-Jesus, I‘ve noticed.  She‘s going to two masses, right?  So it‘s like everybody is getting rebaptized.

BEDARD:  Exactly, she‘s going to be Saint Nancy.  And the whole idea, of course, is she doesn‘t want people to think that she is this—only represents, you know, liberal San Francisco.  She is a speaker for the people, and to cap that, after she is elected speaker on Friday, January 5th, they are goings to hold a peoples‘ House.  She is going to open the doors of the House, and she‘s going to let anybody who wants come in. 

CARLSON:  Into here house?

BEDARD:  It‘s going to be her House.  This is when she‘s—you know, the House will be debating ethics reform.  So, it‘s going to be, kind of, a cleaning House theme.  And if you‘ve heard—if this sounds familiar, Bill Clinton did the exact same thing, you might remember. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

BEDARD:  Remember he did that bus tour through the country, went to Mount Vernon, and then on the day after inauguration day, anybody who wanted could go to the White House. 

CARLSON:  It‘s pretty smart.  It‘s pretty smart.  Now, speaking of the White House, you said earlier, off the air, the Democrats are actually worried about a potential Republican presidential candidate who hasn‘t gotten a lot of press attention. 

BEDARD:  The Democrats, they are worried about Mike Hukabee, Arkansas governor.  He‘s been there for twelve years.  he‘s very conservative.  They have even done on internal paper, it‘s right here, but I can‘t show it to you because we have confidential sources.  The says in it, he stands the chance of being the real outsider, compared to McCain, Giuliani, Gingrich or Romney. 

CARLSON:  Do they really fear him or is this a “don‘t throw me in the briar patch?”  Whatever you do, don‘t nominate Mike Huckabee.

BEDARD:  I don‘t think—you know, they are worried whether or not Hillary can beat Mike Huckabee, but they are saying that he is the one who can reach out to angry conservatives.  He is one.  McCain has a problem with that group.  Giuliani has a problem with that group.  Romney is trying to reinvent himself so he‘s attractive to that group.  I mean, more than likely, he is a very good vice presidential candidate. 

CARLSON:  Michael, what do you think of that?  Do you take Huckabee seriously? 

CROWLEY:  Well, you know, I take him seriously because I think that the Republican field is just not looking that impressive. 

CARLSON:  No, it‘s not. 

CROWLEY:  McCain‘s popularity nationally—McCain was this icon, this god.  Everyone loved him.  His popularity has been dropping across the spectrum.  He has lost a lot of his independents, who were really the core of his base.  Romney has these problems where he‘s reinventing himself, as you say, as a conservative, but he‘s got some things in his record in Massachusetts, appealing to Massachusetts voters, as you can understand, now looks a little inconvenient.  And Giuliani, there are a lot of questions surrounding whether he can make it through the primary.  So the question is, well, who else is there and, you know, it makes sense to me.  You look at some of the other guys, Jim Gilmore, the former governor of Virginia, says he is jumping in.  Duncan Hunter from the Armed Services Committee.  These guys don‘t really seem like they should be taken that seriously, so almost by process of elimination I‘m saying yes. 

CARLSON:  I may jump in.  Paul Bedard, thank you very much.

BEDARD:  You‘re the man, we are voting for you. 

CARLSON:  Thank you, appreciate it.  Miss USA may have received a second chance from Donald Trump, but it turns out her Kentucky home town not so quick to forgive her alleged boozing and recreational bisexuality.  We‘ll explain in some detail when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Speaking of Iranian madman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s nuclear ambitions, we‘re joined now by Willie Geist, Willie. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  They will you Tucker, uh-oh.  You blew my cover.  I want to do a follow-up to a story we did yesterday, Tucker.  You were very—you were incensed, outraged at the executive compensation on Wall Street.  Well, how does this hit you?  The C.E.O. of Goldman Sachs, Mr. Lloyd Blankfein, reports to the SEC he will take home a salary, 53.5 million dollar bonus, 53.5 million dollars.  His annual salary is only about half a million dollars.  He‘ll take home 54 million bucks, 54.  How does that hit you, Tucker? 

CARLSON:  Honestly, I think it is bad for the country.  I mean, I‘m sure he is a great guy and very, very smart, but I think it is the sort of thing that breeds envy and ultimately revolution.  Laugh at me if you want, but I‘ll be proved right, unfortunately, some day. 

GEIST:  Would you decline 53.5 million dollars? 

CARLSON:  It depends what I did.  I don‘t think anyone is going to hire me on Wall Street anyway.  I can‘t balance my checkbook, so I‘ll take a pass on that. 

GEIST:  Maybe not anymore now.  In other news, Tucker, it has been a day now since Donald Trump granted Miss U.S.A. the second chance heard around the world.  As Tara‘s Conner‘s new lease on life continued in New York today, people in her home town of Russell Springs, Kentucky reacted to the Donald‘s decision. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She shouldn‘t have another chance.  That‘s setting a bad example to our children out here.  She‘s supposed to be a leader for—I mean, everybody wants that crown, all the children do. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think she is a better person for having acknowledged it and saying there is a problem and she‘s going to fix it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  All right, mixed reaction.  Russell Springs, a town of about 2,500 people.  One woman there summed it up well when she said, Conner‘s behavior was embarrassing, but it, quote, sure put us on the map.  Now Tucker, Conner is playing this whole little girl from Kentucky thing.  I don‘t think, when you‘ve been dancing on tables and making out with Miss Teen U.S.A. in New York City, you can‘t play that card anymore. 

CARLSON:  It really has put Russell Springs on the map though.  I‘m going to call you there from Spring Break this year. 

GEIST:  Let‘s go, let‘s do it.  Finally, Tucker, you can never be too safe at the airport.  So, along with her purse, her belt and her shoes, a grandmother put her 1-month-old grandson on to the x-ray belt at L.A.X. on Saturday.  The grandma put the baby into one of those plastic bins and slid him on to the conveyor belt and into the x-ray machine.  Security screener immediately noticed the baby and pulled him out of the machine.  The infant was checked out and released from a Los Angeles hospital. 

Now, the reason given behind this, Tucker, is that the woman didn‘t speak English.  Hmmm, I don‘t think that is really a justification that sort of—I don‘t care what language you speak, you pretty much know not to put your baby in an x-ray machine.  Don‘t you think?

CARLSON:  Yes, that‘s obedience.  It‘s one thing to take your shoes off, but to put your grandchild in the machine strikes me as going a little bit too far. 

GEIST:  Yes, I just think, as a rule, no matter what language you speak, lets all agree that we don‘t put babies into x-ray machines. 

CARLSON:  Yes, keep them out of the x-ray machine and the dryer and the dishwasher too.  Willie Geist.

GEIST:  All right Tucker.

GEIST:  Thanks Willie.  That does it for us.  Thanks a lot for watching.  We‘ll be back here tomorrow at the exact same time.  Tune in.  Have a great night. 

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

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