updated 1/8/2007 11:40:07 AM ET 2007-01-08T16:40:07

Guests: A.B. Stoddard, Vic Kamber, Michael Crowley, Jack Jacobs, Amy Argetsinger

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the Friday edition of the show. 

Nancy Pelosi‘s first 100 hours are well under way, and President Bush is spending them making changes to his wife.  He‘s moved John Negroponte from Intelligence to the State Department and installed Mike McConnell at Intelligence.  And most interestingly, relieved White House counsel Harriet Miers of her job.

Remember Harriet Miers?  She‘s the Texas lawyer President Bush nominated to the Supreme Court a little over a year ago.  At the time, Bush assured skeptics—and there were many of them—very much, including me -- that Miers was not only good, but remarkable.  “The best person I could find.”

The president described her as a woman of principle and deep conviction, wisdom and character, accomplishment, fairness, unparalleled integrity, unwavering devotion in the Constitution and the laws of our country.  “People are going to be amazed at her strength of character and her intellect.”  Bush was certain of all of this, because as he put it, “I know her heart.”

Well, that was then.  Yesterday, it was announced that Miers is out of a job.  This morning‘s “Washington Post” explains why.

The administration is preparing for investigations from the new Democratic Congress and “Bush advisers inside and outside the White House concluded that Miers is not equipped for such a battle.”  In other words, the president believes Harriet Miers is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States of America, but she‘s not qualified to handle a subpoena from Charlie Rangel. 

What happened?

Well, it turns out that knowing a person‘s heart isn‘t always the smartest way to pick an effective servant.  Or, for that matter, the wisest way to size up foreign leaders, as we learned with Vladimir Putin, very painfully.

The most loyal person is not necessarily the most capable person, which six years in is a lesson that Bush apparently has not yet learned, tragically. 

Well, with us to close out the eventful week is today‘s panel of the willing.

Joining us, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of “The Hill”; Democratic strategist Vic Kamber; and Michael Crowley of “The New Republic.” 

Welcome to you all.

VIC KAMBER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Thanks, Tucker.

This is a sort of amazing letter, A.B., that I‘m sure you saw from the new Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, the new speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, that essentially says to the president, no surge.  This is remarkable on a couple of levels. 

First, the most obvious, it was just the other day Harry Reid was saying he was open to the possibility of a surge.  Now he‘s not.  Why? 

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  I really think that there‘s going to be sort of a unified attack from the Democratic side against the surge.  I think that these words from Carl Levin, the Armed Services chairman on the Senate  side, about being open to a surge with certain conditions, conditions we know Bush is not going to agree to, is just kind of happy talk at this point. 

I think generally speaking, the Democrats are opposed to surge.  And there‘s opposition building in the Republican Party as well. 

Obviously the letter was timed to not step on their big day yesterday, but I‘m not at all surprised to hear that they are coming out in advance of his announcement to say, forcefully, we are opposed to this, the election told us that the American voters are opposed to this.  You‘ve tried this before—because he did this summer—and it didn‘t work.  And to be on record.

Now, there‘s not much they can do. I talked with Jack Murtha yesterday, who is in charge of the Defense Appropriations on the House side, and asked him, you know, “With all the tough talk, what are you going to do about the surge?”  “Nothing we can do,” he said.  They‘re going to do...

CARLSON:  Well, they could.  There is something they can do.  They can de-fund it.

STODDARD:  They‘re not going to de-fund the troops.  They‘re going to

they really—they know exactly—they‘re not in a corner.  They knew this all along, that there was nothing they could to do. 

The interesting thing that‘s out there is this possibility of revisiting a war resolution.  And I think that would be incredible political pressure on Bush, and actually an international embarrassment for him.  But beyond that, I think the surge is going—there are going to be a lot of letters and a lot, of...

CARLSON:  Well, I just want...

STODDARD:  Not a lot of action.

CARLSON:  As the show of record here, I just want to get on the record the fact that it was yesterday we were on this very set talking about Carl Levin and Harry Reid‘s support, theoretically, for this surge. 

And I‘m just wondering, Michael Crowley, do you think Cindy Sheehan‘s appearance on the Hill, the muscle-flexing by the antiwar left, has done anything to change Harry Reid‘s mind?  Is that what happened?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  It‘s possible.  I don‘t really understand what happened with Reid.

I mean, he—because I think he had actually previously kind of taken back that statement that he made on a Sunday show a couple of weeks ago.  I actually don‘t think this is a brand-new position for him.  He‘s kind of hinted that he didn‘t  mean that he supported the surge.  And I honestly don‘t know what he meant to say in the first place. 

What I do think is that they are in a very difficult position, because Barney Frank has said publicly that he does not believe that they could cut off funds, that they can pass something that might try to cut off funds, but that there is a huge pool of money that the president can dip into, take it from other places. 

The annual appropriations bill has already been passed, evidently.  So, Barney Frank himself said that he thought there was really nothing they could do to literally stop the money from flowing to the troops.  So they really are kind of impotent, and the most they can do at this point to respond from that intense pressure they are feeling from the left, to respond to these events like Cindy Sheehan crashing the press conferences, is to send letters and to kind of rail and to say that they think this is terrible.

But I think it‘s actually going to become a very awkward and uncomfortable position for Democrats, because they‘re going to—there‘s going to be a sort of sense of impotence there.  And they‘re going to be shouting louder and louder.  But at the end of the day, I don‘t know what they‘re going to be able to do.  And no one‘s going to be happy, particularly not the left.

CARLSON:  Well, the good news is that‘s a feeling, impotence, that they‘re familiar with.  Having been out of power. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  No, I don‘t mean it that way, but I mean having been out of power for 12 years. 

CROWLEY:  Yes, absolutely.

CARLSON:  They‘re used to railing against the inevitable.

CROWLEY:  But very quickly, there was on expectation when they were in the majority all that was going to change.  And I think people may realize, actually, it‘s not a magic wand.

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s right.  And it puts them in a tough situation, I think, Vic, because people say, you run Congress—run fairly (ph), and kind of expect them to do something.

I want to get to what this letter actually said.  Here‘s the key sentence.

“It is time to begin to move our forces out of Iraq and make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our open commitment is not open-ended.  That we cannot resolve their sectarian problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq.”

Now, that‘s basically—and I think I‘m characterizing it fairly—all it says about what happens after we leave.  This kind of sound like, “You know what guys?  Good luck.”

KAMBER:  Well, I think first of all, I find offense with the word “surge.”  Democrats are not about to support increasing troops in Iraqi at this point in time.  It‘s mot a matter of the left of the party or any other party.  It‘s the fact that the election basically said the American public is not supportive of this war, we‘re not supportive of increasing troops in Iraq. 

Republicans have joined in that.  I don‘t think the president today has 40 Republicans in the Senate—if it‘s 40, it‘s 41 -- who support him on surge increase, except for whatever the word is. 

As far as Reid‘s position, I think he is taking a reading of his caucus, he‘s taking a reading of the party.  The party will, in my judgment, support the funding of the war.  They‘re not going to leave our troops unfunded out there. 

CARLSON:  Right.

KAMBER:  But I don‘t think you‘re going to see a support for an increase...

CARLSON:  No, but the position appears to be, let‘s leave Iraq ASAP, the war is a disaster, it‘s terrible, the longer we stay the more we die.  And once we leave what happens then, which is kind of the question, right? 

And their answer is, guys, work it out. 

Is that really enough of an answer? 

KAMBER:  There is—there is no win here.  There‘s no answer, period, that anyone—if you are looking for a simple three-line answer, there is no three-line answer, five-line or 10-line. 

We don‘t know what is going to happen.  What Democrats are saying and many Republicans, the Iraqi government, whatever it is, has to pick up the biggest cudgels and move forward.  We will be a support mechanism for that government if the government takes over and starts running with the ball. 

CARLSON:  A.B., since I‘m a mean person, I cannot let go of this Harriet Miers question.  OK?

STODDARD:  It‘s such abuse.

CARLSON:  I know. 

STODDARD:  It‘s such abuse.

CARLSON:  I know it is abuse.  It was an abuse, I thought, to put her up for a job for which she was clearly unqualified.  The Supreme Court...

STODDARD:  No, no.  Apparently, she was going to take over the Joint Chiefs next.  So kill her with kindness.

CARLSON:  But what‘s interesting—I mean, the White House—I mean, I don‘t want to roll around on this too much, but they think she is qualified for the court but not qualified to handle the onslaught of subpoenas they‘re going to be getting from Capitol Hill. 

Are they really expecting a lot?

STODDARD:  They are, actually.  I was talking to a lawyer friend of mine the other day who said that there‘s a lot of work being done in the Justice Department to prepare for investigations.  And actually, some preparing—preparing to take a look at a lot of—a huge spectrum of companies that had contracts in Iraq so that it isn‘t just a Halliburton circus sideshow at those hearings. 

I think that on many, many questions, obviously, from Katrina, to Iraq, there‘s going—there‘s an expectation that once you get out of the initial calm commencement of Democratic power—as you know, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are asking their colleagues to keep their powder dry and keep it cool at the start.  But you can expect in the coming months tremendous political pressure on the administration. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

STODDARD:  And on the subject of Iraq, I really believe that, despite the fact that they can‘t do much, those hearings and that public outcry that will result from all—from that spotlight...

CARLSON:  Oh, there‘s no doubt.

STODDARD:  ... will probably alter things. 

CARLSON:  Well, of course.  They get up and say this is unacceptable, it has an effect.

Michael Crowley, very quickly, liberals supported Harriet Miers.  I‘m one of the few people to remember that.  It was the right who was against her, and the liberals, Democrats, were sort of on her side. 

Do you think they‘re said to see her go, Harriet Miers? 

CROWLEY:  Not particularly.  I mean, I think they were thrilled with the way that worked out.  They love the strange bedfellows—or strange coalitions in that...

CARLSON:  Really?  You think they were happy?

CROWLEY:  But listen.  You know, I just want to point out that I think what this—what we learned now confirms the cynicism of her selection as an appointment to the bench. 

CARLSON:  Totally, yes. 

CROWLEY:  Which is to say they don‘t think that she has a very capable, competent, legal mind.  At the time they just saw her as a reliable vote for the conservative position. 

CARLSON:  I think you‘re—I think you‘re completely right.

CROWLEY:  This is a confirmation of the worst suspicions we had.  And when their self-interest was finally on the line, then they pulled...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I couldn‘t agree with you more.  I couldn‘t agree more.

CROWLEY:  All right.

CARLSON:  Coming up, however you feel about illegal aliens, how do you feel about paying for their healthcare?  Thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger, taxpayers in California may get a chance to find out.

And the new Congress is down to business.  So far, no ethics violations that we know of.  How long is that going to last? 

Our best guess in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  President Bush is going to address the nation sometime next week with his new way forward in Iraq.  We‘re hearing it could be Thursday.  Before that announcement, though, he has shaken up key security posts in his administration. 

For analysis of the new Bush brain trust, we turn to our own one-man security military brain trust.  He is MSNBC analyst Colonel Jack Jacobs. 

Colonel, welcome.

COL. JACK JACOBS (RET.), MSNBC ANALYST:  Good to see you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  What do you make of this, the changes, Petraeus rising, Negroponte falling?  What does it mean?

JACOBS:  Well, they‘re separate issues all together.  I think as far as Negroponte is concerned, here‘s a guy who was at the United Nations, which has got to be if not the most, the second most frustrating job in the world, and a place that he really didn‘t like very much.  He says, get me out of here.  I don‘t care where I go.

And where does he wind up?  The director of National Intelligence, which is a job where he‘s got lots of responsibility, so he gets his teeth kicked in any time anything is messed up, and he‘s got very little, if any, authority, and no money. 

Rumsfeld has 80 percent—the Defense Department has 80 percent of the intelligence budget.  I don‘t see how that possibly can be satisfying, and I‘m not surprised 19 months later he yells, get me out of here.  I don‘t care where I go, even back to the State Department. 

CARLSON:  What about the president‘s address next week?  He—the

president said from the beginning, “I take the advice of any generals.”  I

you know, I‘m not the military expert, they are. 

JACOBS:  Well, he hasn‘t—he hasn‘t up until now.  You know?

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s right, but at this point—I mean, I guess my question is, are they in favor of a surge? 

JACOBS:  Oh, I think they are in favor—let me put it this way.  The large majority of them are in favor of articulating an end game that is going to be satisfactorily—that can be satisfactorily completed.

The military has not done that, the White House hasn‘t done that, nobody has done that yet.  I think they are—they are—would be satisfied with a surge as long as the purpose of the surge is to give the military enough time to train some more Iraqis so that we can make a graceful exit.

But anybody who things that a surge of up to 10,000 to 20,000, 30,000, 50,000 troops, even if all of them were in Baghdad, anybody who thinks that that‘s going to have a positive effect ultimately on the outcome of the conflict in Iraq doesn‘t have any military experience.  All it—this is a fight basically now between Shia and Sunni, and among the Shia, between Muqtada al-Sadr, who has the best army in Iraq, and everybody else.  And I don‘t think that the Americans can have any effect on that. 

You talked about—you talked about Petraeus.  The reason that Petraeus is in that job is that this guy is the quintessential trainer.  That‘s what he‘s done for a living.

He came from a three-star training job.  He‘s an extremely bright guy.  He was a cadet when I was—at West Point when I was teaching back there some 30-some-odd years ago.  He was a bright cadet and he‘s a bright general. 

His job is training.  And he‘s in—he is going over to Iraq for principally one purpose, and that‘s to make sure that the Iraqis get trained in the best—the best that we possibly can (INAUDIBLE).

CARLSON:  Well, then, if you could just—I mean, just sum it up then.  You just said that 20,000 -- you scoff at the idea of 20,000 additional troops making a great deal. 

JACOBS:  Well, it‘s not enough. 

CARLSON:  Right.  And I‘ve heard that from others. 

What is the—but that‘s the number that we are hearing.  Assuming that we are right and that‘s the number that the president is going to announce next week, what‘s he thinking? 

JACOBS:  Well, I think—they have got limited objectives, quite frankly.  The objective is not to win in Iraq, however you define it.  The objective is to make it easier for us to say that it‘s time for us to go, we‘ve done all we can do.

And to that end, the route to doing that is to—is to give us enough time to train more Iraqis so that the central government can get some—a modicum of military control over the most difficult areas, Anbar Province and Baghdad.  And that‘s really a limited objective. 

It‘s not to spread democracy in the Middle East.  It‘s not even—it‘s not even for the entirety of the government of Iraq—Shia, Sunni and Kurds all agree on how things should happen from now on.

CARLSON:  Right.

JACOBS:  It‘s to give us an opportunity to slide out of there, quite frankly.  Petraeus can do that.  He‘s a good trainer, but he‘s got a limited amount of time to do it.  Everything‘s got to be done by the election in ‘08.

CARLSON:  Colonel Jack Jacobs.

Thanks a lot.

JACOBS:  Good to be with you.

CARLSON:  Coming up, remember the millions of people who took to the streets to protest immigration policy in this country?  Well, they haven‘t left, and it‘s looking less unlikely that they will leave.  The good news is, though, if you live in California, you now get to pay for their healthcare. 

You‘re psyched, I bet.

And, there‘s new legal action pending in the Duke lacrosse case. 

Who‘s suing whom, and why is he doing it?

The latest when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Thursday on Capitol Hill had plenty of pomp and more than enough circumstance, but the business of governing begins today.  The House passed legislation to bring more transparency in lobbying and spending.  Good for them, I suppose.

Back with me now, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of “The Hill”;

Democratic strategist Victor Kamber.  Michael Crowley of “The New Republic” rounds it out.

Vic Kamber, A, this is a uniquely unambiguous agenda being rolled out in the first 100 hours.  And B, it‘s probably the most ambitious the House is going to do, because isn‘t all of this going to be eclipsed by the presidential election? 

KAMBER:  Well, when you say the least ambitious, it‘s 100 hours, things are going to happen, which haven‘t happened in the last six months in this—last two years.  It‘s a do-nothing Congress for two years.  It‘s going to do something. 

Whether you think raising the minimum wage is do nothing, ethics is do nothing, stem cell is do nothing, I would disagree with you.  And that‘s a hundred hours.  That takes us to next Thursday, next Friday, or the following Monday.

CARLSON:  Wait, but I thought—wait a second.  I thought Democrats, just to pick one of the things you mentioned, quickly, I thought Democrats were all about the market now and they understood that market forces actually are the ones that work.

Why should the federal government decide how much employers pay people?

KAMBER:  Minimum wage?  Are you kidding me? 

CARLSON:  That‘s another way of putting it.  Why should the government decide?  I thought if we believe in the market, why would we do that?

KAMBER:  We believe in the market, but we also believe in paying people a decent...

(CROSSTALK)

KAMBER:  Well, it—Tucker, the minimum wage in this country people cannot live on.  And...

CARLSON:  Very few people do live on the minimum wage.

KAMBER:  What are you talking about?  We have over three million people that are minimum wage. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t believe that number‘s accurate at all.

KAMBER:  Well...

CARLSON:  There are three million people living on the minimum wage? 

KAMBER:  Then let‘s not worry what we raise it to, right? 

CARLSON:  No, but I‘m just saying—I‘m just saying, you can‘t say on one hand, I believe in the market, and on the other hand, say...

(CROSSTALK)

KAMBER:  I believe we need as a country—we need to pay people a decent wage -- $7.25 or $7.75 is not even high enough for a minimum wage in this country. 

Having said that, I still come back to the Democratic agenda, for the first hundred hours, is an agenda, something gets done.  As other issues—as committees meet, as resolutions get put in, bills get put in, we‘re going to see other things happen.

Certainly, the ‘08 election is going to dictate the big picture agenda for the whole country because you can‘t govern with the White House on one side and the legislature on the other side in an atmosphere that‘s not bipartisan.  And this the not a bipartisan atmosphere. 

CARLSON:  Well, no, it‘s certainly not.

Michael, how seriously do Democrats internally, do you think, take this ethics reform nonsense? 

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY:  Well, some of them—some of them see it the way you just phrased it.  I remember Jack Murtha said this is a load of bunk. 

CARLSON:  Right.

CROWLEY:  You know, I think they‘re divided.

CARLSON:  Well, he used a more colorful term.  But yes.

CROWLEY:  Yes, that‘s right.  But it‘s family hour.

I think some of them feel the way Murtha does, that it‘s—that it‘s junk.  But I think there are a lot of kind of—you know, a lot with sort of goo-goo instincts who really do think that there should be a kind of ascetic way of doing business up on the Hill.  That you should really be aware of (INAUDIBLE).

But I think that they‘re not the ones who are going to carry the day at the end.  I think that, you k now, loopholes will be punched into all these things, and business is probably not going to change that much.

I think it‘s just the culture of Washington.  Everyone tries to change it.

At the end of the day, what you probably need to do is have some more overriding campaign finance reform that changes the way money comes in the system and that politicians rely on to get elected. 

CARLSON:  Boy, we do—we just had that with McCain-Feingold.  It didn‘t do very much, apparently. 

KAMBER:  Tucker, the politics of Jack Abramoff, of Duke Cunningham, of Bob Ney, is gone.  It‘s not going to happen here in this administration.

CARLSON:  Right.  Well, is that right?

KAMBER:  Are there crooks, are there bozos, are there bums?  Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  What are the Democrats doing about them?

KAMBER:  They‘re not Jack Abramoff, they‘re not Duke Cunningham, and they‘re not Bob Ney.

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  Jack Abramoff is not a sitting congressman accused of taking a bribe. 

KAMBER:  No, he‘s bribed a whole number of them.

CARLSON:  Right, but I think that someone who‘s—you know, holds the public—I mean, look—yes.

Do you think...

STODDARD:  The (INAUDIBLE) thing is going to be a problem for the Democrats because... 

CARLSON:  I agree with that.  And we‘ve got about a minute left.  Can you just—for our viewers who don‘t know exactly what it is, can you sum it up? 

STODDARD:  He heads now an appropriation committee where he is in charge of dolling out appropriations to the FBI, which is investigating him because he set up nonprofit organizations with his friends and associates who also contribute to him and to his campaigns, set up nonprofits which benefit from his earmarks.  And they have gotten very comfortable and wealthy on it.

And he sits—he is being investigated, but he still sits at the head of this subcommittee that doles—that oversees appropriations to the FBI, which is, in turn, investigating him.  And he...

CARLSON:  Well, that would seem a conflict, wouldn‘t it? 

STODDARD:  It is—this is going to be a problem for them because earmark reform, which they passed, is meant to stop members from benefiting personally from their earmark power. 

CROWLEY:  But Tucker, the Democrats didn‘t ignore this.  Pelosi told him to get off the Ethics Committee.  Jefferson was thrown off his seat on the Ways and Means Committee, which was not an easy thing for Pelosi to do.  She got a lot of heat for it.

STODDARD:  You know...

CROWLEY:  She isn‘t whistling past the radar on this.

STODDARD:  By getting off the Ethics Committee, is that like a slap on the wrist?  That‘s what you should get off the Appropriations Committee. 

CROWLEY:  Well, it‘s better than Tom DeLay, when the Republican Caucus tried to pass...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Yes, I agree with the whole idea.  This is supposed to be an improvement over Tom DeLay, right?  I mean—I‘m sorry.  I‘m being told we‘ve got to go. 

I‘ve got more to say.

Come to up, as if having three players on its lacrosse team falsely charged with rape wasn‘t enough, Duke University is now getting sued by another lacrosse player. 

We‘ll bring you details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  There was more drama today in the Duke lacrosse case.  A former lacrosse player named Kyle Dowd, who is not one of the three charged in the case, is suing Duke.  He says that one of his professors failed him in a class because he was on the lacrosse team.  Dowd is seeking about 10,000 dollars in damages.  Here now with the latest on that is MSNBC general manager and NBC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams.  Welcome Dan.

DAN ABRAMS, NBC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST:  Hey Tucker.

CARLSON:  What is this about?  How is this related to the rape case? 

ABRAMS:  Well look, what he‘s saying is because of everything that happened at Duke, because so many people had it out for the lacrosse team, in particular this professor, I got a failing grade, which they ultimately changed, and it‘s harmed me.  It‘s harmed me in terms of getting jobs, it‘s harmed my future, etc.  He may be right, but it is going to be really tough to prove. 

He is going to need more than just the fact that this professor signed a petition, or the fact that this professor had made certain comments in general about the case.  They are going to have to prove directly that this was the cause.  Because remember, a quarter of his grade at Duke was apparently based on class participation.  I never knew exactly how that was judged. 

And when you get into a courtroom with something vague as that, I think it‘s going to be a very tough for vase him to win money for. 

CARLSON:  Well, speaking of tough cases to win, where are we with the remaining allegations, the remaining charges against the three Duke lacrosse players, who formally were accused of rape?  I mean, is this case actually going to limp on to trial? 

ABRAMS:  It looks that way.  There are all sorts of rumors flying.  Every month or so you hear a rumor that the DA may drop the case, but I don‘t think that‘s going to happen, at least not right now.  The big development as of late has been that my alma mater, Duke University, has finally realized that it‘s time to invite the two students who didn‘t graduate, two of the three indicted students, back to school, to say to them that hey, you can come back on the campus.  Why are they doing it?  Well, they say that the totality of the circumstances has changed.  They use a term, the continued extension of the administrative leave would do unwarranted harm to their educational progress.

The bottom line is they have come to see what I‘ve seen and what you‘ve seen since this case started, and that is that the D.A. never had enough evidence to indict, and now finally, it seems, the university is listening.  They wouldn‘t listen to me months ago, when I used to rant about it on my show on a regular basis.  They didn‘t listen to you moths ago when you would rant about it on your show, but it seems that finally they are saying, huh, everyone now realizes that there wasn‘t enough evidence in case to indict. 

CARLSON:  Is their butt covering here too?  It seems to me that these three guys, the three charged lacrosse players, may have reasons, certainly they have motive, to want to sue Duke for one thing or another.  Do you think they will and what will they—

ABRAMS:  I don‘t think that‘s the issue.  I mean, Duke can cite its policy.  And that is, if you are charged with a felony, you‘re put on leave, period.  They can say look, that was the standard policy.  They weren‘t treated differently from anyone else.  I think what the university is doing is reacting to the public pressure, and the public pressure has been building and building, starting with us in the early days, and now with many other people jumping on board, finally saying it‘s not just there, and again, the evidence hasn‘t changed. 

I saw the evidence that the D.A. had when he indicted.  I talked about it many months ago.  I said many months ago that the accuser‘s stories conflicted significantly in this case.  It seems that only now does the university have, as you put it, the cover to be able to say, OK, now we can invite these guys back to school. 

CARLSON:  But you follow this as closely as anybody, this case, is anybody in public still taking the side of Mike Nifong and the accuser?   

ABRAMS:  Yes, there are a couple of people.  You know, we throw them on the air occasionally, to use them as pinatas.  You know, there are a few people out there who are still defending Mike Nifong.  There are a few people who probably don‘t know the evidence as well as we do.  But I can tell you that I have not seen a single objective person, who has seen the actual evidence, who‘s seen the documents in this case, and not walked away saying, huh?   

CARLSON:  Yes.  So is Nifong going to lose his law license? 

ABRAMS:  You know, the Bar Association, I would guess, will probably scold him.  He won‘t lose his law license, I don‘t think, but I would expect that the Bar Association will scold him for some of the comments that he made publicly, some which he simply couldn‘t back up, others which he shouldn‘t have made. 

The question is going to be, is the governor going to get involved?  Is there really going to be a ground swell that says we have to get Mike Nifong, this DA, out of there. 

CARLSON:  Yes, where‘s the Justice Department.  I mean, let‘s be totally blunt here, if the ethnicities were reversed here, you would have the civil rights division camped out in Durham right now.  Why hasn‘t that happened?   

ABRAMS:  And that‘s the question.  I mean, the families have been putting a lot of pressure on the Justice Department, on the attorney general of North Carolina, on the governor of North Carolina, saying look, you got to help us here.  You have got to get involved and so far, that hasn‘t happened, but I wouldn‘t be surprised if after the Bar Association in North Carolina comes back with some harsh words for Nifong, that you don‘t see others people say, OK, now I can come forward.  Now  I can say, we need to investigate this a little bit further. 

CARLSON:  The day he goes to prison will be among the happiest in my young life.  Dan Abrams, thank you. 

ABRAMS:  All right Tucker.

CARLSON:  Among other time bombs waiting for the new Congress and for the president, of course, will be immigration reform.  “Los Angeles Times” today reported that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California wants to provide health care to all children in his state, including those who are illegal aliens.  Joining us once again to comment upon the wisdom of that idea A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of the “Hill,” Democratic strategist Victor Kamber and Michael Crowley of the “New Republic.”

Vic Kamber, you were saying in the commercial break you understand this.  Why would an illegal alien be entitled to public health care? 

KAMBER:  First of all, it‘s cheaper than emergency care.  There‘s no question about that.  And if we are the richest, greatest, biggest country this the world, we‘re going to take care of children in this country.  If there are children who are injured, who are sick, who are in need of some help, we‘re going to give it to them.   

CARLSON:  Well that‘s in this country, you are suggesting we take care of the world‘s children. 

(CROSS TALK)

KAMBER:  Ultimately, Tucker, if we had the resources, I probably would.  But today we are talking about California and this country.  We‘re not talking about the world. 

STODDARD:  And he made the decision that he wants to provide universal health care and he must be related to Ted Kennedy.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is making the decision that if you want to proceed with that very ambitious goal, which apparently he‘s wanted to for several years, that you can‘t divide up the children. 

CARLSON:  But what does citizenship mean?  I mean, in other words, why is it significant that one person is an American citizen, the other, by definition, is a law breaker, is breaking American law.  I mean, in other words, at that point does being an American have any meaning, or is it just we‘re going to give everything to everyone who shows up here. 

STODDARD:  You are from California. 

CARLSON:  I am from California. 

STODDARD:  I‘m not a Californian.  I don‘t know.

CARLSON:  I think it‘s kind of a profound question.

CROWLEY:  It is an interesting question, but is it a principal where you want to cut off your nose despite your face.  Emergency room care, where people show up, and we‘re not going to turn them away in this country -- I think we can agree, no matter who it is, you‘re not going to send someone away from an emergency room with a kid who‘s arm is cut open or something.  We are going to pay for that.  It costs a fortune, so you are much better off having preventative care, having check ups.  The injury in the emergency room is a bad metaphor actually.  This preventive care has to do with illness, of course. 

But my point is, why would you take these massive health care costs just to protect this principles?  Three are a lot of other ways—

CARLSON:  but it‘s more than a principle though.  It‘s another example of the unintended consequences of liberal nonsense.  It‘s like giving—

I‘m serious—sleeping bags to the homeless, keeps them on the street.  This is an incentive for people to skip across the border into this country, many of whom die of thirst in transit, right.  Will this not bring many more people to the country? 

CROWLEY:  Tucker, I disagree because, as far as I know, we take them into emergency rooms all over the country as it is.  So you come to this country and you have a health problem, you can go.  The problem is people wait until it is massively expensive.  Why not, if they are going to be here anyway, we already have the incentive.  We‘re already giving them care, do it in a cheaper fashion and save everyone more money.   

CARLSON:  Well this is a more profound incentive.  You show up, you reach California, and all of a sudden your kids, if they‘re born here, they‘re citizens, but even if they‘re not—

KAMBER:  Tucker, the issue of immigrants has been over terrorism, let‘s not kid ourselves.  It‘s not over issue like health care.  No it‘s not.  

CARLSON:  If you live in a border state, I would beg to differ.  The hospitals in Arizona and Utah, Colorado, California have all closed.

KAMBER:  But the issue has been politicized in recent years primarily over a terrorist issue.  We are a country of immigrants.  At different times, people have passed test to become an American citizen, or were born on this land from illegal immigrants, but you‘re born here.  You‘re now an American citizen.  We‘ve never worried, as a country, before.  All we‘re today—

CARLSON:  We‘ve never worried. 

KAMBER:  No.

CARLSON:  I think, you need to take an extension course in American history.  We have had a lot of worries over immigration over the years.  Some of them were nativist and racist, others weren‘t, but we have been very conservative on immigration for 250 years. 

KAMBER:  But not in the way we are today.  We haven‘t politicized it in the way we are today.  And again, I‘ll say the issue really is one of terrorism, not of taking care of poor children. 

CARLSON:  I can promise you, as someone from a border state, that is not the feeling in border states.  The feeling is that those states are being bankrupted.  Fair or unfair, I‘m just telling you public sentiment, and it‘s reflected at the polls.

CROWLEY:  I‘m not an expert, but I think this is cheaper.  If bankruptcy is the problem, this is a good answer. 

CARLSON:  Boy, President Bush clearly agrees.  President Bush hasn‘t endorsed this, but he has done two things I think are notable.  One, he has backed a plan to allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits, and two, his administration has made it cheaper and easier for illegal aliens in this country to wire money back to their native country.  Why doesn‘t he get credit from the left for being a wild eyed leftist on this subject of immigration?   

KAMBER:  I can not imagine that you would suggest those two issues make you a wide eyed liberal or a leftist.  Tucker, I mean, President Bush understands that we have 11 million, 12 million, maybe 13 million people in this country that have the title illegal associated with their name.  We‘ve got to deal with that reality. 

CARLSON:  It‘s more than a title. 

KAMBER:  We have got to deal with that.  You can‘t send them back to their countries, in spite of what some would like to do. 

CARLSON:  Why‘s that?

KAMBER:  There‘s now way to do it.  We can‘t even find out who they are Tucker.  We don‘t know who they are, where they are, where they live.  

CARLSON:  Well, the ones who are working are working for companies that are profiting from their cheap labor. 

KAMBER:  Then let‘s enforce the laws about those companies, those companies, not the person.  Let‘s fine the companies, let‘s put the C.E.O.  in jail.  Let‘s do all the things that we are supposed to do with those companies, because it‘s not the individual.

CARLSON:  I‘m totally for that.  I think if that actually happened, you would find Democrats complaining about it pretty aggressively, because you know as well as I do, Vick, as a political consultant, that the end game here for Democrats is more Democratic voters, that 90 percent of first time Hispanic voters in this country vote Democrat.  Democrats know that, and illegal aliens in --  They know their base. 

KAMBER:  In 2004 it was 53-47 Latinos voted Democratic.  It‘s only since the last two years of the Bush Administration that they went up to 68 percent.  It‘s because of the Bush policies that they‘ve lost so many Hispanics.  Hispanics and Latinos were not necessarily in the pocket of the Democratic party.  They are getting more there, because the Democratic party is taking care of both illegals and legals of a Hispanic nature. 

CARLSON:  Do you buy that?  That if you have a Hispanic last name, you are for illegal immigration? 

CROWLEY:  Oh, that‘s such a sweeping statement.  I don‘t know if I buy that.  But I do think—it‘s actually ironic—it‘s not necessarily the Bush policies that are costing the party support among Hispanics.  I mean, it was actually the House Republicans, who tried to save their hides in these midterm elections with breathtakingly demagogic, xenophobic ads.  I mean, did you see some of these ads, Tucker, that were playing? 

CARLSON:  Not only did we see them, we replayed them on the air.  I would defend any one that I saw. 

CROWLEY:  Wow, they were over the top.  John Kyle, I remember, walking around the border with his cowboy boots, looking like he was -- 

CARLSON:  It‘s pretty easy to say that if you live, as I do, in Washington, but I‘m telling you, if you live—People in Arizona and people in the border states are mad. 

CROWLEY:  I sympathize and I think there are good justifications for that anger.  But I‘m just saying, as a political proposition, I think the Republican party did enormous damage to itself.  And that‘s actually not the course Bush wanted to chart.  I mean, ironically, one of the few possibilities for between Bush and the congressional Democrats, right now, is the so-called amnesty/immigration vision that he has.  But it‘s the right wing of the party that doesn‘t want it.  

CARLSON:  The irony, of course, as you both have pointed out, is that the president‘s position is far closer to the Democratic position.  They are essentially identical positions.  And the fact that Hispanic voters are mad at Bush for cracking down on immigration, when he‘s done no such thing, is unfair.

KAMBER:  It‘s far closer to the American public‘s position.  We need to deal with the issue of the immigrant going forward.  We‘re not going to be able to go backwards and undue what‘s been done for the last 25-30 years in this country.  You‘re not going to find 12 million.

CARLSON:  Yes we can, and you know why Vick, because I believe in progress.  I do, and I think we can make progress on this issue.  Thank you both. 

CROWLEY:  Heart warming Tucker. 

KAMBER:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Coming up, the Democrats partied like it was 1994 last night, but there were a couple of proverbial hiccups in the festivities.  Nancy Pelosi a no-show at her own party.  We‘ve got details.

And there was more to Keith Ellison‘s swearing in to office on Thomas Jefferson‘s Koran.  Find out what, next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  If it‘s juicy and it‘s happening in Washington, D.C., you‘re going to hear about it here.  For today‘s dose we are joined by Amy Argetsinger.  She is the woman behind the “Reliable Source,” the “Washington Post‘s” universally read gossip page.  Amy welcome.

AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Good to be here.

CARLSON:  So you covered yesterday‘s Pelosi paloosa in ways most of us didn‘t.  What did you find out?

ARGETSINGER:  Actually, I think the proper term lollaPelosi.  It rolls off the tongue much easier. 

yes, there have been a whole bunch of events in lollaPelosi this week.  Starting off on Wednesday, when she had two parties at the same time, a big party for her supporters at the Italian embassy.  James Taylor played.  Tony Bennett played.  There were about five hundred people there. 

Unfortunately she was unable to tear herself away, in order to get to another party, being held at the same time, in her honor, hosted by Democratic fund raiser Ester Cooper Smith (ph) and Linda and Loretta Sanchez, the congresswomen sisters from California.  It was for the California delegation, beautiful chocolate cake with the flag of California on it, but no Nancy Pelosi. 

This though, surprisingly, turned out to be all right, because the person who totally stole the show was Washington, D.C.‘s new mayor Adriane Fenty, who walked in the room and was greeted like a rock star.  He is tall.  He‘s young.  He‘s handsome.  He‘s bald as a cue ball, and so every eye turns to him when he walks in the door. 

People kind of forgot about Nancy Pelosi after a while.  Meanwhile though, the activity moved on last night, a big party for her, the National Building Museum, in which—big concert.  Wyclef Jean performed, Tony Bennett again, and several members of the Grateful Dead.  You had people lined up around the block waiting to get it.  

Media was only allowed to come in and listen to one song, and then be ushered out.  I can tell you though, one of my colleagues, Josh DeLock (ph) managed to get some surreptitious video of Nancy Pelosi dancing with Wyclef Jean and you can see that at washingtonPost.com this afternoon. 

CARLSON:  Fantastic, now wait, back up parties here.  The Sanchez party that she didn‘t make.  He had Loretta Sanchez on not long ago to talk about her famous Christmas card, where she is shown in a leather thong or something, alligator skin pants.  What were the party favors at the Sanchez sisters‘ party, do you know?

ARGETSINGER:  Actually, I‘m such an idiot, I found out the next day that I walked out the door without getting the party favors.  But I am told that they were fantastic chocolate truffles or something like that. 

CARLSON:  Not massage oils? 

ARGETSINGER:  No, maybe they only brings those out after the reporters leaves, unfortunately.  All of these parties though are going to be upstaged though, and completely eclipsed by the that Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards is having.  This is his 25th birthday party.  It‘s his coming out party as an NBC super star.  And it‘s invitation only.  You had to get your Arenas express card, a little black credit card type thing with your name embossed on it, and Gilbert Arenas‘ picture in the middle.  It‘s gorgeous.

Diddy is going to be hosting, Buster Rhymes, T.I..  It‘s going to be huge, and I don‘t think Nancy Pelosi is going to be there either. 

CARLSON:  No, I‘m on the V.I.P. list though, it goes without saying. 

Quickly, tell me, Keith Ellison the new Muslim member of Congress had this famously bitter exchange—he was on the receiving end of bitter comments from Republican Virgil Goode.   How was that resolved? 

ARGETSINGER:  It was a slow burning controversy all through the holidays.  Virgil Goode sent a letter to his constituents, saying that he deeply disapproved of the fact that Keith Ellison was going to be taking the oath on a copy of the Koran.  He said this is terrible.  It‘s going to encourage more Muslim immigration and we‘ll end up having more Muslims in Congress. 

It created a huge controversy.  Keith Ellison though, finally this week, came up with a very quiet, very politically savvy retort, which is that he decided he would take the oath on a copy of the Koran owned by Thomas Jefferson. 

CARLSON:  Very slick. 

ARGETSINGER:  Borrowed it from the Library of Congress, took the oath on it, and yes, this is a very big story this week.  Bloggers went nuts with this one. 

CARLSON:  Amy Argetsinger of the “Washington Post.”  You are the best. 

Thanks Amy.

ARGETSINGER:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Well a big shot Democrat says John Kerry is guilty of, quote, political malpractice for blowing the 2004 presidential race.  We‘ll tell you who‘s finally telling the truth about that campaign when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  I know there are millions, or dozens, of people out there who tune into this show the last five minutes just to see Willie Geist.  Here‘s your reward, Willie Geist from headquarters. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m so sorry for those people if that‘s true.  I‘m so sorry.  Tucker, you‘re going to have a great time with that Gilbert Arenas party, by the way.  NBA, hip-hop and Tucker Carlson, it just makes sense.  They just go together. 

CARLSON:  Like peanut butter and jelly. 

GEIST:  That‘s right.  Tucker, by now you‘ve heard that story of the New York City subway hero Wesley Autrey.  He‘s the man who on Tuesday left his young daughters behind on a train platform and leapt in front of an oncoming train to save another man from certain death. 

Well yesterday the New York construction worker visited city hall, where he received a medal from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  He also got a free trip to Disney World and an invitation from David Letterman.  On Letterman‘s show last night, Autrey described the moments he spent laying underneath a subway train, on top of the man whose life he had just saved. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WESLEY AUTREY, NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY HERO:  It was like, yo, you guys got to wait until we kill the power.  That took another 20 minutes.  In the meantime, I‘ve got this guy.  He is pushing me.  My head is hitting things, but you know, I was like, please sir, you got to stay still.  So what I did, I struck up a conversation with him.  

DAVID LETTERMAN, THE TONIGHT SHOW:  So, are you from the area? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  That‘s an amazing story, Tucker.  If you don‘t know the story, he dove underneath—he held the man down on the tracks, and the train passed over them.  So he just struck up a little chit-chat with him.  So, that was pretty amazing. 

But as you know Tucker, you‘re not a hero in New York until Donald Trump says you‘re a hero.  So, of course—There he is, Donald Trump and Mr. Autrey.  Donald gave him a check for 10,000 dollars.  Said, you‘re a terrific guy. 

CARLSON:  Wait, 10,000?  This is a guy who, by his own claim, is worth billions and billions, possibly trillions or frillions of dollars.  Ten grand is not much.

GEIST:  It‘s a little measly and I think he took donations for it too.  It wasn‘t even from his own pocket.  We love Donald, but come on, cough it up for the guy, he risked his life.  We‘ll work on him. 

Well, to the list of people who have said publicly that John Kerry blew the 2004 presidential election, you can now add the man who led the Democratic party during the 2004 campaign.  In a new book, former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe writes that the Kerry campaign‘s decision to back off criticism of President Bush was, quote, one of the biggest acts of political malpractice in the history of American politics.  Ouch.  McAuliffe also writes in the book that he was never invited to a single meeting at Kerry headquarters, and that he was muzzled from criticizing Bush‘s war record himself. 

It looks like a pretty good book, Tucker.  Another point he makes is he realized after the campaign was over, the Kerry campaign had 15 million dollars left, that they didn‘t spend, which might have come in handy in a tight race. 

CARLSON:  The subtext in all of this, in one sentence, is Terry McAuliffe is a Clinton man, who is backing Mrs. Clinton in the upcoming race, so he has reason to attack Kerry, a potential rival. 

GEIST:  That‘s exactly right.  I got another quick there for you.  It‘s pretty shocking.  We‘re going to meet a man right now who takes mortgage rates very seriously, Tucker.  This gentleman was protesting housing debt outside the presidential palace in Santiago, Chile when he momentarily lit himself on fire.  Look at that. 

He quickly jumped into an ornamental pool to extinguish the flames, before police arrested him.  The man says the government‘s mortgage rates amount to extortion.  Seems like a long way to go.  I think it kind of cheapens the practice of lighting yourself on fire when you do it for mortgage rates.  You should save that for, you know, like nuclear war or something like that.  A placard would have done, I think. 

CARLSON:  I totally agree.  Excellent point, as always, Willie Geist. 

Thanks Willie.

GEIST:  Have a good weekend.

CARLSON:  That does its for us.  Thanks for watching.  Have a great weekend.  We‘ll see you Monday. 

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

END   

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