updated 1/17/2007 11:52:41 AM ET 2007-01-17T16:52:41

Guests: A.B. Stoddard, Dick Armey, Peter Fenn, Dennis Kucinich, Tom Tancredo

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

Barack Obama has been a political meteor for the last few months, but today‘s development in his career was more like the appearance of a comet, bright and glowing and long predicted.  The junior senator from Illinois announced on his Web site today that he is creating a presidential exploratory committee, which means he‘s almost certainly going to run for president.  But we‘ll have to wait until next month to hear that news officially. 

There‘s going to be a lot of time between now and the Iowa caucuses, a year from now, to figure out what sort of president Obama would be.  For now, the question is, could he be president at all?  The first two obstacles are race and Hillary Clinton. 

Here are the answers in order. 

Yes, there are still people in this country who won‘t vote for Barack Obama because he is black, but there are many more who will vote for him because he is. 

For many Americans, a vote for Obama is a vote for progress, a definitive break from the country‘s ugly racial history. 

For a lot of voters, supporting Barack Obama will feel like virtue.

Which leads to the second problem he faces, Hillary.  Think of it this way, who would you feel better voting for, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton?  Now, if you‘re a Democrat, you probably would vote for Hillary if she was the nominee, but would you feel virtuous doing it?  Probably not. 

In other words, Barack Obama could win.  It‘s time to take him seriously. 

Joining us now, people who do take him seriously, people who have expert insight on him and just about everything else in the news, A.B.  Stoddard, associate editor of “The Hill”; Dick Armey, former House majority leader and current chairman of FreedomWorks.com, an organization that promotes lower taxes and less government; and Peter Fenn, Democratic strategist and contributor to “The Hill Pundits Blog.” 

Welcome to you all. 

I was amazed, A.B., to read the announcement Barack Obama made today, the non-announcement of his presidential race, which he is, in effect, announcing, in which he does not mention the president or even the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, for that matter, so far as I can tell, in the entire announcement. 

Why is that? 

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  Barack Obama is wisely trying to take a page from your friend Arnold Schwarzenegger to carry the mantle of the post-partisan in this primary race as it‘s set up so far.  He doesn‘t talk about parties.  He doesn‘t bash other people. 

On your air, the night of the president‘s speech last week, he interviewed with Keith Olbermann and had the most remarkable comments—“I don‘t doubt the president‘s sincerity.  This is not a Republican or Democrat issue.  I would be happy to be part of crafting a solution, but it would require openness.”

Barack Obama is trying to position himself as a nonpartisan.  More than a bipartisan.  And he has a rap that appeals to people for that reason.

And he alluded—you know, that‘s going to be a theme for him.  And he talked about it today in his video announcement, that the small politics that‘s ruining Washington and impeding solutions is...

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  ... you know, has got to be eliminated. 

CARLSON:  It‘s pretty smart for a general.

I wonder, Congressman, can you win a primary doing that? 

DICK ARMEY ®, FMR. HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  I don‘t know.  I‘m fascinated by Obama. 

Here is a man who has been in town, Washington, for two years, hasn‘t

as near as I can tell hasn‘t done a thing.  Apparently, there is no performance criteria in the process of selecting somebody to be president.  Nobody asks the question, what has he, in fact, ever done?  It seems a simple enough question, but they didn‘t ask it about Kerry, they won‘t ask it about him. 

I don‘t—my own estimation is his qualifications, as we see them now, are all ceremonial trappings right now.  I‘d like to see what is the really substance of the man?  He seems to be intent on hiding that, if it exists, in the interest of winning a nomination.  It strikes me as a peculiar phenomenon. 

CARLSON:  Well, we have some sense what he thinks, because he has cast some votes.  He cast a vote against, Peter, John Roberts for chief justice.  And when he cast that vote, he said, look, I think this guy is totally qualified.  I just essentially object to, A, his personality—whatever that means—his empathy, and I object on ideological grounds. 

He‘s a lefty.  Can he get away with pretending not to be during the primaries?  I mean, doesn‘t he have to pander to the Democratic electorate and say, yes, I hate Bush, too, in order to get the nomination? 

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I don‘t think there will be a problem. 

CARLSON:  Why? 

FENN:  He‘ll let that—he‘ll draw differences between he and Bush quite regularly.  But I think there are a couple of things here. 

First of all, his six-year record in the statehouse will be looked at and scrutinized.  The fact that he has an 8 percent or 7 percent, whatever the heck it is, rating from the American Conservative Union...

CARLSON:  Eight percent.

FENN:  ... I was saying, where did he go wrong in that 8 percent.  But that‘s all right.

The interesting thing about the tactic that he‘s taking is it‘s a very similar tactic to what his friend, the new governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, took in the campaign.  That is, it is above the fray a little bit.  It is to say that there is a higher calling, that you don‘t have to engage in this name-calling craziness.  And it‘s going to be interesting to see how it plays out. 

CARLSON:  Well, I think you do have to engage in this name-calling craziness in order to be elected.  I mean...

STODDARD:  Well, there‘s plenty of time for that.  I mean, the primaries aren‘t tomorrow.  And so there is time for him to build the excitement and to inspire people and raise the money and take the high road, because there is plenty of time in the snows of Iowa to start bashing Hillary Clinton. 

CARLSON:  OK.  In a general election, absolutely, but... 

STODDARD:  No.  No, in the primary. 

CARLSON:  OK, in the primary.  But you think about who, you know, set Democrats ablaze last time.  It was Howard dean.  And his message is pretty simple: I hate Bush more than anybody who has ever lived.  I‘m the—I‘m the numero uno Bush hater.  Like, I hate Bush so much I can‘t sleep at night. 

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  I think so many people hate Bush now that I don‘t think that‘s a revolutionary message you need to have to be a successful candidate. 

(LAUGHTER)

STODDARD:  Republicans hate Bush. 

FENN:  Republicans hate Bush.

STODDARD:  They are going to be saying the same thing in their primaries.  I don‘t think it‘s going to be—I think that, you know, he alluded today to these entrenched politicians, or whatever the comment was.  You know, in the last six years in Washington, Hillary Clinton‘s exact tenure here. 

CARLSON:  Don‘t tell me he‘s going to be a good government candidate. 

STODDARD:  No, he‘s going to get to that.  But right now what people want to hear is—you know his rap is hope.  It‘s not—he‘s not going to talk negatively right now.

CARLSON:  Well, he should write a book about it. 

STODDARD:  He did. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Congressman, the six gulf states, and Egypt and Jordan, which is basically everybody in the Middle East, who we talk to, anyway, announced jointly today that they support the president‘s buildup in Iraq.  As a matter of domestic—this is obviously significant on a foreign policy level.  But as a matter of domestic politics, will this win Americans over to the surge? 

ARMEY:  If it works.  I mean, again, I think probably helps. 

The biggest problem with Iraq is nobody—I don‘t care who you are. 

You can‘t know—nobody can say, “I know what the answer is here.”

So the president is the commander in chief.  He‘s got a plan.  My own view is that probably Senator McCain is being helpful when he suggests a plan, you should have a larger portion that is more definitive and go in and shock it, settle the place down, and maybe some of these other six companies—countries come in the aftermath and help maintain a stability. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ARMEY:  But it‘s the only plan I know of, and I know the president is getting whacked on a lot by a lot of people.  But my view is, if you want to reject this plan, if you want to criticize his plan, show me your plan.  Right now it‘s the only plan we have, and he is the commander in chief. 

CARLSON:  Well, I think that‘s kind of—I mean, I despite the war and I‘m angry at Bush for waging it, as I think most people are. 

But Peter, I must say I agree exactly with the congressman here, and isn‘t this what Democrats and thoughtful critics have been calling for since day one, which is an actual coalition united behind our policy in the Middle East? 

FENN:  Well, exactly, but I‘m not sure you have got a coalition that‘s united.  I mean, you don‘t have the countries in the region.  You don‘t have the—you have—most of the so-called allies of ours reducing their troop levels right now. 

The big problem, as we‘re discovering in the last 24 hours, is that Afghanistan, which has about as many U.S. troops in there as the surge that we‘re putting into Iraq, may be where the real problem lies, and that‘s where at least we have got some coalition partners who have picked up three-quarters of the slack.  So, you know, I think the question is that this—this president has a heck of a time keeping more than one ball in the air at any precise time.

CARLSON:  Right.

FENN:  And I think he‘s already dropped the Iraq one, and I hope to heck he doesn‘t drop the Afghanistan one, too. 

CARLSON:  I think the difference with Afghanistan is there is not a person in America who questions our rationale for being there.  I mean, nobody is going back and saying, you know, Bush lied, we went to Afghanistan.  We know why we‘re there. 

So, even if it‘s tough sledding, I think people are willing to endure it. 

Coming up, Senator Clinton of New York.  She has returned from the war zone in the Middle East with her opponents.  The Democrat nomination railing against the war.  How will Hillary Clinton spin the problem of her own record of support for the war in Iraq? 

Plus, one of the darkest of the dark horse presidential candidates joins active duty soldiers to protest the war.  Should active military personnel be speaking out against their own assignments?  That candidate joins me next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  A group of active duty service members is trying to persuade Congress to put an end to the war in Iraq, but should the military be dictating our foreign policy? 

We‘ll ask Congressman Dennis Kucinich, an announced presidential candidate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Yesterday, a thousand active duty military personnel presented their appeal for a redress.  It‘s a call for Congress to put an end to the war in Iraq and bring American troops there home.  Today they presented their appeal to sympathetic members of Congress.  Among them, our next guest. 

Democratic congressman from Ohio and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich joins me now from Capitol Hill. 

Congressman, thanks for coming on. 

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you very much, Tucker.  It‘s always a pleasure to be with you on your show. 

CARLSON:  Thanks.

I sympathize with anybody who is in Iraq.  I sympathize with the reporters covering Iraq.  It‘s a terrible place to be.

On the other hand, we do have civilian control of the military.  And I think you agree we should have that.  Doesn‘t it make you a little bit uncomfortable that people who signed up for the military and who are under the authority of elected officials, even if you like those officials, are publicly attacking the policy they have sworn to carry out? 

KUCINICH:  Well, keep something in mind.  And it‘s very important for you and all the viewers to know, that these soldiers are not challenging any orders.  They are not saying that they won‘t go or they haven‘t gone.  You know, they are not saying they don‘t have a duty to serve. 

They‘re basically—they kept good faith in their duties and their orders.  But what they are saying is that under the rules of the Department of Defense, any soldier has the right to petition their member of Congress with respect to any grievance they have. 

In this case, it‘s a desire of over a thousand members of the military, many of whom served in Iraq, to get out of Iraq, to have our troops brought home.  So they have a constitutional right to do this, they have an expressed permission to do it under the rules of the Department of Defense. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Oh, I‘m not contesting its legality.  I know perfectly well that it‘s legal by statute.  I‘m asking about the principle here. 

Now, you agree with these people, and I think many Americans do.  So maybe that gives you an excuse not to think about it.  But think about a scenario where you don‘t agree with them. 

Most members of the military don‘t share your politics, as you well know.  And so if they were to get up and demand something that you didn‘t agree with, wouldn‘t that make you uncomfortable?  If Hillary Clinton was president, or you were president, and the military started saying, you know, we don‘t agree with President Kucinich‘s orders, wouldn‘t that make you uncomfortable? 

KUCINICH:  No, actually they are following the orders.  They are saying that they are going to follow the orders.  They‘re good soldiers.  But they are also saying—and I think we have an obligation to listen to these people who serve their country who are willing to put their lives on the line.  They are saying that they believe that based on conditions that many of them have experienced firsthand, that the troops ought to be brought home. 

We ought to listen to what they have to say, which is—and I think we have an obligation to receive the petition, which is why I received it today, and I‘m communicating the petitions to the clerk of the House today so they can be forward to the appropriate jurisdiction. 

CARLSON:  Here‘s what it reads.  Here is what the appeal reads. 

“As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American forces in military bases from Iraq.  Staying in Iraq will not work, is not worth the price.  It‘s time for U.S. troops to come home.”

That‘s not—I mean, that doesn‘t really say anything.  What does that mean, “It won‘t work”? 

I guess my point to you is, if you‘re going to make a demand or are going to voice an opinion, shouldn‘t it be a little more sophisticated than “It won‘t work”? 

KUCINICH:  Well, I think the men and women who serve are quite sophisticated.  And I think the way they expressed it came right from their hearts, not from an advertising agency. 

These are people who are our sons and daughters who say, look, Congress, hear our plea.  We think that we ought to bring our troops home. 

And these are people that put their lives on the line, Tucker.  I mean, they are not people that are just casually saying we ought to take a new direction. 

CARLSON:  Right.

KUCINICH:  They have something to lose.  It‘s courageous for them to do this, because they are not saying they won‘t serve.  They are not saying they are going to disobey orders. 

They are saying, look, we know what‘s going on, we think that we ought to bring our troops home.  So this is a momentous occasion, frankly.  And I‘m going to be presenting those—the petition for redress to the clerk of the House.  And I would expect that you will probably see a congressional hearing on it. 

CARLSON:  OK.  I mean, look, I think it‘s courageous for them to be there.  I just—you watch.  Ten years from now, when a Democrat is president and members in the military, as they did under Clinton, publicly voice their disagreement with that president‘s policies, it will make you squirm.  And it should. 

Now, I want to ask you about the Fairness Doctrine, which is now a defunct, essentially, federal doctrine that said that television stations had to present both sides of a political issue.  Here is what you said in a speech the other day. 

I‘m quoting—“We know the media has become the servant of a very narrow corporate agenda.  We are now—Democrats are now in a position to move a progressive agenda to where it is visible.”

This suggests you want to use the power of the federal government to control what broadcasters put on television.  That‘s scary. 

KUCINICH:  Well, actually, Tucker, you I‘m sure know that in 1934, when the Federal Communications Act was written, it said that broadcast licensees shall serve in the public interest, convenience and necessity.  The airwaves actually belong to the people. 

Now, I can see from my own experience in Cleveland, I think the Cleveland TV stations do a pretty good job.  But it‘s time after 20 years of the absence of the Fairness Doctrine to find out if the basic principles are outlined in the Red Lion decision of 1969 of saying that there should be, you know, uninhibited access to the marketplace of ideas, that those principles are being, in effect, under the current system without a Fairness Doctrine. 

I‘m not drawing any conclusions.  I‘m just saying it‘s time to have a discussion. 

CARLSON:  Well, wait a second.  I mean, maybe we could begin and end the discussion on another principle, free speech. 

Since when does Congress have the right to program television?  When does Congress have the right, when do you have the right to tell us what to put on the tube? 

That—I mean, talk about an area ripe for abuse.  I can‘t imagine a greater abuse of power than that.  That doesn‘t bother you? 

KUCINICH:  You and I are in agreement with respect to the exercise of freedom of speech, but I want you to go back to 1934.  And this might be good to have a...

CARLSON:  I don‘t want to go back to 1934. 

KUCINICH:  Well, you need to.  And I think that you and I could talk about this in a full program so it wasn‘t misunderstood. 

In 1934, when the Federal Communications Act was first passed, it laid down this principle.  It said that the broadcast media must serve in the public interest, convenience and necessity. 

CARLSON:  Right.

KUCINICH:  Those words are not just words.  Those words helped to give life to the First Amendment because actually the airwaves belong to the public.  They don‘t belong to the government.  They belong to the people. 

CARLSON:  Well, you know what?  Cable doesn‘t.  And we don‘t take orders from politicians here on cable, and we‘re not going to.  So good luck trying to make us. 

KUCINICH:  Well, I‘m not—this isn‘t a challenge to you, Tucker. 

You shouldn‘t take it that way. 

CARLSON:  I know.

KUCINICH:  I mean, your—I mean, you have to realize there are executives who have said that, you know, if you want to get attention, you should throw clowns out of airplanes.  I think that we need to make sure that the function of the media—which you, by the way, help to celebrate through having robust debate on your show...

CARLSON:  Yes.

KUCINICH:  ... that it needs to be included everywhere. 

CARLSON:  All right.

KUCINICH:  And so this is a good time for us to review after 20 years, what direction are we going? 

CARLSON:  You know, I came close to voting for you just out of personal affection, but now you‘re scaring me a little bit.  But I know you will pull back, Congressman. 

Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, Democratic presidential candidate and all around good guy.

Thanks for joining us. 

KUCINICH:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Coming up, President Bush wants to talk about domestic issues in his State of the Union Address, but judging by who the Democrats are sending out as their official respondent, they are not interested.  So much for bipartisanship. 

Plus, all acceptance speeches are not created equally.  A Golden Globe winner talks about golden globes.  So sick, so unforgettable, and coming right up on this very program.

We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Should active duty military personnel speak publicly against their direct orders?  Congressman Dennis Kucinich thinks that‘s fine. 

Joining us now to agree or not, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of “The Hill”; Dick Armey, former House majority leader and current chairman of FreedomWorks.com; and Peter Fenn, Democratic Strategist and contributor to “The Hill Pundits Blog.”

Peter, you‘re a pundit. 

FENN:  Oh no.

CARLSON:  I mean, the principle here...

STODDARD:  I‘m waiting for you to bring up the fact that we actually blog together. 

CARLSON:  You blog together?

FENN:  We blog together, but we haven‘t told our spouses. 

(LAUGHTER)

STODDARD:  It‘s really under wraps.

CARLSON:  It‘s just so modern.  I love it. 

As a liberal and as someone who has been here a long time, long enough to remember when liberals voiced, I thought, quite sensible concerns about the civilian control of the military—remember it was the military industrial complex and the diabolical generals... 

FENN:  Liberals like Dwight Eisenhower?  Is that who you‘re talking about? 

CARLSON:  Yes, actually, that‘s right.  Liberals took a cue from Eisenhower‘s very thoughtful concerns about that. 

It doesn‘t—you don‘t see the principle here at all? 

FENN:  No, I see a couple of things. 

First of all, it is rather courageous of someone to come out publicly and state their opposition to...

CARLSON:  To support a war that no—think nobody supports?

FENN:  ... a war where they have got folks around them.  Well, not—except to the people around them, and that‘s—that‘s a tough thing to do.  But I will say that it is one thing to talk about the general policy and the general concerns, and another thing to criticize the commanders, the commander in chief, those kinds of things. 

I still have a problem with it, to be honest with you.  I think this is not the place.  You know, if you disagree with it, you should—you should keep fairly quiet, to be perfectly honest with you. 

CARLSON:  Well, yes, because, I mean, Congressman, you could get to—well, why not pull the military?  I mean, if we‘re going to go down this road—because you know that the views of the U.S. military, by and large, are not those of America.  They are those of me. 

You know, they are conservative, actually.  So liberals, I think, are sort of opening up a box they may not want to open here. 

ARMEY:  Well, I‘ve got to reference an old country western song. 

Please, Mr. Custer, I don‘t Wanna Go.”  That was a great song. 

But, you know, you‘ve got a thousand (sic) people on the ground.  They are doing their duties. 

CARLSON:  Yes, they are.

ARMEY:  They are complying with their orders.  They don‘t quarrel with who is the commander in chief or who is my commander—I do my duty.  I express my point of view, my opinion.  I petition my congressman. 

My own view is I see nothing wrong with it.  I do think that Congressman Kucinich makes a point.  They probably put themselves a bit in harm‘s way for at least some bad feelings by their colleagues and their commanders. 

I don‘t see that as a problem, as long as you don‘t start breaking down the honorable—this tradition of civilian control and command of our military forces.  I don‘t think that the military should be involved in determining what our policy is, what our mission will be.  They should be involved in constructing how it shall be carried out. 

CARLSON:  Well, Alexandra, I want to ask you about the Fairness Doctrine since you cover the Hill and you know about that.  And this is—hold on.  This is an issue that most people sort of, “Oh, the Fairness—oh, boring, boring, boring.”

It‘s actually not so boring.  And it could potentially give the Congress the ability to control part of what‘s on the airwaves.  And that‘s sort of a big deal. 

Is this really going to happen?

STODDARD:  Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are rushing this...

(LAUGHTER)

STODDARD:  Hold on to your hats.

No, I mean, let a thousand flowers bloom.  But this is—you know, this is a longstanding debate about corporate control of the media, and there is a lot of concern. 

CARLSON:  Right.  The left is all fired up about this. 

STODDARD:  But it‘s not going—I mean, this is the new Democratic Congress. 

CARLSON:  It‘s not going anywhere?

STODDARD:  And this is not happening. 

CARLSON:  Really? 

ARMEY:  It‘s technologically obsolete at a time when Senator Lieberman says to me, “Dick, the bloggers got me.”  It‘s technologically obsolete to count the number of stations on the air or in a community. 

We get our news and share opinions in so many different ways.  I just

by the way, as PBS is technologically obsolete. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Well, in more than one way...

FENN:  Just as long cable isn‘t obsolete, right? 

CARLSON:  No, cable is vibrant.  Cable is the medium of tomorrow, as we often say on this show.

But wait a second.  If liberals—and liberals certainly do—liberals—the left, the haters, I think, on both sides, particularly on the left...

FENN:  Haters?

CARLSON:  They do dominate the blog world.  They do, trust me, having run into them repeatedly. 

FENN:  We call them the critics. 

CARLSON:  Yes the—OK.  Well, I call them the lunatics. 

FENN:  That‘s you and I.

CARLSON:  Why would liberals be complaining—I mean, there is, you know, more than balance out there.  Why are liberals still mad about, you know, corporate control of CBS or NBC? 

FENN:  I think one of the things that Representative Kucinich is talking about is he wants to see fair and balanced coverage out there, if I can use the quote from the other network, which clearly isn‘t fair and balanced. 

CARLSON:  But they‘re all so mad about FOX, this one little network. 

FENN:  That‘s what I‘m talking about, obviously, “fair and balanced.”

You know, we distort, you decide. 

CARLSON:  But it makes the liberals so mad.  I‘m glad FOX is driving you guys crazy.  I mean, I don‘t watch it, but it makes the liberals so mad. 

FENN:  I don‘t watch it either.  But my point is that—and I‘m not sure this is about FOX.  I think this is more about elevating the debate.  But I totally agree who is going to say how you elevate the debate. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

FENN:  What member of Congress should have control over that?  None of them, I don‘t think.

Do you think so, Congressman? 

I don‘t think anybody...

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  I mean, when you get down to trying to fix it, there is no way. 

CARLSON:  Well, as long as we‘re doing it, we ought to have a federally mandated NRA channel, as far as I‘m concerned.  I would watch it.  I mean, those are my people.  I‘m serious.  I‘m totally for that. 

FENN:  Listen they‘re going in with the conservationists now.  What the heck?

CARLSON:  That‘s right. 

(CROSSTALK)

ARMEY:  Tonight, Tucker, I‘m going to go home to my apartment in Washington—it‘s not my real home, but where I stay when I‘m in town.  I‘m going to hook up something called a sling box.  And if I have gotten by my techies correct, I will then turn on my TV in Dallas, Texas, and see what is the local news in Dallas, Texas. 

CARLSON:  Awesome.

ARMEY:  And if my beloved Stars are playing hockey, I‘ll watch my game.  This is again what technology allows us to do. 

CARLSON:  And don‘t let Dennis Kucinich get in the way of it. 

Coming up, can President Bush ever change the national conversation from the current focus on the war in Iraq?  He doesn‘t have long.  His first big chance is a week from today.  That‘s the State of the Union.

We‘ll tell you what he is likely to say. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Axis of evil, weapons of mass destruction, Iraq, Iraq, Iraq, all themes to the president‘s prior State of the Union Addresses.  Just one week from right now though, we will be hearing President Bush‘s seventh State of the Union.  He laid out his plan for Iraq next week.  What‘s left for him to talk about?  A budget impossible to balance while at war?  A plan to end illegal immigration? 

Virginia Senator Jim Webb will give the Democrats‘ response.  What can we expect from that?  Back now to help us preview it all, our panel, A.B.  Stoddard, associate editor of “The Hill,” Dick Armey, former House majority leader, current chairman of FreedomWorks.com, an organization that promotes lower taxes and less government, thank god, and Peter Fenn, Democratic strategist and contributor to “The Hill‘s” pundit blog.  Alexandra, what is the president going to say?  Will this be a speech that focuses on domestic policy, having just given an Iraq speech last week? 

STODDARD:  Well, he‘s going to talk about Iraq because he has to.  But, of course, he‘s going to hit up the newly elected Democratic Congress to balance the budget, and I don‘t—I think we are not to expect any draconian spending cuts. 

CARLSON:  Will he acknowledge the irony in that? 

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  No, this irony and George W. Bush are not friends.  And he‘s going to talk about our addiction to foreign policy, which is a state of the union staple.  That actually is an area for obviously some cooperation at some point.  It will be interesting. 

He will certainly, certainly mention immigration and make a hard push for that, because everyone thinks that there is room for common ground and cooperation on immigration, although I think for the Democrats, in the little window they have left, I think it‘s really going to be hard to tackle something as big as that. 

CARLSON:  I agree. 

STODDARD:  But I think that it‘s going to be interesting to see—the state of the union is a week away.  I really think what‘s happened in the last 10 days or so is really significant, that the president did an internal review of Iraq, following the election, and then it was all leaked, and then he had over 125 or 140 members of Congress into the White House to hear about it, but it wasn‘t a consultation.  They were told what they already read in the papers and they were not asked for input. 

So the feelings are so bad now, particularly with this building opposition in the Republican party.  And I really think from his comments this weekend, which were I‘m going to move ahead even if they try to stop me.  It‘s a question now of Murtha wants to stop—the defense appropriations chairman on the House side --- might we be able to stop these last two brigades leaving.  It‘s just complete political war.  I think that the environment is really miserable now. 

CARLSON:  Speaking of the environment, Congressman Armey, there are indications I have seen anyway that the president is going to move not just left but pretty far left on questions of emissions, new cafe standards coming out of Detroit, and on basically fuel, I mean, taxing oil.  Is that going to—

ARMEY:  Well, it‘s hard to tell what he will do.  I‘m not enough of an expert there.  I‘m the chairman of an organization called Freedom Works.  I‘d like to see him talk about freedom.  American people being free to choose.  Maybe being free to choose whether or not they will subscribe to Social Security and Medicare.  Maybe being free to choose to define their own destiny on their own time. 

(CROSSTALK)

ARMEY:  Let these programs be competitive. 

CARLSON:  When will the first president—will it be in our lifetime that a president stands up and says, we‘re going to give you the choice whether or not you want to subscribe to Social Security. 

ARMEY:  It seems like such a simple thing to do.  Of course, the Democrats have demagogued the heck out of it.  Nobody says shut it down.  It simply says let people make the choice.  Now, in the infamous words of Senator Kennedy, they can‘t let people have that choice because they will take it. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

ARMEY:  But the fact of the matter is I‘m afraid the president will remain bogged down.  I worry a lot about him going too far, trying to make peace with the Democrats.  I think he could pick up some pieces.  Immigration is an area where he could, by natural disposition, which I say congeniality of philosophical premise, work comfortably with Democrats, work where you can work together, but don‘t give up what you believe in, in order to try to make peace.  Armey‘s axiom is if you love peace more than freedom, you lose.

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.  Boy, I wish most people thought that.  Peter Fenn what‘s Jim Webb going to say, the new senator from Virginia, probably the most culturally right wing Democrat elected in my lifetime, a guy who actually said, I‘m quoting now, I would not cross the street to watch Jane Fonda slash her wrists.  In other words, my kind of Democrat. 

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  You‘re talking about a Vietnam veteran there. 

CARLSON:  I‘m endorsing that. 

FENN:  You‘re talking about a guy who, of course, is very much against the war in Iraq, who carried around his son‘s combat boots throughout the campaign and was serving in Iraq, and wore them.  I think obviously he‘s going to talk about Iraq and the best ways to end this war.  I think you‘re also going to see him talk about—about ways to get us out of being 62 percent dependent upon foreign oil in this country.

I think, you know, there are going to be some areas, if the president chooses, where we can have some common ground.  If he pulls a Schwarzenegger in this State of the Union Address, when it comes to the environment and some of those issues, you‘ll see Democrats go with him.  But I don‘t think he‘s going to call for voluntary Social Security, Congressman. 

CARLSON:  What a shame.  All the wasted opportunities here. 

FENN:  Listen, I‘m all for voluntary Social Security, you know what, as long as you‘re prepared to fund it. 

CARLSON:  Right, so, in other words, as long as it‘s not voluntary. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Sadly, we are out of time.  Thank you Peter Fenn, Congressman Dick Armey, A.B. Stoddard, you are excellent.  Thank you. 

Up next, we‘re joined by the Republican presidential candidate who once suggested we could nuke Mecca.  He‘s Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, living proof that all politics is not boring, some is exciting and thoughtful.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Sure today‘s 2008 news may be focused on a certain senator from Illinois.  That doesn‘t mean our radar isn‘t spread far and wide.  On our radar, here and now is perhaps the most outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, one of the few conservatives in the race, a man with his presidential exploratory committee.  He is Republican Congressman from Colorado, Tom Tancredo, also the author of “In Mortal Danger, The Battle For America‘s Border and Security.”

REP. TOM TANCREDO ®, COLORADO:  Wow, two plugs, presidential campaign possibility and a book. 

CARLSON:  Both worth plugging as far as I‘m concerned. 

TANCREDO:  TeamTancredo.org. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I like that.  Was Tancredo.org taken? 

TANCREDO:  Well, TeamTancredo somebody thought was an even better idea.  Tancredo.org was actually my campaign site for the congressional. 

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s alliterative, and that matters to me.  The president‘s speech a week from today, there was some question, we were talking about it, whether or not he would be again calling for his amnesty bill, his so-called comprehensive immigration package.  Will he, and will he get it through Congress? 

TANCREDO:  Well, I think he will probably—yes, I think that he will say something about it.  Whether he will make it as definitive as what you have just described, I‘m not so sure.  Whether he gets it through Congress, I think not. 

Now—and that is if we are describing a major amnesty/guest worker program.  OK, yes, you can get it through the Senate.  Yes, he has got allies there.  Senator McCain, Senator Kennedy.  I always just shorten it to McKennedy.  But the fact is he could get it through the Senate. 

I think in the House it‘s a different situation.  Too many Democrats ran against immigration, that kind of immigration reform, and they ran to the right of the Republicans they unseated.  Which is one reason, Tucker, you didn‘t see it in the, quote, 100 hour agenda.  Not a word about immigration on the House side, not a word. 

CARLSON:  That‘s an excellent point, considering that is the one obvious compromise issue.  I mean, the president and the Democratic leadership are equally on the left ward side of that question, but they‘re not pushing through their party. 

TANCREDO:  They have some problems in their ranks, Blue Dog Democrats.  When you listen to what they said—and believe me, I have got every quote during that election.  Of all the Democrats who actually were successful in unseating a Republican and where they were on immigration.  It‘s going to be very difficult. 

And they have got a thin majority and they just gained it.  They are not crazy about doing something that radical, that scary out there to the American public, which it should be, any sort of amnesty idea should be pretty scary.  They are not crazy about doing that. 

And right now they are in the position of trying to solidify that majority, not threaten it, which is something that would happen if they push it. 

CARLSON:  Now, you have a presidential exploratory committee.  You‘re one of nine Republicans who does.  There are another five Republicans who may or may not join the race.  Some of them—for those keeping score at home, they are Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Tommy Thompson, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul of Texas, you, potentially Mike Bloomberg, Newt Gingrich, Chuck Hagel, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, a very big group, 14 people.  You are the most conservative, I would say.  I mean that as a compliment. 

TANCREDO:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Why are there so few, relatively speaking, conservatives in the Republican primaries this year? 

TANCREDO:  Well, for one thing because when you have to pick from the group that‘s been there and been in Congress for that long and—you know, you don‘t have that many conservative Republicans that really and truly are interested in pursuing this, or who are out there. 

I mean, let‘s - if you look at the bench, you go just a second here now.  I‘m looking for a good, solid conservative on all the issues that I care about.  And I‘m talking about this is a grass roots Republican talking now, looking out there and looking for somebody. 

Even if you go beyond the list that you mentioned, I hope excluding me, that you just don‘t see that many.  And so it‘s an interesting situation that, you know, again I think most of our base is solid on our issues.  I mean—and yet few of the, quote, leaders of the party can be said to be the same. 

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m losing track of what it means to be a Republican in the first place.  The leadership of the Republican party is split on, let‘s see, the war, immigration, spending, abortion, gay marriage, all the social issues, stem cells.  There really—is there—what are the criteria for being in the Republican circa 2007? 

TANCREDO:  That is a great question.  If you can encompass it in the phrase limited government. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

TANCREDO:  If you could do that and then really break it down, what does that really mean?  Well, it means does the government really have a role in determining so much of the health care issue?  The creation of a Medicare/prescription drug plan that was the greatest expansion of government, generally, since the creation of Medicare, was that an appropriate role for us, for the—for the Republicans?  Why was the Republican president pushing that and a Republican Congress? 

CARLSON:  But that definition is not going to work, because here you have Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney.  You would say they are three of the front runners in this race.  Not one of those men has a commitment to limited government.  In fact, all three have expanded government pretty dramatically.  Mitt Romney required people in Massachusetts to buy health care, whether they wanted to or not.  Not a limited government position. 

TANCREDO:  Something I hope many people think about. 

CARLSON:  Yes, nobody will think about it and nobody will remember it. 

I will though and I‘ll never shut about it, but here‘s my question. 

TANCREDO:  That‘s the other thing.  You get enough money behind you and you can create an illusion. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

TANCREDO:  And That Is what certainly I think some of these folks are going to try to do.  They are going to try to create the illusion of being a rock solid conservative, because the theory they operate under is the old one, the old political axiom, in the Republican primary you run to the right and eventually move to the center.  Democrats do it just the opposite. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

TANCREDO:  Why do you think people are so cynical about government?  I mean, what did I hear that guy say while he was running and what is he doing now?  That‘s the thing I think that really has driven a lot of people out of the political marketplace. 

CARLSON:  It‘s not at all clear what Republicans stand for.  I will say it‘s not at all clear—You can tell by the conversation, now the debate raging about Iraq—the Democrats have no idea what they stand for either, which is why they are not taking a position on the only issue that matters, Iraq, in my view.  I wonder how much of that is George W. Bush‘s fault.  Do you blame him for what appears to be the disintegration of the Republican party? 

TANCREDO:  I have to say yes, I do.  That is a tough, harsh thing to say.  But I can‘t honestly, in good conscience, sit here and tell you that there are other reasons that can be so easily focused upon as the president and what his positions have been, the lack of leadership on the important issues. 

Tucker, if there is anything, I wish he could and would have done for so long—I mean, when we talk about immigration, for instance, it‘s not just the issues that revolve around the number of jobs, the cost to the medical system, the cost to the school system.  All those things are important.  But there is some huge issue here about the culture and I can‘t pass a law.  There is nothing I can do as a congressman.

CARLSON:  Aren‘t you a bigot and xenophobe for bringing that up?  I mean, how dare you mention that? 

TANCREDO:  A lot of people, of course, would toss that out, but a lot of others, hopefully, know the truth.  That is that if you want to solve a problem, a problem that really does exist, you better got to talk about it.  You cannot just simply ignore it because it‘s not politically correct to do so.  I know my colleagues would like to and the president has done so. 

And that‘s what I fault him for perhaps more than anything, not giving us leadership in that area.  Telling us about who we are as a society.  What does it mean to be an American.  Why are the values of western civilization important?  Those are big topics that only a president can talk about.  I cannot pass a law to make somebody feel connected to that. 

CARLSON:  And not only has he not talked about that, he and his allies have made it impossible to have that conversation because they are name callers.  They squelch rather than encourage debate.  So if you bring that up, they do call you a bigot or a xenophobe or someone who hates foreigners or hates Mexicans, which is such an unfair thing to say.  It‘s something that ends the conversation. 

TANCREDO:  And that‘s what it‘s designed to do. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Out of time, so what are your campaign colors going to be? 

TANCREDO:  Let‘s see, what color is your tie there?  That looks good to me.

CARLSON:  It has got Salmon on it.  It‘s red, you like that?

TANCREDO:  I like that.  It sounds good.

CARLSON:  If you put fish in your campaign sign, I will vote for you. 

TANCREDO:  You heard him say it, you know.  TeamTancredo.org. 

CARLSON:  Thanks congressman. 

Coming up, Borat crashes the Golden Globes.  Sacha Baron Cohen wins the award and then gives the acceptance speech that will rival the movie for raunchiness.  If you didn‘t see it, stay tuned, we‘ve got details. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  It‘s that time, ladies and gentlemen.  He joins us now. 

Athlete, scholar, heart throb, Willie Geist from headquarters. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Two out of three ain‘t bad, Tucker.  I‘m no heart throb.  You once said to me Tom Tancredo has never uttered a word with which I disagreed.  Do you still think that‘s true? 

CARLSON:  The spirit of it, yes, that‘s true.  I don‘t want to know too much about what he thinks, because I would hate to disagree with him in any way.  But yes, I love Tom Tancredo.

GEIST:  You guys get along well.  It‘s good.  Another good man we have to tell you about, an old friend of ours, Mr. Donald J. Trump received the 2,327th star on the Hollywood walk of fame just moments ago, out there in Hollywood.  Congratulations to him.  Guess who doesn‘t have one, Tucker?  Rosie O‘Donnell.  No star, I‘m sure he is quick to point that out. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I bet he is. 

GEIST:  Congratulations to you, Mr. Trump.  In other news, Tucker, Sacha Baron Cohen, as predicted on this show yesterday, won best actor in a musical or comedy at the Golden Globes Awards last night for his Borat character.  As Cohen walked to the stage, the audience and the show producers and censors held their breath for the acceptance speech and he did not disappoint. 

If you have seen the movie, the nude wrestling scene between Cohen and a 300-pound man is no-doubt seared into your memory, and probably haunts your dreams, as it does mine.  Well, last night Cohen gave a long anatomically descriptive explanation of why he has that 300-pound man to thank for his Golden Globe Award.  We warn you that the language is a bit colorful. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SACHA BARON COHEN, “BORAT”:  When I was in that scene and I stared down and saw your two wrinkled Golden Globes on my chin, I thought to myself, I‘d better win a bloody award for this. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  And he did Tucker.  Did you watch him last night?  It was one of those, you were watching and it kept getting worse and worse and worse. 

CARLSON:  No, I was on a plane sadly. 

GEIST: He didn‘t go too far over the line.  That was about as close as he got.  But he was knocking on the door a few times.

CARLSON:  Yes, I read the transcript.  He got a little bit closer, I think. 

GEIST:  Yes, he got a little be closer.  It‘s funny seeing him out of character, too.  All you can see in that face is Borat deep in there.  He also thanked every American who has not yet sued him because of the movie, which I thought was nice, because most people have.  But we called it, congratulations to Sacha Baron Cohen. 

CARLSON:  Amen. 

GEIST:  Well Tucker, check out this next video.  Yes, it is exactly what you think it is, a grown man committing a burglary with his pants down.  Christopher Willover was sentenced today to three to five years in prison for cleaning out the register at a tobacco shop in Omaha, Nebraska last year.  Police say he drank a fifth of rum to loosen up for the job and then didn‘t realize his pants had fallen down as he crawled around the store, apparently to avoid being seen. 

Omaha police dubbed Willover, of course, the bare bottom bandit.  Three to five years, he robbed the register.  That seems like a lot of time.  But also, I think the fifth of rum was the mistake.  Have a couple beers if you want to calm the nerves, but a fifth of rum puts you to the point where you don‘t realize you have no pants on. 

CARLSON:  It‘s excessive for a burglary.  I agree with you.

GEIST:  It is.  It hampers burglary.  It‘s not advisable.  There‘s something else Tucker.  You weren‘t with us on Friday.  We had Norah sitting in for us.  We showed video of a lion hugging a woman, and the outcry has been so great to see it again that we just have to show it.  We received so many e-mails begging, can we please see the lion hugging the woman again?  What‘s it going to take? 

Well, here it is.  We want to keep the viewers happy, Tucker.  That‘s the lion who was battered in a traveling circus.  This woman rescued the lion named Jupiter.  It‘s in Colombia.  And brought the lion to her shelter.  The lion stands up in the cage, puts the arms around the neck, and gives a full-fledged hug and then just a full licking the face thing.  It‘s amazing. 

CARLSON:  That‘s not real, though.  I mean, that‘s a very fat man in a lion suit, isn‘t it? 

GEIST:  That‘s exactly what I said on Friday.  It has to be a lion in a fat suit (sic), but it‘s not and people can not get enough of this video.  You should have seen the e-mails we received begging, pleading with us to show it again.  So here it is again.  And as you and I have noted in other friendly animal moments, Tucker, there is always the chance that that ends in a Siegfried and Roy moment. 

CARLSON:  I think there is more than a chance, Willie Geist. 

GEIST:  As cuddly as it looks, it could end poorly. 

CARLSON:  Thanks Willie. 

GEIST:  All right, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  As always, up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.  We‘ll be back tomorrow.  Have a great night.

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

END   

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