updated 1/22/2007 12:14:17 PM ET 2007-01-22T17:14:17

Guests: David Ignatius, Tom Andrews, Frank Luntz, Chris Dodd, Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show. 

The biggest single story this week, apart from “American Idol,” of course, was the U.S. Congress, where non-binding antiwar resolutions sprouted like cold sores.  And Nancy Pelosi‘s first 100 hours came to a glorious and triumphant end, if you ask her.

What‘s next for this Congress?  Well, it‘s impossible to know, of course.  But for hints, listen carefully to the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Sylvestre Reyes. 

Last month Reyes told “Newsweek” he favored sending 20,000 to 30,000 more troops to Iraq.  “We have to consider the need for additional troops to take out the militias,” Reyes said.  Apparently, President Bush was listening, because just the other day Bush made almost exactly the same proposal, but he called for fewer soldiers and Marines than Reyes had. 

But here‘s the twist.  All of a sudden, Reyes disagrees with Bush, which is to say, with his own original position.  “We don‘t have the capability to escalate even to this minimum level,” he explained.  He went on to accuse Bush of pushing the same old Iraq policy, even though, again, Bush‘s policy is identical to the one Reyes himself had been advocating just weeks before. 

The point is not that Bush‘s troop surge will work.  Maybe it will, maybe it won‘t.  The point is, it‘s not enough to oppose Bush‘s Iraq simply plan because Bush proposed it. 

That‘s not leadership.  It is petulance, of course. 

Joining me now to make sense of what happened this week, “Washington Post” columnist David Ignatius, who serves as co moderator of “Post Global Blog” on washingtonpost.com, and former Democratic congressman from Maine and the director of Win Without War, Tom Andrews. 

Welcome to you both. 

TOM ANDREWS (D), FMR. MAINE CONGRESSMAN:  Thank you very much. 

CARLSON:  Tom, what do you make of Mr. Reyes?  Apparently a decent guy, but coming out sort of at the time an original idea, at least for his party, more troops in Iraq.  The president proposes virtually the same thing.  And all of a sudden he‘s appalled by the idea. 

ANDREWS:  Well, you know, Tucker, sometimes politicians change their mind.  And sometimes that‘s a very good thing.

CARLSON:  In three weeks? 

ANDREWS:  Listen.  In this case, yes. 

Since General Abizaid came out and said, look, I‘ve checked with every single field general out there in Iraq and I‘ve asked them, if we increase these troops will it make any difference at all?  And two to one they‘ve said no. 

Now, here‘s the contrast.  President Bush, of course, has been telling us all along, year after year, that things are going fine in Iraq, we‘re winning in Iraq.  And finally he changes his mind and says we‘re failing in Iraq and we have to change our policy. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ANDREWS:  Now, here‘s the thing.  At least the chairman, when he was wrong, he goes in the right direction.  The president, when he realizes he‘s wrong, he goes even a worse direction.  So that‘s the difference.

CARLSON:  I‘m not sure. 

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  That‘s not a good thing. 

CARLSON:  And I want to make it clear, David, I‘m not in any way offering up a defense of the president‘s policy now or then on Iraq.  I‘m merely suggesting that the Democratic policy seems to be in opposition to the president‘s policy, which is no policy at all.

DAVID IGNATIUS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, and there‘s one other factor you‘re leaving out, which is that Sylvestre Reyes has something now that he didn‘t have a month ago, which is the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee, courtesy of Nancy Pelosi... 

CARLSON:  That‘s right. 

IGNATIUS:  ... his new House speaker.  And you have to think that Reyes understood when he got that job and it was taken away from another more hawkish candidate, Jane Harman, and given to Reyes, that it was understood that he would be a party man and that, you know, for a Democrat at this point to be consistent with his earlier position, advocate additional troops in Iraq, would upset the leader, and clearly he‘s not prepared to do that. 

You know, I think Reyes is—it is a flip-flop.  You have to be honest about it.  And I think it reflects political realities in Washington.

I mean, you know, you can argue the merits back and forth about what this will mean in Iraq.  But in terms of Washington politics, the president‘s proposal was dead on arrival. 

CARLSON:  Yes, it was, but is it actually?  I mean, it‘s dead on arrival in that nobody supports it, his own party‘s abandoning him as a group, almost.  But still—I mean, we‘re still there.  There have been troops, as far as I understand, deployed already. 

ANDREWS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  So, I mean, you can‘t stop it. 

ANDREWS:  Well, you can stop it.  I mean, these are phased deployments into Iraq.  And between now and when that last phase happens, the Appropriations Committee and the defense Subcommittee—Appropriations Committee, they‘re going to get a crack at the supplemental appropriation.  The president can only go so far as he has money to go, and the Congress obviously controls the purse strings. 

CARLSON:  But they‘re not going to do anything about it, are they?

ANDREWS:  Well, it remains to be seen.  But I‘ll tell you something. 

As I said the other day...

CARLSON:  Right. 

ANDREWS:  ... you know, a lot of people worked very hard and spent an enormous amount of money, tens of millions of dollars, to elect a Democratic Congress specifically because of this issue.  And if this Congress, if all they can do is pass non-binding words and phrases there will be a price to pay. 

CARLSON:  Well, they‘ve done so much more, though.  You‘re forgetting the first 84 of the first 100 hours, in which they made many of the 9/11 recommendations law, raised the minimum wage, something that nobody disagrees with; did something about stem cells, Medicare, student loans; and they formed finally a select committee on global warming. 

Not to be mean.

IGNATIUS:  Well, that‘s better than having no committee on global warming. 

CARLSON:  Well, here‘s what John Dingell says—John Dingell, Chairman Dingell, the longest serving member of the House of Representatives—said, “We should just probably name it the ‘Committee on World Travel and Junkets.‘  We‘re just empowering a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs to go around and make speeches and commitments that they will find very difficult to honor.”

I mean, nothing‘s going to come of that, is it? 

IGNATIUS:  Well, what will come of it is study and greater discussion in Washington about global warming and what to do about it.  And I think that‘s a good idea.  It‘s a serious problem.  I think the administration really has made a mistake in not taking it more seriously, not putting it on the agenda.  The committee will help do that.

CARLSON:  Do you think it will be on the agenda after next week‘s State of the Union Address? 

IGNATIUS:  You know, the president clearly is going to make energy a big part of what he talks about.  I think he‘s going to.  And whether it will have a global warming component, we‘re waiting to see.  But then hints in the last week that he will.

You know, on your—your question, Tucker, about what have the Democrats accomplished in this famous first 100 hours...

CARLSON:  Right?

IGNATIUS:  ... I think that they sent a message that they were—that they are delivering to the American people certain, you know, modest, deliverable items.  The minimum wage is the obvious example.  But, you know, student loans.  Americans worry about paying for the cost of higher education. 

Here‘s the Democratic Party saying, we take that seriously and here‘s something we‘re going to pass.  We‘re going to make it law if we can.  And I think they‘re—you know, they‘re trying to keep a relatively modest agenda but deliver on it. 

CARLSON:  Well, I must say, I wish—if they want to lower—help people with tuition, they would lean on—someone would lean on universities to lower the price. 

But let me just ask this, Tom.  You were in Congress.  You know the political realities of a new Congress. 

ANDREWS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  You‘ll never have more power than you do in the first quarter of the first—of a new Congress.  Especially with an election, a presidential election year looming. 

This is the moment to do something grand, to actually do something about Iraq, do something on the issue that got them elected.  And they didn‘t. 

ANDREWS:  Tucker, first of all, you‘ve got to give them credit.  I mean, here‘s a branch of government that just set the new land speed record for performance. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ANDREWS:  They did it efficiently, effectively.  They got some things done.  And they addressed—listen, this is good policy, it‘s good politics, it‘s good economics. 

They addressed the things that the Republican Congress in 12 years ignored, like the minimum wage, like... 

CARLSON:  How—wait a minute. 

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS:  OK.  Listen.  I asked the small business community when I was in Congress.

CARLSON:  Right?

ANDREWS:  I talked to a lot of small businesses.  I asked them, “Look, what‘s the most important thing to you?”  More important than taxes more important than minimum wage, more important than regulation were people coming through their doors with money in their pocket ready to spend. 

And this bill alone is going to take a working family of three and put $4,400 more in their pocket every year.  And that money is going right into the local economy, not overseas in some buyout.

CARLSON:  How many working families have a primary wage earner who earns the minimum wage? 

ANDREWS:  I‘m sorry?

CARLSON:  How many working families—mother, father, children—have a primary wage earner who relies on the minimum wage?  About nine. 

OK?

ANDREWS:  There are 5.6 million people directly affected by this bill. 

CARLSON:  Yes, and like...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  OK.

ANDREWS:  All right?  This is very significant, and it‘s going to be a very important boon for the economy and certainly for families. 

Look, over the course of all those years, where the Republican Congress were giving themselves $31,600 in pay hikes, they refused to give people who are working every single day and struggling to make ends meet, refused to give them any increase at all.  So I think it‘s good policy, it‘s good economics and it‘s good politics, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Do you see, David, economic populism as a theme? 

IGNATIUS:  Absolutely.  I think that the importance of the minimum wage increase is symbolic.  I don‘t think it‘s going to have a lot of economic effect, positive or negative.  But I think it is sending a message from the Democrats, from the leadership, this issue of economic justice, of taking care of the people who have the least in our society is important to us and to our party. 

And I think that‘s a message that really resonates.  If you want a powerful advocate of it, look to Jim Webb, the new senator from Virginia. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

IGNATIUS:  I mean, Jim Webb is a guy—is he conservative, is he liberal?  He‘s very tough to peg.  But on this one, his gut instinct tells him we have to speak out on this.  And I think he‘s right. 

CARLSON:  Coming up, the shadowy and powerful Dick Cheney.  Boy, that sounds sinister.  He reasserts his influence, in any case, on the Iraq war.  How does the vice president do his thing, and will he be able to do it after the Scooter Libby trial comes to a close? 

A closer look at that in just a minute.

Plus, nothing shadowy about Hugo Chavez, the leading blusterer in the Western Hemisphere.  He does his best to embarrass the U.S. and uses a former U.S. congressman named Kennedy to do it. 

Find out how when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Official Washington and much of the country spent this week reacting to President Bush‘s proposal to increase ground troops in Iraq.  Among the developments was a move by many prominent Republicans—most notably, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska—away from the president‘s war policy.

Here to analyze the war and the battle between the White House and Congress, among other things, master wordsmith, Republican pollster, adviser and author of “Words That Work: It‘s Not What You Say, It‘s What People Here,” Frank Luntz. 

Frank, welcome. 

FRANK LUNTZ, AUTHOR, “WORDS THAT WORK”:  Hey, it‘s great to be on, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  So the president comes out and says we need more troops in Iraq, this is a war we can win, I screwed up.  I don‘t know.  Not an insane message.  Nobody supports him in his party or the other party. 

How should he have explained it differently? 

LUNTZ:  Well, the problem was he got involved and someone in the White House, I don‘t believe it was the president, created that word “surge”.  And I‘ve seen people suggest it came from focus groups, it came from polling.  There‘s no survey or focus group that could have ever come up with a word that sounds just like escalation.  And when you hear “escalation,” you think Vietnam. 

The president should have talked about a reassessment of where we stand and where we‘re going, and then a realignment of troops and resources.  The reassessment and realignment, it‘s about the whole impact of the war and everything that we‘re doing, rather than just individual troops. 

You don‘t want to talk about numbers.  You want to talk about strategy.  And I think the president‘s language, I think he got it wrong. 

CARLSON:  Yes, “surge” sounds like something you can‘t control, like when your flip-flop gets caught in the accelerator and you surge through a crosswalk, hitting people.  I mean, it does sound kind of ominous and scary. 

Is—I mean, is there a limit to the effect—I mean, presumably there is—of language in a situation like this?  Is it just that people don‘t want to send more troops to Iraq and no matter how you couch it they‘re not going to be for it? 

LUNTZ:  One of the things that I talked about in “Words That Work” is that you can only go so far.  Language will take you part of the way, but you‘ve got to have policies that people believe in.  And you‘ve got to be able to express them in ways that people will find credible. 

The problem with the war right now is that the president last year and the year before didn‘t spend enough time explaining how tough it was going to be, the challenges that we were going to face, and the light at the end of the tunnel.  You cannot fix if 2007 what began to be broken in 2005. 

CARLSON:  I‘ve been really interested to watch Rudy Giuliani‘s poll numbers over the past couple of months.  You were the first person I ever heard say that Giuliani could be president.  And it looks like you were right. 

He‘s pretty liberal, obviously.  At least his history suggests he‘s more liberal than your average Republican primary voter. 

What kind of language should Giuliani use?  What have you told him to say to primary voters in Iowa and South Carolina to convince them that he‘s, you know, not an abortion-loving left-wing Jane Fonda protege type? 

LUNTZ:  Oh, well, we—I can tell where you stand on this issue just by the language you use. 

CARLSON:  Oh, really?  Were there hints of my position in that? 

LUNTZ:  Who would have guessed? 

First off, I‘m not advising him.  I worked with him in his mayoral races, but I‘m not involved in the presidential. 

Second is that Giuliani himself, he‘s one of those rare politicians where you—when you say “Rudy,” you know who he is.  You don‘t even have to use his last name.  And he‘s got a story that doesn‘t have sentences and doesn‘t have paragraphs, or even pages. 

Rudy doesn‘t use sound bites.  He‘s the only politician in America that speaks in entire thoughts.  And if you look at the transcript of what he says it‘s not beautiful.  But if you listen to it, he moves people. 

And I‘ve got to tell you, it‘s not just 9/11 that has an impact.  It‘s what happened in Times Square, what happened on 42nd Street.  The idea that you‘ve got the “Taxi Driver,” the movie with Robert De Niro...

CARLSON:  Yes?

LUNTZ:  People still have that visual of New York in mind.  And when they see the way it looks like today, they‘re blown away. 

CARLSON:  The New York where you could smoke in bars and they still had big taxis? 

LUNTZ:  Again, we know where you stand on Rudy Giuliani.

CARLSON:  I‘m just kidding. 

Frank Luntz, thank you very much. 

LUNTZ:  It‘s a pleasure.  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, Frank.

Coming up, Iran‘s not the only country out there with huge oil reserves and a loathing for the United States.  In a minute, a look at oil-rich Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and his new alliance with a member of the Kennedy family. 

Plus, just who‘s making the big decisions in Iraq?  President Bush takes responsibility for them, but how much of the way new forward springs from the fertile mind of Mr. Dick Cheney? 

We‘ve got the answers.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Today‘s “Washington Post” features an excellent piece on the influence of Vice President Dick Cheney within the Bush administration. 

To what extent does the vice president shape policy?  How does he exert influence?  And what‘s to come?

Here to discuss it, former congressman Tom Andrews, now the director of Win Without War, and the author of the aforementioned column in today‘s “Post,” David Ignatius, who also serves as co-moderator of “Post Global Blog” on washingtonpost.com.

David, it was a great piece. 

IGNATIUS:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  I‘m still not sure I know how much influence Cheney has.  I mean, to what extent...

(CROSSTALK)

IGNATIUS:  Well, you know, the truth is, there‘s only one person who knows.  And that‘s George Bush. 

You know, Cheney—part of Cheney‘s power is that he is the most discreet person in this city.  And, you know, what he says to the president at the end of the day is known only by the president. 

I do have people who are very close friends and allies of Cheney who argue that, after being an eclipse for much of 2006, when the president on Iraq was listening to his generals—President Bush kept saying, I‘m following the advice of my generals.  I‘m following the advice of General Casey in Baghdad, General Abizaid at CENTCOM.

That was true.  He was following their advice.  And the policy that he now says was a failure was essentially their recommendation. 

And Vice President Cheney sat and didn‘t do much about it and got sort of grumpier and grumpier, and finally began to really push.  And these Cheney friends and allies say that Cheney has been a real force in pushing the president toward this troop surge, toward this new policy, rejecting the advice he was getting from the military before. 

CARLSON:  That makes sense. 

Tom, I‘ve never understood why Democrats hate Cheney so much.  Since -

I mean, I wouldn‘t expect them to love him, but he‘s not running for election, he‘s not trying to be president.  He‘s about as popular as syphilis among Democrats.  I mean, they really, really hate him. 

Why? 

ANDREWS:  Well, and look at the—you know, look at the polls.  You know, you find that Dick Cheney—at least now the good news for Dick Cheney is the president has even higher disapproval ratings than Dick Cheney does -- 58 percent.  Dick Cheney‘s at 53 percent.

You know, for years and years Vice President Cheney told us things that were completely untrue, that he knew was untrue. 

CARLSON:  Yes, but who cares?  He‘s the vice president. 

ANDREWS:  He‘s the vice president.  So don‘t you think the vice president of the United States owes us a bit of truth? 

That‘s exactly why Democrats—I think the majority of American people don‘t like Dick Cheney because he steered us in the wrong direction.  He put his ideology before all the facts.  And he got us into the mess that we‘re into. 

CARLSON:  I think it‘s deeper than that.  I think it‘s temperamental.

The smartest thing I ever heard about Cheney, somebody once said to

me, “When I hear Dick Cheney talk, all I hear him say is, ‘Hey, you kids,

get off my lawn!‘”

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  There‘s something about him that—and David, in your piece, you‘ve got the most interesting thing I‘ve seen in a long time.  You reprint an exchange that Cheney had with Chris Wallace. 

IGNATIUS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  On...

IGNATIUS:  On another network. 

CARLSON:  On another network, on FOX.  And here it is.

Chris Wallace says, “By sending in more troops after this election, aren‘t you ignoring the expressed will of the American people as they expressed it in the election?”  Cheney says, “The polls change day by day.”  Wallace says, “This wasn‘t polls, it was an election.”  And Cheney says, “Polls change day by day, week by week.”

He‘s basically saying, “Democracy, I spit on you.”

IGNATIUS:  Well, you know...

CARLSON:  It‘s kind of impressive, actually.

IGNATIUS:  ... there is a part of Cheney I think that fundamentally feels that all this stuff that goes on in Washington—you know, unfortunately, it seems from this quote, extending to elections that go on around the country—is just so much noise, and that leadership is ignoring special interests.  And, you know, in this case, the people themselves of doing what‘s right. 

And, you know, where did that come from?  How did it—people who know Cheney well say that during the 1980s, as he watched Washington—you know, the anger directed at President Reagan after the Iran-Contra scandal, Cheney just got sick of it. 

And then when he went into business and made a lot of money, he finally had the sort of emotional financial security to say, the heck with it.  You know, this is a bunch of baloney. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

IGNATIUS:  And he came back to Washington with that idea.  And, you know, in various ways he‘s been telling all the different constituencies of Washington to buzz off since the day he got here.  And that‘s no mystery why Democrats don‘t like him.

The press doesn‘t like him.  It‘s because he basically has no use for views other than the ones he thinks are right. 

CARLSON:  At least he doesn‘t pander.

But aren‘t you letting Bush off the hook, though, Tom, by blaming Cheney?  You‘re basically—not you specifically, but Democrats have said from the beginning, it‘s not really Bush‘s fault, he‘s merely—you know, he‘s the puppet being—being controlled by Dick Cheney. 

ANDREWS:  You know, but who cares?  You know, it‘s a pox on all their houses. 

This is the Bush administration that‘s taken us into this rat hole that we‘re in and in this nightmare for our troops.  And it‘s both of them.  You know? 

I mean, here you have Dick Cheney—I think you‘re exactly right.  I mean, here‘s the majority of the American people, you‘ve got the Iraq Study Group, you‘ve got all of these generals, you‘ve got a four-star military—

Marine general, Joseph Hoar, saying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday that, you know, this is crazy from a military point of view. 

So everyone, everyone, not just the American public, but everyone that has a knowledge of what is going on here is advising one direction.  And they‘re steam-rolling in absolutely the other direction.  And I think that‘s exactly right.  To hell with them all, we‘re moving forward. 

CARLSON:  It seems like, David, that his—his influence extends only to foreign policy.  I think the president, I think it‘s fair to say, far more liberal on a lot of social issues than Dick Cheney is.  We‘re going to see that next week in the State of the Union, where he‘s going to, I think, announce higher standards and other things I know Cheney doesn‘t agree with from the point of view...

IGNATIUS:  Cheney has been more liberal on issues of gay marriage, gay rights. 

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s a good point. 

IGNATIUS:  But, you know, I think that Cheney and now Bush realize that politically it‘s gone.  You know?

I mean, their poll ratings are so low they‘re not going to recover them.  They‘ve lost the congressional midterm elections.  What do they have to play for personally, the two of them? 

And, you know, if Iraq comes out wrong, if they can‘t pull it off, they know that this administration is basically doomed.  This is their last chance. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

IGNATIUS:  My worry is that they‘re rolling the dice not just for themselves, but for the whole country, that whole part of the world.  And they shouldn‘t do that.  I mean, that‘s just—you know, presidents are not in office to gamble for national security, period. 

ANDREWS:  Thereby the Congress and the reason that we need a Congress that stands up. 

CARLSON:  Well, maybe they‘ll stand up.  Maybe they‘ll have some courage.

I wouldn‘t bet my house on it, but what do I know?

Coming up, if you didn‘t have money for gas or oil, would you take a handout from an authoritarian dictator who hates America?  There‘s a Kennedy who says you ought to.

Details next.

Plus, for all the talk—and there‘s been a lot of talk about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama—neither one has proposed anything particularly original about the war in Iraq, yet at least one Democratic presidential hopeful has.  And he joins us next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Not all South American strong men are created equal.  One of them supplies this country with 15 percent of our oil.  Venezuela‘s President Hugo Chavez, in an effort to shame the U.S. government, he has this year offered discounted home heating oil to poor people in America. 

His partner in the discount oil program is former U.S. Congressman Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts.  He heads the Citizens Energy Corporation.  Today‘s issue of “U.S.A. Today” rips Chavez as a tyrant and blasts Kennedy for playing into Chavez‘s anti- American hands.  Kennedy replies in the same paper that protesting Chavez is hypocritical. 

So who is right?  We put that question to “Washington Post” columnist David Ignatius and former Congressman Tom Andrews, currently the director of Win Without War, welcome back. 

Tome, it does seem to me this is a very rich country, a lot of places you can get discounted heating oil, including from the federal government.  We spend like 4 billion dollars a year doing so. 

TOM ANDREWS, WIN WITHOUT WAR:  Not enough, but yes, go ahead. 

CARLSON:  Maybe not, but this is helping one of our more profound enemies, a guy who‘s destabilizing Latin America.  It‘s wrong.

ANDREWS:  And So does Exxon/Mobile and so does Texaco.  And so does General Motors. 

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS: They‘re making money, they‘re doing business, and that‘s OK, but if you try to sell the stuff at a discount rate—and here‘s the thing, you know, Joe Kennedy, to give him credit, they give the whole story on the table, he asked every major oil company, he asked every OPEC nation to help him provide lower cost oil for his clients.  And the only one to take him up on it was Chavez. 

CARLSON:  Why do you suppose that is?  He‘s really the only really compassionate one out there?  Because he despises the United States and this is a propaganda effort. 

ANDREWS:  You know, it‘s very interesting.  From his point of view, of course, he doesn‘t like the Bush administration.  But here‘s a contrast now, what we does, he decides he‘s going to engage.  He‘s going to decide to go in and engage in this enterprise and obviously get headlines and have people like us talk about him on a Friday afternoon.  What does George Bush do for people he doesn‘t like?  He either ignores them, snubs them or he attacks them. 

CARLSON:  But I think it‘s—to frame it too small is to make this an issue about Bush versus Chavez.  This is Bush versus the United States.  Moreover, and I hate to be  -- Joe Kennedy...

ANDREWS:  You mean Chavez versus the United States. 

CARLSON:  Rather, Chavez versus the Unites States, right, very sharp.  That‘s why you were elected to Congress.  But here‘s Joe Kennedy—look, Citgo was running these TV ads, saying that this oil was made available with help from our good friends in Venezuela, people who want to call 1877-JOE-FOR-OIL.  I mean, the whole thing is so nauseating. 

DAVID IGNATIUS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, he‘s letting himself be used as a propaganda tool by Chavez and Venezuela, and Chavez, as you said, is a man who doesn‘t miss a day to denounce the United States.  And I think Kennedy is being dumb.  You shouldn‘t let yourself be used, especially if you have a famous name, especially if you know the propaganda value of it. 

I mean, you know, the oil market oil—oil is fungible.  It‘s a market where, you know, it goes every which way.  For years, while we were denouncing Qadhafi in Libya, we were buying Libyan oil.  We buy all of our oil.  I think that‘s not the issue.  The issue is Joe Kennedy letting himself personally be used in this way by a guy who, as near as I can tell, is a real jerk. 

CARLSON:  But it is this sort of no enemies on the left principle.  It is that Chavez hates the United States, therefore there must be something good about him. 

ANDREWS:  I don‘t think—Chavez has done obviously a lot of bad things and has said a lot of bad things. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

ANDREWS:  On the record, OK.  But listen, you know, as I said at the outset, if you‘re Mobile, if you‘re Exxon, if you‘re Texaco, no one squawks about you doing business with a bad guy.  But if you‘re trying to provide oil to poor people. 

CARLSON:  Wait but hold on.  Let me put it this way, if Chavez were a right wing strongman, and there have been obviously in Latin America, I don‘t think Joe Kennedy would be taking oil from him, even if it were offered at a radical discount for the poor in the United States.  You know that that‘s true. 

ANDREW:  Well, I don‘t know that that‘s true, but what I don know that‘s true is that people who are in the economic bracket of the clients of Joe Kennedy are really struggling right now.  It gets back to the minimum wage.  I‘ll tell you, they‘re having trouble making ends meet.  And it‘s very difficult, particularly when you have all these other companies making a lot of money.  For Citgo, let‘s call it, it‘s Citgo, the sign that stands up on left field wall outside of Fenway Park. 

When they come and they say, look, we‘re going to be able to provide you with more oil for less money for your clients in very difficult circumstances, he says, yes.  There‘s an argument to say, listen, OK, we‘re going to put those—if Mobile can do it, and Exxon can do it, we can do it for our clients.

CARLSON:  If it was Pinochet or the Apartheid government of South Africa, do you think they would be anxious to do this?   

IGNATIUS:  I think that we‘d have a different version of this argument.  I just want to say to Tom, I mean, I‘m not sure that it‘s the kindest defense of Joe Kennedy to say that he‘s no worse than Exxon.  I mean, you know, I think the part that bothers people about oil companies...

ANDREWS:  Did I say it that way? 

IGNATIUS:  Sort of—is that they seam to be immoral, that they will do business with whomever, you know.  Again, Kennedy name means something and when you do...

CARLSON:  Not to me. 

IGNATIUS:  Well, OK, Tucker, but you know -- 99 percent of the rest of the country would disagree with you.  The Kennedy name means something and you tarnish it when you make a deal like this with a skunk. 

CARLSON:  Amen, David Ignatius, Congressman, thank you both very much. 

ANDREWS:  Thank you.

IGNATIUS:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Now from dropping oil prices to falling support for President Bush on the Iraq war.  Among the resolutions put forth this week in Congress was a troop cap, the assertion that the president may not add troops beyond existing levels without congressional approval.  the proposals author, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, is a also a presidential candidate.  He joined me earlier to talk about it. 

I began by asking him how the legislation he proposed this week to cap the number of new troops would actually help win the war in Iraq. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT:  I think the issue at this point here is debating whether or not this surge makes any sense or not, Tucker.  I think most people have concluded, who have looked at this, both our military commanders on the ground there, as well as others, including the Baker-Hamilton report, that this is not going to contribute to bringing around the success and stability that all of us would like to see in Iraq. 

In fact, many feel this is probably going to make it more difficult to get the kind of political accommodation that Sunnis and Shias and others are going to have to reach, if we have any hopes at all of achieving that stability.  My point is this, at this juncture, look, the world has changed over there since 2002.  We need a new authorization.  The Senate ought to be debating that.  And I just don‘t like the idea of a non-binding resolution.  I don‘t know what value that has, other than telling you that some of us are for or against this.  There‘s nothing meaningful to it. 

CARLSON:  I agree.  It‘s like barking, but on paper. 

DODD:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  However, if you say that your goal is peace and stability in Iraq, how does capping the number of American troops get us closer to that achieving that goal? 

DODD:  Well, I don‘t know any other way to get the president‘s attention.  My fear is that these troops end up going over, and then we have a debate at some later point.  The issue is going to be are you cutting off funding for troops on the ground, frankly, when they need that support in order to do their job.  So I‘m putting some pressure on the process by saying don‘t send anymore at this point. 

We can have a debate, Tucker, next week on this.  It doesn‘t take a long time.  Have a two or three-day debate here.  Have a vote, up or down on a new authorization.  If people vote for it, then send the troops.  I they‘re against it then you don‘t and you reconfigure what your strategy ought to be. 

This gives us a way to say to the Iraqis, look, this is really your responsibility now.  We can provide border security.  We can train people.  We can deal in counter-terrorism, but don‘t send 17,000 kids into a city of six million people, with 23 militias, Baathists, insurgents and al Qaeda and expect them to be able to sort that out.  That‘s a mistake. 

CARLSON:  I guess, I don‘t think the president has a lot of credibility left on Iraq.  Most people, I think, agree with that.  However, he is really the only party in this debate offering a hopeful solution.  I mean, he is saying not simply we can get out with minimal damage.  He‘s saying we could actually win and have a stable country.  He may be wrong, but you do see the appeal of being the one guy who offers a victory scenario, and he‘s the only guy. 

DODD:  I would disagree with that.  I think we can offer a scenario here that not only allows us to withdraw and to redeploy forces, but also to do what everyone agrees needs to be done, and that is create the space and insist that Iraqis deal with the political problems they‘ve got on their hands, as well as invite the kind of regional support you are going to have to have to provide Iraq with a real opportunity to sort out its difficulties. 

What everyone seems to agree on is raising the numbers of troops on the ground there does not contribute to greater security.  In fact, General Petraeus, who is going over, only a few weeks ago made that strong statement, along with General Casey and General Abizaid.  These are not people who are against victory in Iraq.  They recognize that that strategy is going to cause more problems for us. 

CARLSON:  John Edwards, your former colleague, said something interesting over this past weekend.  He said if you really believe that—essentially, he said, if you believe the war in Iraq is lost and that we cannot win, as I think a lot of Democrats do believe, then it‘s your moral obligation to do all you can to get all of our troops home as soon as you can, because what‘s the point of staying in an unwinnable war.  There‘s something to that, isn‘t there? 

DODD:  Well, as I said, I think there are functions we could help perform in the interim.  I think we ought to begin that redeployment, particularly into Afghanistan.  I think we could really use the help there.  It‘s going to be critically important and there are other interests in the region.  But I want to see us beginning to draw down those troops.  There are functions in the interim which they could do. 

Increasing the number, with this escalation or surge—use whatever language you want—I think is a mistake.  But I‘d like the Senate to debate this.  And even if you‘re for the surge or escalation, then you can vote for a new authorization.  But as John Warner said last Fall, using the arguments of 2002 and 2005, weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein, that‘s no longer the justification.  It‘s now a civil war.  We ought to debate that issue. 

CARLSON:  Do you think that Democrats betrayed the activist wing of their party, the fervent anti-war activists, who got a lot of Democrats elected this last cycle, by not as, you know, first of order of business, trying to defund this war? 

DODD:  Well I don‘t think so yet.  I think we‘ll make a mistake, in my view, if we end up with a resolution her that merely sends a letter to the White House saying, we don‘t like what you‘re going to do here.  I think people want to know that you‘re going to do something that has some teeth in it.  That is what I‘m suggesting here. 

This is the time to do it, before the troops are there.  This is the issue before us right now, whether or not you are going to increase, by some 20,000 people, putting them in harm‘s way at a time it‘s not going to help create the kind of results that I think all of us want to have in Iraq.  So, that‘s the issue of the hour.  I‘m strongly suggesting, and I‘ll offer this next week in the Foreign Relations Committee.  I‘ll offer language which will do exactly that and give my colleagues a chance to do something in a meaningful way. 

CARLSON:  Now, speaking of the White House, you‘ve decided to try and get there.  You‘ve announced the formation of an exploratory committee, and a couple of other senators -- 

DODD:  No, no, I‘ve just filed the papers.  I‘m a candidate, Tucker, no exploratory committees.  I don‘t like that. 

CARLSON:  That‘s the spirit, getting right to it.  You‘re running for president. 

DODD:  That‘s right.  

CARLSON:  As are other senators.  There is one senator who is getting all this attention, Barak Obama.  He‘s been in the Senate about 20 minutes, no attack on him personally.  But you‘ve been there a very long time.  And I mean that as a compliment.  Is it frustrating to you to watch this guy, a new comer, get all this attention?  How justified do you think that attention is? 

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m not frustrated by it at all.  He‘s a very good member.  He‘s made a significant impression, both on his colleagues across the country, a talented individual.  I welcome the opportunity to be in this race.  I‘m confident I can be nominated and elected.  I think my ability to solve problems, the experience I bring to this, I‘m going to make my case.  The others will make theirs.  But I think in the end I would be a strong candidate for our party.  I think I could win the presidency and I think I can help lead this country back on track again. 

CARLSON:  Boy, I don‘t think I know anybody who thinks Hillary can win.  And I mean—I work—I know a lot of liberals.  I know a lot Democrats and they all say, I don‘t think Hillary can win, even those who like here.  Do you think she can win? 

DODD:  I think she could.  I think any one of these candidates could, and I think they‘d do a far better job, with all due respect to the present occupant.  That‘s a decision we‘ll make down the road.  We‘re going to have a good long year here of debating these issues.  But again, I think people are going to pick a candidate that has the experience, the background, the known ability to work on these problems with bold solutions that can get the job done.  I‘m confident I can do that. 

CARLSON:  Why would you be a better choice than Hillary Clinton? 

DODD:  You make that decision here. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I want your guidance senator.  

DODD:  I‘m giving you the guidance.  I‘m giving you that guidance Tucker.  You‘ve got to listen. 

CARLSON:  Is there anything she‘s done in the last year that you disagree with? 

DODD:  Well, we sort of have problems our problems on various issues here, but overall I think she‘s a terrific senator that‘s done a great job.  We serve on a committee together.  She‘s articulate.  She cares about issues deeply.  She‘s well known.  I think she‘ll be a good candidate. 

CARLSON:  All right, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut.  Thanks a lot, senator. 

DODD:  Thank you, Tucker. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Coming up when will America catch up to the rest of the world and settle legislative problems the old-fashioned way, physically.  Pelosi and McCain in a parking lot of a Circle K, anybody? 

Plus they say Washington is Hollywood for ugly people.  Hollywood is Washington for stupid people.  Where do you go if you‘re a super model policy wonk?  A true story coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Yes, we did spend our week talking about non-binding resolutions, Iraq, a certain fairness doctrine.  That‘s not all that‘s going on here in the capital though.  Here with the best of the gossip we missed all week, Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts, the women behind “The Reliable Source,” which is the “Washington Post‘s” universally read gossip page.  Welcome to you both. 

ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  We like that. 

CARLSON:  Yes, well it‘s also true. 

AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  He Tucker.

CARLSON:  So, Shimon Perez, not someone who finds himself in the gossip columns very often.  What‘s he up to?

ARGETSINGER:  No, he‘s in the gossip columns and he‘s in trouble.  OK, any gossip column, it‘s one of the basic things you do to fill out the page, is you have sightings of VIPs.  For example, this week, you know, ordinary things, like Barak Obama at a restaurant on Capital Hill, getting mobbed by throngs of women, or Tim Russert limping through a car wash on crutches. 

ROBERTS:  He broke his ankle, by the way. 

ARGETSINGER:  No big deal.  A couple of weeks ago we had Shimon Perez having lunch, a long, long grilled shrimp at (INAUDIBLE), a nice downtown restaurant, after Gerald Ford‘s funeral, no big deal we thought. 

ROBERTS:  It turns out to be a big deal.  A, even though he doesn‘t keep kosher, the vice premier having shrimp in public—

ARGETSINGER:  Got people talking.

ROBERTS:  But the real reason he‘s in trouble, and the thing is that he wants to be president of Israel, which is basically ceremonial, but still he wants it, is that after the funeral he was supposed to meet with about a dozen Washington-based Israeli reporters, and it is like, no I have to rush back home for a funeral and then he has a two and a half hour lunch. 

ARGETSINGER:  Busted having a two and a half hour lunch after Gerald Ford‘s funeral. 

CARLSON:  With shrimp, the only thing to make it worse is a ham sandwich. 

ROBERTS:  With Mayo. 

ARGETSINGER:  He‘ll be more careful next time.

CARLSON:  Speaking of foreigners, what is going on at the Hungarian embassy, a place I‘ve never been? 

ARGETSINGER:  Something of a harmonic convergence, actually.  Big deal over the long weekend, the Hungarian ambassador played host to film maker David Lynch of “Blue Velvet,” “Eraser Head,” Mulholland Drive” fame.  and the folk singer Donovan...

ROBERTS:  The ambassador himself is a would be rocker.  He plays music whenever he can. 

ARGETSINGER:  But Yes, David Lynch and Donovan, a lot of people don‘t know this, are currently going around the country preaching the benefits of transcendental meditation. 

CARLSON:  Huh.   

ARGETSINGER:  The Hungarian ambassador decides to host them for dinner and gets a huge crowd, like basically everyone he invited showed up, which you don‘t really expect when you‘re an ambassador of a smaller country in Washington.  And it was a huge hit.  David Lynch was telling us all about finding his inner bliss, which I didn‘t know he had any inner bliss.  You wouldn‘t know that from seeing his movies.  He seems tortured. 

But then the Hungarian ambassador got up on stage with Donovan and they sang the song “Colors,” you know the one that goes, yellow is the color of my true love‘s hair, except in Hungarian.

CARLSON:  Very good. 

ROBERTS:  The thing is that this is the mellow version of Amy.  You should see her before she went to this dinner. 

CARLSON:  I can‘t imagine.  So tell me about—you know the phrase, you‘ve heard it a thousand times, Washington, Hollywood for ugly people.  You have a story about one of the very few beautiful people here in Washington.

ARGETSINGER:  Yes, our own policy wonk, Sarah Albert, lovely young woman, Georgetown graduate, who the year before last was discovered at the mall by casting agents for Tyra Banks “American‘s Next Top Model” show.  She was whisked away from her job as a health policy researcher, almost wins this show last year.  All last year we chronicled her progress.  And she did so well on the show. 

She‘s like 6‘3, stunning California blonde.  She did so well on the show; she almost won.  She went off to L.A. to pursue a career in modeling.  Died her hair brown.  And we followed her all the way there.  She was doing pretty well and she just announced to us that she is back in D.C.  She had to give up the rat race, the back stabbing ugly environment of L.A. for a nice wholesome place like Washington. 

ROBERTS:  Well, the thing is that my theory is that she‘s too smart for L.A.  She just got bored, you know. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

ROBERTS:  Because, if you‘re going to hang around—Being a model, you know, you have to have a pretty, you know, high threshold for boredom. 

ARGETSINGER:  Here‘s the thing, in L.A. she could be one of millions of beautiful girls.  In Washington she can be the best looking policy wonk.

ROBERTS:  ... in this city, exactly. 

CARLSON:  You‘re back to the...

ROBERTS:  We‘re proud of her.  

CARLSON:  ... tallest building in Des Moines though, right.  That‘s exactly right.  You‘re winning the Sophia Bulgaria (ph) beauty contest.  Thank you Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, thank you both very much. 

ROBERTS:  Bye. 

CARLSON:  Well the term political slugfest might be a metaphor in the U.S., but in the rest of the world they mean it.  We‘ll tell you what touched off this legislative brawl when we come right back with Willie Geist. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  It‘s been over 23 hours since he last appeared on this program.  We are grateful to welcome back the great Willie Geist from headquarters. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Thanks Tucker.  It feels like a lifetime to me, I have to say.  We did a story today on MSNBC about this proposed bill in California to outlaw spanking for children.  And we want to shine a light—our tape department does a good job, but I had to take exception with our file footage of spanking. 

Here it comes right now.  I don‘t know how often—There‘s a little

re-enactment.  Here comes the good part, a spatula.  Do people spank with

spatulas?  That‘s all I wanted to know.  Anyway, that‘s the MSNBC file footage of spanking.  I wasn‘t aware that spatulas played such a big role in spanking, but apparently they do Tucker.  

CARLSON:  As far as I know, we‘ve got other file footage of spanking that we‘re not going to put on the air.

GEIST:  No, no, you can get that on the Internet.  Well, here‘s a story, tucker, from the uh-oh file.  China is going around blowing things up in outer space and that cannot be good.  The Chinese military used a ballistic missile to blow up an old weather satellite in a test last week.  The United States has been joined by countries around the world in condemning the test that they say China‘s desire to militarize space. 

Now, the U.S. immediately flexed it‘s might with a swift retaliation

in to the heart of China‘s capital city today.  Yes, McDonald‘s opened a

drive through in Beijing.  Not so tough now, are you China?  It‘s Beijing‘s

first drive through McDonalds, and if we say so, it will not be the last,

Now Tucker, as far as I‘m concerned, China can blow all the weather satellites they want.  We‘ve go the Big Mac and history has shown we‘re not afraid to use it.  

CARLSON:  Yes, we‘re going to topple that nation with the Hamburgler. 

GEIST:  Easily, easily.  Have you seen the devastation a Big Mac can visit to a civilization? 

CARLSON:  Exactly, how about the filet of fish, seriously.

GEIST:  I‘ve never had one.

CARLSON:  I haven‘t either, but I know people who have. 

GEIST:  It seems dangerous.  Well, Tucker, China‘s rogue province of Taiwan was acting quite roguish today.  A huge brawl broke out in the Taiwanese parliament during a debate over who should sit on the country‘s election commission.  Seems like a bit of an over-reaction, really, doesn‘t it. 

Today‘s legislative smack down reminded us of a couple of things, one democracy is not always pretty, and two, there‘s nothing more entertaining than a good Asian parliamentary brawl.  Isn‘t that true.  Tucker, that certainly looks ugly, but, as you know, robust debate is certainly critical to the health of any democracy and you see it in action right there. 

CARLSON:  It‘s funny though, when Asian parliamentarians fight, they never actually throw punches.  They kind of push into each other and look angry and then leave. 

GEIST:  Yes, there‘s a lot of grabbing and slapping, you know,.  I have said this many times, Tucker, though, if you really want people to pay attention to what‘s going on in this country, congressional brawls are the way to go.  I‘m telling you.  Wouldn‘t you pay to see that?  Have you seen the ratings for professional wrestling? 

CARLSON:  C-Span‘s praying for them every day. 

GEIST:  You‘re right, we see them in Indonesia?  About once a month we see these brawls.  And they‘re always throwing signs or a guy takes off his shoe and lobs it at somebody.  I don‘t think they really mean it, you know what I mean. 

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s a point that I have made again and again, democracy is not for everyone. 

GEIST:  It certainly is not.  Maybe Taiwan wasn‘t ready.  Well, Tucker, is Jenna Bush about to spill the family secrets?  Probably not, but it‘s fun to talk about anyway. Reports say the 25-year-old Bush twin is shopping a book proposal to major publishers around New York City.  The White House would not comment, but some say the book could be about Jenna‘s experience as one of the first daughters.  Others say, the former school teacher writing a children‘s book. 

So, basically, no one has any clue, whatsoever.  But Tucker, her memoir, no offense to her, I‘m not sure it would be terribly interesting.  I mean, she did get arrested for using a fake I.D. and that made her the crazy one.  But do you know anyone who hasn‘t been arrested for having a fake I.D.? 

CARLSON:  do you know anyone who wouldn‘t read Jenna Bush‘s memoir.  Let‘s just be completely honest.  Of course, come on Willie, I know that you would be first in line at Barnes & Noble, probably camping out the night before, like for Aerosmith tickets, to get this book. 

GEIST:  No, I‘d be interested.  I guess I‘d read it, but I‘m pretty sure that‘s not what it is.  It‘s going to turn out to be a children‘s book or something lame like that, I have a feeling. 

CARLSON:  The idea is that anybody can write a children‘s book.  And as someone with four children, who reads a lot of children‘s books, I can tell you the sad truth, which is not anyone can write a children‘s book.  Most of them are terrible.

GEIST:  Madonna tried and it didn‘t work out too well, did it?

CARLSON: No it didn‘t.  We didn‘t buy that one.  Willie Geist. 

GEIST:  All right Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thanks Willie, have a great weekend.  That does it for us, thanks for watching, as always.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  We‘ll be back Monday, see you then.

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

END   

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