updated 2/1/2007 11:27:03 AM ET 2007-02-01T16:27:03

Guests: Arnaud de Borchgrave, Roger Stone, Jonathan Alter, Joel Stein

(BREAKING NEWS)

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  And now Iran.  The U.S. government is investigating possible Iranian involvement in the January 20th killing of five American soldiers at a U.S. military base in Karbala, Iraq.  Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki says he is sure Iranian operatives are actively involved in conflict with U.S. troops on the ground in that country.  So is our country moving inexorably toward a military confrontation with Iran? 

For insight into the situation, we‘re honored to welcome Arnaud de Borchgrave editor-in-chief of United Press International and editor-at-large at “The Washington Times.”

Arnaud, thanks a lot for joining us.

ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, EDITOR-INN-CHIEF, UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL:  My pleasure.

CARLSON:  There seems to be some growing evidence that there are Iranians taking part in combat in Iraq.  Will that be used as a pretext by the Bush administration to launch strikes on Iran? 

DE BORCHGRAVE:  Well, Tucker, it seems to me up on the Hill we‘ve already seen some very powerful signals coming from the new central commander, Admiral Fallon, who said that the Iranians are now trying to deny us access to the Persian Gulf, and their menace is spreading throughout the region.  John Negroponte, the outgoing director of National Intelligence, incoming deputy secretary of state, has said much the same thing in his testimony.  And I think everyone now in the region has seen that while President Bush said that there are absolutely no plans to invade Iran, that does not exclude air strikes, which many people expect in the coming months. 

CARLSON:  It would seem that the United States government would be under some pressure from Israel.  Israel, of course, has the most to lose here.  Ahmadinejad has said, you know, we would like to eliminate Israel. 

DE BORCHGRAVE:  Oh, absolutely.

CARLSON:  Right.  So, I mean, are we afraid that Israel is going to strike first?

DE BORCHGRAVE:  No, I don‘t think so.  But the Israelis have put a lot of pressure on us to do something.  In fact, there were four presidential hopefuls in—in Israel two weekends ago, and there was the famous Richard Perle, the chief neo-con.  And all of them came back saying that the Israelis were asking all the time, what are you Americans waiting for to bomb the nuclear installations in Iran?

That, I‘m afraid, would set the whole region ablaze.  The first bomb would set the region ablaze.  The first thing the Iranians would do is come out with these little fat mine layers from Bandar Abbas and the Straits of Hormuz, drop a few mines, and oil would be at $200 the next day. 

CARLSON:  What would—what would the mostly Sunni Gulf states think of that, Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf states?  They‘re afraid of Iran, aren‘t they?  How would they look upon an attack on Iran? 

DE BORCHGRAVE:  They are very afraid of Iran, and a rather high-ranking Gulf official—I can‘t identify the country—said that if he had the choice between bombing Iran with all the consequences that that might entail, or accepting a nuclear Iran, he would very much favor the former.  In other words, bombing.  But the opinion is very divided up and down the Gulf. 

CARLSON:  Do you think in the end Bush will do it? 

DE BORCHGRAVE:  My guess is that he will.  And the alternative, obviously, was suggested in the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report, and that is that you accept the fact that Iran has legislate security concerns.  Whether the mullahs are in power, or Democrats or generals, you look at that region, and 150,000 American soldiers on their left flank, 20,000 on their right flank, the U.S. fleet at their back, and four of the world‘s eight nuclear powers in their region. 

So you sit down and try to work out a geopolitical deal.  And there are few things one can throw into that pot, such as nonaggression, diplomatic recognition.  But I think that‘s been abandoned as a route, and we are indeed heading to a military showdown. 

CARLSON:  That is absolutely shocking.  And very quickly, do you think that Congress will stand by the—the Democratic-controlled Congress will stand by and not attempt to prevent that? 

DE BORCHGRAVE:  Well, I don‘t understand how they can prevent it because, as the president—as President Bush has indicated, it‘s one battle space whether we‘re bombing in Somalia or bombing in Iran.  In his mind, that‘s all part of the war on terror.  And clearly Congress will be very upset and try to stop it, but it‘s—as I understand it, it‘s a three-night campaign of bombing, some 700 aim points throughout Iran, including 58 that would require deep penetration bombs.

Of course there would be a lot of shouting, but all of that would be over rather quickly.

CARLSON:  Arnaud de Borchgrave of UPI.

We‘re going to saver the tape of this interview.  If it happens, you‘ll be the most prescient man in  Washington.

Thank you very much.

DE BORCHGRAVE:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Coming up, we‘ll back the Obameter.  The Illinois senator and would-be president lays out a plan for Iraq.  Is a withdrawal by March of next year a viable solution?  He says so. 

We‘ll tell you.

Plus, as President Bush scrambles to maintain support among fellow Republicans, fellow Republicans struggle to remain united with one another.

A look at the troubled GOP when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS:  When it comes to the war in Iraq, the time for promises and assurances for waiting and for patience is over.  Too many lives have been lost, too many billions of dollars have been spent for us to trust the president on another tired and failed policy that‘s opposed by generals and experts, Democrats and Republicans, Americans and many of the Iraqis themselves. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Time now to check our Obamater. 

You just heard Barack Obama on the Senate floor introducing his Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007.  It‘s a plan that calls for all U.S. troops to be out of Iraq in 13 months, by the end of March 2008.

Feasible, realistic? 

Back with their reads of the Obameter, “Newsweek” senior editor Jonathan Alter, Republican strategist Roger Stone.

Roger, here you have Barack Obama really responding, it seems to me, to the other Democratic contenders for the nomination, saying that we need to start pulling troops out of Iraq in three months, three months from tomorrow, May 1st, we need to begin a phased redeployment, as he said. 

Is there any way if you‘re running for the Democratic nomination to go too far in your opposition to the Iraq war? 

ROGER STONE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  He‘s positioning himself as the anti-Hillary here. 

CARLSON:  Right.

STONE:  In other words, not only has he gotten in the race, but once you get in the race, you have to have something substantive to say.  He has no substantive record either in the state senate or the U.S. Senate.  So he has to say something on which to run. 

So, this is a propositioning vis-a-vis Edwards and Hillary Clinton as the anti-war candidate.  The candidate who is the peace candidate, the candidate with the cleanest skirts on this war, is likely to be the nominee, which is why I continue to wait for former vice president Al Gore to get in this race. 

CARLSON:  That‘s frightening.

Jonathan, I‘m sort of a fan of Barack Obama‘s style.  He seems like an appealing guy personally.  But if you take a close look at this legislation he‘s proposed, elements of it are pretty disingenuous. 

Here‘s a perfect example.

“This legislation would mandate that the president, President Bush, submit a plan to prevent the war in Iraq from become a wider regional conflict.”

Bush has already submitted exactly such a plan.  It‘s called his new way forward.  It‘s the surge.

This plan would basically pull the troops out of Iraq and then require the president to figure out what to do next.  That‘s not—that‘s not really leadership, is it? 

JONATHAN ALTER, “NEWSWEEK”:  No.  Actually, I don‘t agree with you at all on that, Tucker.

First of all, just to correct something Roger said, while he has only been in the Senate for a couple of years, the U.S. Senate, and there‘s not much of a record there, he actually did have  a very significant record in the Illinois state senate.  But...

CARLSON:  On a lot of foreign policy decisions being made in the Illinois state senate?

ALTER:  No, but we weren‘t talking about foreign policy.

CARLSON:  Right.

ALTER:  Just a question of whether he had any record.

STONE:  I think there‘s not much there.

ALTER:  On this plan, which, by the way, is outlined in the past...

CARLSON:  Right.

ALTER:  ... the basic idea is in concert with the Baker-Hamilton recommendations.  So, in other words, his policy is a diplomatic initiative.  And then if the Iraqi government responds favorably to what is basically a threat by us to withdraw our forces slowly over time, to de-escalate, if they respond favorably, then the Obama plan provides for maintaining a U.S. troop presence. 

CARLSON:  OK.

ALTER:  In other words, instead of using American troops as a “gimme” for the Iraqis, which they now take for granted, he uses them as a stick for the Iraqi government. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But hold on.  Wait, wait, wait.  Hold on a minute. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Wait.  Slow down.  Wait.  Slow down right here.

ALTER:  Yes?

CARLSON:  The essential question, which is what happens when we leave—and at this point, it‘s clear to everyone paying close attention, we are leaving—what happens to the region?  Will you have some kind of conflict between, say, Saudi Arabia and Iran and Israel and this nightmare scenario that precipitates another world war?

It‘s not enough to say the president ought to come up with a plan to deal with that.  If you‘re proposing to replace the president, shouldn‘t you have thought a little bit more deeply about it?  No?

ALTER:  Well, actually, I think if you read through the plan, it‘s—not only is it, you know, I think a fairly sophisticated look at the problem, but it‘s also consistent with what the foreign policy establishment right now is recommending.  So it‘s not a wacky left-wing plan for how to proceed.  It‘s the way, say, Jim Baker would suggest that we would proceed. 

CARLSON:  No, I‘m saying it‘s left wing.  I‘m merely saying that it‘s unimpressively incomplete.  I wonder...

ALTER:  No, I don‘t think so, because the idea—the implication of what you‘re saying, Tucker, is that somehow the inclusion of 20,000 more troops is a more coherent approach... 

CARLSON:  That‘s in fact not what I‘m saying. 

ALTER:  ... launching a diplomatic initiative, having...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  That‘s not at all what I‘m saying.

What I‘m saying is, if you‘re going to threaten the removal of American troops...

ALTER:  Yes?

CARLSON:  ... the only body maintaining what little stability there is in the region, you have to suggest...

ALTER:  No, they‘re not maintaining stability.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I want to get Roger Stone in on this. 

Roger, Democrats, it seems to me, are treading on pretty thin ice here.  The more specific their plans become, the more the people are going to say, OK, tell us your more, what is your idea?  And the more they end up taking ownership of a war that they don‘t want to own. 

Is it better to be precise? 

STONE:  No.  Actually, I think out of this, Obama gets the headline he is looking for, which is “Barack Obama proposes the redeployment of troops in Iraq.”  That‘s the headline.  That‘s what you‘re looking for.

CARLSON:  Right.

STONE:  And unfortunately, that‘s what many of the voters focus on, the cliff notes version of your plan—in, out; for the war, against the war; for the troops, against the troops.  So I think that it‘s incumbent upon him to say something.  He has now said something.

I agree with Jon.  It‘s not when you look at it in its totality.  It‘s not that close from Baker-Hamilton, but it gets him within the context of the Democratic primary and the Democratic Party, the headline and the positioning he‘s looking for.

CARLSON:  All right. 

We‘ll be right back. 

Coming up, even President Bush‘s congressional allies on the troop surge are frustrated with him.  Just ahead we‘ll take an in-depth look at Republican division over the war and what it means for the president, the troops and the rest of us.

And later, Miss America took a risky step today, not going out in Times Square in New York, but rather, going out in Times Square in New York with our own Willie Geist. 

A preview of their Manhattan adventure in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, the Republican Party seems to be coming apart at the seems.  What happened to the unity?  Will they be able to work together to find a single resolution expressing doubts about the president‘s troop surge in Iraq?  All that in a minute.

Right now though, here‘s a look at your headlines.

MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”  Just short of a new record high on Wall Street today.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average surging 98 points to close at 12,621.  The S&P 500 up more than 9, the NASDAQ 15 points.  Stocks rallying on the Fed‘s decision to leave interest rates at 5 ¼%.  Federal Reserve members leaving the door open for future rate hikes in order to tame the possibility of inflation.

Google is out with its quarterly report.  The Internet giant nearly tripling profit as revenues surged 67 percent.  Boeing shares getting a more than four percent bounce today, the aerospace giant reporting fourth quarter profit more than doubled and President Bush gets a rock star reception during a surprise stop at the New York Stock Exchange.  President Bush popping in while on Wall Street to talk up his record on the economy.  That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.  Now back to TUCKER.

CARLSON:  It maybe the starkest I understand occasion of President Bush‘s precarious political position lies in his own party.  Congressional Republicans who for so long have been united and therefore powerful have splintered over the president‘s so-called new way forward in Iraq.

According to today‘s “Washington Post,” there are at least five different Republican sponsored drafts of war resolutions.  That‘s just one measure of the dissent among Republican rank and file.

Here to explain what it means is “Newsweek‘s” senior editor Jonathan Alter, Republican strategist Roger Stone.  Roger, so much of this strikes me as political.  The Republicans, correctly, I believe they are going to just get creamed, spanked, destroyed in this next cycle in ‘08 and the Republicans who are up for re-election are the ones running quickest away from Bush.  Is that fair, do you think?

STONE:  Yes.  Because I think unfortunately the president‘s plan does not please anybody.  Those who are for escalation talk about 2 or 300,0000 troops and the others I think agree with Senator Arlen Specter who said this morning that 20,000 troops had as much success as a snowball in July.  So you have no one who wants to go down with the ship in terms of the Bush policy in Iraq except for maybe the party leadership because they have to and the party is being torn apart in the Congress as people try to get away from the administration.

CARLSON:  Boy you could see this coming three and a half years ago.  The seeds were planted long ago.  And it‘s just amazing to me, Jonathan Alter, that Republicans were not more prepared for this.  Do you think that you‘re going to see in the next couple of months, the Republicans go all the way and wind up on Barack Obama‘s side in effect and say we need to pull out now?

ALTER:  I think you will see at least a minority of them calling for that as time goes on because the American public‘s patience is wearing really think.

You also are going to see them grabbing for this life raft in the form of this new bipartisan commission that President Bush has proposed.  Initially the Democrats rejected it because he wanted to name the members of the commission but just in the last 24 hours they‘ve come to some agreement on Democrats getting to weigh in on who might be on this bipartisan panel.  So I think Reid and Pelosi have been sounding for positive about the idea for having another framework for some bipartisan cooperation.  So I think you will see a lot of people punting and saying let‘s wait and see what the commission says.

CARLSON:  Right.  You know what Roger?  You‘ve been a Republican political consultant for a long time.  I wonder if you‘ve ever seen a lamer lineup of candidates for the Republican nomination than we have this year?

STONE:  It‘s certainly underwhelming, there is no question about that.

CARLSON:  Why is it?  It does seem very underwhelming, why?

STONE:  Well, the Republican Party has not built much of a bench to begin with.  Most of these candidates that we‘re talking about, the ones who seem to be stepping forward are either such incredible long shots that they can‘t be taken seriously and the frontrunners have been national figures for a substantial amount of time with long records.  You have no exciting candidate in the mold of a Barack Obama here.  I‘m still waiting for another candidate to get in this race.

John McCain is a clear frontrunner.  I think the president‘s policies are now posing problems for him.  He may supercede them and be nominated.  His move to the right, I think, makes a general election tougher for him, but he is still the man to beat.

CARLSON:  John, it seems so much of the luster has gone from McCain who already didn‘t have the bedrock support from Republican primary voters.  They distrust him because they remember his fights with President Bush in 2000 in the nominating process.  They already don‘t really like him, and now it seems to me that his support from moderate Democrats and independents is evaporating.

ALTER:  I don‘t think the latter is of great important in Republican primaries.  The question is whether Republican primary voters will end up in a loveless marriage with John McCain.  And his campaign is doing all the right things to line people up.

I get press releases every day from different states, from various state officials that McCain has signed on.  In the Republican Party, that‘s very important to get those kinds of endorsements because the Republicans, unlike the Democrats, they have a system of primogeniture.  They give it to the person whose turn it is.  Their first son.  And that‘s McCain now.  That‘s a big advantage.

But the fact that he was against those Bush tax cuts in 2001 and that is the ultimate issue for many Republicans.  They is going to hurt him.  A lot of Republicans don‘t know it yet.

CARLSON:  Don‘t you think it‘s - my read is that it‘s stylistic?  That there‘s something about McCain that a lot of conservatives don‘t trust?  They think that secretly he is a liberal, he‘s got so many friends in the press.  He spends his time hanging out with Barbra Streisand in Nevis or whatever.  They just don‘t trust the guy for some reason.

ALTER:  They don‘t trust him because he is a maverick.  He has not toed the party line over the last several years.  He‘s been tacking to the right since he‘s be running for president but over the years on torture, many, many other issues, he has sided with the Democrats.  That‘s is what is so ironic to me.  You have somebody like Chuck Hagel who is now bucking the president on the war but has a much more pro-Bush voting record over the last six years than John McCain does.

CARLSON:  See I think people don‘t - I think McCain is less and less of a maverick.  You know who is a maverick?  And I don‘t mean this as a compliment, just a statement of fact.  Bush is a maverick.  Bush is saying things that none of the smart guys agree with, none of the cool guys like, nobody likes him and yet, he is espousing what he thinks regardless.  There‘s a guy with courage whether or not you like him or not and he gets zero credit for it.  This country doesn‘t like mavericks.  It likes people who reflect conventional wisdom.

STONE:  I think you have another factor HERE and that is that McCain being a war hero and being in the armed services and having a long career in both the House and Senate I think is perceived by voters in the Republican Party and in general election as having the depth to be president in a time of international crisis.

CARLSON:  Right.

STONE:  I‘m not sure there‘s any other candidates in the Republican Party, or for that matter, both parties who can say that.  McCain‘s voting record in the Senate on abortion, on guns, on stem cell and all these key social issues is very conservative.  I think it‘s McCain-Feingold that is his fundamental problem.

CARLSON:  What about - which he is going to ignore, anyway.  He‘ll ignore campaign finance reform.  He is not going to abide by the limits that he espoused.

But I wonder, Roger if you can explain to me, and I ask this question every day, and I still don‘t understand the issue, why Chuck Hagel who is in fact even more conservative than McCain on virtually every issue is dismissed out of hand as someone who is unelectable?

STONE:  Because of the war.  Because he‘s been an outspoken critic of the president on the war.  McCain has been a supporter of the president on the war and therefore I think is more broadly acceptable to the party folks.

CARLSON:  What do you think about that, John?  I know as an official member of the media you probably like Chuck Hagel, he‘s a pretty likeable guy.

ALTER:  He is.  Very likeable.

CARLSON:  Is he totally—he‘s not attacking the war from a liberal position, he is attacking it from a pretty conservative position, it seems to me.  He‘ll never get credit for that, you think?

ALTER:  Well, I think the problem is that people were so used to toeing the line for George W. Bush inside the Republican Party that when somebody comes in and challenges him on the central issue of his presidency, it seems like the worst kind of disloyalty.  And especially when he does it in very blunt language as Chuck Hagel has.

So they forget the fact that he is a conservative Republican on a lot of other issues and they just look at him as being disloyal.  And loyalty is a big deal for a lot of people.

Just on an earlier point you made, Tucker, I have to take issue with you on the idea that somehow Bush is being penalized for being a maverick.  He is not being penalized, not unpopular because he‘s a maverick.  He is unpopular because incompetent.  And those are not the same thing.

CARLSON:  No, they‘re not but OK - you disagree with the decisions he has made and I do too.

But he is making unpopular decisions and he is sticking to them and all these blowhards in the media are always going on about oh, McCain, he has got courage.  Actually, he is doing the conventional thing almost all of the time except in the case of the war.  It is Bush who is taking a deeply upon popular stand and my only point was a commentary on American society.  We pretend we reward political - but we don‘t, we penalize it.

ALTER:  But Tucker, at the time McCain took some of those very controversy stands, they were not popular.  Bush was very high in the ratings and yet McCain had the guts to go up against him and now when Bush is low in the ratings and McCain is sticking by him, McCain, there is a reason he has this reputation for being most of the time a conviction politician even though I think he his selling his soul in the last few months.

CARLSON:  Everybody is inconsistent.  It‘s just the Washington press corps idea of what is unconventional is pathetically conventional most of the time.

Roger what do you think of Newt Gingrich?  Here is a guy who I personally would not want him to be president.  He makes me a little uncomfortable.  But he is the most articulate conservative I think I‘ve ever met and he is talking about running.  Is he actually going to do it?

STONE:  He has the worst case of ADD of any American politician.  I don‘t think he can stay focused on any one topic for more than a few seconds.  Not viable.  I‘m not sure of where he is based in the party.  An idea man, therefore valuable to have in the mix and out there as a provocateur, but I don‘t see him as a viable presidential candidate.

CARLSON:  Roger, when is the next time that the Republicans will control the White House and the Congress?  Will I be alive, do you think?

STONE:  You‘ll be alive.  I think it will be in another four or eight years.

CARLSON:  You really thing so?

STONE:  Yes because look at those Democrats very carefully.  Now think of any one of them being president for four years or eight?  Yes the country will be ready to go back to Republicans, maybe even a Bush.

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  The power of incumbency is so profound.  It‘s not often a president loses his re-election bid.  Jon, I interrupted you.  What are you saying?

ALTER:  What is wrong with some of these other long shot candidates like Tommy Thompson?  I‘m going to see him tomorrow.  Is he completely unviable in your mind?  The guy was a very successful governor.  He was in the Cabinet.  Has kind of a working class affect that is very popular.  What‘s wrong with him as a candidate?

CARLSON:  For the past, speaking of tropes or conventional tropes that I have repeated ad nauseam over the years, this idea that it‘s much better to be a governor than a senator and we haven‘t elected a senator president since 1960.  All sort of true on the other hand when foreign policy dominates the discussion, it‘s not so bad to be a senator and it‘s not so great to be someone who presides over a state it seems to be.  So I don‘t know I don‘t think this is the year for Huckabee or Tommy Thompson.

STONE:  Here‘s the other problem, though, and that is the way the primaries are structured.  In almost an immediate sudden death playoff, it‘s better to have name identification in the country than to have none.  Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are household words, well known.  Tommy Thompson is a good man.  No one knows who he is.

And he‘s not going to have an opportunity to become well-known.

ALTER:  It‘s so early, it so early and you can become well known so quickly in this country.  One of my favorite political memories from my own coverage of politics was that in November of 1991, I went to a dinner with a couple of other reporters and Bill Clinton in Michigan and he walked across the hotel lobby, all the way across the restaurant, and not one person recognized him in the entire hotel and a year to a day later he was president.

It doesn‘t take long.

CARLSON:  There‘s a name for that, it‘s called mass hysteria.

Jonathan Alter, Roger Stone.  Thank you both very much.

ALTER:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  Coming up Miss America had the courage to face America in a swim suit and walked away with the crown.  She faced a new and even tough challenge today, though.  Willie Geist and a television camera.  We have got a preview of that encounter.

Plus America continues to share the experience that is the “American Idol” freak show.  Just ahead the story of how the woman seen here in canary was the second most bizarre performer on lat months installment of America‘s guilty pleasure.  More in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Nothing says all American fun like the Super Bowl and the Miss America pageant.  Men in tight pants beating each other up and women parading around in bathing suits.  Our forefathers would have been proud and no one knows all American fun better than “L.A. Times” columnist Joel Stein who joins me out in L.A.  The irregular heartbeat of America.

Joel.  Whenever I come to Los Angeles I call up the smartest people I know and you‘re first on the list to get a sense of what‘s happening .

JOEL STEIN, “L.A. TIMES”:  You need to know more people out here.

CARLSON:  What‘s happening in American popular culture.  Miss America.  The new Miss America crowned.  Not long ago the Miss USA crowned.  Rate them in relative terms.  It‘s Pepsi/Coke, Levi/Lee, Marlboro/Winston.  Who is superior?

STEIN:  It‘s a field no one cares about anymore.  Who watches the Miss America pageant?  It‘s 2007.

CARLSON:  What challenge was it on?

STEIN:  It‘s on CMT.  The country music station.

CARLSON:  I don‘t think we get that on my basic cable package.

STEIN:  You probably do.  You should probably watch more of that but not during Miss America time.  Yeah, I think they had two million viewers.  It‘s 2007.  We exploit women in much more complicated ways now.  It‘s a little backwards.

CARLSON:  So it‘s not that we‘re more thoughtful and progressive, it‘s that we are even more evil?

STEIN:  Yeah.  We can be much more blunt about it, which is how we progressed really.

CARLSON:  It seems to me.

STEIN:  She won?  Devon Theat (ph), she‘s from Oklahoma.  Those states dominate these things.  Texas, Oklahoma

CARLSON:  Why is that?  They raise them to do this?

STEIN:  They do.  Yes.  It‘s like there are certain South American countries that always win Miss Universe because they have the plastic surgery.  Yes.

I‘m not accusing Oklahoma of that, I‘m just saying they‘re raised to be 20 year old women who look like they‘re 40.

CARLSON:  They are Kenyan marathon runners basically, but for pageants.

STEIN:  Everyone has their own thing.

CARLSON:  It‘s so—The perception is, and again, this is just more conventional wisdom I am throwing up for you to bat down.

STEIN:  I will.

CARLSON:  But that the Miss USA pageant .

STEIN:  That‘s the skanky one.

CARLSON:  Is actually skankier.  Is that actually true?

STEIN:  Yes.  I was a judge for Miss USA and like 2000 or 1999, a preliminary judge.

CARLSON:  Tell me about the drugs, the lesbianism, what happened backstage.

STEIN:  It‘s skankier comparatively but it‘s still pretty tame.  These are the Little Miss Sunshine girls who have been doing pageants their whole like.  They have this weird makeup and look so they really look like they are 40 when they are 20.  It‘s a very specific look but I think only other women think it‘s kind of - women from small towns, I don‘t know who finds these women attractive.

CARLSON:  That‘s the key to female beauty.  It‘s not aimed at men, it‘s aimed at other women.

STEIN:  There are certain kinds of models aimed at men like the “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit models or porn stars.  But I think these kind of women are I don‘t know.  Who is into these women?

CARLSON:  I don‘t know either.

STEIN:  They look like grown women and they are really like 18 years old.

CARLSON:  I‘m glad you brought up sports.

STEIN:  That‘s how I work the transitions for you.

CARLSON:  Very, very nice.

The Super Bowl on Sunday.  This is a question that is asked every year.  But it seems to be a more real question every year.  Is the draw the ads or the game for most people?

STEIN:  It‘s really spectacle at this point which includes the game and the ads and just the hype.  You are more excited for the hype than you are the actual game.  Which is great.  We need more events that kind of bring everyone together like that.

CARLSON:  So have you been following the hype all week?

STEIN:  I‘ve been following the hype, but not the sport.

CARLSON:  Do you have a favorite hype moment?

STEIN:  The half-time show.  I‘m kind of a sucker for that.

CARLSON:  Will there be nudity.

STEIN:  Prince is performing so definitely.

CARLSON:  So we are hoping against nudity.

STEIN:  Definitely hoping against nudity at this point.

CARLSON:  One man whose wardrobe we pray does not malfunction.

STEIN:  He‘s got so much going on.  He‘s got layers of velvet.  We‘ll be safe.

CARLSON:  I‘m just grateful he got his name back.  Joel Stein of the “L.A.

Times”.

STEIN:  Good seeing you.

CARLSON:  Great to see you, thank you.

Coming up, Kevin Federline isn‘t leaving Britney Spears without a fight or without an absurd piece of her money.  You won‘t believe how much cash he wants from Britney, actually, you probably will believe.  We‘ll tell you anyway.

One of the country‘s leading K-Fed experts joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  For the past couple of years it has been a running joke in our office, what does Willie Geist do all day?  Today we have an answer.  Willie?

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  We do.  I don‘t know what I do all day. 

I show up an hour before the show, throw a few stories in, come on TV.  It‘s not easy.  It‘s an hourly wage.  Tucker we have been following this story out of Boston very closely on MSNBC about 10 explosive devices or what we thought were explosive devices found in Boston, parts of that city shut down.

We‘re finding out now an amazing development Turner Broadcasting just released a statement saying these are part of an outdoor marketing campaign for and animated movie called “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” that they have placed around Boston and other cities.  The movie comes out in a couple months.  These were not explosive devices.  They had the bomb squads out, highways shut down.  These were part of marketing.  They say the packages are magnetic lights that pose no danger, part of an outdoor marketing campaign in 10 cities in support of the animated television show “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.”  The bomb scare turns out to be a marketing ploy.  Unbelievable.

CARLSON:  Something almost as terrifying, “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.”

GEIST:  That is pretty scary.  Thank goodness it is nothing dangerous and they have talked to the police and sorted everything out.  But I‘m sure the cops want to talk some more to them.

Well, Tucker we have a little Super Bowl trivia for you.  We are doing this every day.  Here is today‘s question, ready?

CARLSON:  Yeah.

GEIST:  Billy Joel will sing the national anthem at Sunday Super Bowl.  Why is that?  That‘s our question of the day, because, really, Billy Joel .

CARLSON:  That‘s like an existential question, why is that?

GEIST:  Yeah, it‘s pretty .

CARLSON:  I don‘t know, they got a good deal on him.  I have no idea.

GEIST:  I think they might have gotten a good deal.  Maybe it‘s just my take on Billy Joel, I don‘t know if I would make him the headliner.  It is the second time he‘s done it at the Super Bowl.

CARLSON:  That‘s a great question.

GEIST:  Thank you.  I thought so.

CARLSON:  It‘s part of his recovery.

GEIST:  As you know, tucker, this here is the show that has boldly taken a stand on moral grounds to not discuss “American Idol.”  We just don‘t want any part of that exploitation.

With that in mind, did you see the show last night?  Simon, Randy, Paula and the gang holding auditions in Birmingham.  The star of the night was this woman, 20-year-old Brenda Patterson.  She attempted to sing Madonna‘s “Like a Virgin” and when Simon called it rot ton and Brandy went down swinging.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You don‘t know nothing.

SIMON COWELL, CELEBRITY:  See, I‘m saying, out you go.  It‘s a know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Out you go.

COWELL:  I don‘t want to hear any more of this rubbish, Brandy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No, I‘m just saying ruffish muffish.

COWELL:  Don‘t stand on the non-sticky floor.  Brandy, out you go, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t even want to talk to you all.

COWELL:  I wish we would have had this conversation five minutes ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t know how you all even judging, because Paco (ph) is better than you all anyway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  I just think it‘s wrong to poach another show‘s good ratings for your own.  We just won‘t do it, Tucker, I‘m not going to sit by and watch.  We‘re completely above that.

Well, the legend of Kevin Federline grew again today when “Star” magazine reported that he refused a divorce  settlement of $25 million from Britney Spears.  He scoffed at the offer.  The magazine says Federline, seen here in his upcoming Super Bowl ad is looking for twice that from his estranged wife and the mother of his two children a source tells “Star” that Britney has already made insulting offers of $10 and $20 million to get K-Fed to hit the bricks.

He says he would prefer $50 million.  Now Tucker, it‘s not “Us Weekly” so it‘s not 100 percent.  Still reputable but not “Us Weekly.”

But do you think K-Fed deserves $50 million?  I actually think he does for pulling off this elaborate hoax of marrying Britney Spears.

CARLSON:  I know your position from day one is that he‘s living the dream.

GEIST:  Yes.

CARLSON:  But taking money from a woman, he‘s a pig as far as I‘m concerned.  I‘m going to have to take a stand.

GEIST:  Of course he is but she has plenty to go around.  He convinced her to marry him and have two children with him.  There has to be some reward for that, don‘t you think.

CARLSON:  She seems pretty convincible to me.

GEIST:  Now in this last segment, Tucker, I was watching you taking your shots at Miss America.  Let me just tell you something.  I spent some time with Laura Nelson, miss Oklahoma and now Miss America, a fantastic woman.  I spent some time today with her in Times Square, and I heard you saying maybe she wasn‘t attractive or something.  Let me tell you, that is not true at all.  I‘m go to be doing a full story with her this evening on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Here is a little peek at my day with her.

(BEGIN VIDOE LCIP)

GEIST:  Hello, Miss America.

This is your new queen, do you have any requests of her?

This is your new queen, Miss America, she won the crown Monday.

LAURA NELSON, MISS AMERICA:  Hi, I‘m Laura Nelson.

Hi.

GEIST:  The paparazzi is already out for Miss America.

NELSON:  Hi.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  We dragged—I dragged her.  She was such a good sport and so cool, I dragged her out into the 15 degree cold in Times Square with the cretins running around that neighborhood and she just walked around and shook hands like she was the queen, which she is.

CARLSON:  You‘re a mean man, Willie Geist.

GEIST:  She was a great sport, though, and you will see plenty of it tonight on SCARBOROUGH.

CARLSON:  I was going to take the red eye home from L.A.  But I‘m going to stay.  Acctually I‘m going to take JetBlue so I can watch it.

GEIST:  You can watch it.  Exactly.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist.  Thanks, Well.

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  That‘s it for us today.  Stay tuned for HARDBALL with Chris.  We‘re back here tomorrow from the East Coast.  Thanks for tuning in.  See you then.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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