updated 2/12/2007 11:50:55 AM ET 2007-02-12T16:50:55

Guests: Melinda Henneberger, Tom Curry, Jon Soltz, Richard Wolffe, Mark Souder, Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts

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

Nancy Pelosi says she‘ll fly commercial if she absolutely has to.

Meanwhile, your absolutely do-nothing, flip-flopping, nasal-gazing (ph)

Congress changes course once again on the war debate.

All that in just a minute, but first, John Edwards. 

Last week the Edwards for President campaign hired two professional bloggers, Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, to organize left-wing voters online.  Within days, it was revealed that both women had recently written blogs attacking the Catholic Church.  For a while it looked like Edwards might fire them both.  Yesterday he announced he will not. 

“I‘ve talked to Amanda and Melissa,” Edwards said.  “They have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone‘s faith, and I take them at their word.”

“Never their intention to malign anyone‘s faith.”  Hmm.  Is that so? 

How about Amanda Marcotte‘s point that the Catholic Church is “... not about to let something like compassion for girls get in the way of using the state as an instrument to force women to bear more tithing Catholics”?  Or her reference to “Christofascists”? 

Or what this from last June -- :What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, White, sticky Holy Spirit?”  Or how about this suggestion directed to the church—“What don‘t you lousy mother (expletive) understand about keeping your noses out of our britches, our beds and our families?”

Does any of that strike you as an attempt to malign anyone‘s faith?  Nope, says John Edwards.  Not at all. 

Look, if John Edwards wants to employ two women who have slandered Catholicism, fine, do it.  And live with the consequences.  But don‘t take a leak in my shoes and tell me it‘s raining, you phony.

Well, and now for the debate over the debate over the debate about the debatable war in Iraq, we are joined by the political editor of “The Huffington Post,” Melinda Henneberger, MSNBC.com national affairs writer Tom Curry. 

Welcome to you both.

MELINDA HENNEBERGER, POLITICAL EDITOR, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  Hi.

TOM CURRY, MSNBC.COM NATIONAL AFFAIRS WRITER:  Good to be here.

CARLSON:  I am drawn to this quote by Republican, one of the—in my view, a few Republicans who had something reasonable to say about the debate over Iraq.  Adam Putnam, one of the youngest members of the House said this to “The New York Times” today about Democrats.  He said, “They finally have the opportunity to change policy and they are putting up a sense of the Congress resolution which is about worth as much as the parchment it‘s printed on.”

Melinda, this is a debate that you‘re intimately familiar with, but it‘s, I think, a great question.  They can end the war.  Why aren‘t they?

HENNEBERGER:  I think that‘s a question that more and more voters are asking.  More and more ordinary people out there want to know, didn‘t we just elect these people so that they could take things in a different direction, especially on the question of Iraq?  And now they can‘t even decide that it‘s OK to talk about it?

So it really looks like a failure of leadership.  I mean, you can‘t even imagine this happening, for example, if LBJ had been the majority leader. 

CARLSON:  Right.

HENNEBERGER:  You know.

CARLSON:  Do you think it makes Democrats look for more impotent to put up a resolution expressing hurt feelings and anger than doing nothing at all?

HENNEBERGER:  No, but I think that when you‘re still discussing whether you should discuss it, it‘s not good. 

CARLSON:  I think that‘s a great political rule of thumb. 

Tom, Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, the Democrat who brought down the very powerful—formerly powerful Curt Weldon, he‘s a former admiral, he was in the Navy—up until a year and a half ago he was in the Navy in a very high-ranking position.  I think he‘s the highest ranking military officer ever elected to the House.

He‘s introduced legislation, binding legislation, that would just go ahead and end the war in Iraq by the end of the year.  Pull out almost all of the troops and it would stop the funding December 31st

Are Democrats going to pay any attention to this at all?  And if not, why not? 

CURRY:  Well, I think, Tucker, the important thing you need to realize is that next week‘s debate in the House, first of all, it‘s not really a debate.  As most things happen in the House, it‘s a sequence of speeches.  There won‘t really be much engaging of ideas between supporters of the president and opponents of the president. 

CARLSON:  Everybody is speaking, as I understand it, right?

CURRY:  Well, everybody has time -- 435 members have been allotted five minutes each.  I don‘t know if we‘re all going to be able to sit through that, but maybe not every member will speak.  But it won‘t be a genuine debate in which the president‘s—the defenders of the president‘s policy actually have to stand on the floor of the House and defend it against the critics.

CARLSON:  Right.

CURRY:  It will be a sequence of speeches.

But the important thing, House Democratic leadership—Steny Hoyer, who‘s the majority leader, said this is a first step in a series of steps available to Congress.  Clearly, he is signaling to the president, to the public, to the Democratic voters who may be unhappy about how slowly things are moving, he‘s signaling that, give us some time, we will end the war.  We‘re trying—we are trying to build confidence among our members, some of whom are wavering on this, that if we can pass a non-binding resolution condemning the president‘s policy, then maybe next—the next step will be limitation on use of funds when the supplemental spending bill comes up next month.

CARLSON:  Right.  Ending the war by a thousand cuts.

One of the conventional understanding—conventional answer to the question, why aren‘t Democrats just ending the war is they are afraid politically.  And they‘ve said that, basically, “We don‘t want to be called traitors,” and all that.

I‘m not sure that‘s entirely it.  I think some Democrats are actually worried about what would happen if we left the region right away. 

HENNEBERGER:  No, I don‘t think it‘s that.  Maybe there is some of that.

CARLSON:  Am I giving them too much credit for being responsible?

HENNEBERGER:  But I think it‘s more that they don‘t want to be caught out not funding troops on the ground.  And so the reason the Republicans want to only talk about funding troops on the ground is that they want to cast this as Democrats not supporting the troops.  And that‘s what I think Democrats are really sensitive to.  And that‘s not a ridiculous concern.

However, I think that there‘s a real building consensus among Democrats and more and more Republicans, too—it‘s not really a partisan issue—that whether we get out now or 10 years from now, it‘s going to be the same disastrous result. 

CARLSON:  I wonder, though—I mean, Bush‘s Iraq strategy is obviously a failure, that‘s uncontested.  But leaving in the next, say, two years, or as Hillary Clinton demanded the other day, some time before the next president is sworn in, I think everybody pretty much agree that would be a bloodbath in Iraq, it would destabilize the whole region.  I mean, you could really set off a chain of events.

Has anybody on the Democratic or Republican side said about and thought this through and decided how we can avoid something terrible like that happening?

HENNEBERGER:  I don‘t think there‘s any avoiding.  I think the consensus is, at least on the Democratic side, is that there is no avoiding it, that there‘s going to be a civil war there that‘s going to be a complete explosion at whatever point we leave. 

CARLSON:  And we‘re just going to just watch it? 

HENNEBERGER:  Well, what‘s the alternative/  I don‘t think that our trying to get involved in it is working well. 

CARLSON:  Boy. 

Have you seen anybody in the Congress, Tom, address the aftermath of our withdrawal?  When we left Vietnam in April, 1975, there was a bloodbath. 

There was a bloodbath, and it wasn‘t very well reported upon.  But all of -

you know, two parts—three parts of Indochina—hundreds of thousands of people died.  Millions of people died, actually.

CURRY:  Well...

CARLSON:  Anybody going to try to prevent that this time?

CURRY:  ... to address the point that you just made, Jerry Nadler, who‘s the congressman from New York, pretty much made that point, saying there‘s a civil war going on, it will be going on, and I would rather have it going on with 3,000 American soldiers killed rather than 23,000.  So, the primary concern of some Democrats is to—is to reduce—is to reduce American casualties, or limit them to those that have already happened.

CARLSON:  Right.

CURRY:  Now, your point about...

CARLSON:  That‘s just taking your hands off the wheel and saying a prayer, though, isn‘t it?

CURRY:  Well, the aftermath, what happens in the region, and how many refugees do we take into this country?  All those questions, I think members of Congress are beginning to address those issues and worry about them.

It hasn‘t really been the subject of too much debate.  There is some debate about whether McCain—John McCain, for example, is being too dire when he talks about ethnic cleansing and genocide on the scale of Bosnia—you know, Srebrenica back in the 1990s.

Clearly, he‘s seen a desire scenario, and he is saying the United States could not be responsible for this.  We can‘t allow this to happen.

But I‘m hearing other members saying we‘ve done enough.  And the key, I think, will be the supplemental spending bill in March. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

CURRY:  They do have to vote on that.  There is sentiment among House Democrats, certainly, to have some mechanism in that supplemental to say to President Bush, we‘ll give you your $100 billion that you‘re asking for, but you have to have all the troops out by December 31st

CARLSON:  Of this year? 

CURRY:  Of this year. 

CARLSON:  Amazing.

Coming up, a group of Iraq war veterans calls the president a draft dodger, accuses a Republican senator of helping the enemy.  That group‘s leader joins us in just a minute.

Plus, tomorrow he‘s going to officially make it official.  Obama in ‘08 or not?

We‘ll check “The Obameter.”

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Jon Soltz is an Iraqi war veteran who opposes the administration‘s war policy.  He called President Bush and Vice President Cheney draft dodgers and he accused Senator Mitch McConnell, one of the president‘s staunchest allies of “aiding the enemy.”

I talked to him yesterday and asked him about what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JON SOLTZ, VOTEVETS.ORG:  We need a real debate in this country on this war.  We want to see this non0binding resolution passed.  It‘s the most important resolution that we‘ve seen in four years.

We want to see these guys debate.  We want to see them have it out.

We know our strategy is not working.  The American public doesn‘t want us on this strategy.

CARLSON:  Yes.

SOLTZ:  And Senator McConnell is playing all kinds of fancy political games that us soldiers don‘t understand.  We want to see this vote.  We want a clear, bipartisanship message sent to this Congress that this policy is not working. 

CARLSON:  OK.  I think most Americans agree with that.

SOLTZ:  Absolutely.

CARLSON:  And I want to see a debate, too.  And I wonder if name calling, calling a perfectly patriotic senator a traitor, helps debate or hurts it? 

SOLTZ:  Well, look, I mean, I‘m here to explain the debate the way we see it as troops.  The fact of the matter is, is that we‘ve got soldiers that are dying every day.  A friend of mine got killed in Iraq last week.

CARLSON:  Right.

SOLTZ:  We want to see the be president sent a clear signal from the bipartisan majority in Congress that says that this is—this strategy is not working.  We need...

CARLSON:  I think that‘s totally fair. 

SOLTZ:  Look, the man who attacked this country is hiding out in Afghanistan right now eating lamb chops and we...

CARLSON:  Absolutely right.  So there is a distinction between this country‘s enemies and its senators.  And it‘s important to say that, don‘t you think?

SOLTZ:  Well, hey—well, I think there‘s a big point here to say that we are not winning the war on terror.

CARLSON:  Right?

SOLTZ:  We are not winning the war in Iraq.  And we need a policy.  And Mitch McConnell is preventing that debate.  He is—you cannot be for this war and support the troops.

CARLSON:  Well, wait a second.  I mean, there are many ironies here, and there‘s much hypocrisy.  And Hillary Clinton voted for the war.

SOLTZ:  Absolutely.

CARLSON:  I mean, there‘s many shades of gray here on the political level.

Here‘s my problem with what you said.  I think you‘re a valid—your voice is valid voice, you know a lot about Iraq, you were there, you‘re a veteran, and you‘re smart.  When you accuse the president, or describe the president as a draft dodger, when we both know he‘s not.

SOLTZ:  Oh, I...

CARLSON:  Whatever—he has many faults.  He‘s not a draft dodger.  And that‘s an unfair thing to say.

SOLTZ:  This is a guy—this is a guy that chose not to serve in Vietnam. 

He chose to go—I mean...

CARLSON:  Well, as did...

SOLTZ:  It‘s neither here nor there, but if this president...

CARLSON:  Actually, you‘re making it here.  No, wait, wait.

SOLTZ:  ... and vice president, if they understood the sacrifice of our men and women who were fighting in this war, they would understand the human cost that‘s going on.

CARLSON:  That‘s a profoundly unfair thing to say, it seems to me.  I mean, many people chose not—there were many draft dodgers.  Almost all of them on the left, as you know.  And they‘re not held to account. 

They were pardoned.  And nobody attacks them for doing so.

You know, Bush—I think Bush made a terrible mistake going into Iraq.  I think he‘s a limited man in some ways.  And I think he made a series of tragic decisions.  But calling him names doesn‘t get us anywhere.  And doesn‘t that devalue your moral authority?

SOLTZ:  What doesn‘t get us anywhere—absolutely not—but what doesn‘t get us anywhere is Senator McConnell stalling a debate that the American public want.

CARLSON:  OK.

SOLTZ:  And why are they so afraid to debate this war?  Let‘s have it out.  Let‘s talk about why the president‘s “stay the course, plus more” is nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  We‘re still headed towards the iceberg.

Mitch McConnell is preventing this debate.  I‘m asking him, very nicely, help us kill the enemy, help us find the people that attacked this country, help us get off a course that‘s not taking us anywhere in Iraq. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Would you say this is a purely partisan debate?

SOLTZ:  Absolutely not.  We need—but if America does not find a bipartisan solution to Iraq, we will have a failed policy. 

CARLSON:  Right.

SOLTZ:  We have to find a bipartisan solution.  That‘s why the Iraq Study Group report was so important, Tucker. 

I know that you probably agree with me on this.  It gave us bipartisan consensus.  It was something the Democrats and Republicans can rally behind.  But only 13 percent of this country wants to see more troops sent to Iraq.

Stay the course more, 20,000 more guys driving around Baghdad?  That‘s like spitting in the ocean.  I‘ve served in Baghdad, we‘ve served before.  Mitch McConnell is preventing a professional real debate in the United States Senate.  He‘s preventing a debate that‘s going to help us kill the enemies of this country.

CARLSON:  Well, he‘s got a different point of view than you do. 

SOLTZ:  Well, it‘s a view...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  You‘re both Americans.  I think we could probably start the debate by saying, you know, I respect you as an American, a patriot, you have a legitimate point of view.  That‘s not mine, and let‘s debate it.

I wonder what you think...

SOLTZ:  What I don‘t respect is when they try to make the argument that somehow if you ask the hard questions about this war, that you‘re not supporting the military.  You cannot support the...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, you‘re the one who‘s saying he‘s supporting the enemy.  Wait a second.  You can‘t have it—boy, that‘s unfair.  You can‘t have it both ways.

You‘re saying, it‘s unfair of him to say, you know, that we‘re helping the enemy.  You‘re the one who is saying he‘s helping the enemy.  In fact, to your credit, you just said it out—you just said it out front.  You‘re like, he‘s aiding the enemy.

SOLTZ:  What I said is they often make the argument to say that we don‘t support the troops. 

CARLSON:  Right.

SOLTZ:  We are the troops.  And you cannot support this war—or not this war, but you cannot support this policy of escalation.  We‘re not talking about pulling out people tomorrow, we‘re not talking about anything binding.

What we‘re talking about is, are you going to validate this president‘s strategy? 

CARLSON:  Right.

SOLTZ:  This is a strategy that you and I both know is not going in the right direction.  And the reason we can‘t get it to a vote in the United States Senate is because of Senator McConnell.  If we‘re not winning this war and you and I both agree on that, and we need a new strategy, we need to send that message to the White House.

CARLSON:  Well, I‘ll tell you one thing that I do know having lived here a long time.  Congress is not in control of this war.  I‘m not even sure the White House is.  I‘m not sure anybody in the United States is.  But I know for a fact the Congress can‘t bring a happy outcome to this by itself.

That‘s my view.

SOLTZ:  I would agree with that, too.

CARLSON:  Jon Soltz, thanks a lot for joining us.

SOLTZ:  Hey, thanks so much for having me on your show, Tucker.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  Coming up, public campaign funding you either get or you don‘t get when running for president.  Not so, says Barack Obama.  Does the man want it both ways?  We‘ll tell you.

Plus, it took a little while, but Nancy Pelosi says now that she is willing to fly commercial, just like you, if private military fights are not in the end available. 

The latest on her humble travel needs coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now to check our “Obameter.”

Hold your calls, gather the children.  Tomorrow is the big day.  We‘ve waited for it.  Barack Obama will make it official and announce if he‘s actually going to run for president.  What are the odds he‘ll walk up to the microphone and say, in fact, “Sorry, guys, I‘m not running”?

Here with their over-under, are political editor of “The Huffington Post,” Melinda Henneberger, MSBNC.com national affairs writer Tom Curry, and also joining us, a man who‘s traveling with Obama this very weekend, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek,” Richard Wolffe.

Richard, I can‘t believe you have been touched by the gods to such an extent you‘re going to be with Barack Obama.  I‘m not against Barack Obama.  I‘m kind of charmed by him.  But I have noticed a shift in conventional wisdom.  Tell me if it‘s real and if it‘s significant.

Three weeks ago, everyone thought, you know, this guy could really beat Hillary and be president.  Now you really get the feeling that the people who make conventional wisdom, most of whom aren‘t that smart anyway—but in any case, don‘t think he can win. 

RICHARD WOLFFE, “NEWSWEEK”:  Well, whoever is telling you who can and can‘t win is making it up. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.

WOLFFE:  So, I don‘t know how you assess the campaign at this stage other than to say Barack Obama has a long, long way to go, personally and organizationally. 

CARLSON:  Well, let‘s just try this.  Try this one criterion—he told “USA Today” this morning, that, “Yes, I‘ve got have a thin resume, but that‘s my greatest strength.”

Post-9/11, are voters really going to elect a guy who‘s got no national security, foreign policy experience at all? 

WOLFFE:  No, but you‘ve got to ask yourself what kind of experience he has.  He‘s—they say he‘s lived abroad, which is important experience, it‘s personal experience, more than President Bush did when he was Texas governor.  And you‘ve also got to ask, what kind of experience do you get when you‘re sitting on a committee all day? 

I mean, can you get experience being first lady in the White House, for instance?  What kind of experience is he up against, in other words. 

And yes, it‘s important.  I don‘t doubt that national security is going to be the number one issue.  The question is, what are you going today about Iraq?  That‘s all that matters.

CARLSON:  Right.

WOLFFE:  Having a credible plan.  Do you have a credible plan because of what you‘ve done in your previous life or what you‘re actually proposing now?

And that‘s going to be the debate that we‘ll have for the next two years.

CARLSON:  Well, Tom, if you look carefully at Barack Obama‘s latest Iraq plan, it looks like a kind of John Edwards plan.  You know, get the troops out now.  But then the closer you look at it, you realize, wait a second, getting the troops out is contingent upon the Iraqi government failing to meet a set of standards. 

In other words, he‘s not really calling for an absolute withdrawal from Iraq, actually.  And I wonder, is it really clear—I mean, is this part of a pattern where Obama seems to be for one thing but he also seems to be for the other thing and it‘s not really clear where he is?

CURRY:  Well, his plan would have the troops—most of the troops out by the first quarter of 2008, the first quarter of next year.  There would be some escape clauses...

CARLSON:  Yes.

CURRY:  ... if the president determined it was necessary to keep—keep some of them there.  They would—the would still be available in the region for going after al Qaeda bases inside Iraqi. 

So, it implies, even after they were withdrawn, a commitment to be coming back in from time to time.  So, I think that‘s what he‘s going to be...

CARLSON:  God, I‘m already confused.

CURRY:  That‘s what he is going to be trying to—trying to attach to these spending bills that are coming up.

CARLSON:  Right.

CURRY:  But I think what voters in Iowa and New Hampshire will be looking for, already are looking for, already were looking for in December, when he went up there before Christmas to New Hampshire, is more substance.  I mean, his speech at the DNC, the Democratic National Committee meeting last Friday, reminded me an awful lot of the speeches that I heard him give on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania and in Minnesota back in October.  He still—it still has partly a motivational speech feeling to it. 

CARLSON:  Well, you know, it turns out, Tom, that he‘s not running against Republicans.  He‘s not running against his Democratic rivals.

CURRY:  He‘s running against cynicism. 

CARLSON:  He‘s running against cynicism.

CURRY:  Yes.

CARLSON:  And he‘s going to put attack ads out against cynicism pretty soon.

Melinda, I wonder—I mean, what if after all this, the kind of—you know, the pitch he is making is, I‘m not your ordinary candidate, I‘m a pretty deep guy.  And actually, he seems like a pretty deep guy.  But what if in the end, when you strip it all away, he‘s just a liberal like everyone else, just kind of a conventional liberal? 

HENNEBERGER:  Well, I think the general feeling right now is that we don‘t know who he is.

CARLSON:  Right.,

HENNEBERGER:  That we think he is very intriguing and he‘s obviously very smart and he gives a great speech, and people are really hungry for something new.

CARLSON:  Yes.

HENNEBERGER:  But we don‘t know about him.  So there‘s really...

CARLSON:  But is there any indication that he‘s not just kind of your, you know, garden variety Chris Dodd, Ted Kennedy—you know, smarter—I almost said articulate—more thoughtful maybe than most.  Cleaner definitely than some.  But in the end just kind of, I don‘t know, like everyone else? 

HENNEBERGER:  I think that the question is, is he just as careful as everybody else?

CARLSON:  Right.

HENNEBERGER:  Because I think that if you‘re going to be for audacity, I don‘t see that bold policy statement yet from him. 

CARLSON:  Yes, that‘s true.

HENNEBERGER:  So I don‘t know where he fits on the political spectrum, honestly.  I don‘t know that he‘s your common garden liberal.  I don‘t know what he is. 

CARLSON:  Well, I have to say, audacity implies the middle finger, and I haven‘t seen him raise his in any direction at all.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  You know who is audacious?  John Edwards is audacious. 

HENNEBERGER:  He has been...

CARLSON:  There‘s a fine line between—and Dennis Kucinich.  There‘s a fine line between audacity and insanity. 

Coming up, you‘re hired to blog for a presidential campaign.  Will your past anti-Catholic postings get you canned?  Not if your boss is John Edwards.

Plus, Iraq isn‘t the only bad war at which the president wants to throw a lot more money.  Stay tuned for Bush‘s plan to fund an anti-drug strategy deemed ineffective and counterproductive, even, by his own government.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says size doesn‘t matter when it comes to her military plane.  They all say that.  Don‘t believe them.  Will the Pentagon give her a plane that flies coast to coast, or will she—brace yourself now—wind up flying commercial? 

All that in just a minute.  Right now, though, here‘s a look at your headlines. 

(NEWSBREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER:  If they can‘t make it to California, I have to go commercial.  I have to see my family, to see my constituents and to get there.  So it wasn‘t about size and it isn‘t about guests or anything else.  But one would also wonder why those in the administration would want to mischaracterize a security problem. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, blaming unseen enemies for the embarrassment caused by her insistence on near-presidential class travel to and from her home in San Francisco.  The White House in her side, it runs out, and Mrs. Pelosi believe people in the Pentagon want to discredit her for her anti-war stance, and, of course, because she‘s a female.  Is she right?  Is she serious? 

Joining us once again, political editor of the “Huffington Post,” Melinda Henneberger, MSNBC.com national affairs writer, Tom Curry, and senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek Magazine,” Richard Wolffe. 

Linda, it turns out there is sexism afoot in our fair city.  I want to play you another quote from Madame Speaker, explaining just why this has become a big deal.  Here‘s Nancy Pelosi. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI:  As a woman, as a woman speaker of the House, I don‘t want any less opportunity than male speakers have had when they have served here.  But you know what, I don‘t even like having the security.  I would rather travel with my friends on the plane to California, get some work down. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That‘s just unbelievable!  That‘s like Jesse Jackson crying racism when his illegitimate child is discovered.  I mean, that‘s pathetic. 

HENNEBERGER:  First of all, it is a silly issue.  I mean, I really do think that it‘s a political thing.  It‘s very understandable for the Republicans to try to paint this as, you know, oh, the Armani Democrat Nancy Pelosi wants to be in the flying version of the Lincoln Bedroom.  And, you know, they are just trying to cast her as this elitist who doesn‘t know anything about the --  

CARLSON:  But she‘s not?  She can‘t stand refueling in the Midwest?  She has to have a plane that can make it all the way, but she‘s not an elitist?

HENNEBERGER:  She says that for security reasons, she just wants a non-stop flight. 

CARLSON:  What are the reasons?  Nobody knows.  It‘s insane. 

HENNEBERGER:  But I do take your point that to say that somehow sexist

it‘s the same way Republicans have been tried to ding male Democrats for decades, so I don‘t see the sexism in it personally. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t either.  I mean, it doesn‘t—Of course, Republicans are doing their best, Tom, to hammer—some Republicans, but we‘ll get to that in a minute—but are trying to hammer the hell out of Nancy Pelosi.  Of course, it‘s a political issue.  On the other hand, she seems like she takes it offly seriously.  She had Jack Murtha call the Pentagon and the White House to demand a larger plane. 

Jack Murtha now famously said, of the Pentagon, they are making a mistake when they leak about Nancy Pelosi, because she decides on allocations for them.  So she‘s got the guy who decides the military budget strong-arming the military into giving her a bigger plane.  Republicans didn‘t make that up.  They did that, and that seems wrong to me. 

CURRY:  Well, it‘s maybe her misfortune that she‘s from California and Hastert, you know, Speaker Hastert is from Illinois.  They had planes available that could fly to Illinois.  But maybe it wouldn‘t be a bad idea for her to stop in Omaha, or Sioux City, or Chicago, have a cup of coffee, talk to some local people, and then go on.  I mean, that‘s one proposal, stop for refueling.

CARLSON:  Those planes are more dangerous than commercial flights.  The security stuff is a total lie.  I don‘t think the first lady ought to be running around with her kids on Air Force One.  I think there‘s a total abuse of government planes.  Richard, that‘s my view anyway.  I want to get -- since you cover the White House, yesterday Tony Snow comes out and sides in—I like him, but a pretty unctuous way, I thought, with Speaker Pelosi, saying this is all silly, and the press, you know, everything is the press‘ fault. 

Two hours later, the RNC, the political arm—I mean, you know, the operatives in the same party, come out with a press release attacking Nancy Pelosi?  The White House is saying one thing, the Republican party is saying the other, who is in charge? 

WOLFFE:  You‘re surprised by that?  Let‘s say message coordination isn‘t quite what it used to be.  They showed that in November.  It‘s happening now, and it‘s kind of helpful.  Look, Republicans on Capitol Hill -- if the Democrats were in the same position, they‘d be doing the same thing, taking a shot at the Republican speaker.  The White House—listen, the White House has got a more difficult situation here, because they are the ones that delivered this plane, and they know that they have put limitations on Pelosi that she can only use the plane to go back to her direct. 

Now, you know, they wouldn‘t put up with a plane that couldn‘t make it to its destination.  The White House does not fly to empty its tanks on Air Force One.  So there are security concerns.  You may lampoon it.  She is third in line in the Constitution.  But the White House doesn‘t find it that easy, because they are the ones involved in setting the limits on this. 

CARLSON:  And they figure why fight with her over this, and they‘re probably smart.  Linda, you had, I thought, a really smart piece on “The Huffington Post.”  That‘s not a sentence I utter all that often, but it really was.  It was very smart, and it was about John Edwards not firing the bloggers who attacked the Catholic Church.  In your piece you quote a liberal Catholic, who says this, “the bloggers comments were viciously anti-Catholic.  The fact that many on the left failed to realize that explains why the Republican party, a party that violates Catholic social theory 90 percent of the time, attracts legions of Catholics.” 

Your point, as I understand it, is it‘s actually kind of stupid, politically, for Edwards not to fire these people. 

HENNEBERGER:  I think it‘s really one of those times when the moral thing to do and the political thing to do were the same.  I really feel that if you read the comments, they were viciously anti-Catholic.  The Democratic party has a problem.  Democrats cannot take the White House without convincing the moderate religious voter, who is—of whom there are many in this country, that they are not hostile toward religion and I think this just confirms that feeling among swing voters. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I mean, I think there‘s no question.  So the obviously next question is, why didn‘t he can them? 

HENNEBERGER:  I think the feeling was that the blogosphere is this force in primary season, this king maker, and the blogs—the bloggers really felt that this was a no-brainers, that this was about standing up to the right-wing smear campaign, whereas for Catholic voters, the issue is, is it really OK to make intolerant comments about us, that it wouldn‘t OK to make about any other group, and shouldn‘t be OK? 

I mean, I just want to say something.  When I went to several of the swearing in events for Nancy Pelosi—this sticks because there is something to it.  This party activist, very powerful, I didn‘t know at all, said to me just in chit-chatting at this event, you know, Nancy‘s Catholic, but she‘s great.  Would you hear that, somebody so comfortable—

CARLSON:  Schumer‘s Jewish, but he‘s great.

HENNEBERGER:  Right, is that OK? 

CARLSON:  Or so and so is Muslim, but he‘s great.

HENNEBERGER:  It‘s not, and the fact is that there really is intolerance towards the believer, and that‘s a problem for the Democrats. 

CARLSON:  And that is not a prospective coming from—you‘re not on the far right wing.  I totally agree with you, I have to say. 

Thank you all very much.  We are sadly out of time.  I appreciate it.  With the national deficit in the trillions, President Bush is asking for a 31 percent increase for an anti-drug campaign that one government study suggests actually increases pot smoking among teenagers.  Yesterday I spoke with Republican Congressman Mark Souder of Indiana.  He‘s a supporter of the program.  And I began by asking why the president would want to put 130 million more into advertising that may do exactly the opposite of what it intends to do. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARK SOUDER ®, INDIANA:  Prevention programs are very hard to measure.  This particular study, which I would argue isn‘t a bipartisan study, is several years old, not good tracking methods.  In fact, the ad campaign has been reduced, which reduced some of its effectiveness.  The president is proposing to put it up, still 20 million short of where it was, even if you don‘t allow for time adjusted dollars. 

But here‘s the fact, drug use among youth has dropped, Marijuana use has dropped.  We only have two prevention programs in this country that are directed right at young people, this program and Drug Free Schools.  If it‘s drops and these programs are there, pus law enforcement, it would suggest, in fact, they are working, regardless of what one opinionated study shows. 

CARLSON:  Well, but wait, you are arguing two things simultaneously.  One is that there‘s no way to measure whether it‘s working, and secondly, that the study is opinionated and inaccurate.  The study says that, in fact, these ads, the anti-Marijuana ads, convinced teenagers that everyone was smoking pot, so they went ahead and smoked it.  People who watch the ad, the studies, the GAO study says were more likely to smoke pot.  If there‘s no evidence that the ad is effective, and indeed there is evidence that is counter-productive, why keep going with these ads?  In other words, it seems kind of faith based, a little bit.

SOUDER:  Well normally the pro-Marijuana groups argue that all I am is a drug lawyer, and I want to lock everyone up.  We only have two prevention programs.  Prevention is much harder to measure, I grant that.  But the fact is, I believe in results and conservatives believe in results.  And the results are combined programs, prevention, treatment, interdiction, eradication and law enforcement, have reduced drug use. 

That‘s the result, not some poll.  By the way, a similar study showed in teen pregnancy that supposed pregnancy prevention programs increased teen pregnancy use.  Just because some study comes up to some conclusion, that the liberals doing the study wanted to have, doesn‘t mean that the study is accurate.  Results are results.  Teen pregnancy is dropping and drug use is dropping.

CARLSON:  OK, but Congressman two things, one, I‘m not arguing against drug prevention programs.  I‘m only arguing against a specific series of ads that were not attacked by a liberal group.  It wasn‘t Normal that did this study.  It was the Government Accounting Office, and they spent 14 million dollars and spent five years studying these ads.  Now, if you have some specific reason to believe this study was hijacked by liberals, state it, but I don‘t see any reason to believe that it was.   

SOUDER:  I have a specific reason to believe that the methods used in this study, at the request of people who are challenging this program, have been hijacked, and I believe that, in general, that every single prevention program, whether it be Drug Free Schools—GAO did a study questioning Drug Free Schools.  CADCA (ph), the community action programs, they did a study questioning those. 

The fact is the combination of prevention programs have resulted in a reduction.  I want to see results, not some kind of touchy-feely thing with a few people giving a responses to a particular ad.  They have no evidence.  It‘s old data, not measured well, would never be used by a private business. 

CARLSON:  OK, how about the emphasis on Marijuana?  Marijuana is not, obviously, the most dangerous drug out there.  There‘s Crystal Meth.  But there are also drugs that are genuinely popular with kids, that it‘s not clear anyone in Congress is eve aware of, prescription drugs, drugs you get from your parents, Zanex, Oxycotton, Valium, drugs like that.  Why aren‘t there more government programs aimed at making those drugs unappealing to kids?  Why Marijuana?   

SOUDER:  Marijuana is the primary gateway drug, although tobacco and alcohol, because they‘re all illegal for youth—You could argue that tobacco is a gateway drug to Marijuana.  Smoking Marijuana is then a gateway drug to everything else.  Furthermore, the THC content of BC bud, Quebec Gold, and this Marijuana that‘s currently on the streets isn‘t like the Cheech and Chong Marijuana.  It‘s more like cocaine.  But that aside -- 

CARLSON:  Wait, hold on, I‘m sorry congressman.  How is it more like Coke.  I don‘t understand what you mean by that. 

SOUDER:  In other words, the THC of old ditch weed, and what was happening when I was in college in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s had a THC of four to eight percent, maybe as high as 12.  Now we‘re looking at 20, 30, 40 percent, and the kick and addiction you get, the destruction in your brain cells, is more like Coke or Crack than it is like the old time Marijuana. 

But, that said, I agree with your point.  We should have been focused more on Meth.  We should have been focused more on prescription drugs.  Congress has sent this message over and over.  I don‘t oppose Marijuana being in the national ad campaign, but I think it needs to be broader than Marijuana.

CARLSON:  OK, and how many people died from Marijuana overdoses last year? 

SOUDER:  If you count the amount of crime associated with Marijuana -- 

CARLSON:  No, no, just Marijuana, the drug itself, that you said is like Cocaine now, how many people died from it? 

SOUDER:  I don‘t know -- 65 percent of emergency room admissions for drug abuse are Marijuana. 

CARLSON:  Huh, OK, but did anyone die that you know of? 

SOUDER:  Presumably so, thousands have died.  The only question is, you said overdose.  That isn‘t even most of the deaths related to prescription drug, or to Cocaine or Heroine.  There is a whole range of drug crimes, and so on.  I don‘t know the number of overdose.  Marijuana is often managed with Meth.  No drug user is a single drug user.  So Marijuana is often in the mix of most deaths.  So, it would be very hard to separate what‘s what.  A Marijuana is very seldom just a casual Marijuana user, except in the early stages.  They‘re often going to poly-drug.

CARLSON:  Yes, OK.  I‘m not endorsing drugs, but I know a lot of casual Marijuana users.  So, that‘s wrong, but I appreciate your coming on.  Thanks a lot congressman. 

SOUDER:  Thank you Tucker. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Coming up, she died just a day ago.  Is it too soon to laugh about Anna Nicole Smith.  Yes it is too soon.  But it is not too soon to laugh at the still endless coverage of her death.  Plus, a little love tap from Bush 41.  We hope Barbara wasn‘t watching.  We‘ll have the details when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  It‘s that time of week again, Friday, when we get all the dish on D.C.‘s secrets, the who, the what, the when, the where.  Here with all the answers Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts, the women behind “The Reliable Source,” the “Washington Post‘s” religiously read gossip page.  Ladies, welcome, what have I missed this week? 

ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE WASHINGTON POST:  I didn‘t see you at the party with Terry McCauliffe and Hillary Clinton last night.  Where were you? 

CARLSON:  I was in Florida actually, but I am back.  What did I miss? 

ROBERTS:  Well, you missed about a thousands of his closest friends roaming the halls of the Park Hyatt Hotel, where they got free booze, vintage Cognac, sort of historic teas, tons and tons of food. 

AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  There‘s a point to all of this, right?  He has a book or something to sell?

ROBERTS:  A book, oh yes, a book.  He‘s got a book to sell.  By the way, he promise that if you buy 100 copies, you get to told the bible at the next inaugural, which he swears is going to --  

ARGETSINGER:  Terry McCauliffe, as probably the premier friend of Bill in the nation, he had not one, but two book parties thrown for him.  The first by Bill Clinton in New York City, and this one by Hillary Clinton in New York city.  And basically he‘s making the case that—

ROBERTS:  -- she is swell.  She‘s just a down to Earth kind of guy. 

ARGETSINGER:  And that she‘s going to be the next president.  And here‘s why:  He says that anyone who gets elected president has to pass a certain test. 

ROBERTS:  The beer test. 

ARGETSINGER:  The beer test?  What‘s the beer test? 

ARGETSINGER:  The beer test is would you want to sit down and have a beer with them?  And Terry says Al Gore couldn‘t pass it then.  John Kerry certainly couldn‘t pass it, probably will never, ever, in his entire life be able to pass it.  But Hillary can, and I said, really?  And he said, really, she‘s just like—in private—The private Hillary is just a ball of laughs, and he—of course, he is running her campaign.  He wants to make sure that she can convey that likability factor. 

CARLSON:  Boy, that‘s—I think that‘s going to harder than getting American troops out of Iraq. 

ROBERTS:  Well, it‘s a quest.  He—you know Terry.  He‘s the ultimate optimist.  He turned 50 today, by the way.  It was his birthday as well.

ARGETSINGER:  Did Hillary jump out of the cake? 

ROBERTS:  I wanted her to jump out of the cake.  Wouldn‘t that be cool. 

CARLSON:  I would have a beer with her if she jumped out of a cake.  Well, speaking of presidential politics, I want to put some video up on the screen for our viewers and I want you to tell me what this is.  This, apparently—there‘s   Bush 41 and he appears to be touching the bottom of somebody.  Who is that?  What‘s going on?   

ARGETSINGER:  That would be “Desperate Housewives” star Terry Hatcher and pictures of this encounter have been bedeviling people in our business all week long, and finally our assistant Curn Miller (ph) has gotten to the bottom of this story.

ROBERTS:  The bottom?   

ARGETSINGER:  The bottom of this story.  Yes, apparently Terry Hatcher and George H.W. Bush had lunch this week in Los Angeles, at the Los Angeles Country Club, and were spotted having a friendly little hug and kiss good-bye, afterwards, which had -- 

ROBERTS:  And little pat. 

ARGETSINGER:  And a little pat.  A friendly little pat.  It turns out they are long time good friend.  Terry Hatcher and her daughter Emerson visited the Bushes at Kennebunkport this past Summer. 

CARLSON:  You are making this up. 

(CROSS TALK)

ARGETSINGER:  No, no, no, they‘ve been friends for a while.  In fact, they got to be friends—they got to meet in Vegas a couple of years ago.  They were seated next to each other at some Gala celebration for one of Steve Wynn‘s casinos.  And, you know, what happens in Vegas actually turned into a friendship to extend beyond Vegas. 

ROBERTS:  Did not stay in Vegas. 

ARGETSINGER:  No.

CARLSON:  And now he‘s smacking her on the butt.  I just can‘t believe that that‘s real.  I like him.  I already liked him, but know I really like him.

ARGETSINGER:  Yes, he was out in L.A. to pick up the 2007 Ronald Reagan Freedom Prize.  And while he was there he called up Terry, said, hey, let‘s go get lunch.  It wasn‘t just the two of them thought, it was also a family friend and, you know, the Secret Service guys.  So, just a friendly, jolly lunch between, you know, a former president and one of the “Desperate Housewives.”

CARLSON:  That‘s incredible.  And in the 45 seconds we have left, give me the Barack Obama smoking update. 

ARGETSINGER:  Barack Obama is going to quit smoking, or at least he‘s working on it, according to our friends at the “Chicago Tribune,” who talked to a family friend, who says that he has been trying to quit since the holidays.  And, you know, of course, there is the concern that it doesn‘t look very presidential to be caught with a—

(CROSS TALK)

ARGETSINGER:  But also, you know, there is that old fashioned concern that it might actually also be bad for his health. 

ROBERTS:  The question is, is it good for his campaign?  Will people say, oh, it turns out he‘s a human being.  I went through the same thing.  Maybe they‘ll start sending him tips and things to urge him along.  It could be a good thing. 

CARLSON:  I think it could be a good thing and I think, when he is president, he ought to get a federal subsidy for Nicorette, which really is one of the greatest products ever, and it will help you quit.  I‘m here to tell you from first-hand experience. 

Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, thank you both very much. 

ARGETSINGER:  Thank you.

ROBERTS:  Have a good Valentine‘s Day.

CARLSON:  You too.  You know what, the already surreal Anna Nicole Smith story really needs, a claim from Zsa Zsa Gabor‘s that he is the real father of Anna Nicole‘s five month old baby, and we are not making this up.  Willie Geist makes him claim when we come right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Just when you thought the Anna Nicole Smith story couldn‘t get weirder or more depressing, it has.  Here to explain how, the great Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Oh, I thought you were going to say it‘s more depressing because here is Willie Geist. 

CARLSON:  No, it‘s much less depressing now that you are here. 

GEIST:  Good, I hope so.  Well, you know, unless you have been in solitary confinement for the last 26 hours or so, and we know many of our viewers have been, you know that Anna Nicole Smith died in a Florida hotel yesterday.  A medical examiner said today, it is too early to determine the cause of Smith‘s death.  But police say there is no evidence of a crime and no illegal drugs were found in her room, only prescription drugs. 

Anna Nicole‘s death came in the midst of a bitter paternity battle over her five-month-old daughter.  A California judge ruled this morning that Anna Nicole‘s body is to be preserved until February 20th so that claim can be settled.  And guess what, that‘s not the weirdest thing that happened in the case today. 

This is, you ready?  Zsa Zsa Gabor‘s ninth husband, on the right, self-proclaimed Prince Frederick Von Onhult (ph), came out of the wood work to say he is the father of the baby in question.  Von Onhult claims he and Anna Nicole Smith had a long affair that began in the early 1990‘s.  I wish I was making that up, but I‘m simply not that creative.  I actually saved the wire story.  I‘m going to put it in a time capsule.  It‘s that unbelievable.  It was at 1:27 this afternoon.  Amazing! 

Well, you may have noticed that this program yielded its time yesterday to coverage Anna Nicole‘s death, and we were not alone.  All three major cable news networks reported the initial news of her collapse, but the real feeding frenzy began when word came down that Smith had died.  MSNBC, Fox and CNN all went into the kind of comprehensive coverage usually reserved for death of a United States president. 

Among the highlights?  A segment on CNN‘s “Larry King Live,” where grief stricken former professional wrestler China, who‘s real name is Jonie Laurer (ph), had her motives questioned by Monique Goen (ph), the wife of TrimSpa CEO Alex Goen and a friend of Anna Nicole Smith. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MONIQUE GOEN, WIFE OF TRIMSPA CEO:  I just was in the Bahamas, visiting with Anna, three weeks ago.  Myself, John James, we are close friends of Anna.  When I asked her about Jonie Laurer, her name “China,” if she was friend with her, she said not at all, and it seems to me that “China” keeps putting everything back on her, and trying to put herself in the limelight.  For people to all of a sudden come out of the wood work like they know so much about her is just actually funny to me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  That‘s tasteful.  So they‘re having a debate over who is the closer friend of Anna Nicole, while they‘re discussing her death and remembering her life.  That‘s nice.  China, I don‘t know if you recognize her.  She was a professional wrestler.  I don‘t know if she still is, but she was in a movie called “Illegal Aliens” with Anna Nicole Smith, and apparently they became close on the set, or something like that. 

CARLSON:  Of course they did. 

GEIST:  And tucker, we actually have numbers on host how closely everybody followed this.  The website ThinkProgress.org kept track of the Anna Nicole Smith coverage, and yes, victory was ours.  MSNBC led the way with 170 references to Anna Nicole between 3:00 p.m. and midnight yesterday.  CNN followed with 141, and Fox brought up the rear with a measly 112 references Tucker. 

There was actually a moment today, during the medical examiner‘s press conference, that we had to note.  China not the only one soaking up the spotlight.  Watch this guy, the Broward County Medical Examiner, they couldn‘t yank him off.  Watch him bristle at the police request to wrap up the press conference and then to actually stick around when it was over.  Watch this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Nothing more recent.  Nothing, nothing. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Last question right here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, no. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We are not going to release any other information, thank you, very much. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Where is Howard Stern tonight, sir? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you, very much. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Guy didn‘t want to go, Tucker.  That‘s what Anna Nicole is doing to people. 

CARLSON:  Unbelievable.  You know, my head is spinning here Willie.  I didn‘t think I could be any more nauseated, but thank you.  The great Willie Geist from headquarters, thanks Willie.  That does it for us.  Up next, “HARDBALL.”  Have a great weekend.

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

END   

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