updated 2/16/2007 11:18:31 AM ET 2007-02-16T16:18:31

Guests: Bill Press, Roger Stone, David Dreier

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Welcome to the show, coming to you today from sunny Los Angeles, California.  And speaking of Los Angeles, this state may be soon pivotal in the race for president. 

Rudy Giuliani all but announced he is in the race officially last night, saying unequivocally, “I am running.”  Unfortunately, many conservatives are wondering, is Giuliani actually one of them?  Is he conservative enough to win the Republican primary? 

This much is certain—if he does, he is poised, according to polls out now, to win.  Rudy Giuliani could beat any Democrat in the field.  He is actually the start of this race so far. 

So, will he get in?  Will he win the nomination?  Could he be president?

Joining us now to mull that over, along with the day‘s other top news stories, we are joined by from Washington, D.C., Bill Press, author of “How the Republicans Stole Religion” and nationally syndicated radio show host.

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Hi Tucker.

CARLSON:  And from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, legendary Republican strategist Roger Stone. 

Welcome to you both.

ROGER STONE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Hey, Tucker.  How you doing?

PRESS:  Hi, Tucker.

CARLSON:  I‘m doing great.

So here is—here‘s the quandary for Democrats, it seems to me, Bill Press, facing Rudy Giuliani in this race.  He is not only beating everybody on the Republican side pretty dramatically—just to put it in some perspective for you, he is beating 40-24 John McCain in national polls.  He is even beating John McCain in Alabama, if you can believe it or not, the supposedly liberal Rudy Giuliani.  But he is also beating in theoretical match-ups Democrats. 

If the Republicans field a guy like Giuliani, who is liberal on social issues, how exactly will Democrats run against him, Bill?

PRESS:  Well, first of all, I think the Republicans would be smart to nominate him, Tucker.  As a Democrat looking at that field, I think Rudy Giuliani is definitely the strongest. 

I think it‘s very significant—you and I have been following John McCain for a long time—that McCain, who was perceived the frontrunner for a long time, is suddenly sinking fast.  You know?

I think that the Democrats would have a tougher time against Rudy Giuliani than against any of the others, because on several of the key issues that Democrats run on, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control, Rudy Giuliani agrees with them.  So they‘re going to have to say, I guess, that his leadership on security is not enough to lead the country, that they can do a better job leading the country. 

I have to admit, for a Democrat, that‘s a tough sale. 

CARLSON:  It is a tough sell. 

Let me suggest, Roger Stone, what the Democrats will do.  I believe this could be one of the great stumbling blocks for Rudy Giuliani.

I want to play a tape here of Giuliani speaking at the 2004 Republican convention in New York City.  In his speech he was talking about being at Ground Zero on 9/11.  He said this is the first thing he thought when that tragedy occurred.  Watch this—Rudy Giuliani. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Bernie, thank God George Bush is our president. 

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  “Thank God George Bush is our president.”  He went on to say, “Thank God that Dick Cheney is our vice president.”

Roger Stone, it‘s not going to be too hard to transform that into a political ad, is it? 

STONE:  Politics, Tucker, is about the future, not the past.  I think Giuliani is benefiting from the fact that he is not part of the mess in Washington.

He‘s not part of the Congress.  He hasn‘t served in the United States Senate.  He has not been part of what I think people perceive is a total gridlock coming out of the national capital.

Secondarily, I think he benefits from a certain Reaganesque quality.  When Reagan became president, people said, well, the United States—the problems are too difficult and tractable.  Nobody can really run the country anymore.  Carter proved that.  And Reagan proved them wrong. 

Very much the same thing with Rudy.  People said New York City, ungovernable.  You‘ll never get crime down, you‘ll never make it cleaner, you‘ll never make it safer, you‘ll never improve the schools.  Rudy did those things. 

It‘s that—that can-do leadership attitude that I think explains this big bump in the polls.  People like what they see in Rudy.

CARLSON:  And yet—I agree with that.  And yet, it‘s not 1980, and our cities are governable.  And most Americans aren‘t worried about crime in the way they were 25 years go.

The issue now is Iraq, and Rudy Giuliani has been pretty stalwart in his support of the president‘s Iraq policy.  That doesn‘t hurt him at all?

STONE:  People I think are looking for both resolute toughness, which Giuliani has demonstrated in 9/11 and in cleaning up New York City.  But they are also look for flexibility. 

I think there‘s—it‘s important that people look at the nuance in a number of Giuliani‘s positions.  You see he is for gay rights.  Well, he is for civil unions, but he‘s not for gay marriage.

He‘s for—he‘s pro-choice, yes, but he says he‘ll appoint strict constructionists like Scalia to the court.  These are nuanced positions that are meant to appeal to a more centrist voter.  And if the Republican Party nominates Giuliani, he‘ll be an extraordinarily strong candidate.

CARLSON:  Bill Press...

PRESS:  Let me—let me pick up on that, Tucker, because I really think you‘re on to something with Iraq.

I mean, Iraq—and all these other issues aside—I mean, Iraq is going to be, I believe, the number one issue in 2008.  Rudy Giuliani, I think, is taking a big, big chance in putting himself full square behind the war.  I have not heard any nuance in his support of the war in Iraq, and if we go into January, February, even into the summer of 2008, there are still 140,000 Americans in Iraq, there‘s still violence there every day, Rudy Giuliani goes down with the war in Iraq. 

CARLSON:  Well, wait a second...

STONE:  It actually depends on who the Democratic nominee is.

CARLSON:  Well, wait.  Let me just—let me just interject some facts into that.

Last night on “Larry King Live,” he went on at some length about mistakes he believes have been made in the war, disbanding the Iraqi army, de-Ba‘athification, not going in with enough troops.  He did go on to say, though, that he was glad that Saddam was removed. 

A long way of saying he has on this day essentially the same position on Iraq that Hillary Clinton has.

PRESS:  No, no, no.  I don‘t think—Tucker, he is not for bringing the troops home.  He is not for capping the number of troops.  He is for the surge. 

I‘ve heard him say he‘s for the surge.  I mean, he is George Bush on the war as of now.  That could change and the war could change, but as of now I think that is his one big vulnerability. 

CARLSON:  Roger, how far from Bush—is it important for him to hue to the Bush line or Iraq?  Does he need to do that in order to convince conservatives he‘s one of them?  Or can he take a more Chuck Hagel point of view on the war?

STONE:  I think he can probably—he probably has to be supportive of the position of the president during the period of nomination, but I think he‘s got great flexibility after that.  People want a flexible problem solver who will point out mistakes and will change strategies that aren‘t working.  Rudy has no connection to this war other than the fact that he supported it at the same time that Hillary did.

Now, the other part of the question which I think Bill can address is, who is the Democratic nominee?  Hillary Clinton can‘t get free of this war by being an articulate critic of it today, and therefore, there are shades of gray here in terms of who has been for the war. 

If Rudy runs against someone like John Edwards, who now renounces the war, or Obama, who is not complicit in approving the war...

CARLSON:  Right.

STONE:  ... or Nobel Prize nominee and soon to be Academy Award winner Al Gore, who was always against this war, they‘ve got—it‘s a different race.  It‘s a very different race. 

CARLSON:  Well, here‘s what—Bill, I think that too often we analyze these races in terms of policy, when, in fact, most voters don‘t in a presidential race vote on policies.  They vote on overall perceptions, on visceral reactions to the candidates.

PRESS:  And personality.

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.

PRESS:  Right.

CARLSON:  If you look at Rudy Giuliani, you look at Hillary Clinton, and you ask yourself, which one of these two candidates is going to do a better job protecting our country?  And I think unless you‘re Mrs.  Clinton‘s brother-in-law, you‘re going to answer Rudy Giuliani.  And that‘s a big advantage, isn‘t it? 

PRESS:  I think that‘s a risk for Hillary.  It is.

Let me just say, Tucker, as a pundit, as a commentator, you know, I pray every night for the—for the match that we thought we were going to get back in 2000 and did not between Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

CARLSON:  Right.

PRESS:  I think it would be a hell of a contest, but again, don‘t underestimate Hillary Rodham Clinton.  She is tough, she‘ll have all the money in the world.  And I think she could beat Rudy Giuliani, but that‘s the best possibly contest I think we‘ve got.

CARLSON:  But if she does face off against him, it‘s going to moderate

it‘s going to force her to moderate her anti-war rhetoric, it seems to me.  She cannot afford to be seen as the peace candidate if she‘s running against Giuliani.  Don‘t you think?

PRESS:  I agree with you.  And I think she is moderating her position on Iraq—I know we‘re going to talk about this later in the show—every day.  I mean, I don‘t think it‘s—you know, she‘s going to apologize for that vote before the week is out, probably. 

CARLSON:  I hope she grovels.

Roger, Giuliani is, on the social issues, however you spin it—his positions have become for nuanced, as you said, but he is still far to the left of a lot of Republican primary voters. 

STONE:  Progressive—progressive, we call it.

CARLSON:  Yes, progressive.  OK.  He‘s more like Jane Fonda than Ronald Reagan.

But would his nomination, do you think, force a third party run by a -

by a social conservatives?  Would social conservatives say nobody represents us, we‘re going to field one of them? 

STONE:  I don‘t think so for a couple of reasons.  First of all, we are facing an international war on terrorism, and I think to a certain extent folks like Pat Robertson and others have already given Giuliani wide berth on some of these social issues. 

Secondarily, the mechanism and the cost of mounting a third-party effort through a series—a maze of 50 state laws that are designed to support the major parties is extremely difficult without the enormous financial resources of a Trump or a Perot or someone like that. 

CARLSON:  Right.  That‘s a good point.

STONE:  So I think it is—I think it‘s highly unlikely, and I also think that the Republicans losing the Congress and giving them a little taste of defeat has increased the hunger in our party to perhaps nominate somebody who we don‘t agree with 100 percent.  Look, the left wing of the Democratic Party swallowed Bill Clinton despite his romps with Miss Arkansas, despite the allegation...

CARLSON:  Right.

STONE:  ... of sexual misconduct twice.  He was more moderate than the party, but they wanted a winner and Clinton was a winner.

CARLSON:  That‘s right.  And despite his politics.  I think that‘s a totally smart point.

Thank you to both.

STONE:  Clinton was a winner.

CARLSON:  We‘ll be right back in just a moment.

Coming up, how much support will Rudy Giuliani get from his own party, from conservative Republicans?  We will talk to one who has endorsed him, Congressman David Dreier, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  California is already the most significant state by many measures, and it‘s about to get a lot more important, potentially.  The state is considering moving up its presidential primary to February, which would make it a make-or-break deal for Democrats and Republicans running for president.  If that happens, candidates like Rudy Giuliani will need the help of people like my next guest, Congressman David Dreier of Los Angeles.

He joins me now—Congressman.

REP. DAVID DREIER ®, CALIFORNIA:  Hey.  Well, welcome to my stomping grounds.  Do you want to go water my plants while you‘re out there?

CARLSON:  That‘s my next stop.

DREIER:  Let me just say, Tucker, I‘ve been listening to this high-minded discussion between Stone and Press and, you know, to me, this really comes down to one simple and basic thing, and I can really put it in what I would call a congressional bumper sticker—it‘s a little longer.  Rudy Giuliani, the man who got rid of those squeegee guys at 51st and Lexington.

CARLSON:  That‘s—that is—that‘s a godsend if you live at 51st and Lexington.  But if you live in the rest of the country—wait, hold on.

DREIER:  But Tucker...

CARLSON:  Yes?

DREIER:  ... if he could do that, we know he can win the war on terror.  And that clearly is a great demonstration of his success.  My attempt here actually is to fill in for Willie Geist if you ever have a vacancy at the end of the show. 

CARLSON:  I‘m afraid he‘s got a union contract.

DREIER:  Yes.  Yes.

CARLSON:  You are, I think, much for conservative than Rudy Giuliani.  The effort is now under way to say it sort of say it doesn‘t matter where he stands on social issue, but don‘t you think the Republican Party, for good or ill, will be changed permanently if it nominates a guy who doesn‘t stand for the beliefs it purports to stand for?

DREIER:  Well, Tucker, I hope very much the nation will be changed and

the world will be changed permanently when Rudy Giuliani becomes president

of the United States.  And the reason is that when you look at these issues

as our friend Dennis Miller had said, if we‘re all dead, none of this other stuff really matters. 

And I have—I‘m proud to be a Libertarian conservative, and I have a 100 percent pro-life voting record.

CARLSON:  Right?

DREIER:  But I consider myself libertarian on the issue of abortion. 

I want the federal government to stay out of it.  And Rudy Giuliani is personally pro-life.  He‘s made that very clear.  But he doesn‘t want to undermine a woman‘s right to choose.  And he said that he would point strict constructionists to the bench and...

CARLSON:  Well, wait a second.  That‘s a little to facile, Congressman.  He has supported for his entire career public funding of abortion.  So if he‘s so against it, why does he want taxpayers to pay for it?

DREIER:  He said that he—no, he said that he‘s opposed to taxpayer-funding of abortion.  And...

CARLSON:  OK.  So he‘s changed his view on that.

DREIER:  Well, I don‘t know that he‘s changed his view on it.  But, I mean, I do know that he has opposed taxpayer funding.  And when it comes to the issue of appointing people to the bench, you know, I look at—I mean, you know, obviously your dad worked for Ronald Reagan, and I will tell you that I‘m one who came here with Ronald Reagan, and Ronald Reagan made a couple of appointments to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O‘Connor, and our fellow Californian, Tony Kennedy.

And you look at where they‘ve stood on the Roe issue.  I know a lot of pro—strongly pro-choice individuals who believe that it‘s absolutely essential for us to recognize that Roe v. Wade was not the best decision and should at least be modified.  So I think that Rudy...

CARLSON:   But that‘s not Giuliani‘s position.  As he stated last night live on television, he said he supports Roe versus Wade, but he would also—and these issues matter, by the way, I think.

DREIER:  Sure.  Of course.

CARLSON:  No matter where you stand on abortion.

DREIER:  Absolutely.

CARLSON:  He supports Roe v. Wade, but he would appoint judges who would overturn it. Now, I‘m not saying he needs to be a pro-lifer.

DREIER:  No, he didn‘t—Tucker—Tucker—Tucker, that‘s not what he said.

CARLSON:  I‘m saying he needs to...

(CROSSTALK)

DREIER:  I watched Larry King last night.

CARLSON:  Oh, OK.

DREIER:  That is not what he said.

CARLSON:  What did he say exactly?  He said he liked Scalia and...

DREIER:  Yes.  What he said is he recognized that obviously Roe v.  Wade is the law of the land right now and he would not—he would clearly not have a litmus test for the appointment.  And again, what you saw is, you saw Ronald Reagan‘s appointees, both O‘Connor and Kennedy, basically support upholding it.

I think the court decision on Casey, for example, the Pennsylvania decision with a 24-hour cooling off period and parental consent...

CARLSON:  Right?

DREIER:  ... that‘s something that we recognize.  And, you know, the number of abortions, Tucker, reduced dramatically when Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York.  Why?  Because he was promoting—he was promoting foster care and adoption very vigorously. 

And sort of like—I remember when Steve Forbes was running for president.  One of the goals that he had was to say that we needed to change the mindset.  I have a strong pro-life voting record, but I oppose this notion of amending the U.S. Constitution to outlaw abortion, which a lot of Republicans support.

CARLSON:  All right.  Well, we‘ll see if Rudy Giuliani—what he does to change the mindset.

Thank you very much, Congressman.  I appreciate it.

DREIER:  You bet.  Thanks.

CARLSON:  Coming up, Hillary Clinton says stop, no attacking Iraq, to President Bush.  Does she mean it?  Does she perceive a threat from Iran?

Plus, Al Franken announces for Senate in Minnesota.  Don‘t think he can do it?  Remember Jesse “The Body” Ventura?  Think again.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Congressman Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania was once considered one of the most conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives.  And then came the war in Iraq.  Today, Congressman Murtha announced a new alliance with moveon.org, a left-wing Web site to fight the war in Iraq. 

Is there room left for moderates in the Democratic Party? 

Joining us again to talk about it, Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio show host, and Republican strategist Roger Stone.

Welcome to you both.

PRESS:  Hi, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Bill, it seems to me that the Democratic Party runs a pretty significant risk in aligning itself with fringe groups like moveon.org.  This kind of harnessing the people‘s will, anti-war populism was tried in ‘68 with Eugene McCarthy, in ‘72 with George McGovern, and it really set the Democratic Party back a long way.  It took Bill Clinton to change the party. 

Are you worried about that?

PRESS:  Tucker—Tucker, come on.  Moveon.org is the most effective grassroots organization on the right or the left in this country today.

CARLSON:  Yes, it is.  Yes, that‘s right.  It‘s also a fringe group.

PRESS:  And they‘re—no, they‘re not a fringe group.  They represent the mainstream of the American people today on the issue of the Iraq war. 

Moveon.org, their present program is against the escalation of troops

sending more troops to Iraq.  The last poll that I saw, Tucker, 66 percent of the American people support that position.  So what is so left-wing fringe about that?  I think the people want change, and moveon.org is representing them. 

Jack Murtha is aligning with them.  God bless America.

CARLSON:  I think—look, Roger, the point is not, are you for or against the war?  I think everyone sees the war in Iraq as a tragedy.  The question is, what do you do next? 

Joe Biden gave a speech I believe yesterday in which I think precisely three people paid attention to, and two of them were related to him, in which he said, I think correctly, the president‘s idea of escalation is unpopular.  The idea of pulling out and hoping everything goes well is irresponsible.  There is a middle way. 

It‘s a long way of saying Joe Biden is a responsible guy trying to take a serious look at what happens in Iraq, and he‘s being ignored in favor of if the “get out and ignore it” crowd. 

I think this is a problem for the Democratic Party long term.

STONE:  Actually, I think a greater problem is the nomination of a

presidential candidate who isn‘t sufficiently left on the war so he doesn‘t

he doesn‘t energize the great base of the Democratic Party. 

Look, liberals control the Democratic Party.  There‘s very little room for a moderate in the Democratic Party.  There‘s even less room for somebody who says it‘s not just as complicated as pulling out. 

Frankly, I think the people are starting to figure out that these meaningless, non-binding resolutions from the Senate Democrats don‘t really change anything, is not what the people voted for in this last election.  The Democratic Party could potentially split between its left wing and its smaller centrist wing over the war, driving certain Democrats to the Republican nominee.  But the real danger is not being sufficiently left on the war. 

PRESS:  Now Roger, I‘ve got to say, that‘s just nonsense.  I mean, look at the—look at the last midterm elections.  The Democrats won the House and Senate, and they won it with a lot of Democrats who are very moderate...

CARLSON:  Yes.

PRESS:  ... very much in the middle.  Look at Heath Shuler down in Asheville, North Carolina, and others like him.  Democrats are—the American people want the end—to end this war, and all moveon.org is saying is, no more troops.  That is not a radical position. 

CARLSON:  But here‘s the difference, OK?  It‘s one thing to have—and there are many—I mean, the Democrats have a socialist who votes with them in the Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.  It‘s one thing to be left wing on domestic policy or foreign policy in the Congress.  But a president has to represent America‘s interests abroad, and no matter what happens in Iraq, that region will still have the most important oil reserves in the world. 

You‘re still going to have lunatics with nuclear weapons or in the process of acquiring them in that region.  And you can‘t just ignore it and hope everything works out OK.  And that literally is the stated position of the leading Democratic candidates. 

You don‘t think that‘s going to be problematic if one of them is elected president? 

PRESS:  Well, first of all, who are you talking about as the leading Democratic candidate? 

CARLSON:  I‘m talking about the three: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. 

PRESS:  Well, first of all, I‘ve got to say one thing.  I like Joe Biden‘s plan.  I mentioned it the last time we were on this—this show together.  I think it‘s the way Iraq is going to go.

CARLSON:  Yes.

PRESS:  But, you know, Barack Obama...

CARLSON:  But moveon.org thinks it‘s ridiculous.  They are not paying any attention to Joe Biden.  He‘s a stodgy, old conservative, from their point of view.

PRESS:  Well, I think most of the American people don‘t support Joe Biden‘s plan.

I think Barack Obama‘s plan is also a good plan.  My point, the Democrats have several plans, Tucker, but what moveon.org is saying and what Murtha is saying now is send no more troops.  Establish that, and then you go from there.

CARLSON:  Do you—do you think—do you think at all, Roger, that the Republican, whoever the Republican nominee is, can continue to support, say, the president‘s position now in Iraq or even adding more troops?  I mean, can—can that nominee carry that position all the way to the general election? 

STONE:  No.  I think it‘s going to be very difficult for the reason Bill just said.  In other words, the war was still the determinant issue in these last congressional elections.

You can run a bunch of moderate sheriffs Congress, and that‘s fine, but the truth is, the war was the dominant issue.  And the people expressed their opposition and their tiredness with the war in the election of Democrats to both houses. 

Secondarily, you are going to have a situation where the people made up their mind.  If this continues to be the defining issue in the presidential election, then—then I think the people‘s patience for this war is over.  You‘re going to have to have more nuance by the Republican candidate.

That‘s why should Chuck Hagel mount an anti-war candidacy within the Republican Party, there‘s a plurality of votes there in a multi-candidate field with five conservatives.  There is an anti-war fever in this country, Tucker.  Don‘t make any mistake about it. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that.

All right.

We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)  

(MARKET REPORT)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  We have all learned lessons from the conflict in Iraq, and we have to apply those lessons to any allegations that are being raised about Iran.  Because, Mr. President, what we are hearing has too familiar a ring.  We must be on guard that we never again make decisions on the basis of intelligence that turns out to be faulty. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  You knew who that was and you could tell from the sound of her voice that she is concerned, as many Democrats are concerned, that President Bush and the Bush administration are planning a war on Iran, and Congress plans to stop it.  But what if there really is a threat from Iran? 

Joining us now, Bill Press, author of “How Republicans Stole Religion” and nationally syndicated radio show host, and the legendary Republican political consultant Roger Stone.  Welcome to you both.

Bill Press, I‘m a little bit confused about Hillary Clinton‘s position on Iran.  You heard here there expressing skepticism.  Maybe what we‘re hearing from the Bush administration isn‘t true, she says.  And yet, in the very same speech, she said this, Iran poses a threat to the United States.  We cannot, we should not, we must not allow Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons. 

OK, so what exactly is Mrs. Clinton going to do, as president, to prevent Iran from building or acquiring nuclear weapons?  I‘m not really sure.

PRESS:  Well I‘ve heard Chris Dodd make the same statement.  I don‘t see it as a contradiction Tucker.  I think the real question is what is President Bush going to do?  What is he up to?  Yesterday, in his news conference, he said about Iran, I am going to do something about it.  What does that mean? 

You know, if the past is any prologue, that means he‘s going to send air strikes in against Iran.  I think, you know, Jay Rockefeller is the one who said this first.  Hillary Clinton said it yesterday.  If the president thinks that his authorization to use force against Iraq is a blank check to use military force against Iran, he is wrong.  If he has got the evidence, come to the Congress, make the case.  He‘s going to have to do that before any military action against Iran.   

CARLSON:  Well, I mean, Roger, I think the Iranians could be invading Salt Lake City and the Congress would not give the president permission to do anything about it.  I mean, that‘s how anti-war the sentiments are at this pint.  What Bush, I mean, what does he have to lose, exactly, by attacking Iran.  I mean, he couldn‘t get less popular.  It‘s not like he‘s worried about his poll numbers.

STONE: Politically, not a thing.  The president is reading Truman biographies right now and if he deems that an attack on Iran is in the best interest to protect the interests of the United States, my guess is that he has got the courage to do that.  If the Congress wants to spark a constitutional crisis over that, they can certainly do so.  Hillary, having gotten Iraq wrong, is now trying not to get Iran wrong.  I think there‘s a lot of posturing in all of that.

The truth of the matter here is the president is the commander in chief, and he does have certain powers.  And if he has to move quickly, without a declaration of war on Iran, I think he will do so. 

CARLSON:  The problem is even I don‘t trust the Bush administration on foreign policy, like any normal American.  No, I completely agree, and they screwed up Iraq.  And they will pay for it through history, there‘s no doubt about it.  On the other hand, what if Iran is close to finishing a nuclear weapon?  What if they really are fighting a proxy war against us in Iraq?  Those things could be true and it doesn‘t seem to me that Democrats are leaving open the possibility that they are true. 

PRESS:  No, Tucker, listen, I will grant you the point.  It could be true.  It could be true that Iran is sending these weapons in, the Iranian government is sending them in to kill Americans.  The problem is George Bush has zero credibility on this issue.  So Congress has to make sure that this time any evidence is the correct evidence. 

But let me suggest something Tucker, this week six powers signed an agreement with North Korea.  A year ago George Bush was saying we‘ll never deal with that country.  They have nuclear weapons.  They are dangerous.  They were talking about military options in North Korea a year ago.  Today, North Korea has agreed to freeze its nuclear weapons productions program, to start talks about getting rid of the nukes they have, and the United States has said we‘ll help them. 

Why not follow the Baker Study Commission Report and start some talks with Iran right now? 

CARLSON:  Wait, so you‘re—

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  -- as a triumph of Bush‘s foreign policy.  For the record, Bill Press has endorsed the Bush position on North Korea.

PRESS:  In one case—in two cases, if you look at what they did in Libya.  Diplomacy brought Libya around.  Diplomacy brought North Korea around.  Stop beating the war drums against Iran, and follow Jim Baker‘s recommendation and start direct talks and straighten it up. 

CARLSON:  Roger?

STONE:  With all due respect, the North Koreans have violated every single agreement with us and other nations about their nuclear ambitions and what they have and what they have under development.  Why do we believe that the agreement that they have just entered into with the six nations is any different than all the other agreements that they have broken, bringing us to where we are today in North Korea? 

PRESS:  Because there will be inspectors and verification.  They have agreed to that. 

CARLSON:  I wonder, Bill, what you make of—

STONE:  They‘ve agreed to inspectors before and then thrown them out of the country. 

CARLSON:  They certainly have, and, in fact, they blew off the Soviet Union, their main patron.  That shows how totally unwilling they are to abide by these things.  But I wonder, Bill, what you think of the debate going on in Congress right now over refugees from Iraq.  The Democrats have made the point repeatedly that we have a moral obligation to take in Iraqi refugees.  The president, to some extent, agrees.  He says we‘ll take in, as a first number, 7,000.  That will, without question, to 70,000, et cetera, et cetera.

But I wonder if you will answer the question that no one else seems willing to answer, do you think say 100,000 Iraqi refugees in America would be good for America? 

PRESS:  I think immigrants have proven from all countries that they are good for America. 

CARLSON:  So it doesn‘t matter the country? 

PRESS:  I do think that we have a moral obligation.  We started this mess.  We destroyed their country.  We made it unlivable for a lot of them, and other people have had to pick up part of the burden.  I think the United States, even as 10,000 miles away, has to pick up part of the burden and make room for them. 

CARLSON:  Answer this question for me, why is it considered nativist, xenophobic, maybe even mildly racist, to ask the most obvious question, which should be the first question: is it good for us.  Why is it considered just so vulgar by Democrats to even ask that question?

PRESS:  Tucker, we have asked that question over the years of every group.  It was asked about the Irish.

CARLSON:  No, I‘m not talking about the Irish. 

PRESS:  It‘s been asked about Iraqis before.  I think the people who come here, who share the American dream and want to make something of their life, yes it‘s good for America.  They will make this a better country. 

CARLSON:  You sound like Bush.  I wonder, Roger, I mean, Bush told us from the beginning that the Iraqis share the American dream.  What they really wanted was a constitution and an opportunity to vote.  I mean, that‘s really what they deeply, wanted.

And it turns out that‘s not what they wanted at all, because they don‘t share the American dream.  They want a safe place to live and enough to eat.  They‘re sort of like everyone else in the world.  They don‘t care about Democracy.  Do you know what I mean.  It turns out that was all totally wrong, the American dream stuff.  It was nonsense.

STONE:  Tucker, I think all people aspire to freedom and I agree with Bill on this.  How many Vietnamese do we have living in this country after we torched their country?  We have an obligation to open our doors.  People come to here to work and for a better life.  It doesn‘t matter to me whether they are Iranians, or Irish, or Polish, or German, or Catholic, or Jews, or Vietnamese.  That‘s America.  That‘s what America is about.

CARLSON:  I think it would be interesting—I don‘t think that all cultures are similarly compatible.  And I know you‘re not allowed to say.  It‘s considered mean, whatever.  But that‘s actually the truth.  And anybody who doesn‘t think that hasn‘t spent a lot of time outside our country.  Take a look at Europe, it seems to me.

Now what do you think, Bill Press, I wonder, of the piece that ran in the “New York Times” the other day that said the Army has dramatically increased the number, by 65 percent over the last three years, of former convicts, people with criminal records in its ranks.  It‘s basically now taking people it would not have taken five years ago.  Is this good or bad? 

PRESS:  You know what Tucker?  I have to say I never served in the military, so maybe I‘m not the best one to speak.  But I think it‘s sad.  I think it shows how bankrupt the Iraqi policy is, that they are so desperate now to get people in the military, they‘re willing to lower the standards.  I think this reflects badly on the great men and women who are there right now.  If really they want to expand the numbers of people in the military, really need more people, I agree with Charlie Rangel.  Bring back the draft and have a shared sacrifice in this country, but don‘t lower the standards. 

CARLSON:  I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who is retired from the Marine Corps, who said that in the current Marine Corps, recruits are allowed to take medicine for psychiatric disorders, that it is forbidden for a drill instructor to prohibit a recruit from getting desert, even if that recruit is overweight.  By a lot of measures, the standards have dropped pretty dramatically.  Why is that under a president who says he cares so much about the military?  How did that happen? 

STONE:  Because a volunteer Army, one of the great accomplishments of President Richard Nixon, is not working.  You are not getting a true reflection of American society in our military ranks, and because I agree,  one of these very rare occasions, with Charlie Rangel.  It is time to bring back the draft, and have a more equitable system. 

CARLSON:  Bill Press, in the minute we‘ve got left, I want your take on the entrance into the race, for senator in Minnesota, of Al Franken.  Is this for real?

PRESS:  It‘s real.  Hey Tucker, this is Paul Wellstone‘s seat.  Democrats in Minnesota really want it back.  Al Franken is immensely popular.  I think he will be a great candidate.  And Norm Coleman is already against the president‘s surge in Iraq.  I think that shows that Norm Coleman is afraid of Al Franken. 

CARLSON:  What do you think Roger?  If you got a call from Al Franken, saying, run my campaign, would you? 

STONE:  Al Franken, a stand up comedian, for the U.S. Senate.  Tucker, I hear Pee Wee Herman is looking at the race and he may jump in. 

CARLSON:  So you don‘t take it seriously? 

STONE:  Look, you can go from being an actor to being president of the United States, but I really wonder if you can go from being a stand up comedian to the U.S. Senate. 

PRESS:  I hope you can go from being a talk show host to being president, because, you know, I have got some plans next time around. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that.

STONE:  Bill, you have my number. 

CARLSON:  Roger Stone, Bill Press, thank you both. 

PRESS:  Thanks guys.

CARLSON:  Well, as we just said a moment ago, Al Franken is not the first comedian to have a political talk show, but he is the first veteran of Saturday Night Live to run for the U.S. Senate.  Can he get elected in his native, but long ago abandoned, Minnesota?  The great Joel Stein of the “L.A. Times” offers his view next.

Plus, former NBA All Star Tim Hardaway shared his thoughts about gay people in a radio interview yesterday.  If Isaiah Washington went to rehab for homophobia, Hardaway is going to have a rehab clinic named after him anytime now.  MSNBC foot in mouth correspondent Willie Geist has that story.  Stay tuned. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  There are 50 states in this union, but only one of them has the world‘s eighth largest economy, an Austrian body builder turned governor and a precarious situation in which an earthquake could occur an minutes.  And there is only one man in this state with his finger on its pulse, and that is Joel Stein, columnist for the “L.A.  Times.”

So we talk to you every time we‘re here. 

JOEL STEIN, “L.A. TIMES”:  Yes, seismology looks pretty OK.  I think we‘re going to be safe for the next 15 minutes.

CARLSON:  It‘s like the weather report every morning in Southern California.  What do you think Al Franken—I assume you know Al Franken.  Yes, he‘s one of those guys everyone knows a little bit.  Should he be allowed to run for Senate? 

STEIN:  Definitely.  Yes, this gives hope for me. 

CARLSON:  You‘re all for humorists in elected office? 

STEIN:  Oh yes.  Kevin Nealon right now is working on some congressional play.   

CARLSON:  That‘s my question.  What—obviously Dave Chappelle is kind of out of the running.  Right, Joan Rivers, a little too old. 

STEIN:  Tim Kazerinski (ph), I think, has a shot at like city council or something. 

CARLSON:  He does.  As a campaign book, a campaign book ought to be, you know, “The Audacity of Hope.” 

STEIN:  That‘s nice.

CARLSON:  “My Plan For Tomorrow,” “America‘s Great Bright Future.”  “Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot” strikes me as kind of a deal killer for some people. 

STEIN:  Yes, but you know what, already in his announcement today, he started to sound like a politician.  He talked about his grandpa, and his wife‘s grandparents.  I wanted to stay on the big fat idiot kind of line. 

CARLSON:  Why do they always do that.  I read his announcement to.  And I like Al Franken fine, but he went on about how his wife‘s father died when she was young and the family was poor.  I mean, it sounded tough—

STEIN:  It‘s like watching the Olympics. 

CARLSON:  Exactly right.

STEIN:  I understand from his point of view, he needs to be taken seriously, because everyone else, like us, is going to sit around and say a comedian shouldn‘t be senator.  But I think he went a little overboard.  I want him to be stay Al Franken.  I want him to be senator because he is Al Franken, not because he‘s another politician. 

CARLSON:  But because someone‘s in-laws were poor at one point, does that make the person a more effective representative?  

STEIN:  No, I think he was trying to make a point that he is a progressive, and the government helped his—I don‘t know.  I read the whole thing. I got a little bored in the middle.  There were no jokes. 

CARLSON:  Is that a problem.

STEIN:  Huge problem.

CARLSON:  Yes, it‘s a huge problem.  I mean, if you‘re Al Franken and people are used to yucking it up and you come out and start talking about the minimum wage, that‘s bad, right?

STEIN:  Well, it‘s fine as long as you throw some jokes in.  I can‘t go to an Al Franken campaign and have him be less funny than like Hillary Clinton.  That‘s going to be rough.  It‘s not possible.  He‘ll be funny. 

CARLSON:  You really thing so?

CARLSON:  Yes, this whole race is going to be great.  It‘s great for New York Jews, Coleman and Franken, it will be awesome. 

CARLSON:  That‘s actually a good point, Coleman is from New York too. 

STEIN:  Yes, we‘re taking over that state. 

CARLSON:  That is fantastic.  Either of them would do a better job than Jesse “The Body” Ventura.  Previously famous people should not be elected to anything. 

STEIN:  Well here‘s the thing, of all the previously famous people, he is the smartest, right?  Like compared to just pure intellect, compared to Schwarzenegger, or even Sonny Bono.  You know, he went to Harvard.  He did well there. 

CARLSON:  I guess that‘s probably a pretty good point. 

STEIN:  I think he‘s smart enough to be senator.  I don‘t think that‘s a problem.

CARLSON:  Yes, I think intelligence is overrated.  It‘s always the smart people who cause you the worst problems. 

STEIN:  That‘s true.

CARLSON:  Now California, speaking of smart people, all of the people in the state legislature here have decided California doesn‘t get enough attention.  It‘s not prominent enough.  People don‘t know enough about it.  So we want to move up our primary? 

STEIN:  We are attention needy in California.  If people aren‘t paying attention to us for like ten minutes, we think of something, like earlier primaries.  I wan to vote more here.  Have you ever noticed in L.A. we vote every three months.  I don‘t even know what we‘re voting for, propositions, now we‘re taking people out of office, and we‘re getting new mayors.  They can‘t just schedule it once a year like everyone else.

CARLSON:  Has it shaken your faith in democracy?

STEIN:  It‘s annoyed me. 

CARLSON:  Do you ever ride the bus here? 

STEIN:  I‘ve never ridden the bus here.   

CARLSON:  Just because I was getting to, you know, have you met the voters. 

STEIN:  Oh, no.  People on the bus aren‘t legally allowed to vote.

CARLSON:  That‘s probably right.  Do you think California—if California has an early primary, California is essentially going to choose the candidate.  Is it sober enough to do that as a state?  Is that a responsible thing to do? 

STEIN:  What do we have now, New Hampshire and Iowa?  Yes, I think we‘ll do an OK job.  We have people who are not white here, so I think it will be maybe more fair. 

CARLSON:  You think so?

STEIN:  Yes.

CARLSON:  But do you think—Is the average—and I say this as a native Californian.  But is the average Californian going to take the time to learn anything about the candidates?

STEIN:  I see, whereas in New Hampshire or Iowa, you have nothing else to do, so they are going to come and meet everybody, and you‘re going to feel special.  No, but we‘ll be more realistic as voters.  I think that whole New Hampshire thing is just so fake.  Because you can go around and meet everybody.  This will be a more realistic view of the election.  People just don‘t care.

CARLSON:  And we‘ll also know the astrological sign of every candidate.  Don‘t you think?

STEIN:  That‘s true.  Yes, they‘ll have to dress a little better. 

This will be great.

CARLSON:  Joel Stein of the “L.A. Times, I would never come to Los Angeles without seeing you. 

STEIN:  Wow, I think my mom comes here without seeing, so that‘s nice of you.

CARLSON:  Thank you Joel.  Well it worked for Ray Charles and Johnny Cash, why not Milli Vanilli?  Hollywood calls history‘s greatest lip synching duo perfect fodder for a movie.  Willie Geist has all the lurid details coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Joining us now, a man who‘s life is in New York but whose soul is right there in L.A., the great Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hello Tucker.  We always wonder exactly you‘re doing out there.  You never tell us, but if you‘re an arms dealer, it‘s OK.  Just tell us.  You never specified.  Also, I want to say, I thought Congressman Drier‘s audition for my job went pretty darn well, you just didn‘t get his joke, and if he wants it, he can have it. 

CARLSON:  I‘m actually out here for a sitcom, believe it or not. 

GEIST:  You are? 

CARLSON:  Yes, I am.

GEIST:  God, you have gone so Hollywood since “Dancing With the Stars.”  You leave us in your wake.

CARLSON:  They‘re bejeweled.

GEIST:  Gator skin.  Well, Tucker, John Amaechi is a retired professional basketball player, who just last week went public with the fact that he is gay.  He has a new book coming out, the details how he hid his homosexuality in the macho world of the NBA.  Well yesterday we were reminded why Amaechi was compelled to keep his secret. 

Tim Hardaway, a former All Star player in the NBA, was asked on a Miami radio show how he would react to a gay teammate?  Hardaway made himself very clear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM HARDAWAY, FORMER NBA ALL STAR:  I hate gay people.  So, I let it be known, I don‘t like gay people.  I don‘t like to be around gay people.  I don‘t, you know, I‘m homophobic.  I don‘t like it.  It shouldn‘t be a world for that, or in the United States for it, so yes, I don‘t like it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Gets right to the point, doesn‘t he?  Well, every offensive public rant deserves a half hearted public apology.  Here‘s Hardaway‘s.  He said, quote, I regret it.  I‘m sorry.  I shouldn‘t have said I hate gay people, or anything like that. 

Now, it‘s not just the ugliness, Tucker, of what he said, it‘s the utter stupidity that he would go on a popular radio show in Miami and say it out loud.  What country does this guy live in? 

CARLSON:  Well, what is making me laugh is anybody who repeats the original slur in the apology, really is a moron by definition.  Right, I‘m sorry I said your wife was ugly. 

GEIST:  Right, he should fire his P.R. company. 

CARLSON:  Yes, he should. 

GEIST:  Not a pretty scene.  He was a really good basketball player but this is going to unfortunately taint who he is forever. 

Well, in other news, Tucker, a Florida woman is still awaiting the results of her driving test, but if I were a betting man, I would say she failed and here is why.  You see, she drove through the front of the DMV office.  That‘s always a major deduction from the judges on those tests.  The woman thought she was in reverse when she hit the gas to pull out of her parked spot, but she was actually in drive and she plowed through the front wind of the office.  Luckily she did not hit anyone and she was not injured herself. 

Tucker, you have to picture the guy giving the test, you did pretty well on the parallel parking, you signaled beautifully, I guess it was the part where you drove through the office that really knocked some points for you. 

CARLSON:  How about the excuse, I thought I was in reverse.  How fast do you topically drive in reverse? 

GEIST:  Yes, I think she struggled to find the break a little bit.  But the good news, there were a couple minor injuries, she didn‘t hit anybody, everybody is OK.  But the irony of that is just—to drive through the DMV office during your driving test.  It‘s too good.  Couldn‘t pass that one up. 

Finally, to the long list of music legends whose lives have made into movies, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Jim Morrison, to name a few.  You can now add these guys. 

(SINGING)

GEIST:  Yes, that‘s right, they are about to make a movie about Milli Vanilli, and a legitimate one.  “Daily Variety” reports that Universal Pictures, which by the way is a part of our NBC family, is developing a film about the tragic story of the pop duo, who were busted for lip synching in 1990, after selling 11 million albums.  The producers reportedly have the blessings of the surviving half of Milli Vanilli.  That‘s Fabrice Morvan.  The other half, Rob Pilatus died of a drug overdose in 1998. 

Tucker, this is a look legit movie.  Guy named Jeff Nathanson is writing it and directing it.  He did “Catch me if You Can” with Leonardo Dicaprio.  It‘s a legitimate movie.  And have I to say, the lip synching thing never bugged me.  I didn‘t care.  It‘s music, what ethics?  Who cares?  It was pleasing to my ear and I still like it and I stand by Milli Vanilli.   

CARLSON:  But this movie is so—if you think about it it‘s actors, portraying actors, portraying musicians. 

GEIST:  It is.  It‘s like a house of mirrors.  It‘s a little too much.  But I never felt cheated.  You know, I thought, well, have you ever been in a music studio?  Nobody‘s a real singer in this business anyway, so who cares. 

CARLSON:  You‘re totally right.  And Ringo didn‘t even play in every Beatles song. 

GEIST:  Exactly. 

CARLSON:  Willie Geist from headquarters.  Thanks a lot Willie.  That does it for us from Los Angeles.  We are back tomorrow.  Tune in then.  Have a great night.

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

END   

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