updated 2/26/2007 4:05:19 PM ET 2007-02-26T21:05:19

Guests: Bill Press, Michael Crowley, Rebecca Rose Woodland, Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show.

With most of the country lulled into a trance by the Anna Nicole Smith legal proceedings this week, the U.S. Senate took dramatic steps toward ending the war in Iraq.  Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continued to hiss at each other in public.  And Tom Vilsack dropped out of the presidential race before most people even found out who he was.

All that in just a minute, plus the latest on the Scooter Libby trial and the Anna Nicole Smith debacle.

But first, deterrents: peace through strength.  It was a philosophical pillar of the Cold War, the idea that if you were ready to fight, you wouldn’t have to.

For 40 years, deterrents kept us from nuclear war.  Now with Iraq a mess, America looks weaker than ever and is therefore in greater danger than ever.  Until now, possibly.

Earlier this week, a group of elderly American tourists got off a Carnival cruise ship in Costa Rica and set off for the beach.  Well, sensing an easy target, three armed men hijacked their bus and demanded money at gunpoint and knife point.  But the Americans, it turns out, weren’t such an easy target.

Before it was over, two of the robbers had run away, a third, a 20-year-old man with a long criminal record, was dead, dispatched by one of the retirees, a 70-year-old former Marine named Allan Clady, who killed him with his bare hands.  Clady hasn’t made a public statement about what happened yet and he doesn’t need to.  His actions were statement enough. 

Thanks to him, armed robbers in Costa Rica may think twice before fooling with anymore elderly American tourists.  Amen. 

Here to celebrate what happened in Costa Rica and to weigh in on the rest of the day’s news, we are honored to welcome author of “How the Republicans Stole Religion” and nationally syndicated radio show host Bill Press, and senior editor of “The New Republic,” Michael Crowley. 

Welcome to you both. 

MICHAEL CROWLEY, SR. EDITOR, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Thank, Tucker.

BILL PRESS, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO SHOW HOST:  Tucker, I’m telling you...

CARLSON:  I won’t actually ask you to honor what happened in Costa Rica. 

PRESS:  No, don’t mess with AARP. 

CARLSON:  I totally agree.  That’s exactly right.  And most candidates learned that lesson a long time ago. 

So explain to me, Michael, before we get into what’s going on with the war, the candidacy of Tom Vilsack.  I want to put up quickly a sound bite.  This is maybe the first sound bite many Americans will have ever seen of Tom Vilsack. 

CROWLEY:  That’s the problem. 

CARLSON:  And this is the exit statement. 

Here’s Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM VILSACK (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The reality, however, is that this process has become to a great extent about money.  A lot of money.  And it is clear to me that we would not be able to continue to raise money in the amounts necessary to sustain not just a campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire but a campaign across this country.  So it is money and only money. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Now, you can see in the background, he actually went to the trouble of having campaign signs printed for his run for president. 

Why drop out now? 

CROWLEY:  I think it’s just really hard out there right now.  I mean, he must have underestimated it. 

There’s a—there’s a lot of excitement.  There’s a bunch of candidates who are generating a lot of enthusiasm, but he was not one of them. 

I mean, Hillary Clinton has an enormous fund-raising machine.  Barack Obama is knocking everybody’s socks off.  John Edwards has been working at this forever.  And Vilsack I just think didn’t have the pizzazz that those guys have. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

CROWLEY:  There’s just not enough oxygen in the room.  He may have thought that through his sort of Democratic Leadership Council background he had a network to tap, but that’s actually sort of a waning part of the Democratic Party right now.  That’s the centrist wing of the party.  And it’s really, you know, the energized left which is where you can really reap a lot of the big dollars...

CARLSON:  That’s right.

CROWLEY:  ... from people like—I think Obama and John Edwards are seeing that.  So I just don’t think there was room for him. 

CARLSON:  It’s interesting, Bill.  In a typical primary, you’ve got the frontrunner, and then you’ve got one, possibly two people poised to jump in if the frontrunner falls. 

PRESS:  Right.

CARLSON:  In this rare, the Democratic side, you have essentially two frontrunners. 

Is there room—I would say, Hillary and Obama really are coequal at this point, even though the numbers don’t show that.  Is there room for a series of candidates, like Richardson, Chris Dodd?  I mean...

PRESS:  First of all, I say fear not.  Mike Gravel is still in the race. 

CARLSON:  Mike Gravel.  Not Gravel, Gravel. 

PRESS:  Gravel.  OK.

You know, I would just differ a little bit.  I think there are three frontrunners.  I would put John Edwards in the first category as well. 

But the answer, I think, to your question, Tucker, is sadly, no, that there is no room for anybody else in there.  You know, between Obama and Clinton and certainly John Edwards, I think they do suck up all the oxygen, which is unfortunate because Tom Vilsack’s a good guy. 

You know, his strategy was, if he could just hang in there and win the Iowa caucuses as a former Iowa governor...

CARLSON:  Right.

PRESS:  ... that he might be able to catapult into states beyond that, New Hampshire and South Carolina and others.  He can’t even get started.  So the days when a governor of Georgia or a governor of Arkansas or a governor of Iowa...

CARLSON:  Right.

PRESS:  ... can break in I think are gone.  Which is too bad for the American process. 

CARLSON:  Well, everything’s national now.  I mean, it’s because of cheap air travel, there’s basically—regionalism is kind of dead.  So it’s not like—you know what I mean?

PRESS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  I don’t think there are regional loyalties in a way that there once were.  And I think primaries are less important state by state as a result.  All right.

PRESS:  Sorry to see him go. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I am too. 

Michael, I want to ask you about the legislation now being worked on in the Senate.  We don’t know the specifics.  Biden and Levin, senators both, have both kept it from the public.  But here’s what—and from their own caucus—but here’s what we know so far. 

They would repeal the 2002 resolution that authorized the war in the first place.  It would limit, most significant, military involvement in Iraq to counterterrorism and training the Iraqi army.  But it would, in effect, prevent U.S. troops from intervening in the civil war now going on in Iraq. 

Can Congress do that?  Can it really micromanage a war to that extent? 

Is that actually possible? 

CROWLEY:  Well, I think it can, although you do hear rumblings from conservatives that if Congress tries to do this, there will be a potential constitutional showdown.  And Joe Lieberman was predicting this on the Senate floor last week.  And he—he was predicting Supreme Court decisions and a constitutional crisis, which is sort of an alarming thought. 

CARLSON:  Right.

CROWLEY:  I don’t know if it would really come to that.  Certainly, many Democrats feel that they can do this, that they have a prerogative to do it, and that they should do it.  And, look, it’s not crazy.  I mean, there is I think a pretty broad consensus around the idea that we should not be refereeing a civil war. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

CROWLEY:  What we want to do is stand up the Iraqi army and hand this off to them.  I mean, if there’s any—if there are real military thinkers who think that this is something that you can practically do, it sounds like a perfectly reasonable approach.  There’s one footnote to this which I find very interesting. 

People forget, at the time the original Iraq war vote, Robert Byrd had an amendment or a resolution that would have limited presidential authority to two years.  So, in fact, they were having—if you go back and look at the debate...

CARLSON:  Right.

CROWLEY:  ... they were debating back then, god forbid this thing drags on and on and on and then Congress has to step in and start extricating us if Bush won’t do it.  So they kind of saw this coming, but I don’t think it really got a lot of relative (ph) time. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Right.  Well, that’s right.  I mean, there was a failure of courage, I think, on the part of a lot of members of the Senate, definitely. 

Bill, think about the practical ramifications, though.  You’re a military commander, U.S. military commander in Iraq.  You find out that there’s going to be a suicide bombing or some sort of bombing in a marketplace, but it’s part of the sectarian conflict between Shia and Sunni.  You are prevented by this legislation from doing anything about it. 

That doesn’t make any sense, does it? 

PRESS:  Tucker, it’s a tough situation.  But I think that this is a smart move on the part of Democrats, for this reason—first of all, I don’t think anybody should believe that George Bush was given a blank check in 200.  Conditions have changed dramatically in Iraq that that blank check should apply today.  And I think this move stays away from the sticky issue of funding but enables them to accomplish most of their goals, which is, set up a situation where we can start bringing our troops home and get our troops out of the middle of a civil war. 

CARLSON:  You don’t—I understand, and everything you’re saying makes sense.  I’m not saying that the ideas behind it are crackpot.  I’m saying, in its execution, it’s undoable. 

You will have—very quickly, you will have American military commanders come up to the Hill and say to Congress, you know, you’ve bound our hands.  We can’t prevent the genocide we’re witnessing every day.  That’s not sustainable.

PRESS:  No, no, let’s be real.  I mean, I don’t think you’re going to see Congress, you know, court-martial anybody who happens to send some people in if they know they can stop...

CARLSON:  The military will follow...

PRESS:  ... and save some lives.  But what it does mean is they’re going to be—they’re going to—their mission is to train the Iraqi military and the police to take care of just a situation like that and to get Americans out of the middle of it. 

CARLSON:  Boy, you—I mean, I just...

PRESS:  Which is a good move. 

CARLSON:  I disagree with Bush and the Democrats.  I don’t think there’s any evidence the Iraqis are capable of preventing this violence now, despite—you know, everyone is so hopeful about... 

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  Well, I would say, Tucker, just quickly, that’s the problem. 

I don’t see how it works. 

CARLSON:  Right.  That’s exactly right. 

CROWLEY:  I mean, well, I think we’re there or we’re not, and I think it’s a little bit of rose-tinted glasses to think, well, we could just be training the guys and make it work...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, it’s interesting.  Both Republicans and Democrats now have incentive to pretend the Iraqis are capable of running their own country.  The Bush administration has been pretending this for four years.  The Democrats all of a sudden see their—they have a rationale for pretending.

And it’s BS.  They can’t.

PRESS:  But you know what, Tucker?  If they can’t, then all the less of a reason for us to stay there for years and years. 

CARLSON:  OK.  You actually may be right.  That’s a totally fair point.  That’s a totally fair point.  I just wish people would face up to the consequences of what they’re proposing.

PRESS:  Good point.

CARLSON:  Coming up, you won’t believe how much people are willing to pay to hear Bill Clinton speak.  And when he did it for free every day forever?

Stay tuned to learn just how rich the ex-president is getting on the rubber chicken circuit these days and where he’s spending the money.

Plus, as much as you’d like to hear Bill Clinton speak, wouldn’t you pay more right now to hear what Judge Larry Seidlin has to say?  Up next, a lawyer’s unvarnished analysis on the most infamous judge in America. 

Stay tuned. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE LARRY SEIDLIN, BROWARD COUNTY:  I wanted to walk out of here healthy.  I wanted to walk out of here at 56 healthy.  Do you understand?  I wanted to feel good. 

This thing wore me out.  I’m going to take a while to regenerate. 

But I was concerned about Danny.  He’s—he’s in the ground in the Bahamas.  Anna Nicole wants to be in that ground. 

But I think what I’m going to do—and I’ve been thinking about it.  And I didn’t come to any conclusions until now, until right now, but I’m trying to figure out how I can, in a spiritual sense, bring it all together. 

I want her buried with her son in the Bahamas.  I want them to be together.  And I hope to God you guys give the kid the right shot. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Well, if you’ve had enough or never wanted to know anything about the Anna Nicole Smith hearings this week in the first place, I am sorry to inform you that you are very different from most Americans.  The hearing, particularly the outrageous performances of presiding Judge Larry Seidlin, attracted up to five times our normal audience here on MSNBC.  We’ve’ got the numbers. 

It dominated network news morning shows and Internet traffic, and fortunately or not, it is the talk of the entire country today.  Well, far be it for us to ignore the will of the people as expressed in television ratings. 

Here to make sense of Judge Seidlin and the hearing is criminal defense attorney Rebecca Rose Woodland.  She provided her expertise to MSNBC’s coverage all week. 

Rebecca, thanks for coming on. 

REBECCA ROSE WOODLAND, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Hi there.  How are you? 

CARLSON:  Well, here’s what I learned.  Here’s about the only thing I learned, is that you actually can behave this way, like a pig in a court of law, and nobody can do anything about it. 

Is that right? 

WOODLAND:  Well, unfortunately, this judge has decided that his discretion, judicial discretion, is far-reaching, and he can talk about himself, have monologues all about himself, waste days and days of judicial time, which is taxpayer money, to make a decision that, I don’t know, gee, do you think he could have made it in one day?  Because the decision was very limited. 

It was limited only to the remains of Anna Nicole Smith.  Nothing about Dannielynn, nothing about the paternity.  But somehow we heard about that day after day.  And although it was amusing, it really didn’t apply to his limited scrutiny of what his issue was. 

CARLSON:  Right.  And it’s also not in the grand scope of history all that significant.  But you can imagine cases over which he would be presiding that are really significant, at least for the people involved. 

He clearly is an over-the-top self-promoter, maybe mentally unbalanced, certainly a bore.  I mean, he gets to preside over normal cases and nobody says anything, and nobody can do anything about it?  Can’t he be impeached or imprisoned or something? 

WOODLAND:  No, I—well, imprisoned, well, I don’t know about that, Tucker.  I don’t know what’s going to happen. 

It seems as if, and everyone has said this, that he was floating an audition tape even prior to this assignment of the Anna Nicole hearing.  So possibly he thought, well, this is my last chance, I’m going to go out with a bang, because I’m looking for another spot anyway. 

He kept saying that he was on his way to retirement anyway.  So I don’t really know what they’re going to do with him, although maybe he’s stepping down from the bench.  Maybe he knows that already and he thought, well, I’m going to go out with a bang, with a lot of attention. 

He says he’s never going to talk about this again.  Really?  I’m waiting.  I’m waiting. 

(LAUGHTER)

WOODLAND: Maybe over the weekend he’ll sleep on it. 

CARLSON:  I’ll tell you the point—obviously, I work in TV, so I’m

around a lot of self-promoters who talk a lot.  But the point where he said

I’m quoting now—“The body belongs to me now.  That baby is in a cold, cold storage room.”

I thought, do you know what?  This guy is really beneath contempt.  That’s an awful way to talk about anybody who is dead, to talk about a corpse. 

Here’s a substantial question for you, though. 

WOODLAND:  OK.

CARLSON:  Why didn’t the judge determine paternity before this hearing?  Why didn’t—I mean, it seems like we would have saved a lot of time if we would have known who the father was. 

WOODLAND:  Sure, we would have.  Unfortunately, the way the law works, and jurisdictionally, he did not have the appropriate jurisdiction.  He was not the appropriate court.  That’s what that means, to make that decision. 

The papers had been filed in paternity prior to Anna Nicole’s death over there in California.  At the same time, we had custody papers being filed in the Bahamas about the same time of her death by her mother. 

So there was no paternity suit, no motion for paternity filed before him in Florida.  What happened was, though, that today we saw that the attorneys went into a different judge and they asked for that judge to take the order from California about the paternity and bring it to Florida. 

And that judge seems to say, I am not interested in doing that. 

Figure it out between California and the Bahamas. 

He hasn’t made his ruling yet, but it seems as if he’s going to say, I don’t want anything to do with this.  There is no connection between this body...

CARLSON:  Right.

WOODLAND:  ... these children—this child, Howard K. Stern.  None of these people have anything to do with Florida other than, unfortunately, Anna Nicole passed away in Florida. 

CARLSON:  That’s unbelievable.  I just want to go out on my—maybe my favorite quote of all from Judge Larry. 

“When I used to teach tennis, I used to wear white shorts and a white top.  It looked good.”

Let’s hope he sticks to tennis again soon. 

Thanks a lot, I appreciate it.

Rebecca Rose Woodland.

Thank you.

WOODLAND:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Coming up, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton descended into the gilded gutter this week for some excellently caddy mudslinging.  Obama’s back on the high road, but what about Mrs. Clinton?  Will the attention alert level remain code orange, or has it been downgraded indefinitely?

We hope not.

Plus, now only will Hillary Clinton raise more money than any candidate ever to pay for her presidential campaign, but her old man’s doing OK raising money for whatever he wants too.  Stick around to find out just how loaded Bill Clinton has become. 

We’ll tell you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Despite certain public humiliations in the late 1990s, it appears it is now very good to be Bill Clinton.  How good?  Forty million dollars good in the years since he left office and $9 million or $10 million good last year alone.  Those are the gross receipts he’s collected for speaking engagements across the country and the world. 

Here to talk about his money and its political implications, we welcome back the nationally syndicated radio show host Bill Press, and senior editor of “The New Republic,” Michael Crowley. 

I have to say, Bill, you and I had a show together in the waning days of the Clinton administration. 

PRESS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  I remember very well the former president’s pledges to end poverty and end AIDS.  He was going to use—essentially Mother Teresa at this point.  He was going to devote his life to bettering the lot of the world’s unfortunate.  And instead, he’s just taken the rubber chicken circuit.  Yes, he’s given some money away, but basically all he does is buck rake.

PRESS:  No, Tucker, that’s not fair.  He’s doing both.  I mean, he is doing...

CARLSON:  Oh, is—perfect.

PRESS:  No, but seriously, he is doing more good I think than any former ex-president, including Jimmy Carter.  He’s done this tremendous amount to get AIDS medication into particularly the continent of Africa at prices—free, for the most part, to people down there who otherwise couldn’t afford t. 

His global AIDS initiative is doing all kinds of great stuff around the world.  But he’s also making a lot of money, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

PRESS:  And do you know what?  Good for him.  I give speeches, you give speeches. 

CARLSON:  Right.

PRESS:  The only thing is, I’m jealous that he gets $150,000 for a speech and I get a little less than that.

CARLSON:  Here’s what he says—I want to put up on the screen just -

I don’t want to beat up on Bill Clinton again, but this is just such a phony quote, I’ve got to put it up here. 

“I never had a nickel to my name until I got out of the White House,” he said.  “And now I’m a millionaire, the most favored person for the Washington Republicans.  I get a tax cut every year no matter what our needs are.”

Now, why doesn’t he send that tax cut back to the U.S. Treasury? 

PRESS:  Because he’s making the point that the policy...

CARLSON:  Because he’s greedy, like everybody else.  Come on. 

PRESS:  He’s making the point that the people like Bill Clinton and you and me who get a tax cut and average Americans don’t is a bad public policy. 

CARLSON:  Then why doesn’t he send the money back?

PRESS:  And good for him.  And more rich people...

CARLSON:  Because he’s greedy.  That’s why.

PRESS:  More rich people ought to say it.

CARLSON:  OK.  Let me get to this—I mean, you could literally waste your life looking at the ironies and the hypocrisies in what Clinton says.  But let me get to—I think this is significant, Michael.

He gave 352 speeches last year.  The guy’s got stamina.  I mean, that is impressive, I have to say. 

CROWLEY:  Yes.

CARLSON:  He was never home, obviously, which is interesting, considering his wife is running. 

He spoke to a lot of foreign clients.  He spoke to some governments.  He advocated essentially on behalf of at least one foreign government.  And he spoke to people whose interests don’t align necessarily with the United States. 

Could this be a problem?  It will be a problem, won’t it, when his wife gets in the general election? 

CROWLEY:  I don’t think it’s a huge problem.  It will probably come up, but I can’t think—I can’t believe that he wasn’t vetting his clients.  I can’t believe that Hillary isn’t in the—that Mrs. Clinton isn’t in the loop when he’s making these decisions. 

He’s not dumb.  He knows that people are going to be asking these questions.  I don’t see this being a big problem. 

CARLSON:  Can he keep doing this if she becomes president? 

CROWLEY:  Well, that’s a good question, and I think there are a lot of questions about his role.  I mean, you could do a whole show on this. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

CROWLEY:  But a lot of question about his role as first man that the Clinton campaign has not...

CARLSON:  First dude. 

CROWLEY:  ... the first dude has not addressed. 

How much time will be spend in the White House?  Who what will his role be in crafting policy?  Will he be at the table?

Fascinating questions that they haven’t really touched.  And so those are big question marks.  But bottom line, Tucker, I mean, you believe in the free market. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Yes.

CROWLEY:  The man is—the free market is running well. 

CARLSON:  Oh, absolutely.  But he doesn’t believe in the free market, and that’s the difference. 

PRESS:  No, he’s...

CARLSON:  And so he’s lecturing the rest of us on why we’re not as morally elevated as he is because we’re not cryptosocialists, and then he’s buck-raking, which is sort of...

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  Didn’t he give away—I think he gave away something like $30 million of what he earned.  He gave it away, and he’s paying taxes at rates—he would be happy to pay higher rates. 

CARLSON:  Well, he could be higher rates if he wants to. 

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY:  Well, his wife will take care of that if she’s elected. 

CARLSON:  She certainly will.  But let’s get back to...

PRESS:  A little fact here.  A little fact here.

Twenty percent—this $40 million represents 20 percent of his speeches.  The rest of it either goes to his foundation, good work, Tucker, or he’s doing the speeches for free.  So he is doing a lot of good. 

CARLSON:  Well, actually—honestly, though, we don’t know—we don’t know the details of that because he refuses to release them, which I think is very interesting.  But let me just very quickly get back to this. 

It does kind of—look, Bill Clinton is not the worst person in the world at all, and there are good things about Bill Clinton, of course.  But he is a guy surrounded by a cloud of drama.

If his wife is elected president, it’s going to be the 1990s all over again.  Are you ready for that?  Are you honestly emotionally prepared for the drama of the Clintons again? 

PRESS:  As a talk show host, I look forward to the day when we have Bill Clinton to talk about every day in the White House.  But let me just say something.  I want to answer your question. 

CARLSON:  All right.

PRESS:  He won’t be able to continue when his wife is president because he’ll be a United States senator from New York and he won’t be able to give any speeches. 

CARLSON:  It’s unbelievable!  Do you know what?  Do you know what?  I remember talking with you on the set when we heard she might run for Senate.  And I said, “Oh, it will never happen.”

I actually believe—she will probably be president and he’ll probably be the senator from New York. 

PRESS:  You got it. 

CARLSON:  And you can call me in Canada.

Coming up, Dick Cheney spent his week on verbal attack.  Among his targets?  John McCain, Nancy Pelosi, Jack Murtha.  Most recently, China.

What’s going on in the vice president’s mind these days?  We have answers to that next. 

Plus, you won’t believe who’s going to join the search for America’s most notorious enemy, Osama bin Laden.  If you guessed Dog, the bounty hunter, you’re being way too conservative.  Stick around for the amazing truth. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  The political saber rattling between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton this week has provided shows like ours and newspapers across country with fresh and entertaining grist for our daily mill, for which we are eternally grateful.  Obama took his 1.3 million from showbiz big shots and re-took the high road. 

Hillary Clinton took the road west to San Francisco, where she raised her own California dough.  Here to talk about the implications of all these developments to savor them, as you would a fine wine, nationally syndicated radio host Bill Press, and senior editor of “The New Republic,” Michael Crowley. 

Now, Michael, here’s—I have to say, I, like everyone else in the press, has said nice things about Barack Obama since day one, because he’s a good writer.  He’s a much better writer than he is a talker.  I want to put up a sound bite from Barack Obama, explaining what he thinks of this spat between Hillary, David Geffen, into which he was pulled. 

Here’s Barack Obama. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS:  There’s a habit, I think, among pundits in Washington to get into these little spats.  But I don’t really think that it’s relevant.  I respect Senator Clinton.  We’ve worked together.  This should be a campaign about the issues and not about personalities or what supporters say.  You know, she and I have a good relationship and I expect that will continue. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  But that tape looks like it was shot with a microscope rather than a television camera, and the audio was kind of muddy.  The first line is there’s a habit among the pundits in Washington to get into these little spats, as if somehow we here in pundit-land created the approximate spat between David Geffen, Obama supporter, and Senator Clinton.  We didn’t.  It’s real.  It brought up, I think, substantive issues. 

And it’s absurd and patronizing for Barack Obama to pretend it’s our fault. 

CROWLEY:  Well Tucker, I think he’s in an interesting and complicated place.  Because the key to his campaign is that he’s something new and different.  He’s outside the political system.  He supersedes petty politics and D.C. Pundits.  People are sick of that stuff.  They feel the whole Washington game led us into this war, and he’s somebody who wants to rise above it and say, I’m going to fix a broken system. 

The problem is, I think that’s something—that was the Bill Bradley

campaign in the year 2000.  And the problem is that Bradley thought that he

could stay out of these fights, that people would attack him, and he would

--

CARLSON:  Exactly. 

CROWLEY:  He would say, you’re playing that old game and I’m not going to play it.  And eventually Al Gore ripped him to shreds like little piranha bites, one at a time.  So the problem is that Obama, it’s part of his image as being this kind of savior.  But at the same time, he needs to show that he can do a little bit of street fighting. 

CARLSON:  That’s a very smart analogy.  I was covering Bill Bradley at the time and I watched.  I completely forgot.  I blocked that campaign out of my mind, because it was so hapless and pathetic.  I think that absolutely could happen to Obama.  Here’s what he said at a Houston fund raiser last night, talking about this whole spat.  He said, the nation will remain at a stand still, quote, if we continue to engage in small and divisive politics and tit for tat.

The truth is, most of politics is small and divisive.  And it’s by small steps that you arrive at large changes.  That’s the nature of the legislative process.  This kind of philosopher king nonsense, I don’t think people like it, and I don’t think he can get elected on this platform. 

PRESS:  Well, I do think—I think Michael’s right.  I think what people like—what I hear that people like about Barack Obama Is that he is different, no slash-and-burn, he’s above the fray, it’s hope, it’s positive and everything.  And he got knocked off his stride here, and I think that tape shows dramatically how knocked off his stride he is.  That’s the worst I’ve ever seen Barack Obama. 

I hadn’t seen that before just now. 

CARLSON:  The camera work was pretty appalling too. 

PRESS:  It was, but I think there are two losers here, Tucker, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama I think are losers.  I think Barack is the bigger loser, because he now is down a couple of pegs, looking for the moment like just another politician, in this he said/she said kind of battle, which is exactly where he can’t be and win. 

CARLSON:  That’s right, and it allowed John Edwards to get up there and say, incredibly implausibly, I’m the positive candidate.  Whether you like John Edwards or not—I kind of like John Edwards—but he’s the least positive candidates I’ve ever seen run for president.  He’s relentlessly negative. 

Isn’t it interesting that Hillary Clinton is not held to the same standard.  Everyone expects the Clinton campaign to be vicious.  David Geffen said that the other day, these people are mean, they’ll hurt you.  And that’s kind of taken as a given, that she’s a vicious campaigner.  Do you think that’s fair? 

CROWLEY:  Well, I mean, it comes in handy, I suppose, to the extent

that people do believe that.  But, I mean, is it fair?  I haven’t seen her

thus far, I haven’t seen her be any more vicious than anyone else.  And I think to some extent, the Clinton machine—the myth of the Clinton machine is overstated. 

I would just say, on the larger question, the reason the Clintons, I think, were so terrified by what David Geffen coming out and saying I doubt her electability, I wonder about Bill’s behavior, is that it was a Democratic stalwart who—it was sort of a breaking of a taboo.  I mean, the Clintons, I think, to some extent, want to say, don’t talk about that stuff.  It’s sleaze.  That went out in the 1990’s. 

Here was a guy who really believes in the Democratic cause and he’s saying no, this is for real.  We’ve got to figure this out.  And I think that’s why there was a lot of panic in the Clinton camp.  And I think that’s why ultimately this was actually much worse for Hillary Clinton than for anyone else. 

CARLSON:  And also—this is a subtle distinction, but I think it’s important.  He is a representative, Geffen, broadly speaking, of the left of the party.  He was agitating Leonard Peltier’s release, who killed two FBI agents.  I mean, that’s a left-wing cause.  That’s her problem, is the left of the party, isn’t it?. 

PRESS:  Just to add a footnote to what Michael said, Geffen not only said these things, but he said these things, did not back down, and survives.  And so to that extent, I think it leaves Hillary—he wasn’t forced by other people to say hey you can’t say that, and then he apologizes and grovels like we see so many people do in political life today. 

CARLSON:  That’s the beauty of having a billion dollars.

PRESS:  But it leaves her a little vulnerable on that issue, that he sort of says it’s now OK.  Hillary’s fair game for Democrats to say these things publicly and openly.  And that—that’s a big change.  I wouldn’t say vicious though, Tucker.  I think what she is, she’s really tough and they’ve determine that she’s not going to be swift boated.  And anybody comes after her from the right or the left, they’re going to come right back at him. 

CARLSON:  Actually, the Swift Boat Veterans made a series of, I thought, pretty good points and they had a right to make them.  I’m the only person in America who defends the Swift Boat guys, but that’s another conversation.  You’re both sighing and you’re wrong.  How can he believe that?  He seems so reasonable. 

The “L.A. Times” makes a pretty good point today.  I think it’s echoing a point that David Geffen made, which is are we ready for a dynasty?  I mean, can we just get someone who’s not one of these two families to run country?  Do you think you’re going to hear Democrats say that more? 

CROWLEY:  Sure, Democrats like Geffen, who don’t support Clinton.  I love to say it out loud.  If you look at the history, you do name for four years, you had Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, and then we could have Clinton, Clinton.  I mean, it’s just hilarious. 

CARLSON:  Didn’t we fight a war with England to, sort of, get rid of the whole idea of monarchy? 

CROWLEY:  Look, it just goes very structural problems about the system and the finance network you have to build up, the advantage you have from having been in the game already, and the name recognition.  I don’t know what you can do about it. 

CARLSON:  The Questionable judgment of some voters. 

PRESS:  I don’t think the dynasty thing is an issue, Tucker.  Look, we had Bush and then eight years later we’ve got Bush Jr.  And there were some Republicans who wanted brother Bush to come in now.  They weren’t bothered about the dynasty.  I think they’re going to judge Hillary on what they think is good for the country. 

CARLSON:  Well, in fact, they were bothered about the dynast, to such a great extent that he’s not taken seriously among Republicans, Jeb Bush, as a candidate. 

PRESS:  If he would have run, he would be.  That’s my point.

CARLSON:  I don’t know, but I believe he is prevented from running because his name is Bush.  And he is, I believe, much more impressive than his brother. 

The Libby trial, we don’t know when we’re getting the verdict, but we think it could happen today.  It will certainly happen next week, if not.  Do you, Michael Crowley, as a resident of this city, feel safer now that Scooter Libby has been taken off the streets?  I mean, what exactly do we benefit from this? 

CROWLEY:  Look, you know, I’m one of these people who—I am not a Libby trial junkie. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

CROWLEY:  I think that it’s probably been blown a little bit out of proportion.  I think the most valuable thing is the window it’s provided into how this White House operated, a window into a White House on the defensive, a White House that was trying to manage the media, what some of the tricks and secrets were. 

So the legal issues, to me, you know, just don’t seem that great, largely because it’s not clear to me how much harm was really done, in the end. 

CARLSON:  That’s my point.  I agree with you that this is really interesting, but should criminal trials be conducted for our interest?  I’m interested in finding out White House works too, but Scooter Libby can go to prison for 30 years.  Does he deserve that?   

CROWLEY:  Yes, but at the end of the day, you can’t mislead or lie to a prosecutor.  You can’t just gloss that over. 

CARLSON:  But you really feel like this guy, Scooter Libby, and I’m not defending his lying, if, indeed, he did lie, but is sort of caught up in these forces larger than himself by a prosecutor who’s supposed to be investigating something completely different.

PRESS:  Here’s what’s wrong with this picture, in my judgment: we went out to find out who broke the law, and who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame.  We didn’t find out.  Nobody’s charged with that.  So Scooter Libby, I believe, is taking the fall for Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. 

CARLSON:  Fall for what? 

PRESS:  For leaking their identity.  I think Cheney is the one—

CARLSON:  But that’s not a crime, we already learned.  

PRESS:  Well, that hasn’t been decided.  I think it is.  But I think that Scooter Libby is being put out on the plank by the White House and there’s going to be conviction and then pardon.  Scooter Libby’s problem is you just can’t lie to a Grand Jury, as we’ve learned, and get away with it. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Again, I’m not defending that, if he did it.  It just seems to me the one of these—the next time—and it was the Bush administration that did this.  When Patrick Fitzgerald came out and said he’s going to be this form of independent prosecutor.  They said, he’s a great man, a man of unimpeachable integrity.  And I said, give me a break, you’re really screwing up.

The next time there’s an independent council of any time, I hope someone stands up and says, stop.  It’s a bad idea. 

Quickly, Arnold, interview with Roger Simon, Roger Simon, who never stops interviewing people.  It’s unbelievable.  But Roger Simon got Arnold to say—or Arnold said in this interview, leave Hillary Clinton alone.  Stop being mean to her for refusing to apologize for her vote in favor of the war in Iraq.  Arnold Schwarzenegger complimenting Hillary Clinton suggests to me he has political aspirations that go beyond simply the current job as governor.  Do you think so? 

CROWLEY:  Yes, I think it’s quite likely.  I also think that he’s somebody who cast his lot with conservative Republicans and that was a failure, and has gradually been tacking left, and reinventing himself.  And look, the political winds in this country have changed substantially since the time he was elected in 2003, I think.  So I think you just hear him saying that sort of thing more often.  You see him interested in health care for immigrants, or reforming health care, and these sort of good government initiatives. 

CARLSON:  Or bad government, depending. 

CROWLEY:  Depending on who you’re asking.  But so, to me, it’s just part of a sort of a makeover that he’s going through. 

CARLSON:  So this started as a lark.  You’re from the state of California.  It started as kind of a joke.  Hey, let’s get Arnold Schwarzenegger.  This is going to end with him in the Senate, isn’t it? 

PRESS:  Let me just say, as former Democratic state chair of California, I think Arnold Schwarzenegger has become one of the best Democrats ever to govern in the state of California. 

CARLSON:  Yes!

PRESS:  He loves—he’s learned to love politics.  He has done this entire 180, I think thanks to his wife, and thanks to Susan Kennedy, his new chief of staff.  He’s governing like a Democrat.  But I’d have to say - let me put my state chair hat on, if he runs as a Republican, against Diane Feinstein or Barbara Boxer, we’ll crush him. 

CARLSON:  Really? 

PRESS:  Crush him. 

CARLSON:  That’s because Diane Feinstein is such an impressive person, such a great senator? 

PRESS:  She is a great senator. 

CARLSON:  Oh my god.

CROWLEY:  Do you know who’s a future senator?  Judge Larry Seidlin. 

That man.   

CARLSON:  Now that’s California.  Now you’re talking!

PRESS:  That’s Florida Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Gentlemen, thank you both.  Coming up, Sunday is Al Gore’s big night.  It’s the Oscars.  He’ll squeeze into his tuxedo and probably thank the Academy, his third grade teacher, all the executives who made his dream a reality.  But should his movie even be eligible?  Not everyone thinks it should be.  We’ll have the dissenting voice.  Nothing like a rain on a parade. 

Plus, Brittany’s worst week ever, and that’ that’s saying a lot.  Into rehab, out of rehab, a self shave head, a couple of tattoos, back in rehab, back out of rehab, an umbrella attack on some obnoxious paparazzi at a gas station, and back to rehab again.  It was a week that made Kevin Federline look like Ward Cleaver.  We’ve got the very latest.  Stick around. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  There are water coolers all over Washington, D.C., and the talk around them usually isn’t about the latest legislative initiative or diplomatic junket.  Political insiders love salacious, tawdry, racy gossip as much or more than your average high school cheer leading team, and that includes me. 

And nobody turns Washington secrets into television as effectively and as exuberantly as our regular Friday visitors, the first ladies of “D.C.  Dish,” of the “Washington Post” universally read gossip column the “Reliable Source,” we welcome Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts.

AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Thanks for having us. 

ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  No water coolers.  We’re talking about water breaking. 

ARGETSINGER:  Water breaking, yes, we have some breaking news out of Scooter Libby trial.  Or rather some breaking something. 

ROBERTS:  Water. 

ARGETSINGER:  Breaking water out of the Scooter Libby trial.  Third day the jury’s been out and defense attorney Alexander Walsh, who is one of Scooter Libby’s 11-person defense team, starts having contractions, goes to the hospital.  They say no, you’re not ready yet.  She goes back.  She stops off at her in-law’s house and the baby comes right there. 

Her husband, Brendan O’Brien, had to deliver the baby himself at his mother’s house.  The baby is Francis Summerville O’Brien, seven pounds, nine ounces. 

CARLSON:  Oh, that’s wonderful. 

ARGETSINGER:  This just happened today, just happened hours ago. 

ROBERTS:  OK, my favorite part—she—you think that Washington is work-a-holics?  No, she waited an entire 90 minutes before she started e-mailing people. 

ARGETSINGER:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  That’s unbelievable.  That is so out of like a made-for-TV drama.  She delivered the baby in a house.  That’s unbelievable.  That’s great.  That’s wonderful. 

ARGETSINGER:  It’s great news.  Yes, you’ll be able to read more about that in our colleague Curren Miller’s (ph) column tomorrow, with help from our colleague Carol Lennog (ph).  It’s big news.  Finally some news good out of the trial. 

CARLSON:  What else is going on in Washington?

ROBERTS:  Well, you know, former Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen, and his wife, Janet, who I know you’ve met—very charming couple.

CARLSON:  Very nice people.

ROBERTS:  Yes, they’re lovely.  They’ve written a new book called, “Love in Black and White,” which is about their interracial marriage.  They’ve hit all the shows.  I don’t know, have they been on yours yet? 

CARLSON:  They haven’t, but I’d love to have them. 

ROBERTS:  Well, trust me, they’ll get there, because they were on “The Today Show” on Tuesday morning.  They took the train back down to Washington and they decided, like really smart authors do, to stop in the bookstore and sign a few copies.  Well, they walk in and she can’t find the book. 

So she grabs, lovingly, she grabs a little clerk and says, so where’s the book?  And the clerk is abashed to tell her that they haven’t arrived yet, but there are 20 on order.  So she purrs, in the way she can, well, since they’re late, why don’t you order 40. 

CARLSON:  Wow, good for her. 

ROBERTS:  And then she says, and when they get here, make sure you put them in front, because everybody who saw us will want to get one.  And I’m sure the clerk’s going to do it. 

CARLSON:  You know, my book sold about six copies, five of them to people I’m related to, and I think it’s because I didn’t do stuff like that. 

ARGETSINGER:  That’s right.  You need to Have Janet Langhart Cohen helping you out in the book stores.

ROBERTS:  She can be very charming. 

ARGETSINGER:  She’s very persuasive.

CARLSON:  So I was amazed to learn that America has an Elephant Polo Team.  Are you aware of this? 

ROBERTS:  Isn’t that cool. 

ARGETSINGER:  I think this bodes well for the Republicans actually.  It’s been a bad couple of months for them, but yes, America’s only Elephant Polo team is based here in Washington, the Capital Pachyderms. 

ROBERTS:  The elephants aren’t based here. 

ARGETSINGER:  You’re going to confuse him. 

ROBERTS:  Right.  He’s following us.  He’s fine. 

ARGETSINGER:  Elephant polo is polo played on top of elephants, instead of on polo ponies, right? 

ROBERTS:  Exactly. 

ARGETSINGER:  Anyway, there’s a big tournament every year in Sri Lanka, and this year the scrappy American team from D.C. went over there and they came in second, total rookies. 

ROBERTS:  Capital Pachyderms is what they’re called and they barely lost to the Aussies, which team’s name is Tickle in the Ivories. 

CARLSON:  Is anybody sober during the game? 

ROBERTS:  I hope not. 

ARGETSINGER:  I would want to be sober around an elephant. 

ROBERTS:  They’re on top of the elephants though.  They’re not going to get stuffed. 

ARGETSINGER:  You just don’t know how you’re going to end up in that equation. 

CARLSON:  That’s right.  You start out on top of the elephants, but who knows by the end of the game.  Thank you both very much.  Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, I appreciate it. 

ROBERTS:  Bye. 

CARLSON:  Bizarro.  Global warming heats up the Oscars.  If you can’t have the White House, you might as well go for the next best thing, which is, of course, an Academy Award.  Hollywood insider, amateur climatologist Willie Geist handicaps Al Gore’s chances when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  I have just two words for you, Willie Geist.  He is here, at headquarters. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Couldn’t think of anything today?

CARLSON:  No, that’s the Olson version.  It’s minimalist.  Right, I don’t want to dress it up.  Willie Geist, that’s enough. 

GEIST:  No, no, it’s good.  It’s perfect.  It’s perfect.  You know, the story you mentioned at the top of the show about the senior citizens in Costa Rica fighting, what a great story.  The other detail that you didn’t include was that moments later, they got back on the bus and continued their Carnival Cruise, like nothing happened.  No charges were brought, because it was self defense, got on the cruise, and continued to tour.  Good for them. 

CARLSON:  He killed a guy 50 years his junior with his bear hands. 

GEIST:  Bear hands.  It’s an amazing story.

CARLSON:  I love America.

GEIST:  Don’t mess with our senior citizens.  That’s the lesson there.  Tucker, a quick check of the Britney rehab watch.  Let’s see where she is at this hour.  There are still about four minutes left in the show.  She is still in rehab.  Still in rehab.  Plenty of time for that to change before the show is out. 

We got some new pictures today, Tucker, we want to show you.  This is her going berserk on a paparazzi car.  Not looking so good there.  She was trying to get into Kevin Federline’s house a couple nights ago.  He wouldn’t let her into the home to see her children, that’s one thing.  So, she took it out on some paparazzi. It’s very sad.   

CARLSON:  One of the problems with attacking the paparazzi is, almost by definition, they’re going to take pictures of you doing it.

GEIST:  Right, they have cameras.  Well, Tucker, I don’t know if you caught wind of this, but Al Gore apparently made a movie about global warming.  Did you hear anything about this? 

CARLSON:  I had gotten wind of it, yes.

GEIST:  Well he did and the former vice president will be working the red carpet at Sunday’s Academy Awards, where his film “An Inconvenient Truth” is favored to win in the best documentary feature category.  The movie’s director Davis Guggenheim says he hopes he can convince Gore to join him on stage if they win.  Somehow I don’t think that will be a problem.

And he’ll be on stage either way, Tucker, because we just got a bulletin that says, from the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, Gore will be a presenter to the awards.  I’m not sure what he’s going to be presenting.  But either way, he will have his moment on stage. 

CARLSON:  The idea that that film is favored to win?  I mean, there is nothing short of nuclear holocaust that can prevent that film from winning. 

GEIST:  No, you know what, he is in the category with a movie, you will remember it, “Jesus Camp,” that had a little cameo from good old friend Reverend Ted Haggard.   So it’s Gore v. Haggard, I like to call it, in that category.

Also, there’s a group out there, some Gore haters, admittedly, who say this movie should not even be in the documentary category, because there’s an animated scene in there of a polar bear drowning, or something like that.  And they said, it’s sort of emotionally charged.  It’s not a real, true documentary.  It shouldn’t even be in the category.  But, as you said, there was no way he doesn’t win. 

CARLSON:  When everybody agrees with you, details like that are irrelevant. 

GEIST:  Yes, that’s a good point. 

Well, I don’t mean to suggest, Tucker, that we are desperate in our effort to catch Osama bin Laden, but the British Ministry of Defense once recruited psychics to help find him.  Yes, psychics.  That’s reassuring.  Newly declassified documents show that the British tested a group of psychics in 2002, before determining that psychic power has, quote, little value in national defense.  You don’t say.

A former British defense official defended the idea of using psychics, saying it shows that the government is willing to think outside the box.  I guess that shows something.  You know what the problem is, Tucker, obviously?  They are not asking the right psychics.  You want to know where Bin Laden is?  Jackie Stalone.  Go directly to Jackie Stalone, don’t you think? 

If you asked our old friend Kenny Kingston, he still talks to the dead.  It says right here.  This is a great book.  Kenny Kingston and Jackie Stalone will find where they are.

And this had to be a little bit bad for troop morale.  Boys, thanks for going cave-to-cave in Tora Bora.  We really appreciate it, but we’re going Kenny Kingston.  I’m really sorry about that.   

CARLSON:  It’s unbelievable.  Maybe they just gave the wrong credit card number or something when they called up Psychic Friends hotline.  

GEIST:  We had Jackie Stalone on this show, by the way.  I don’t know if you remember that.

CARLSON:  She was too bananas even for me.

GEIST:  She was, and we have very, very low standards.  So that’s really saying something.  But I’d enlist her help any day.

Finally, Tucker, everyone knows summer camp, just a way for parents to get their kids out of the house for a few weeks, but why shouldn’t the kids learn something useful while they’re there instead of archery and leaf identification, something like how to become a pop star.  The entertainment company behind “American Idol” has announced it’s starting Idol Camp in Massachusetts this summer. 

Yes, for 2,900 bucks, campers, aged 12 to 15, can spend ten days learning singing, dancing and auditioning techniques.  I’m not sure what that one means.  The price also includes cameo appearances by some of the creatures who have appeared on “American Idol.” 

Tucker, I don’t know what your kids are doing this summer, but 2,900 bucks for 10 days to become a future “American Idol” contestant, sounds pretty good to me. 

CARLSON:  So they can be visited in their cabins by some of the creeps from “American Idol”  Can you imagine William Hung shows up.  Hey, you like roasted marshmallows.  That’s so creepy. 

GEIST:  I don’t think Ryan Seacrest should be around adolescents. 

CARLSON:  I’m not weighing in.

GEIST:  OK.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist.

GEIST:  All right Tucker.  Have a good weekend.

CARLSON:  Thanks a lot Willie.  I hope you do too.  Thanks for watching.  We’ll be back on Monday.  Tune in then.  Have a great weekend.

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