updated 2/28/2007 2:50:10 PM ET 2007-02-28T19:50:10

Guests: Kellyanne Conway

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the 6:00 p.m. edition of our show. 

The Taliban claims that a suicide bomber at a U.S. military installation in Afghanistan was trying to assassinate Vice President Dick Cheney.  Cheney was unharmed, untouched actually, but the bomb blasts killed as many as 14 people at last count.  We will have reaction to that news in just a minute. 

But first, a 9 percent drop in the Chinese stock market overnight led to a precipitous late afternoon drop on the New York Stock Exchange around 3:00 p.m. Eastern time.  The Dow Industrials were down more than 500 points, that’s more than 4 percent, before rebounding to close off 415 points for the day.  That’s the biggest one-day drop in three-and-a-half years. 

The Bush administration’s ray of light, the robust American financial markets, dimmed considerably this afternoon.  To discuss the significance of the stock market dive, the apparent attempt on Dick Cheney’s life, and the rest of the day’s news, we are joined now by MSNBC contributor and Boston Herald columnist, Mike Barnicle. 

Mike, welcome. 

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  How are you, Tucker?

CARLSON:  So what exactly does this mean for the average person?  In practical—before we get to the political ramifications, potentially, of the stock market drop, what does it mean? 

BARNICLE:  Well, a little truth in advertising here.  I mean, even at my late age, I am still on an allowance.  My wife gives me about $100 a week to spend, so.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  So what does it mean for your wife, then, Mike, do you think? 

BARNICLE:  Well, you know what it means?  I’ll tell you what I think it might mean for our children, yours, mine, everybody watching this program, is that inevitably this is another headline to all of us that we are handcuffed to a global economy.  That when the Chinese markets dip 9 percent, as you indicated, it is going to have an impact on us. 

And I would think at some level people are going to have to start thinking more and more in the days and months and years ahead much more so than they think about it now, about our balance of payments, and the deficit that we have in this. 

CARLSON:  I think people who have come to adulthood after, say, 1987, after the last really dramatic, headline-grabbing stock market mini-crash, assume the stock market really goes in one direction, it goes up.  You put money in the stock market and it magically multiplies and you get rich after a short period of time. 

I mean, is it going to take a long time before people understand how volatile markets really can be? 

BARNICLE:  I think it is going to take a long time, Tucker.  I mean—and it’s understandable, in the culture that we are a part of here in the United States of America, after the tragic, the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, when the New York Stock Exchange was closed for several days, when there was no stock market activity whatsoever, when the financial markets were quite perilous for a few days, the rebound occurred, it occurred quite quickly. 

The growth has been steady, it has been progressive, and now I think for too many people in this country there is very little awareness that September 11th actually occurred, especially when they look at their stock tables.  I mean, September 11th, that’s a distant memory to many people.  But it really isn’t.

CARLSON:  Yes.  That is—as a political matter, I am struck by how much the former president, Bill Clinton, seemed to benefit from the stock market’s rise, and how little the current president, President Bush has benefited.  I mean, you remember during the 1990s, as the stock market kept going up and up and up, and there was this remarkable tech boom. 

And the White House was able, fairly or not, to take credit for a lot of that.  This president has presided over a pretty strong economy, at least as measured by the performance of the stock market, and yet nobody seems to care.  Will he be hurt by this? 

BARNICLE:  I don’t think he will be hurt by this as much as he has hurt himself with his management of the war in Iraq, and off the other headline that you mentioned at the top of the hour here.  I mean, Dick Cheney, you know, several time zones away, supposedly the Taliban tried to kill Dick Cheney. 

So that is a very active, very growing war in Afghanistan, something that we had our hands around three or four years ago.  We have now let it loose to the point where it is growing to, you know, an extent that it was not a couple of years ago.  That sort of thing, I think, is hurting George Bush much more than this. 

There is in this country I think a well-earned sense of confidence in the markets—the economic markets.  We are a tremendously wealthy country, and people—more people than ever own stocks.  They see the stock market climb, and they know or they think that they know that by Friday this will have course-corrected itself and will be back on track, that the 500-point dip today will make it up by Friday. 

And there is a sense of confident in this economy that is a wonderful thing, but it is also—you know, it comes with a sense of amnesia, I think, about past events like September 11th, or the crash in 1987, or the fact that up until about maybe 10 years ago, a lot of people who you know, who I know, never owned, never had a piece of the stock market, but they do now. 

CARLSON:  That’s right.  It strikes me going to the other headline of the day, the assassination—apparent assassination attempt on Dick Cheney, strikes me as an intelligence failure, above all.  The Taliban has never gone away.  We have known that for five years, but most of the Taliban, ordinary members, are essentially tribesman.  This is the result of a pretty sophisticated intelligence breach here.  Somebody at some high level knew the vice president was going to Bagram air base in Afghanistan. 

This gives you little confidence in Pakistan, it seems to me.  Apparently this information came from the government Pakistan, supposedly our ally in the war on terror.  I mean, things are more screwed up then maybe we realized.  

BARNICLE:  Well, I think, you know, you have put your finger in one of the great shortcomings of the both of war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, the lack of real time intelligence, human intelligence that we have on the ground built in Iraq and in Afghanistan. 

And as far as Pakistan being our ally, well, with allies like Pakistan, you know, we don’t need many enemies.  I mean, they have effectively, I think, curbed our ability both militarily and politically to get at Osama bin Laden. 

And again, back to the amnesia factor in this country.  The war in Iraq has more or less erased the memory I think of too many people in this country.  Osama bin Laden is responsible for September 11th.  He is out in the wind this evening, in northwest Afghanistan, along the Pakistani border, and we are not concentrating our efforts militarily to get the man who brought September 11th to the shores of this country, and people forget about that.  And Pakistan, I think, has co-opted our ability to get that job done. 

CARLSON:  Right.  I think the sort of bottom line problem here is that Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and we fear that if we intercede too directly into Pakistan, that that government could fall—the Musharraf government, and be replaced by a group of lunatics who would use those weapons against us or India or somebody. 

BARNICLE:  Yes, right.  I mean, and that gets to what you alluded to earlier, our lack of intelligence—human intelligence on the ground, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan and in Iraq.  We don’t know who would succeed Musharraf.

CARLSON:  Right.  I want to get to Iraq quickly, and the political response, too.  Democrats, as you know, have been since they took power in January, desperately trying to figure out, you know, how do we curb this war?  How do we end this war?  While still keeping a pretty close eye on what the public thinks.  The public thinks a whole bunch of conflicting things about the war.

They hate the war, they don’t like the war one bit, but they don’t necessarily want to pull out tomorrow.  Here is where the Democrats appear to be going.  Nancy Pelosi has said through other people that she is going to sign on to this Murtha plan which would require new troops to Iraq to have at least a year at home between deployments, and that would limit combat assignments to one year. 

Here is my question to you, Mike.  Can—that is actually a pretty micro-level here.  I mean, that is micromanagement, the Congress saying to the Pentagon, you have to run your army this way.  Can they get away with that?  Are they in the end going to get a lot of other Democrats and some Republicans to sign on to that? 

BARNICLE:  You know, I think that the Democrats have to figure out a couple of things, Tucker.  They have to figure out how much of the venom toward the war in Iraq is anti-Bush or is it anti-war?  I don’t know anybody who is pro-war, but they have to figure out both in the House and the Senate how much of this dialogue is geared around being just against President George W. Bush. 

Speaker Pelosi, I read a couple of things earlier today and talked to a couple people earlier today.  And they indicate that she is slowly backing away from her 100 percent commitment to the Murtha position.  We are going to find out about that in the days ahead.

But the Democrats are in a pretty dicey situation.  They went to the country, many of them, last fall on platforms that said we will get this country out of Iraq.  And now they have to figure out how to fulfill that commitment.  And you are right, I mean, the polls indicate that a lot of people, a lot of people want to get out of Iraq. 

Nobody I know, nobody responsibly who—responsible who I have spoken to who knows a lot about this issue, they realize you can’t get out of Iraq tomorrow, logistically... 

CARLSON:  That’s right.  And it leads to the irony, you know, after committing us to this disastrous war and screwing up the prosecution of it, the Bush administration may the in end win the argument about it, which would be amazing. 

Mike Barnicle, thank you, if you would just stay right there, we will be back in just a minute. 

Coming up, after five years, how powerful are al Qaeda and the Taliban?  We’ll have a reality check on the war on terror.

Plus, an Al Gore reality check.  The hero of the environmental movement talks an impressive and convincing game, but does he live by his word?  We will tell you.  Stick around.   

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  The attempt on Vice President Dick Cheney’s life coincides with a Newsweek magazine report that New York City officials have fresh and present concern of a terror attack sponsored by Iran. 

Well, as the U.S. wrestles with the extreme difficulties of the Iraq War, the reinvigorated Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the emerging threat of Iran, how are we doing in the suddenly multi-multifaceted war on terror?  Here to tell us, NBC News terrorism analyst and founder of globalterroralert.com, Evan Kohlman. 

Evan, thanks for coming on. 

EVAN KOHLMAN, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST:  Thanks for having me. 

CARLSON:  How did the Taliban know that Dick Cheney was at Bagram air base, and how did they get close enough to set off this bomb? 

KOHLMAN:  Well, it’s not clear that they necessarily knew that Cheney was there.  Let’s keep in mind that the Taliban have been launching suicide bomb operations now for months if not years, and they have been targeted specifically at areas like this, entrances to air base, U.S. and coalition convoys.  This is not an unusual attack.

CARLSON:  So this could be a coincidence, you’re saying? 

KOHLMAN:  It could very well just be part in parcel of what they are doing.  I mean, the Taliban just released a video last week of a suicide bombing attack on a coalition convoy.  And they had no information that Dick Cheney was in that convoy.  So I mean, these things, unfortunately, they happen.

This is a warzone, and the Taliban have declared that suicide bombing in particular is their chosen form of warfare, that it has the best ability of shaking the foundations of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. 

CARLSON:  So all of a sudden, I mean, Afghanistan, which is not normally on the front page of any paper, is on the front page of every paper this morning, and the implication is that things are so out of control that the vice president himself is not safe when he visits.  Is that—do you think that’s a fair characterization?

KOHLMAN:  It’s not a very safe country.  I mean, it’s certainly safer than Iraq, but there are large parts of Afghanistan that are in control of forces that are beyond us.  That’s not necessarily the Taliban, but they are in the control of people that are not necessarily our best friends and allies. 

And particularly when it comes to areas along the Pakistani border, and into Pakistan, you are talking about a total lack of central government control.  You are talking about entire areas that are under the control of tribes allied with the Taliban.  And it’s funny because we a keep talking about Iran this and Iran that.  The real problem in the war on terrorism right now is Pakistan. 

And I think it’s very important that Dick Cheney spends more than just one quick visit with President Musharraf explaining to him the importance of this, the necessity that Pakistan must make forward progress.  Because this is the real problem with al Qaeda, it’s not Iran. 

CARLSON:  But wait, isn’t—I mean, our overriding concern is keeping Musharraf or a similarly pro-Western leader in control of Pakistan, which of course, has nuclear weapons.  Musharraf, it seems me, is playing the same balancing game he has been since he took power, which is trying to placate the Islamists in his government, some of whom are in the ISI, his intelligence service, sufficient that he can hold on to power and keep the nuclear weapons from being used. 

I mean, he is not entirely an evil guy, is he? 

KOHLMAN:  No, I don’t think he is an evil guy.  I don’t really know if he is an evil guy at all.  I think the problem.

CARLSON:  Well, he is useful to us, is my point. 

KOHLMAN:  Well, he—you know, the idea is that he might be useful to us, but the problem is, is where does that balance start working in favor of President Musharraf, but against the United States and U.S. foreign policy?  When the Pakistani government is openly ceding large portions of its northwest frontier province to Taliban control, saying, it is yours, just, you know, try to maintain order in it, that is a sign of defeat. 

And that is a major problem for us.  And that’s the kind of compromise that we cannot be making, nor can we have allies that are making those kind of compromises, because those are fundamental compromises, that’s giving up control to the Taliban. 

CARLSON:  I think that’s a fair point.  Evan Kohlman, thanks a lot, Evan.  I appreciate it. 

KOHLMAN:  Thank you very much.

CARLSON:  Coming up, a new report discloses Al Gore’s massive energy consumption.  It really is enormous.  Does he walk the walk or fall far short of his talk on global warming?  You know the answer. 

Plus Nancy Pelosi’s talk before she assumed power in Congress was endlessly and endlessly promising, upon further review, how do you think the speaker of the house is doing so far in delivering what she said she would?  Set your reaction to disappointing, and stay tuned. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  If Nancy Pelosi’s vision of the 110th Congress were realized, America would be the beneficiary of the most ethical government ever, real action on the Iraq War, and the hardest working legislature we’ve ever known. 

Well, as Congress began its three-day work week, the administration’s Iraq policy continues unaltered, and The Politico took a hard look at Mrs.  Pelosi.  And the results, not good.  Joining us once more, Republican pollster and CEO of the polling company, Kellyanne Conway, and contributor to The Boston Herald as well as MSNBC, Mike Barnicle. 

Welcome to you both.  Kellyanne, when I compare the Republican rhetoric in 1994 when they took Congress to what they actually did by the time they were thrown out this past year, it makes you want to vote libertarian.  So this is a bipartisan critique. 

But I have to say, the Democrats have sold out faster than anyone I’ve ever seen.  Nancy Pelosi came in and said, we’re going to work five days a week.  I didn’t want them to work five days a week anyway.  But it turns out they’ve only down that once.  They are now down to a three-day-a-week week.  Can they do that?  I mean, can they just sort of ignore promises they made about 20 minutes ago and sort keep going?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER:  Probably not with significant rebuke.  And, Tucker, what I find most fascinating about the speaker is her seating William Jefferson, this man who had $90,000 in his freezer, she put him on the Homeland Security Committee.  And that was her own choice. 

Many Democrats rolled their eyes.  Very esteemed former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton very recently in a major newspaper questioned the autocratic style of Nancy Pelosi, essentially saying, you complained for years that you were shut out of the debate by the Republican-controlled Congress, and you’re doing the same by not giving Republicans a voice. 

Look, governing is hard, promising is easy.  If I were the Democrats, though, I would not be blaming the Republicans in Congress.  They’re in the minority.  They don’t have much power.  I’d be really hopping mad at Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and the rest of these folks who just completely sucked up all of the media coverage in the second and third week of the Democratic Congress by starting to run for president two years before inaugural—Inauguration Day 2009. 

It is the Democrats’ reach for the presidency that has really kicked the Democrats in Congress off of the headlines.  It is very difficult for them to get any kind of traction, let alone respect.  I did notice in the ABC poll, Nancy Pelosi’s disapproval rating went from 25 percent to 31 percent from January to February. 

That is kind of remarkable just because people usually give you sort of a free ride, a little bit of a courtesy period.  That her disapproval ratings have increased at all, let alone 6 points doesn’t bode well for her. 

CARLSON:  But everything is done on an accelerated track.  And I must say, I mean, you’d think that Congress could go ahead and write the nation’s laws without the media watching.  I mean, even when people aren’t paying attention they ought to be working. 

But I wonder, Mike, what you think specifically of the question of William Jefferson, who everyone expects to be indicted.  He is under investigation.  A member of staff, one of his friends, already indicted.  Nancy Pelosi appoints him to the Homeland Security Committee where someone (INAUDIBLE) pointed out the other day, you know, he has access to classified material.  This guy couldn’t get a security clearance himself.  What should she have done?  Should she not have seated him on a committee?

BARNICLE:  Oh, he should not be on that committee.  But maybe Speaker Pelosi thought that because he was so effective in his securing his own homeland against the FBI, you know, going after the cash in his freezer that he would effective at homeland security.  That I don’t know. 

But he ought not to be a chair on that committee.  He ought not to be on that committee, he ought not to be in Congress.  But the people in his district in New Orleans elected him.  So that’s not for us to be the judge of that. 

The interesting thing—what Kellyanne was just speaking to is, if you go north of Bowie, Maryland, or south of Alexandria, Virginia, the impact that Nancy Pelosi has on the average American is nil.  There is only one issue out in this country right now, and it is the war in Iraq.  And it is going to dictate what happens to the Democrats in control of both the Senate and the House right now. 

It is going to have a lot to say about who is our next president of the United States, and eventually it will have a spillover on Speaker Pelosi. 

CARLSON:  But as we were saying—I think you are absolutely right.  I think you are taking the long—I mean, a hundred years from now, no books will be written about how many days a week Congress is working, right?

BARNICLE:  And not only that, Tucker, but I mean, you have seen Congress in action.  Anybody who has seen Congress in action would urge them to come in maybe one day a week, not five. 

CARLSON:  I can promise you, as I said, as a libertarian, I think Congress works far too much.  I am all for citizen legislators.  But I wonder, Kellyanne, I mean, it doesn’t seem, if you are looking ahead for the next three months, I don’t see the point where Congress takes control of the Iraq War.  I just don’t see that happening.  Do you?

CONWAY:  No.  If anything, Tucker, they had their chance and what they chose to do was have a 92-word or so non-binding resolution and week full of preening and all of this going on, and yet not the guts to follow the Murtha plan, Nancy Pelosi’s hand-picked second-in-command who failed to become the Senate—the House majority leader despite her wanting him to be so. 

And this whole idea of cutting off the funding, she hasn’t put that to a serious vote.  Nobody expects her to.  So I think that in Congress, if you talk to Republicans and Democrats, they will tell you that 2007 is all about the budget.  They certainly know that the country is focused on the war, the administration is focused on the war and they too must be focused on the war, but there’s this nasty little thing called the budget that nobody is really going to take a serious sledgehammer. 

I contend, Tucker, Mike, that you are not going to see much of a difference in the budget this year after the Democrats are done with it than you saw when Republicans were in charge.  And Republicans spent way too much money the last couple of years.

CARLSON:  That’s for sure.

CONWAY:  That’s why many Republicans didn’t vote for them this time, many conservatives stayed home.  And I think that nobody is going to take a serious look at entitlements.  We are spending about 20 percent of our budget or so on defense, and compared to what we spend on Social Security and Medicare, it is going to look exactly the same.  And I think that is why she is going to be completely undistinguished as a speaker.

CARLSON:  Yes.  I wonder, very quickly, Mike, whoever the Democratic nominee becomes, let’s say it’s Hillary Clinton, I mean, she will have a vested interest in deemphasizing the existence of Nancy Pelosi.  I mean, Nancy Pelosi’s sort of moment in the spotlight is effectively over, isn’t it, at this point? 

BARNICLE:  Well, she probably has six or seven more months to go in the spotlight—at the edge of the spotlight, because, I mean, you’re right.  Once the presidential thing really kicks in, once you get Barack Obama, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and the Republican side, McCain out there every day, a sustained volley of constant publicity over the presidency, yes, her importance and her visibility will surely recede. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Well, enjoy her while you can.  It’s the first question about Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy.  What role will his race play with the voters?  Coming right up, a new poll says, not much.  Find out what American voters do hold against (ph) their prospective presidents.  So we’ve got that poll.

Plus, Al Gore lives in a big old house with lots of lights and air conditioners and appliances.  And he has an energy bill to prove it.  Does that prove anything about Gore?  We will tell you.  We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  As of this very moment, there are no 72-year-old, twice divorced, Mormon cigarette smokers running for president.  According to a new ABC News/”Washington Post poll, such a candidate would have a pretty hard time getting elected.  Each of these hypothetical candidates distinguishing characteristics would count against him or her.  What apparently matters far less would be a candidate’s race.  Here to discuss the poll and its meaning in our long national dog and pony show for president, we welcome back Republican pollster, and CEO of the Polling Company, Kellyanne Conway, and MSNBC contributor and “Boston Herald columnist, Mike Barnicle. 

Kellyanne, are you surprised by this?  Are you surprised by how difficult this poll suggests it would be for a Mormon, for instance, to run.  And what about old people?  I thought they voted.  Why are voters so against old candidates?

CONWAY:  I’m not surprised at all, particularly about the Mormon question.  You know, it’s gone down a little bit, which is good news for Mitt Romney, but it’s actually remained very consistent among white evangelical Protestants.  About 38 percent say that they would not vote for a Mormon for president, and half of them said their would be, quote, no chance.  So they’re not apt to change their mind, just as Mitt Romney’s not apt to change his religions.

And Tucker, what usually happens with voters is they are far less forgiving about mutable characterizes, things that they think you have control over, your weight, smoking, and then immutable characteristics, like your gender or the color of your skin.  Now, age is an immutable characteristic, believe you me, and we know age changes over time.  But the year you were born never changes. 

The problem with being 72, when it comes to the next president is, in 1996, seniors turned away from Bob Dole, because if you listened to them in focus groups, they would tell you, look, I’m 70 myself and I have a hard time getting out of bed and getting the meds all put together.  How is this guy going to meet with world leaders?  How is he going to have the energy to be president of the United States.  That may have been unfair, but that’s what his peers were saying at the time. 

CARLSON:  But that’s not surprising.  I mean, I’ve seen surveys that show young television viewers don’t like to watch young television show hosts.  I mean, you don’t necessarily want to see a person who fits your demographic.  It’s actually, I think—sadly there some truth in that. 

It’s interesting though, Mike, over 72, 58 percent of voters said they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate who’s that old.  That’s about John McCain’s age.  John McCain doesn’t seem 70 though.  Do you think he gets a pass from this? 

BARNICLE:  Well, I think he gets a pass, somewhat, given his life experiences and given the story of his life.  I think he gets a pass.  But my question is, who are these people who are being polled.  You know, I understand responding to a question about age, cigarette smoking and stuff like that.  And yet, if you go out, if you go around, if you go into the primary states to see the candidates and talk to the people who come to see those candidates, the issues don’t change with people. 

They are the same today, in a sense, as they were 30, 40 years ago.  They are my job, my health plan, what about my kids’ future, our security here as a country, our economic security, our physical security?  These are the things that govern people’s attitudes and I think eventually their vote.  And there’s always the possibility, and it is certainly going to happen, that some event will occur that will change the whole dynamic of this election. 

CARLSON:  By the way, that is exactly what Mitt Romney is looking for.  Kellyanne, as you know, there was a document, a power point presentation from the Romney campaign, apparently it was designed by one of his Alex Castellanos, on of his consultants, and it suggestions that Mitt Romney, his campaign believes, is not where he needs to be in order to win.  They understand that this is a guy who is thought be many to be a phony.  Do you think that’s fair? 

CONWAY:  It’s unfair, but it’s very true as a perception, and there’s not a lot that’s fair if politics, too bad. 

CARLSON:  Wait, why is it unfair.  Here is a guy who has changed his position on every significant social issue there is in the last two years.  Why is it unfair to think he’s a phony. 

CONWAY:  A phony?  I don’t think that he’s a phony the way people in focus groups say that there’s something plastic about him, something that they can’t really put their finger on, things that you can’t get out of quantitative data.  Do I, as a conservative, like the fact that this man tried to out Ted Kennedy Ted Kennedy in a debate for the United States Senate ten short years ago, on abortion, on things that conservatives care about?  No I don’t. 

Look, voters become uncomfortable with candidates who change their positions.  Some of the most important polling questions out there, Tucker and Mike, are the ones that test attributes.  Who takes a position and sticks with it?  Who is honest and trustworthy?  Who is consistent.  Those are much better barometers, and I think that will be as difficult for Mitt Romney has his Mormonism.  His Mormonism is difficult to most Americans because it’s shrouded in mystery.  This is the age of YouTube and Google.  And if you can’t go on the computer and figure something out, if you can’t rip off the veil of Mormonism, and figure it out for yourself, and see it for yourself, then that is going to be an excuse to vote against Mitt Romney. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  Let me just say, I’m not sure that—if people go out and research Mormonism, they’re going to be more likely to vote for Mitt Romney.  There are a lot of very critical accounts of Mormonism out there. 

Let me just say, Mike, you live in Massachusetts.  You have lived there for a long time.  In Mitt Romney’s internal campaign strategy plan it is recognized that Massachusetts, where he has lived for decades, is a problem with conservatives.  Can you see Mitt Romney running against your state? 

BARNICLE:  He already as begun doing that. 

CARLSON:  How can he do that?  He was just governor of Massachusetts like 20 minutes ago.

BARNICLE:  Tucker, he’s been doing its for the past year in speaking engages in Iowa, or down in South Carolina, basically holding up the fact that he was governor of Massachusetts and was fighting a lonely fight against the liberal left in Massachusetts, that he, Mitt Romney, was the guy who kept fending off Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, and the reminders of Michael Dukakis, the 1988 nominee, and he’s been using that around the country.  Now, whether that is going to work for him or not, my understanding of the religious right and Republican party, at least among the many evangelical delegates who go to this convention, that his religion will be an obstacle for them.  And then, if they do get over that—he’s not a fake.  He’s not a fraud.  But he sure has been an opportunist. 

I mean, a guy who joins the National Rifle Association shortly before Christmas and then goes out says, you know, I’m all for no gun control.  I mean, I think that would present some problems to people.

CARLSON:  Well, especially if that exact same—I mean, I applaud that, but if that same guy, again, twenty minutes ago, was telling you that he is not on the NRA’s side and that we need gun control. 

BARNICLE:  Yes, exactly, or, Kellyanne referred to, in 1994, of course, you know, debating Ted Kennedy for a seat in the United States Senate, during that campaign, he basically said that he would—well, he didn’t basically say it.  He said that he would be a stronger proponent for gays and homosexual rights than would Ted Kennedy in the United States Senate.  How he runs away from that I don’t know. 

CARLSON:  Here is my question: short of becoming gay, how do you do that?  How do you become more pro-gay rights than Ted Kennedy? 

CONWAY:  Tucker, don’t give these candidates any ideas.  This is going to be—

CARLSON:  I’m not. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  As an academic question, how do you become more gay rights than Ted Kennedy?  What’s the process of doing that, I wonder? 

CONWAY:  You probably don’t, and you shouldn’t really try.  The thing for Mitt Romney that I would seriously ask him, as a Republican, is how did you leave the state of your party as you exited the governor’s mansion, and that’s the same question I would ask George Pataki, the former governor of New York, who also is thinking of running for president.  And the reason I would ask him that, Tucker and Mike, is because in both cases their parties did awfully on their watch.  No, you have to be a party builder within your own state, I’m sorry.

BARNICLE:  Kelly, there’s no Republican party in Massachusetts. 

CONWAY:  OK, but he was the leader of it. 

(CROSS TALK)

BARNICLE:  He’s one of five Republicans in the state.

CONWAY:  No, but his lieutenant governor lost by 25 points. 

BARNICLE:  She was a terrible candidate.  She was a horrible candidate.

CARLSON:  No, I think Mitt Romney does get a pass on that.  I’ve met some Massachusetts Republicans and they are very, very nice, but they’re -- 

BARNICLE:  Where?  At the airport? 

CARLSON:  Yes, at the airport, that’s exactly where.

CONWAY:  They’re not allowed to get on the same plane together.

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  Mike, you saw the piece today in the “Washington Post,” that Hillary Clinton apparently has not disclosed, and she is not alone in this, her charitable contributions.  I was struck by not simply the fact that she didn’t disclose it.  I don’t think it’s such a big deal, but by how relatively little the Clinton’s gave to charity, relative to how much they make, and by how much in tax deductions.  She apparently is taking five million dollars in tax deductions over the past several years, while only giving, from this foundation, 1.4 million.

That doesn’t strike—for people who want to redistribute the wealth, that doesn’t strike me as particularly generous. 

BARNICLE:  Well no, I mean, that stood out with me too, the fact that it was basically, you know, a good vehicle for give million dollars in tax savings.  I don’t think that’s her problem Tucker.  If you go to Iowa or New Hampshire to see the early action, she’s a very smart, very poised woman.  She is speaking from a focus group. 

You go see Barack Obama.  He is selling the future.  He is real to a lot of people.  People lean forward, lean forward to hear Barack Obama/  They stand back and listen to Mrs. Clinton.  He is selling the future.  She is the past, and I’m not sure that it is going to be as easy for her as a lot of people think. 

CARLSON:  Kellyanne, to wrap this up, if you were selling Hillary Clinton—and I absolutely agree with what Mike said, if you put the two of them next to each other, it’s very hard to see why you would choose her over him.  What’s your pitch if you are Hillary Clinton?  Why me over Barack?

CONWAY:  I’m part of a known and established brand in a country that pretends it goes for new things this and revolution, but orders number three from the McDonald’s menu every night.  In politics familiarity breads content more than contempt.  And I think that it is a very strange path for a feminist icon like Hillary Clinton to basically become president by osmosis, because her husband was there.  Somehow, if you were sitting in your house coat while he was talking to heads of state, you too become the president.  It would be like me watching an infomercial for the Nordic Track, eating a bowl of ice cream on my couch and saying, voila, I just lost ten pounds.  But she’s got to sell it that way. 

She also has to know that Barack Obama is one of the few people on the national scene who, A, makes Hillary Clinton look more moderate than liberal, and B, makes her look more experienced than she actually is in foreign policy and otherwise.  But I think she needs to become far less Hillary and for more Clinton, and do it very quickly. 

CARLSON:  I think he makes her look even less appealing and more wooden.  And I will also say that that Nordic Track thing doesn’t work.  You’re absolutely right that.  I’ve done that a number of times.  That’s right.  Mike Barnicle, Kellyanne Fitzpatrick (sic), thank you very much. 

Coming up, “American Idol” gets more and more like American politics every day, including incriminating photographs of the candidates.  The difference is that racy photos on the Internet might help you with the “American Idol” voters.  Willie Geist is along with pertinent analysis of that race.

And up next we’ll get to the question of Al Gore’s power consumption.  It’s awfully heavy.  What does that do to his credibility, his message, and his potential run for the White House?  We’re on it.  We’ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Al Gore has never lived in the White House, at least not yet, but he has got some pretty nice digs anyway.  His family home in the Nashville sprawls for 10,000 square feet, and according to the “Nashville Tennessean,” it costs the Gores about 1,200 bucks a month in electricity.  That’s quite a big Carbon foot print, needless to say.  Well Gore defends his prodigious energy consumption with the fact that Mr. Gore pays for, quote, off sets, which fund the production of renewable energy, like solar power.  Here to discuss the meaning of this story if the president of the Competitive Enterprise Instituted, Fred Smith.  Fred, welcome.

FRED SMITH, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE:  Hi Tucker.  We’re back to the Middle Ages in indulgences, aren’t we. 

CARLSON:  Here’s the thing.  I don’t typically go into how people live, their private lives.  I like to keep that out of politics, but the nature of this global warming debate is almost by definition personal.  The idea is, and Gore said it out loud the other day.  He said, it’s not political.  It’s moral.  The way you behave in your off hours, your private life at home could determine the future of the Earth.  So the personal is political, according to the rules he set out, and so I think it’s very relevant that this guy is living like a king, at the expense of our planet?  Am I missing something?

SMITH:  No, you’re not.  And, in fact, if he stayed at home, he’d actually use even less energy.  Flying around the world in jet travel is not exactly what you would call a green lifestyle.  But remember, as you point out in your beginning, he is now expiating for his evil consumptive ways by buying indulgences.  You now, back in the Middle Ages, (INAUDIBLE) was in trouble with Martin Luther because the catholic church, or at least elements of it, believed you could get people out of hell and save your own soul by buying indulgences. 

Well now we have Carbon indulgences.  Rich people will tell poor people to stay energy poor.  And, as a result, the world will be fine.  The rich people can feel morally sound, and the poor people will starve in the dark.

CARLSON:  Well, the losers in the left wing blogosphere are out of control about this, saying, this is a right wing plot to make Al Gore look bad.  Explain this concept, Fred, in as straight a way as you can.  I’m sure you’re going to be attacked as shill for industry, and I will be too.  But explain what this Carbon indulgence idea amounts to, and does it save the planet or not? 

SMITH:  What they basically do is decide there’s good energy and there’s bad energy, and if you basically can’t, yourself, live that lifestyle, you buy or pay others to live that more conservation-oriented lifestyle, and then you create a whole set of politically correct ways, bio-fuels, not harvesting trees in some jungle in Africa, or somewhere. 

Imagine if America, when we were settled, had that.  All the American colonialists would have been paid not to have cleared the land to develop America.  It’s essentially a plot by which rich guilty people allow poor people to stay poor, or their leaders really is what it will amount to.  So we’ll have the green foreign aide.  The rich in the poor countries will do well by taxing the poor in the rich countries. 

CARLSON:  Wouldn’t a third, and maybe better option, be kind of scale down.  I mean, Gore lives in a 10,000 square foot house.  He’s obviously getting driven around in limousines a lot.  He flies in private planes.  Wouldn’t it just be better to move into to, say, a 3,000 square foot, or a 1,500 square foot house.  I mean, how big a house do you need?  And maybe you shouldn’t travel so much.  Wouldn’t that just be a better way to do it?

FRED:  -- can turn religion into—if environmentalism is going to come to religion, if Al Gore is going to become the new green pope, if we’re substituting Gaia for God, then absolutely.  The lifestyle of the monks throughout the Middle Ages was very austere.  They lived a very green lifestyle, but generally what we’re seeing here is a view that there has to be sacrifice.  Let’s let Bill lose his job.  Let the coal miner lose their job.  Let the poor people in the energy starved world stay poor. 

It’s the immorality of that.  There’s nothing wrong with people living an austere lifestyle.  Many of us live a much more austere lifestyle than former Vice President Gore.  That’s our choice.  That’s our moral feeling or our tradeoffs.  But when you exploit that lifestyle, not to yourself, but to the people who are defenseless, through regulations, through tax policies, through penalties, you are doing something that is obscene, immoral. 

An energy starved world is going to be harmed by raising energy prices. 

CARLSON:  You know what, Fred Smith, I think you speak an unpopular, but kind of true point.  Thank you for doing that.  I appreciate it.

SMITH:  Thanks a lot.  We southerners always try to be truthful. 

CARLSON:  Amen.  “American Idol” contestant Antonella Barba locked up the male vote when racy photos of her turned up on the Internet the other day.  But why are World War II veterans unimpressed?  Huh!  Willie Geist ways in.  We’ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  When naked pictures of famous people turn up on the Internet, we do not even bother to comment.  We turn instead to our resident expert, Willie Geist, who joins us now. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I refused to look at them.  I had one of our interns dig them up for me.  Disgusting.  Let me ask you one quick question: I know Al Gore is a hypocrite and everything.  What do you want him to do, sail to his speaking engagements overseas?  Come on.  Give him a break.  Swim? 

CARLSON:  You know what, I am actually not very judgmental about the way other people live, it’s just that I just watched him Sunday night get up and tell me it’s a moral issue: what kind of house I have, the transportation I use.  It is?  OK, well then it’s a moral issue for you too pal, flying around in your private planes and your 10,000 square foot house. 

GEIST:  Yes, I got you.  I know how to light the fuse.  I love it. 

Let’s get down to business, naked pictures of “American Idol” contestants.  Antonella Barba, one of the ten remaining female contestants on “American Idol,” as if I had to tell you that Tucker.  The 20 year-old college student from New Jersey probably does not have the best singing voice of the group, but she is getting the most attention, because she has far and away the best steamy Internet pictures of the group. 

These are some of the photographs that have made Antonella one of the most Googled people in the world over the last couple of days.  Now, believe it or not, she posed for these soggy pictures in the fountain of the National World War II memorial.  Yes, some call her disrespectful.  Others might call her a patriot, Tucker. 

Now, there were more pictures on the Internet that were more x-rated, pornographic, that turned out not to be her.  So there’s a lot of bad pictures.  Those were real, right there.  And, last week, she was more searched on the Internet than Britney Spears.  Think about that for a minute.  That is the power of “American Idol.”  But, it seems to me she might have a good PR firm, because she was a terrible singer last week, and all of a sudden these pictures pop up and now she’s moving on to the next round. 

CARLSON:  Are you asking me my opinion of traitor or patriot?

GEIST:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Let me just put it this way, Sam Adams, Antonella, Patrick Henry. 

GEIST:  Right there, right there.  She is a good American.  That’s all I’m going to say about her.  But she’s singing again tomorrow night, so we will see if she sticks around. 

Well, a new study, Tucker, confirms precisely what I have been telling parents for years.  Your kids are not that special, and you should stop telling them that they are.  A group of psychologists released findings this morning that showed today’s college students are more narcissistic than any before them.  The researchers gave students an evaluation that asked for responses to statements like, “I think I am a special person,” and “I can live my life any way I want to.” 

The results were compared to those from the test given every year since 1982.  The study’s lead author said, quote, we need to stop endlessly repeating you are special, and having children repeat that back.  Kids are self-centered enough already.  Amen to that Tucker.

And I have a good starting place to fix this problem, the “My Kid is an Honor Student” bumper stickers has to be banned across the world.  Do you know how hard it is to get on the honor roll in a middle school?  you have to have a pulse.  That’s how hard it is.  Get rid of that bumper sticker.  It’s a good starting point. 

CARLSON:  It is like getting a trophy in little league. 

GEIST:  Exactly.

CARLSON:  You show up day one, with the uniform, they give you the trophy.  I think—you know what, I didn’t have a lot of self-esteem in college, because I did not have a job.  And so my low self-esteem was earned, actually. 

GEIST:  Well, there’s clearly too much self-esteem floating around the country.  I think we need more shame.  I am going to do my part and go around to children and just cut them down to size.  You ain’t that sharp, and frankly, you are not very good-looking either. 

CARLSON:  Good work.  Thank you Willie.  That’s a public service.

GEIST:  That is what I do.  Well, it was once considered our closest ally in the war on terror.  Great Britain has now revealed itself, through its future king, to be an enemy of the United States, and indeed of freedom itself.  While launching a public health awareness campaign in the United Arab Emirates today, Prince Charles suggested that McDonald’s should be banned forever.  The Prince of Wales suggested that getting rid of McDonald’s is the key to improving physical fitness in the world. 

A spokesman for McDonald’s said Prince Charles’ remarks was, quote, disappointing.  Now, here is why Prince Charles should not have said that, and why he doesn’t want to say that, when he thinks about it.  In any given British town, McDonald’s is the finest restaurant they have. 

CARLSON:  Exactly.  The idea that we would take food advice from a Brit person is just—

GEIST:  Exactly.

CARLSON:  The words fail.

GEIST:  I prefer deep fried, nondescript white fish.  That’s better.  And, you know what, we’re going to stick in your eye a little bit.  Just today, we came with the biggest burger in the world.  How do you like that.  Look at that, 123 pounds, Clearfield Pennsylvania, 80 pounds of beef, a pound of ketchup, a pound of Mayo.  It cost 379 bucks.  Oh, and by the way, guess who is coming to validate it?  The Guinness Book of Records from Great Britain.  So, it’s good enough for the Guinness Book Of Records, Prince Charles.  How do you like that? 

CARLSON:  You know what, you have whipped me into such a patriotic frenzy, I feel like invading that little Island again. 

GEIST:  Let’s do it.

CARLSON:  I’d love to, Willie Geist.  Thanks Willie.

GEIST:  See ya.

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  We will be back in Washington 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   

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

Watch Tucker each weeknight at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,