updated 3/5/2007 1:45:05 PM ET 2007-03-05T18:45:05

Guests: Michael Crowley, Bill Press, David Keene, Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts

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

With huge leads in the latest polls, Rudy Giuliani rolled into today‘s political action conference like a rock star.  Does his rousing welcome there mean the conversations have officially overlooked his liberal positions on abortion, gay marriage, gun control, you name it?  Is the former New York mayor a runaway train bound for the nomination of the Republican party?

We‘ll discuss that.

Plus, Hillary Clinton calls in her husband to help steal Barack Obama‘s thunder in Alabama.  Can she really take the black vote away from Barack Obama?

All that in just a minute. 

First, though, the Scooter Libby trial.  The verdict in that case could come as early as Monday after more than a week of jury deliberation.  When the news does arrive, you can be certain we‘ll be here to bring it to you, then to analyze it in exhaustive detail—its effect on the administration, on the war in Iraq, and Scooter Libby himself.

As you listen, be certain to keep at least two questions in mind.  First, are you safer now?  Did the prosecution of Scooter Libby for perjury make this a better country and you personally more secure?

After all the time and money and attention this trial has consumed, Scooter Libby may do many years in prison.  But what have the rest of us gained from all of this?

And second, ask yourself how we got here in the first place.  Once upon a time, this was an investigation into the leak of a CIA officer‘s name.  That leak was a crime, we were told, an offense against this nation, treason.  And yet, in the end, that leak had nothing to do with Libby‘s trial.  And why is that?

If the original crime was so evil, so bad for America, why hasn‘t anybody been indicted or even publicly shamed for committing it?  We know who leaked Valerie Wilson‘s name.  Why is he living in freedom while Scooter Libby fights for his life?

Good questions.  Maybe the prosecutor will answer them when the verdict comes down.

Joining us now to discuss the day‘s news, senior editor of “The New Republic” magazine, Michael Crowley, and nationally syndicated radio host and author of “How the Republicans Stole Religion,” Bill Press.

Welcome to you both. 

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Hi, Tucker.

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

CARLSON:  So, Rudy Giuliani shows up CPAC today, which is this annual gathering of conservatives.  Most people haven‘t heard of it.  It‘s pretty important in the Republican primaries.  And the point of it every year is to show that, yes, I‘m a real conservative in the mold of Ronald Reagan. 

Interesting.

Giuliani shows up today—by many measures, not all that conservative, pretty liberal, actually, on certain issues—introduced by George Will, the—you know, if it‘s anybody who embodies sort of the conservative intellectual movement, it‘s George Will.  And George Will essentially all but endorses him.

What do you make of this, Bill? 

PRESS:  I make of it that Rudy Giuliani may end up being the Republican

nominee with the support of conservatives because they‘ve got nobody

better.  Look, there‘s not a true social conservative among the top three -

Romney, McCain or Rudy Giuliani. 

CARLSON:  Right.

PRESS:  But I think Rudy‘s got three things going for him.  From 9/11 he‘s got celebrity.  Form 9/11 he‘s got security as his issue.  And he has authenticity because unlike Mitt Romney, he is not everywhere on all the issues. 

He says, look, I don‘t agree—you don‘t agree with me on all the issues.  He had a line today, Tucker.  Something like, “Don‘t throw away an 80 percent relationship because of 20 percent of differences.”

CARLSON:  Right.  No, that‘s...

PRESS:  In fact, he said that‘s most marriages in this country would fall into that category. 

CARLSON:  Speaking from experience, yes.

PRESS:  I thought that was a great line.  And if he goes like that and doesn‘t try pander like Romney is...

CARLSON:  Right.

PRESS:  ... or McCain sometimes does, I think that speaks well for him.

CARLSON:  I think that‘s a really interesting point.

Let me also say to your point that he‘s likely to be the nominee, in every election I‘ve looked at going back to 1940 on the Republican side, the front-runner, even two years out, got the nomination.  Republicans tend to nominate the guy in the lead in the early polls, unlike the Democrats, who never do.

But what about—what‘s Bill‘s point, that he is the one front-runner on the Republican side who doesn‘t need to pretend?  He can just say, as he said today at CPAC, you don‘t agree with me, and that‘s OK.  Republicans will continue to accept that? 

CROWLEY:  I‘m a little skeptical about that, Tucker, because I think that there‘s evidence that—you know, the folks at CPAC are probably pretty clued in, but that voters across the country do not know that much about his history in New York, about some of the friends he‘s had, some of the twists and turns he‘s had in his personal life, I‘m not here to be judgmental about it myself, but I just think that as people learn more about him—for instance, in Iowa, religious conservatives who have vast control, influence over the nomination process there...

CARLSON:  Right.

CROWLEY:  ... they‘re going to say, this is not necessarily what we thought.  And I‘m astounded by how much 9/11, the volume of 9/11, how it‘s been able to blot out everything else around him in his past. 

Furthermore, I think it‘s a little odd that if they‘re going to rally around someone on the basis of security, keeping us safe, being strong, that they would go with Giuliani, who really, apart from having been in New York and been sort of stoic on that day, doesn‘t really have a lot of—a great record or a lot of experience compared to John McCain, who fought in a war, was a POW, has been at Bush‘s side throughout the entire sort of war on terror.

CARLSON:  Well, he‘s been in the Congress for more than 20 years.  He‘s been in the Congress for 25 years, at the center of every foreign policy debate since 1982.

So, I think you‘re absolutely right.  And yet, you know, the McCain strategy is to wait until conservatives figure out that Giuliani is a liberal, right? 

I think there‘s evidence, looking at the poll numbers, they already know it and they don‘t care.  In the South he‘s beating McCain in polls in Alabama.

Here are the numbers from New Jersey, which I think are really fascinating.  This a new Quinnipiac poll in New Jersey, which is a state that Republicans could really use to win. 

Giuliani, 58 percent among Republicans in New Jersey—and there are some

McCain, 15.  More significant.  A head to head with Democrats, Giuliani beats Hillary Clinton 50-41, beats Obama 50-39.  McCain, by contrast, ties Clinton and loses to Obama.

It‘s amazing.

PRESS:  You see, Tucker, Michael may be right.  And there is a theory, you know, that none of these three are going to sustain or going to survive, and that it‘s a secret conservative waiting in the wings.  Maybe his name is New Gingrich.

CARLSON:  Right.

PRESS:  Maybe his name is Pat Buchanan, who is going to emerge and get the conservatives‘ support and get the nomination. 

But I come back to where I think where Rudy Giuliani is.  It depends, I believe, on whether the Republican Party decides it‘s the dogmatic side that‘s going to win or the pragmatic side that‘s going to win.  And I believe looking at 2008 they know they‘re in trouble after what happened in 2006.

They know they‘re in trouble because of the Iraq war, and they‘re going to choose the pragmatic side.  And Rudy Giuliani is Mr. Pragmatist.

CARLSON:  God, I must say, in other words, pragmatic being the people who will do anything to win, dogmatic being people who still believe something.

PRESS:  Exactly.

CARLSON:  I wonder, though, if the lesson of the last six years, the Bush administration, is that, you know, being too conservative fails.  I don‘t see any truly conservative policy the president has acted on that‘s been terribly unpopular.  The war in Iraq, internationalism, nation-building, the ludicrousness of neoconservatism, those are not conservative ideas, those are liberal ideas.  Or at least they‘re not conservative. 

CROWLEY:  No, that‘s right.  I mean, it‘s one of the bizarre stories of the Bush presidency, is that he is actually—he‘s actually not a conservative. 

CARLSON:  Thank you for saying that.

CROWLEY:  I think what conservatives would say is that he never really tried hard enough.  That, you know, conservatism has failed because it hasn‘t been—no one has ever really given it the right go.  I think that‘s a diluted notion.  I mean, I think all the evidence is that when you do try to push it in that direction, a classic, almost cliched example is when Newt Gingrich and the government shut down in 1995, they fall flat on their face.

CARLSON:  Well, they‘re unpopular, you mean? 

CROWLEY:  Yes, that‘s right. 

CARLSON:  No, you‘re right.

CROWLEY:  And in some ways, I mean, the joke is on the public, which says that it wants things like lower taxes and smaller government sort of in the abstract.  My taxes are too high, the government is too big, but when anyone tries to really shrink down the government and cut the programs they like people and starve the government to give them lower taxes, people freak out and say, you know, don‘t touch my entitlements...

CARLSON:  Well, of course.  I mean, that‘s the one lasting legacy of 9/11, is big government.  I times of war, people want larger government.  They want government to take care of them.

They‘re fearful.  They look to government for protection.  I mean, that‘s -

that‘s kind of the reason behind the fact that there are no conservatives left running for president. 

PRESS:  But Tucker, I think it‘s more significant than—it‘s not just that these policies are unpopular.  They failed.  They tried and they failed. 

They tried to govern and they failed.  I think that‘s the legacy of the Bush administration.  Look at privatization.  Take what they tried to do to FEMA—we‘re going to farm it out.  An Katrina happened because FEMA was not on the job the way it was...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  There was a pretty profound weather system over New Orleans. 

PRESS:  The response to Katrina is what I was talking about.

CARLSON:  OK.  I just—well, we should make a distinction between god and the federal government.  I know it‘s not one we often make, but I still think it‘s real.

Coming up, soaring on the coattails of his rising poll numbers, Rudy Giuliani spent this afternoon talking to the Conservative Political Action Committee.  Did he win the hearts of conservatives there?

We‘ll get the answer from the events chairman.

Plus, Billary is back at it.  They‘re hitting the campaign trail this weekend in Alabama, making their first major appearance together since Mrs.  Clinton made her White House run official.

Is Bill the boost she needs to win?

We‘ll tell you.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  s back at it again the with bill making their first

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  We have breaking news.  About 10 minutes ago, Secretary of Defense Gates announced the resignation of the secretary of the Army, Francis Harvey.  He was appointed—Harvey was—November 19, 2004.  He is out of his job following revelations first printed in “The Washington Post” about substandard—awful, actually—care for wounded Iraq veterans at Walter Reed Army Hospital in the District of Columbia.

Francis Harvey, secretary of the Army, out of a job as of about 10 minutes ago.

Well, Rudy Giuliani spent almost an hour at the microphone speaking before the Conservative Political Action Committee today, hoping to woo conservatives.  He spent about 45 minutes talking about everything but those touchy social issues conservatives may not agree with him on  Was he playing it safe?  Did it work?

Joining us is someone who was there.  In fact, he is chairman of the Conservative Political Action Committee, David Keene.

David, thanks a lot for coming on.

I was struck by how many conservatives, not Bush partisans, but actual ideological conversation—and I mean that as a compliment, like George Will—seemed to be embracing or at least not pushing away Rudy Giuliani. 

Who do you make of that? 

DAVID KEENE, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE:  Well, in one sense, Tucker, you know, there is no nobody this year coming up to 2008 who has anything even approaching a sort of genetic claim on conservative support.  As a result, you have got all of these candidates here, and each of them, including Rudy Giuliani, can make a case for himself as to why he, rather than the others, deserves conservative support.  The question of who is ultimately going to get it remains unanswered. 

But I don‘t think given the situation—this isn‘t like, you know, Ronald Reagan and six other guys.  Under those circumstances, the six other guys ought to stay home. 

But this year, conservatives are looking at a number of candidates, all of whom have some attractive features and all of whom have some demerits.  They‘ve got to judge for themselves who in a relative sense is the best carrier of the message they want carried into the 2008 elections.

So I don‘t think in reality that any of these guys are completely out.  Some of them have a better chance than others, but all of them have some chance. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But the polls suggest that Giuliani—I mean, they don‘t suggest.  They indicate that he is way out in front of everyone else. 

It seems to me the one issue conservatives would be pretty strict about would be judges and the promise from a candidate that he would appoint conservative judges.  The study—I‘m sure you saw it yesterday in “The Politico”—took a look at the 75 judges Giuliani appointed to lower courts when he was mayor of New York City and found that they were not only liberal, but really liberal, really liberal.

They were the (INAUDIBLE) choice for judge.  They were the head of the—right?  I mean, they were—I‘m sorry, Mr. Keene.  We‘re being told now that there is a press conference in progress, Secretary of Defense Gates, and we‘re going to go to it right now if you just hold on. 

Here it is.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY:  Good afternoon. 

I have two announcements to make. 

First, earlier today, Secretary of the Army Dr. Fran Harvey offered his resignation.  I have accepted his resignation.  Undersecretary of the Army Pete Geren will serve as acting secretary until a new secretary is in place. 

I thank Dr. Harey for his distinguished service to the department and to the nation. 

Second, later today, the Army will name a new permanent commander for the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  This flagship institution must have its new leadership in place as quickly as possible.

I am disappointed that some in the Army have not adequately appreciated the seriousness of the situation pertaining to outpatient care at Walter Reed.  Some have shown too much defensiveness and have not shown enough focus on digging into and addressing the problems. 

Also, I am concerned that some do not properly understand the need to communicate to the wounded and their families that we have no higher priority than their care, and that addressing their concerns about the quality of their outpatient experience is critically important.  Our wounded soldiers and their families have sacrificed much, and they deserve the best we can offer.

Finally I want to reaffirm my confidence in the staff at Walter Reed and their professionalism and dedication to providing caring treatment.  From what I have learned, the problems at Walter Reed appear to be problems of leadership.  The Walter Reed doctors, nurses and other staff are among the best and the most caring in the world.  They deserve our continued deepest thanks and strongest support. 

Thank you.

CARLSON:  You just heard—that was the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, announcing the resignation of Army secretary Francis Harvey, who has been in that job for about two and a half years.  His resignation comes, of course, on the heels of that “Washington Post” expose on the conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, which are appalling.

We‘ll discuss this with the panel when we come back.  And we will be back.

Coming up, would you be willing to pay higher taxes in exchange for guaranteed healthcare for all Americans?  You might be surprised at how many people said, yes, we would.

Plus, they cross paths in the Senate all the time, but this weekend Hillary Clinton and  Barack Obama will be crossing paths in the South, where both will be commemorating the anniversary of the 1965 civil rights march in Selma, Alabama.  They‘ll also be trying to win the black vote.

Who will succeed?  We‘ll tell you.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GATES:  I am disappointed that some in the Army have not adequately appreciated the seriousness of the situation pertaining to outpatient care at Walter Reed.  Some have shown too defensive and have not shown enough focus on digging into and addressing the problems. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Secretary of Defense Bob Gates explaining that the secretary of the Army has been canned in the wake of a series of pieces in “The Washington Post” detailing substandard, awful care at Walter Reed military hospital in Washington. 

Joining us again, Michael Crowley, Bill Press. 

I want to play a clip of—I think this was just released by the White House.  This is part of what President Bush will say in his radio address tomorrow responding to this scandal at Walter Reed. 

Here‘s the president.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The troops at Walter Reed have experienced bureaucratic delays and living conditions that are less than they deserve.  This is up unacceptable to me.  It is unacceptable to our country.  And it‘s not going to continue.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CARLSON:  They‘re trying to get out in front of this.

This has been one of those sleeper stories for about the past week and a half that I think speaks to a theme Democrats have been pushing for the last couple of years, and it‘s this—that the Republican Party has, since 1972, at least, been the party of strength, national security, the military, but that, in fact, this administration has not been a very good steward of the military. 

Do you think this is sufficient, the response?

PRESS:  Tucker, first of all, I think the situation out there was totally indefensible, and everybody would have to agree to that.  I mean, these people—these soldiers were living in slum conditions, conditions that a slum landlord would have gone to prison for. 

Secondly, the officials—Army officials have known about this, including the last commander, Kevin Kirby (ph), Lieutenant General Kevin Kirby (ph) at Walter Reed, as “The Washington Post” reported, for the last three years.  Veterans groups have gone to them, groups of these patients at Walter Reed have gone to them and said, you‘ve got to do something.  They did absolutely nothing.

Number three, I think it‘s—I have to say, I give Secretary Gates a lot of credit for canning the secretary of the Army.  I don‘t think Donald Rumsfeld would have done that.  I think Rummy would have held—you know, dug in his heals and been very defensive and taken no action at all.  But Rumsfeld did...

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know...

PRESS:  But for the president to say this tomorrow, I have to point out...

CARLSON:  Yes?

PRESS:  ... that Sunday is two weeks from the time this story broke.  This is the first time George Bush has said one word about Walter Reed, and I think that‘s a disgrace. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I agree, it‘s taken long.

And I have to say, I happened to be at Walter Reed exactly a week before this story broke.  And I knew—I guess I found out what a lot of people already knew, that the place is a slum, and there are boarded up buildings, unpainted.  I mean, it‘s depressing as hell in a lot of ways.

I wasn‘t surprised by it because the federal government is a terrible steward of anything.  It doesn‘t take care of anything.  That‘s kind of the nature of bureaucracy.

But I wonder, has the president waited too long?  Has this story penetrated into people‘s consciousness already?

CROWLEY:  Well, yes.  By the way, you know, the federal government is good at some things, like building highways in West Virginia and libraries...

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

CROWLEY:  ... for members of—you know, committee chairmen, which—not to make light of it—which goes to show how shocking it is that they can‘t get something like this right. 

CARLSON:  No, that‘s right.

CROWLEY:  I think you‘re right.  I think they waited too long.  I think it‘s an incredible new smear on the president‘s record.

But you touched on this earlier.  It‘s interesting to me and it‘s sort of amazing how perfectly they are able to line up these factors. 

I mean, there are two big things in this presidency.  One is squandering our military prestige and showing that our military is, in fact, very vulnerable, showing that it has a breaking point, showing that we can overextend ourselves.  And another one is basically incompetence—

Katrina, an ability to manage the government properly.  And you have these two things dove-tailing here, where it‘s a disgrace to the military and it‘s another sign that we just can‘t get basic things right in this government right now. 

CARLSON:  But wait.  I wonder—I agree with the first part, that that is

and liberals don‘t say that enough—that‘s the tragedy of the war, is that it exposes American weakness, and thereby incites other powers around the world to be more aggressive.  So it‘s actually really dangerous, and I completely agree.

But what liberals don‘t admit is that this is always—this is the nature of bureaucracy.  Whenever you have a huge number of people working for a huge organization, I don‘t care if it‘s the federal government or IBM.  In the end, nobody really cares.  And it‘s always this way, it‘s always been this way, it always will be this way.

CROWLEY:  I think you‘re overstating it.  But I think you‘re overstating it.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  We want to find—we want to go right to the Pentagon now, to Jim Miklaszewski, who is standing by there. 

Jim, what happened?  How long in the coming was this?  And how significant is this firing today?

JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Tucker, you know, Secretary Gates has made it clear from the get-go that he wanted prompt action and prompt—somebody to claim—excuse me—take responsibility for the shortfalls in outpatient care at Walter Reed Medical Center.  And yesterday, when he had the resignation of the commander—or he was actually relieved of his command—Major General George Weightman, who was the commander at Walter Reed, you could hear it in Gates‘ voice yesterday that he still wasn‘t satisfied.

So this morning, Army secretary Francis Harvey offered his resignation. 

And without hesitation, Secretary Gates accepted Harvey‘s resignation.

And in a brief statement at the Pentagon earlier, he said that he has really been somewhat disappointed that people haven‘t stepped forward and accepted full responsibility for some of the deplorable conditions we saw in some of the outpatient clinic—or facilities at Walter Reed.  And the secretary said that he found that the initial response from the Army was much too defensive.

And in remarks he made yesterday, he made it clear, Secretary Gates did, that other shoes would drop.  And we are told that this is probably not the last of it. 

CARLSON:  Well, quickly, Jim, you work at the Pentagon, you know everyone there.  Is this considered a scandal there?  Were people who work there, the career military officers you work around, were they shocked by this story?

MIKLASZEWKSI:  Absolutely.  Now, some in the Army will say, look, we‘re embarrassed, we‘re shocked by some of the conditions that were found out at the outpatient facilities there at Walter Reed.  They say it is not indicative of the overall operation at Walter Reed.  In fact, primary care out there is considered by just about everybody to be exemplary.

The people that I‘ve talked to in the Army specifically blame it on admin, which is administration.

CARLSON:  Yes.

MIKLASZEWKSI:  It‘s the typical kind of red tape, where these—these war wounded have fallen through the cracks, and their wounds are still fresh.  And I heard a little bit of the conversation earlier about how the Bush administration doesn‘t care about the soldiers or the veterans. 

I‘ve got to tell you, I‘ve been covering this building off and on for more than 20 years, and it‘s been indicative of almost every administration and Congress.  When you talk to those who are pushing veterans‘ rights, veterans‘ benefits, there is little—they have little constituency up on Capitol Hill. 

So, it‘s not just the Bush administration.  It‘s not just this Army leadership.  It has been a longstanding problem.

And I can tell you, one of the issues that is overlooked in the cost of the war in Iraq, which we haven‘t even begun to see yet, when they talk about resetting the military forces...

CARLSON:  Yes.

MIKLASZEWSKI:  ... re-establishing equipment and rebuilding the like of the Army and the Marines, they haven‘t even scratched the surface yet of what it‘s going to take to reset the human element.

CARLSON:  Right.

MIKLASZEWSKI:  All of those war wounded that are coming back, that is a huge price tag and the proof of the pudding will be to see how Congress steps up to that bill when it comes long after the majority American soldiers leave Iraq. 

CARLSON:  That is a point I had never even considered.  Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon.  Thanks a lot Mik.  I appreciate it.

Well, coming up we‘re still a year and a half away from the 2008 presidential election, but it‘s not too soon to break out the big guns.  In Hillary Clinton‘s case, that gun is he husband, Bill.  Can he deliver?

Plus, could it be, maybe?  Are we almost there?  Are the House Democrats actually getting closer to coming to an agreement on a new Iraq war policy.  Are we just wasting time holding our breath?  We‘ll tell you.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome to the show.  I‘m Tucker Carlson.  She is doing it.  Hillary Clinton is taking advantage of her husband, Bill, a man once described as America‘s first black president.  The senator will be taking him along for the ride down to Selma, Alabama, where she will be speaking at a church during a commemoration of Selma‘s 1965 civil rights march.  This is the pairs first major public appearance together since Mrs. Clinton kicked off her campaign for president.

Strategic move?  Of course.  Back to tell us whether it will work, senior editor of the “New Republic, Michael Crowley, and nationally syndicated radio show host, and author of “How the Republicans Stole Religion,” assuming they did, Bill Press. 

Welcome to you both.  What is interesting here, I have never been able to understand, Bill—you covered the entire Clinton administration.  I was actually with you for a lot of that time.  Bill Clinton is wildly popular among black voters and has always been.  Part of the explanation one always hears is, you know, he appointed black Americans to positions of leadership.  His best friend was Vernon Jordan, et cetera.

Here you have President Bush, who has appointed two black secretaries of state.  Not that he should, but why the disconnect?  Why is Clinton so popular, Bush so very unpopular?  And it‘s not just policies.

PRESS:  No, it‘s not just policies.  I think a lot of it is personally.  I mean, he really can empathize with people, Bill Clinton.  He can identify with them.  They feel that he either feels their pain or understands their experience.  He relates to them on the issues that he cares about, in terms of either health care or working men and women, or those kinds of issues.  And they love him. 

Maybe we can‘t figure it out, but the fact is they do.  What I find funny about this weekend is it seems to me that—this is not the happiest analogy—but Bill Clinton is the nuclear bomb.  Right?  I mean, he‘s the one that you drop toward the end of the war to win the war.  I‘m not sure you use him, drop the nuclear bomb, in your first skirmish. 

CARLSON:  Well, to extend the ugly metaphor, the reason you don‘t is because there‘s fallout from the nuclear weapon.  Let‘s just—I want to put up on the screen what we already know.  The reason Bill Clinton is coming to Selma, and here it is right here.  This is favorability among black voters, Democrats, Democratic leaning voters, “Washington Post”/ ABC News poll.  Hillary Clinton, 33 percent, Barack Obama, 44, beating her by 11 points. 

Last month, 60-20 percent, Hillary leads.  So it has been a dramatic reversal among black voters in favor of Obama.  Why, Michael Crowley, and will Bill Clinton reverse it? 

CROWLEY:  I don‘t really have a perfect theory as for why, except the fact that Obama is just a Golden Boy right now.  He‘s had a minor flap or two, but basically can do no wrong.  He gets glowing media coverage.  Why wouldn‘t people be gravitating toward him?  I think what was surprising was that there was ever a time when she was ahead of him.  I think this, to me, is the less surprising state of affairs.  And I think it‘s just a reflection of how well it‘s been going for him. 

Now, it‘s very interesting to me, because I think there are people who argue that Hillary has been sucked into this campaign much earlier than she should have been.  And so, not only deploying Bill at this point, but just generally tangling with Obama one on one in this way.  She was supposed to be the juggernaut, who coasted to victory, who was inevitable, who was the establishment candidate.  And here she is now having these dueling events at the same time, on the same block. 

She is bringing down her husband, which is looking like—desperation would be too strong, but something that she‘s doing because she‘s hemorrhaging support.  And I don‘t think that the Clinton campaign ever thought that they were going to be in this position so early.  I think it‘s great news for Obama.

CARLSON:  One of the reasons I like Barack Obama is I think his election, or at least nomination as the candidate would effect a transformation in black politics, which really is, in my view, caught in 1968, in the Black Power movement, in the civil rights movement.  And the leadership is, I don‘t think representative.  I think most of the time it‘s incredibly corrupt and cynical.  Jesse Jackson, who does he represent?  Barack Obama is not a product of the civil rights movement.  He‘s a product of a much broader experience than that.  Black politics will never be the same after his running for president.  Do you think?

PRESS:  I think you have a point on that.  I wouldn‘t agree with you on all of those points.  That‘s a discussion. 

CARLSON:  What, that Jesse Jackson‘s corrupt?  Come on, we can admit it now.

PRESS:  All of the present leadership.  But I think what we are seeing here in Selma this weekend is, I mean, this is the Clinton juggernaut.  I mean, what their message to Barack Obama is don‘t even try.  This is our territory, and you may be cute and you may be popular, but we‘re going to crush you.  And we‘re going to do it from the very, very beginning.

I think it may be overkill.  I‘ve got to tell you, again, I‘m not sure you play this hand this early in the game.  But Barack Obama, let‘s get the facts right, he had been scheduled to go down there for months, and Hillary sees he is down there.  Hey, he‘s going to get more support maybe among the black community.  So she schedules a trip down there within the last week or so, couple of weeks, I think.  And then, just a few days ago, she has announced she is bringing President Bill down her. 

CROWLEY:  Under Bill Clinton the economy was very good to African-Americans in this country.  Poverty fell.  And those trends have reversed under this administration. 

CARLSON:  I wonder why?  Do you think globalization has had anything to do with that, which is product of the Clinton administration?  It‘s had a huge amount to do with it.  Where do we get that?

CROWLEY:  -- but they have a role.  I think there‘s no question that Bush‘s policies have been tilted toward the very rich. 

CARLSON:  You don‘t think that Clinton‘s embrace of globalization, world markets, immigration, have had a terrible effect on working class Americans, disproportionately black Americans?  They have.

CROWLEY:  I‘m not sure that‘s true.  Yes, I‘m not sure that that‘s true.  There are a lot of arguments that globalization has been good for the economy in the long term. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  Let‘s just boil it down.  If you have a high school education and you expect to make a living, sufficient to support a family, with your hands, with skilled labor, are you more or less able to do that now than you were in 1992.  You‘re much less able to, because there are people in Bangladesh, India, China, Thailand, who are doing it, thanks to globalization. 

(CROSS TALK)

PRESS:  Tucker, the real problems with globalization is the export of jobs.  But the fact is, and I think this is what Michael‘s getting to, give Bill Clinton credit.  They are the eight years of the best economic growth in the history of this country. 

CARLSON:  Yes, the rich got rich, no doubt about it.

PRESS:  No, eight solid years, which everybody benefited from, unlike the policies of the Bush administration, which have been tilted toward the very top. 

CARLSON:  If globalization was such a great thing, then Democrats would be running on it now.  And not a single Democrat running for president, including Bill Clinton‘s wife, is running on a platform that supports globalization, open markets, not a single one.  So that kind of tells you something there. 

PRESS:  What they are running on is globalization with environmental protection and worker protection. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  Which would undo all those treaties.  Let me just say, speaking of the Democrats, Leon Panetta, I thought, had a very, very interesting point.  This is what he said to the press moments ago, practically, the Democrats efforts at coming to a solution in Iraq are, quote, doomed.  Either they are going to be blocked in Congress or vetoed by the president, or both.  The end result is that it will make us more divided and impotent on war policy.

Michael, this is another example, more evidence, it seems to me, smart guy Leon Panetta, that the Democrats, they didn‘t start the war, they are not responsible for it; they are now losing the debate over it. 

CROWLEY:  Well yes, I think that‘s right.  Because the problem is, they don‘t—as Panetta says, there‘s nothing that they can really do.  I think there was a feeling at the time of the election last November, it was this cathartic moment, where the public finally spoke, and said end the war, put some new people in charge, change the direction of the country. 

It turns out that their ability is pretty limited.  You know, their margin in the Senate is very small.  The problem is, not only are they not able to win credit with the broad public, because they look disorganized, but the left, or  the hard core anti-war people in this country, are getting really increasingly frustrated. 

If you read some of the liberal blogs, you know, they are starting to say, guys, it‘s time that you actually get something done and if you don‘t, no more honey moon.  They are starting to fire shots across the bow. 

CARLSON:  They have been making those threats for a long time, but I think they are real. 

PRESS:  Leon Panetta is wrong.  I‘ll say that.  Number one, the Democrats don‘t have enough votes to end this war.  If they did, the war would be over, or the funding would be.  But I think that eventually the Democrats are going to keep trying, keep trying, eventually the Republican party is going to have to come to its senses and say, Trent Lott and Mitch McConnell are taking us over the cliff on this war in Iraq.    

CARLSON:  You would think that.  Just the opposite is happening right now.  All indications are the Republicans are actually uniting against Democrats, uniting against Democratic efforts to derail the war.  I‘m not taking a position on it morally.  I‘m just saying, that tells you everything you need to know.  Republicans think they‘re winning this argument, which is remarkable.

PRESS:  Look at John McCain.  Politically, why do you think he‘s sinking so fast?  Because he is the most outspoken in support of Bush‘s surge.  This is a losing issue for Republicans and they‘re going to have to realize it.

CARLSON:  I think those are different measure, but that‘s another show.  That‘s why we do it every day.  Thank you both. 

Coming up, it was his best birthday ever.  Ted Kennedy was surprised by his wife with a beautiful Aston Martin, his dream car, red ribbon and all.  But it turned out it was a not so great birthday present when he had to give that car back.  Ted Kennedy and cars.

Plus, remember her, she drove almost a thousand miles in a diaper just to talk to the girlfriend of a man she was having an affair with.  Well, she‘s been charged with attempted kidnapping.  We‘ll give you every delicious, diaper clad detail in just a moment. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Believe it or not, it‘s not always about presidential contenders, war resolutions, pre-election polling here in the nation‘s capital.  There is also the fun, the juicy, the not so straight an narrow.  And here with their weekly delivery of that, the best of the best, our ambassador to this city‘s water cooler, from the “Washington Post‘s” universally read gossip column, the Reliable Source, Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts.  Welcome ladies.

ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  You can call me ambassador. 

I like that.

CARLSON:  I will.  What‘s happening? 

ROBERTS:  We have all sorts of goodies for you.  Where do we start?

AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  We are starting with the big new nomination to the Council on Foreign Relations? 

ROBERTS:  Oh yes, are you ready to be a foreign policy wonk with Angelina Jolie. 

CARLSON:  She is a foreign policy wonk?  

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  The standards are coming down to my level now.  That‘s great.

ROBERTS:  No, this is good.  The Council on Foreign Relations, the very exclusive New York international policy think tank has allowed Angelina‘s nomination to make the short list, which means the board meeting in June will decide whether or not she gets in. 

ARGETSINGER:  And I think she‘ll get in.  I think she pretty much gets in wherever she wants to.  Don‘t you think?

ROBERTS:  Well, one of the questions I had was:  What on the board gives her—

ARGETSINGER:  What does she need? 

ROBERTS:  Yes, she can meet with anyone she wants to, so why should she bother with this? 

ARGETSINGER:  What does she get out of this? 

ROBERTS:  The answer is that she gets an instant tutorial with every policy expert in the world about this, and they get an incredibly sex pot authority in their midst. 

CARLSON:  Is there like a velvet rope and a bouncer outside the Council on Foreign Relations?  What are the criteria for getting in?  Do you know?

ROBERTS:  You have to be an American citizen and you have to demonstrate a sincere interest in foreign policy.  That usually means a P.H.D., but if you‘re Angie, it doesn‘t. 

ARGETSINGER:  Yes, she‘s got a high school degree.

CARLSON:  So do I.  That‘s good.

ROBERTS:  You would vote her in, wouldn‘t you? 

CARLSON:  Oh, are you kidding?  Of course I would, and Jennifer Aniston.  Boy, I am equal opportunity.  What else is going on?

ARGETSINGER:  Well, I know there are some people out there who have not gotten around to reading Linda Greenhouse‘s definitive biography of the late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackman, because they said to themselves, I‘ll just wait for the movie.  It turns out it could actually happen.  A Broadway producer is now putting together a Broadway play that would focus -- based on Linda Greenhouse‘s book on Harry Blackman.  It would actually focus on Blackman‘s friendship, which spanned their entire life, with Chief Justice Warren Berger.  You know, --

ROBERTS:  Two wild and crazy guys.

ARGETSINGER:  Yes, and before you go asking, well, who does Nathan Lane play and who does Matthew Broderick play, this is not, I repeat, this is not a musical.  I know it sounds like a musical. 

ROBERTS:  Is it a comedy. 

ARGETSINGER:  No, it‘s like an intimate, character driven drama.  It‘s like a Tom Stopper type serious thing. 

ROBERTS:  I‘m spelling Tony already. 

CARLSON:  It sounds like a flop.  I mean, that‘s like a comedy starring Potter Stewart and William Rhenquist.

ROBERTS:  Douglas had all the women, right?  You know, the four, five, seven wives, or something like that? 

(CROSS TALK)

ARGETSINGER:  I don‘t know, it‘s like a Broadway play that‘s tailor made for people inside the beltway.  I think it will do quite well when it passes through D.C.

ROBERTS:  We mentioned that Teddy Kennedy was turning 75 and having a big costume party.  So everybody that went to the party on Saturday night sees a sports car, gorgeous sports car.  It turns out to be an Aston Market Vanquish, which retails for about 255,000 dollars, in front of the house. 

ARGETSINGER:  This is basically the official James Bond car. 

ROBERTS:  Right, big red bow on it.  So we go, Wow!  Isn‘t that cool. 

ARGETSINGER:  What a present.  Somebody really loves Teddy.

ROBERTS:  And I was thinking it was his wife Vickie.  So we call up and we say, tell us about this awesome present.  And it‘s like, oh no, that‘s not a gift.  And he said, it‘s a rental.  I said what?  They said, yes, it‘s a rental.

I said, well, why did it have that great big red bow, and they said, well, because it was his birthday. 

But why the Massachusetts plates? 

Oh, the company that owns the car is from Massachusetts. 

ARGETSINGER:  And it goes back Monday morning? 

ROBERTS:  Yes, and I said, if he has been driving it all weekend, how come there‘s snow on the windshield and it hasn‘t moved since Saturday night?  But they swore it was a rental.  It was just there for his amusements, and it was gone.

CARLSON:  I feel like you are baiting me.  But, just to show you what a thoroughly decent person I am, I am going to let that story go by without any comment at all.  That‘s how big I am.

ROBERTS:  Wait, Tucker, if it‘s your birthday and there‘s a fabulous sports car, with a red bow, in the front of the house, and then you find out it‘s a rental, wouldn‘t you be bummed out? 

CARLSON:  If I were Ted Kennedy, I wouldn‘t want the temptation.  But I appreciate it.  Thank you, both.  Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, thank you.

Yes, the Anna Nicole Smith funeral lived up to all expectations today.  Guests were booed.  A big rock star showed up.  And one of the many alleged fathers of the baby used his eulogy to attack Anna Nicole Smith‘s family.  Our chief obituary correspondent, Willie Geist, has all the scentilating details when we return. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  If it‘s Friday, it‘s Willie Geist.  I guess you could say the same thing about Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but somehow Friday brings out the Willie-ness of Willie Geist.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  It ages over the week and then it matures on Friday.  I thought it was very big of you to pass up the chance to take a shot at Ted Kennedy.  Now I offer you second chance, no. 

CARLSON:  You know what, for some reason it‘s considered bad form to make fun of Ted Kennedy.  You know what I mean, that‘s out of bounds.  That‘s ugly.

GEIST:  So you‘re not going to do it?

CARLSON:  No, I‘m not.

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  You‘ve got a Ted Kennedy and cars story, you know how much self control that takes, a lot.  I‘m exercising it. 

GEIST:  Let‘s pass it up.  Everybody knows the story.  Let‘s move onto bigger news though.  After weeks of legal fighting and hours of entertainment from judge Larry Seidlin, Anna Nicole Smith was finally laid to rest in the Bahamas this afternoon.  The burial was proceeded by a memorial service that was everything you hoped it would be.

Anna Nicole‘s coffin was carried down a red carpet into the church.  Her mother, Virgie Arthur, showed up 45 minutes late, as her lawyers tried to win a stay of burial.  An “Entertainment Tonight” camera crew was inside the church.  That‘s a nice touch. 

Howard K. Stern, one of the many men who claimed to be the father of Anna Nicole‘s daughter, was actually booed as we walked into the church.  Yes, he was booed at a funeral, at a church, booed.  Larry Birkhead, meanwhile, drew cheers from the crowd.  During the eulogy, Stern ripped Anna Nicole‘s mother, looking directly at her and calling her, quote, so-called family.  He also discussed the paternity fight in his eulogy.  That‘s just about as classy as it gets.

Oh, and Slash from Guns and Roses was there too.  Is that enough for you, Tucker?  I don‘t have much else.  But I think that‘s a pretty good lineup.

CARLSON:  I hope Slash had a Marlboro red hanging out of his mouth. 

GEIST:  Of course he did.  Rita Cosby was also inside the church.  We got a lot of that reporting from her.  She gave us all that stuff.

CARLSON:  It sounds like my wedding.  They were all there.

GEIST:  All that was missing was the Harlem Globe Trotters. 

CARLSON:  Exactly, Don King.  Right, it would be perfect. 

GEIST:  I‘ve been to a lot of funerals, by the way.  I‘ve never heard booing at a funeral.  That‘s pretty low. 

CARLSON:  That‘s so great.  I don‘t know, you know, you die as you live.  It‘s a spectacle. 

GEIST:  Yes, it was.  It certainly lived up to it.  Now to an update on the astronaut who was bailed out last month, at lest temporarily, by Anna Nicole Smith.  Smith‘s death wiped out the news that Lisa Nowak had been arrested for slapping on a pair of diapers and driving from Houston to Orlando to confront a romantic rival. 

Nowak, seen here in better days, was charged today by Florida prosecutors with attempted kidnapping, but not with attempted murder.  Police had recommended the attempted murder charge, because Nowak was arrested carrying a knife, a steel mallet and a BB gun.  Tucker, just to give you an idea of how fleeting these stories are, I saw the headline, astronaut, and I had to look up her name.  I didn‘t even remember her name anymore.  For like two days it was the biggest thing that ever happened and then Anna Nicole came along and wiped it off the map.

CARLSON:  Quick quiz, runaway bride, what is her name?

GEIST:  Jennifer Wilbanks. 

CARLSON:  Very good. 

GEIST:  Yes, that was a good one.  You know what I‘ll be looking to see?  If people do this story.  I remember when it happened, they had Buzz Aldren on as a guest.  I was always curious about that.  Buzz, you‘ve been an astronaut.  Were you ever tempted to put on diapers and drive to Orlando?  What perspective does he bring to that story?  I‘m not sure.

CARLSON:  I like Buzz Aldren, nice guy.

GEIST:  Yes, right, he shouldn‘t be doing that.  Well, anyway.  A mother, Tucker, her two-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter probably looked like an easy target for a car-jacker in Miami yesterday, but the man  didn‘t take into account the fact that little Brianna Diaz was carrying conceals school books and she was not afraid to use them. 

The criminal pushed the mother out of the car and took off with the kids.  That‘s when the six-year-old girl starting hitting the car jacker with her school books from the back seat.  The man stopped the car and let the kids go unharmed. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIANNA DIAZ, BEAT UP HIJACKER:  I was trying to stop the car and he didn‘t let me.  And that‘s why I smacked him on the head with my books. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Yes!  Smacked him on the head with my book.  Asked why she did it.  She said because he was being bad.  That‘s why.  He dropped them off.  The kids walked home hand in hand.  The mom had a few scrapes and bruises, but everybody was OK.  So, a remarkable story. 

CARLSON:  You know, in about 15 years, she is going to give men a tough time. 

GEIST:  Oh my god, she‘s six.  She‘s cool though.  She‘s a hero.  Finally, Tucker, remember those so-called bandit babes who were caught on a surveillance camera robbing a bank in suburban Atlanta the other day.  Well, they‘ve been caught and it turns out the teller was in on the plan. 

That explains why the 19-year-old girls were so calm. 

The really bad news though, Tucker, is that the surveillance pictures were very, very generous to the girls.  Now here are the mug shots.  So, from here on, they will no longer be called bandit babes or Barbie bandits.  Ladies, I think we‘re finished here.  That‘s about enough.  End of story, as far as I‘m concerned.   

CARLSON:  Not only are they accused felons, they are being mocked by you Willie.

GEIST:  I feel terrible.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist from headquarters, thanks a lot.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Have a great weekend.  See you Monday. 

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

END   

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

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