updated 3/14/2007 4:58:55 PM ET 2007-03-14T20:58:55

Guests: Joe Solmonese, Eugene Robinson, A.B. Stoddard, Don Easterbrook

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show. 

It‘s only Tuesday, and already Washington is atwitter with what appears to be yet another scandal.  This one bubbling up seemingly from nowhere.  It concerns the firing by the executive branch of eight U.S. attorneys around the country. 

Democrats say those firings were politically motivated.  There are calls today for the resignation of the attorney general of the United States, Alberto Gonzales, who gave a live press conference not long ago to respond to some of those allegations. 

We are now awaiting now a press conference by presidential counselor Dan Bartlett.  He‘s in Mexico, where he‘s traveling with the president.  He ought to be coming in about two or three minutes from now.

For analysis of what he might say, we are joined now by NBC chief legal correspondent and MSNBC general manager, Dan Abrams. 

Welcome, Dan.

DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC GENERAL MANAGER:  Hey, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So, boil this down to its essence.  There‘s a lot of barking about this.  We know that the executive branch, no matter who is in charge, has the right to hire or fire these U.S. attorneys, these federal prosecutors.

What exactly is the central charge? 

ABRAMS:  Well, you‘re right, I mean, this isn‘t about—really about whether they have the right or the ability to fire U.S. attorneys.  The question is, were they right to do it, and did they mislead people about the reasons that they did it?  This is about politics. 

A federal prosecutors—there are 93 of them around the country.  They‘re appointed by the president.  The president can fire them. 

The problem is that U.S. attorneys are not like ambassadors.  You don‘t just say, oh, the person‘s the ambassador, we want to pull the ambassador and bring him back. 

U.S. attorneys are supposed to be able to act independently.  They‘re supposed to be able to base their decisions about whether to prosecute, not to prosecute, whether to investigate, not to investigate, based on the facts, and not based on political pressure.  And that‘s the real question here, is, is this administration starting to get into the nitty-gritty of telling federal prosecutors how to do their jobs, and then firing them if they don‘t like them?

CARLSON:  Here‘s what I perceive as kind of the essence of the complaint Democrats have. 

Well, we‘re going to get to that in just a minute.  We‘re going now to Dan Bartlett, who‘s live from Mexico. 

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DAN BARTLETT, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT:  ... in which they—is on the heels of a bilateral conversation with a restricted group, as well as an expanded meeting with various cabinet officials and members of the delegation.  And this is an opportunity for the president, the two presidents, as presidents—the president met President Calderon in December when he was still president-elect in the Oval Office, but this was the first time that the two presidents were able to meet.  And the president is honored to be here in his country.

And it‘s been really on the docket, was a wide-ranging agenda from issues of trade to border security, to narcotrafficking, broader criminal justice issues.  And the thing that has struck me and the president as he meets with members of leaders from Central America, as well as with—from Mexico, is in the need to have a regional perspective when it comes to fighting crime, particularly drug crimes, because obviously in America, a huge demand, unfortunately, for these drugs.  A lot of the prosecutors and investigative bodies in the United States have good information and leads on various...

CARLSON:  You‘re watching presidential counselor Dan Bartlett, a live conference from Mexico, where he is traveling with the president of the United States, George W. Bush.

You can see, Dan, never—never an administration to turn down a press conference.  This is an opportunity to tell the White House‘s story about the president‘s trip to Latin America.  We believe that Mr. Bartlett‘s going to get to the scandal du jour in just a minute.

But I just want to read you what I think may be the crux of the Democratic case against the White House.  And it‘s this...

On January 18th of this year, Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general, went before the Senate and was asked, why have you canned these federal prosecutors?  And he said this to Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein—“I would never, ever make a change in a U.S. attorney position for political reasons, or if it would in any way  jeopardize an ongoing serious investigation.  I would not do it.”

It strikes me that Congress is mad—Democrats in Congress are mad because they think the White House lied about the motivation behind these firings, these eight firings. 

Do we have evidence that they were politically motivated, these firings? 

ABRAMS:  Well, what we have evidence of is that they got something wrong in front of Congress.  And that‘s what Alberto Gonzales was saying today, is we made mistakes.  He‘s saying, I didn‘t have all the information, in essence, that he might have had, and that certain people didn‘t relay information to him about what happened here.

But have to tell you, Tucker, I agree with you.  That‘s the strongest, easiest argument to make, and there‘s really not that much dispute about it.  It‘s also the least interesting, in my view. 

Were there misstatements made?  Everyone seems to admit now there were some mistakes.  The question is, why were these U.S. attorneys fired?

Were they fired simply because they weren‘t following the administration party line?  Were they pressured by lawmakers to try to do certain things about voter fraud cases, et cetera?

I think those are the important questions that have to be asked if you care about what federal prosecutors do in this country every day.

CARLSON:  All right.  We‘re going to go back now to Dan Bartlett in

progress

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

BARTLETT:  It‘s important to back up a bit.  The issue of U.S. attorneys, as you many of you know, these U.S. attorneys serve at the discretion of the president.  Many of these U.S. attorneys have served four-your terms. 

There was a management review process and there was a determination made to remove seven U.S. attorneys for cause.   And the members of the Justice Department had been sharing that information, the particulars on each of those cases, as to why those U.S. attorneys were removed, which was completely within the managerial discretion of the attorney general and something that the president supported.

Particularly, as you can imagine at the White House when it comes to complaints, we receive a lot of complaints, whether it be from members of Congress, state leaders, local leaders.  Oftentimes, that is the job description of a White House employee, is to field complaints.  That is not limited to U.S. attorneys.  And over the course of several years we have received complaints about U.S. attorneys, particularly when it comes to election fraud cases.  Not just New Mexico, but also Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

That information, it‘s incumbent upon us to share it with the relevant cabinet officers, incumbent upon the president to do that as well.  The president did that briefly in a conversation he had with the attorney general in October of 2006, in which a wide-ranging conversation on a lot of different issues.

This briefly came up, and the president said, “I have been hearing about this election fraud matters from members of Congress.  Want to make sure your are on top of that as well.”

There was no directive given as far as telling him to fire anybody or anything like that.  That would be under the prerogative of the Justice Department to take a look at those issues, as they obviously were doing.

So I know a lot of people want to make more out of it than that, but that is exactly what happened.  The new information that came out here today and the reason why the attorney general accepted the resignation of his chief of staff was because of internal DOJ matter in which information was not properly shared with other key members of the Department of Justice.  It was going to inform the United States Congress in a more complete and accurate picture. 

QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE).  The Justice Department‘s own evaluation of Iglesias in New Mexico, U.S. attorney, in 2005, gave him a strong recommendation.  So how does that square with then firing him for performance? 

BARTLETT:  Well, he was fired two years later than 2005.  And there was a series of issues that they looked at.

They looked at his managerial responsibilities, and what they have found in a review process that went—that was undertaken at the Department of Justice, that they felt that he was not managing the office as well as it should be.  There were issues about his lack of leadership on key committees that prosecutors—district attorneys—U.S. attorneys serve in capacity for the attorney general.  He served on a key immigration subcommittee, and they felt like he didn‘t possess leadership skills there and fulfill that job in a way that he should have.

And also, they took into consideration the complaints that they were being fielded from local officials about the lack of prosecution of cases, and the fact that he and lost a high-profile case, when I think 24 of 25 counts were thrown out by a jury against the government.  It was a devastating loss for the government. 

So, there was a complete picture there that is important to understand.  At no time did the White House bring to or edit or modify or add to or subtract from the list of seven U.S. attorneys.  We ultimately approved or signed off on the list when that was completed by the Department of Justice, but those are decisions that (INAUDIBLE) the Department of Justice. 

The attorney general made the right decision.  We support the attorney general in his decision.

QUESTION:  So somebody‘s picked by the president and he gets a high recommendation, and in two years he loses all these skills and becomes an awful prosecutor?

BARTLETT:  Well, again, people like myself, other members of the administration, serve at the pleasure of the president.  There‘s a lot of factors that are taken into consideration.

He had served many years.  If you look at the totality of the evidence, they believe that it was important that they could bring in fresh blood, new leadership in this position, and the other key positions, six U.S.  attorney positions.  But when you look at it in its totality, they believe that the U.S. prosecutor‘s office in the state of New Mexico would be better served, the people of New Mexico would be better served with a new U.S. attorney. 

Tom?

(CROSSTALK)

BARTLETT:  I‘ll come to Tom and I‘ll come to you.  And we will talk about it in totality. 

QUESTION:  Dan, the attorney general said—took responsibility for mistakes.  Does the president still have full confidence in the attorney general?  And given the White House on all of this, does the president acknowledge that there were mistakes made and take responsibility for it?

BARTLETT:  He absolutely has full confidence in the attorney general.  And the reason why he does is for exactly what he said today.  He‘s a stand-up guy.  He‘s a person that comes to the job every day doing the best he can to serve the United States of America. 

He takes that job very seriously.  And when he saw problems, he pledged to the American people and to the United States Congress to fix those problems.  So the president has all the confidence in the world in Alberto Gonzales as the attorney general for the United States of America.

He is also—feels it‘s important that the information as to how these decisions were made be provided.  He accepts the decisions so far that have been made by the attorney general for the resignation of Kyle Sampson.  And he is satisfied that we are addressing the concerns.

But make very clear, the decision—the original decision to remove the seven U.S. attorneys who serve at the discretion of the president was the right decision.

CARLSON:  All right.  You‘ve been watching White House counselor Dan Bartlett, live from Mexico, where he is traveling with the president. 

Bartlett is one of the top advisers to President Bush.  Not one of the most famous, but definitely one of the most powerful.

We want to bring back Dan Abrams.

Dan, all of these eight firings is controversial, but the one in New Mexico absolutely is maybe the most controversial.  The White House position is this guy, David Iglesias, who was the U.S. attorney there, wasn‘t investigating voter fraud cases aggressively enough.  That appears to be the reason.

Would that qualify as political, or is that a policy difference? 

ABRAMS:  Well, look, you  know, it‘s tough to call.  I mean, it‘s somewhere in between. 

You can argue that it‘s a legal matter because it‘s a decision as to whether to prosecute.  On the other hand, as you know, voter fraud cases are always political. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ABRAMS:  The question is, do you prosecute?  Just that question alone often becomes a political question.  Look at Bush v. Gore.  So it‘s tough to know.

The problem is that, you know, we‘re hearing again a lot of different reasons here.  We heard Dan Bartlett just say they wanted fresh blood, better for the people of New Mexico, and poor performance.  But it seems that he changes—he changes the answer depending on what type of question he is being asked.

I mean, either this person was a poor performer—if the previous attorney general—the previous U.S. attorney was bad enough to effectively get fired, I don‘t think the need for fresh blood is even necessary as an answer.  If this person—when you fire a U.S. attorney, it should be a big deal.  Just simply for perception purposes. 

You don‘t want the perception that the administration is meddling in how U.S. attorneys do what they do every day, even though it‘s ultimately the president‘s call.

CARLSON:  All right.

Dan Abrams, MSNBC. 

Thanks a lot, Dan.

ABRAMS:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  White House counselor Dan Bartlett and Chuck Schumer, senator from New York, will be on “HARDBALL” at 5:00 p.m.  Stay tuned for that.

Coming up, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff speaks his mind about homosexuality.  And to no one‘s surprise, gay activists are not impressed.  Will General Pace apologize?  Should he apologize?

We‘ll talk to someone with strong opinions of that in just a minute.

Plus, remember the vast right-wing conspiracy that practically stalked the Clintons throughout the ‘90s, if you‘ll recall.  According to Hillary Clinton, it is back.  It‘s either sinister political intrigue or paranoid delusion. 

In either case, we‘ll get to the bottom of it.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GEN. PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN:  My upbringing is such that I believe that there are certain things, certain types of conduct that are immoral.  I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts.  Saying that gays should serve openly in the military to me says that we, by policy, would be condoning what I believe is immoral activity. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CARLSON:  General Pete Pace is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  He is also a 63-year-old Roman Catholic United States Marine.  So his personal views on homosexual behavior shouldn‘t be so surprising.  He is, though, removed from the battlefield and is the highest-ranking military officer, short of commander-in-chief.  He has political, as well as military, responsibilities.

General Pace released a statement today that expressed regret to have focused on his personal views of gays in the military rather than focusing on support of the military‘s “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” policy.

Joining us now is Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign and host of “The Agenda” on XM Radio.

Joe, thanks for coming on.

JOE SOLMONESE, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN PRESIDENT:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  Now, I‘m not staying up at night worrying about what consenting adults do with one another sexually, but it seems to me Pete Pace has a right to think that homosexual acts are wrong.  Why are people jumping all over Pete Pace for his personal views?  What about diversity and all that?

SOLMONESE:  Because I think in this environment, when we‘re talking about military readiness, when we‘re talking about the need for more people to serve...

CARLSON:  Right.

SOLMONESE:  ... he‘s got no business inserting his personal views into this conversation. 

CARLSON:  But his personal views actually are kind of irrelevant, because the “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” policy was not created by Pete Pace.  It was, in fact, created by Bill Clinton, someone I believe you all supported pretty heartily for reasons that aren‘t at all clear to me.  Maybe you can explain that to me later.

Why aren‘t you mad at Clinton? 

SOLMONESE:  Well, look, we‘re mad that Clinton supported “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell,” absolutely.

CARLSON:  He did it.  Why aren‘t you mad at him?  You‘re mad at Pete Pace, but Clinton‘s the guy who‘s responsible for having all these gays booted out of the military.  But you never say boo about it.  Why?

SOLMONESE:  Well, Clinton‘s no longer the president.  Pete Pace...

CARLSON:  Well, he was, and you guys supported him.  You gave him all the money all those years.

SOLMONESE:  Pete Pace is the guy who‘s standing there today—it doesn‘t matter if you‘re talking about immorality or “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.”

CARLSON:  Right.

SOLMONESE:  We‘re in a mode right now where what we are talking about is not enough people serving, booting out 800 highly-trained people, gay and lesbian people, like Arab language linguists, when we don‘t have enough of them.

CARLSON:  Well, some were highly trained and some weren‘t.  But, OK, yes...

SOLMONESE:  Of the 10,000 who have been thrown out, 800 of them highly trained.  You‘ve got, you know, Congressman Gary Ackerman asking Condoleezza Rice, will you take these people who have been booted out of the military...

CARLSON:  Right.

SOLMONESE:  ... and hire them at the State Department?  That‘s how bad we need Arab language linguists.

CARLSON:  Right.

SOLMONESE:  And this guy‘s saying, you know, look, I think they‘re immoral and they shouldn‘t serve.

CARLSON:  No, but I guess you‘re kind of missing the point.  I mean, you‘re jumping all over this guy, right, because of his personal beliefs. 

This is not his policy.  He didn‘t create the policy.  It wasn‘t his idea.  It‘s not up to him to uphold that and maintain that policy.  Do you know I mean? 

SOLMONESE:  I guess we‘re jumping all over the guy because if you‘re one of the 50,000 to 100,000 gay or lesbian soldiers...

CARLSON:  Right?

SOLMONESE:  ... over in Iraq right now...

CARLSON:  Right?

SOLMONESE:  ... I don‘t think this does anything for the troop morale to be

-- to be saying, I think you‘re lifestyle is immoral.  I mean, what kind of

what kind of recognition is that of your courageous service to your country?

CARLSON:  Well, I think it would be pretty tough to be a gay Marine.  I mean, and I‘m not saying otherwise.  Of course.

SOLMONESE:  I think it would be pretty tough to be a Marine.

CARLSON:  No doubt about it. 

I‘m wondering, though, why do you think this policy exists?  Why do you think Colin Powell, who is, I believe, the person who wrote the policy initially, did so?  Why do you think Clinton supported it?  Why do you think that, as far as I know, the people who run the Pentagon still are in favor of it?

Is it just pure bigotry?  Is Clinton a bigot, Colin Powell a bigot? 

(CROSSTALK)

SOLMONESE:  I think “Don‘t Ask Don‘t Tell” came around through a series of compromises and negotiations. 

CARLSON:  But what‘s the bottom-line reason?  The military didn‘t then want gay people to serve in the military, at least in combat positions.  Why do you think—just because they‘re—I mean, like, don‘t you think you should take the opponents‘ side seriously enough to at least to be able to answer what it is?

(CROSSTALK)

SOLMONESE:  You know, you‘ve got to factor something else into this, though.  Fifteen years has gone by. 

CARLSON:  Right.

SOLMONESE:  What somebody might have thought was a reasonable policy 15 years ago, 79 percent of the American people don‘t support it now. 

CARLSON:  But why do you think Pete Pace is in favor of it, because he‘s a bigot?  Or are there other reasons?  I think there‘s another side of the question.

SOLMONESE:  I think what he said is bigoted, and I think to come back and say, well, I shouldn‘t have inserted my moral views, you know, let‘s stick to “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell,” I would like to see him apologize.  I‘d like to see him apologize to the...

CARLSON:  Would you like to see Clinton apologize, Bill Clinton, who wrote the policy?

SOLMONESE:  I would like to see Clinton acknowledge that perhaps the policy was wrong. 

CARLSON:  Why not apologize?  He—I mean, it‘s his fault.  Why shouldn‘t he apologize?

SOLMONESE:  Well...

CARLSON:  Now, don‘t be partisan here.

SOLMONESE:  No, I‘m not.  No.  I mean, I would like to hear what Clinton has to say about “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.”

CARLSON:  OK.

You‘re giving him a pretty serious pass.  I mean, you know what?  I just want the same standards for everybody, I guess is what I mean.

SOLMONESE:  Look, Bill Clinton—look, do I agree with “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell”?  No.  Do think Bill Clinton was wrong?

CARLSON:  Of course not.

SOLMONESE:  Should Bill Clinton apologize and say, “I shouldn‘t have done it”?  Sure.

CARLSON:  Good for you, Joe.

SOLMONESE:  But, I would also like to see this guy apologize for it today. 

CARLSON:  OK.

SOLMONESE:  And you‘ve got all these people over in Iraq...

CARLSON:  That‘s fair.  No, no, that‘s...

SOLMONESE:  ... and you‘re having conversations about military readiness. 

We don‘t have enough people to serve.

What good is this doing in terms of the troop morale? 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Look, I think that‘s a totally fair point.  I just don‘t want to see you all be used as a partisan organization.  That would—you know, that would disappoint me.

SOLMONESE:  Thank you for keeping an eye out.

CARLSON:  Thank you, Joe.

I appreciate it.

Well, coming up, we will tell you about Hillary Clinton.  She sees conspiracy in the shadows of right-wing America.  Again.  Stay tuned for a vast cable television talk show conspiracy to figure out what on earth she may have been talking about.

Plus, is there a difference between the vast right wing conspiracy and the crowd that‘s clamoring for the resignation for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales?  The latest developments—and there are many—next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:   As she and her husband endured the public humiliation of the Monica Lewinsky debacle, Hillary Clinton blamed that ordeal on a vast right-wing conspiracy—you remember that.  That accusation has gone the way of the tech boom on Wall Street, gone in an instant, but now apparently back.

Speaking to Democratic municipal workers today, Mrs. Clinton said that the conspiracy is in fact alive and well, and she cited as proof the Election Day 2002 case of phone-jamming in New Hampshire.  That‘s a case in which two Republican operatives pleaded guilty to criminal charges, and a third was convicted. 

If anybody tells you there is no vast right-wing conspiracy, Mrs. Clinton said, tell them that New Hampshire has proven it in court.

Hmm.  A mystery.

Here with me now, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard.  And from “The Washington Post,” Eugene Robinson.

Welcome to you both.

EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Now, I have to say, Gene, if you are Mrs. Clinton, those are the words you‘re never going to want to speak in public, except maybe at the gridiron dinner, erotically. 

ROBINSON:  I think—wasn‘t the last meeting of the vast right-wing conspiracy at your house, Tucker?  When you served the...

CARLSON:  I mean, the sad thing is the right-wing conspiracy is a lot like the federal government or the CIA.  It gets a lot more credit than it deserves. 

ROBINSON:  Yes.

CARLSON:  It‘s actually a bunch of drunk guys with weird personal lives. 

You know, who can‘t really actually get it together, unfortunately.

ROBINSON:  I‘m not sure exactly where that came from, actually.  I mean, why—why did that come out?  Because as you said, I would stay away from that particular phrase I think if I were Hillary Clinton.

CARLSON:  Well, kind of.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  I think it‘s (INAUDIBLE) buzzword.  I think liberals are guilty of jumping up her polls whenever she says, “When Bill and I” or anything like this...

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  ... because, I mean, I think they think there is one.  I mean, the real liberal wing of the party.  And though it was used originally by Hillary Clinton as sort of a pathetic episode, the original one, therefore it becomes a Republican base (INAUDIBLE) word as well.

I mean, both parties love to talk about the other party stealing her votes. 

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  I mean, it gets everybody really excited, and so I think it‘s useful for her. 

CARLSON:  Well, we could go on, and I could give you all the details on the case in New Hampshire that she‘s talking about.  I honestly don‘t—you can look it up on “”The Washington Post” online. Not so interesting. 

These three guys did what a lot of people do on Election Day.  You know, they tried to—they cranked-call, basically, get-out-the-vote efforts.  But the deeper thing that interests me in this, Gene, is this another example of an episode from the 1990s that was thought to bring shame upon the Clintons being used in a kind of weird political jujitsu to their credit. 

In other words, impeachment once thought, you know, to be the first line in Clinton‘s op-ed (ph) is now scene as a badge of honor. 

ROBINSON:  Well, you know, history‘s verdict does change.

CARLSON:  Yes.

ROBINSON:  And, you know, as A.B. said, there are many, many people in the Democratic Party who feel impeachment was unjust, who feel there was—you know, if they wouldn‘t necessarily use that exact phrase, who feel there were forces and people and conservatives and Republicans who worked together to destroy Bill Clinton and destroy his presidency unfairly.

And so, to the extent that she speaks to that sentiment, then, yes, you know, it‘s a—that‘s a useful political phrase.  However, it‘s—you know, she presumably is looking ahead, and I think it really does hurt her among Independents and others who might...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s interesting.  In 30 seconds, A.B.—I‘m sorry to put

a time limit on this, but just tell me, make a prediction—will she at

some point during this campaign, this interminable campaign, make explicit

reference to impeachment, and say explicitly this whole Ken Starr business

was totally wrong and disgusting, and who cares if my husband had an affair?

Will she get to it?

STODDARD:  I would put my money on yes, and I don‘t think she‘d bring it up herself.  I think she will be prompted.

CARLSON:  Yes.

STODDARD:  And I think she will offer a strong defense.  I think that‘s what we‘re seeing.  She is in fighting form, and Bill is her—it is a badge of honor, and Bill is her best asset. 

CARLSON:  God, that will be the most uncomfortable moment in this long party that is the campaign.  I can‘t wait. 

Coming up, “The New York Times” reports some inconvenient truths about Al Gore‘s “Inconvenient Truth.”  Is the former vice president turned earth savior operating on faulty foundation?  Some scientists say maybe he is.

Stay tuned.  We‘ll talk to one of them. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL SHARPTON, ACTIVIST:  Why should not the black community ask questions?  Are we now being told, you all just shut up?  Senator Obama and I, for example, agree that the war is wrong.  But then I want to know why you went to Connecticut and helped Lieberman, the biggest supporter of the war.  Why are you for tort reform, which hurts brutality victims.  I‘m not going to be cajoled or intimidated by any candidate, not for my support. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was, of course, the Reverend Al Sharpton, speaking of Barack Obama.  The reverend has proved to be the first speed bump on Senator Obama‘s otherwise smooth ride up the 2008 presidential highway.  What a metaphor.

Why does Sharpton oppose Obama and what effect will his opposition have on Obama‘s aspirations?  Here to discuss it, along with the rest of the day‘s political potpourri, we welcome associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and the “Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson. 

Eugene Robinson, you wrote a really interesting column on Obama today, which we can get to in a second.  But tell me, what do you make of this?  Sharpton is claiming—I say this as somebody who loves Al Sharpton—but he‘s claiming that Obama is being rammed down the throats of black voters.  It strikes me that Hillary is, that Hillary‘s campaign is basically saying that this is a woman connected to Bill Clinton, and Democrats and black Democrats owe them/her their vote. 

ROBINSON:  In this Democratic contest, black voters are in play.  black voters are in play.  All of the candidates are making lots of appeals to black voters, and I think what Al Sharpton is basically saying is OK, you‘re Barack Obama, that is great, but, you know, what about the issues.  Where are you on the issues that I care about, what do you have for this community, and presumably will ask the same thing of other candidates as well.  It is kind of an enviable position, I think.   

CARLSON:  It sounds to me like he is pledged to Hillary.  He‘s not saying that, but he sounds like he has made up his mind.

STODDARD:  He is from New York, and Hillary is, and Barack Obama is not.  He‘s probably under tremendous pressure, as many leaders in the black community are, from Bill Clinton, to support his wife.  It is very important for Senator Obama to eventually try to get the support of Al Sharpton, obviously, but it is really kind of the way, the way that he made these remarks about Obama that was not really seemly.  It was sort of aggressive.  He said, he is not of the community, what has he done for the community?  Nobody knows who his staff or his people are. 

Well, somebody knows who they are, somewhere, I am sure. 

CARLSON:  Part of what he is saying is accurate.  He is from a different ideological community than Sharpton is.  He has a different background.  I think it is great.  I think he brings actual diversity to this process in a way that Sharpton doesn‘t. 

ROBINSON:  One thing that people tend to forget is that Obama comes, in addition to coming out of Jakarta, comes out of Chicago.  He has roots there and he has support their, and that is where his political upbringing occurred.  It was not all that long ago.  But he has roots in Chicago, in the largest urban black community in the country.  So he is not without credibility. 

CARLSON:  In your piece today in the Post, you recount this exchange between Vernon Jordan, obviously a close friend of the Clintons, and Obama.  Jordan had given money, by your account, to Obama‘s Senate campaign, goes to Obama and says, don‘t run, it is not your time. 

ROBINSON:  Yes, I mean, the context was probably a little different.  He is not the only person who told that to Obama, and the kind elder statesman of the party said, you know, you are very promising.  You will run for president some day.  You might win some day.  Wait, sit this one out, get some experience in Congress and in the Senate, and then take your shot. 

CARLSON:  Do you think he really meant that?  I mean, do you think he thought that another six years in the Senate would make Obama a more appealing presidential candidate? 

ROBINSON:  I take him at his word.  Yes, I think he did.  I think Obama made the calculation that I probably would have made in his position, which is this does not come  around very often.  If you‘ve got a shot at it, you‘d better take it. 

CARLSON:  It is now or never, as Mario Cuomo was always finding out when he refused to grab the things in front of him.

ROBINS:  These elder statesman to whom Obama went for counsel and who gave counsel are political pros, who understand that as well.  If you and I can figure it out, they know it too.  So I don‘t get the sense that anyone fails to understand why Obama is running or thinks that it was necessarily a wrong calculation from his point of view. 

CARLSON:  It was totally right.  Alexandra, you spent a lot of time up on Capitol Hill.  There was a poll today in the “New York Times” that suggests not only is everybody down, Republicans are down on themselves.  Here‘s what the New York Times/CBS poll:  candidate favorability among—do you think you will when the 2008 election?  Republicans, 40 percent think a Democrat will win.  Only 46 percent of Republicans think a Republican will win. 

Of course, Democrats are certain one of theirs is going to win.  This indicates to me a profound sense of foreboding, impending doom among Republicans.  Do you sense that?

STODDARD:  Yes, and it was really sort of a delayed reaction.  They didn‘t have it before the election, when we were all talking all summer long about the beating they were going to take.  They didn‘t really see it.  They kept say, the polls are spiking a bit.  September 11th is coming. 

We‘re going to get back up their. 

CARLSON:  It‘s because they don‘t watch enough cable news.  I‘m serious.  If people would only tune in once in a while, they would know what is going on in the world. 

STODDARD:  They know it now, and there‘s not one Republican that I‘ve spoken to that has said they are going to win the White House in 2008.  Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said, to take back the Senate in 2008, they‘d have to have a very good day. 

It was so interesting, back to Obama for one second, when I went to the CPAC conference among conservatives a few weeks ago, I was in a group discussion, and a Republican I was attending with said, you know, the only person I could get up in seeing take the oath of office for real is Obama.  Like he is the only genuine article.  And it‘s so interesting, because the combination of the field the they think is pitiful, that doesn‘t represent their values, and the fact that they haven‘t debated what the election was about.  Some think it was Iraq.  Some think it was Bush‘s fault.  Some think it was their style of governing.  They can‘t come to a consensus on it. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.  Let‘s take a look at who the Republicans to look.  Number one on the list, according to the “New York Time”/CBS News brand new poll, Rudy Giuliani, 55 percent favorable among Republicans, only 9 percent unfavorable, this coming in the wake a YouTube clip showing him getting up there and saying, taxpayers ought to pay for abortions.  I‘ll commit them my self.  Whatever, being very pro-legal abortion. 

John McCain, 32 percent favorable, 18 percent unfavorable.  Wow.  I don‘t know, it‘s very early obviously, but it‘s looking to me like McCain‘s problems among conservatives, the core of the Republican party, are real.  He has not overcome these problems yet.  And doesn‘t he need to in order to get the nomination. 

ROBINSON:  I would think so.  I think that is a real problem for McCain.  On the other hand, I am not sure that the very favorable numbers for Giuliani can stay that high as the campaign goes on. 

CARLSON:  What is going to prick this balloon?  At this point, Republicans know that he is pretty left wing on social issues.  They know he has been divorced twice.  And they do not care? 

ROBINSON:  But do they actually click into YouTube?  Are they paying that close attention to this race at this point?  I‘m not sure they are.  But we‘ll see as he gets around the country, as he goes to South Carolina, places like that, it will be very interesting to see how crowds react and what the polls say after he has been there. 

CARLSON:  A.B., finally, this is the poll, Democrats, who do you like?  Asked Democrats, Hillary Clinton, 59 percent favorable, Barack Obama, 56 percent favorable.  That‘s margin of error.  They‘re equal.  This is the first poll I‘ve seen in which they were equal.  The trend is Obama‘s friend at this point.   

STODDARD:  Yes, he is really making headway and cutting into her lead, and it has really surprised me, actually, that so many people are willing to buck the Clinton machine.  It is not that he does not inspire people, because he always has.  I just did not expect that people would be this willing to buck the Clinton machine.  Gene and I were just talking about Congressman Clyburn from South Carolina, who hosted an event and introduced Senator Obama when he was there, but he has not endorsed anybody.  And he is willing to come out in very supportive language. 

These are a lot of people that are yet to endorse.  But people just have a lot more guts in their open savoring of Obama than I thought they would at this point. 

CARLSON:  Well, because Hillary Clinton is not inevitable.  She‘s like Chicken Pox.  You think every child is going to get, but there is a vaccine.  You do not have to get Chicken Pox.  You do not have to nominate Hillary Clinton.  That‘s my view.  Thank you both.

Coming up, at this point, most people have signed up to save the planet, at Al Gore‘s urgent request, but not everybody is on board.  Just ask the “New York Times.”  Better yet, ask one of the scientists quoted today by the Times, which is what we‘re going to do next. 

Plus, do you ever get that feeling that Nancy Pelosi and her House Democrats are not all on the same page?  Stay tuned for some amazing video evidence that they have no idea what they‘re doing.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Al Gore is in the middle of an extended victory lap around the globe, accepting plaudits and Academy Awards for his alarming global warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”  With most of America convinced of his message, the “New York Times” today published an article that threw into question the very foundation of his movie and his movement, namely that there is a scientific consensus that human behavior is the primary cause of global warming.  According to the piece, there is no such consensus. 

Joining from Seattle is one of the sources for the Times piece, Don Easterbrook, professor emeritus at Western Washington University.  Mr.  Easterbrook, thanks for coming on. 

DON EASTERBROOK, WESTERN WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY:  You‘re welcome.   

CARLSON:  Have I misstated that?  Here‘s what I understand.  Correct me I‘m wrong, that there is a consensus that the Earth, for some reason, is getting warmer, but there is not an absolute consensus as to why.  Is that correct? 

EASTERBROOK:  That‘s very true.  Everyone agrees that the Earth has warmed up in the last century, and the big contention is whether or not it has bee caused by man made CO2 or not.  And that contention is not congruent with geological facts in the case.  So that is why there is some doubt, and as far as a consensus is concerned, you have to realize that the IBCC report, which was published in about February, was made by 143 geologists, not by the hundreds of thousands of scientists around the world. 

So there is no consensus, in the sense that nobody has pulled the world scientists.

CARLSON:  Right, Al Gore has said repeatedly, he said it on MSNBC, and I watched, that if you doubt the truth that human behavior is responsible for climate change, then you are a paid shill of the petroleum industry or some other right wings kebal.  Are you in fact a paid shill of the oil companies?   

EASTERBROOK:  I‘ve never taken a nickel from any industry at all.  All of my research has been funded either by the National Science Foundation, by some government agency, or by my university. 

CARLSON:  You make the point in the “New York Times” today that Gore‘s convention that we‘ve ever seen a climate shift like this ever in history is false, and, in fact, there have been lots of changes in climates down through the millennia.  Can you explain that?

EASTERBROOK:  That‘s very true.  We have excellent data from the Greenland Ice Core, and what we do is measure isotopes that leave a climatic fingerprint, and they show conclusively that at least ten times in the last 15,000 years, we have had climate changes that are more pronounced than what we‘ve seen in the last century, and in fact, about 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, they were 20 times as great as what we are seeing now. 

CARLSON:  The reason I wanted to talk to you, and the reason I was so interested in this peace, is not just to beat up on Al Gore for some partisan reason, but because the implications of his movie are so profound.  If you think the people are responsible solely for climates change, you will be in favor of re-ordering American and world society, I mean changing the way we live profoundly and forever. 

I mean, there is a huge amount at stake here.  Isn‘t there?  

EASTERBROOK:  I think so, yes.  And I think the real danger is that if you believe that CO2 is causing global warming, and all we have to do is reduce CO2, and everything will be fine, that we may be missing the boat, and not being prepared enough for a climate change of maybe one degree, instead of the ten that IPCC is predicting, and that we do need to do some preparation for the coming century. 

CARLSON:  Finally, Mr. Gore has said repeatedly, and certainly implied it in almost every sentence, that Hurricane Katrina, for instance, and the typhoons in the South Pacific are the direct result of man‘s pushing up the temperature of the globe.  Is that proved? 

EASTERBROOK:  That is not proof of everything, and, as a matter of fact, if we look at the geologic record, what we see is a series of warming and cooling periods of about 30 years duration.  And my projection is that, rather than having accelerating climate increase, temperature increase, that we should be due for a climate amelioration and cooling off for about the next 30 years, beginning sometime between now and 2010.  It is true that sea surface temperatures do have an affect on hurricanes, and so what may be happening is that the oceans, hopefully, will begin to cool off a little bit, as they have in the past year. 

CARLSON:  Professor Don Easterbrook of Western Washington University, thanks a lot professor.  I appreciate it. 

Coming up , after four years of war, two grueling campaigns, a glorious victory in the mid term elections and a few months in power, you would think Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats would have their plans and messages straight.  But they do not.  Stick around and see for yourself.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Willie Geist has been caught up in the American justice system, as a juror, not a defendant.  So instead, by popular demand, we welcome back the vice president of this network, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, VICE PRESIDENT OF MSNBC:  Was there popular demand that I don‘t know about?

CARLSON:  Yes, your wife called. 

WOLFF:  Terrific.  I hope she loses your number.  Tucker, if you‘re like me, then you too have wondered how 60-year-old Sylvester Stallone maintains his girlish physique as the years go by.  Well we may have an answer.  Sly, as his showbiz friends call him, was charged today with trying to enter the island nation of Australia to promote Rocky 60, well you know, Rocky, with 48 viles of banned human growth hormone in his luggage.  It explains the big muscles Tucker, but it doesn‘t explain his orange skin tone, or his brief stint as the comedic leading man in Oscar and “Stop or Mom Will Shoot.” 

What can I tell you, the guy is huge and he‘s 60 years old and I think it‘s time to just hang it up, and say, you know what, I had a heck of a run.  I‘m 60.  Somebody else take over.

CARLSON:  If I get to be 60 and don‘t have an oxygen tank and am still working, I will be grateful. 

WOLFF:  There‘s something called aging gracefully, and I pray every night I am able to achieve it.  So far, you know what I‘m saying.   

I‘m not sure if you made it to the Waldorf Astoria last night, Tucker, but they made inductions into the Rock N‘ Roll Hall of Fame.  Among the enshrined were plaintiff sad rockers REM, 60s girl pop stars the Ronnettes (ph), seminal hip hop heroes Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five.  I know you‘re a big Grand Master Flash fan.  And one of the best bands ever, and at the same time one of the worst, Van Halen. 

Van Halen went in.  But among those not in attendance were guitar player Eddie Van Halen, drummer Alex Van Halen, and the real front man from the glory days of the 1980s, Diamond David Lee Roth.  Tucker, this is like an inauguration if the president, the first lady and the vice president don‘t show.  No explanation whatsoever for that, just terrible.  Eddie Van Halen, actually, is actually in rehab, which is the only way to go into the Rock N‘ Roll Hall of Fame.

CARLSON:  So you‘re saying that Van Halen was inducted but all the actual Van Halens were gone? 

WOLFF:  Well, base player Michael Anthony was on hand.  And he‘s key, particularly with the high background vocals.  But no Alex the drummer, no Eddie the guitar player, and no Diamond David Lee Roth.  Come on man, that ain‘t Van Halen, Tucker.  You know better than that. 

It‘s a sad day, Tucker, for people who prefer craps and blackjack to lighting their money on fire, as do I.  But a great day for folks who like to watch stuff fall down.  The Star Dust Hotel and Casino, where Frank Sinatra got his start, a fixture on the Vegas strip, was imploded early this morning.  Now there is no truth to the rumor that several devout gamblers remained at the tables during the implosion, dusted themselves off, then walked over to the Barbary Coast to get their big rally started.

Again, that apparently did not happen.  Tucker, sad day. 

CARLSON:  It‘s funny, I was just in a casino this weekend, down in New Orleans. 

WOLFF:  How did you do? 

CARLSON:  I went in at 7:30 in the morning to get a cup of coffee.  It was the only Starbucks in the neighborhood.  And I walk in and there are probably 500 people gambling at 7:30 in the morning.  How did they get the people out of the Star Dust? 

WOLFF:  What day were you there?

CARLSON:  That was Saturday morning. 

WOLFF:  Great, I wasn‘t there. 

CARLSON:  Did you check your palm pilot on that one? 

WOLFF:  No, I just had to think back.  But thanks for clearing that up for me.  Finally Tucker, some red meat politics, I know you love them.  House Democrats have found the going difficult as they have worked to be united with a single plan on the Iraq war.  But fortunately, by the time they come before the cameras, they show off their superior clarity, unanimity and organization.  These are House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Obey in a recent announcement of their new way forward.  Take a listen.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DAVE OBEY (D), WISCONSIN:  Our troops must be out of a combat role by October—I mean, by August of 2007. 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER:  2008, if they meet.  If they have not made any progress by July, we begin the 180 days.  If they haven‘t made any—If the president cannot demonstrate progress by July, we begin the 180 days. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is it July 1st or July 31st

PELOSI:  Is it July 1st or 31st?  July 1st

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I know that‘s not real Bill.  I know you and your right wing buddies cooked that up somehow, using holograms somehow. 

WOLFF:  First of all, you are my one right wing buddy, not buddies. 

I‘ve got one right wing buddy and you‘re it.  And you weren‘t involved. 

CARLSON:  That‘s only fair, and I‘m not good enough with computers to do that. 

WOLFF:  Not the proudest moment in the history of the majority party in the House, Tucker.  You‘d think they‘d have it together.  This is how they got elected.

CARLSON:  That is a moment that just warms my heart like a sunny day. 

I can‘t even tell you.  Thanks for making my day Bill, I appreciate it.  The great Bill Wolff.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL,” with David Gregory.  See you later.

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.

Transcripts

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

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,