updated 3/22/2007 11:12:27 AM ET 2007-03-22T15:12:27

Guests: James Brosnan

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  The full-blown political melee that started at the Justice Department has engulfed the White House.  Twenty-four hours ago, a bellicose President Bush promised to fight subpoenas of any White House staff, meaning of course, Karl Rove.  Today, Congress thumbed its collective nose at Mr. Bush by authorizing those subpoenas and to look at the dynamics of the coming showdown and to explain as clearly as we can the pretty complicated beginning of this scandal.

Plus, Al Gore makes his return to Capitol Hill.  We have got a preview of a truly riveting documentary meanwhile with NBC‘s Richard Engel.  All coming up.

First though, a word about how we go to where we are today.  Though many have tried, it‘s not easy to generalize about the U.S. attorney scandal.  Eight federal prosecutors were fired for probably eight different reasons but consider the case of just one of them, Carol Lamb of San Diego.

Democrats have argued in public and even more strenuously in their fundraising letters that Lamb was canned because she dared to prosecute Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham and was considering going after other Republicans.

Where there are a couple of problems with this theory.  Not the least of which is that Duke Cunningham went to prison anyway.  If there was a Republican plot to stop Lamb, it was not effective but here‘s another problem.  There‘s a lot of evidence that Lamb was replaced because she was not very effective at her job.

Listen to the noted right wing conspiracist and Bush lackey Senator Diane Feinstein, Democrat of California.  In a letter dated last June, Feinstein complained to no less than Alberto Gonzales about Lamb‘s office.

Here‘s what she said, quote,  “It‘s come to my attention that high apprehension rates by Border Patrol agents along California‘s border with Mexico, prosecutions by the U.S. attorney‘s office, southern district of California appear to lag behind.  A concern voiced by Border Patrol agents is that low prosecution rates have a demoralizing effect on our men and women patrolling our borders.  I am concerned that lax prosecution can endanger the lives of the Border Patrol agents,” end quote.

And Feinstein was not the only member of Congress to complain about Lamb‘s unwillingness to prosecute immigration related crimes.  So did Republican Darrell Issa of California, and newly released e-mails show that officials at the Justice Department were frustrated by it too and they pledged to fire Lamb if she didn‘t enforce immigration law.

None of this is a defense of the eight firings.  Some of them may have been justified, we‘ll find out.  But in the case of Carol Lamb specifically, let‘s stop pretending she was the victim of the political witch hunt.  The evidence at this point suggests she was not very good at her job and that was the problem.

Well, joining me today, MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent Norah O‘Donnell and Democratic strategist Rick Masters.  Welcome to you both.

RICK MASTERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So huge debate, the central debate of the day is will Congress be able to force members of the White House to staff to testify before it under oath.  It emerged today, I don‘t know where, probably some researchers in the bowels of the DNC, discovered a pretty amazing column from 1988 that Tony Snow wrote about Clinton saying it is an outrage that Clinton is evoking executive privilege to keep the rest of us from knowing about his sex life, etc.  And it is unconstitutional to use executive privilege to the degree he is.  Well, inevitably, Snow was asked about this today at a briefing.  Here is what Tony Snow said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION:  You wrote quite eloquently about this, you wrote, “Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold the chief executive accountable.  You would have a constitutional right to a coverup.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN:  Right - now let me .

QUESTION:  Why were you wrong then and right now?

SNOW:  Because this is not entirely an analogous situation.  I just told you what we have in fact offered to make available to members of Congress.  What we are holding apart confidential communications between advisors and the president.  And that is standard practice in White Houses.

QUESTION:  In the Clinton administration?

SNOW:  I‘m not sure.  I‘ll let others do the legal arguing on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  But that‘s not exactly right, is it, Norah.  The White House isn‘t sayings we are not tell you anything about the conversations the president had with his advisors, they are saying we will not tell you under oath and in public.

NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  That‘s right.  There is some precedent for White House advisors to go testify on Capitol Hill.  It happened during the Clinton years many times that they went up there to testify before a Republican Congress.  What is interesting today about what the White House did is they once again drew the battle lines and they are saying we are beginning extremely generous with Congress.  We‘ve offered to send them up there and if they want the truth, they will get the truth from these interviews.

I spoke with Senator Leahy today who is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee today.  He said that is an entirely different than having them under oath.  We want them under oath so we have them now at loggerheads and I think the political thing the White House is saying, you know what?  Subpoena us.  Then the offer will come off the table, we won‘t come up there and we can fight this in court for maybe a year or two .

CARLSON:  Or more.  The Cheney energy is still .

MASTERS:  Still going.

O‘DONNELL:  Why not?

CARLSON:  But here‘s my question.  Here‘s what I don‘t understand.  A genuine one.  Why does the White House not want a transcript of these conversations, these interviews?  Why do they care?

O‘DONNELL:  I think one, they are concerned about a precedent.  I do think that honestly they do believe about the power of the executive and so they don‘t want to—if they allow Karl Rove to go up there, to testify on one matter, this matter, and have a transcript, what is to prevent calling up Karl Rove in front of another committee when it comes to CIA leak investigation if they decide to move forward more on that or other issues that come to Katrina or politics or on and on and on.

They realize they can‘t go down that road so that‘s why they don‘t .

CARLSON:  I want a transcript.  I want to know what was said.  Just for historical reasons if no other.  I‘m wondering, Rich, since the White House is almost certain to go to court.  The president pledged he would yesterday if subpoenas are in fact issued, and it looks like they will be, then why would Democrats issue subpoenas.  If they really want to get to the bottom of it, why not just call these people up and ask them questions?

MASTERS:  I think the truth of it is had the president not said specifically, there would be no qualification to take the oath, to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that they would be held in secret and not public.  And again, Tucker, I think you hit it right on the head.  The most egregious to me and I think to most Democrats is that we‘re not even allowed to take a transcript of it.

And I think the reason they don‘t want a transcript is they don‘t want to get caught in some kind of perjury trap.  I think there are a lot of right things here, whether it‘s Carol Lamb, whether it‘s David Iglesias.  I think the White House could clear up.  If it is, as they are saying it is, that there‘s no there there, that these were nothing more than personnel decisions, well, prove it.

CARLSON:  I sort of agree with you.  I always want more information rather than less but you have to kind of sympathize with the White House on one question, the question of under oath.  If they were to agree to let Rove go up under oath do you think questioning would stop at Carol Lamb and Iglesias.  Holy smokes, we‘d spend the second half of the second term with Rove up on the Hill, no?

MASTERS:  I think if the White House said listen, we will go under oath but we will only answer questions.  Again there is precedence for this.  Look what happened in the impeachment trial, we said people would testify under oath in the impeachment trial and here were the parameters.  There were strict parameters that they had to go under.

And my sense is if the White House really wanted to get the truth out and they really wanted to talk about Carol Lamb, if they want to roll out the Diane Feinstein documents, hey could put those in place.

CARLSON:  Here‘s what I don‘t get, Norah, and since you‘ve covered these people, maybe you do.  I‘ve spent the last couple of days intensively reading on this.  I had lunch at my desk for two days running.  I cancelled lunch!  Right now, I‘m serious.  I‘ve really wanted to get to the bottom of this.

O‘DONNELL:  Now you‘re doing what I do every day.  I always eat at my desk.

CARLSON:  That‘s right.  It hurts!

I don‘t actually see the smoking gun here.  I think the White House has done some anything wrong but I don‘t see any crimes.  This is defensible, easily defensible.  Why did they wait so long to defend it?  They screwed it up.  Their defense was flawed.  Why?

O‘DONNELL:  The White House claims they did nothing improper as you say but there is an acknowledgement, the president acknowledged it yesterday that the way the Justice Department responded to the members of Congress initially was wrong, that they were confusing sort of explanations and that‘s partly Al Gonzales‘ fault.

That‘s why next week when he goes up there, all is on the line.  The White House is willing to stick by him.  I do not think .

CARLSON:  You really think so?

O‘DONNELL:  I think they are willing to stick by him until next week, see how he does.  He‘s got to repair the damage .

CARLSON:  Right.  Why do they want - What exactly about Al Gonzales makes him an indispensable attorney general?  No offense to Mr. Gonzales but why is he worth protecting?  I don‘t really get that.

O‘DONNELL:  I think it has to do more with his personal relationship with the president and less than his record.

CARLSON:  You really .

O‘DONNELL:  This is a man that has served this president when he was governor of Texas and before that.  I think the president values that to a great degree.  This Texas team.

CARLSON:  Right.

O‘DONNELL:  And I also think there‘s a political calculation being made and this is very Rovian to this degree which is, you know what?  Let‘s fight this and let‘s fight this.  And the way they fought it today was saying, we‘re being extraordinarily generous.  Trying to make the Democrats look obstructionist.

I think they also think that they can play this in a way that makes it look like the Democrats are more interested in investigating than legislating.

CARLSON:  Right.

O‘DONNELL:  So they think there may be a political plus to sort of fighting this.  You saw you bellicose .

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

O‘DONNELL:  . that the president was yesterday.

CARLSON:  Maybe it will work.

O‘DONNELL:  Maybe they put a backbone in the Republican Party.

CARLSON:  When people see smoke they assume fire.  And I also think, you are right, by the way, they hey are holding on to Alberto Gonzales because of the personal connection.  Being from Texas doesn‘t mean you‘ll be a great public servant.  That‘s not a relevant criterion for public service and Bush doesn‘t seem to .

O‘DONNELL:  Look how long they stayed on with Secretary Rumsfeld.

CARLSON:  How about Harriet Miers?  I mean, the whole thing is pathetic.

Al Gore was back on Capitol Hill today, speaking of it, after an extended absence.  Gone a long time.  What did he say when he was there?  How was he received and where do we go from here?

We‘ll get the highlights and analysis.  It was amazing, so stay tuned for that.

Plus, we‘ve got a sneak preview of Richard Engel‘s compelling documentary about life in Iraq for the last four years.  You‘ll be glad you stuck around for an early look at that amazing piece of work.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  October 2006, a phone call is made, a scandal begins.  According to testimony from the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, Congresswoman Heather Wilson called U.S. attorney David Iglesias and pressured him concerning a federal corruption investigation.

Listen to U.S. attorney Iglesias‘ testimony before the committee.

DAVID IGLESIAS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  And I received a call from Heather Wilson.  She said, “What can you tell me about sealed indictments?”  The second she said any question about sealed indicted, red flags went up in my head because as you know, we can not talk about indictments until they are made public.

ANNOUNCER:  Serious question remain about Heather Wilson in violation of congressional ethics rules.  It‘s time for Heather Wilson to release her phone records and come clean.  It‘s time for Heather Wilson to tell the full truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  It‘s pretty easy to see and understand what‘s happening in Washington right now.  The Congress is going after the bush administration.  The Bush administration is trying to defend itself but why?  How did this whole story start?  What are they actually fighting about?

At the root the political ad you just heard gives a pretty clear idea of where Democrats think it all began, in New Mexico with the controversial firing of a U.S. attorney named David Iglesias.  Here to help with the important work of explaining this story is “Albuquerque Tribune” reporter Woody Brosnan.  Thanks for coming on.

JAMES “WOODY” BROSNAN, “ALBUQUERQUE TRIBUNE”:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  I was amazed to read in the “Washington Post” this morning, copies of e-mails between Mr. McNulty, Paul McNulty of the Justice Department and David Iglesias, the now fired and bitter U.S. attorney in which Iglesias says, would you mind if I list you as a reference.  Please keep me in your prayers.

He says at one point to McNulty in an e-mail.  I will be pleasant in leaving this job.  The next thing you know you turn around and he is writing an op-ed in the “New York Times” this morning attacking the entire Justice Department.  What happened to this relationship?  Why is Iglesias so mad?

BROSNAN:  Well, two things happened.  One, McNulty, subsequent to that, went up and testified on the Hill that these eight attorneys were fired for performance reasons.  The other thing that happened was Pete Domenici got out very early in January recommending replacements for Iglesias really before—while he still had two months on the job basically.  He did not finish his term until February 28, and that‘s when he decided to come out and talk about these phone calls.

CARLSON:  Senator Pete Domenici, Congresswoman Heather Wilson, both Republicans of New Mexico are both being attacked now by Iglesias who claims they put pressure on him to move on a specific corruption case in New Mexico.  And I was amazed to learn Iglesias was a protege of Domenici and a friend of Wilson, is that right?

BROSNAN:  Yes.  Domenici selected Iglesias for this job.  I think Iglesias was viewed as an up-and coming Hispanic Republican, someone they wanted to groom in the state for future political office.  He ran in 1998 when Heather Wilson ran.  He called him a political ally.  That‘s why.  That‘s his explanation for why he didn‘t call the Justice Department when they called him about this case as he was required to do.  Because he said Pete Domenici was his political mentor and Heather Wilson he considered a friend.

CARLSON:  So Iglesias ignored the rules.  He was supposed to say I think a senator leaned on me, but he didn‘t because he was friends with that senator?

BROSNAN:  He was supposed to report any call from a member of Congress to the Justice Department in Washington and he didn‘t do it.

CARLSON:  Can you explain - and I spent all day trying to figure this out.  I know it‘s very complicated.  But the case in question, this corruption case having to do with payoffs supposedly given to political figures in New Mexico in the building of a court house, if I‘ve got that right.  What is that about?  Is it going forward?  Is it going to prosecuted?

BROSNAN:  We still don‘t know.  There have been no indictments brought forward in the case.  I think it must be viewed in context of other cases that were going on.  There was a voter fraud task force he formed in 2004 that resulted in no indictments.  There was a long trial of the state treasurer that ended in a mistrial.  That then required a second trial, resulted in one conviction and meanwhile this other case which had been widely reported in the press seemingly kept getting pushed back.

And at this time, Heather Wilson was in the midst of a battle for political life against the state attorneys general and Wilson was maintaining that the state attorney general had been weak on corruption.  It was viewed possibly that this would have been another case that might have helped her campaign.

CARLSON:  My impression is after reading that there is some corruption in state government in New Mexico.  Is that fair to say?

BROSNAN:  Well, it was certainly proven in the case of Mr. Vehill (ph).  We have not seen what is going to happen in this local case yet.

CARLSON:  Apparently the Justice Department was mad because Mr.  Vehill, the state treasurer, was convicted only on one count.  And there were dozens of counts.  Twenty-something counts against him.  Is the feeling that Inglesias was not a good prosecutor in that case, do you think?

BROSNAN:  He didn‘t handle the case.

I think the feeling by certainly local Republicans was that they didn‘t get what they wanted out of that case and it delayed this other case.  One of the issues was that he only had one attorney assigned to corruption cases and because he was involved in this one case that went on so long it seemed like it then delayed the corruption case for the court house.

CARLSON:  Interesting.  Woody Brosnan.  “Albuquerque Tribune.”  Thank you very much.

BROSNAN:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  After the break, we‘ll show you a piece of Richard Engel‘s critically acclaimed new documentary about life in Iraq.  It is compelling.  Stay tuned.

After that, the race to raise the money to run the race for president.  We‘ve got numbers as well as more about Hillary Clinton‘s big haul last night in Washington, her enormous stash of dough and what it all means for ‘08.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  NBC‘s Richard Engel was among the first western journalists into Iraq to cover the war.  And with brief breaks for other assignments in the region he has covered it ever since.

Richard and his producers have assembled his video diary into a one-hour documentary that premiers on MSNBC tonight at 10:00 Eastern.

It‘s an unvarnished look not only at his experiences but the daily lives of soldiers and Iraqis in the war zone.

Here‘s a sample.  And beware, some of the images are graphic.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  I remember in ‘04, I was on an imbed with marines in Ramadi.  We were on this terrible combat outpost.

It was dusty and they were attacked every day.  One guy told us, it‘s not about hearts and minds out here, it‘s about finding the enemy and putting two in his heart and one in his mind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Take it down!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Stay tight for a minute.

ENGEL (voice-over):  I met this young marine lieutenant, Brian Iglesias (ph), a very tough guy.  He had this marine slogan tattooed across his chest.  The first time I saw him he was standing over the body of a dead insurgent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a good day.

We say good day not because we enjoy walking around and killing people but these bad guys attack us on a daily basis.

ENGEL:  It is very brutal.  But after some time you do start to see things from their perspective and I‘ve always been amazed at what these guys are willing to sacrifice for each other.

(on camera):  That night, Iglesias and his men went out look for a lost soldier.  There had been an attack, a soldier had been killed, and another amid all the chaos had been accidentally left behind.  He was alone in Ramadi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The last time he was seen was at the government center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You have to move slow, OK.  We‘re moving slow because we‘re going to be stalking because you know the sons of bitches are out there.  All right?  This ain‘t a hurry up race.  Stay in the shadows. 

Stay out of the light

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ready?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yeah.

ENGEL (voice-over):  And just these marines, just a few guys in some pickup trucks were calling out his name and searching for him.

I couldn‘t believe it after searching pretty much through the night they found him alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Roger.  We got him.  We got him, got the kid.  We don‘t have beer or cake or ice cream or soda, but we‘ll still celebrate.  We‘ve got some strawberry milk.

ENGEL:  Even more amazing, just a few hours later the marines were sitting around playing poker as if nothing happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (inaudible) you could ask any man in my company, do you want to go home, right now, we‘d give you a ticket no harm done, I don‘t think one guy would take it.  Not one.  Except maybe Robinson (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I joke about it but if it really came down to it, could you walk away from your marines?  From (inaudible)?  I wouldn‘t.

ENGEL:  Ramadi was very tough but I found the same bond almost everywhere I went.  There was another time I was with marine reservists in this town called Hit.  Back home, these were normal guys, farmers and cops, now they were marching miles a day.  Most had lost 40 or 50 pounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You share socks, you share baby powder, you share baby wipes.  You share everything.  So when times get necessary, you share everything, it makes for a tight platoon.

ENGEL:  Their feet were rotting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know what is going on here, I got some cracks, a little bleeding going on.

ENGEL:  There was this one lance corporal, Anton Azoni (ph), back home he worked in the ladies‘ department at Saks Fifth Avenue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I sell shoes, purses, dresses, everything.  No matter, the whole store.

ENGEL:  But here he was a machine gunner, a warrior, and they called him “Animal Mother.”  He had shrapnel in his back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The 10 guys in your squad, that‘s what keeps you going.

ENGEL:  But embedding with the troops does have serious risks.

(on camera):  There‘s still a lot of fire coming at us, some of it is exploding in the car that was hit by an improvised explosive device.  There are U.S. troops are retaliating, trying to fight off what they think could be an intense ambush.

(voice-over):  A soldier saved my life that day.  Amid the gunfire, this guy came up, stood in front of me protected me with his body, raised his rifle and started firing back.  Then he just walked away.  I never saw him again.

(on camera):  I‘ve been personally lucky, but we have lost one sound man.  Jeremy Little.  He was killed in Falluja.

(voice-over):  CBS‘s correspondent Kimberly Dozier was badly injured, her crew killed.  ABC‘s anchorman Bob Woodruff was also badly injured.

But as long as the soldiers are here, I think reporters have an absolute obligation to go out with them or people back home will not have an idea what the war actually looks like on the ground level with the troops.

The war has changed on the soldiers.  Initially, they were told it was to protect their families at home from a terrorist attack, and then it was to support democracy and then to try to protect the Iraqi people from a civil war.  It‘s gotten more and more big and more complicated and nobody has bothered to explain to the soldiers that they are fighting a different war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON:  That was NBC‘s Richard Engel.  For more on his experiences covering the war in Iraq, be sure to tune in to MSNBC tonight at 10:00 p.m.  Eastern for the premier of “Richard Engel‘s War Zone Diary.”

Coming up, already in a duel with Hillary Clinton with America‘s black vote, Barack Obama finds himself in a precarious situation with some of America‘s Jewish voters.  Why the trouble and what to do about it when we come back.

Plus stick around for the highlights of Al Gore‘s triumphant return to Capitol Hill.  How much I told you so did his appearance include?  We‘ve got the answer to that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Barack Obama is learning firsthand what a difficult political issue Israel can be.  Obama told a group in Iowa that, quote, nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people, oops.  In that speech, Obama suggested the Palestinian leadership is primarily responsible for the suffering, and he is right, of course, but the key sound bite got him in trouble with some pro-Israel voters.  Where does he stand on the issue now? 

Joining us once again, MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent, Norah O‘Donnell, and Democratic strategist Rich Masters.  Welcome to you both. 

This is such an interesting story, Rich, because what Obama said, of course, isn‘t—Obama supports Israel.  Everyone running for president, everyone running for Senate supports, everyone supports Israel, me you, everybody, that‘s exactly right.  But what is interesting is that George Soros, the number one financier on the Democratic side, writes this piece in the “New York Review of Books” that says American foreign policy is too influence by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC. 

And Obama has to come out—does come out and basically renounces what George Soros says.  That‘s amazing.  Why did he do that?  Does it hurt him with Soros?  Does it hurt his fund raising?  What are the effects of this?

MASTERS:  Well, aside from it being the right thing to do, and --  

CARLSON:  Why is it the right thing to do? 

MASTERS:  I think, as you said, you have to make it clear delineations, who do stand with and who do you not.  And for what ever reason—I mean Senator Obama‘s comments about the Palestinian people are suffering is absolutely right on.  It is the Palestinian leadership and its failure to look at a more free and open society.  Several of them support terrorism.  Clearly, they are the reasons for it.  He didn‘t set that out though, however. 

He left that an open ended question.  So, when you are running for president of the United States, one of the most critical foreign policy questions you are going to be asked, and you are going to have to deal with when you are president, is what is your position going to be?  With Israel being a stable democracy in that region, we have really—that‘s the public policy. 

CARLSON:  There‘s no question.  It‘s the public policy of my heart personally.  I love Israel.  I would move to Israel.  I think it‘s a great country.  And I‘m in no way attacking Israel when I say that a reflexive support for the Likud government of Israel isn‘t always in Israel‘s interest, much less ours.  And I‘m wondering, Norah, is it just absolutely impossibly to have a real conversation on this subject? 

I mean, you‘re not allowed to say the Palestinians are suffering? 

O‘DONNELL:  Right, I mean, some people suggest that this shows the inexperience of Barack Obama, that he made a comment like this in Iowa.  He says, of course, that it was totally misunderstood, this comment.  But taken out of context, “nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people,” that can be misunderstood, clearly, because it suggests that the Palestinian people are suffering more than the Israel people. 

But that‘s not what he meant.  What he meant is because of the Palestinian leadership, the Palestinian people are suffering.  Nevertheless, it does to how powerful the Israeli lobby is, and how Democratic candidates are concerned about making sure they say the right thing. 

CARLSON:  Boy, I don‘t support Palestinian people particularly at all.  I support Israel.  But the Palestinians are suffering way more than Israelis.  I mean go to the occupied territories, go to Israel.  The Israelis have their act together.  I mean, they have a democracy.  They‘ve got a functioning society.  That‘s why they‘re so cool.

And the Palestinians live in poverty.  I mean, they are suffering more.  Why can‘t you just say that? 

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s a good question.  Why do you think that the Democrats can‘t say it? 

CARLSON:  Personally I think that Bush should attacked, excoriated, for this very dumb, closed minded policy in the Middle East that has hurt Israel.  Hezbollah is stronger in Lebanon partly because of Bush not pulling Israel back.  They did very foolish things this summer in Lebanon and it hurt them. It hurt Israel.  And Bush should be attacked for that, for allowing that.  But nobody is courageous enough to just tell the truth. 

MASTERS:  Well, at the end of the day, public policy is going to have to evolve.  And it‘s going to have to engage the moderate Arab regimes in there.  And it‘s going to have to engage them in a much greater way then they‘ve ever done before.  And, you know, Barack Obama stuck his toe in the water, and he found out that it was pretty cold.  But at least he is opening up a debate on this possibility, and I hope that we have a long-standing debate in this presidential campaign about how we move forward. 

Because unless we engage the Palestinians, we‘re never going to have a solution in the Middle East. 

CARLSON:  And Israel will be hurt.  That‘s the bottom line.  It‘s not in Israel‘s interest not to have this conversation.  And in Israel, there‘s a vibrant, interesting debate, where smart, patriotic people hash it out.  And we should have that here, in my view.

Hillary, last night, 2.7 million in D.C., fund raising, in a single night, with the help of her husband.  Her campaign is predicting she will raise this quarter, ending at the end of this month, 31st of March, 15 million.  That‘s ludicrous.  How much do you think she is going to declare? 

O‘DONNELL:  I actually think it‘s going to be higher than that. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I would say.

MASTERS:  That‘s called low-balling. 

O‘DONNELL:  What is this game?  The expectations game.  I remember the plane that Bush took in 2000.  What was it called, Great Expectations.  Remember, he named that.  Any way, everything is about expectations.  But listen, this is going to be the most expensive presidential campaign in history.  Duh, we‘ve said that.  But we are going to have the first primary on March 31st, the first filing deadline, where we find out how much support they have. 

Is Senator Clinton going to have a lot of money in the bank?  Absolutely.  Is Barack Obama?  Probably.  And that‘s when we are going to get a real sense of how many of the core of the Democratic party, the money men and money women, and people in Hollywood also are double betting on Barack Obama, as a lot of them are doing.

And then, I think, matching them up on the Republican side is going to be interesting, comparing the number one on the Democratic side with the number one on the Republican side.   

MASTERS:  And Obama‘s fund raising is going to be interesting, because not only is he raising it across the board, we‘re going to see, I think, that he is going to raise a lot in small donations from the Internet.  I mean, this is a guy who has really captured the imagination of a lot of people who may not want to write a thousand dollar check. 

CARLSON:  Do you really think so.

MASTERS:  I absolutely think so. 

CARLSON:  So, it will be like Howard Dean, basically?

MASTERS:  I think that both of those campaigns are on track.  Also, Bill Richardson‘s campaign is on track.  All of these campaigns, including Hillary Clinton‘s campaign, have already out-raised Dean in the first quarter.

CARLSON:  Well, there‘s someone we haven‘t mentioned, and it‘s the person for whom this really is critical, I think, and it‘s John Edwards.  I mean, Hillary is going to have the most.  She‘ll gain nothing by having the most.  Obama, I think, will be impressive.  He may gain some.

Edwards has to have a pretty impressive number, it seems to me.  Now, there‘s an investigation going on right now into the 2004, the Edwards campaign, about people who may have given money illegally.  And in the course of that investigation, it has emerged that the Edwards campaign referred to some of its donors from the legal community knows as DFTLs, which stands for Dirty f-in trial lawyers, the f-in spelled out internally in the Edwards campaign. 

Her‘s my question to you.  Dirty F-in Trial Lawyers, now of course, I agree with that completely.  But I‘m not a trial lawyer and John Edwards is.  Is it going be hard for him to raise money from the DFTLs now that he‘s been exposed as calling him that? 

O‘DONNELL:  I don‘t know that much about this story.  Let me just lay out a disclaimer. 

CARLSON:  I love this story.

O‘DONNELL:  If, in fact, that were true, I could imagine that that would cause some problems. 

CARLSON:  In the DFTL community?

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.

CARLSON:  How much is he going to raise?  Do you think he‘ll have a lot?

O‘DONNELL:  I think that he will.  I think he will be in third, but he already had a lot of money in the bank.  He had been raising beforehand.  And I still think that he has a pretty strong power base.  And, again, what we have seen, at lest anecdotally, my understanding, without seeing all of the numbers, is that a lot of these Democrats are willing to bet on a couple of these candidates, and are giving a lot of money out to several of them. 

CARLSON:  Yes, even Edwards.  I mean, he doesn‘t have a day job.  He doesn‘t have any job, actually.  He‘s just running for president.  How much do you think he has to raise?

MASTERS:  He‘s got to be competitive.  If he is going to be still mentioned in the same breath as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, he is going to have to be close on their heels.  And I think he probably will be.

CARLSON:  Because it really matters?  Here‘s the key distinction, really quickly, because they actually need the money, or the money signifies support? 

MASTERS:  Money signifies support.  It signifies a growing momentum.  And, frankly, the DFTL‘s, I know a lot of trial lawyers, and they would be proud to call themselves DDFTLs. 

CARLSON:  I know a lot them too.  I kind of like them. It‘s an accurate term.

O‘DONNELL:  It‘s not necessarily what we always, money is the mother‘s milk of politics.  It‘s not decisive.  Remember that Howard Dean had raised more money. 

CARLSON:  No one ever says that, but that‘s right.

O‘DONNELL:  Howard Dean had raised more money on the Internet, had more grass roots, net roots support than John Edwards or others, and listen, that didn‘t save him at the end of the day.  It did create, I think, in the media‘s impression, and others, made him the inevitable front runner, but it didn‘t save him from what was the close scrutiny that this campaign brings. 

CARLSON:  I‘m so glad you just said that.  There‘s so much B.S. in this fund raising.  So much of it is about, if you‘re the front runner, you‘re going to have enough money, I personally think.

Up next, we have the highlights Ale Gore‘s testimony on Capitol Hill.  Was it all about global warming, or might the former vice president be testing the waters for a run at the number one spot. 

Plus, a day after calling Rush Limbaugh irrelevant, Arnold Schwarzenegger goes on Limbaugh‘s radio show.  The governor is nothing if not a show man.  Hear what happened.  We‘ve got it on tape.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  What we are facing now is a crisis that is by far the most serious we‘ve ever faced.  It‘s a challenge to the moral imagination to see and feel and understand that the entire relationship between humanity and our planet has been radically altered. 

It‘s not a political issue.  It‘s a moral issue. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Preach, preach it.  That was Al Gore, looking slightly leaner than he did at the Oscars, but talking about the same thing on Capital Hill.  Mr. Gore spoke on global warming, and the urgent need for mankind to change its environmental ways.  Repent or go to hell.  But was his trip to Congress as simple as that, or were there larger political implications? 

Back with us, Norah O‘Donnell and the great Rich Masters, welcome to you both.  It‘s a moral issue.  Now, it seems to me, first of all, it‘s a scientific issue, not moral issue.  But leaving that aside, he doesn‘t strike me as in political mode.  A lot people want Al Gore to run.  A lot of Democrats say they want him to run, anyway.  This sounds like a man who is not running. 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, first of all, isn‘t every great political issue also a moral issue, abortion?  I mean, every great issue that you want to get people to rally behind is a moral issue. 

CARLSON:  But as soon as science becomes moral, then people like Copernicus and Galileo are out of luck.  It‘s like you don‘t want science in the realm of morality, do you? 

O‘DONNELL:  Right, exactly.  But listen, what Al Gore did today was he returned to Capitol Hill, you know, to a committee that he used to serve on as a young boy—I should say a young congressman, rather.  And this is the beginning of what could be building momentum for a presidential campaign.  He has got a new book.  He is involved in all these world events.  He could win the Nobel Peace Prize.  All of this setting up, if he wanted to run for president. 

It‘s not clear that he wants it yet, but he likes this idea more.  Listen, there are other stars in the Democratic party right, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  He‘s building a schedule, if he wanted to be public and out there, that if he wanted to jump in, he could. 

CARLSON:  Let me suggest why he will run.  This an exchange between Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma and the former Vice President, Al Gore.  This happened just about 40 minutes ago.  Watch this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JAMES INHOFE ®, OKLAHOMA:  I‘m going to ask you if you would like to commit hear today—do you know how many hundreds of thousands of fans you have out there, that would like to follow your lead.  And this pledge merely says, as you can read it up there, that you‘re agreeing to consume no more energy in your residence than the average American household by one year from today, not right now.  You‘ve got a whole year to try to this.

Now, the one thing I‘d like to have you not use in response to this question, which is a yes or no question, is the various gimmicks. 

GORE:  You know, one of the other recommendations that I would have is that you also set standards for green energy produced by utilities, and one reason I say that in response to what you are saying here is that that‘s what we purchase, and we pay more for it because it‘s still relatively uncommon. 

INHOFE:  Senator Gore—

GORE:  If I could just—

INHOFE:  Well, you can‘t. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  OK see Rich, here‘s the problem that strikes me for Al Gore.  Global Warming is real.  I‘m not attacking the idea of global warming.  But if you are running around casting a wagging finger at the rest of humanity and saying, I am more moral than though, and you won‘t even pledge to use the same amount of energy, green or not, the same amount of energy, emit the same amount of Carbon as the average American, then you‘re an appalling phony who ought to be quite. 

It seems to me it‘s kind of hard for him—he‘ll never be able to live up to that standard he sets for others, so he can‘t run. 

MASTERS:  First, of all I completely disagree with that premise.  First of all, I don‘t think he is going to run.  I think he‘s got himself in a position where if there‘s a murder/suicide between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, that he is kind of there waiting in the wings, ala John Kerry, but honestly, he has brought this nation to the point where, first of all, people not only believe in global warming, they understand almost the entire scientific community, except for a few fringe elements, believe and understand that global warming is occurring.

And this is a guy who has been tilting at this windmill.  It was just 12 years ago that Bush senior called him the ozone man.  And now he‘s a hero on this issue.

CARLSON:  I don‘t think he is.  Everybody agrees that global warming is real.  The key question is, there are two actually. 

MASTERS:  James Inhofe doesn‘t.

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m not responsible for Mr. Inhofe.  I will say, it as an open question why global warming is occurring, and more important, how it can or if it can be stopped or even held in check or reversed.  But my point is this.  He is not setting this up as a scientific debate.  This is a question that we work out through analyzing data.  This is a moral question.  This is a question of virtue. 

Are you good enough to join the fight against global warming, and he won‘t even join that fight.  I lose less carbon than he does.  That‘s an outrage.   

MASTERS:  What he is setting up is here is he is absolutely tying into to the evangelical movement now, by the way.  And they are calling it a moral issue.  And it is a moral issue in America.  Is it a scientific issue, yes.  Is it a political issue, yes.  Is it a moral issue?  Will this country decide—

CARLSON:  Than he‘s immoral. 

MASTERS:  Can we do something --  

CARLSON:  If it‘s a moral issue, then let me just say—I don‘t think it is.  I think it‘s a scientific issue.  If it‘s a moral issue, he‘s a major sinner.  I mean, he‘s going to global warming hell, because he rides on private aircraft.  Don‘t you think he should take the bus?  I mean, why not?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, listen, I‘m not going to pass judgment on Al Gore.

CARLSON:  He‘s passing judgment on you.

O‘DONNELL:  The argument that Al Gore might make, and why this puts him in different, is that it‘s not personal use of—what is it?  The carbon argument about, it‘s less important than what the factories are going in China and India. 

CARLSON:  I love that.

O‘DONNELL:  Why am I getting into this.

CARLSON:  I‘m bad but others are worse.  That‘s right.  Norah O‘Donnell, Rich Masters, you two are great.  Thank you both very much. 

Coming up, you‘ve got to hand it to the producers of “American Idol,” just when it couldn‘t have America talking more intensely, they stick a sobbing pre-teen girl in the front row to lose control of herself during last night‘s performances.  And you thought television producers weren‘t evil.  Oh yes, they are.  A full analysis is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back, and now, ladies and gentlemen, MSNBC, in conjunction with its corporate sponsors, is proud to announce, from St.  Louis, Missouri, weighing in at 182, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, VICE PRESIDENT FOR PROGRAMMING OF MSNBC:  It‘s been a long time since I was weighing in at 182, Tucker, but I do appreciate it.  It‘s time to cleanse the political pallet, as we get ready for another full course on “HARDBALL” next, Tucker.  There is nothing more cleansing than “American Idol.”

Headlines from last night‘s action include Hailey‘s revealing haberdashery (ph), semi-lousy performances from bald Phil, young Stephanie, and Chicago-land‘s Pat Benatar wannabe Gina, and, of course, the desecration of the Kinks, “You really Got Me,” by young Sanjaya, which appeared to bring a little girl to hysterical tears in the front row. 

Now, here‘s the expose.  The “Los Angeles Times” today reported that the sobbing girl is 13-year-old Ashley Furl (ph), whose inability to control herself during a rehearsal got her a spot in the front row.  Her pick of the “American Idol?”  Gina, Melinda, Jordan and Sanjaya.  So she likes all four, Tucker.  Any prediction from you on tonight‘s vote? 

CARLSON:  They put the crier in the front row.  I mean, really, if you had to sum up the mentality of television producers, that‘s it right there.  Let‘s put the hysterical one in the front row. 

WOLFF:  I have a letter from the Television Producers Association.  They‘re not happy with you, buddy.  I‘m on the evil committee and we are not happy with you, my friend. 

By the way, the answer is Sanjaya will live to sing another day.  I believe that Stephanie and Phil in great peril tonight.  Don‘t quote me. 

Britney Spears‘ on again, off again relationship with rehab is off again.  This time the split was amicable.  She and rehab remain good friends.  Miss Spears split from Promises Clinic in Malibu, California after just 30 days.  Her manager called Britney‘s experience the successful completion of the program.  And ask that we all respect her privacy while she gets back to the business of raising her two infant children with Kevin Federline. 

She‘s also likely to spend some time, now that she‘s out, growing her hair back.  Tucker, predictions on the next Britney headline, please? 

CARLSON:  I wouldn‘t want to predict.  Off the top of my head, I predict she winds up on the UN Committee for Global Change, and her name is in the hopper for Nobel Peace Prize. 

WOLFF:  It‘s possible.  My prediction, “American Idol,” duh, come on man. 

CARLSON:  You‘re right.  It was sitting right there. 

WOLFF:  More important new:  Angelina Jolie, you remember her, she seems bent on saving the world one child at a time.  Miss Jolie left Vietnam today with a newly adopted son, Pax Dien Jolie.  The three year old boy is the third child she has adopted from a developing nation, having previously adopted Cambodian and Ethiopian children. 

She and Brad Pitt, of course, also have a child of their biological own, young Shiloh.  It‘s a fairy tale story, Tucker.  The question is, which fairy tale.  At this point, she‘s trending toward the old woman who lived in a shoe, so many children she didn‘t know what to do. 

CARLSON:  You know what, let me be the only person in America to stick up for Angelina Jolie. 

WOLFF:  Go ahead. 

CARLSON:  I‘m kind of for this.  Of all of the creepy things people do

I mean, obviously she‘s bonkers, clearly—but adopting children, you could do a lot worse that. 

WOLFF:  I actually am all for it.  It‘s think it‘s a very nice thing.  But all I‘m saying is, the girl can‘t get off an airplane without adopting another child.  It seems a little out of control. 

CARLSON:  I kind of like it though.  There is something sort of nice about it. 

WOLFF:  Look, it is something very nice and she‘ll provide that kid with a nice home.  But, you know, when is enough enough? 

Finally, Tucker, some red meat politics, I know you love them.  And this red meat is cooked rare, bloody in the middle, just like you like it, Tucker.  A day after dismissing the importance of right wing radio guy Rush Limbaugh. in an interview with Campbell Brown, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Republican, California, did what any self-respecting attention seeker would do, he went on Rush‘s radio show. 

Here now a sample. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA:  You and I, we‘re going to have a good time again in our next smoke out.  We‘ll smoke a stogie together and people will be talking about this from here to eternity.  The key thing is that people should know that you and I, we don‘t have a fight. 

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I‘ve always liked you and I‘ve always admired you.  And the first time I met you at the Planet Hollywood opening in Dallas, I had a great time.  And we‘ve all got so much hope.  Everybody wants you to be who you are.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOLFF:  I‘m relieved.  I feel a lot better.  The other thing I noted was there is a different definition in the Republican party for smoke out, you know what I‘m saying. 

CARLSON:  Cigars, not bongs, but I must say, I‘m kind of disappointed in Rush Limbaugh.  Was he sucking up to Arnold Schwarzenegger a day after beating him down. 

WOLFF:  That giant sucking up sound did seem like Rush sucking up to the governor, I must say.   

CARLSON:  I hate that.  He ought to smack him around.  You know what. 

WOLFF:  I‘ll do what I can for you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  The great Bill Wolff, thanks a lot. 

That does it for.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  See you tomorrow.  Have a great night.

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

END   

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

Transcripts

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

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,