updated 4/3/2007 9:59:06 AM ET 2007-04-03T13:59:06

Guests: Jonathan Martin, Peter Zamora

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  The numbers are in.  And, at the quarter pole in the ‘08 White House derby, it is Hillary Clinton by a length.

Between January and this past Saturday, Mrs. Clinton raised $26 million for her run for president.  Now, if that strikes you as a nauseatingly large amount, Hillary agrees with you.  At an appearance in New Jersey today, Mrs. Clinton announced that she supports the public financing of presidential campaigns.  That is, she will support it, just as soon as she finishes raising tens of millions more dollars and buys her way into the White House. 

But, rest assured, as president, Hillary Clinton promises to vigorously oppose all that she did on the way to becoming president. 

On the Republican side, meanwhile, the news of the day was former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  Now, you may not know much about Mitt Romney, apart from the fact that he‘s changed his position on pretty much everything but his own name.  You may have noticed that, in the polls, Romney is running behind a couple of candidates who aren‘t technically even in the race. 

But none of that mattered to donors, apparently.  Romney raised $20 million this last quarter.  That‘s more than front-runners Giuliani and McCain, all of which raises the deeper question, is the fund-raising race as decisive as we all pretend it is?  How much does money really matter in these things? 

Well, to answer that question, among others, we‘re joined by senior political writer from “The Politico” Jonathan Martin, and MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. 

Jonathan, put this in perspective for us, $26 million Hillary Clinton raised.  I noticed she got on The Drudge Report the night before...

JONATHAN MARTIN, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, “THE POLITICO”:  Right. 

CARLSON:  ... saying she had raised money that included money from her Senate campaign.

MARTIN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  This is a lot more than anyone has ever raised.  Is it decisive?  Put it in perspective for us.

MARTIN:  It‘s certainly very impressive, but I will say this.  After seeing Romney‘s money today, it does, to a certain degree, come back down to earth. 

When you see Romney, a one-term governor, raise $23 million, which is in that same neighborhood as Clinton‘s, her number isn‘t quite as eye-popping, I don‘t think. 

CARLSON:  It‘s—what—I mean, Pat, is this—does this fall short of where we thought she was going to be?  I notice, in the coverage of this -- it‘s gotten a lot of coverage on television and the newspapers—and you keep hearing Democrats say, well, you know, it‘s not decisive; it‘s not such a big deal. 

Is it a big deal?

(CROSSTALK)

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think $26 million is a big deal.  I think it‘s very impressive.

But Romney is even more impressive, for a candidate who is running fifth in some polls, who is down to 3 percent in some polls.  I mean, the Mormon fellow shows me a lot here, Tucker.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  You think that is what it is?

BUCHANAN:  No.  I will tell you what it is.

CARLSON:  And do we have a breakdown, when these numbers come out fully...

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  ... the 15th of April?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  If half this money comes from Utah, will we know it? 

BUCHANAN:  Look, I‘m sure you will. 

But my guess—I‘m just kidding there—Romney was Bain & Company.  He‘s got $500 million.  He has been a big player for a long time, Olympics and all of this.  He‘s got a lot of friends.  He went to work hard.  He had one $6 million fund-raiser alone, I think, in his home state of Massachusetts. 

MARTIN:  That‘s right, in January, right.

BUCHANAN:  That‘s really important. 

I think what‘s interesting, Tucker, on the Democratic side is, I think Biden and Dodd and those guys are simply going to their base contributors.  Let‘s see what they do in the second quarter.  I will be surprised if some of them don‘t fall short of what they have done. 

CARLSON:  Well, poor—some of these second- and third-tier Democratic candidates, who are impressive people, I think, really didn‘t do well. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Joe Biden, who probably knows more about foreign policy than any of these people...

MARTIN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  ... $2 million. 

Chris Dodd, $4 million—Dodd gave a fund-raiser—or had an event in Iowa on Saturday for Latino voters.  Five people showed up, kind of sad.  Bill Richardson at $6 million, John Edwards at $14 million. 

Here‘s a number I want to know, Jonathan, what you think of it. 

MARTIN:  Sure.

CARLSON:  Obama—we don‘t have his final numbers yet.

MARTIN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  But we know his campaign is saying they raised money from 83,000 people.

MARTIN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  Hillary raised money from 50,000 people.  Does the number of donors matter?  Or is just the amount?

MARTIN:  No, I think it does to a certain degree, because it does reflect grassroots energy.  And certainly Obama is capturing that right now. 

And we have seen that anecdotally as far as crowd size.  And I think that is now being reflected as far as pure donors.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

MARTIN:  I will say this, though.  I think that your point about the fact that there is this huge split between the top tier and second tier, it‘s phenomenal this time around.  And it‘s really underscored now in money. 

Mike Huckabee, who a lot of folks thought was going to be the sort of dark horse from—governor of Arkansas—I think he‘s going to have about $500,000 cash on hand. 

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN:  That is nothing.

CARLSON:  He‘s saying $300,000.

MARTIN:  Yes, something like that.  Exactly. 

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN:  It‘s just—that‘s a pittance.

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t how you sustain it.  You have got to fly back and forth.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  You have got keep your staff employed.  You have got do all the rest. 

We haven‘t seen any of the other second-tier Republicans yet, have we? 

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN:  No, we haven‘t.

CARLSON:  Well, Tom Tancredo says, who has announced, I believe, his campaign today on talk radio in Colorado...

BUCHANAN:  Right.  Right. 

CARLSON:  ... $1.3 million, which is actually more than you would think, necessarily.

BUCHANAN:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN:  But the chasm between that first tier and second tier is phenomenal, though.

BUCHANAN:  And he just announced today, yes.

CARLSON:  It is phenomenal.  And does it mean—and this brings me real sadness, as someone who loves the Kucinich campaign...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... from time to time, or Ron Paul.  I mean, these guys actually add something.  They add ideas.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN:  That‘s right. 

CARLSON:  Does it mean they—they can‘t run? 

MARTIN:  No.  I mean, look, they can still go to Iowa, live off the land there for months at a time.  And...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  It means, really, they—they can‘t win, Tucker, unless they do one thing, unless they break through and win, say, Iowa...

MARTIN:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  ... and New Hampshire.  Then, an awful lot will pour in.  But, even then, they have got to spread it all out, get their ads ready, because, by then, all these candidates with big money...

MARTIN:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  ... are organized in all the Super Tuesday states. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I was amazed by McCain—McCain‘s numbers not very good, $12.5 million.  I was amazed, though, by their campaign‘s reaction to it.  It was kind of quintessential McCain.  His campaign manager comes out and says, we‘re disappointed. 

MARTIN:  It was very frank and candid.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  We wished we had raised more money.  I mean...

MARTIN:  Well, I mean, all of us thought he was kind of spinning in the weeks ahead; he was really lowballing what he was going to raise.  And it turns out he wasn‘t. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  It turns out they weren‘t kidding.  That‘s right. 

MARTIN:  It was straight talk all along.

CARLSON:  That is straight talk.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  But, you know, I‘m really surprised by that, too, because I still consider McCain the preemptive favorite to win this thing, and Hillary to win on the Democratic side.  And I‘m surprised he‘s not stronger than that, with...

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  So, you have got Romney at $20 million, Giuliani at $15 million. 

BUCHANAN:  Twenty-three, yes.

CARLSON:  Right, $20 million fresh. 

BUCHANAN:  OK.

MARTIN:  This is old money, though, too.

BUCHANAN:  Oh, I see.

CARLSON:  Right.  It‘s old money. 

And this is even more confusing, because some of this money may be for the...

MARTIN:  The primary...

CARLSON:  The primary, instead of for the general.

MARTIN:  ... vs. the general election.

CARLSON:  Each donor can give, I think, $2,300.  And, so, if you give $4,600, then half has to go the primary...

MARTIN:  That‘s the whole thing.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  ... half to the general.

But, basically, you have got Romney first, Giuliani second, McCain third.  But they‘re not that far apart.  The macro-point, I think, is, Democrats raised more than Republicans. 

MARTIN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  When was the last time that happened? 

MARTIN:  No.  That really is one of the—the big differences this time around, is that it reflects the fact that there‘s more energy right now in the grassroots, you know, among Democrats than the Republicans.

And, again, this whole Fred Thompson buzz that won‘t go seem to go away...

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

MARTIN:  .. is yet more testimony to that fact, that this field is still unsettled on the Republican side. 

BUCHANAN:  Yes.  The Fred Thompson thing is a manifestation:  Please -

you know, we got—it‘s draw poker.  Can we draw two more cards or one more card or something like that to fill out the hand? 

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN:  They‘re still pining.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  And, interestingly, Rudy has come down in the polls, from 44 to 31...

MARTIN:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  ... which is a very big drop.

And Thompson is going up to 10 percent.  I think that‘s the:  Give us another new face. 

CARLSON:  But what—tell us quickly, Pat, all this money, we will find out again April 15 how fast they‘re spending it, which is another important indication of whether they can win. 

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN:  Sure.

CARLSON:  But what does it go to?  What percentage to ads, to staff? 

You ran for president. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, you know, and I did.  And Phil Gramm, you know, had one fund-raiser, he had a $4 million fund-raiser...

CARLSON:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  ... kickoff fund-raiser.  And he said:  I got, what, a politician‘s best friend, ready cash and all that.

CARLSON:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  And he was gone even before Iowa. 

But what it goes for, I think it goes for staff.  It goes for travel. 

But it goes for the TV ads. 

MARTIN:  Yes.  TV.

BUCHANAN:  These guys can sit here in Washington, D.C., in their beds, while these ads are pounding in there for them in New Hampshire and Iowa and all these states. 

MARTIN:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  That means a lot.  A guy like Kucinich, he‘s going to have to travel around.  Richardson, you said he‘s meeting five people.  How else does he do it?  Of course, $6 million is pretty good for him. 

CARLSON:  I think, for some of these candidates, the travel is the appeal. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  I do think—I think they like getting out on the road.  I think Dennis loves being on the road. 

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN:  Road trip. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  I like Embassy Suites.

CARLSON:  Road trip, exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  John McCain takes a tour of a Baghdad marketplace, then hails the progress of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq.  Is President Bush‘s most vocal ally on the war right when he criticizes the media in this country for slanted coverage?  Or is too optimistic after one heavily-guarded one-hour stroll in the war zone?

And it‘s already cold between the president and the speaker of the House, but the Democrats have far more in store for Bush.  Is Congress doing anything to help the country or just trying to destroy the president, or maybe both? 

You‘re watching MSNBC, America‘s most impressive news network. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Congress is now in spring recess, but, when they come back, beware, President Bush.  The Democrats have a few battles planned, and not just over Iraq.  Is the new majority going too far for its own good and America‘s?  We will tell you.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  The U.S. Congress has already defied President Bush by declaring a date-certain withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq in its war funding bills. 

Today‘s “Washington Post” reports that Democrats on Capitol Hill, though, have a lot more in store for the president, once they get back from Easter recess.  That includes attempts to close the detention center at Gitmo, revising the Patriot Act, and unionizing airport security workers.  Will any of it work? 

Back to tell us, senior political writer for “The Politico,” Jonathan Martin, and MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. 

Pat, it‘s interesting.  As—let‘s get to the big picture first. 

Democrats are feeling their power.  And they have power. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  And, so, they plan to do a number of different domestic proposals, which are pretty controversial, because they feel like they can. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  Interesting quote.  Leon Panetta was asked, you know, what do you think of this by “The Washington Post”?  And he said:  Look, you know, I watched the government shutdown.  I was here in the mid-‘90s.  And this is a perilous course for Democrats:  Do what‘s popular.  Don‘t do what‘s unpopular. 

Do you think Democrats are being pushed by their base into territory that is going to hurt them, or are they doing the wise thing? 

BUCHANAN:  I think the first thing:  They‘re being pushed by their base into territory that‘s going to hurt them. 

Look, the president is sitting there at 30 percent or something like that.  There‘s nothing more he wants than to have liberal Democrats come at him from a liberal side, which will unite the conservative base and the Republicans, and get into brawl after brawl, where the Republicans and conservatives probably have 50 percent of the country.

So, I think it‘s good news for the president.  Let them go ahead. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  He‘s got that forum up there.  He‘s got that podium...

CARLSON:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  ... that nobody else has got, the White House.  It‘s one voice against numerous voices. 

So, I think, to quote the president, bring it on. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I totally agree. 

I think that Bush is in a very tough place, where any Republican running for president is going to have a tough time getting elected in ‘08 anyway. 

MARTIN:  Right.  Right. 

CARLSON:  Why screw it up?  If you want, Jonathan, a picture of what this debate is going to look like—so, Democrats are talking about closing Gitmo.  They have talked about it for a long time.  There are some Republicans in favor, but they are going to push this. 

Here is what Duncan Hunter, congressman from California, Armed Services Committee chairman, former, and now a presidential candidate, is saying. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Quote: “The idea we would import dangerous terrorists, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, onto America—into American communities is dangerous.”

MARTIN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  In other words, you close Gitmo, you have got to put these guys in federal penitentiaries or military prisons here.  We‘re bringing terrorists to the homeland.

MARTIN:  That‘s right. 

CARLSON:  That is the rhetoric.  I don‘t see the Democrats winning that. 

MARTIN:  No, actually, Mike Allen with “Politico” had a story.  And the plan would actually be to bring them to Navy brigs here on the East Coast.

CARLSON:  Right. 

MARTIN:  So, you‘re actually on the Eastern Seaboard, very heavily populated.  So, politically, that‘s obviously a very dicey thing. 

I will say, though, you talk to a lot of Republicans all over the country, they recognize the sort of perilous times they‘re in right now.  But they will always tell you, they will say:  The silver lining we have is that Democrats in state capitals and in D.C. are on the verge of overreaching.

CARLSON:  Right. 

MARTIN:  And, if that happens, that is something that will actually really, really help us going into ‘08. 

CARLSON:  Assuming the Republicans are smart enough to make use out of it.  The Democrats want to unionize airport screeners.  Everyone has a low opinion of airport screeners now. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Will unionizing them make them more efficient, more likely to prevent a terror attack, or less?

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  As soon as you mention airport screener, you have ticked off 30 percent of the nation.

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Why the hell...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Everybody has been out there.

CARLSON:  This is so easy to mock. 

BUCHANAN:  Get your shoes off and your belt. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Yes.  But what is it—Pat, do you understand the political dynamics behind this?  This seems...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  This is like going after school lunches... 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Well, you know what it is.  It‘s those—the government unions and the service workers unions are enormously powerful forces in the Democratic Party.

MARTIN:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  They really get out the vote, and they say, we want you to deliver.  This is where you can deliver for us. 

And, so, the Democrats say, fine. 

CARLSON:  Do you think—can you imagine Republicans coming out and saying—and making a straightforward case against this, and actually winning the rhetorical battle, saying, you know, when you have got an important package to send, you don‘t go to the post office, the unionized post office; you go to non-union FedEx; and making that case explicit?  Or are they just so lame, they won‘t do that? 

MARTIN:  Well, don‘t forget, in 2002, those first midterms, the GOP made great hay out of...

CARLSON:  That‘s right. 

MARTIN:  ... out of working the same issue.  It was at the creation of DHS.  And there was a huge, huge debate in the Congress here about whether or not those workers should be organized.

And Republicans ran ad after ad in all these competitive races, talking about how Democrats are putting, you know, favors for their labor bosses ahead of national security.

BUCHANAN:  Sure.

MARTIN:  And it worked very well

BUCHANAN:  But, you know, Tucker, that‘s good.  I mean, sure, you are going to get Democratic support.  But that‘s good ground.  It‘s always been good, solid ground for Republicans. 

It‘s far better ground than saying, we support a surge in Iraq. 

CARLSON:  Right...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... unpopular war. 

BUCHANAN:  If you move onto that terrain—if you move onto that terrain, the Republicans say, fine. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But you know what?  If the Republicans lose their advantage on national security...

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  ... if people begin to say, the Democrats are every bit as good, it‘s over for the Republican Party.  There‘s no other rationale to vote Republican, apart from national security. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Did you see, over the weekend, Tucker?  We were talking last week.

Obama says, we‘re going to give them the money after the deadline is knocked out. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Right.  That‘s right. 

BUCHANAN:  We‘re all going to—they all say it.  Charlie Rangel:  Of course they are going to get the money. 

CARLSON:  Of course. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  We‘re not going to play chicken with American troops. 

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  That‘s right. 

CARLSON:  Coming up:  Rudy Giuliani is still up front among Republican presidential candidates, no thanks to his wife.  A new minor scandal involving Judith Giuliani threatens to damage the Rudy express even further.  We have got the remarkable, spine-tingling details on that. 

Plus:  John McCain says the U.S. media fails to report the great progress in Baghdad since the troops surge started.  Does he have a point, or is he playing politics?  The facts ahead. 

This is MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  The American people are not getting the full picture of what‘s happening here.  They‘re not getting the full picture of the drop in murders, the establishment of security outposts throughout the city, the situation in Anbar province, the deployment of additional Iraqi brigades, who are performing well. 

(END VIDEO CLIP

CARLSON:  That was Senator John McCain, who ironically is just about President Bush‘s only ally outside of immediate family, friends, pets and cabinet members.  This weekend, the senator was in Baghdad and took a one-hour walk through a market that has seen horrifying violence as recently as February.  McCain concluded that the troop surge has achieved a lot of underreported success. 

In the same marketplace today, Iraqis agreed that violence was down in their area, but they questioned the extent of McCain‘s optimism as the sound of sniper fire returned.  So what is the truth?

Here to discuss it senior political writer for “The Politico,” Jonathan Martin, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.  Pat, look, here‘s the numbers.  This is not the most accurate way to measure.  The deadliest year for coalition forces in Iraq was 2004 with 906 people killed.  This current, year if it continues, the trend continues in killings, 2007 will be the record year for killings, and that includes the surge so far. 

So, in fact, killing of at least coalition troops are not down by that measure. 

BUCHANAN:  And from the numbers you read every morning, the killings of Iraqis are up there over 100 a day and things like that.  I don‘t think this went very well, this trip.  I mean, Mike Pence, the Congressman from Indiana, said the market was just like a summer day at the mall in Indiana. 

I doubt you wear body armor and come in with humvees and have the place

cordoned off.  And the general took his—OK, let‘s put on soft hats all

you

guys.  Look, there‘s no doubt that the surge has done some good things, but probably because Moqtada al-Sadr and his guys have gone to earth, partly the retaliation by the Shias.  But look, the surge isn‘t even full now.  It‘s not going to full until June.  And so I don‘t think you can say it‘s a great success.  There‘s no doubt it‘s done some good.

CARLSON:  I wonder, what‘s the political risk for McCain?  I just say, off the top, I disagree with him in many ways, but I admire his courage.  He‘s certainly not saying the fashionable thing at all.  This is straight talk and people hate him for it.  To what extent do they hate him for it?  Is this hurting him? 

MARTIN:  Well, in the short term, there‘s no risk at all.  This is great for the primary because McCain‘s campaign is thrilled to have him over there, being seen with soldiers in Iraq.  They‘re supporting the surge, because with the base of the party this is still a policy that is still supported.  So, politically for him—

CARLSON:  Is that true?  It‘s really clear that your average Republican primary voter is in favor of the president‘s war policy. 

MARTIN:  For the base of the party that still has deep suspicions about John McCain this is sort of the paramount issue where the McCain campaign can remind the base, look, we‘re with you on this signal issue of the day, which is the war in Iraq. 

BUCHANAN:  Take the five top guys.  What you got?  You got Newt, Thompson, Romney, McCain and Giuliani, are all strongly pro-war and they‘re behind the president of the United States.  And, I guess, I don‘t even know, the lesser candidates, Ron Paul obviously was always against it.  But I think that‘s right.  I think you‘re talking, Tucker, about 65, 70 percent of the Republican party is behind the president. 

CARLSON:  But those guys you mentioned, from what I can tell, reading their statements every day in Washington, giving speeches, are hedging their bets.  They don‘t like to talk about Iraq, and to the extent they do, they are less precise than McCain is.  It takes a lot of brass to get out there in a market in Baghdad and say, it‘s a pretty summer day and I‘m safe. 

BUCHANAN:  He‘s on point.  There‘s no question about it, to a degree that nobody else is.  The others are sort of with the president, but he‘s identified as Mr. Iraq more than anybody else in the primaries. 

CARLSON:  Then why doesn‘t the base like him? 

MARTIN:  Well, because there are still some issues, a perception that he can‘t get around, based on that 2000 campaign, where he was the media‘s favorite Republican.  And also, he has taken some votes and said a few things that are essentially poking his finger in the eye of the party.  The McCain campaign was happy to have him in Baghdad, getting those shots, and they also were thrilled to have the Democrats add in all that pork to pass the bill on the Hill last week, because for them that married two of McCain‘s best issues for the base, his support for the war in Iraq and he‘s a hawk on spending. 

BUCHANAN:  They don‘t like him because he doesn‘t like us, Tucker.  You saw what he said about the border friends: OK, if they want, I‘ll build their G.D. fence.  This is what he yelled at some guy asking the question. 

CARLSON:  He hates professional conservatives.  He hates them. 

CARLSON:  Even some of the amateurs he doesn‘t like. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right and he finds them annoying and whatever.  But it‘s interesting, do you imagine, Pat, you know the Republican party very well, a party that is taking national security as its signature issue.  Rudy Giuliani is leading the polls, because people think he‘s strongest on national security.  Do you see that party nominating a guy who has precisely no foreign policy experience, Rudy Giuliani, over a guy with more than 20 years of foreign policy experience, John McCain? 

BUCHANAN:  Well Rudy has an aura of a guy that was the great guy standing there at 9/11.  So they think he‘s got some—I mean, they think he‘s got a tough line.  Exactly, he doesn‘t have real foreign policy experience, and it will be interesting to hear him talk about it, but he looks like the toughest guy in the class, frankly, right now. 

CARLSON:  He may be the toughest guy in class, but what is he going to say when people say, well wait, you know, it was great that you presided not only Manhattan but Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island, but those aren‘t countries.  They are boroughs. 

MARTIN:  He doesn‘t have foreign policy experience, but he has foreign policy credentials.  I think that‘s the important difference.

CARLSON:  He appears to. It‘s amazing to me.

MARTIN:  What he did after 9/11, I think, says much and sort of belies the fact that most of the issues—we‘re worried about the subways going through Brooklyn and Queens for eight years. 

BUCHANAN:  Romney has no identification with hard line law and order or tough foreign policy, none. 

CARLSON:  It‘s just amazing to me.  The Republican party will be a completely different party at the end of this process.  Newt Gingrich asserts the need for all Americans to speak English.  Fair enough.  So what‘s got some people mad as hell at the former speaker.  Well, for one thing, they hated him anyway.  For another, it‘s what he said after his simple declaration that‘s got him in hot water.  We‘ll tell you more. 

And Rudy Giuliani is learning all about hot water.  His wife‘s treatment of animals is the new controversy.  Wait until you hear what Judith Giuliani‘s company used to do to dogs.  Here‘s a hint, you may not be impressed.  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  You may not know off-hand who Matthew Dowd is, but you should.  Until recently he was one of the president‘s most important advisors.  He helped guide the 2000 Bush campaign and the improbable and successful re-election campaign in 2004.  Bluntly put, he was a true believer.  And that‘s why Dowd‘s interview with the “New York Times” on Sunday is so shocking.  He says, among other things, that he has lost faith in Bush, that Bush‘s war policy is flawed.

The president is increasingly out of touch, he says, even that Bush failed after 9/11 to instill in Americans a sense of shared sacrifice.  Here to talk about the meaning of this major falling out, we welcome back senior political writer for “The Politico,” Jonathan Martin, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. 

Matthew Dowd; it‘s not possible to say Matthew Dowd was a bit player.  He was a big deal in the White House.  I‘m not piling on, but it‘s just true.  How is the White House responding to this?  What do you say? 

MARTIN:  Well, first of all, it should be noted that he actually chose the sort of venue to do this, the “New York Times,” which for the Bush White House is sort of public enemy number one.  So that, I‘m sure, was not lost on the Bush crowd, but the Bush White House response so far has been to essentially say Dan is a good guy, he‘s a good friend, but he‘s going through some personal issues right now and sort of grappling with some matters. 

What they aren‘t saying is that his son is going over to Iraq here very, very shortly and sort of wink, wink, nod, nod that could have something to do with this. 

CARLSON:  He‘s had a mental break.  Here‘s part of what he said, Matthew Dowd, to Jim Ruttenberg of the “New York Times,” “I really like him,” him being the president, “which is probably why I‘m so disappointed in things.  I think he‘s become more, in my view, secluded and bubbled in.”  

In other words, he‘s cut off from reality.  Not only is this an attack, and it may be true, and I‘m not questioning the veracity of it, but it‘s an attack along very familiar lines.  He‘s hitting Bush on something people already suspected of Bush.  That is a very damning thing to hear from Dowd. 

BUCHANAN:  It is damning thing and it comes from somebody very close to the president, somebody who‘s got his personal confidence.  I have a problem with this fellow Dowd doing something like this, really.  I mean, the president of the United States, he is a loyalist, he‘s an insider.  It‘s not like Paul O‘Neill, where apparently there‘s a real clash of policy and it‘s a very big level.  This is sort of a personal, hurtful thing.  I do agree with you, I think the White House should have said, we regret Matthew Dowd did it.  The president has always liked him.  And let‘s move on.  And just let it go.  Don‘t even respond. 

CARLSON:  Rather than implying apparently Dowd‘s son is on his way to Iraq, saying that somehow this—

MARTIN:  It‘s a personal thing. 

CARLSON:  -- this sent him over the edge.  Speaking of over the edge, it‘s interesting - well, very quickly, Tom Tancredo got in today, Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin.  Tancredo, of course, is running because he believes in things.  Tancredo‘s an actual conservative, who is opposed to open borders.  Why is Tommy Thompson running? 

MARTIN:  Well Tommy Thompson is somebody who, along with folks like John Engler and Tom Ridge, was a big name, big state governor back in the 1990‘s.  And I think he sees folks that are not nearly as conservative as he is and aren‘t as, in his mind at least, accomplished as he now running for the presidency.  He says, look what I did in Wisconsin, welfare reform, tax cuts, et cetera, et cetera.  I should be in that mix. 

BUCHANAN:  He probably thinks there is a spillover, and there probably is, from  Wisconsin along those border towns along the river in Iowa and he thinks that look, you know, you‘ve got the three top candidates.  Somebody is going to pop up and look like a fourth candidate or someone that‘s still in the mix, still in the hunt out of Iowa and he might be able to be that guy, but he‘s a very confident governor.  He‘s enormously popular, but doesn‘t seem to have the charisma or the cutting edge issue to do it, frankly. 

CARLSON:  The way I read it, charisma is just about all Republican primary voters care about.  I mean, they‘ve signaled pretty clearly they have no interest in ideas at all.  They think Bush is conservative, which shows you how far out of it they are, in my view.  And they want someone who looks like a president, which is why they‘re salivating over poor Fred Thompson.  The most interesting thing I heard this weekend, Fred Thompson is up for Paul Harvey‘s job on ABC radio.  ABC radio pays Paul Harvey 100 million dollars.  He‘s got a 100 million dollar contract over 10 years. 

MARTIN:  Not bad. 

CARLSON:  Fred Thompson will have to turn that down. 

BUCHANAN:  I hope Thompson runs, and they open that up, Tucker, for other guys.   

CARLSON:  I agree with that.  That‘s a great point.  But is he really going to enter the race for president against guys who are raising tens of millions of dollars already, comes in with such a great advantage?  I mean, is this real or a flirtation? 

MARTIN:  I was pretty skeptical at first, when it first sort of came out about a month ago, but since then I‘ve talked to a few folks and evidently he is taking a pretty serious look at this.  I think the smart money would say he doesn‘t pull the trigger in the end, but I‘m told by folks down in Tennessee that he is, in fact, looking at this and thinking about giving it a shot. 

BUCHANAN:  There is a path.  I‘m still convinced there‘s still an alley down the right side to that nomination right now, because we‘ve been talking.  The conservatives are unhappy with these guys and Thompson looks fresh.  When Rudy was fresh, he went to 44 percent. 

CARLSON:  But don‘t you need to rise—and you would know, since you did this yourself.  And you rode issues.  You said, as I remember, this candidate, this other Republican, incumbent in one case, is not conservative.  I am.  Doesn‘t Thompson need an issue to ride to the head of the pack, or can he just say, I look like a president? 

MARTIN:  He‘s not John McCain. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, he‘s not John McCain.  He‘s a conservative.  I agree with you.  You had a good point.  He has got some charisma, but he‘s going to have to have a cutting edge to differentiate himself from all these guys with all this money, why Thompson and why not Romney or why not Rudy or why not McCain? 

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  Why not Rudy?  Why not McCain?  Let‘s put up on the screen the most recent “USA Today”/Gallup polling here.  You‘ve got Giuliani,  McCain, Thompson and Gingrich.  So at the beginning of last month, March 2nd to 4th, Giuliani was at 44, McCain at 20, Thompson was not even a glean in the voter‘s eye, Gingrich at nine.  Three weeks later, unbelievable, Giuliani 31, down 13 points, McCain up two, Fred Thompson taking up the slack, 12 from not even registering. 

The headline, Giuliani, 13 points, big deal, what happened? 

MARTIN:  Well two things.  First of all, that poll underscores how unsettled this race is.  When Fred Thompson can just have his name tossed in that poll and get 12 percent off the bat is a reminder that these primary voters are still sort of casting about.  It‘s also a reminder at least some of the support for Giuliani out there is based upon name I.D.  and a certain degree of favorability, given his heroics on 9/11.  But after a few weeks of tough press here, which he certainly had, and the inclusion of a name like Fred Thompson, also very, very familiar, his numbers do come down a little bit. 

BUCHANAN:  You‘re right.  Look, the favorability, Rudy starting this thing had almost no unfavorability.  I think he was 65, 70, 80 percent, something like that.  Everybody like McCain, who has been out there a long time, he‘s been vetted.  Thompson‘s got no negatives.  I mean, he‘s “Law and Order.”  He‘s “The Hunt For Red October.”  That‘s the guy.  But his negatives aren‘t going to start until he gets in. 

CARLSON:  Well, Rudy‘s negatives—or the questions about him raised in the press have gone from almost non-existent to, I think it‘s fair to call them, savage.  I want to put up on the screen today‘s “New York Post,” which in some ways we mock the Post, if you will, but it is the leading edge of trends in the media, to some extent, like the Drudge Report.  Let‘s totally be honest here. 

OK, “Judi‘s Dog Days.”  Now this is a piece attacking Rudy‘s wife, Judi Nathan Giuliani, for working at a medical firm 20 or 30 years ago that used dogs to test out these sutures.  Inside of the paper, the piece is actually headlined, “Judi‘s Job with Pup Killer Firm.”  Apparently this firm, as the piece explains, was cruel to animals.  I have to say this affects my feelings.  It‘s not his fault that his wife worked here.  But this tells you something, that everything is fair game. 

BUCHANAN:  Did they cut the dogs open and then suture them up or something? 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.  They anesthetized the dogs, put them under and then used living dogs as a way to demonstrate how these sutures worked, and then killed the dogs afterwards. 

MARTIN:  Well, politically though it‘s a reminder of why it is going to be tough for Rudy to run this campaign.  He has got sort of this tumultuous personal life.  He‘s got this sort of baggage that, thanks to the tabloids in New York, is going to come out.  I was talking to a Rudy supporter today, and he was musing to me.  He was a bit frustrated.  He said, you know, this crap storm—he didn‘t say crap.  This crap storm is starting right now up in those tabloids, and they sort of know why it‘s happening, because there is a lot of fodder out there in Rudy‘s background that his opponents and a very tough press too, is going to put out there in circulation. 

CARLSON:  And you know, it seems to me—I‘m not attacking Giuliani and I‘m not attacking his marriage or marriages or his personal life, about which I know virtually nothing.  But I do question his decision not to explain how he met his current wife.  It seems to me, Pat, that if you‘re going to run for president for real, like as an adult, as a credible candidate, and you‘re not willing to say where you met your wife, you‘re not along for the campaign. 

BUCHANAN:  No, that‘s right.  You‘re going to be asked that and apparently it was the Harper Valley PTA. 

CARLSON:  Is that where it was? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, it was at the PTA of the school where his kid went and her kid went, or something like that.  I mean, I‘ve read that all over before all over the place.  I hope this isn‘t a scoop.  That is where I have read it now.

CARLSON:  I think you are breaking news here.  I mean, it is not a car chase, but I think we ought to put up the banner. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  And as the Giulianis explained, they have been married between them six times because they... 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  It is all.

CARLSON:  . marriage.

BUCHANAN:  Is it six times or five times when the third time for each is each other? 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  But again, I shouldn‘t even be saying that, because I‘m not attacking them or even judging them. 

BUCHANAN:  But you are talking about—see, but everybody is doing this, everybody is chuckling about it.  And.

MARTIN:  It is fodder, it is fodder, right. 

BUCHANAN:  . so I think it is a problem, it is a problem.

CARLSON:  Well, what is less amusing is the situation that Bernard Kerik finds himself in, facing felony charges of tax evasion and wiretapping, a completely bogus, B.S. charge. 

MARTIN:  Yes, Rudy, has two problems here.  I think he has got sort of the tabloid track, which is his personal life, his marriages, his kids that is going to adversely affect him.  Then he has got sort the more serious professional, ethical track that is also going to hurt him.

And so you are going to see tough stories come out along those lines about Bernie Kerik in the more serious, gray papers like The New York Times and The Washington Post.  The more salacious stuff will be fed to The Post and Daily News in New York... 

BUCHANAN:  You know, this tabloid stuff.

MARTIN:  And those two tracks are going to really be very.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  The tabloid stuff might go.  Remember they dug that all of that stuff up in Jim Webb‘s book and everybody in Virginia thought it was going to be very bad?  The country just—they just swept that aside.  It didn‘t affect him at all. 

There is a part of the country that the nonsense if you will about the personal life, they have decided, look, I just want somebody who can run the country right, I don‘t care about that.  But Kerik‘s stuff will affect those voters I think. 

MARTIN:  It is about Kerik.

CARLSON:  I do think that.  And when he goes—I mean.

MARTIN:  But it is a combination of both of those. 

CARLSON:  If he‘s actually charged with felonies, and he is not only a former close adviser to Giuliani but a member of his cabinet—essentially his cabinet in New York City, but also apparently he is a good friend. 

BUCHANAN:  He is like a brother. 

CARLSON:  That is bad, I mean, to put it in the simplest terms.  But I agree with you, if Hillary Clinton is running and is the nominee, and it looks like she may be the nominee, you have got the weirdest domestic scene like in the whole world, and I say that as someone from Southern California, it is weird from my standards. 

BUCHANAN:  The two of them are going to—will cancel each other out. 

CARLSON:  I think that is right. 

BUCHANAN:  And so then you get—we will have a race on the issues. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  That would be fun.

MARTIN:  How can the GOP play the personal or the ethics card even if their candidate is Giuliani? 

CARLSON:  Well, and moreover, I think that the Republican Party, unfortunately, lost its claim on having less weird personal lives somewhere along the way in the past couple of years, maybe it was Mark Foley.  Who knows? 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Thank you both very much, Jonathan Martin, Pat Buchanan, appreciate it.

MARTIN:  Thank you, Tucker.

BUCHANAN:  OK.  Take it easy, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Newt Gingrich spoke frankly about the importance of the English language in American society.  What did he say about Spanish that has some liberals in a frenzy?  Stick around and find out if his message got lost in his own verbiage. 

And there‘s a word to describe Donald Trump.  I think you would agree that word, classy.     Willie Geist tracks down The Donald‘s latest foray and contrived drama for the masses, a “Smackdown” ahead on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH ®, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  We should replace bilingual education with emergence—with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country, and so they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was Newt Gingrich speaking of the importance of English in American society.  His point, apparently, was that speaking English is vitally important to successful participation in the American economy and an American life.  That is hard to argue. 

It was his follow-up about, quote, “the language of the ghetto” that raised hackles of some around the country.  Here with his view, the regional counsel for MALDEF, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and also the co-chair of the Hispanic Education Coalition, Peter Zamora. 

Peter, thanks for coming on. 

PETER ZAMORA, MALDEF:  Thank you very much, Tucker.

CARLSON:  I don‘t—you were quoted as saying, “the tone of his comments were hateful.” I didn‘t see anything hateful about what—what is wrong with what he said? 

ZAMORA:  Well, I think certainly the suggestion that people who are speaking languages other than English who don‘t live in the ghetto.  And so I think it showed a little bit of his ignorance around the multilingual society in which we live. 

CARLSON:  Well, maybe I‘m misreading what he said.  But given the context of it, I didn‘t understand Gingrich to be saying that only poor uneducated people speak Spanish.  I understood him to be saying people who can‘t speak English almost by definition will cluster together in communities that are cut off from the rest of American society and from American prosperity, which is absolutely true. 

ZAMORA:  Certainly.  And there‘s really no dispute about the importance of learning English in this country. 

CARLSON:  There seems to be. 

ZAMORA:  There is really not.  You know, a study by the Hispanic Center showed 92 percent of Latinos think that learning English is very important.  And my, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, we support the best methods for instructing students in English. 

And certainly the English language learners who we are talking here desperately want to learn English, really are into being in the mainstream of American society.  And really, bilingual education is the best method of incurring (ph) that that happens. 

CARLSON:  Well, I think that is indisputably wrong, actually.  And let‘s just—before, I mean, I can pull out studies that show that in fact immersion does work better than bilingual education, I‘m sure you have seen them.  But the common sense point is, learning English is really hard.  People won‘t do it unless they have to, understandably, not an attack on them. 

When you live in a society that permits you not to speak English, as South Florida has become, you don‘t learn it.  So when people have a bilingual opportunity, when, you know, there are signs in Spanish or ballots in Spanish, they have less incentive to learn English.  That is just true. 

ZAMORA:  Well, the majority of English language learners are actually native born U.S. citizens.  And these are people.

CARLSON:  Oh, I‘m sure. 

ZAMORA:  . who want to participate in the American society.  And there is a clear understanding, and this is a recent study from the Pew Hispanic Center, a very reputable organization, saying that more Latinos than any other ethnic group believe English is essential. 

And I think that Newt Gingrich, unfortunately, who is not an education expert, I am a former bilingual education teacher, credentialed in the State of California, that bilingual education is actually the best methodology by which you can teach students English. 

If you think about it, if you were going to go take a class in French, wouldn‘t you want the French speaker to be able to also speak to you in English about the instructions, about the way in which you could learn the language? 

CARLSON:  No, actually, I think that is the wrong analogy.  The analogy would be if you are going to learn a foreign language, say, French, you would go to France and speak only French with the people who live there because that is full immersion.  That is how you learn a foreign language.  If you went to France and hung around Americans you would learn French much less quickly, as you know. 

ZAMORA:  Certainly.  But the education research is really quite clear.  And there have been four major studies over the last two years that show that bilingual education is simply the best method if at all... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I categorically disagree.  But let me just say.

ZAMORA:  (INAUDIBLE)

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  . what I think—what you are mad about is.

ZAMORA:  Are you an educator? 

CARLSON:  Am I an educator?

ZAMORA:  Are you an expert in education issues?  Do you have a credential in education?

CARLSON:  Yes, actually, I am an expert on this issue, having.

ZAMORA:  Well, we should be.

CARLSON:  And let me—but let me just say this.  You are mad, it seems to me, about his demand that government materials be printed only in English.  If you are so for teaching people English, and I‘m not sure I believe you, let‘s say you really are though, then why would you be against printing vital documents only in English, wouldn‘t that be the greatest possible incentive to learn English? 

ZAMORA:  Listen, I was an English teacher in California public schools for several years, that was my job, that was my calling, so it is really kind of inappropriate  to challenge me personally on this.

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m just asking.

ZAMORA:  And I think that there is.

CARLSON:  . why are you against it? 

ZAMORA:  There are two separate issues here.  The one is the Voting Rights Act which passed with a broad bipartisan majority last year.  It was 100-0 in the Senate.  I think there were 20 opponents in the House.  So the federal government supports the use of native language ballots. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t care what the federal government.

ZAMORA:  So I think the best.

CARLSON:  I am trying to get (ph) the right thing to do.  And I want to know, if you want to teach people English—I don‘t care what the Senate said.

ZAMORA:  I think that that is really conflating issues here.  Because this issue is really.

CARLSON:  I asked you a simple question. 

ZAMORA:  . which best—which is the best instructional method for teaching English language learners English? 

CARLSON:  And you haven‘t answered my question. 

ZAMORA:  And the clear answer to that, which I think is the question that he was asking.

CARLSON:  You are not answering my question.  Why would I learn a language if I don‘t have to answer?  I wouldn‘t. 

ZAMORA:  Listen, you are posing a hypothetical.  I‘m talking about 5 million to 6 million people.

CARLSON:  My hypothetical is totally real. 

ZAMORA:  . who are living in this country, who are desperate to participate and who are in schools that are not using the best methods.  And part of that is because we have uninformed individuals who are trying to make decisions about education policy that is—Newt Gingrich did that, he is not an expert. 

CARLSON:  So you are calling it hateful? 

ZAMORA:  . in these issues.  I think that the comment about how all non-English.

CARLSON:  You know exactly what he meant.  He is not attacking Spanish speakers.  He is saying.

ZAMORA:  I‘m more concerned of the substance of his comments, where he supports a method of teaching English which has been very clearly shown.

CARLSON:  That is a total crock. 

ZAMORA:  I don‘t consider you to be an education expert.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I don‘t consider you to be one either if you disagree on that point, what I think is very clear. 

ZAMORA:  And what are you basing that upon, just your gut instinct? 

CARLSON:  No, not my—sorry, I‘m being told we have to go.  I‘m sorry that we do. 

ZAMORA:  A pleasure. 

CARLSON:  Peter Zamora, thank you very much. 

ZAMORA:  Thank you very much, appreciate it.

CARLSON:  Professional wrestling beefcake Vince McMahon isn‘t the first man to learn a painful lesson at the hands of Donald J. Trump, he is just the latest.  Willie Geist has a full report from the “Battle of the Billionaires.”  We will be back in a moment.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Vince McMahon, Donald Trump, two rich egomaniacs with weird hair.  What happens when they get together?  I do not know.  Willie Geist does.  He is here to tell us—Willie. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC PRODUCER:  I know.  And I think in your heart you know the answer.

CARLSON:  Yes, I do. 

GEIST:  But we will show you anyway.  By the way, Tucker, where were you Saturday night?  You missed the social event of the year, Rita Cosby‘s going away party.  Where were you?

CARLSON:  I know, I was actually on a yacht off Spain. 

GEIST:  Really?

CARLSON:  Yes, I was.  It is a long story.

GEIST:  I will have to look into that excuse.  Sounds unlikely.

CARLSON:  How was the party. 

GEIST:  It was great.  We do not want Rita to go, but if she had to go, we know she throws a good party.  And you know who I met?  Randy Jones, the original cowboy from the Village People.  So that is.

CARLSON:  No way!

GEIST:  So that is the best reason why you should have been there. 

CARLSON:  I wish I had been there.

GEIST:  One of the highlights of my life.  And I just.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Rita throws a mean party.  I wish I had come.

GEIST:  We will miss here. 

CARLSON:  Well, I will go to her new party when she starts her new gig.

GEIST:  Absolutely.  Let‘s get back to the big news though.  When, Tucker, will they ever learn?  Professional wrestling czar Vince McMahon became just another statistic last night as he joined a landscape littered with the carcasses of competitors who Donald Trump has gladly chewed up and spit out. 

At last night‘s “WrestleMania 23,” Trump‘s wrestler won the “Battle of the Billionaires,” giving Trump the right to shave McMahon‘s head.  But The Donald does not just cut people‘s hair, he breaks their spirits. 

Trump clothes-lined McMahon and landed a series of head shots on him, as you can see here, before breaking out the hair clippers.  Look at that.  Annihilating him.  Let that be a lesson to the next fool who attempts to cross The Donald. 

Tucker, this was not even close.  He just destroyed McMahon, who has been in the wrestling business for 30 years now.  Just tore him limb from limb.  And I think there is something we can learn here, and it is that Donald Trump is above nothing.  He will do whatever it takes for.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  He is a pretty solid-looking character, too.  I wouldn‘t want The Donald falling on me. 

GEIST:  No.  He tore him apart.  He is a pretty vicious guy.  Stone Cold Steve Austin came in with a cheap shot later and took Donald out, but that was outside the rules, so that.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Not surprising, yes, I agree.

GEIST:  Tucker, we have dedicated a lot of time lately to Donald Trump‘s Miss USA Pageant, so in the interest of gender equity, we proudly offer last night‘s Mr. World 2007 competition.  Here it is.  The New Mr.  World was crowned in China after a month-long competition that included events like cooking, cocktail making, and kung fu.  I did not make any of those up. 

As you can see, the fellas really got along famously, but in the end, only Mr. Spain was deemed worthy of that famous blue sash, Tucker.  There is just something a little unsettling about the male pageant, isn‘t there?  Just as a rule, I think.  The tears were there, just like the female pageant, it just—I don‘t know, it seems wrong. 

CARLSON:  Very, very, very wrong. 

GEIST:  Also, the mixing cocktails and the kung fu is sort of an odd combination. 

CARLSON:  Was that actually on TV or is that Internet only?

GEIST:  China state TV, I think. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Yes, that and YouTube.  All right.

GEIST:  Deep on Chinese Internet somewhere.  Well, Tucker, if you thought Hooters Restaurants were classy joints, wait until you saddle up for a steak and baked potato at the upcoming Girls Gone Wild restaurant chain.  That is right, Joe Francis, the man who has become a multimillionaire by videotaping drunk naked college girls on spring break and then selling the footage to creepy men on TV has announced plans to open Girls Gone Wild Restaurants in Cancun and Cabo San Lucas this summer. 

Francis says he sees franchises popping up soon in college towns across the United States.  Tucker, can you imagine the outfits on the wait staff at this place?  They are going to make those orange Hooters shorts look like burkas.  It is going to be unbelievable.

CARLSON:  Yes, but if you are a waitress grinding out an nine-hour shift, can you really go wild, you know, four times an hour? 

GEIST:  Well, yes.  You need more frequent breaks than I think you need at Hooters, just to keep the intensity up.

CARLSON:  Yes.  That is probably right.

GEIST:  But it will be ugly, it will be wild, and it will be tasteless.  That is one thing you can be assured of definitely. 

Finally, Tucker, Karl Rove‘s white guy rap and dance routine at last week‘s Radio and TV Correspondent‘s Dinner may have entertained most of us, but as usual, PETA was not smiling. 

Before Rove broke into his hip-hop spasm, he told the audience that he likes to hunt, or as he put it not so gingerly, “rip the tops off animals.” In a letter sent to the White House, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk wrote to Rove, quote: “You have the president‘s ear and the last thing this country needs is someone whispering something violent into it.” 

As you know, Tucker, you were there, that comment was hardly the most offensive thing Rove did that night.  Where is the cease and desist letter from the hip-hop community requiring that he stop acting that way in public? 

CARLSON:  Actually, honestly, I read today, I‘m not making this up, that the hip-hop community was offended. 

GEIST:  They should have been.  It was terrible.  It was offensive, more so than that comment, I promise. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Willie Geist, from headquarters. 

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thank you a lot, Willie. 

GEIST:  See you.

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS.” We are back tomorrow, have a great night.

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

END   

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

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