updated 4/16/2007 12:50:54 PM ET 2007-04-16T16:50:54

Guests: Peter Fenn, Hilary Rosen, DeForest Soaries, Roxanne Roberts, Amy Argetsinger

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  A week that began with a raging firestorm about Don Imus‘ racial slur of the Rutgers women‘s basketball team, and included his firing by both MSNBC and CBS Radio, wound down today, when Rutgers coach Vivian Stringer and her team publicly accepted Mr. Imus‘ apology. 

Imus and his wife met the coach and her team last night at the New Jersey‘s governor‘s mansion.  It was a meeting that did not include the governor of that state, who was badly injured in a car accident on his way.  We will have more an Governor Corzine and his condition later in the hour. 

We begin, though, with Thursday night‘s meeting and Friday‘s acceptance of Imus‘ apologize. 

We are joined now by the Reverend DeForest Soaries, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey, where the Rutgers coach and some her players worship.  He helped mediate the meeting between Don Imus and the team.

Pastor, thanks for coming on. 

REVEREND DEFOREST SOARIES, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF LINCOLN GARDENS: 

Thank you, Mr. Carlson. 

CARLSON:  Listening to you talk about this scandal before and after you met with Don Imus personally, I am struck, you sound much more understanding and forgiving of him after you talked to him, if I am reading your remarks correctly. 

What did he say that struck you? 

SOARIES:  Well, from the very onset, when I spoke with him on Easter night, what he said was that he was apologetic.  He said he wanted to meet with the team, which he did.  He wanted to listen to the team, which he did. 

And, of course, we will assess the depth of his conversion in the days that follow.  But you have to take a man at his word, until he proves otherwise. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

SOARIES:  I called him directly, because I don‘t believe in criticizing people publicly, without the courtesy of talking with them privately. 

And he and I talked for hours this week.  I am committed to helping people who want to change.  And the first level of help was to help him understand the depth of the complexity caused by his words on those 10 women. 

Now, Mr. Carlson, you have to understand, for me, this is not a general cause dealing with everybody everywhere.  There are 10 specific people whose concern I bear.  And when we look at the entire industry, then we will look at the more global issues and the more philosophical issues.

CARLSON:  Right. 

SOARIES:  But my work this week had to with what the words—the words that came out of Mr. Imus‘ mouth, and the impact it had on the lives of these children, their families, and their coaches.

CARLSON:  Here‘s—you said a moment ago that, in the coming weeks, we will find out if his apology is sincere.

On “The Today Show” this morning, you said: “An apology is appropriate for insult.  But restitution is really important for an injury.”

And this was, you said...

SOARIES:  Right. 

CARLSON:  ... a personal injury.  What sort of restitution did you mean? 

SOARIES:  Well, I was responding to the question of the punishment and consequences for our behavior. 

I believe that behavior requires consequences.  And, while I can dialogue with Mr. Imus, I can help Mr. Imus, I can even sympathize with Mr.  Imus, even my 17-year-old boys understand that, when you do something wrong, there are consequences that attend to that.  And restitution is an action on the backside of a mistake that offers some response to the mistake. 

I think denying Mr. Imus access to the very platform that he used not just this time, but consistently to put people down, is an appropriate response. 

One question last night in the meeting from a young person was this.  Mr. Imus claims that this should be put in the context of the that he makes fun of people all the time. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

SOARIES:  And, so, one young person said:  Mr. Imus, I mean, are you proud of yourself, making a living fun of people?  I mean, Is it really something that you like telling people that someone is overweight because of some disease; you call them fat and ugly? 

CARLSON:  Right. 

SOARIES:  These young people took the moral high ground and asked a 66-year-old man to reflect upon the notion that it may not be noble to pick on people. 

CARLSON:  Well, good for them.  I completely support that. 

He is out of his job now, though.  He‘s unemployed. 

SOARIES:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  Do you know of any plans that he has to pay anyone anything? 

Restitution usually implies some kind of monetary payment. 

SOARIES:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  Does he plan to play anyone that you know of?

SOARIES:  He expressed an interest in identifying things he can do to contribute towards a solution.  And I am aware of some specific things, which I wouldn‘t disclose publicly, that he has considered. 

And I have offered to assist him in identifying things.  Now, having said that, they are raising money today, he and his wife, for cancer-stricken children.  He has a ranch that he could expand. 

I believe that the restitution is not so much measured in dollars and sense, but measured in the day-to-day contributions that he can make so there‘s dialogue.  Who better to help us investigate eliminating the double standard in nasty language than Don Imus?

CARLSON:  Right. 

SOARIES:  Who better to encourage people to be morally consistent? 

Listen, in our community, we launched today an initiative to look at the larger question.  You can‘t be angry when Don Imus says negative things about people and not be angry when your favorite athlete or artist says the same thing. 

I can‘t protest when white people kill black people, but remain silent when black people kill each other or when black people kill white people. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

SOARIES:  To have civil society, you must a moral consistence  -- a consensus that is applied consistently. 

And, unfortunately, Mr. Carlson, we are a culture that gravitates to entertainers and athletes and politicians, and not to moral leaders.  And that‘s what we need.

CARLSON:  Well, speaking of moral leaders, four different people came up to me yesterday and asked—we have been talking about this story all week.  They asked me the same question. 

They said, here, you have a number of high-profile ministers, preachers, the Reverend Al Sharpton, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who represent, among things, the Christian faith.  They‘re ministers.  They wear the collar.

SOARIES:  Right. 

CARLSON:  And, yet, they have said in public, we don‘t forgive Don Imus, despite the fact he has asked, groveled for their forgiveness.  And they publicly said, no, we are withholding our forgiveness. 

Do you think they are good representatives of Christianity? 

SOARIES:  One cannot become a Christian unless one receives and grant forgiveness. 

Why, Jesus‘ prayer itself says, forgive us our sins, as we forgive others.  I didn‘t hear Reverend Jackson or Reverend Sharpton‘s remarks.  But I have a congregation that worships in this room behind me on a regular basis.  We teach, practice, and preach forgiveness. 

Where there is no forgiveness, there is no Christianity. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Reverend Soaries, thank you very much.  I appreciate it.

SOARIES:  And forgiveness is not only a Christian virtue; forgiveness is a human virtue. 

CARLSON:  Right, yes, but at the very center of Christianity. 

Thanks a lot. 

SOARIES:  Yes, sir.  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Discredited rogue prosecutor Mike Nifong halfheartedly apologizes to those he wrongly prosecuted in the Duke lacrosse case.  Will his lame effort protect Nifong from the punishment he deserves?  We tell you. 

And the firing of Don Imus has opened national dialogue, or maybe ended national dialogue, about language, race and the media. 

His absence from the airways might also have significant political implications for this country and the Democratic Party.  We will examine the Imus political effect next. 

This is MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Don Imus is off the air on MSNBC and CBS Radio.  What‘s the political effect of that?  Have Democrats lost a friendly radio forum?  We will tell you.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine was scheduled to host Don Imus‘ meeting with the Rutgers basketball team Thursday night at the governor‘s mansion.

On his way to the meeting, though, Governor Corzine was badly injured in a car wreck.  He broke his femur, 12 ribs, his sternum, a vertebra, and was transported to the helicopter in critical condition via medevac helicopter. 

The governor is expected to recover over time.  As he does begin his long recovery, the country try and make sense of all the implications of the Imus controversy, among them, the politics.

Today‘s “L.A. Times” points out that the firing may hurt Democrats, since so many of them, from presidential candidates like Chris Dodd to Joe Biden, to high-profile congressional candidates like Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee, have use Imus‘ program as a platform. 

Joining us now to discuss it, along with the rest of the day‘s news, we welcome MSNBC political analyst and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, and Democratic strategist and contributor to “The Hill”‘s pundits blog, Peter Fenn. 

Welcome to you both. 

Let me just say, from that—the last interview with the Reverend Soaries who says that Don Imus is now going to have to pay people now.  Now, it is very difficult for me to feel sorry for Don Imus at all, since I think he is an angry man and a bully.  But he loses his job.  He‘s unemployed.  Now he has to pay people off?

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  He didn‘t exactly say he was going to pay people.  He said...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, that is what he said, restitution.

ROSEN:  They‘re going to start giving him the names of organizations he should contribute to if he wants to be a...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Can we just be real just for one second?

ROSEN:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t like Don Imus.  I am glad he is gone.  OK?

On the other hand, words are different from action, OK?  He didn‘t shoot anybody.  People get shot all the time.  He said mean things to people.  So, you—when you say mean things to people, now you have to—

I am not excusing him at all.  But you have to pay them now? 

ROSEN:  I am skeptical on the restitution part.

CARLSON:  Yes. 

ROSEN:  I am also skeptical on the “Don Imus is a new person today” part.

CARLSON:  Well, of course.  That‘s ridiculous.

ROSEN:  And that is why I‘m skeptical on the restitution part.

I think this is going to blow over.  He is going to figure out what his next career move is going to be, and he is going to go on.  I think he‘s completely self-satisfied in his life.  That is why he spent the last three days bragging about doing what he is doing for the children‘s ranch, which is a good thing.  I‘m not saying it‘s not.

CARLSON:  No, I agree.  It‘s insufferable.

ROSEN:  But the idea that—I just don‘t think contrition is going to be his modus operandi. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Peter, you hurt my feelings a couple of weeks ago on this show.

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Did I?

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  And I would like $20,000... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  No, I‘m sorry.  I shouldn‘t...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  Tax day is next week.

CARLSON:  I‘m not making light of what he said or its effect on the people about whom he said it.  I just think, come on.

Anyway, the “L.A. Times” has a really interesting piece today that says, look, the Imus...

ROSEN:  Having said that, there‘s a lot of needs in this world. 

CARLSON:  Yes, no.  I agree.  I agree.

ROSEN:  And people really do feel contrite about what young people‘s futures are in the minority community.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I just hate to see a shakedown... 

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  No, I don‘t think a shakedown is the right thing. 

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  I think that he has the ranch for kids that have cancer and have had problems.  He has done a lot. 

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  Right.  Right. 

But I think, at this point in his life and his wife‘s, they ought to say, look, you know, we really ought to do some things.  We ought to do some things to strengthen Title IX, so that girls can do more sports.  Maybe we ought to give a little bit of money to Rutgers, to that—to the girls sports teams.

CARLSON:  Pardon me.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  The sound you hear is me vomiting.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  But my point, Tucker, is, it isn‘t about making amends just for this.  He has been this way, insulting people, for a long time. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  And all these other people, a lot of them rich and liberal and famous, have been going on his show lo these many years.

Now, Hillary Clinton is going to Rutgers and giving a speech there about tolerance or some other thing, trying to glom on to this scandal for political gain. 

Here‘s my question to you, Hilary.  Democrats and Republicans, too, but certainly a large number of Democrats, as “The L.A. Times” points out, have used this guy‘s show for many years as a platform. 

ROSEN:  Yes.  Yes. 

CARLSON:  They are complicit in his nastiness over the years.  Why are they not apologizing? 

ROSEN:  Well, I think you saw every famous politician who has been on his show over the last couple of days distance themselves from him, you know, condemn the remarks.  And most of them have said that they wouldn‘t go on the show again. 

I think the larger point is, what is available to Democrats and progressives who are out there promoting ideas on the airways?

CARLSON:  No.  That is true, not much. 

ROSEN:  And the fact that Don Imus was a platform for them—as Chris Dodd said:  He didn‘t just deal in sound bites.  He actually let me talk about it. 

CARLSON:  Well, David Duke has got a satellite radio show.  You can go on that...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  No, I‘m serious. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... go on Air America.

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  ... you know, that—to the extent that media companies that think that Don Imus is too—offensive and I will say this about my own employer here at NBC—think that Don Imus is too offensive and want to create platforms for real discourse on real issues, it will be interesting to see whether he ends up being replaced at CBS and MS with another shock jock who just hasn‘t go over the line yet, or with real dialogue.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  OK.  So, now that we‘re like—there is a new age.  And we are all very, very sensitive now.  And we‘re against sexism and racism, as we have been for—some of us—for a long time. 

Hillary Clinton, who is trying to use this scandal to get people to vote for her, did a fund-raiser, March 31, last month, days ago; $800,000 she raised at a—with music producer Timbaland, whose song “Too Many Hoes” is every bit as offensive as anything Don Imus has ever said.

I could read you the words, but I don‘t want to embarrass you.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Shouldn‘t Hillary Clinton return that money...

FENN:  You can never embarrass me.  No.

CARLSON:  ... or at least agree not to use this scandal for political gain?

FENN:  Look, no.  I mean, I—first of all, I think she has been the object of ridicule by Don Imus as recently as a month ago, when she spoke...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Right.  But what about “Too Many Hoes”?  Is she in favor of that song.

FENN:  ... in black churches, and talking about is she going to put her care in cornrows.  And so...

CARLSON:  I agree.  He was mean to her, yes.

FENN:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  So, it‘s OK to take money from the “Too Many Hoes” guy?

FENN:  No, no, listen.  Come on.  Come on. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  No, I am serious. 

FENN:  You are talking—look it, you‘re talking about folks. 

So, Ronald Reagan and George Bush loved Bo Derek, for crying out loud. 

Let‘s get real here, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  As long as it‘s a new day and we‘re going to take responsibility for our actions...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  And the other thing about Imus is, he was an equal-opportunity basher. 

You remember, he comes down here at the White House Correspondents Dinner.  He did more to embarrass himself, I believe, than he did the president.  But he was nasty to Clinton.  And it was embarrassing. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I would just like to see—people profited from him. 

ROSEN:  But.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait. 

CARLSON:  And I‘m sorry.  But they are telling me I am totally out of time. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  I know.  We have been talking about this for a week, and I could keep talking about it, because I think it‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  We will get back to Hillary Clinton, though, afterwards.

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  ... shouldn‘t go unanswered.

CARLSON:  What do Karl Rove and British cuisine have in common?  Lots of hot water.  Pretty clever.  Bush‘s brain is being hardboiled once again by the Democratic Congress over a big bunch of missing e-mails.  Is he cooked?  More culinary metaphors ahead.  Stay tuned. 

And the former—formal portion of the Duke lacrosse case is over.  And what do you know?  The accused were completely innocent.  Does a lukewarm apology from rogue prosecutor Mike Nifong make up for everything what he did?  And what of the media types who convicted these guys from a newspaper headline?  Shouldn‘t they suffer, too?  Of course they should—more ahead on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Amid the national stir over the racial stir by Don Imus of the Rutgers women‘s basketball team was another story about negative racial stereotypes, the Duke lacrosse case.  When three Duke lacrosse players were accused of sexually assaulting a stripper at an off-campus party, many in the media, many, mindlessly characterized the Duke students along stereotypical racial lines. 

It‘s no surprise, they said, that a group of affluent white athletes at a southern school would callously abuse a working-class black woman and think they can get away with it.  Of course they did it, that is what those people do.  Well, in fact, an extensive investigation of the case proved the players were completely innocent.  So what now for the players and the prosecutors, officials and otherwise?  And what we have learned? 

Here to discuss it is Stewart Taylor, senior writer and columnist for the “National Journal.”  He‘s currently working on a book about the Duke case, entitled “Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and shameful injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case.”  Stuart, thanks for coming on.

Terry Maran (ph) of ABC, who I don‘t mean to single out for criticism, but this is the most recent example of it, wrote a piece today on his blog, ABCNews.com, entitled “Don‘t Feel Too Sorry For the Dukees.”  Sure these guys were innocent, falsely accused, but he says “As students of Duke University and other lead institutions these young men will get on with their privileged lives.”  They‘re rich, who cares.

Moreover, they hired a stripper.  They collected 800 dollars to purchase to the time of two strippers.  So, I mean, they are kind of guilty, in a way, if you know what I mean. 

STUART TAYLOR JR., “NATIONAL JOURNAL”:  Terry‘s an old friend of mine, but I think that is an outrageous thing to say.  I couldn‘t possibly disagree more.  I would be proud to have any of these three defendants as a son, very proud.  They‘re first class kids.  Two of them had nothing to do with hiring the strippers.  They were sophomores, invited to a team function. 

One of them did have something to do with it, but hey, as one of their lawyers said at a press conference the other day, I wouldn‘t want to be judged for the dumbest think I did when I was 20 years old either.  Hiring strippers is not illegal.  It was dumb.  That was as bad as it gets. 

And they have been through hell, and a lot of people owe them a lot of apologies and I think Terry Maran is one of them now. 

CARLSON:  But there are so many others in the media, who from day one, and I followed this from day one, just assumed, in this kind of wink and a nod, you know, all of the elite cool guys in the media understand the same narrative.  Of course this is what they do at Duke.  Like, these lacrosse players, they‘re raping women left and right. 

TAYLOR:  First, it is not what they do.  It is a ridiculous stereotype, because there are no facts underlying it at all, none.  Second, the evidence that the kids were innocent began piling up in late March and piled up to the sky over the next two months.  Any reasonable person looking closely at the evidence, as of say April 10th, when the DNA evidence was made public, would have known that it was very probable nothing happened. 

And yet most of the media just charged right past all of that, ignored the evidence, jumped on the stereotype, rode that bandwagon and joined the lynch mob.  It was a shameful display. 

CARLSON:  One was considered—and I can say this.  This happened to me—a fellow frat boy.  Oh, you are just another rich white guy defending rich white guys.  It was actually—It makes me mad even thinking about.  What is going to happen to Nifong. 

TAYLOR:  I think he will be disbarred.  I bet money on him being disbarred.  He‘ll certainly be disciplined, you know, whether it‘s a five-year suspension or disbarment.  The more difficult question is will he be criminally prosecuted?  In my opinion, he should be.  In my opinion, he certainly committed crimes.  I can say that without him haven been convicted, because he did it in the open.  The facts are all known.  His defense is known.  And the North Carolina attorney general, Roy Cooper, who should be praised to the skies for saying these guys are innocent—he didn‘t waffle—has left it open that he could be prosecuted in the state, but also be federally prosecuted.  I would not bet on it happening.

CARLSON:  Have you heard anybody, any member of the vigilantes who are out there at Duke, these overpaid tenured mindless professors of, whatever, women‘s studies, getting up and saying, they did it; they did it; it is part of their culture;  has any one of those people apologized for maligning the innocent? 

TAYLOR:  As far as I know, none has.  And there is a difference, interestingly here, between the media rush to judgment and the academic rush to judge the.  Most of the media mob, when you slapped them with evidence hard enough for long enough, they got it eventually.  They are in the real world.  They turned around and they said we were wrong or they reversed and they started to tell the truth.  It took too long. 

Not the academics; they are completely out of touch with the real world.  These people, and I don‘t mean all academics, but the ones who are noisy at Duke, don‘t really care what happened.  They don‘t care what the evidence is.  To them it is all a race-class-sex narrative and they know what side they are on.  And bad—privileged white guys are bad, and everybody else is better.  They don‘t care what happened. 

CARLSON:  If they had absolute power, a lot of people would die in this country.  I really believe that.  I think there‘s a—

TAYLOR:  Their counterparts were praising Stalinism 70-years-ago. 

CARLSON:  I couldn‘t agree more.  Stuart Taylor, nobody has written more powerfully and persuasively about this case, I think more honestly.  I hope your book sells millions.  Thanks for coming on. 

TAYLOR:  Thank you, enjoyed it.

CARLSON:  Fred Thompson attends a prayer breakfast Friday morning.  Was he hungry for the flap jacks and turkey sausage, or is it part of a run for the White House.  We‘ll tell you.

Plus, Karl Rove faces fresh and harsh scrutiny in the U.S. attorney flap.  Did Rove circumvent the system and law to perpetuate nefarious political practices, or are the Democrats simply reaching for a reason to boot him?  That story is next on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  The race for the Republican presidential nomination is a bit like the TV schedule in the summertime, not a lot to get excited about.  Enter a genuine TV star to blur the comparison.  “Law and Order” star and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson took another a baby step this morning toward a run for the White House.  He went to Friday morning‘s national Catholic prayer breakfast in Washington.  That‘s an event political enough to attract the president himself. 

Earlier in the week, Thompson disclosed that he has Lymphoma, a cancer that is in remission.  That news was seen by many as a preemptive disclosure, a sign that Thompson, in fact, wants to run.  So will he run?  Can he win? 

here to talk about, MSNBC political analyst Hillary Rosen and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.  Welcome to you both. 

Before we get to Fred Thompson and will he run, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the war in Iraq, and really the one who got out early, left the administration before it was obvious what a debacle it was, landed on his feet at the World Bank, now under fire for promoting his girlfriend and setting a salary for her about twice what the guidelines there would allow. 

There‘s a near revolt at the World Bank over this.  Is there a lesson here, beyond the obvious? 

HILLARY ROSEN, MSCNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, first of all, maybe the first lesson is don‘t try and bring storm of war that shouldn‘t exist, because you will always get your come-uppance.  But I think that, you know, right now, even though the president—our president has a lot of say over who runs the World Bank, the employees at the World Bank are in a total revolt.  And they hand-picked 200 employees today for Paul Wolfowitz to go and apologize to and have a discussion with and they literally booed him out of the room.  This guy can‘t last.  There is no way—

CARLSON:  I am not indulging my better nature when I say, I don‘t feel sorry for him actually.  I mean there is something a little bit galling about—I don‘t know him.  I am not attacking him personally.  But you screw up as badly as Paul Wolfowitz did, and you wind up running the World Bank, a pretty great job by any measure, there is something wrong with that. 

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  There is something wrong with

that, Tucker.  When you also are not truthful about what you did initially

And this woman, his girlfriend‘s salary is more than the cabinet members make.  It was a 60,000 dollar increase.  He approved it. 

(CROSS TALK)

FENN:  But the fundamental think is, A, he has that problem, and B, he is the architect of the Iraq war.  He is one of the key neo-conservatives who brought us Iraq.  And so obviously, unlike a previous head of the World Bank, Robert McNamarra, who tried to do good after he had done bad with Vietnam, in this one, you‘ve got a guy who‘s continuing to do bad. 

CARLSON:  And how much good did McNamarra achieve at the World Bank? 

Let‘s see, oh, none.  Oh, screwing up Africa.  Right, I forgot about that.

ROSEN:  The only reason the war issue is relevant right now for Wolfowitz is because the word bank, actually, has an overwhelming majority of non-American employees.  And so all of those employees hold the same resentments towards the United States for the war that much of the rest of the world does.  So that is why it is relevant.  They are saying to Wolfowitz, you did that and then you came here, tried to run us, mismanaged us, and favored your girlfriend and a select group of senior staff.  He has been very isolated at the bank.   

CARLSON:  And it is unfair.  Strictly speaking, it is unfair.  His running and management of the war should have nothing to do with it.  And yet, I think—I hate myself for saying this, but I can‘t help it.  I feel this way.  It is fair in some deep cosmic justice sense.  This is fair.  And it is outrageous. 

FENN:  This is the World Bank, all right.  As Hillary says, this is a group of people from all around the world.  And here is the interesting thing about this: he could be reprimanded.  He could recommended he be fired by the committee that runs the World Bank.  But it is the president‘s call.  This president could, again, put his hand in the sand and stick up for Wolfowitz, as he currently is doing.  And you would—oh that would great.  You have the rest of the world even madder at us than they are now. 

ROSEN:  But unlike Alberto Gonzales, who doesn‘t seem to get that his career will be over—

(CROSS TALK) 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think Alberto Gonzales started any wars, you know what I mean, that are destroying America‘s prestige abroad. 

ROSEN:  But the president blindly supported somebody who should have resigned.  Wolfowitz is going to end up resigning. 

CARLSON:  Fred Thompson goes to a prayer breakfast this morning, discloses a couple days ago he has Lymphoma.  It sounds to me like there‘s really no question this guys is running.  He is doing great in the polls, creaming Mitt Romney, beating John McCain in the one recent poll. 

ROSEN:  Which is staggering to me that the conservatives keep looking for an alternative to Rudy Giuliani.  And Mitt Romney‘s not enough.  It‘s staggering to me that John McCain is not enough, and they think Fred Thompson is going to be the hero. 

(CROSS TALK)

FENN:  You have the Three Stooges out there, and now we have the “Law and Order” guy.  This is so interesting to me.  Everybody says, you know, gosh I don‘t know whether he has the fire in the belly.  I don‘t know whether he has enough energy.  I don‘t know whether he wants it so much.  Precisely the same arguments that they used about Ronald Reagan.  Oh, he won‘t campaign that hard.  Oh, he likes to be in bed at decent hour.  Oh, he likes to have a break during the day for a nap.  You know, this guy did just fine campaigning for president. 

CARLSON:  Yes, but wait a second. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  You‘re running against John McCain and Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, who I don‘t think is a viable force, but he‘s an economic force.  He‘s raised a ton of money.  So, actually, he has stiffer competition than Reagan had in 1980.  I would say that. 

ROSEN:  You know, I worked for the music business for years when Fred Thompson was the senator from Tennessee.  So I worked with him in his office fairly regularly, and I have to say, as nice a guy as he is, he is lazy.  He was a lazy senator.  And most of his colleagues thought so.  And the fact that now he is coming out saying well, you know, I think I‘m going to run for president.  I will be shocked if he can make this -- 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know if that is true or not.  I like Fred Thompson from what I know of him.  But you have got to want it bad, bad.  Speaking of wanting it bad, you know what is interesting, this whole A.G., you know, the eight U.S. attorneys who were canned by the Justice Department.  And this whole scandal, of course, is spinning off into a territory no one anticipated at the very beginning. 

And one of those places is Karl Rove‘s office.  And they have always wanted to get Rove, the Democrats.  You wonder why they haven‘t gotten him, so far, after six years of looking, because they could never find his emails.  Well, it turns out that a lot of Karl Rove‘s emails have been erased.  These are personal, sort of personal emails he sent on an RNC account and they have been erased.  And the Democrats are going crazy. 

They are obsessed with Karl Rove.  He is their white whale.  Are they going to get these emails, Peter?  Can they resurrect them?

FENN:  Ahab, Ahab.  You know, I think one of things about emails is that you really need techno geeks.  I have trouble with Trio and swear at it all the time.  So, I‘m the wrong guy to ask about this.  But my understand is that he can think he has deleted them, but, in fact, has not.  And he has three email accounts.  He has, of course, his White House email account.  He has an RNC account.  And he has kept his account, which he still uses, from his old firm. 

So there is a lot of places to look.  The question really is, are these folks on the Hill going to get access to the computers?  Are they going to get access to the hard drives?  And will the White House give in on this?  My guess is they will stonewall this thing, too. 

CARLSON:  Yes, maybe, but you have to wonder at the end—you watch Patrick Leahy, I think there may be something going on with Patrick Leahy.  He is getting more and more upset.  You know, he‘s really a foam at the mouth kind of guy these days, the senator from Vermont, head of the Judiciary Committee. 

ROSEN:  He is chairman of the committee and getting nowhere. 

CARLSON:  No, but he is getting more ornery with age.  Let‘s be honest here. 

ROSEN: It‘s because he sees injustice. 

FENN:  What happens when you get old, Tucker.  Boy!

CARLSON:  Answer me this Hillary, if they finally get their hands on these emails, could it be they turn out to be like Al Capone‘s vault.  You know what I mean?  There‘s nothing in there.  I wonder, is Karl Rove really so dumb as to write in his email our plans for world domination are almost to fruition. 

ROSEN:  Well, I think this is the issue, and this why Leahy is legitimate in pursuing it:  the issue is you do have multiple email accounts when you are a White House staffer, if you have multiple responsibilities.  If you have a political and government responsibility, you are essentially required to use different accounts, different phones. 

(CROSS TALK)

ROSEN:  And so the key issue is whether Karl Rove and his deputies used the RNC email accounts to essentially politicize the policy and government work that they were doing through the White House that they had power over implementing. That is a legitimate inquiry.  I don‘t know whether they are going to succeed in getting those e-mails.  But the fact that the White House and the RNC are not delivering them is a shame.  And I think it is.

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  . to this entire effort.

FENN:  The scary thing here too is they have been claiming executive privilege for these guys.  And that is only on the White House e-mails and not on these political... 

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  Well, that is the question though, I mean, the RNC has to make the computers available to the committees. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

FENN:  They ought to make his personal computer that he uses for the

RNC... 

CARLSON:  If they exist, they may have been erased.  Now but hold on, I want to get—I don‘t want to run out of time before—it wouldn‘t be a show if we didn‘t talked about Mitt Romney‘s changes in position.  Now almost exactly a year ago, April 12th, Mitt Romney.

ROSEN:  So unfair, because... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  It is.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I know, I know, I know, I just—you know what, I feel a little guilty, that I can‘t control myself. 

ROSEN:  Yes.  But we will do it anyway, go ahead. 

CARLSON:  A year ago Mitt Romney, Massachusetts passes—the legislature passes health care reform that requires every person in the state to buy health insurance.  And I was mad about it a year ago.  I‘m mad about it now.  Here is what Romney said then, quote: “He said legislation like this, an achievement like this comes around once in a generation,” OK. 

So now he is running for president, turns out a lot of smart conservatives are like, what are you doing?  That was a terrible idea.  He gives a speech the other day to the Club for Growth, a conservative group, the head of the group says, quote: “He was very quick to say the final product was not what he had initially proposed to the legislature.  Like, I was never really for it. 

ROSEN:  The only thing that Mitt can‘t flip is his hair because it is plastered down so strongly. 

CARLSON:  It is unbelievable. 

ROSEN:  But virtually everything else this guy does, he has to turn around and backtrack on, you know, three or four months later. 

CARLSON:  This makes Kerry look consistent.  I hate to say that, but it is true. 

FENN:  No, he really had nothing to do with this health care plan, because he was out hunting during the time, Tucker.  He was out there hunting. 

CARLSON:  This is like TiVo.

(LAUGHTER)

ROSEN:  It is child‘s play.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But what bothers me is.

ROSEN:  . calling Mitt Romney a flip-flopper. 

CARLSON:  You know that the sad thing is, if you actually—now John McCain is very annoying to a lot of people and I understand why. 

ROSEN:  He is steady as he goes. 

CARLSON:  But if you are a conservative, you look at John McCain and you compare him to the options, is John McCain really so bad?  Is John McCain really so liberal?  Is John McCain really such a B.S. artist?

FENN:  Is this an endorsement? 

CARLSON:  It is not an endorsement. 

(LAUGHTER)

ROSEN:  Well, and by the way, were it not for what is going on with the war, I think you would have a huge amount of independents attracted to John McCain, because that he had always has to have this sort of straight-talk view.  He is consistent and I ultimately think that the Republicans in the party—the conservative Republicans are going to come home to John McCain, because they are going to see... 

CARLSON:  I absolutely agree with that. 

ROSEN:  . that he is the solid one. 

FENN:  Right.  That he is the one last standing.  And if this were anywhere near the 2000 campaign, he would have it in a walk.  But Iraq is a problem.  I mean, Iraq is a serious problem.

CARLSON:  It is a huge problem.  But you know what.

FENN:  That is in the general.

CARLSON:  . it is the Republicans who choose their nominee.  Thank you both very much.  I appreciate it.  Hilary and Peter, thanks.

ROSEN:  Thank you, Tucker.

FENN:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Barack Obama makes political progress this week.  But what about his progress against the sweet seductress known as nicotine?  Has Obama really kicked that habit.  And Rosie O‘Donnell just can‘t stop making enemies.  MSNBC chief celebrity feud correspondent Willie Geist champing at the bit to disclose the latest dust-up involving the one-time queen of nice.  This is MSNBC, America‘s most impressive cable network. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Is Senator Barack Obama smoking cigarettes again?  His campaign says no, but could his own words be saying something else?  We will get the scoop from a “Reliable Source” next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  The news world just about stopped this week in the midst of the social uproar over Don Imus‘ racial slur and events that followed.  But the rest of the world kept turning, including the world of Washington, D.C., gossip where men and women of power do, say, and have relationships with the wrong things and get caught.  Here with the weekly summary, our one-stop shopping spot for the most salacious, incriminating news of the week, the first ladies of D.C. dish, Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts, The Washington Post‘s universally read gossip column, “The Reliable Source.” 

ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE RELIABLE SOURCE,” THE WASHINGTON POST: 

Universally, does that mean on Mars? 

CARLSON:  The universally read, everywhere.  There is not a place in this nation it is not read.  And you know, Barack Obama, the question I have is not where is he on health care, the war in Iraq, but is he still chaining away? 

ROBERTS:  You know, that was the first question that David Letterman asked him when he appeared this week.  He said, so, are you still smoking?  And Obama.

AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE RELIABLE SOURCE,” THE WASHINGTON POST:  We appreciate his directness there.

ROBERTS:  And Obama said, Nicorette, which does not sound like a yes or no to me. 

ARGETSINGER:  Yes, it doesn‘t—it is not saying, I‘m not smoking, it is deflecting a little bit, don‘t you think?

ROBERTS:  It is totally deflecting, and he said.

ARGETSINGER:  It was very suspicious.

ROBERTS:  . his wife had alerted the nation that if they see him sneaking a puff, they were supposed to call her and he was terrified of her.  Also not a yes or no.  Then he sort of rambled around, Letterman said, it might be cool if we had a president who smoked, and they played around with that. 

And so finally Letterman presses again, said, so, are you still smoking?  And then Obama says oh, no, no, no, no, the gum is working good. 

ARGETSINGER:  Yes.  We followed it up.  We talked to his press people. 

And they swear he has not been sneaking any cigs. 

ROBERTS:  But you know, I‘m a little suspicious of this, because he did admit that he smoked—he was never a full-time smoker, but he smoked when he was under stress, like writing a book or campaigning. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  See, he only smoked when he was saving the children. 

Yes, I know what you mean.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  I‘m going to say, as a longtime user of Nicorette, when you chew Nicorette, you don‘t need to smoke.  It is that great. 

ROBERTS:  It is?

CARLSON:  Yes, it is.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  This is an official endorsement.  I am Tucker Carlson for Nicorette.  Now let me say, it has been said many times that the rich are not like you and me.  And you had more evidence this week.  A guy named Michael Saylor (ph), a local rich guy, tell us about it. 

ARGETSINGER:  Michael Saylor.

(CROSSTALK)

ARGETSINGER:  . who is one of the defining rich guys of the tech boom.  He was this wiz kid who was famous for losing $6 billion in one day.  You have to be so rich to lose $6 billion in one day and he did.  He was kind of the great party boy of the tech boom years in D.C., a famous playboy bachelor—I mean, I‘m not going to say playboy, but bachelor... 

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS:  You know, bachelor.  Renowned for his, you know, birthday parties.  He just bought a 68-foot yacht.  And that is more South Beach than Georgetown. 

ARGETSINGER:  Yes.  And he is going to be bringing this up to D.C., which is—I mean, this is one of these yachts that looks like something that you see Diddy on in a video.  This is not the kind of thing you see on the Georgetown waterfront.  This is just not Potomac-type material. 

ROBERTS:  I‘m—personally I am thrilled, I am hoping on a good day.

(CROSSTALK)

ARGETSINGER:  Change our life, we are hoping.

ROBERTS:  . girls in bikinis, you know, lots of alcohol.  The problem is he can‘t.

CARLSON:  So the bottom line is he lost $6 billion but he still is really rich?  How did it happen? 

ARGETSINGER:  He is that rich. 

ROBERTS:  Yes, a billion here, a billion there.  You know?  But yes—no, he can afford it.  This boat, by the way, went for $2.95 million. 

CARLSON:  Amazing.  That is.

ROBERTS:  Pocket change. 

CARLSON:  That is even bigger than.

(CROSSTALK)

ARGETSINGER:  Hope to see you on the yacht this summer. 

CARLSON:  Oh yes! 

ARGETSINGER:  It will be a good time.

CARLSON:  Anything else going on? 

ARGETSINGER:  Well, it was sort of a slow week. 

ROBERTS:  Oh, this is so sad.

ARGETSINGER:  Oh, this is terrible, this is awful.  We have decided for ones we were going to try to bring the readers a nice, heartwarming fuzzy story about what happened when some federal bureaucrats befriended some wildlife, Doha the duck, who laid her eggs outside of the U.S. Trade Representative‘s Office. Very charming, very charming story. 

ROBERTS: Hatched them last week.

ARGETSINGER:  She is named, of course, after the current round of global trade talks.  They started hatching on Easter, you know, all of the trade rep people were very excited, they named the 10 ducklings, Portman, Zoellick, Barshefsky, Kantor, Hill, Brock, Yeutter, Askew, Strauss, and then, of course, after the most recent trade representatives. 

Anyway, the ducklings go marching down to the Department of the Interior.

ROBERTS:  It was make way for ducklings, heartwarming. 

ARGETSINGER:  Yes.  And they promptly started getting picked off by a Canadian goose one by one. 

ROBERTS:  There are two left. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Now that right there, now that is a metaphor for Washington.  And it is not surprising, in fact, that as usual, the Canadians are responsible. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, thank you both very much. 

ROBERTS:  You are going to get letters. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I always do.  They are masochists.  They love it in Canada.  Thanks, ladies.

It is Friday, that means it is time to take account of the new enemies Rosie O‘Donnell has made this week.  Which big-name Republican is trading shots with Rosie O‘Donnell?  Chief public feud correspondent Willie Geist joins us with the answer next.  You are watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  You may be suffering through the coldest April in recorded history here on the Eastern Seaboard, but not Willie Geist, oh no, he is in L.A. where he joins us. 

Willie, welcome. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC PRODUCER:  Tucker, I heard there was a Nor‘easter headed to New York, therefore I will be staying for another week.  I will wait out the weather in Los Angeles as long as it takes.

CARLSON:  You are a wise man, Willie.

GEIST:  I ain‘t coming back to that.  I will tell you that right now. 

Can I just say, the D.C. dirt, we need to get a little more salacious.  Obama smoking and the duck?  We need to like send you guys Paris Hilton for a weekend or something.  You are needing some real gossip, you know what I mean? 

CARLSON:  Yes.  But that is Washington, where the duck is named after the U.S. Trade Representative.  You know, it is a fundamentally kind of dorky town. 

GEIST:  Well, you need some Hilton-Lohan combo.  We will send them over to you for a weekend. 

Well, Tucker, yes, I thought thing was over the other day too, but apparently Larry Birkhead‘s triumphant DNA victory in the Bahamas was not the end of the Anna Nicole Smith saga.  Birkhead is now the undisputed father of the baby, but Anna Nicole‘s mother, Virgie Arthur, now says she wants some kind of shared custody with Birkhead, so the gang was in court again today. 

A Bahamian judge adjourned the session though without making a ruling.  Birkhead says he will not share custody.  He and Mrs. Arthur will meet privately tomorrow to try to work out some kind of agreement. 

But, Tucker, I‘m convinced that this is a ploy by the media to stay in the Bahamas for weeks on end.  Michelle Kosinski is looking a little tanned and rested down there.  I think they are just—hearing after hearing after hearing, they want to see how long they can drag this thing out. 

CARLSON:  Oh, it is the Florida recount redux.  You know, we never would have had that in November, you know?

GEIST:  That is exactly right.  You have got all of those bronze guys down there working hard. 

CARLSON:  Exactly.

GEIST:  We are here on the scene.  A little bit fishy.  By the way, why would you even consider Virgie Arthur for custody?  She came out of the woodwork on the day Anna Nicole Smith died after years.  Let‘s keep the baby away from her. 

Well as armed robbers go, Tucker, this next guy is pretty polite, actually.  He was holding up a convenience store in Florida at gunpoint the other day, when the clerk began to complaint of chest pains.  On the security tape you are seeing here, the woman says: “I‘m having heart trouble.” 

The robber replies: “I‘m sorry ma‘am, it is going to be all right.” The man then helps the woman get to her phone so she can call 911.  When he is certain that help is on the way, he says: “I‘m really sorry, ma‘am, you have a good day.” He then walked out of the store with $30 and some cigarettes. 

Police say the woman is OK.  That is good news.  So, Tucker, he is a gentleman, or at least as much of a gentleman you can be holding a semiautomatic handgun at someone‘s face.  But I always—these thieves, when they walk away about $30 and a pack of cigarettes. 

CARLSON:  Thirty bucks and a pack of Newports, I know. 

GEIST:  If you need $30, just ask, I will float you $30.  And you can bum a cigarette off of me. 

CARLSON:  I know.

GEIST:  It is hardly worth giving somebody a heart attack.  And we have seen too many of those stories.

CARLSON:  I think that is why they go to prison, Willie. 

GEIST:  Oh yes, I knew that is it.  Well, I have said it before, Tucker, and I will say it again.  Nothing gets the point across like a little nudity.  A group of angry and naked Mexican farmers marched through the streets of Mexico City yesterday to protest a senator who they say stole land from farmers and violated their human rights. 

The protestors wore only photographs of the Senator to cover themselves.  That is not a good look.  The farmers want to be compensated for the land they say was taken from them illegally.  Tucker, that looks eerily like the Halloween parade we have down in the village every year.  It is a little flamboyant there, isn‘t it?

CARLSON:  I kind of like it, actually.  Naked Mexican farmers with picture loincloths?  It is great video. 

GEIST:  So what is the deal with these foreign nude protests?  Have you noticed that?  There is always like some group of.

CARLSON:  Yes.

GEIST:  . Frenchmen cycling across the countryside, you know, to—for the security of the 25-hour work week or something like that, you know?

CARLSON:  Yes.  That is right, streaking is basically the national pastime of Great Britain. 

GEIST:  Exactly, exactly  That is how they get their points across. 

We should look into it.. 

CARLSON:  I think it is sexual repression leads to that. 

GEIST:  Yes, that is right.  Well, speaking, Tucker, of people you really do not want to see naked, Rosie O‘Donnell is feuding again.  After taking a few weeks off following her epic battle with Donald Trump, Rosie is now engaged in a war of words with indicted former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. 

On his Web site, DeLay wrote a blog titled “If the Left Takes Imus, We‘ll Take Rosie.” DeLay wants Rosie fired from “The View” for her comments about a 9/11 conspiracy theory and for a parody of the Chinese language, among other things. 

He wrote, quote: “Why has she not been frog-marched up to some radio show to apologize to 9/11 victims, Chinese-American activists and evangelical Christians?”  Rosie responded on her blog by calling DeLay a criminal and telling him to, quote, “go away.” 

Now he us referring to a “ching-chong” joke she made late last year which was not good.  And, you know what, when you get past the comedy about this, he is kind of right, isn‘t he? 

CARLSON:  He kind of is.  Though, I mean, it just shows what a slow person he is to think that Imus is a conservative.  But no—you know, he is totally right.  Plus, I love Rosie‘s argument: shut up, go away, you are a criminal. 

GEIST:  Right, right.

CARLSON:  Well said. 

GEIST:  And just end the conversation.

CARLSON:  You got me there. 

GEIST:  You know what, if she takes the bait on this, this could be good.  Tom DeLay has nothing to lose.  This could be Trump-esque if it starts to escalate.  I don‘t know that she will let it this time. 

CARLSON:  ABC is just addicted to her.  I mean, she is just—she is ratings gold, you know?

GEIST:  Yes.  She is not going anywhere. 

CARLSON:  She will be entertaining our grandchildren, Willie. 

GEIST:  I want Rosie-Trump II, the sequel.

CARLSON:  That does it—thanks, Willie.  That does it for us.

“HARDBALL” next.  Have a great weekend.  See you Monday. 

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

END   

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