updated 5/9/2007 12:36:23 PM ET 2007-05-09T16:36:23

Guests: Peter Fenn, A.B. Stoddard, Tom Tancredo

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  The feds bust a terror plot aimed at U.S.  soldiers at Fort Dix.  And a Republican presidential candidate says the whole thing comes down to U.S. immigration policy.  Tom Tancredo joins us in the hour. 

Meanwhile, September emerges as the month of decision in Iraq, as the Congress retreats in its fight against the war.  We will analyze the Democrats‘ toothless efforts to bring American troops home. 

But we begin with the subject of abortion and the Republican front-runner for the 2008 nomination.  Rudy Giuliani has done his best to have the abortion issue both ways.  His stated stance is that he hates abortion, but that he ultimately leaves that decision up to the courts, which, of course, currently allow abortions up through the third trimester. 

So, the question is, how much does he really hate it?  Well, according to a report by Jonathan Martin on Politico.com, Mr. Giuliani donated to Planned Parenthood at least four separate times in the 1990s.  So say his tax returns, which list total contributions of about $900 in four different years, most recently in 1999.

So, is it curtains for the Giuliani campaign among conservative Republicans? 

Joining me now, associate of “The Hill” A.B. Stoddard and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.

Welcome to you both.

I‘m actually glad this story came out, because it, one hopes, will spur the conversation on this subject, which has been lacking in any kind of seriousness.  People get away with saying, “I hate abortion,” but then spend a lot of time trying to make certain that abortions occur in this country.  You can‘t have it both ways.

Is there any other reason to hate abortion other than it‘s killing?  If you hate, it means you think it‘s killing.  So, why would you support it? 

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I think the problem with this, Tucker, is that Rudy Giuliani and other candidates want to have it both ways. 

So, they want everybody to think, boy, they are against abortion, but, actually, it‘s OK.  And the trouble, too, with Giuliani‘s position here is that he is on record, tapes of him, talking about supporting federal funding of abortion.

And I think he‘s going to get himself in further trouble the more he tries to play it off, in other words, saying that abolishing Roe v. Wade would be OK.  Well, that didn‘t work. 

CARLSON:  But that is almost a kind of laissez-faire attitude.  You know, what happens will happen. 

Here, you have Giuliani giving almost, along with his former wife, Donna Hanover, almost 1,000 bucks to Planned Parenthood, which commits over 250,000 abortions a year.  So, that is an affirmative backing of abortion, of the act of abortion.  He is giving money to abortion providers. 

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  ... blame it on the wife, though.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  I would make the case that there‘s a dividing line at this story, at this new story about the contributions, because that video of him saying he supports public funding for abortion surfaced a long time ago. 

CARLSON:  Right.  That was ‘89, I think.

STODDARD:  Polls were taken after the debate last week...

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  .. in which he said it would be OK, and tried to straddle, showing him with a nice lead in several key pockets of the country.

I think that a lot of conservatives have already made up—they heard Giuliani was pro-choice...

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  ... months ago.

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  And they had made up their minds that that was OK. 

He missed an opportunity at the debates, I thought—I‘m the only person who thought he did a great job at the debates, by the way—I thought he an missed opportunity to sort of...

CARLSON:  Wait.  You thought he did a great job at the debate? 

STODDARD:  Yes, I do. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Before you continue...

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  Hold on one second.

He missed an opportunity on the abortion question to talk about why it‘s consistent with the Republican philosophy of free choice and less government in your life.  And he didn‘t frame it that way.

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  I‘m going to finish.

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  I want to say, now that he‘s—the revelations have come out about his contributions, I don‘t know how he wiggles out of that.  I do think it‘s a totally different—totally different ball of wax.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I‘m trying to be charitable here, Alexandra (ph).  I think that was the moment during the debate when you got up and got another beer, because I want to—I want to put up here Giuliani‘s response...

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  ... to a pretty direct question about abortion.  Keep in mind, this is a subject that has been dogging him for some time.

STODDARD:  No, I thought that was the weak point...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  ... the performance.

CARLSON:  Here it is, just in case you missed it.  This is Rudy Giuliani on abortion last week, last Thursday.  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK:  I support the Hyde amendment.  I hate abortion.  I wish people didn‘t have abortions.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MODERATOR:  So, you‘re not for funding at all?

GIULIANI:  I believe that the Hyde amendment should remain the law. 

States should make their decision.  Some states decide to do it.  Most states decide not to do it.  And I think that‘s the appropriate way to have this decided.

MODERATOR:  Should New York, when you were mayor of New York, should they have been paying for—the state should have been paying for...

GIULIANI:  That‘s a decision New York made a long time ago.

And New York...

MATTHEWS:  And where were you on that?

GIULIANI:  I supported it in New York, but I think, in other places, people can come to a different decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Boy, that just doesn‘t make any sense.

But here‘s the other point.  So, Giuliani is this incredibly talented person, I think, and a very impressive man, in many ways, one of the great speakers of our age.

But he didn‘t take the time, or his staff didn‘t take the time to come up with a crisp 20-second sound bite in response to a question he knew he was going to get.  This seems like at least pretty bad staff work.

FENN:  You know, it‘s not like it‘s something that is new.  It‘s coming up.  It‘s coming up.  It‘s coming up. 

The problem is, he doesn‘t have an answer for it, Tucker.  He is going to have to face this all through this primary season.  And he is going to get asked this question over and over again.  And he can‘t obfuscate it.  He cannot say, on the one hand, on the other hand.

CARLSON:  What does that mean for this party?  A.B., can you have a party that—the Republican been pretty aggressively pro-life, reflected in the candidates, reflected in platform, since 1980, at least.  Can you have a nominee who actually gave money to Planned Parenthood, the single largest provider of abortions in the country?  Can you actually have that?

STODDARD:  No, I really think this is going to be incredibly damaging, because I think there‘s a difference between the Rudy Giuliani abortion story of last week and...

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  ... and now.

CARLSON:  But it means a new Republican Party, doesn‘t it? 

STODDARD:  But—yes.  It‘s been, what, since 1980 that...

CARLSON:  Yes. 

STODDARD:  ... pro-life—that you have to win the nomination being pro-life.

I think that, like I said, it‘s been months that he has been surging in the polls, and people have known that he is pro-choice, people who are going to make decisions in the primaries, very loyal, faithful Republican voters.  I think this, contributing to Planned Parenthood, is a totally different... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Do you think, just moral—leaving politics aside, Peter, do you think it makes—it‘s intellectually consistent, or is it nonsensical, to be opposed, to hate something, and then give money to a group that commits the act you say you hate?  If you hate gambling, and you contribute to Bally‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  The use of the word hate was sort of strange, I thought. 

I do think you have a lot of people who say, look, I personally am opposed to abortion, women who say, I wouldn‘t have one, but I am not going to make that decision for everybody else. 

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  That‘s actually kind of pro-choice jargon, like it‘s a tragedy.  That‘s usually...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But it‘s all a lie.  It‘s all a lie.  How can you be—I‘m not even arguing against the pro-choice position.  I‘m merely saying there is no middle ground. 

You can‘t say, I think it‘s terrible, but it ought to be it legal. 

Well, why do you think it‘s terrible?  If you think it‘s so terrible, why do you think that, because it‘s killing?  Then, you should make it illegal.  If you don‘t think it‘s killing, then it should be legal.

Do you see what I‘m saying? 

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  I certainly do.  I think there‘s no consistency, really going down the line, if you‘re a politician on this.  And there‘s especially no consistency if you say you hate it, and then you support federal funding for it. 

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  It‘s OK in New York, and is he saying it‘s not OK in Alabama? 

What the heck is he trying to say?

CARLSON:  It‘s like Bill Richardson saying, you know, the Second Amendment is pretty big out West. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Huh?

STODDARD:  But not in New York City.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  The feds break up a terror plot on U.S. soil to kill as many American soldiers as possible at New Jersey‘s Fort Dix.  Coming up, presidential candidate Tom Tancredo joins us with the view that today‘s terror bust reflects our ineffective immigration policy.  He will explain it. 

And, if you wonder who won the showdown between the president and the Congress over war funding, we apparently have an answer today.  The anti-war Congress retreats until September to come after the administration again.  Score one for Bush, or has the inevitable simply been delayed?

You are watching MSNBC, the most impressive name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Is the troop surge in Iraq working?  The Bush administration says the generals on the ground won‘t start giving their recommendations until at least September.  Why then?  We will tell you.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This is a military operation.  And, as the commander in chief, you must listen to your military and trust their judgment on military matters.  And that‘s what I did. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Tomorrow, the anti-war group VoteVets.org will launch a new advertising campaign that features former Iraq commanders, American commanders, General John Batiste and General Paul Eaton.

The generals assert that President Bush doesn‘t, in fact, listen to his commanders on the ground, and that the war is jeopardizing American national security.  Their assault on the president‘s case for his war policy will not change the president‘s apparent victory in his recent showdown with Congress, though.  It now appears Mr. Bush will be given this summer to see if his new way forward in Iraq will, in fact, succeed. 

With all the public sentiment and impassioned anti-war speeches on the Hill, the war goes on.

Back to discuss war policy, the president‘s standing, the politics of it all, we welcome back associate editor of “The Hill” A.B. Stoddard, and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.

A.B., this is what Jim Moran of Virginia, a member of Congress, Democrat, pretty aggressive opponent of the war, frequent guest on the show, says about the coming showdown—quote—“September is the key.  If we don‘t see a light at the end of the tunnel, September is going to be a very bleak month for the administration.”

My understanding—and this quote adds to that understanding—is that Democrats have decided, you know what?  This summer, we‘re give him a pass, and the showdown begins in the fall. 

Is that what is happening? 

STODDARD:  Yes. 

Everyone has actually known for months—and we have talked about it on this show...

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  ... that General Petraeus is going to report in September.  And the Republicans had some secret memo that said, just wait until May 1 to say September.

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  So, they all did.  And then John Boehner said it on FOX News, and they have opened the floodgates.

CARLSON:  But the Democrats have decided basically to give him a pass until then.

STODDARD:  But the Democrats were hoping, actually, that April was going to be the month. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  For some reason, when they determined they don‘t have the votes, they really saw this unfolding.  And, although they are going to have a lot of whole bunch of showdown Iraq votes, I think about four, actually, throughout the summer, they know that they really—that the surge is going to be funded through September, and that, after that report and after that assessment, it‘s a whole new ball game. 

So, it‘s now sort of a bipartisan...

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.   I think that makes sense.  I just—you know, I loath thee war. 

I say it every single day, Peter.  I don‘t see why, after all these many years of losing troops in Iraq, we can‘t wait until September to see if this last-ditch effort, which may turn out to be another sad chapter, but potentially could turn out to be part of the answer, why can‘t we wait until September to see if it works?

FENN:  Well, I will tell you, I think we have been waiting quite a few years. 

CARLSON:  We have.  No, we have.  But...

FENN:  We have spent more money on this war now than on Vietnam. 

CARLSON:  But what is the alternative? 

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  Well, the alternative is to—and it will be September, by the way, anyway, by the time anything gets going.  And it would have been in any of the resolutions that the Democrats put forth.

But the pressure is now on the Republicans.  This—this president now is going to have to listen to Republicans when they come to him in September, probably.

And I wrote a column on this a couple of weeks ago and said, look, they are going to come back from this August recess, and they are going to have a lot of angry constituents on their hands, and they‘re going to have to go down to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

STODDARD:  But they‘re going to say something privately before August.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But they‘re going after, they are targeting Republicans in the Senate who are in precarious positions, including Senator Sununu and Susan Collins and moderate conservative Republicans...

FENN:  Norm Coleman.

CARLSON:  ... right—who are in states that have shifted beneath them.

STODDARD:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  Are you going to see mass defections from the Republican side? 

FENN:  Yes. 

STODDARD:  Yes.  I don‘t think they will begin until—I don‘t think they are going to happen this month, and I don‘t think they are going to happen in June, but they are going to have to happen.  I mean, it‘s—well, they have been—it‘s what they have been saying privately. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

FENN:  And the interesting thing, I think, about your lead-in here, Tucker, is, Bush has been saying lately, oh, boy, I don‘t want Congress meddling in this.  I don‘t want these crazy folks, because we need to listen to those on the ground.

CARLSON:  Right. 

FENN:  And that is precisely what he did not do.  He did not do it with Shinseki, when he said they needed 200,000 troops.  He fired him.  He wasn‘t listening to the folks on the ground.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I don‘t—only partly buy that.  I think if—even to this

day, if you did a poll of the officer corps currently serving in Iraq, you

would find very low support—and I don‘t know this, but this is my guess

you would find very low support for an immediate pullout.  I just don‘t think you would.

FENN:  I think probably that‘s right.  But you still have had advice from these generals on the ground...

CARLSON:  Sure.

FENN:  ... saying, don‘t micromanage this war from the Oval Office and from the secretary of defense‘s... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I don‘t think there‘s any doubt.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Look, they have screwed up.  I‘m not defending it.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Here‘s the problem, Peter.  And you know the problem.

The problem is, there‘s no alternative theory.  There‘s no alternative.

Like, OK, so, everyone wants to pull out.  Everybody hates the war. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Where is the guy standing up and saying, here is how we are going to get out with honor, without being defeated in an obvious way, without having the region collapse?

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  Joe Biden has what I think is a very good idea.

There are ideas out there that talk about political solutions here, that talk about ways to have troops there to deal with al Qaeda, which is now there, which didn‘t used to be there. 

The problem, I think, right now is, this president is not willing to accept any other kinds of solutions that are political, that are economic.  And, when they talk about victory, they know that code word.  The American people, they love to hear the word victory, not defeat.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  So, you‘re saying—your contention, just to make certain I understand this, because I actually am a student of this—I want to know the answer—you are saying there‘s a political solution to the presence of al Qaeda in Iraq? 

FENN:  No, no, no, no.  I said you would should have military folks to go after al Qaeda in Iraq.  I said there is a political solution to the region and to Iraq.  And it means talking to the Syrians.  And it means talking to the Iranians.  And it means doing things different.

CARLSON:  And telling them what?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  That is the part that eludes me.  Like, what do you say to the Syrians?

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  Look...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Send your troops in? I mean...

FENN:  The problem is that we have not pushed, from the very beginning here, any kind of political solution to this problem. 

CARLSON:  I know.  Oh, look, they screwed it up.  And I‘m not defending them.

FENN:  OK.

CARLSON:  I just want the adult to come forward, if you‘re out there in a nation of 300 million people, please, call my cell and tell me, what exactly do we say to the Syrians and the Saudis and all these nations, the contiguous nations that surround Iraq, the Iranians?  Do you—it‘s great to talk to them.  OK.  Great.  We‘re all for diplomacy.

FENN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  But do we want their troops in there quelling the civil war? 

I don‘t think we do.  What is the answer?

FENN:  Well, if you give them the notion that you are going to turn the country over to a government which is made up of all parts, that you‘re going to do some partitioning...

CARLSON:  But we have that now.

FENN:  ... that you‘re going to share oil revenues—wait a second—with people, that you are going to have different folks in the military and in the armed—and in the police force from all segments, and you say, if you continue to bring folks...

CARLSON:  Oh. 

FENN:  No, I‘m telling you...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I‘m just saying, that‘s very close to what is happening now. 

And we‘re...

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  But the benchmarks that they‘re talking about...

CARLSON:  OK. 

STODDARD:  ... for this political process doesn‘t address al Qaeda. 

The Democrats don‘t bring it up.  If we hold the Iraqi government accountable for their...

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  ... own problems, sectarian problems, it doesn‘t address al Qaeda. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I agree with that.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  And the Democrats point out, correctly, that al Qaeda was not active in Iraq...

FENN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  ... terribly before we invaded. 

FENN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  They‘re right.

FENN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  Maybe it‘s Bush‘s fault, but it doesn‘t change the matter of fact that they are there now.

FENN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  And what do you do at that point? 

If it‘s Tuesday—and it is, in fact, Tuesday—there must be new presidential poll numbers.  And, in fact, there are.  The apparent winner, Hillary Clinton.  How do you explain her recent rise in the numbers?  And will that rise continue?  And how much does it scare you?

Plus, the Fort Dix terror bust leads one Republican presidential candidate to link the war on terror with American‘s lax immigration policy.  The always compelling Tom Tancredo joins us next to explain his takeaway from today‘s foiled plot against a military installation in New Jersey.

This is MSNBC, the most impressive name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Federal authorities arrested six men on Monday night for allegedly conspiring to attack Fort Dix in New Jersey in order to kill as many U.S. soldiers as possible.  Four of the six were of Albanian decent, and they are suspected of being Islamic fundamentalists.  Their attack was in the planning stages, reportedly 17 months along.  But the attack was not considered imminent.

According to the White House spokesman Tony Snow, it does not appear as though their plans were being directed from any international terrorist organization.  One of the men is a U.S. citizen.  Two have been living here legally.  But three of the plotters and their brothers are illegal immigrants.  Our next guest believes their immigration status is a key lesson of this bust.  Joining me now is Republican Congressman from Colorado and presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo.  Congressman, thanks for coming on.

REP. TOM TANCREDO ®, COLORADO:  It‘s a pleasure, as always.

CARLSON:  Isn‘t the lesson here that their religion, their perverted brand of Islam, that‘s the threat?   

TANCREDO:  Well, I‘ll tell you, it will be interesting to see, will it not, Tucker, whether the Islamic community in the area—if there are protests in the streets about these people, condemning them loudly.  That would be interesting for us to watch as to how the other people respond to this.  Or is this just simply another, quote, moderate Islam—I mean, in this case several moderate Islamic terrorist, who simply are doing what they are told to do by their religion.  And nobody should be condemning it.

That‘s what I am really hoping to see.  But beside that, it‘s very interesting, I think, that we now have to at least give credence to the fact that there are people in this country that are here illegally—admittedly, we don‘t know if these guys came as legal aliens with a visa and then over stayed, or came across the border, but we do know that there are people in this country illegally, who are planning to do great harm to us. 

It shouldn‘t be surprising to anybody.  It should be surprising that we have been able to stop it, frankly, up to this point in time.  But, you know what, as the president said in the past, they have to only get lucky once; we have to be right 100 percent of the time.  And that is just not going to happen. 

CARLSON:  Is there any way—if you are here illegally, is there any way to keep track of you?

TANCREDO:  This is the problem.  There are between 12 and 20 million people here illegally.  We don‘t know who they are.  And frankly, it‘s not going to help us.  You‘re going to hear people say this now, if we had a guest worker problem, it would all be solved.  Bologna!  If you want to come into this country, and especially if you want to come in to do something very bad, you‘re not going to come in on anything that gives your name, your background and all the rest of it.  You are going to sneak in to the country. 

So rather than always try to find them once they get here, wouldn‘t it be a good idea—Don‘t you think we should do a little more to try to stop them from getting here in the first place, like maybe defend our boarders, maybe actually construct barriers?  I mean, it‘s ludicrous to me that we have been so lax.  What is it going to take?  Is it when one of these guys gets, in fact, the job down, will then someone care about the borders?  I hope we don‘t win this issue on the basis of an incident. 

CARLSON:  Do you believe as a presidential hopeful, as someone running for the Republican nomination that we ought to intentionally restrict immigration from countries that have a high incidence of Islamic extremism. 

TANCREDO:  Yes, yes I do.  I have talked about that and I believe we have to look at this.  I know it‘s a very controversial thing, but you also have to look at what is happening in the rest of the world.  Look what‘s happening in Europe.  I don‘t know whether or not it can be saved.  I am certainly glad to see that somebody on the right won the election in France.  But I don‘t know if it‘s too late or not. 

CARLSON:  But, Congressman, you have President Bush and many Democrats in the Congress, including Ted Kennedy, calling for dramatically increased immigration from Iraq, which is the looniest—literally the most dangerous country in the whole world.  Why would everyone else kind of stand by and allow that to happen without protesting or chaining themselves to the gates of the White House?  There‘s been no uproar.

TANCREDO:  It‘s a great question.  I guarantee you, Tucker, I‘ve tried.  We have certainly yelled about it to the extent that we are able to make a noise about it.  And here is the other thing that people don‘t realize, I think, not only are we talking about bringing in 12,000 refugees from Iraq—and by the way, we‘ll have no idea really who these people are, what their backgrounds are.  But here‘s another interesting aspect of this:  Iraq is one of the 20-some countries in the world that refuses to take back their nationals that have committed a crime in the United States. 

You know, you‘re supposed to get deported—if you‘ve come here as even a legal alien, you commit a crime; you‘re supposed to do the time and get deported and not pass go.  Iraq won‘t accept their nationals back and yet we are talking about allowing 12,000 Iraqis, quote, refugees, quote, refugees into this country. 

CARLSON:  I think anybody would rather be in a federal facility than a hacienda in downtown Baghdad anyway, but they don‘t want to go back.  Tom Tancredo running for presidential; congressman, I appreciate you coming on. 

TANCREDO:  Thank you Tucker.

CARLSON:  Hillary Clinton shows new strength in national polls for president.  In the ever fluctuating race for the Democratic nomination, has Hillary taken the lead?  Will she ever relinquish that lead, if so?

And if there is an American politician is less favor than President Bush, it may be Vice President Cheney.  So why is the president sending Mr.  Cheney to the Middle East to make peace?  It‘s interesting strategy.  We‘ll discuss it next.  This is MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT))

CARLSON:  New presidential polls lead our potpourri and today‘s big winner, Hillary Clinton.  In the latest national “USA Today”/Gallup poll, Mrs. Clinton is up eight points.  That widens here lead over Barack Obama to 15.  That 15 point margin occurs when the possibility of an Al Gore run is included.  Take out Al Gore and Clinton leads Obama by 18 points. 

How to explain Mrs. Clinton‘s spring upwards, we turn to the “Hill‘s” A.B. Stoddard and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.  What‘s wrong with America, Tucker?

FENN:  The part of these polls I love is that all of the leading Democratic candidates are beating all of the leading Republican candidates.  This is so early.

CARLSON:  This is when you‘re flying from L.A. to New York and you‘ve got tail winds so strong, you get there in two hours.

FENN:  This is irrational exuberance.  I understand.

CARLSON:  Here‘s my point: Why Hillary over Barack Obama?  Is this evidence of her backing by the institutions of the Democratic party?  She is the institution candidate.  Is it his weakness, lack of name recognition?  What is this? 

FENN:  I don‘t think there‘s a lot of weakness in terms of Obama.  I think this is like a cycle.  You had folks engaged.  They looked at the candidates.  They got a little bit of a sense of them.  Then things kind of calmed down.  I do think right now that what you have is a bump for Hillary because of the debates and folks who watched the debates and post-debate spin.  Not that many people watched it.  But you‘ve got a little spin that she had done well. 

So that probably boosted those folks who were inclined towards her anyway.  But I‘ll tell you, I don‘t take much stake in this.  This is all about individual states, not national numbers. 

CARLSON:  Let‘s take a look at some of those on the Republican side, A.B.  The overview here—I‘m going to put up the national polls for the Republicans.  The overview is Rudy Giuliani, 14 points over the next highest, John McCain at 20.  Fred Thompson, of course not even in the race, at 13; Gingrich at eight; Romney—he‘s not running either—Romney, poor Romney, raised more money than anyone, at seven percent. 

But here are the state by states, a couple of them, very interesting.  Here‘s Alabama, Rudy Giuliani—of course Alabama very socially conservative state, very great state—Giuliani 29, John McCain—five and a half years in a North Vietnamese prison -- 23 percent, Newt, not running, 15 and Mitt seven.  

Here‘s North Carolina, another pretty conservative state, Giuliani 32, Fred Thompson, again not running, 25, McCain pathetically down at 16.  Is this the highest point of Rudy‘s running?  Do they not know enough yet? 

STODDARD:  I think that Rudy Giuliani has been at the top of the polls for months.  There‘s something about his star power and machismo that Republicans—

CARLSON:  But in the deep south? 

STODDARD:  Yes, they love him.  He was invited to speak at the Citadel.  He is not a joke to these people.  And they‘ve known he is pro-choice.

CARLSON:  Look, I am not mocking him.  I am absolutely impressed by Rudy Giuliani‘s ability to sell in the south. 

STODDARD:  I do think this Planned Parenthood thing is really going to change the winds for him.  I really do. 

CARLSON:  Maybe the fabled right wing base is less right wing than we‘ve all been led to believe.  Could that be true?

FENN:  I rather doubt that, especially in the Republican primary.  I‘ll tell you what I make of it; he has maintained a very strong, positive to negative ratio.  His negatives have gone up, but not that dramatically.  I think A.B. is right.  I think once people find out more about Giuliani than 9/11, 9/11, 9/11 that you will see this thing tighten up and that he will fold. 

I have said this a million times and I will keep saying it:  I believe that Rudy Giuliani peaked the day he announced and I firmly believe that.  I just think this guy doesn‘t have staying power in the Republican primary season. 

CARLSON:  I‘ve said that before and I‘ve been completely wrong, because he is still leading in Alabama.  Paul Wolfowitz—I think this is an interesting story, A.B.   Paul Wolfowitz, of course the head of the World Bank, under fire for promoting and giving a raise to his girlfriend.  He is not going anywhere, he says.  Apparently, European governments are now saying that they wanted to end the tradition of America picking the next head of the World Bank. 

They‘re saying to the U.S. government, we‘ll let you continue to pick the head of the World Bank if you just get rid of Paul Wolfowitz.  So far the administration has not agreed to that.  Is this yet another instance of Bush sacrificing so much to protect this guy, Paul Wolfowitz?  And if so, why?  What does Wolfowitz have on Bush? 

STODDARD:  I know, I ask the same question.  It‘s just one of these stunning moments.  It‘s in keeping with the tradition of the Bush administration.  You‘re covered in flames and you refuses to go.  But now this soap opera, we are sharing it with all these other countries and they are going to band together and they have a much more veto power in the vote than we do.  It‘s just amazing to me.  There are rumors on the blogs—and I‘m going to catch this by saying they‘re rumors on the blogs—that he comes into some money on the first of June, which would make it understandable why he would stay, because he‘s lost his dignity. 

CARLSON:  The whole thing is so disgusting. 

STODDARD:  But why the Bush administration wouldn‘t ask him to leave is a total mystery? 

CARLSON:  This is in America‘s interest, of course, to have control over who runs the World Bank.  That‘s good for America.  Losing that would be bad for America.  It‘s pretty clear.  All to protect the job of a guy who is the architect of this disaster called Iraq?  What is wrong with the Bush administration that they would be protecting this one guy?

FENN:  President Bush is the boy in the bubble.  He is surrounded by sycophants in most cases.   

CARLSON:  Who are they?  You‘re at 28 percent in the polls; who are the sycophants. 

FENN:  Karl Rove clearly tells him what he wants to hear all the time.  All I‘m saying is he‘s backing the attorney general and he‘s backing Wolfowitz.  I think the problem that this president has is that he has lost perspective on this.  We are losing respect around the world because of Wolfowitz, because of Iraq.  He is losing with Republicans at the other end of this avenue.  As you say, how can he get lower than 28 percent in the polls?  This president is doing his darndest to see to it that that happens.

CARLSON:  I just think the idea that Wolfowitz‘s desire to hold on to this job would hurt our country and prevent us from picking the next head of the World Bank is so outrageous. 

STODDARD:  But you can see why he does it.  We just can‘t understand with why the president does. 

CARLSON:  So important to the United States and the world that he have this job?  Why doesn‘t he just go off an write—I think it‘s absolutely disgusting.  Speaking of behavior for which there‘s no accounting, Alexandra B. Stoddard, Timbaland; now I know you‘ve got him on your iPod.  Timbaland is a hip hop artist, such as it is.  And he is a big supporter of Hillary Clinton.  They did a fund raiser, Timbaland did, raised 800 grand for Hillary Clinton. 

At almost exactly the same time—there he is, Timbaland.  Not to be confused with the shoe, spelled differently—Hillary Clinton was denouncing Don Imus for using, quote, small minded bigotry and coarse sexism for using the word ho.  Hillary is offended by that.  Well it turns out Timbaland, that is basically his favorite word.  It‘s probably tattooed on him somewhere.  A conservative group, Family Research Council, wants her to return the 800 grand that she raised with the help of Timbaland.  Why shouldn‘t she return that money?  Because that‘s coarse sexism, don‘t you think?

STODDARD:  This is an embarrassing incident to be sure, especially since she was embracing the Rutgers basketball team and trying to weigh in on the Imus thing.  When it comes to the Family Research Council, I don‘t know if there is a group that the Clinton campaign could care less about.  But on the face of is, it‘s embarrassing.  If she doesn‘t give the money back and she says it‘s OK, it‘s a double standard.  It‘s not OK. 

CARLSON:  Yes, Peter, how exactly—If you‘re Mrs. Clinton, and you are a self-appointed guardian of public morays and taste; you are an opponent of course sexism.  And you raise all this money with the help of Timbaland, how can you sleep at night?

FENN:  How could I sleep—Did you hear how he digs. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  The hypocrisy meter is going off. 

FENN:  I was very persuaded, I have to say, by Colby King‘s piece in The Washington Post where he called on Mrs. Clinton to return some of the money.  And he listened to lyrics and they‘re pretty bad.

Here‘s what I think—and they won‘t take—I mean, I haven‘t given them this advice, and they probably won‘t take it, but I certainly would return Timbaland‘s contribution, and from his family.  I would bring in Russell Simmons, who is another rap artist and call for cleaning up the—terrific guy, cleaning up lyrics.  I‘d try to get Timbaland involved in that and other people to say, look, you know, this—you may have thought this was cute and clever and funny but it‘s not funny anymore. 

And everybody has a responsibility to.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Because there‘s a principle here, isn‘t there?

FENN:  Look, I think so. 

CARLSON:  Why is it that you stand up for the rights of women while Hillary Clinton turns a blind eye? 

FENN:  Come on, come on.

CARLSON:  No, I‘m serious. 

FENN:  Look, look. 

CARLSON:  There‘s core sexism going on, Peter.  And all men of good faith ought to be offended by it. 

STODDARD:  Never listened Timbaland and neither has her campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  But it was a big oversight. 

FENN:  Timbaland is probably not on her iPod would be my guess. 

CARLSON:  I think you would be—there is a lot of—I believe if I like gangster rap.

STODDARD:  But the Family Research Council does listen to Timbaland.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  The second the Family Research Council gets involved, it‘s very easy to dismiss.  But I think the point is a real one.  Do you—not you live here, A.B., and you‘ve been here a long time.  There‘s a piece in The Washington Times today that is saying that some Democratic fundraisers are not getting in the race yet because they are holding out for Al Gore.

This is one of those phenomenon that I just can‘t take seriously, the idea that Gore is going to run for president, A.  And B. that people are actually going to support him—Democrats will actually support him.  Do you think this is true?

STODDARD:  I mean, it doesn‘t seem like he is sending out the secret code signals that you‘re supposed to when you are not running and may get in later—I mean, when you are potentially running and may in—very late in the game. 

I mean, he—unless he suddenly appears somewhere very svelte and begins seeking a lot of publicity, I‘m not buying it.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  So Atkins is a huge part of this, is what you‘re saying?

STODDARD:  Right.  I‘m not buying that he really wants to run. 

CARLSON:  If he ran.

STODDARD:  I‘m just not buying it.

CARLSON:  If he ran, Democrats—this is the kind of that‘s like, you know, all of these people say, well, we can‘t wait for Jesus to return.  But if Jesus actually did return, a lot of people would be really afraid, right?  You know what I mean?  And for good reason.  Nobody really wants to see Al Gore come back. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I‘m not comparing Gore to Jesus, but it‘s the same thing. 

FENN:  He won once.  I think he can win again.  My secret decoder ring hasn‘t gone off lately, either.

CARLSON:  Oh come on, he.

FENN:  Now let me.

CARLSON:  If Al Gore got in the race, you‘d have a heart attack.

FENN:  Now let me just say—let me make a couple of points here.  First of all, there are lot of folks who are very, very close friends of Gore‘s, they‘re from Tennessee, they‘re his staffers, and it‘s natural that they would stay out of this thing. 

CARLSON:  I‘ve never met one person who is a friend of Gore‘s.  I‘m serious.  I know a lot of people who are friends with Clinton.  I know of 25 people who are close friends with Clinton.  I don‘t know one person.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Really, maybe I‘m missing.

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  . a core group of people—of former employers and supporters and backers.

CARLSON:  It‘s pretty small.

STODDARD:  Financial backers who really keep talking to each other and having meetings... 

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  . they obviously are attached to the idea. 

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  . who think that he has the luxury of time, that he can wait until the fall, that he could get in then.  That he could run and win.  So as long as people are talking about that, I agree with you, I don‘t think he is going to run. 

CARLSON:  No. 

FENN:  I think.

CARLSON:  They would die if he ran.  They would die.  Al Gore, please run.  I would love it.  I would think it would be television. 

FENN:  What about Dick Cheney in the race?

CARLSON:  Speaking of Dick Cheney, who you going to call to make peace in the turbulent Mideast?  Dick Cheney, of course.  President Bush sends his number two overseas.  But can the little-loved vice president actually make progress in that region. 

Speaking of progress, what kind of progress will Paris Hilton make in her bid to avoid the clink?  She is asking your help to keep her free.  MSNBC‘s chief celebrity-run-afoul-of-the-law correspondent Willie Geist has the update, and of course, shares his heartfelt thoughts.  This is MSNBC, the most impressive name in news. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Vice President Dick Cheney heads to the Middle East for a week long trip just as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returns from the same region.  Why is following her?  Is he trying to repair a botched mission or is it a completely different mission?  We‘ll be back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice changed the recent course of U.S. foreign policy on a recent trip to the Middle East by engaging in talks with Syrian diplomats.  The Bush administration‘s follow-up to that?  A trip to the region by Dick Cheney.  Mr. Cheney‘s mission includes stops in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. 

Now given the extreme unpopularity of the war in Iraq and Mr. Cheney‘s unyielding support of that war, can he effectively broker international efforts to help the U.S. toward a successful conclusion in Iraq?  And if not, why is he going?  Here again, associate editor of The Hill, A.B.  Stoddard and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.

Now, Peter, I think we are looking at this too much from an American point of view.  I blame Cheney for the war.  This is not a broad defense of Dick Cheney.  However I think step outside of our American box for minute.  He is very unpopular here.  By the standards of the Middle East, is Dick Cheney truly a malevolent and unpopular figure?  No.

FENN:  Well, you know, I don‘t know how they all individually feel about him, Tucker, but I‘ll tell you one thing, that it looks like a follow-on trip to clean up and mop up after Condi Rice.  I mean, it shows the disorganization I think in this administration. 

You know, if this president were really serious about the Middle East and about negotiation, what he would do is put together—he would have a special envoy.  He would take James Baker, which he will never do now, and say, listen, I need help here and I need you to go out and... 

CARLSON:  But when you‘re talking about the Middle East, I assume you‘re talking about Israel and Palestinians, partially. 

FENN:  Yes, as.

CARLSON:  OK.  Name one person, just one, one person, mainstream figure, not a crackpot, in American life, someone who could plausibly be the secretary of state who is seriously committed to a real solution to that crisis?  I can‘t—literally can‘t think of one.  Can you think of one?

FENN:  Well, you know, I mean, James Baker‘s positions on that have been fairly moderate. 

CARLSON:  James Baker‘s positions on that are not mainstream. 

FENN:  Lee Hamilton, (INAUDIBLE) of course, a Democrat... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  James Baker‘s positions on that are considered so anti-Israel by Democrats as well that he could never be secretary of state in any administration these days. 

FENN:  But you asked for an even-handed view.  Some—a lot of folks in the Middle East would think he‘s an even-handed guy. 

CARLSON:  I‘m just saying by American standards, everybody has Bush‘s point of view on Israel.  They pretend, oh, he should have done more, but the Democrats have his exact, exact same views.  Exact.  And they don‘t admit it.

FENN:  Now I‘ll tell you, with one exception, which was that there has been no negotiation, no effort in six years to bring the Palestinians and the Israelis together. 

CARLSON:  But to do what?  I mean, they have same point of view, let Olmert or Likud or whoever is running Israel do what they will do. 

FENN:  Well, and that is another problem because he is not going to be running it for very long, so. 

STODDARD:  The question obviously is she is taking—if Condi Rice is taking the lead in this area in taking trips and holding talks, why are they sending Dick Cheney who has not been taking the lead? 

CARLSON:  Well, that is—what is the answer?

STODDARD:  I.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, here‘s part of the answer according to the Associated Press.  OK.  Cheney knows a lot of people over there both from his time in government before and his time at Halliburton, laugh if you want.  But I mean, that‘s where they were. 

He is going over there to convince Sunni leaders to pressure Sunni forces in Iraq to lay off the Shiites.  That is what he is doing.  Is that a wise course and are they going to listen to him?  I mean, they have like powerful ethnic ties to people who are being massacred in Iraq.  Why would they listen to Dick Cheney? 

STODDARD:  I really don‘t have an answer to that question. Peter, why are they going to listen to Dick Cheney?

FENN:  Well, the only reason is because Halliburton is moving their headquarters to Abu Dhabi, they all want a piece of the action. 

CARLSON:  Dubai.

FENN:  Dubai, sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Yes.  But I mean, I don‘t know, I actually think Dick Cheney, who has made a lot of mistakes, is probably one of the best diplomats we have over there.  He actually knows the people there, unlike virtually everyone.

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  Why haven‘t they been going out sooner then?

CARLSON:  That‘s a great question.  I don‘t know. 

STODDARD:  I would not classify Vice President Cheney as a great diplomat, however. 

CARLSON:  Well, he is obviously a terrible.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  You‘re right. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Dick Cheney, not a good diplomatic, I agree.  But he knows more about it than certainly most people. 

STODDARD:  But if he‘s an effective negotiator, why is he going out.

CARLSON:  Exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  And he undercutting her last three months. 

CARLSON:  Peter Fenn, A.B. Stoddard, thank you both very much. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger faces his toughest gubernatorial challenge to date.  What to do with Paris Hilton?  As pressure mounts from Paris‘ vast fan base across the globe to issue a pardon, will the governor crack and let her walk?  Bona fide Paris Hilton expert and fan, Willie Geist joins us next with details.  Needless to say, you are watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  And now with more details from Dick Cheney‘s most recent trip to the Middle East, we welcome Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC PRODUCER:  I do?  Uh-oh.  I‘ll have to look that stuff up.  I‘ll get to that at end. 

Tucker, you and I not invited to the big dinner last night.  You know, the president had the state dinner for Queen Elizabeth.  All of these dignitaries from all around Washington were there.  Lots of pomp and circumstance.  I wasn‘t offended until I heard Elisabeth Hasselbeck was invited, yes, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the girl from “The View,” was at the state dinner, one of 134 guests invited.  I kind of take a little offense to that. 

She is a big Bush supporter, spoke at the 2004 Republican convention. 

She got the invite, Tucker, and you didn‘t.  How does that make you feel? 

CARLSON:  It makes me feel confused by this whole thing.  I mean, didn‘t thousands of Americans die so we wouldn‘t have to suck up to the royal family? 

GEIST:  Yes.  And so that we would have to see.

CARLSON:  Whatever happened to that whole idea? 

GEIST:  . Elisabeth Hasselbeck do that.  That hurts.  Well, let‘s get to the serious news now, Tucker.  A Los Angeles judge who apparently doesn‘t understand the way things work in Hollywood sentenced Paris Hilton to 45 days in jail last week. 

So now Paris‘ supporters, known to me as the Parisians, are appealing to someone who better understands that celebrities aren‘t really supposed to go to jail.  He is, of course, the “governorator.” 

A petition has been posted by fans and friends on Hilton‘s official MySpace page that calls Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to pardon the heiress.  I promise, it‘s the most depressing thing you will read this week. 

Here‘s an excerpt, quote: “She provides hope for young people all over the U.S. and the world.” Now here is where it gets bad. “She provides beauty and excitement to most of our otherwise mundane lives.” 

That‘s dark.  That‘s really, really dark.  It actually goes on to compare President Ford‘s pardon of Nixon to this pardon.  I kid you not, and with—I don‘t think there was any irony involved whatsoever. 

CARLSON:  No.  Willie, you missed it.  Like so much in American life, it‘s a clever parody.  Very quick, quick quiz, what does Paris Hilton do for a living? 

GEIST:  What doesn‘t she do for a living?  She‘s an actress.  She‘s a model.  She has perfume.  She has clothes. 

CARLSON:  Good point. 

GEIST:  She appears at clubs, stuff like that.  Yes.  She‘s a singer, too.  All kinds of stuff.  She has taken a lot of heat because on that MySpace page, she begged her fans to please sign, spelled sign S-I-H-N, the petition.  That‘s just one keystroke away.  So let‘s all relax, OK, and get off her back. 

Actually, tmz.com, who provides all our celebrity information, put in a call to the governor‘s office.  They got a reply, said, she will be treated like any other citizen would.  So you‘re saying there is a chance, maybe she will be pardoned. 

CARLSON:  Good luck with that.

GEIST:  Tucker, I challenge you to name me one thing better than an Asian parliamentary brawl.  You can‘t do it.  Today‘s comes to us from the Taiwanese legislature.  The opposing parties there mixed it up this afternoon over an electoral reform bill.  Now that is just passion for public service right there, folks.  As in most parliamentary brawls, there weren‘t many haymakers thrown, just lots of pushing and slapping.  No one of course was hurt seriously. 

Now, Tucker, when, finally, will someone make the DVD of the greatest parliamentary brawls of all time?  Do I have to think of everything around here?  I would buy that in a second.  We get these once a month.  They come from the same part of the world and they‘re all excellent.  Why can‘t we consolidate these on to a DVD and get it on the Internet? 

CARLSON:  I couldn‘t agree more.  And unlike bum fighting, you don‘t feel guilty after you watch it. 

GEIST:  Exactly. 

CARLSON:  So why is it they never hit each other?  I mean, they are little hissy fights... 

GEIST:  Because they don‘t mean it. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Is that it?  OK. 

GEIST:  Yes, they don‘t mean it.  It is all slaps.  And I have said many times, if you want to get kids interested in government, we should have brawls in the United States Congress.  Look at the ratings for WWE and UFC.

CARLSON:  We would have manlier brawls than that, I hope. 

GEIST:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  Well, while they‘re brawling in Taiwan, back on the Mainland, Tucker, they‘re fighting blinding sandstorms.  Check out this video from northern China where visibility is as low as 10 feet in many places.  The whipping sand is actually threatening to destroy crops all over the place. 

People who dare to venture outside in the sandstorms have to wear goggles and masks.  But that‘s not all they‘re wearing.  Let‘s take a closer look here, what the kid—that‘s plastic bag over the kid‘s head right there.  That kid is wearing a plastic bag over his head.  And you saw previously in the piece of video, it seems to me, Tucker, and I don‘t want to talk out of turn, that the cure might be worse than the disease, in this case. 

CARLSON:  I think specifically, Willie, that‘s a dry cleaning bag, and if you look even closer, it says, do not put this on your child‘s head. 

GEIST:  That‘s exactly right.  I think this one-child thing is making people crazy.  But just my two cents.  Finally, Tucker, when you think about Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, you think one thing and one thing only, hip-hop.  Urban culture just oozes from the man‘s pores. 

Laugh all you want.  Kucinich has got an unofficial endorsement from one of the godfathers of hip-hop, Russell Simmons.  Simmons, who co-founded Def Jam Records, said in an interview, quote: “I like Dennis Kucinich.  How about that?  If you were black, you would have to like him,” end quote.  Simmons says he also likes that Kucinich is a vegan. 

Tucker, can you see Dennis Kucinich speaking at the Vibe Awards any time soon. 

CARLSON:  Oh, I totally can.  Pulling up in his biodiesel bus that smells like Dunkin Donuts?  Yes, with his tall wife, definitely.

GEIST:  He has got it.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist.

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  With the latest and freshest news.  I appreciate, it Willie.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching, as always.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.  We‘ll be 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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