updated 5/22/2007 11:14:52 AM ET 2007-05-22T15:14:52

Guests: Janet Murguia, Lynn Sweet, B.G. Berkett

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  So many great stories, so little time.  Welcome to the show, live tonight from Washington, where the Bush administration says former President Jimmy Carter is irrelevant. 

And John McCain told a fellow senator to do something that is unmentionable even here on cable. 

In Utah, meanwhile, Al Sharpton met with Mormons.  In Iowa, the Mormon who would be president has taken the lead in polls in that state.

And in prison sits a former U.S. soldier, jailed not for committing atrocities in Iraq, but for lying by claiming he did.  All those stories straight ahead this hour. 

We begin with immigration.  The Senate began debate today on the proposed bill announced last Thursday that would simultaneously fast-track many illegal immigrants to citizenship and it would also try to secure the U.S. border more effectively.  To almost nobody‘s surprise, advocates from across the spectrum have assailed that legislation.

Immigrant advocacy groups decry the bill‘s effect on families.  Those who want tougher immigration enforcement call the bill an act of amnesty to those criminally residing here.  Throw in the protests of businesses big and small, and it is hard to find anybody outside President Bush and a few senators who support this legislation. 

So is this supposedly landmark agreement on immigration dead before it even lived?  Joining us now, we welcome Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza.

Janet, thanks for coming on. 

JANET MURGUIA, PRES. & CEO, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF LA RAZA:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  I can‘t imagine there is anything in this bill you would complain about.  This is a bill that Ted Kennedy loves.  This is a pretty left-wing bill, I think, by anybody‘s definition.  Pretty soft on illegal aliens living here.  What would your complaint be? 

MURGUIA:  Well, I do think it is an important start.  And to get to the finish line, you have to be at the starting gate.  So we do support this bill moving forward, but we do have some concerns that we hope that it is improved as it does move forward. 

CARLSON:  OK.  One of your concerns, as I understand it, is it does not allow enough extended family members of people living here legally to get green cards. 

MURGUIA:  Well, and it guess it depends on how you define “extended family members.” But for us, I think we have always understood that family is the key and has been the key basis for immigration systems going forward when it comes to newcomers, helping them lay down roots, and really show how they can become full Americans in the process once they are here doing good work. 

It is something that has been part of our traditions.  We want to make sure that we are not dividing families as we move forward and that we are able to have points in the system that can give good credit to all the family that needs to be recognized. 

CARLSON:  All the family?  I mean, the bill, as it stands, allows spouses and minor children, families of people who are on the path of citizenship to get green cards.  Would you like to see third cousins or what.

MURGUIA:  No, not third cousins.  But parents, siblings.  Those are important categories when you talk about a nuclear family.

CARLSON:  So that is—you are talking tens of millions of people. 

MURGUIA:  No, I mean, I just think we want to make sure that as we look at this and if we are going to have family be respected and given some preference as it has been given in the past, even with the shift towards making sure that we are fighting a balance between workers and skills, we need to make sure we do not lose the core principle of family.  And I am not talking about third or fourth cousins, I‘m talking about parents and siblings.  And we need to make sure those issues are addressed as we move forward.

CARLSON:  Does it bother you that this legislation would put lawbreakers‘ ahead in line?  People who came into this country illegally, put them ahead in line in front of people who were trying to get here legally? 

MURGUIA:  It would if that were true.  That is not the case in this bill.  The fact of the matter is, anybody who has any criminal record would not be able to qualify for moving forward... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, wait—no, I mean, illegally by definition are here illegally.  They broke the law to get here.  So they have preference over people—the dumb people who are actually following the rules, waiting in a line in Lagos, do—you know, trying to get here legally. 

MURGUIA:  I appreciate that.  The fact of the matter is though, the American people, not just the Hispanic community, want a solution to this and they want one that is practical and workable.  And so we have to figure out.

CARLSON:  Right—no—I‘m just—OK.  But hold on—OK.  That is a dodge. 

MURGUIA:  No, it is not.

CARLSON:  Yes, it is.  My question is really simple.  It is not, do we need immigration reform?  That is a separate conversation. 

MURGUIA:  Yes, we do.

CARLSON:  My question is, are you bothered on a moral level by giving preference to people who came here illegally over people who are doing their best to come here legally?  It is very hard to get here legally as you know.  Maybe it shouldn‘t be, but it is.  These people get preference over those people.  That is unfair. 

MURGUIA:  Well, look, you can look at this whole system and we know that it is broken.  We know that we have to fix it.  And we have to fix it in a comprehensive way.  And you can break out a certain peace and say, this piece is troubling. 

CARLSON:  That is a pretty big deal.  I mean, but are you bothered by it?  Does it bother you? 

MURGUIA:  Well, I think we have to recognize that no one is going to be happy when we have a compromise.  And no one wants to acknowledge that, you know, in any way is there any behavior that would be considered illegal that would be rewarded. 

Having said that, we have a situation here where we have 12 million people who need to be taken out of the shadows if we are going to be moving forward in a way that is practical and workable. 

CARLSON:  Why do they need to be—I keep hearing people say that.  They need to be taken out of the shadows.  These are people who put themselves in the shadows by coming here illegally.  So why is it our responsibility to, quote, “take them out of the shadows” when that is a choice they made to come here against our laws? 

MURGUIA:  Well, I think a lot of folks have been here and have been working very hard, making important contributions, contributing to the economy, paying taxes because they are going into the system. 

And I think we want to recognize based on the work force (INAUDIBLE), based on whatever routes have already been laid now because of the fact that they are here.  We need to recognize how are we going to deal with this situation in a practical way? 

CARLSON:  OK.  I think that is a fair question and I am not attacking that idea.  I just think that most Americans, and polls show this, think there is something deeply unfair about of it.  And fairness matters to Americans, to you, to me, to everybody. 

MURGUIA:  But it is unfair also if you are going to respect our traditions and our history as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws, it is unfair to not have a system that is going to change in a way that recognizes that these people continue to exist. 

CARLSON:  We are being unfair because.

MURGUIA:  They continue to exist.

CARLSON:  . people came here uninvited against our laws and somehow we are unfair? 

MURGUIA:  No, I‘m just saying.

CARLSON:  I don‘t quite get that.  Like how does that work, exactly?

MURGUIA:  No.  It is saying, if we want a reform that is going to recognize fairness across the board, then you can‘t continue to have a system that is the status quo and that these people are living under the darkness of not being here in a status that is.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Is that our fault or theirs? 

MURGUIA:  Well, I don‘t know.  I mean, I guess.

CARLSON:  You don‘t know?

MURGUIA:  Well, I think that we have.

CARLSON:  What you mean you don‘t know?  They came here illegally. 

Why is that my fault? 

MURGUIA:  Well, I think they came here with the expectation—a lot of them came here with visas legally here first.  They overstayed the visas.  A majority of the folks that fit into that category did.  And they shouldn‘t have.  But for all practical purposes, we need to understand that that train has left the station. 

The fact of the matter is these families are here now and we have to deal with it.  And we do not want to reward—these people will not be rewarded anything.  The system—the way the changes are proposed right now, it is an important point, they would have to go through a very extensive process.  Nobody is being rewarded.  In fact, they are going to be penalized.

CARLSON:  Well, we will see.  We will see.

MURGUIA:  No.

CARLSON:  I have heard this rhetoric before.  I lived here in 1986.  I remember—you know what I mean?  I mean, we‘ll see what actually happens. 

OK.

MURGUIA:  But no one is being rewarded.  They are going to have to be

they‘re going to be penalized and have to go through an extensive process before they can be... 

CARLSON:  Well, they are still getting preference over people who were dumb enough to follow the rules.  I think the message here is, you know what?  Don‘t deal with the rules, the rules are for dumb people.

MURGUIA:  No.  That is your characterization of it. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Well, it is.  All right.  Janet, thanks for joining us, I appreciate it. 

MURGUIA:  Oh, thank you.

CARLSON:  Sticks and stones may break bones, but American presidents are supposed to be above schoolyard taunting, aren‘t they?  Enter Jimmy Carter, elder statesmen, forgets decorum and the Bush administration fires right back.  It‘s the I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I White House edition.  We have the nasty details on that.

Plus, how many more hours at will Alberto Gonzales be America‘s top law enforcement official?  Not many if you ask most people here.  But he has surprised everyone before.   We‘ll have the very latest on the eventual fate of the attorney general.  This is MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Debate began in the Senate today on the proposed immigration deal struck by a bipartisan group of members and the president himself late last week.  Here is the rub, nobody on either side of the debate likes the bill, or at least admits to liking it. 

So what is the future of U.S. immigration policy?  Is it more than just a feeling that nothing will change?  Here with their views, we welcome Washington bureau chief of The Chicago-Sun Times, Lynn Sweet, and MSNBC political analyst, Pat Buchanan. 

Welcome to you both.  We are just getting word right now that Harry Reid, the head Democrat in the Senate, has delayed consideration of this bill until after Labor Day—or rather, Memorial Day.  Probably Labor Day, for that matter. 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Goodbye and good luck. 

CARLSON:  Goodbye and good luck, exactly.  So I don‘t think this will go anywhere.  But I still think it is significant on a political level for the candidates, John McCain specifically.  I do not think there is anything you could do to make Republican primary voters madder than do what McCain did, come out in favor of this.

BUCHANAN:  I think that is exactly right.  And of course, he got into that back and forth with Cornyn—John Cornyn, which didn‘t help him.  It revived the old image of the angry guy, the angry man. 

But, Tucker, this is the hottest, most blazing issue in the Republican Party right now, and the conservative movement, a firestorm arose on Thursday and Friday and that is why this is being pulled down as it is. 

The liberals don‘t like it from their side, the conservatives can‘t stand it because it is amnesty—immediate amnesty.  And frankly, amnesty for every business that has hired illegal aliens, because if you amnesty the illegals, there is no prosecuting the business guys.  And so people are really wild about it and Rush I think and Thompson are right on line.  No bill at all is better than this bill. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  The Bush administration insisted on removing a requirement that illegal immigrants pay back taxes on money earned before they become they became legal. 

LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  I am surprised the White House --- that sounds like something.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  What is that?  I mean, who thought that up?  That is demented.  Do I get my taxes erased too.

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET:  Tucker, what is interesting on that is that that was a provision that the Democrats last year—when the bill was still called McCain-Kennedy, were very proud of because that was the selling point they thought to Republicans to say, we are not really giving everybody the break that you say we are. 

CARLSON:  What happened to the right-wingers in the Bush administration?  Were there ever any or was that just all hype? 

SWEET:  Well, no, I think, look at, you did not have a bill.  As Pat said, the preferable action right now is no action.  That is a win for the people who think the status quo is better than any of the changes going on now.  And right now you have this—the status quo contingent has grown because you have people on the left as well as the right. 

The only thing that surprised me about Harry Reid pulling it is that they even set a Memorial Day self-imposed deadline because this is just too contentious, too much going on, too many amendments to work through to even think of getting it done by... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, the fact that the left is opposed to anything in this bill at all shows you how radical—and I never use that word.  How radical the agenda is.  I mean, I‘m serious.  This is—gives immediate amnesty—don‘t even have to pay your stupid taxes, right?  And that is not good enough somehow?

BUCHANAN:  And the left says, look, you have got 400,000 peons basically coming into the country every year who simply work here, who aren‘t going to be citizens, but who work for two years and then they go back. 

I mean, the whole idea of America was that the folks who came here were immigrants who were going to come here and be part of our family. 

CARLSON:  Right, not just servants. 

BUCHANAN:  This is a whole different idea.  This is, we are bringing guys to mow your lawn, wash your car and send them back. 

CARLSON:  It‘s a servant class.  There is no question about it.

BUCHANAN:  Exactly. 

CARLSON:  Now you would think the left, on a philosophical level, would be opposed to that.  I mean, the idea that you truck people in for their physical labor, but do not enfranchise them totally, I mean, that is.

BUCHANAN:  That is un-American, is what The New Republic.

CARLSON:  That is totally un-American.

BUCHANAN:  The New Republic said that about a month ago.  They said, wait a minute, this is simply—you know, this is not something we can do.  So I think it is getting hammered so bad on both sides. 

And McCain, frankly, if they don‘t—I mean, he is up there hanging, frankly, and if they do not get him off somehow this wicket, I think he is going to be hurt horribly. 

CARLSON:  Well, he is actually—I thought the one thing he did to help himself is he had a pretty amusing line, as he often does.  He is a pretty amusing guy, John McCain.  And he really is.  He said this about Mitt Romney—Romney is up there saying, I am against this completely, I‘m the conservative candidate.  And he may be. 

McCain responded this way, quote: “Maybe I should wait a couple of weeks and see if governor Romney‘s position changes.  Maybe he can get out his small varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his yard.” 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  This refers to a bunch of different sort of inside things that we have been following.  Here is—Romney basically said, you know, he was a hunter, but only for small varmints. 

SWEET:  Right.  He got a lot done in that wisecrack.  But look at, here is the thing.  This is an historic opportunity to get something done because you do have a president who wants to get it done.  You have Democrats in the House and Congress.  You might get further than you did last time because you have the Democratic leadership here. 

I don‘t think—you know, remember, all the left isn‘t against this. 

Senator Kennedy is behind this. 

CARLSON:  He is.

SWEET:  Yes.  I mean, this is his bill.

CARLSON:  So for McCain to come out there and say, I‘m totally for this, to be photographed with—and this is the crassest political level here. For him to be photographed with Senator Kennedy smiling over an agreement reached in this bill, I mean, I just don‘t... 

SWEET:  Well, the photo op, I was surprised, I must say, because he has not been in.  Last year he was much more visible in the negotiations.  He was—his staff was in on the negotiations.  He was not this time. 

CARLSON:  This is a guy who conservatives are very wary of, who is conservative but isn‘t going to—in my view, given credit for being so.  And what is he doing? 

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t know.  Lindsey Graham, his boy in South Carolina, is booed at the South Carolina state convention.  Saxby Chambliss, these are guys who vote very conservative, they are being booed at their own state conventions.  You can imagine what this is doing to McCain in South Carolina.  And I understand there are polls out showing Romney has now pulled in the lead.

CARLSON:  That‘s right, well, we‘re going to.

BUCHANAN:  In the lead in.

CARLSON:  We‘re going to have that later in the show.  That‘s exactly.

BUCHANAN:  In Iowa and New Hampshire. 

CARLSON:  You want Mitt Romney as your nominee?  This is a great way to do it.  It just shows how out of touch some of these people are with the sentiment among ordinary voters. 

BUCHANAN:  But you know, the thing that is getting them in touch is they go out there, like Brownback said.  He was a meeting of all of these Republicans, says -- 30 minutes, he said, is there anybody who has got a question on anything else besides immigration?

CARLSON:  No.

BUCHANAN:  That is how hot that issue is in Iowa. 

CARLSON:  No, they are mad.

SWEET:  Also, this is the time.  I mean, that is not surprising, Pat, because this is the—you know, they carved out this time to work on immigration.  It has been delayed more than a year. 

CARLSON:  Right.  But they have been mad I think.  Republican primary voters have been mad about this for years.  And nobody hears them.  The left thinks they are getting new voters.  The right thinks they are getting cheap labor.  And all of these people are made about it. 

Alberto Gonzales has all the job security of a bikini dealer in Tehran right now.  Will the attorney general be looking for work by the time Wednesday rolls around?  Or will the Bush administration stay dug in almost against universal calls for his job? 

And there is finally life in the Mitt Romney campaign, his wholesome appeal shows up strong in poll numbers, at least in Iowa, while John McCain loses control and screams obscenities.  The latest ‘08 update right around the corner, live on MSNBC, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Alberto Gonzales seems to have all the job security of a miniskirt salesman at Tehran.  Over the weekend, Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, opined that Gonzales would resign before the House and Senate take a no-confidence vote later this week. 

So will Gonzales give in and quit?  And if he does not, how effective can he be for the rest of his term?  Here to tell us, once again we welcome Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, Lynn Sweet; and MSNBC political analyst, Pat Buchanan. 

Lynn, why would Bush at this point—after backing Gonzales through thick and thin all of this time, in the face of all of this criticism, why would he—what is in it for him to back down and not support in Gonzales? 

SWEET:  Well, it is if he thinks he is going in any way, it might be to cut his loss.  That would be.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But the Congress can‘t force Gonzales to resign unless they convict him of a crime.

SWEET:  No, no, no, no one is going to force.  But it is a matter of when his being there outweighs his leaving.  And there is a certain point where I think if the White House thinks that it gets in the way of too much, they have assessed it up until now, you know, there has not been pressure on him to go. 

The White House knows how to move people along when they want to.  You know, they have done that before.  People leave at a certain point.  This goes to the strong feelings of loyalty that President Bush has for the people who have been with him on the way up. 

CARLSON:  It is just so interesting.  I mean, Gonzales apparently one of the nicest people in Washington.  I‘m not attacking him personally.  But the White House has really spent a lot of political capital protecting him.  We went on the White House Web sit today and took a look at his bio.  This is on the Web site.

These are the honors that are listed, this is a few of them. “In 1989, he received the Hispanic Salute Award from the Houston Metro Ford Dealers.  In 1994 he was named one of five outstanding Texans by the Texas Jaycees.  In 2003 he was inducted into the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Alumni Hall of Fame.”

BUCHANAN:  His den must have all those plagues up.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I‘m sorry, this is amateur.  I guess that—my point is, not attacking the guy personally, but this is so weak.  How impressive is he as an attorney general, scandal stuff aside?

BUCHANAN:  He is not impressive.  He is over his head.  He‘s not a big league player.  But Bush is staying loyal to him and I think this is one of those issues, Tucker, which is really Beltway.  I don‘t think the country is howling.

CARLSON:  I agree with that.

BUCHANAN:  . get Gonzales out of there, he has got to go.  I just don‘t think it is there.  And I don‘t think they‘re going to come after Rove with those subpoenas.  We don‘t know what is going to happen Wednesday when this gal gets her immunity and testifies.

And the president is solid and he has got his heels dug in on this. 

It is not an acute thing like going into the G-8 or G-9 with Wolfowitz. 

You can‘t take him with you.  So.

SWEET:   Also I think people.

BUCHANAN:  . he is going to the G-8, incidentally, Gonzales is. 

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET:  People might understand that a president has the ability to fire and hire.  It is not a clear-cut issue.  It doesn‘t seem public.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  He thinks they‘re beating up on his boy, too.

CARLSON:  Yes.  But you think about—OK, so the left gives Bush credit for these almost magical powers.  I mean, he orchestrated you know basically the decline of Western civilization is single-handedly, and this administration is the most disciplined and evil in history. 

When you get right down to it, everyone seems like Harriet Miers, kind of sweet, but deeply mediocre. 

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET:  And she was shocked when the time came to get rid of her.

CARLSON:  She was, but I mean, you know, they tried to put her on the Supreme Court.  I mean, she could barely a coherent sentence. 

SWEET:  But listen to me, Tucker, Tucker, this is the point.  Once she was a liability, she was cast off.  So at this point.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  She wasn‘t cast off, she was—I mean, you can‘t ram her through to the Supreme Court. 

SWEET:  Well.

BUCHANAN:  He was pulled back from that.  But you‘re right, Tucker.  I think this—they are not a very competent crowd he brought from Texas to Washington, D.C., if you take Miers and Gonzales... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Boy, I‘d rather have the evil than stupid, I think, in the end.  I mean, how depressing in the end to learn the attorney general is putting in his official bio that he won the 1989 Hispanic Salute Award from the Houston Metro Ford Dealers? 

I mean, the fact that he even remembers something like that, much less put it on the White House Web site actually gave me chills. 

SWEET:  It is like putting your high school.

CARLSON:  Literally!

SWEET:  . swim team award on it. 

BUCHANAN:  Centerfielder for my CYO team.

CARLSON:  No!  No!  Exactly!  Except even less impressive because he didn‘t  have to win anything to do it.

SWEET:  Did I tell you I was student council.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  No!  But you know what, I hope it‘s on The Chicago Sun-Times Web site.  I mean, I‘m sorry, apparently everyone I know who knows Gonzales -- I know a lot of people who know him, he is the nicest guy ever, the sweetest person ever. 

BUCHANAN:  He seems to be a very nice fellow.  I will say that.  There does not seem to be a mean bone in the guy. 

CARLSON:  But shouldn‘t the attorney general be like this incredibly dynamic person?

BUCHANAN:  He should be—well, Mitchell was a very—John Mitchell. 

CARLSON:  Well, there you go. 

BUCHANAN:  . was a tough, impressive guy, got in all kinds of trouble. 

Which do you prefer, Tucker?

CARLSON:  Yes.  Actually, I‘ll take Alberto Gonzales any day. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Mitt Romney takes the lead in a key primary state.  Is the biggest moneymaker in the Republican field actually getting closer to actually winning the nomination of his party? 

Plus, the last president to be as unpopular as this one takes a shot at our current president whose people fired back.  The mud flies when we return.  This is MSNBC, America‘s most impressive cable news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

CARLSON:  Mitt Romney looks like the actor Hollywood would choose to play the president, thick head of well combed hair, a little gray at the temples, square jaw, Pepsodent smile, and he has money to spare.  But Mitt Romney hasn‘t shown the faintest pulse in the polls outside of his home region of New England until now.  A new poll by the “Des Moines Register,” in the traditionally pivotal state of Iowa, has Romney with a 12 point lead over John McCain, 13 points over Rudy Giuliani. 

He‘s running well in New Hampshire, now well ahead in Iowa.  Has he supplanted Giuliani as the Republican front runner for all practical purposes?  Here to tell us we welcome Washington bureau chief for the “Chicago Sun Times,” Lynn Sweet, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.  Let‘s see the numbers here.  This is the poll, the “Des Moines Register” poll; Romney 30, John McCain 18, Rudy 17, Tommy Thompson, weird, at seven, Sam Brownback five. 

This poll, in contrast to a lot of national polls we spend a lot of time talking; this matters. 

SWEET:  This is why I say we should not be spending so much time talking about national polls, because the movement here—what‘s interesting here is this is well above the margin of error in this poll.  We are not slicing and parsing as to who might really be in the lead here. 

CARLSON:  He‘s up by 12 points.  The margin is five points. 

SWEET:  So Romney has shown that he can raise money.  He did that in a stealth first quarters.  No one saw that coming, that he would be able to raise that much.  The guy is organized, big campaign operation, and now he is registering.  I think he probably got some bounce from the debate.  He just presented well.  People don‘t know. 

I am guessing, no empirical data, that the more people hear about his religion, the more he needs time to get people a little educated, a little used to it and to try and neutralize that as a factor. 

BUCHANAN:  This Iowa thing is really crucial for this reason:  McCain has been out there and extremely well organized.  Tucker, around August 11th you‘re going to have the great Iowa straw poll.  How many people can you get out to Ames, Iowa?  That is what really shows what kind of organization you have got.  My guess is McCain has an excellent organization.  Romney has been working.  He has good numbers. 

The real test is going to come for Rudy.  Now he hasn‘t been out there that much.  I don‘t know how well he‘s organized.  But he comes out badly, and Romney comes out and maybe wins that Iowa straw poll, money will pour in.  He will look like the guy to back.  I think it will be a problem for one Fred Thompson too.  But that Iowa straw poll is of crucial.  A lot of people talk, Thompson is doing fairly well because he is right next door, all that spill over for 13 years as governor over there into northwest Iowa out of Wisconsin.  He‘s got all that press.  They know him over there.

SWEET:  But how long can Fred Thompson wait and decide. 

BUCHANAN:  If Fred Thompson gets in let me predict he will have to skip Iowa, because all the best organizers, they have gotten them.  They‘re out there.  He can go out there and make a big splash, but you need money and you need people to get out the vote. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  What is the rationale for a Fred Thompson? 

SWEET:  If the first tier field sharply defines itself, he looses his (INAUDIBLE), which is why I wondered, if he had really an interest in this, why he is waiting so long, because things will develop without him. 

CARLSON:  That‘s an excellent point.

BUCHANAN:  Look, there are a lot of people in New Hampshire—I was up there for a gather for Gary Hart, you know.  And a lot of people up there were really interested in Thompson.  McCain did a smart thing skipping the Iowa against Bush, wait until one guy came out of Iowa and then try to knock him off in the New Hampshire, which he did.  My guess is that is what‘s on—I saw somewhere where Thompson said, I am well aware of August 11th, whatever the date of the straw poll is.  He does not want to go out there, give a speech and get one percent or two percent. 

SWEET:  Better to do nothing.

BUCHANAN:  Right.

CARLSON:  Well, a man who has been through this entire process and succeeded, of course, Jimmy Carter, the former president, I think the last president to be as unpopular as our current president, gave an interview with my former employer, the “Arkansas Democratic Gazette,” and said the following about the George W. Bush administration, quote, “I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.  The overt reversal of America‘s basic values, as expressed by previous administrations, including those of the first Bush, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me.” 

Bush is the worst ever.  All right, so this morning Jimmy Carter, for reasons that allude me, goes on the “Today Show.”  He‘s asked, you called Bush was the worst president in history, the worst administration in history, why did you say that.  He said of this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  My remarks were maybe careless or misinterpreted, but I was not comparing the overall administration and I was certainly not talking personally about any president. 

I don‘t claim to have any relevancy.  I have a completely unofficial capacity.  The only thing I lead is the Carter Center.  We‘ve never claimed to have any authority.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  So Jimmy Carter is a BS artist, who knew? 

(CROSS TALK)

SWEET:  This the second jam he has gotten just in the last few months, when he had to explain the title of his book on Palestinian/Israeli relations.  And now he‘s caught in this same little vice he puts himself in of trying to explain what he thought he had already explained.  I do not know why he gets caught in stuff like this. 

CARLSON:  He can‘t control himself.  Do you know who dislikes Jimmy Carter more than almost anybody, in fact anybody I‘ve ever met?  The Clinton people.  They despise him, because Carter was always running around the world.  I think Clinton himself despised Carter.  I‘m positive.  Because Carter was always popping up in these hot spots and making pronouncements about how Clinton‘s foreign policy was wrong. 

BUCHANAN:  North Korea, right.  You know, Carter really hurt himself with this thing.  It is clear when he backs off the way he does.  There is sort of a president‘s club.  If you disagree on some huge issue, maybe like Iraq, you come out and say so.  But He gets too picky.  You‘re right.  You know what it reminds me of?  It‘s like you read about grandpa somehow got out of the house.  They caught him six blocks away. 

(CROSS TALK)

SWEET:  Just this weekend, once again, you had President Bush and President Clinton appearing together at a university commencement.  Clearly, they have a massive policy differences between themselves, but they have a way of the solidifying around each other, respecting institutions. 

CARLSON:  I must say Clinton—It is almost hard for the words to emerge from my lips, but it is true—has shown some, at least in compared to Jimmy Carter, some self control. 

BUCHANAN:  He‘s shown a touch of class out of office.  I think he really has.  But Carter has done things—on the Palestinian thing, he defended that.  But this he knows was just a goofy, foolish, damaging, hurtful thing to do. 

SWEET:  And wasn‘t he there for one of his Habitat for Humanities—

(CROSS TALK)

SWEET:  Give him credit, while you‘re bashing him here, he has a lot of good things he does, a lot of good causes that he has singularly taken on. 

CARLSON:  OK, he always struck me as maybe the meanest president we have ever had.  He certainly was one of the more ineffectual.  Speaking of somebody who I think made a mistake—

BUCHANAN:  You know, somebody said after 25 years, he was giving up the title, worst president in American history. 

CARLSON:  He should be thankful for Bush, actually.  Bill Richardson running for president, currently governor of New Mexico, gives a very interesting—he announced for president today officially in Los Angeles.  He gave a very interesting interview to Joel Achenbacher of the “Washington Post” over the weekend, in which he talked about his as not simply a candidate, a governor, but as a Hispanic American. 

And he said this—there‘s no accident he‘s announcing in L.A.  Quote, “I‘m not running as a Hispanic candidate, but I‘m trying to convince Hispanics that I am Hispanic.  And they don‘t know.  I go to Los Angeles and they don‘t now I‘m Hispanic.  When they do know, it‘s positive.  So it‘s a question of building that.”

Is it, do you think, and you are from Chicago, so maybe you don‘t think—But it strikes me as out of bounds for a candidate—it ought to be out of bounds—to campaign on his ethnicity.  I think that‘s wrong.  If Barack Obama got up there and said, you know, actually, my mother was white.  I was raised by my white grandparents.  I‘m half white.  White voters don‘t know that.  Once they know that I‘m half white, they‘ll love me.  You would recoil.  You would say ew, what an ugly thing to say.  Why does Bill Richardson get to say things like this? 

SWEET:  Well, I‘m not as adversely affected by this.  I think he is trying to explain who he is.  His father is a white American and his mother is a Mexican.  And when you have a name like Richardson, I guess he wants to people to know more about his background.  And, Tucker, that is no different when you want people to know about your background or biography.  People run on that all the time.  If I‘ve heard it once, it‘s a zillion times, Barack Obama talks about his mother from Kansas and his father from Kenya.  Hillary Clinton talks about growing up in Park Ridge.  People run on biography.

CARLSON:  But the idea is that once Hispanic voters know that his mother had a Hispanic last name, they will want to vote for him?  Should we really be encouraging people to vote by tribe.  I don‘t think that‘s good.   

SWEET:  I think you‘re jumping to a conclusion here.

CARLSON:  No, I‘m not. 

SWEET:  Isn‘t he jumping? 

CARLSON:  What‘s the other explanation?

(CROSS TALK)

BUCHANAN:  Sharpton and Jackson seem to have a certain racial identity that took them into the race. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t like that.

BUCHANAN:  Frankly, you have identity politics.  I do not think it is good either.  I thought we were moving away from that.  But, frankly, the country is moving pretty much back to it. 

CARLSON:  This is also the same guy who said that he was giving Alberto Gonzales the benefit of the doubt because he was Hispanic. 

BUCHANAN:  He was a brother.

CARLSON:  Seriously, if you saw someone—would you say I gave Harriet Miers the benefit of the doubt because she was white and I am white? 

BUCHANAN:  Putting racial solidarity ahead or ethnic solidarity—

SWEET:  He gave him the benefit of the doubt and I think there he was also trying to show that he was candid in answering the question. 

BUCHANAN:  Frankly, he‘s probably candidly trying to get the message out there in Nevada and places like that, hey fellas, there is a huge vote out here.  If I do not get this, I do not get anything. 

SWEET:  He said that moving the primaries up in Texas, Florida, and California will help him, because there is a big Hispanic population. 

CARLSON:  But this is a guy who grew up rich, who went to Middlesex, went to this fancy boarding school in Massachusetts.  He went to Tufts.  It‘s hard to say he‘s from the barrio.  Hillary Clinton on the board of Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart hated by the left, mostly because it‘s the biggest company in America, also because they‘re anti-union.  A “New York Times” demonstrated this weekend that Hillary Clinton, while on the board of Wal-Mart, a job she got because of her gender, according to the Times, she did not say word one about their anti-union position.  Does this hurt her with labor unions? 

SWEET:  She has a running start right now with the labor unions.  They like her a lot.  By the way, in Trenton last week, Barack Obama proclaimed that he will not shop at Wal-Mart.  His wife is on the board of a company that is a vendor to Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart could emerge as a second or third issue.  It‘s a litmus test of something.  Now, what she did—I read the same story as you did.  And as a board member, she did do other things. 

Maybe the union wasn‘t her thing, but she the story did talk about she had environmental concerns, feminist concerns that she promoted.  So, OK, maybe the union issue wasn‘t her thing.  But bringing us to the present, she is—it is not clear if the SCIU or the change to win unions or the AFL-CIO, if they will end up even endorsing or not, but right now I think she has a bit of a running start. 

CARLSON:  She does, and it‘s unfair, because Edwards panders more.  But why Wal-Mart, Pat?  Wal-Mart, I understand why people don‘t like its affect on communities.  But why is Wal-Mart—and I think Lynn‘s right—this a galvanizing issue on the left?  Why do people hate Wal-Mart?

BUCHANAN:  Frankly, it gets a small towns and communities—you bring them in.  For every Wal-Mart store, I understand, 100 mom-and-pop stores go under when that is open up.  Lower prices, no union, no health insurance, and all that thing.  It‘s got that image.  But at the same time, she handled it pretty well, I thought, when she said, look, there is good and there is bad about it.  There is no doubt poor folks can go in there a shop and come out with bags, all kinds of bags of goodies for far less than they used to get.  But people are paying a price elsewhere for it.  So it is getting bad. 

CARLSON:  No, Wal-Mart is a huge, huge thing.  They have some of the cheapest fishing tackle in America. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  In the end, our concerns are parochial concerns.  I‘m willing to admit that.  I don‘t have a problem.  Thank you both very much. 

It turns out that not all the stories you hear about American atrocities in Iraq are true.  At least one was a remarkable hoax, eagerly repeated by the anti-war left.  The amazing story, next.  Plus, after that, another story of pop music fraudulence.  Britney Spears got caught lip-synching so many times, you wonder why she didn‘t quit while she was only way behind.  Willie Geist has the mortifying details on that.  You‘re watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Among the evidence used to denounce the war in Iraq by various anti-war groups have been instances of U.S. military atrocities there.  Here is a story that should, at the very least, make us think twice before we believe everything we read.  Twenty three year old Jesse Macbeth was one face of the faces of the anti-war movement.  Macbeth claimed he was an Iraq veteran who, along with his fellow soldiers, routinely murdered hundreds of innocent Iraqi civilians on orders from his superiors.  After a run on the blogosphere as a credible opponent of the war and the U.S.  military‘s action in Iraq, it turned out that Jesse Macbeth was a fraud. 

He was not, as he had claimed, an Army Ranger.  He was not in the special forces either.  In fact, he was booted from the service just weeks into basic training.  So why did Jesse Macbeth do what he did?  How did he get away with it?  How many others have done the same thing?  And how we know who is telling the truth?  For answers, we turn now to B.J. Berkett.  He is the author of “Stolen Valor, How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of its History and its Heroes.”  Mr. Berkett, thanks for coming on.   

B.G. BERKETT, “STOLEN VALOR” AUTHOR:  Tucker, thanks for having me on.

CARLSON:  This guy seemed like such an obvious phony.  He claimed to have been in the Rangers and the special forces at the same time.  He said he was in Iraq for 16 months, when, in fact, the war had only been going on I think a year at that point.  He said he was fighting alongside Canadian soldiers.  And yet, nobody called him on this.  Why is that?  Have you seen this kind of thing before? 

BERKETT:  Well actually it is very common.  Most civilians do not know the nuances of the military.  And it is pretty easy for a guy to start making up stories.  Once the media grabs onto it, it goes hither and yon forever on the Internet. 

CARLSON:  This guy apparently showed up in photographs wearing his supposed uniform, which was an amalgam of all sorts of different—I mean, it was almost like the bozo nose or the Groucho Marx glasses.  It was like nine different uniforms, some not even American.  And nobody noticed it. 

BERKETT:  Well, I‘ll give you an amazing personal statistic.  I have been doing this for over 20 years now.  I have checked over 2,000 stories in major media, 75 percent of them have major failings with the veterans that they interview.  They do not check.  You know, technology is so quick and disseminates the news and they are on to the next story. 

CARLSON:  Does that mean that the person being interviewed is lying or that the person doing the interview makes a mistake? 

BERKETT:  No, I am talking about where the person being interviewed has fabricated a story.  The incredible thing is it is not just people like this guy, who was only in the military six weeks.  You can have a war hero himself, a guy who got a silver star, and he has fabricated additional exploits.  That blew my mind.  But they are just as likely to lie as the guy who wasn‘t even there. 

CARLSON:  Is it checkable?  I mean, how do you find out?  If we have a guest on who says, I know.  I he was there.  And I won this that and the other thing in Vietnam or in this current war, how do you find out if he is telling the truth?  

BERKETT:  You can get the record, ultimately, from the National Archives.  It‘s available in the Freedom of Information Act.  But obviously you don‘t have the time to do that when you‘re going to interview someone.  But one way to make the individual stop and think is to get him to sign what‘s called a standard Form 180, which is basically a power of attorney, where you are telling him you are going to get his military record.  A lot of these guys will fade into the woodwork when they know you‘re actually going to check. 

CARLSON:  How many of those—you said about 70 percent of the stories you looked into—

BERKETT:  Seventy five.

CARLSON:  That‘s amazing—included some kind of falsehood.  How many of those people doing the lying were pushing a political agenda? 

BERKETT:  Actually, not very many.  Now, they are used by those pushing a political agenda.  And one of the things, we mentioned the anti-war movement, the reality is an awful lot of these organizations are not anti-war.  They could not care less about this war or any other war.  What they are is blame America first.  When you‘ve got a guy claiming that his government, his commanders made him commit atrocities, that is putting the onus on America and it actually is propaganda for the enemy. 

CARLSON:  Well, of course it is.  And it was also obviously untrue.  If a man got up and said, I killed—as this guy did, Macbeth, I‘m not even sure that‘s his real name by the way—gets up and says I killed 201 innocent Iraqis, wouldn‘t the United States government, if that were true, be forced to do something about it? 

BERKETT:  Well, you know, the sad part is once a man gets out of the military, the military itself has got an ongoing mission and they do not have jurisdiction, as it were.  You have got a press now that does not do much homework, in terms of who they interview.  A lot of this, and Macbeth fits into this category—These are guys with low self esteem.  He has been a failure most of his life and he makes up this crazy story and immediately he is made a minor celebratory.  You know, he becomes somebody for a perverse reason. 

Also, there is a much bigger issue in the Macbeth case.  You‘d have to ask yourself, how did this guy get in the VA and he is getting disability, which would have been for life inflation index, if he had not been caught? 

CARLSON:  That‘s amazing.  B.J. Berkett, author of “Stolen Valor,” and a decorated combat veteran of Vietnam for real, I appreciate your coming on.  Thank you.

BERKETT:  Thank you for having me Tucker. 

CARLSON:  The Bush administration has taken a position on this week‘s “American Idol” finale.  A member of the president‘s cabinet speaks out on the most pressing issue of the day, Jordan or Blake.  Willie Geist has the details when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back, just when you thought you couldn‘t take it any more, we welcome the human Valium himself, Willie Geist, here to make it all better.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Thank you, Tucker.  That‘s very flattering.  Speaking of someone who needs Valium, the Hoff.  I‘ve got news hot of the griddle.  The Hoff, Tucker, is getting the kids.  A big custody hearing out there in L.A. today.  The judge ruled that the Hoff gets the kids, but only for two weeks, until the next hearing. 

CARLSON:  You‘re talking about David Hasselhoff. 

GEIST:  Yes, I didn‘t think I needed to say that.  The Hoff, David Hasselhoff. 

(CROSS TALK)

GEIST:  We‘ll continue, of course, to update you on that important story.  Well, yes, Tucker, there are the matters of war funding, the immigration bill and the future of the attorney general for the Bush administration to consider this week.  But that all take a back seat, of course, to the “American Idol” finale.  A member of the president‘s cabinet has gone public to say she thinks Jordan Sparks will beat Blake Lewis to become this nation‘s next Idol. 

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings scouted the talent at a taping of “American Idol” earlier this month and says Jordan is the pick.  Spellings also said, quote, I am shocked over the Melinda situation. 

Tucker, I don‘t have to explain to you what she meant by that, of course. 

CARLSON:  Actually, you do. I‘m shocked the secretary of education knows all that. 

GEIST:  Well, the Melinda Doolittle situation is that she was the best singer and was kicked off last week.  That shouldn‘t be shocking if you know anything about the country.  Also, Condi Rice apparently comes out says she thinks Jordan is going to work.  President Bush still says he likes the dark horse Sanjaya.  So, I don‘t think he‘s following it very closely.

CARLSON:  I‘m on Bush‘s team. 

GEIST:  I‘m just glad the education secretary is stressing the right things to the young people. 

CARLSON:  She‘s a little too well educated on reality television. 

GEIST:  She actually attended a taping.  She‘s not joking.  Well, Britney Spears, Tucker, is no Jordan Sparks and she proved it again over the weekend.  During a show in Orlando on Saturday night, Britney was booed when she lip synched a backing track that skipped five times during a 15-minute show.  That is not good.  Witnesses say she turned her back to the crowd until the glitches passed each time.  One fan said, quote, she looked like she was going to puke. 

Last night, Britney showed up more than an hour late for a performance in Miami and then lip synched her way through another five songs.  Now, Tucker, she says these are tune-up shows.  But what‘s the point?  What are you tuning up for?  You‘re not singing.  Just start the tour already.  There is nothing to tune up for. 

CARLSON:  You know, I‘m kind of sympathetic.  I‘ve lip synched this show some days when I don‘t feel like it. 

GEIST:  Going through the motions, right.  And I‘ve been saying this for a long time.  She ought to quit entertainment and do what she‘s been doing for the last couple years, which is to be a disaster.  It is way more entertaining than her actual craft.  Do you know what I mean? 

CARLSON:  Give that girl another reality show.  I totally agree.

GEIST:  Exactly, go bare foot into gas station bathrooms for us with your kid on one arm and a Winston coming out of the other one.  So much better than what you‘re really doing. 

Well, as a libertarian, Tucker, I know how much you appreciate it when the government has the good sense to step in and make a law to modify your personal behavior.  Well, this next story is for you.  A California state senator who pushed to enact a law that will fine people who talk on their cell phones while driving caused a multi-car wreck when she rear-ended someone at a red light last week. 

Why did Senator Carol Migden (ph) rear end that someone?  You guessed it.  She was talking on her cell phone.  The good news for her is that the law she created doesn‘t go into effect until next summer, so she avoids the fine altogether.  Tucker, I thought you would appreciate.  It doesn‘t rate that high on the hypocrisy scale.  Obviously, the gold standard is Reverend Ted Haggard with the gay hookers and crystal meth as an evangelist. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know though.  The difference is Ted Haggard was not trying to make anything illegal.  I think this woman, who‘s trying to control my wife, I don‘t think a fine is appropriate.  I‘m thinking life without parole.  I‘m serious, in San Quentin.  There is nothing you can do to make up for this, in my view. 

GEIST:  Put her out on the rock. 

CARLSON:  Absolutely, bring back Alcatraz.  Willie Geist, you got my blood pressure up.  I appreciate it. 

GEIST:  I thought I might.

CARLSON:  Thanks Willie.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  We are back tomorrow at our regular time.  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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