updated 5/30/2007 12:07:03 PM ET 2007-05-30T16:07:03

Guests: Carlos Gutierrez, George Pataki, Stephanie Cutter

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show.  President Bush took to the White House Rose Garden this morning for a news conference.  The purpose?  To defend, warn and sell.  First the president defended his Iraq War policy.  Interesting in that he appears to have won the latest political fight over that war.  Mr. Bush spent his second consecutive day emphasizing the al Qaeda threat in Iraq. 

Then Mr. Bush warned Iran against the pursuit with nuclear weapons as the U.S. Navy staged war games off the Iranian coast in the Persian Gulf, the president said that tougher sanctions against Iran were a likely next step to express international intolerance of nukes in Persia. 

And finally the president sold his immigration deal, the one he cut with a bipartisan group of senators last week.  The proposed bill is under assault from all sides, particularly from conservatives who point out that the bill grants amnesty to million of illegal aliens living in this country. 

Mr. Bush had this to say about that immigration bill. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This bill does not grant amnesty.  Amnesty is forgiveness without a penalty.  Instead, this bill requires workers here illegally to acknowledge that they broke the law, pay a fine, pass background checks, remain employed, and maintain a clean record. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Here to discuss the immigration bill and the administration‘s case for it is the U.S. secretary of commerce, Carlos Gutierrez. 

Mr. Secretary, thanks for coming on. 

CARLOS GUTIERREZ, SECRETARY OF COMMERCE:  How are you, Tucker? 

CARLSON:  I‘m great.  Yesterday you and the secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, went over the USA Today and spoke to the editorial board there.  Mr. Chertoff is quoted as saying that he understands that allowing illegal aliens to stay, giving them preference over other would-be legal immigrants, is, quote, “a fundamental unfairness.” 

Why would the Bush administration push a bill that is at its core, fundamentally unfair? 

GUTIERREZ:  We don‘t believe it is fundamentally unfair.  I think what we are saying is that it is—it‘s actually tough, but it is fair, and above all, it is realistic. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But didn‘t Mr. Chertoff—so was he misquoted when he said that? 

GUTIERREZ:  I don‘t know, Tucker.  I mean, I don‘t have the article in front of me.  I was with him that day.  I‘ve never heard him say that this is unfair.  If anything, I think we‘ve talked about the fact that this is fair.  This is not amnesty.  We defined amnesty as an unconditional pardon.  This is not an unconditional pardon. 

1986, by the way, was an unconditional pardon.  People have to come forward and pay a find, they have to undergo a criminal background check, which means that they may not get legalization.  So it is not amnesty and there is no automatic path to citizenship. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But isn‘t it—Mr. Secretary, isn‘t in effect this legislation giving preference to illegal immigrants, people who came here against the law or stayed after their visas expired, over immigrants who tried to get here legally?  Isn‘t it giving them preference? 

GUTIERREZ:  Well, not really.  I mean, you‘re looking at different degrees here.  But actually for—if an illegal worker, after they get a Z card, which means they can work legally—and we believe that that is practical and realistic.  If they want, if they want a green card, then they have to get in the back of the line from those who have been waiting and who have been waiting for their green card to do it legally. 

So from that standpoint, which is the ultimate goal for many people, they‘re going to have to wait in line, apply, pay more fines, leave the country, if they want to have legal permanent residence. 

In the meantime, what we are doing is just providing them the opportunity to work.  They won‘t have welfare.  They won‘t have food stamps.  They won‘t have Medicaid.  We‘re just saying, they can work and that frankly is just facing up to reality, an economic reality and a national security reality.  Because we need to know who is in the country. 

And those who don‘t have the right background, we need to get them and kick them out. 

CARLSON:  These are very much like the arguments the Reagan administration made in 1986 when it passed—or backed this amnesty bill then.  The results of that, as you know, according to an INS study in 2000, was a massive increase in illegal immigration to the country, when people in Latin America saw that they could get here and not be penalized for coming in the country illegally.  Why would this not result in the same? 

GUTIERREZ:  Now, let me tell you, there are four things that we‘re doing differently that we did not do in 1986, to your point.  In ‘86, we did nothing to the border.  We‘ve got a major program to strengthen the border, whether it be the fence, people, jail cells, electronic surveillance, radar towers, we also did not have an employer verification system which we will have this time, up and running, a mandatory employer verification system. 

We did not have a temporary workers program.  So it was essentially either you had nothing or you had a green card.  There was nothing in between.  This time we have a temporary workers program.  Also, there is no automatic path to citizenship, which we did have in 1986.  So we‘ve actually corrected a lot of the mistakes of ‘86. 

CARLSON:  Now the administration‘s position on this bill, as far as I can tell, is that illegal immigrants should not have to pay all of their back taxes and their penalties.  So why should I pay my taxes if illegal aliens don‘t have to? 

GUTIERREZ:  Well, what we‘re doing is we‘re charging them a fine which we believe is going to be a lot more practical than trying to round up the documentation, in some cases, this has been a cash business, you know, to find out exactly what tax papers you need to look at. 

We need to be practical.  You know, in theory, we would love to do it all.  But we need to be practical and realistic. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Do you think the IRS would take the same position with me if I just decided to pay say a portion of my taxes or not pay them at all?  They say, you know what?  It is impractical to make Carlson pay his taxes. 

We‘re going to be practical and not make him do that.

GUTIERREZ:  No.  I think you should continue to pay your taxes, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Well, then, can‘t you see why I would be angry about that? 

I have to pay all my taxes, they don‘t? 

GUTIERREZ:  But they‘re going to have to pay a fine.  They‘re going to have to undergo a background check.  They are not going to have access to welfare.  They‘re going to pay their penalty, Tucker.  And the reality is that we need to fill those jobs.  We don‘t enough people to fill those jobs.  And we‘re going to suffer as an economy.  So we also have an economic reality. 

I understand it is emotional.  I understand we can all get mad.  I understand that the bill is not perfect.  But I will tell you what.  It is a heck of a lot better than a dysfunctional system, a broken system that we have today. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Carlos Gutierrez, secretary of commerce, Mr.

Secretary, I appreciate your coming on.  Thank you.

GUTIERREZ:  Thank you, Tucker, I appreciate it. 

CARLSON:  Coming up, John Edwards always talks about two Americas.  But are there two different John Edwards?  The one we see on the campaign trail and the one behind the scenes.  We‘ll drop the bombshell from his former aide‘s book.  That‘s worth waiting for. 

John Edwards is leading the Democrats in the State of Iowa right now.  He has got double digit leads over Hillary Clinton.  But does Hillary even care about Iowa?  Is she really planning to give up her campaign there?  We‘ll have the latest.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Well, President Bush did his best to sell immigration reform today.  He also let loose a bipartisan-friendly weapon, his homeland secretary, Michael Chertoff.  Chertoff apparently is knocking the socks off senators from both sides of the aisle.  He is boiling down how the guest worker program and beefed up border security could realistically work. 

But that is just part of the Chertoff P.R. assault.  He is also going after conservatives who are fighting the reform bill for backing what he calls a “silent amnesty.”  And he is telling some liberal opponents to take what they can get in order to help illegal immigrant families already here in the U.S. 

Joining us today to assess the Chertoff factor, the fate of Bush‘s immigration plan, and the rest of today‘s news, we welcome the former governor of the State of New York, George Pataki; and Democratic strategist and former communications director for the Kerry campaign, Stephanie Cutter. 

Welcome to you both.  Governor, Michael Chertoff conceded in public that this—that the core idea here, allowing people who were in the country illegally to stay, is unfair.  That‘s another way of saying, this is a very flawed bill.  The left doesn‘t like it either.  And yet it seems to be moving toward passage, why is that?

GEORGE PATAKI ®, FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR:  Well, it is a very flawed bill.  But I think there is a consensus in this country, not necessarily on this bill but on the fact that we have to do something at this point. 

It is just been now 20 years since the last comprehensive immigration bill.  That bill did not work.  And the current system is not working.  You know, Secretary Gutierrez, who you just had on, talked about how last year we turned back a million people at the border. 

Well, how many were we not able to turn back?  How many people did come in here illegally?  So I thin the American people, rightfully, want very strong action so they can have confidence that whoever is going to come to this country is coming here legally. 

CARLSON:  But can‘t you see why people would be skeptical and hesitant to trust the government? 

PATAKI:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Because they are essentially—the Bush administration is essentially saying, we blew it, we lied to you before.  We didn‘t do what we said we were going to do.  And because we didn‘t, we now have 12 million people living here illegally.  Trust us again?

PATAKI:  No.  I don‘t think you should trust again.  And I think that is why the most important thing to me is to have security first.  The American people rightfully are skeptical that any bill that legalizes the status of people who are here is going to do what happened 20 years ago, and that does not end the problem, but create additional incentives for others to come. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

PATAKI:  So the most important thing is to make sure that the security provisions are rock solid, and that the American people can have confidence that if in fact this bill becomes law, we are going to know that the people who come here come here legally. 

CARLSON:  Stephanie, the White House is spending a lot of time lobbying the left on this question.  I think they understand they are not going to get a lot of conservatives who are just—they‘re not sold on this idea that you don‘t have to you‘re your taxes if you are an illegal alien. 

But they think the left is winnable.  I don‘t—what is the liberal complaint about this bill?  This is a Ted Kennedy bill.  It seems to give them everything they want.  Why are they whining about it? 

STEPHANIE CUTTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, you know, what the bill is, it is the hard fought compromise.  You‘re going to make people on the right and people on the left unhappy.  The bill.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But I don‘t get what the people on the left are unhappy about exactly. 

CUTTER:  Well, there are a couple of complaints.  One, the guest worker program is, as written, the complaints are that it is creating a new path for illegals and creating an underclass of workers in this country.  It de-emphasizes family unification because it changes the nature of our systems.  Those are the general complaints. 

It doesn‘t mean we can‘t fix these things throughout the process, but we have to start someplace, so that‘s what we did. 

CARLSON:  Is this—Governor, do you think this is actually going to become law? 

PATAKI:  You know, I think at this point, more than 30 senators have not taken positions.  So I think it really is still up in the air on whether or not it will be.  I think you have to make the case not simply on the economics, which the Bush administration has talked about many, many times about how we need the workers and we can‘t afford not to have a guest worker program, but more on security. 

I really think that is what the American people are most concerned about when it comes to immigration.  And unless they are able to convince a majority of the senators that this will in fact mean that people come here legally, then I don‘t think it will be passed.

CARLSON:  Why don‘t they do that?  I mean, rather than saying, our campaign contributors want cheap labor, which is essentially what they‘re arguing. 

PATAKI:  Yes.  They—I think it has been the wrong argument.  And you know, you just look, a week or two ago, the Fort Dix Six, who wanted to attack.

CARLSON:  Exactly.

PATAKI:  . U.S. soldiers—three of them were here illegally.  And every American who flies in the air knows the inconvenience to make sure that you are obeying the law.  And yet how many thousands of people come here and we don‘t even know who they are? 

So I think they have to convince the American people on the security issue.  The economic argument is, in my view, far secondary to that. 

CARLSON:  Why, Stephanie, would a party—the Democratic Party, which ostensibly is so concerned with the plight of people who work for a living, as they never tire of saying, the workers, people who work with their hands, why would they favor legislation that undermines the bargaining position of American citizens who work with their hands?  Because that‘s essentially what this does, it undercuts them. 

CUTTER:  No.  I don‘t think that‘s true, Tucker.  I think there is important protections in there for American workers.  And you know, go to the Chamber of Commerce.  Go to the laborers.  Go to certain governors in these across the country.  They want these guest worker programs. 

CARLSON:  Oh, absolutely they do.  But.

CUTTER:  Because a lot of Americans won‘t do these jobs. 

CARLSON:  . why would unions want it?  Why would—in other words, basically, we‘re just saying, you know, a lot of American don‘t want these jobs.  So we bring in people from Guatemala who will work for $4 an hour.  How is that good for working Americans?  I kind of missed that point?

CUTTER:  Who is going to do the jobs? 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  Presumably Americans would if they were paid a decent wage.  Not to sound like a lefty, but isn‘t that...

CUTTER:  Well, I think there are wage protections in the bill.  And unless we fix the problem and protect these types of program, then our economy is not going to continue to grow, because Americans won‘t do these jobs.  There are labor protections in there for America‘s worker.  There are wages protections in there for America‘s worker. 

And that‘s why you see a lot of business people.  And at least the SEIU, wanting to see how we can progress on this bill. 

CARLSON:  Boy, I think they are hurting themselves in the long run. 

PATAKI:  And, Tucker, many of these jobs are just seasonal jobs. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  . the agricultural jobs. 

PATAKI:  And I think that there is an important distinction between someone who has a four-month job and then goes back, and they do... 

CARLSON:  I agree with that.  I agree with that. 

CUTTER:  And those are two separate issues in the bill. 

CARLSON:  Right.  That is right.  I think the agricultural stuff is set aside because that is... 

CUTTER:  Yes, that‘s not a problem for anybody. 

CARLSON:  Up next, a former aide hones the blade of his literary knife and sticks to it John Edwards.  Ouch, we‘ve got the painful details, cringe-making.  Don‘t miss it.

Plus, Bill Clinton says taxpayers owe him $1 million for his service to this country.  Tons more than any other living president get.  What exactly is he charging for these services?  We‘ll take a look at his bottom line.  This is MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  It has been a pretty rough couple of weeks for Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.  He can‘t seem to catch a break with his $400 haircut, a regular punch line these days.  New reports that the man with the populist message even makes money off a newly discovered trove of pirate‘s booty in the ocean somewhere. 

Now comes a memoir by strategist Bob Shrum that Edwards would probably prefer be left on the shelf.  Shrum worked for the Edwards Senate campaign in ‘98 and he later crossed paths with Edwards while on-board the Kerry campaign in 2004. 

While Shrum once thought the man was surefire presidential material, he now says that Edwards is, quote, “a Clinton who hadn‘t read the books.”  Ouch!  Is this just a string of really, really bad press for Edwards or is it the beginning of the end of his campaign?  Joining us once again, we welcome the former long time governor of New York State, George Pataki; and Democratic strategist and former communications director for the aforementioned Kerry campaign, Stephanie Cutter. 

Stephanie, you worked with every—I don‘t want to put you on the spot here.  But you worked with everybody involved here.  Could you sum it up for me in one sentence?  Does this jibe with the reality you saw? 

CUTTER:  You know, most of what I.

CARLSON:  Is Edwards an appalling phony, I guess is my question? 

CUTTER:  Not from what I saw. 

CARLSON:  Should Shrum, as a consultant.

CUTTER:  But I don‘t think that that is what—most of what is—what I‘ve read so far, which has been in public materials, I‘ve not read the book, are reporting on private conversations between Senator Edwards and Shrum. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Should Shrum be doing that?  I mean, Shrum is hired help, OK?  Should he.

CUTTER:  Only those who are privy to them.  I—you know, so who knows where the truth is?  It is probably somewhere in between.

CARLSON:  Well, the truth is that Bob Shrum wrote a book about it. 

What do you think about that truth?

CUTTER:  About whether Bob Shrum wrote a book?

CARLSON:  Yes.

CUTTER:  You know, Bob has every right to write a book. 

CARLSON:  Well, he hasn‘t made enough money in campaigns over the years, he needs to write a book about it.

CUTTER:  I don‘t think he is writing it about money.  I think that this is going to be a very interesting book.  He has seen a lot throughout the years. 

CARLSON:  Well, we‘ve got some of it here, Governor.  If you‘ll just respond to this.  This is part of a conversation that he recounts in this book, taking place between himself and then-candidate Edwards in 1998.  Shrum says, quote: “What is your position, Mr. Edwards, on gay rights?” To which John Edwards said: “I‘m not comfortable around those people.” Elizabeth Edwards jumps in at this point and says: “John, you know that‘s wrong.” Ouch. 

PATAKI:  Ouch, but you know, today so many of the American people are just turned off by the whole political process because we have major issues facing the country and facing the world.  And we‘re worrying about whether or not Bob Shrum is quoting accurately from a conversation in 1998. 

I don‘t think John Edwards should be president, but I don‘t care what he said in 1998 in private.  What I care about is what he said last week that we‘re not really engaged in a clash in civilization against Islamic fanatics.  We are.  And that‘s, to me, what disqualifies him as president.

CARLSON:  Well, I absolutely agree with that.  But it is so—it is irresistible, the dynamic here.  I mean, you‘ve run for office many times and succeeded.  You‘ve had consultants who are presumably pretty close to you.  It is a huge betrayal, isn‘t it, to write about private conversations? 

PATAKI:  Well, I don‘t know the nature of their relationship.  But I do know that.

CARLSON:  I do. 

PATAKI:  Well, he was a paid consultant. 

CARLSON:  That‘s pretty nasty.

PATAKI:  He was a paid consultant, whether or not they have the personal understanding or the personal relationship, I don‘t know.  I don‘t think he should have done it.  I don‘t think Shrum should have done that. 

But he did, but I don‘t think that‘s the reason that you vote for or against John Edwards for president.  There is plenty of good reasons not to vote for him for president.

CARLSON:  Well, here is another one.  This is from Shrum‘s book.  This is really kind of a devastating story.  And I don‘t know if it‘s true or not.  But here‘s what Bob Shrum says.  He said: “Edwards had told Kerry,” this was when Edwards was attempting to get on the Kerry campaign as V.P., “was going to share with him a story that he had never told anyone else, that after his son Wade had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body and promised that would do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade‘s ideals of service.  Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted that exact same story to him almost in the exact same words a year or to before, with the same preface.”

And he—claiming he had never shared that memory with anyone else before.  I almost hesitate to re-read that, because it is such a nauseating story on so many levels.  But if true, it speaks to a deep character problem with John Edwards, don‘t you think? 

CUTTER:  If it is true, yes, but we don‘t know whether it is true.  The Edwards campaign has denied it.  Bob says it is true.  You know, this is again, a conversation between the two of them.  I agree with the governor that at the end of the day, these are not the issues that matter in this election. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Well, how about his contention yesterday, he gave a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations saying the war on terror is a bumper sticker.  That there isn‘t a war on terror.  There aren‘t all of these lunatics trying to kill us.  Like what does that mean? 

CUTTER:  Well, I think he believes that there are lunatics trying to kill us.  But he also believes that over the course of the last six years, this administration has reduced it to a bumper sticker slogan and not done anything about it.  And that‘s the problem. 

This has been a White House that has campaigned since day one and not governed.  That‘s the point that the Senator Edwards was trying to get across. 

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI:  I don‘t think that‘s the point at all.  I think the point he was trying to make is let‘s look at domestic issues and forget for a moment the fact that thousands of people died on September 11th.  And I think that‘s wrong.  It is clear that this administration has made, as its priority, standing up to Islamic radicals around the world.  Not just in Iraq where Edwards is very critical, but in Afghanistan, and wherever we are required to take action to protect the American people. 

And I think that‘s the right thing to do.  And anybody who doesn‘t believe that there is truly a clash of civilizations between those who believe in freedom and those who want to attack us again, and not just live in an intolerant society of their own but turn our society into an intolerant society, certainly are not worthy of being president of the United States. 

CARLSON:  It seems to me the one thing you can say for this administration, the administration that I almost never defend, is that we haven‘t been hit again in this country since 9/11.  It has been almost six years.  I don‘t know who is responsible for that great news.  But it is kind of hard to argue the Bush administration is blowing it if we haven‘t been hit again, isn‘t it?

CUTTER:  Well, how do you explain the tens of thousands of new terrorists that the Bush administration‘s own intelligence agencies say have been created? 

CARLSON:  I agree with that.  I agree with that.  But we still haven‘t been hit in this country. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  That‘s pretty great news. 

CUTTER:  And how do you account for the fact that we have taken our eye off of Afghanistan? 

CARLSON:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I buy that too. 

CUTTER:  . are fighting a war with a plan.

CARLSON:  But I live in Washington, D.C., and they haven‘t hit my town.  That‘s a big deal, isn‘t it? 

CUTTER:  Thank God for that.  And nobody is criticizing him for that.  But what they‘re criticizing him for is pursuing a strategy that‘s taking our eye off the ball, making our problems worse, and not listening to the American people. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  OK.  That may be right.  But I still think you have got to give them credit for that one thing. 

CUTTER:  And I don‘t anybody.

CARLSON:  All right.  We‘ll be right back.  Hillary Clinton is leaving her campaign theme song up to you, the voter.  She certainly won‘t be thinking about tomorrow like her husband, but she could be a believer on a beautiful day.  Either way, will this different side of Hillary help with voters or will it terrify them?

Plus, Governor Jon Corzine joins the click it or ticket seatbelt campaign.  And if he had seen his public service announcement before his near-fatal car crash, he probably would‘ve been wearing his seatbelt.  You are watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  President Bush and his advisors embarked on their Iraq strategy partly to establish Democratic governance in the despotic Middle East.  There are, of course, intrinsic catches to this plan.  First, what happens if the American installed democracy begin to hate America?  Second, what if the American installed democracy votes to ask American troops to leave?  Given that President Bush‘s most recent reassertion the U.S. must stay in Iraq to fight al Qaeda, he was asked about the Iraqi government and its power to ask the U.S. government to leave.  And here‘s that exchange from today.  Watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government.  This is a sovereign nation.  Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution.  It is their government‘s choice.  If they were to say, leave, we would leave. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Back with us to talk about the quandary of American interests versus the Iraqi will, former governor of the state of New York, George Pataki and Democratic strategist, Stephanie Cutter.  Governor, I‘ve never been for impeaching the president.  I actually felt like I wanted to impeach Bush after I saw this.  He has been telling us for the past couple of years that we have to stay because our national security interests are at stake.  If we don‘t fight them there, we‘re going to fight them here. 

Now he‘s saying that if the incompetents who run that country are taking a two month vacation this summer because they just can‘t handle the heat, decide we ought leave, we should leave?   

PATAKI:  Tucker, I agree with you.  I am really concerned about the president‘s comment, because who knows what influence Iran may have two months, three months on the government from now.  And if all of a sudden they have a temporary majority that says we don‘t want you here anymore, are we going to give al Qaeda bases?  Are we going to give them training camps and safe grounds where they can recruit and train to attack the United States again?  I don‘t think so. 

I don‘t think we can do that.  The last time I was on your show, when we talked about this, when the surge was first being discussed, what I suggested then are that there are two different wars.  There‘s a war to create a stable, representative Iraqi government based in Baghdad.  That would be an enormous positive.  But it is not a part of our core mission to defend us against the Islamic extremism. 

Then there is the battle against al Qaeda and its affiliates who are in Iraq and around the globe, looking to attack us again and take away our freedom.  We can‘t give them a victory.  We can‘t give up that fight.  So if, in fact, the Iraqi government doesn‘t want us to be in the middle of the struggle between the Sunni and the Shia on the streets of Baghdad, that‘s OK.  But we simply cannot leave and give these terrorists, who want to attack us again, safe havens in Iraq. 

CARLSON:  Because it is not about them in the end.  It would be nice to make life better for the Iraqis, but that‘s not why we‘re there.  It is about our national security.  When it cease to be about that, we should have left yesterday.  Is there another argument for staying, other than if we leave, it will hurt our national interests and make us more imperiled? 

CUTTER:  Well, I think that there is an argument for changing our mission.  And fighting in the middle of a civil war between these two warring factions doesn‘t make sense.  We‘re not going to solve it.  But staying in a security emphasis and fighting al Qaeda, protecting the borders and ensuring that the Iranians don‘t come over the border, does make sense. 

That‘s what we‘ve been arguing on Capitol Hill for the last two months. 

CARLSON:  I haven‘t heard—I can‘t think of the last time I heard a Democrat say that.  Hillary Clinton, to her credit, has said that in print.  I haven‘t heard her say that out loud. 

CUTTER:  If you read the bills.  Even the Feingold bill. 

CARLSON:  Then why are they lying—Why are these Democrats getting up and saying—Hillary Clinton, if he won‘t end the war, I will.  No, actually, Mrs. Clinton—

CUTTER:  Because that will end the war. 

CARLSON:  She won‘t end the civil war between the Iraqis.  How is she going to do that?  Is she magic?   

CUTTER:  Maybe. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t even want to know what kind of dark powers she may have.  No, truly, how is she going to end this civil war? 

CUTTER:  I think ending the war, to most Americans, means ending our involvement, our U.S. combat involvement over there. 

CARLSON:  So ignoring their civil war, that‘s what you mean.  Go have your civil war.

CUTTER:  Getting our troop out of the middle of a civil war and protecting the security of that country. 

PATAKI:  But that‘s not what the Democrats have been saying in Congress.  They‘re saying we‘re going to have a deadline.  If we don‘t have certain benchmarks by that deadline, we‘re going to take the troops out of Iraq.  And what happens --  

CUTTER:  Every single one of those bills leaves a significant portion of those troops there for security purposes. 

CARLSON:  Well both can‘t be true.  So, you‘re conceding, because you‘re an honest person, that the Democratic candidates pretty much have been lying to their base.  They‘ve been saying, I‘m getting everybody out.  Your children will be safe.  What they really mean is I‘m getting a lot of people out, but a lot are going to have to stay. 

CUTTER:  It the base knows that. 

CARLSON:  They do know that?  Really?  All those robots know that?  All those Daily Kos people know that?  I bet they don‘t.  I bet they‘re going to be pissed when they find out. 

PATAKI:  I think they honestly think the American troop are coming home. 

CARLSON:  It think they do too. 

PATAKI:  That should not happen while al Qaeda is still out there. 

CARLSON:  All this talk of Mrs. Clinton makes me hanker for her voice.  She has decided that she needs a new campaign song.  She‘s put up this video on the web.  Here is Mrs. Clinton herself. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  Last week, I asked you the American people to help us choose our campaign song.  And I‘m happy to say that you have spoken, or sung, as the case may be.  Anyway, there were some truly wonderful selections. 

(SINGING)  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  This, governor, is part of the Clinton campaign‘s charm offensive.  I think is there is a lot recommend Senator Clinton as a candidate.  I think she is more responsible than most of the other people running on the Democratic side.  But this does nothing to make me like her.  And it raises the question, could you actually live in this country for eight years, having to listen to her voice?  Do you think could you? 

PATAKI:  Sure I could. 

CARLSON:  You really think you could? 

PATAKI:  Of course. 

CARLSON:  You‘re a man of zeal.

PATAKI:  Obviously, I don‘t want to see her become the next president of the United States.  But all those who said in 2000, if Bush wins, I‘m leaving the country.  They‘re still here.  They didn‘t leave.  And it is easy to say, oh my god, things are going to be so bad.  I‘m going to do whatever I can to try to help the Republican nominee win the election the next time out.  But if Senator Clinton gets elected, then we should all try to see that she succeeds as much as possible for our country. 

CARLSON:  Of course that‘s right. 

PATAKI:  Don‘t flee.  But I‘ll tell you, I don‘t think that particular charm offensive is going to help her win the election. 

CARLSON:  Do you know when she‘s most charming?  You know that she has a sly, nasty sense of humor and she uses profanity a lot in private.  You know that to be true, of course.  If she were to just drop the F-bomb on the trail, or let the real Hillary Clinton out, why doesn‘t she do that?  I think would work? 

CUTTER:  I thought that video was hilarious. 

CARLSON:  You did?

CUTTER:  Yeah, I do.  And I think it shows that she can have a good time, be self-deprecating and show that she‘s got a good sense of humor. 

CARLSON:  Does she need to run in Iowa? 

PATAKI:  I think she does need to run in Iowa.  You know, it is easy to have a 30-second commercial.  And you can go in California and New York, Florida, and run 30 second commercials.  But Iowa is different because you sit across in tables.  People get to ask you real questions.  They get to see you on a one-on-one basis, or in small groups. 

That is what—I think it is an important part of what we need to get back to in choosing our president. 

CARLSON:  Why even—A, why was she talking, or someone in her campaign, talking about skipping Iowa.  And B, more to the point, why is John Edwards leading so dramatically in Iowa?  Is just more appealing as a person?  Seriously, she‘s got more money, more name I.D.  She has everything.  Why isn‘t she in first place? 

CUTTER:  First of all, I guarantee that you every campaign on both sides of the aisle are having that conversation of how to handle the new calendar and the two dozen states that are competing on February 5th, and the enormous challenges that presents, and whether or not there are new opportunities that are presented there too.  And I think that‘s what that memo showed. 

In terms of why Edwards is ahead, Senator Edwards has spent a lot of time in Iowa over the course of the last three and a half years. 

CARLSON:  No, that‘s true.

CUTTER:  Senator Clinton had never been there until about three months ago. 

CARLSON:  Because she wasn‘t even thinking about running for president until three months ago.  I mean, she hasn‘t been thinking about this since she was in kindergarten or anything.  Is that what you‘re saying? 

CUTTER:  Yes.

CARLSON:  I like that.

PATAKI:  It wasn‘t with a straight face. 

CARLSON:  No, it wasn‘t. 

PATAKI:  You noticed that. 

CARLSON:  Governor, you were, of course, a governor for a very long time in New York.  Your colleague, I guess, John Corzine, governor of New Jersey, Democrat, former senator, was in a terrible car accident recently, that almost kill him.  He was not wearing a seat belt.  He has issued this public service announcement, I suppose.  Watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP

GOV. JON CORZINE, NEW JERSEY:  I‘m New Jersey governor John Corzine and I should be dead.  On April 12, I was critically injure in a car accident where I lost over half my blood and broke 15 bones in 18 places.  I spent eight days intensive care, where a ventilator was breathing for me.  It took a remarkable team of doctors and a series of miracles to save my life, when all I needed was a seatbelt.  I have to live with my mistake.  You don‘t.  Buckle up. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  When it was reveal that he was not wearing a seatbelt, Governor Corzine, he was literally at death‘s door.  He was on the precipice of death.  He was attacked in the media in New York, in New Jersey, a some kind of shmuck for not wearing his seatbelt.  I was apologizing for it.  Does this guy really have anything to apologize for?  Is it our business?  

PATAKI:  I didn‘t see it as an apology.  I saw it as a very positive statement to the people of New Jersey.  Talking about the mistake he made and the consequences from that mistake in urging them not to do it.  And I can tell you, I was in a horrible accident my second year as governor.  I had my seatbelt on.  I ended up one night in the hospital.  And I did a commercial after that, telling people that thank god I had my seatbelt on.  And I think it helped. 

And I think Governor Corzine‘s public service announcement will save lives if people listen to it.  And I think he deserves credit. 

CARLSON:  It may.  It guess it just bothers me, the victim blaming.  It‘s like when someone—I once read an obit; so and so died of lung cancer, but he was not a smoker.  As if, had he been a smoker, it would have been some how deserved.  You die in a car accident; you‘re not wearing seatbelt, we wag our finger at you.  I don‘t know.

CUTTER:  Well, it is an accident.  At the end of the day‘s it‘s an accident.  Nobody does it on purpose.  But if you have an opportunity—if you can save your own life by just buckling up, why not do it? 

CARLSON:  It‘s just that the kind of blue nose sort of Puritanism that come out in America on this question drives me bananas.  Bill Clinton has made more than 40 million bucks since leaving the White House.  Why is he asking you and me and every other taxpayer for a million dollars to pay his rent, his phone bill, even his health insurance. 

Maybe Bill Clinton she ask actor George Clooney for the money.  All he has to do is pucker his lips and he gets six figure for charity.  Our chief celebrity correspondent Willie Geist has the scintillating details.  Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Former President Bill Clinton has enjoyed a pretty nice run on the lecture circuit.  He has raked in almost 40 million bucks since he left office.  But it seems that enough is never enough.  Hillary‘s husband is now seeking almost 1.2 million from the government to pay rent for his office.  That‘s far more than Presidents Carter and Bush. 

Joining us again to explain why, former governor of the state of New York, George Pataki, and Democratic strategist and former communication director for the Kerry campaign, Stephanie Cutter.  Governor, it is an amazing request here.  201,000 for a pension, 161,000 for staff, 516,000 for rent, 79,000 for telephone, 26,000 for office supplies.  That‘s a lot of white-out.  What is all of this?

CUTTER:  The Clintons are big spenders.  And it is not their money.  It is government money.  If you think that‘s a big number, if Hillary ever became president, you can imagine what the federal budget would look like.  So, to me, it is just another example that you need people in high public office who are fiscal conservatives, who exercise discipline.  Not just with their own money, with the people‘s money. 

CARLSON:  Let‘s be honest here.  The Clinton always getting up and lecturing us about the need for belt tightening and all that.  The environmental impact has to be profound too.  He is never there.  He is always on the road, 200 odd days a year and he made 40 million dollars.  Why is he sticking us for half a million dollar office suite?  Because he can, I guess, right? 

CUTTER:  Let me address one thing the governor said.  In terms of big spenders and tax, big tax hikes.  If I remember correctly, during the Clinton years, we paid down the debt, created a surplus and had the highest prosperity since World War II. 

PATAKI:  It was a Republican Congress that hadn‘t lost its way and exercised fiscal responsibility. 

CARLSON:  So let‘s stipulate that Clinton is Jesus, OK?  He is a holy man.

CUTTER:  I‘ll do that.

CARLSON:  Does he still need to spend half a million dollars a year of your money in an office he rarely uses, when he can easily pay for it himself?  Why does he do that?

CUTTER:  I think what you‘re not telling us though is the other thing that that office is used for.  Look at all the things that he has done, in terms of travelling with former president Bush to help the tsunami recovery, Katrina, representing the country at Boris Yeltsin. 

CARLSON:  I‘m not even arguing that Clinton is bad for the world at all.  I am willing to concede he does good stuff.  But so do a lot of people and they pay for it themselves.  Why is he—

CUTTER:  Are you arguing that former presidents shouldn‘t have staff? 

CARLSON:  Actually, I am arguing that in a macro sense.  But I‘m arguing even a smaller point, which is that they shouldn‘t abuse them.  And when you have health insurance through your wife, you shouldn‘t stick the rest of us for 10,000 to get additional health insurance.  It‘s kind of weird cheapness that I think says something kind of deep.  Don‘t you?

CUTTER:  No, I don‘t.  First of all, we don‘t know what that is compared to.  And we know that President Carter and President Bush have their own budgets. 

CARLSON:  We do—

CUTTER:  President Clinton is the most active former president that we have today. 

CARLSON:  He can afford it, why shouldn‘t he pay for it himself?

CUTTER:  If you change the rules for everybody, then maybe we should consider that.  But I think the rules are the rules. 

CARLSON:  The rules are the rules, but you can take advantage of them or not.  Jimmy Carter, who is another Democrat, he spends 10,000 dollars a year on phone bill.  Bush charges the government for 17.  Clinton 79,000 dollars. 

CUTTER:  As much as I admire former President Carter, and former President Bush, I think that President Clinton has a different type of schedule and lifestyle than the others do. 

CARLSON:  He is also the richest. 

CUTTER:  But those are two different arguments.  If you want to change the rules, then change the rule.  If the rule are what they are I think he‘s abiding by them.

CARLSON:  Here is the point and it is a point that I often made when he was president.  There are a lot of thing you can do legally.  You can pick your nose in public if you like.  You can‘t be sent to jail for that.  But you don‘t do it because decorum requires that you don‘t.  Decent people don‘t do certain things, even though they‘re allowed to. 

PATAKI:  Tucker, I think what you‘re saying makes perfectly good sense.  President Clinton was for eight years the leader of our country.  He deserves security, he deserves his pension, he deserves to have staff and nice offices.  But there are limits.  And the limits should be based on what is reasonable.  And clearly when you look at some of those number, they‘re beyond what they should be. 

CARLSON:  Let‘s just argue very quickly the general question.  Every president, I think it is fair to give them a pension.  I don‘t know how much they need it since they all get rich right away.  But we need to preserve the distinction between president and monarch, don‘t we?  In treating former presidents like god, and giving them all these secret service officers, but really servants, don‘t you think it kind of blurs the distinction between president and king a little bit? 

CUTTER:  I certainly wouldn‘t want my former president to be subject to attack because he didn‘t have security. 

CARLSON:  I wouldn‘t begrudge him security.  But don‘t you had at a certain point we‘re venerating these people in a way that‘s unhealthy and wrong? 

CUTTER:  I think these are presidents of the United States.  It is the most important and powerful position in the world.  Why not, after serving this country, give them the basic things they need to do to continue serving this country?  Because in many ways, that‘s what President Clinton is doing.

CARLSON:  Put them on welfare, is what you‘re saying.  And because they‘re also citizens.  Do you know what I mean?  They‘re citizens.  They‘re citizen legislators—Doesn‘t this make you want to fall down and worship Bill Clinton?  Anybody who spent 79,000 dollars in office supplies, he is not merely human governor.  He is a god like figure. 

PATAKI:  It doesn‘t make me want to worship him at all.  But I do think Stephanie has a very important point.  We have to treat them with respect.  Make sure they have the support they need to be effective spokespersons for our country going forward.  But you don‘t need to have the abuses like this. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think they‘re going hungry.  Thank you both very much, Governor Pataki, Stephanie Cutter.  There wasn‘t much suspense about who was going to win American Idol last night.  But that doesn‘t mean the show didn‘t throw a few surprises.  What has the world come to when Aerosmith is playing backup for Sanjaya, speaking of godlike figures?  Willie Geist on that when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Here he is, ladies and gentlemen, like a shot of Sambuca after a heavy meal, Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  With the coffee beans, makes it just perfect.  Tucker, we are going to get to that “American Idol” finale in a moment, but we have a long standing policy, as you know on this show that when Donald Trump makes news, we lead with it.  It‘s a respect thing.  It only took about 24 hours for the Donald to speak out on yesterday‘s Rosie O‘Donnell/Elizabeth Hasselbeck slugfest on “The View.”  In a shocker, Trump did not trash Rosie. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, “THE APPRENTICE”:  Well I think Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who called me obnoxious, is correct.  I didn‘t see here say it.  But if she called me obnoxious, she‘s probably 100 percent correct.  In all fairness to Elizabeth, she is sort of known as being the dumbest person on television.  Here‘s a woman who‘s totally in favor of the war in Iraq.  She thinks it is wonderful.  Elizabeth is over her head, I suspect, when she talks about many subjects. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  He always goes for the superlative; the dumbest person on television.  He‘s too good.

CARLSON:  You know what?  The competition for that title is so fierce. 

I‘m not sure she‘s winning.

GEIST:  No way.  That‘s what I was going to say.  There are people on the show right now.  On the screen right now, as a matter of fact.  Hasselbeck, don‘t take the bait on this.  You do not want this fight. 

That‘s my only recommendation.

CARLSON:  Of course you do.  Are you kidding.  Look what it did for Rosie.

GEIST:  Drove her off the show.  By the way, she was not on the air today, did not appear on “The View.”  She said she had a pre-arranged thing.  She wasn‘t supposed to be there anyway.  But I think Hasselbeck may have run her out of town.

Well, the results of last night‘s “American Idol” probably surprised you Tucker, but that‘s because the fact the show exists surprised you as well.  For the rest of the country there was no suspense when Seacrest announced the winner. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN SEACREST, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  Jordan Sparks. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  What a moment.  In a clear repudiation of white guys who beat box, 17-year-old Jordan Sparks beat Blake Lewis to take home the “American Idol” crown.  It was a star studded finale that featured performances by past winners and by actual music stars.  The night‘s most upsetting moment came when Gil Perry, the lead guitarist for Aerosmith was relegated to playing behind Sanjaya as Sanjaya sang “You Really Got Me.” 

A little girl cried again in the crowd.  The Joe Perry/Sanjay post-song hug may stand forever as the moment the music died.  Tucker, this was a big deal.  After the finale last night, they cut away to the crowd.  You saw Jerry Springer and David Hasselhoff, the crying girl.  It was a veritable creature cantina of the United States of America.  It was quite a spectacle. 

CARLSON:  You are making me regret having gone out to dinner last night. 

GEIST:  You should have seen it.  It was almost like they had placed these bizarre characters in our society and took one second cut aways.  Did you see that?  Was that Hasselhoff?

CARLSON:  I almost feel like I‘m not an American citizen that I didn‘t see it. 

GEIST:  You‘re not.

CARLSON:  I‘m not in the mainstream. 

GEIST:  I will send you a tape.  Tucker, let me ask you a question, how much would you pay to kiss George Clooney?  Do not answer that.  At an auction held during the Cannes Film Festival last night to raise money for AIDS research, a woman gave 350,000 dollars to go on stage and kiss Clooney. 

The kiss came as part of a yacht vacation being auctioned off by Sharon Stone.  The woman‘s boyfriend put up the cash for the kiss and he has not heard from her since.  Is that sort of Tucker like putting up the money or buying the rope for your own hanging?  She already wants to be with George Clooney, obviously, and you‘re going to facilitate that?  What are you doing? 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think I‘ve ever heard of something more masochistic than that.  By the look of the video, unless you enhance that, I am not sure she would need to pay for that. 

GEIST:  No, that was my first thought too.  I‘m glad you brought up that point. 

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s true.

GEIST:  Interesting.  I bet there was more to that story later  in the evening. 

CARLSON:  That is just the tip of the iceberg. 

GEIST:  He is a smooth sucker Clooney, makes me mad.   

CARLSON:  He is, I like him. 

GEIST:  Well, the peaceful nature, Tucker, of Tibetan Monks put to test in Kansas City this week when days of their work was erased by a little punk toddler.  The monks had painstakingly created an elaborate sand sculpture in the city‘ Union Station.  But watch now—take a look at the little kid coming up here in a spot shadow.  Watch him.  He walks under the security rope and then just does a little baby tap dance all over the art. 

It takes mom a few seconds to realize what is going on.  You will see her come into the picture and whisks the kid away, a little one hander under the rope.  The monks say they will just start again from the beginning.  Absolutely destroyed it. 

A couple of weeks ago, Tucker, we showed—I think it was from Malaysia --  a monk brawl.  So we know what they‘re capable of.  They will fight and this had to bring them right to the brink, I would think.

CARLSON:  That is just bad karma.  That is like breaking a mirror times 10.  I wouldn‘t want to be that kid. 

GEIST:  Tap dancing on monk art, bad idea.

CARLSON:  Unbelievable.  Willie Geist, always unbelievable, thanks a lot.  That does it for us.  Thank you for watching.  Up next HARDBALL with Chris Matthews.  We‘re 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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