updated 5/30/2007 12:57:40 PM ET 2007-05-30T16:57:40

Guests: Michael Capuano, A.B. Stoddard, Eugene Robinson, Medea Benjamin

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show.  The unilateral foreign policy known as the Bush doctrine has evolved into something harder to categorize lately. 

First Iraq, days after President Bush expressed unprecedented interest in November‘s Iraq Study Group recommendation, his current war policy, the current offensive led by General David Petraeus, made May the deadliest month for U.S. troops since December, 2004.  Ten American soldiers killed in Iraq on Memorial Day after The New York Times reports that the Bush administration is now considering a 50 percent reduction in troop levels by next year. 

Then there is Iran.  On Monday, American and Iranian officials met to discuss the war in Iraq.  That meeting, which was the first of its kind since the Islamic revolution in 1979, occurred as Iran resisted the world‘s demands to curtail pursuit of nuclear weapons.  It formally charged three Iranian-Americans with espionage   And according to American intelligence, armed anti-American insurgents in Iraq. 

Finally the Bush foreign policy encompassed Sudan and the ethnic violence in the Darfur region of that country.  This morning President Bush imposed tougher sanctions on the government of Sudan and pressed the U.N. to do more to end violence there. 

To the people of Darfur, Mr. Bush said: “I promise the United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges of the conscience of the world.” 

So which of Mr. Bush‘s evolving policies, in Iraq, Iran, in Sudan, will be effective and which won‘t, and which is well-advised and which is not?  And more broadly, what is American foreign policy these days?  Joining us now, Democratic congressman from Massachusetts and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Sudan, Michael Capuano. 

Congressman, thanks for coming on. 


CARLSON:  You must have seen The New York Times piece this weekend which surveyed Iraqi politicians, military planners in this country, leaders really in the U.S. and Iraq, and determined that there is an absolute consensus, from left, right, center, that when the United States pulls out of Iraq, the killing in that country will increase. 

Given that, as a human rights advocate, I suppose you are not for pulling out of Iraq, right? 

CAPUANO:  I think that the killing will increase regardless of whether we are there or not.  The question is whether our presence there will avert it.  And I don‘t see it happening and I don‘t see it happening in any long term. 


CARLSON:  That‘s not what Iraqi politicians tell The New York Times.  They say, yes, the United States presence there is a problem, and it enflames the insurgency, there is no question about it.  But it will be worse when we leave.  That was the consensus.

CAPUANO:  If I were an Iraqi politician, I would prefer to have the Americans there as well, because it would be Americans getting kid instead of Iraqis.  I don‘t want anyone to die.  But at the same time, as I see Iraq, when we leave, they will continue and probably expand their civil war. 

I think that‘s unfortunate.  I think that we helped stir this problem, at the same time, I don‘t think that our presence is really going to deter, it‘s just going to delay it. 

CARLSON:  But you will concede that when we leave things will get worse, at least in the short term? 

CAPUANO:  I have thought that for a long time, yes, unfortunately I have.  And that‘s one of the reasons why I don‘t think we can leave the region. 

CARLSON:  OK.  What is interesting, and the reason I ask you these questions, is you are also an advocate for increased intervention in Darfur on behalf of the people there.  And the two don‘t seem to mesh.  They don‘t seem to make sense as a coherent idea about America‘s relationship to the rest of the world.

CAPUANO:  Because Darfur is not an equal-sided civil war.  Darfur is a genocide.  The president has used the word, others have used the world, and there is a difference between a genocide where an armed people simply massacres an unarmed people, versus a civil war.  They is a difference—they are just different things. 


CARLSON:  Well, how are they different?  So people are still dying in huge numbers and the United States can make an effort to reduce the killing.  So I don‘t—I mean, it seems a semantic difference.  What is the real difference? 

CAPUANO:  Well, I don‘t think it is a semantic difference at all.  I think that in many ways by us going into Iraq, we lit the fuse that led to the killings that will happen in Iraq.  In Darfur, we did not do anything.  Actually, we are doing very little right now.  We could help stop this. 

This is not a military issue, this is a humanitarian issue, and since these people are unarmed and innocent, they are not in the middle of a civil war, I think it‘s a significantly different thing than jumping in the middle of a civil war. 

CARLSON:  So the killing in Iraq is our fault, but the killing in Darfur is also our fault?

CAPUANO:  I did not say it was our fault.  But certainly there was not a civil war going on before we went in to Iraq.  That is non-debatable.  It was under the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, like many others.  And there were people dying at his hand, but not anything that we had done, number one.

Number two is whether we went in, we should—if we had gone in with true international associations. I think the situation would have been different.  But by going in unilaterally, by not finishing the job, by doing many of the things we did, we just did nothing but exacerbate the situation. 

That‘s not the case in Sudan.  And to say that everyone who dies around the world is dying for the same reason and we should be everywhere I think is a ludicrous proposition. 

CARLSON:  Well, I am not suggesting that at all.  I‘m just having trouble making sense of when we should commit our money and American lives and when we shouldn‘t.  You are saying that part of the problem in Iraq was we did not go in with an umbrella of international support. 

Are you struck, then, as someone who clearly values the U.N.?

CAPUANO:  I think it‘s part of the reason. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Part of the reason.

CAPUANO:  I think it is part of the reason...


CARLSON:  Now why isn‘t the U.N. doing more to—if the U.N. is such a useful institution, why—I mean, they are useless, aren‘t they?  Wouldn‘t they be stopping the genocide there if they were useful?

CAPUANO:  They are somewhere between useless and useful.  I don‘t disagree that they could and should be doing more.  And the U.N. has never been one of my favorite organizations.  At the same time, I also know that the U.N.‘s existence is better than its non-existence. 

I don‘t pretend that they would have done on any situation I can think of what they should be doing to the full measure, including in Iraq before we got in.  So I‘m not going to sit here and defend the U.N.‘s every actions.  But I don‘t think that they are completely useless.  And I certainly think that in Darfur they could and should be doing much more. 

CARLSON:  It‘s interesting though, because you were quick to say the United States is partly culpable for what is going on in Darfur, because we haven‘t stepped in when we could have.  But I notice you did not mention the U.N. until I brought it up.  Do you hold the U.N. as responsible as you hold the United States or less? 

CAPUANO:  More so, way more so, much more so.  I think the U.N.—in Darfur, the U.N. has a responsibility as an international organization.  This is an international issue, it‘s not a United States issue.  Unfortunately, we may be the only players in the world who are both capable and possibly willing to actually do it. 

It absolutely, positively should be a U.N. responsibility.  But to sit here and do nothing while those who are responsible do nothing I think makes us part of the irresponsibility. 

CARLSON:  Would you advocate putting American troops on the ground in Darfur in any role at all? 

CAPUANO:  Yes, I would.

CARLSON:  Yes, you would.  OK.

CAPUANO:  Yes, I would.

CARLSON:  And very quickly...


CAPUANO:  As a last resort.  It should be U.N. troops, it should be A.U. troops, it should be anybody but us.  But, again, if it is nobody or us, then the U.S. should do something. 

CARLSON:  OK.  So American troops should potentially go into Darfur but should leave Iraq?


CARLSON:  All right.  Thanks a lot, Congressman, I appreciate it. 

CAPUANO:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Coming up, Barack Obama‘s wife shares his dirty laundry with the campaign crowds.  Will her candor about his household habits help win votes, or does it emasculate him?

Plus, George W. Bush ran for a president in 2000 as a compassionate conservative, but does that really mean liberal?  We‘ll tell you.  You are watching MSNBC.  


CARLSON:  New analysis by the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life indicates a landmark shift within the Republican Party.  Social conservatives are now backing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and it appears to be all about electability.  Forty-four percent of social conservatives say Giuliani has “the best chance” of becoming president in ‘08 and they like him as a result. 

Joining me now to make sense of these numbers, associate editor of The Hill, A.B. Stoddard; and Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson. 

Welcome to you both.  Gene, this—the Giuliani juggernaut just continues to confuse, well, A.B. Stoddard and I, among many others.  It just doesn‘t stop.  And the very people you expect to stop him, social conservatives, appear to be rolling over, laying down, whatever, pick your metaphor, but they‘re not—you know, they like the guy.  Why is that? 

EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST:  It confuses me.  I don‘t know.  Have they met him?  I mean, have they read either or do they know what his views on these issues?  I have always thought, and I guess I still think that if the Democrats—if he gets nominated, and the Democratic nominee can‘t drive a wedge between Giuliani and the Republican social conservatives, the Democrats need to find another line of work. 

I mean, it just doesn‘t make sense to me that they are really going to stick with him for the distance.  But  they are sticking with him so far...

CARLSON:  Something I have noticed in—a Democratic consultant working for one of the frontrunners on that side said to me last week, he said, have you noticed how my candidate and some of the other Democrats have not been attacking Giuliani.  Why is that? 

We don‘t want to waste our time.  We are convinced he cannot be the nominee of the Republican Party.  Interesting, is that your impression? 

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL:  Well, first of all, and I said this before, he is the one they are the most afraid of.  He is the one they don‘t want to be running against in the general election. 

I am beginning to think in the last few weeks that it is very clear that Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson are running.  And I think this is going to be a very different game very soon. 

Now Gingrich says November, but I really think that a lot of ground shifts if they get in.  It doesn‘t mean that Rudy Giuliani is not the frontrunner and not in a great position of strength.  I think it is actually much more trouble for Mitt Romney and John McCain if those two get in. 

But I really think that there is a question now and it will soon be answered, but we are not sure of it, about whether or not the Republican Party is truly transforming.  You see in these numbers that conservatives are willing to back him because he is the most electable. 

But their leaders, Tony Perkins, Richard Land, and Dr. Dobson, are still opposed to him being the nominee.  And I think they are still powerful figures he has not tried to court.  And I think that other candidates, if they get in, like Fred Thompson, et cetera, Newt Gingrich, can slow him down. 

CARLSON:  But electability is not a principle.  Electability, right, is a practical fact.  Someone is electable or he is not.  The idea that social conservatives, whose very existence is predicated on their adherence to certain principles—we are right, you know, we believe in this, we don‘t believe in that, and that‘s it, join our side or not.  The fact that they are suddenly so concerned about electability tells you that they don‘t really exist anymore—does in a way. 

ROBINSON:  Well, you know...

CARLSON:  Like, what does it mean to be a social conservative if you‘re supporting a guy...


ROBINSON:  That‘s a good question.  You build a big tent and a whole lot of people come in.  There was the original social conservative movement.  When movements start, they have pure ideology and as they age and as they grow and as they welcome others into the tent, they start worrying about other things, including success. 

CARLSON:  But—but—but, I mean, the whole—the reason that movement exists is the 1973 Roe V Wade decision.  That‘s the whole reason it began.  So if you think about it, it‘s like a civil rights candidate supporting segregation.  The fact that it‘s...


ROBINSON:  That makes absolutely no sense.  This is a committed pro-choice candidate. 

CARLSON:  Who wants the government—or says the government ought to pay for abortion.  I mean, there is nothing more offensive...

STODDARD:  I don‘t he‘s going to run on that this time. 


ROBINSON:  ... he hasn‘t taken it back.  And I think he is not going to take it back. 

CARLSON:  So this is the single—something like 40-odd percent, David Kuhn has a really piece in The Politico today on the subject, just wrote a book on this whole question or something close to it. Forty-two, roughly, percent of Republican voters are so-called social conservatives. 

If that group disintegrates, no long hangs together as a group, can the Republican Party ever be the majority party, at least in our lifetime?  I mean, how?

STODDARD:  I am not sure.  But I mean, as Gene said, I mean, with the big tent, I mean, there are economic conservatives—there are different types of conservatives that are looking for a strong candidate. 

And Rudy Giuliani—I mean, Tom Edsall making the case also in The New Republic about whether or not Rudy Giuliani is going to luck into a moment when the party has evolved and is transforming over different issues. 

That if Rudy Giuliani, who has a good tax-cutting record, is going to be good on Iraq and is going to also appeal to them on immigration, can build a candidacy on those issues and not on the social conservative issues, he just might be the man, because this might be the moment for him. 

CARLSON:  He might be the man, and this might be the moment, and absolutely right and that‘s great, and I am not attacking Rudy Giuliani, I‘m merely noting that if he were to become the nominee, it‘s kind of over for the Republican Party as we know it. 

STODDARD:  It‘s over for the social conservatives. 

ROBINSON:  Right.  The social conservatives.

STODDARD:  They will make themselves less...


STODDARD:  ... Republican Party.

ROBINSON:  Well, but they might—you know, if he wins, that means they are no longer the backbone, I think.  I mean...


CARLSON:  Well, there is no doubt!  There‘s no doubt!  It‘s a totally different party.  It‘s amazing!  It‘s happening in slow motion so you hardly notice it. 

Still to come, thousands of Venezuelans take to the streets to protest after their president pulls the plug on the last opposition TV channel in the whole country.  Why is Hugo Chavez taking these stations off the air and how do his fans on the American left feel about it?  Calling Harry Belafonte. 

Plus, Barack Obama‘s wife is hitting the campaign trail, helping her husband to win the presidency.  She‘s letting voters know the real Barack Obama, the one who doesn‘t put the butter away and can‘t make his bed.  Will America elect a man whose wife publicly laments his piggish behavior?  You are watching MSNBC. 


CARLSON:  How important is a candidate‘s spouse?  Look no further than Bill Clinton, a former candidate and president who knows a thing or two about a wife who sticks with you for better or worse.  But can a spouse sink a candidate‘s chances?  Let‘s check the “Obameter” and find out.

Senator Barack Obama‘s wife Michelle is the first to admit that she is outspoken.  And she is.  But is it necessary to publicly humiliate her husband with tails of dirty socks, unmade beds, butter left out to melt on the dinner table, et cetera. 

Can this possibly be helping his campaign at the very same moment he is unveiling a plan for universal health care?  And what about that plan, can it work?  More to the point, who is going to pay for it?  Joining us now, associate editor of The Hill, A.B. Stoddard; and Washington Post columnist, Eugene Robinson.

Gene, I want to put up a quote from Michelle Obama, this is part of the shtick.  This is something to the effect that she says in almost every campaign appearance.  She says this—she says: “There is the Barack Obama who lives in my house”—she is talking about the Barack Obama phenomenon, “then there is the Barack Obama who lives in my house, that guy is not as impressive.  He still has trouble putting his socks away in the dirty clothes.  He still doesn‘t do a better job than our 5-year-old daughter at making his bed.  So you have to forgive me if I am a little stunned at this whole Barack Obama thing.” 

In other words, he‘s kind of a schmuck.  My feelings would be hurt if my wife said that about me.  I think less of him for putting up with that.  Actually I think it‘s emasculating.  Why does he put up with that? 

ROBINSON:  Well, you know, it‘s a shtick, obviously.  And she wouldn‘t be freelancing in doing this.  I mean, I think it‘s meant to humanize him.  I think it‘s meant to paint this kind of domestic tableau.  I think it is meant to speak to women and women voters in a strong and confident, you know, “us girls” kind of voice. 


ROBINSON:  And so it‘s a shtick.  I think it‘s getting a little bit old, actually, I mean, she has been doing this for a while. 

CARLSON:  Well, but don‘t you want—OK.  So the spouse knows the candidate better than anybody, presumably.  When Bill Clinton gets out there and says, my wife is the greatest person in the world and should be president, I don‘t care for Clinton or his wife, but I like that. 

I think, you know what, he is out there behind her and I appreciate that.  When Elizabeth Edwards says, I may be terminally ill but my husband is the best man for president, and I support him no matter what, I think, boy, you know, that says a lot.  This...

STODDARD:  I‘m sure she‘ll say that later.  I mean, look, it‘s a little bit too cutesy.  It‘s not as grating as Hillary Clinton trying to fake that whole, you know, searching for my campaign song video that she made. 

But hey, listen, if she got out there and said that he was the best cook and he regaled the kids with pirate stories until 11:00 at night, and he was a poet... 


STODDARD:  ... I know.  So basically I actually think this does appeal to people.  And I think that it is an Oprah nation.  And I think that people want to know everything.  And she is playing to women. 

This is a foil for Hillary Clinton.  This is a—you get the strong woman and the real talk.  And this is a real marriage.  And you get the package here.  And it really is playing off the fact that the Clintons appear to Obama supporters—and people who Obama appeals to in the Democratic Party, those are the people that don‘t like and don‘t trust Hillary Clinton. 

They have to play off of this.  And so what they‘re saying is we are real and we are Ozzie and Harriet or whatever.  Those people over there just have a machine and they have a manufactured domestic life. 

ROBINSON:  There‘s something about the shtick, though.  It‘s like all these TV commercials and TV shows where the guy is always the schlub.  He is always incompetent.  He can‘t find the front door. 


ROBINSON:  And the wife is, oh, it‘s just a man.  Men are all like that and that sort of thing.  And I think it‘s kind of unfortunate that they launched on that motif...


CARLSON:  Well, it‘s so...


CARLSON:  It‘s like a sitcom.  But doesn‘t it make you think less of him?  It‘s like, why do you—you know, be a man.  Say, I‘m sorry, Mrs. Obama, you are not running for president.  Support me or not, but don‘t criticize me in public.  What the hell is that?  Wouldn‘t you be wounded if your wife said that about you?  I have never heard her say that, by the way. 

ROBINSON:  Nor have I.  I hope she doesn‘t say that about me.  But I mean, this is obviously a campaign decision, and—which he must have participated in.  And so—you know, so obviously it doesn‘t offend him. 

CARLSON:  God, I like the guy.  This makes me a little concerned.  Everyone is for universal health care now.  I‘m sure you‘ve got your own plan.  I know I do.  Is this a prerequisite on the Democratic side to guarantee health—you know, to go to socialized medicine?  That is just kind of everybody has to have one?

STODDARD:  You have to be for universal health care and you have to avoid putting a number on it and saying how it‘s going to get paid for.  But he actually came out and said that it would require a repeal of the temporary—which I love, this is now called the temporary Bush tax cut. 

That‘s the language that you use when you are going to take it back.  And so he actually did come out and say...


STODDARD:  ... to the wealthiest Americans.  But he wouldn‘t put a tag on it.  And that‘s the way—you know, you have to dodge the numbers. 

CARLSON:  You notice that John Edwards is the only one who has even attempted to put a number on it. 


CARLSON:  Yes, exactly!  It doesn‘t—hasn‘t helped him at all! 


CARLSON:  So is this—I mean, you just come out and say, you know what, I am for universal health care, have always been. 

ROBINSON:  Right, right, right, right. 

STODDARD:  You have to be.

ROBINSON:  And we will have it if you elect me president...


CARLSON:  ... assumptions have changed so much in the last 10 years.  Ten years ago that was considered—you know, do you want the Canadian system or the British system, which everyone recognizes are crappy.  Now, everyone says, yes. 

ROBINSON:  Well, because there is a healthcare crisis.  There are a lot of uninsured Americans.  This is a major, major cost for a lot of people.  And yes, I mean, you know, everybody eventually gets care.  But do you really want hundreds of people waiting in an emergency room for kind of routine care that should‘ve been take of?  Blah, blah—you know, all the reasons why...


CARLSON:  But the assumptions have changed, it‘s not just my imagination?

ROBINSON:  No, no.  I mean, people have realized it is broken, I think.

CARLSON:  God.  Up next, George W. Bush is one of the most conservative presidents ever, ever in history!  That‘s the perception, anyway.  Is it, in fact, true? 

Plus, Venezuela‘s last opposition television station is yanked off the air by the government.  And here‘s the response.  You are watching it there.  So if President Hugo Chavez is launching an attack on freedom of speech, and indeed he is, why are some American liberals still defending him?  We‘ll talk to on in a minute.  This is MSNBC, the most impressive name in news.  



CARLSON:  President Bush appears to be changing his war policy in Iraq.  Late last week, he spoke of his interest in the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group.  That‘s the group whose November report was largely ignored by the same administration, the Bush administration.  Over the weekend, the “New York Times” reported that the president and his advisors are developing concepts which could reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq by as many as 50 percent by next year. 

And as the administration‘s strategy evolves, the “L.A. Times” reports that senior military officials doubt the possibility of achieving three of President Bush‘s goals, the sharing of oil revenues, provincial elections and the integration of more Sunni Arabs into the Iraqi government by the time General David Petraeus makes his progress report this September. 

Have we passed the beginning of the end in Iraq?  Here with their views, we welcome associate editor of the “Hill,” A.B. Stoddard and “Washington Post” columnist Eugene Robinson.  Welcome to you both.  Before we go further, the “Wall Street Journal” is reporting that the Bush administration has nominated—or will nominate Bob Zellock (ph), former deputy secretary of state, now at Goldman Sachs, to replace Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank. 

Interesting.  I want to put up on the screen Paul Wolfowitz‘s explanation for why he left the World Bank, which I thought was quite telling, not to beat on a dead guy, since he‘s gone, but I can‘t resist.  Here is what Paul Wolfowitz says, quote, “I think it tells us more about the media than about the bank.  I will leave it at that.  People were reacting to a whole string of inaccurate statements.  By the time we got to anything approximating accuracy, the passions were around the bend.  I accept the fact that by the time we got to that emotions were so over heated that I don‘t think I could have accomplished what I wanted to have accomplished for the people I really care about.” 

In other words, his problem was the same problem we have been having in Iraq since day one, according to the administration, the media.  What have you done, Alexandra, as a member of that media to destroy Paul Wolfowitz and why? 

STODDARD:  I tried to stop him from rigging the pay raise for his girlfriend.  When in doubt, blame the media.  It‘s always effective.  It always works.  I thought it was pretty interesting that he was willing to say that the environment became so poisoned that he could no longer—he didn‘t have to be kicked out.  He knew it was time to leave. 

ROBINSON:  He made the decision.

CARLSON:  Does anybody ever admit fault?  I mean, this guy is the intellectual architect of this thing that is hurting our country, Iraq.  Shouldn‘t he get up and say, I‘m sorry, a lot of my understandings were wrong?  Shouldn‘t he?

ROBINSON:  He should and he should also say to the World Bank, I‘m sorry.  I got a sweetheart deal for my girlfriend with a salary greater than that of the secretary of state.  But he won‘t, I don‘t think.  He will blame us. 

CARLSON:  Pretty unbelievable.  Back to the administration.  There was a fascinating in the “New York Times” on Saturday that said there is debate under way at the White House to cut combat forces in Iraq by 50 percent by next year.  This coming five days after the “San Francisco Chronicle” reported just the opposite. 

Let‘s put the headlines up on the screen.  This is the “New York Times” Saturday, “White House is said to debate 2008 Cut in Iraq Combat Forces by 50 Percent.”  “San Francisco Chronicle,” less than a week before, “Bush could double force by Christmas.”  So, Gene, I guess the real headline here is we know squat about what is going to happen in Iraq. 

ROBINSON:  We know squat.  That‘s the basic situation.  We don‘t know what they are going to do.  The subsidiary question, and actually the more important question, I‘m not sure if they know what they are going to do.  I think I know what George Bush wants to do.  I don‘t think he wants to draw down forces substantially, because the politics, which will be affected by a drawn down, are not as important to him.  And I think Iraq and his legacy and his deep belief in this war—I think he is going to keep substantial troops there through next year. 

That‘s just what I think.  We don‘t really know. 

CARLSON:  You heard Congressman Capuano even say—he is, I would say, an anti-war liberal.  I am not attacking him, but I think it‘s a fair description of his positions.  Even he said, A.B., that we have to keep some troops in Iraq.  That is the consensus.  Nobody is for pulling out everybody. 

STODDARD:  I think the question is no longer withdrawal and ending the war by the ‘08 election.  The question is some kind of new direction, a change in strategy, a drawing down and a drawing back, a redeployment and I guess the administration right now is talking about these concepts.  And they are talking about targeting al-Qaeda more specifically and more profoundly. 

For the Democrats—for the Republicans in Congress, they have alerted the administration that they are going to break off in huge numbers in the next two, three months.  So the administration is having these brain-storming sessions where nothing is really specific.  Again, they are talking concepts.  They know that if these political benchmarks, these goals for the Iraqi government, are not met by September, there isn‘t a concept in the world that‘s going to help stop the political onslaught coming from their party.

But I think at this point no one is talking about a withdrawal.  I think everyone is talking about drawing back.  I think Republicans in Congress are going to break from the administration and try to run in the next election on, we helped achieve a new direction in Iraq. 

CARLSON:  I think that‘s absolutely right.  In the face of all this, we learned the semi-tragic, from a media point of view, news that Cindy Sheehan is now resigning from public life.  Here is Mrs. Sheehan‘s statements, given of course to DailyKos.com: “Goodbye America,” she says.  “This is my resignation letter as the face of the American Anti-War movement.  The system forcefully resists being helped and eats up the people who try to help it.  I‘m getting out before it totally consumes me.”  Too late for that.—“or any more of the people I love.  Goodbye America.  You are not the country I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can‘t make you be that country unless you want it.”

This is I would say probably the greatest news ever for the anti-war movement that Cindy Sheehan, friend of Hugo Chavez and other dictators, this kind of self-discrediting figure is gone.  

ROBINSON:  I will say this about Cindy Sheehan, who turned out to be an unusual person.  There was a moment at which she really did provide a face and a focus for an anti-war movement that was just kind of starting to develop and find its voice.  When she went down to Crawford and had the encampment out there, I think that was an important moment.  She was the central figure in it.  I think that should be recognized. 

STODDARD:  I think we‘re in a period of where the anti-war left is really disappointed in the fact that the Democrats don‘t have enough votes in Congress to override a veto and change the direction of the war.  They had to relent on the spending.  Though they dragged it out for a few months and moved the political ball down the field, the anti-war left is unhappy right now.  They are going to turn on the Democratic party. 

We‘re entering this period where the Republicans in Congress are going to join the Democrats.  But the Democrats‘ anti-war supporters are very disappointed. 

CARLSON:  In the end, they will eat themselves. 

ROBINSON:  Where are they going to go politically? 

CARLSON:  That‘s true.  Mike Gravel—there could be—I bet if Hillary Clinton is nominated on the Democratic side, you could see an anti-war third party candidate.  That‘s just—maybe it‘s just my hope.

Speaking of politics, Richard Cohen in the “Washington Post,” interesting, interesting piece today—you‘re colleague over there Gene—about the president.  “Bush the Neo-liberal;” he makes the case that actually Bush as an internationalist, someone who believes in nation building, someone who‘s for diversity for its own sake, is actually not so right wing as people have said. 

The Bush administration right now, the Justice Department, is suing the fire department of New York, FDNY, because it is not racially diverse enough.  Can you call—you may agree with that.  You may disagree.  But can you call Bush an unreconstructed right winger when his administration does things like that? 

ROBINSON:  Well, I have always thought that George W. Bush does believe in diversity.  I think he does.  He has taken a stand on immigration.  That is not what his party wants. 

CARLSON:  He said today, if you‘re against his position on immigration, you‘re against helping America. 

ROBINSON:  In some other ways though, I think he is profoundly conservative, in his view of government—government regulation, of any sort of aspect of business or environmental issues or whatever.  He seems to be bed rock conservative on those issues. 

CARLSON:  He‘s pro-corporate, no doubt about that.  

ROBINSON:  Well, pro-corporate, anti-big government interference, that sort of thing.  I think he really believes that and has tried harder than just about any president to effect his views. 

CARLSON:  Then, if that‘s true, why was his first response to 9/11 to create a whole new federal agency that we definitely didn‘t need, the Department of Homeland Security, so called? 

ROBINSON:  I didn‘t say it was consistent.  I said in some ways he is profoundly conservative and in other ways, he is not. 

CARLSON:  He seems like a screaming liberal to me and has always from day one.  Maybe it shows how far out I am, but has presided over this massive increase in the size of the government.

STODDARD:  Yes, he has.  There‘s a lot of contradictions about him.  And Richard Cohen is making the case that if he didn‘t go in to Iraq—that he went in for compassionate reasons.  He went in to do the right thing, to bring good, to triumph over evil.  And the problem the critics of the invasion have is that they didn‘t plan for the peace and it was hardly compassionate, because they sort of decimated Iraq.   

CARLSON:  The road to hell, what‘s it paved with?  Good intentions.  Very quickly, Gene, latest poll out of Iowa, amazing, at least for Mitt Romney.  Let‘s put it up on the screen.  Mitt Romney, 30 percent, next highest, John McCain at 18, Rudy at 17, Tommy Thompson seven, Sam Brownback at five. 

That‘s not even close.  Mitt Romney dramatically ahead according to the “Des Moines Register.”  This puts him—I mean, he is the front runner.  This is a big deal contest this year. 

ROBINSON:  It‘s a big deal contest.  You know, I think watching the debates, I think he‘s a very attractive candidate.  He‘s a very well spoken candidate.  He says the right things.  But we are still in a phase of the campaign where, you know, you see things and you don‘t really believe them.  It‘s hard to really believe what you are seeing.  So who knows if this is real three or four months from now, especially if Gingrich and Thompson get in and then the race changes.

CARLSON:  It‘s just so much better than I ever thought he would do.  Shows you what I know, nothing. 

STODDARD:  Again, the field is weak.  John McCain is not doing as well as anybody thought he would.  Rudy Giuliani is doing better.  And again, I really do think these other cats are going to get in and it‘s going to be trouble for Mitt Romney.  John Edwards is ahead in Iowa.  It is a little bit—I don‘t know that it says so much. 

CARLSON:  All I know is every single one of my predictions has been not just wrong, but dramatically wrong.  So my advice is don‘t listen to me when I predict, because I don‘t know squat. 

STODDARD:  We never do. 

CARLSON:  I‘m glad.  Thank you both very much.  Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez charmed more than his share of American liberals with cheap oil and his colorful hatred of President Bush.  Where are those liberals now that Chavez is shutting down television stations that dare disagree with him?  Good question.

Plus, Miss USA fell in humiliating line with the rest of America‘s recent international efforts.  She fell on her butt and got booed.  Tara Connor, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.  Willie Geist, needless to say, has a full report on MSNBC. 


CARLSON:  The apparent successor to Fidel Castro‘s brand of socialism is mixing things up once again.  This weekend Hugo Chavez shut down one of the main television stations in Caracas because it was critical of his administration.  That move sent thousands of people into the streets to protest, but not in this country, where some places Chavez remains remarkably popular.  Joining us now, Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange, a group that organizes tours of Chavez supporting Venezuelan neighborhoods, co-ops and government financed media outlets.  Medea thanks for coming on. 

MEDEA BENJAMIN, GLOBAL EXCHANGES CO-FOUNDER:  Thanks for having me on Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I want to do something to cruel to you.  I want to read your own quote back.  Here is what you wrote last year, I believe.  Quote, “Another basic myth”  -- this is a piece about myths about Venezuela—“is that Chavez has limited freedom of speech and eroded civil rights.”  That was March 4th, 2006.  Do you want to revise that given the news that Hugo Chavez has closed the last nationally broadcast opposition television station for criticizing him? 

BENJAMIN:  Well that‘s just not true Tucker.  What he did is he didn‘t renew the license.  But there are still television shows, and television stations owned and run by the opposition media.  I think that you hear more opposition to the government in Venezuela than you would here in the United States.  That‘s in the TV, in the radio and in the print media. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know what you have been smoking, Medea, but you are saying that this president just closed a television station because it criticized him, but somehow Venezuela has a freer press than America? 

BENJAMIN:  He did not close it because it criticized him.  He closed it because it participated in a coup against a Democratically elected government, his government.  If a television in United States advocated and was part of an effort to topple a Democratically government, the Bush administration let‘s take—I don‘t like it—

CARLSON:  I am reading now from the 360 page white book on RCTV.  This is published by Chavez‘s government.  It accuses RCTV—that‘s the television station in question—of, quote, showing lack of respect for authorities and institutions.  I would think, as a self described liberal, you would stand up for the right of people to, quote, challenge authorities and institutions.  And yet, you are apologizing for the squelching of minority views.  Why could that be? 

BENJAMIN:  Well, there are opposition TV press and print media all over Venezuela.  I don‘t know if you have been there, Tucker, but you can go on a reality tour with us.  You will see it everywhere you go. 

CARLSON:  Why would you—hold on.  Why would you make excuses for that? 

BENJAMIN:  -- that tried to topple a Democratically—

CARLSON:  How can a television—let‘s be real.  You are throwing a very serious charge out there, a charge for which people have been killed in Venezuela.  I am asking you a very simple question, explain how a television station can cause a coup?  They said they did not like the president.  Is that the same as pushing a coup?  I mean, what the hell are you talking about?

BENJAMIN:  They falsified information.  They got people out on the street.  They falsified footage that showed pro Chavez supporters killing people, which did not happen.  They refuse to cover any of the pro Chavez demonstrations.  When Chavez—

CARLSON:  They refuse to cover pro Chavez demonstrations?  I wonder if you are even a tiny bit ashamed that you are apologizing for fascism on national television. 

BENJAMIN:  I wonder if you are ashamed of calling a Democratically elected government a fascist government. 

CARLSON:  He just shut down a television station because that television station, as you put it, did not cover pro government administration.  You have got to be kidding.  You are losing touch here  a little bit.  

BENJAMIN:  It participated in a coup against a Democratically elected government.  If it was done here in the United States, that TV station would not only not be on the air, the people that ran it would probably be in jail right now.  You are holding Chavez to a different standard.  Peru recently did not renew a license.  Uruguay didn‘t renew a license.  Why do you hold Venezuela to a different standard. 

CARLSON:  Medea, I think it‘s very clear that because Chavez hates the United States, you are sympathetic to him and willing to make excuses for his anti-Democratic, anti-liberal behavior.  And it‘s a shame. 

BENJAMIN:  No, it‘s because he takes the oil money and does not give it to reach oil barons like in the United States, but gives it for literacy and health programs. 

CARLSON:  OK, I am glad we have this tape, and I think some day you will be ashamed of it.  But I appreciate your coming on any way.  Medea Benjamin, thanks for joining us. 

BENJAMIN:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  When Al Gore is not telling you how to live your life, he is telling us in the press how to do our jobs.  Gore takes a public shot at Paris Hilton and the people who cover her.  Willie Geist, one of those people, takes great offense.  Details when we come back.  You‘re watching MSNBC. 


CARLSON:  If you are one of the many who sat through the first 54 minutes of this program just for this moment, for the arrival of Willie Geist, wait no more.  Here he is.  From headquarters, Willie Geist.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, I didn‘t sleep through that last segment.  But the pro Chavez movement, no offense to the guests, may want to find a new mouth piece.  I don‘t mean to judge.

CARLSON:  They did not cover a pro government demonstration.  I am not going to break my rule never to criticize a guest when that guest leaves.  So I take that back.  I apologize.   

GEIST:  Good idea, we‘ll just play the tape again later, when she comes back next time.  Well Tucker, we are in some trouble here apparently with Al Gore.  Just when you and I were getting our environmental affairs in order to comply with Gore‘s standards, he swoops in and tells us we need to change the way we do our jobs too.  I can not keep up.

Gore says he is disgusting by the, quote, trivialities and nonsense of celebrity gossip in the mainstream media.  Gore says, quote, “what is it about our collective decision-making process that led us to this state of affairs where we spend much more time in the public forum talking about or receiving information about Britney Spears shaving her head or Paris Hilton Going to jail?”

Now Tucker, obviously, he‘s hitting me where I live.  I traffic in this sort of business.  I take personal offense to Mr. Gore‘s comments.

CARLSON:  Do you know that - reading that, it makes me want to run and apply for a job as a correspondent for “Us Weekly” or better, “OK Magazine.” 

GEIST:  That‘s what this segment is about.  Now Tucker, this segment, I want to dedicate, in honor of that statement, to Mr. Gore.  I think he will enjoy the list of stories.  First of all, one week from today, Paris Hilton is going to jail.  That‘s just a little countdown on the clock.  It starts today.  We are inside one week.  She will be in the slammer June 5th, one week from today. 

So we have covered Paris Hilton.  Let‘s keep the ball rolling.  Unless, Tucker, you were living under a rock over the holiday weekend, or unless you were actually outdoors spending time with your loved ones, you know that Lindsay Lohan had a really rough Memorial Day.  She got into a car accident on Sunset Boulevard early Saturday morning, and the police found a little white powder in the car. 

She must have been running a cup of sugar over to a neighbor at 5:30 a.m.  Then less than 48 hours later, Lohan was photographed slumped over in the passenger seat of a car outside of a L.A. night club.  Look at her there.  Reports now say she has checked in, where else, to the Promises Rehab Facility in Malibu.  A family source has now confirmed that. 

If you remember, that‘s where Britney Spears went after she shaved her head, and, as we all know, that straightened her right out.  Tucker, I know we are supposed to be outraged at the excesses of young Hollywood as we look at those pictures.  I find them a little attractive I have to admit. 

CARLSON:  In one sentence, who is Lindsay Lohan? 

GEIST:  She‘s an actress.  She‘s only 20 years old, which is the scary part of this.  She‘s been a club kid for like five of those years.  So she has been in a couple movies, “Mean Girls,” something else where she was like a twin when she was 12 years old.  But this is spiraling downward.  Tucker, a little commentary, maybe what Al Gore was talking about, you can now buy on eBay pieces of her car that she crashed.  The bumper fell off.  Someone collected them and is now selling them on eBay.  

CARLSON:  Yes, this is Rome, the later years.  There is no doubt.

GEIST:  What did you make of those pictures of her leaning back with her mouth agape?  She was all over the front of the “New York Post,” the “Daily News,” smashed was the headline.

CARLSON:  As somebody who spent four years in college, I judge not. 

GEIST:  It just looks like a gal who‘s had a long night, a little bit pooped there.  She‘ll have 30 days to think about it at Promises.  In other less attractive public melt down news, Rosie O‘Donnell finally spoke out over the weekend about the on air battle about Elizabeth Hasselbeck that ran Rosie off “The View.” 

In a video blog posted on her website, Rosie said she never tried harder in her life to be friends with somebody than she did with Elizabeth.  But alas, it was not meant to be.  Rosie does not see their friendship growing from here. 


ROSIE O‘DONNELL, FORMERLY OF “THE VIEW”:  I have not spoken to her and I probably won‘t.  And I think it‘s just as well.  I wrote her an email and she wrote me back, and there you have it. 


GEIST:  May I suggest, Tucker, a little powder when you are doing a video blog.  In a wonderful twist of irony, Monday‘s Memorial Day episode of “The View” featured Rosie giving her dear friend Elizabeth a birthday gift of a week at her home in Miami.  That episode was, of course, taped before their now infamous fight.  I‘m pretty sure she won‘t take her up on that week.

Now Tucker, I am a journalist.  It‘s what I do.  So I took the time to watch the entire Rosie posting on her website, all 26 minutes worth. 


GEIST:  Yes, it‘s really, really - she is wearing the doo rag.  She‘s looking a little rough.  It‘s Saturday night, Memorial Day weekend.  She‘s drinking a Sam Adams.  She has some sycophant woman next to her, saying yes madam, yes madam to everything she says.  And she really digs deep inside her to tell us what the whole incident meant to her.  She assured us that she will come out on the other end.  Not looking her best right there, I have to say. 

CARLSON:  She looks like she has an unhappier personal life than Lindsay Lohan.   

GEIST:  Much, much.  Tucker let‘s round out the Al Gore Memorial F Block today with at a tough night for Miss USA.  During last night‘s Miss Universe pageant in Mexico City, Miss USA Rachel Smith took a spill during the evening gown competition.  You just hate to see that.  That hurts. 

But then things took an even worse turn, believe it or not, when the hostile Mexican crowd booed Miss USA loudly as she attempted to get through the interview phase of the competition.  Listen.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  OK, uno momento por favore.


GEIST:  That had nothing to do, Tucker, with the falling down part of it.  It had to do with the fact that Mexicans apparently hate USA and took it on out Miss USA.   

CARLSON:  Yes, I think I made up my mind about the immigration bill right then and there.

GEIST:  Did that clinch it for you?

CARLSON:  It kind of did.  Willie Geist, changing my mind once again.  Thanks Willie.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  We‘ll be back tomorrow.  In the meantime, have a great night.



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