Guests: Margaret Carlson, Hilary Rosen, Michael Kaus
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Barack Obama pulls even with Hillary Clinton in a major poll. Fred Thompson feels the heat of blunt critique. Republicans threaten to expel Bill Jefferson from the Congress. Leading Democrats embrace their faith. And the controversial immigration bill. We will bring you all these stories this hour.
But we begin with the fate of Dick Cheney‘s former chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Judge Reggie Walton this morning sentenced Libby to two-and-a-half years in prison. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and defense attorney Ted Wells had argued their cases this morning. Fitzgerald did not suggest a specific sentence.
Wells, meanwhile, argued for leniency because Scooter Libby was a longtime public servant. Among the accomplishments Wells cited was Libby‘s work in planning and preparing both wars, the one in Afghanistan and the one in Iraq. Wells also produced more than 150 letters recommending a lenient sentence. Among them, letters from Donald Rumsfeld, Henry Kissinger, Paul Wolfowitz.
For his part, Scooter Libby said to the Judge Walton: “The court must decide on punishment, I hope that the court will consider along with the jury my whole life.” Well, joining us now is columnist for Bloomberg news, Margaret Carlson.
MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG: Hello, Tucker.
CARLSON: This is a pretty long sentence. Does this feel like—I mean, of all the misdeeds committed by the Bush administration, does this seem like justice to you? The sum of them, of all of the—the justice is Scooter Libby goes to jail for lying for two-and-a-half years?
M. CARLSON: I mean, Alberto Gonzales keeps his job, a lot of other people go on. A lot of other people who didn‘t do a heck of a job are still drawing a pay check and Bush‘s friendship. Scooter Libby—if you get two-and-a-half years when your children are small, that‘s an eternity, that‘s your life.
CARLSON: And his children are small.
M. CARLSON: And his children are small. You know, we have a tendency when we know the people and when it‘s a white collar—as they say, white collar crime, that if someone has suffered at all, they have suffered enough. And I have a hard time not falling into that trap, which is it‘s just hard to see Scooter Libby going off to prison for two-and-a-half years when he was caught up in something bigger than himself.
You know, I‘ve known Scooter, and I‘m sure you have and many people have because he has been in Washington a long time. He didn‘t come from Texas. He has been here, that when he says, consider my whole life, you wish there was a way to do it. Because he was a good—he is a good man and he was leading a good life.
CARLSON: And the irony is, all of the people who comment upon this, the bloggers and the various morons who weigh in on things they don‘t understand, imagine Scooter Libby to be a kind of proto Cheney. You know, some sort of fervent right-winger with this—that is just not—that could not be further from the case.
I mean, Scooter Libby is actually, for whatever it is worth, a lot more liberal than I am, that‘s for sure. I mean, he is.
M. CARLSON: He is. Now, remember when Brent Scowcroft described Dick Cheney once he was vice president, and he said, after knowing him for years, I don‘t know Dick Cheney anymore.
It could be that we don‘t know Scooter Libby anymore, that once he did become part of the Dick Cheney administration and once 9/11 occurred, like so many others, he was captivated by a whole other ethic and philosophy and that it led him to do something that he must know now—certainly he knows now, it was wrong to do, even if it was in a cause bigger than himself.
It was wrong to do. And I wonder if wakes in the night and wonders, why am I the person taking the rap for all of this? It all fell down on Libby.
CARLSON: Well, it did, I mean, this is really, of course, about the Iraq War and all the fury you see directed at Scooter Libby. And by the way, let me just say, I like Scooter Libby, I think he lied. I think lying is unacceptable under oath. So you know, I‘m not defending that.
However, people are mad at Scooter Libby because they are mad about the war in Iraq and just how ironic that he is the fall guy, he is the vessel for all of our frustrations, when this case had nothing to do with the war in Iraq. It had to do the Valerie Plame.
M. CARLSON: I mean, it is the bearing the blunt for the sins of so many others who, by the way, will never be punished. He will be the one here that is punished, or at least the one that we see. And Karl Rove, who was implicated in it certainly, is suffering not at all from this.
But you know, I agree. If you lie and you get caught, you pay a price now. And if you have a prosecutor like Fitzgerald, you pay a big price. I have just such immense—I can‘t get away from the immense sympathy I feel for him, and yet this is what happens and it is a cautionary tale for all of these people in government who do think they are serving a cause higher than themselves and do the work of the boss, which in this case was Dick Cheney, and carry it out, that you may be left to explain yourself when there is no explanation.
CARLSON: And if you think of all the people, however, that I‘ve seen lie—or Sandy Berger going in and stealing national security documents and not getting any time at all, or all of the people who lie in public, who lie under oath, it does seem a bit much.
Should they pardon him and will they pardon him? Will Bush—why wouldn‘t Bush pardon him at this point? Why does he care?
M. CARLSON: You know, I can‘t see why Bush would not. I mean, he has done so many—if you keep Alberto Gonzales in office, certainly you would pardon Scooter Libby. It seems to me there is some.
CARLSON: He won‘t though. I bet you $1,000 he won‘t.
M. CARLSON: Well, the reason he might not is he is not Alberto Gonzales. Scooter Libby is not somebody who was with him in Texas and who has been with him all along the way, willing to do anything. And that‘s another one of the ironies. Scooter Libby was not one of the ones willing to do anything like Alberto Gonzales.
He was his own man. But he got caught up in something bigger than himself and now he is paying a price that I don‘t see anybody else in the Bush administration paying.
CARLSON: Well, you‘re, among many other things, a lawyer. Is he actually going to go to jail? It‘s sort of hard to believe.
M. CARLSON: Well, you know, you can‘t picture it. When you‘re looking at the courthouse and you see him and you see Harriet in the glasses, and you just think, no, he won‘t. And there are appeals, and it will be a while.
But Fitzgerald has had his way and that judge is like a hang ‘em high judge. He hands out very harsh sentences. So he can appeal, but everything is against him at the moment.
CARLSON: Margaret Carlson, from Bloomberg, thanks a lot.
M. CARLSON: Tucker, thanks.
CARLSON: I appreciate it.
Hillary Clinton is the leading Democratic contender right now for the nomination, at least at this moment. Barack Obama though is quickly closing in. Will she be able to fend off the competition?
Plus, Fred Thompson is not even a declared candidate yet, but he is already higher in the polls than some of his Republican counterparts. Is worth the hype? It‘s a question Republicans are asking one another. That‘s a question we‘ll ask when we return.
CARLSON: Hillary Clinton is falling and Barack Obama is on the rise, at least according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll. In just the past month, Obama has erased a 20-point gap between himself and the New York senator.
But that‘s a national poll of all Democrats. Break down the numbers and it‘s a little more complicated than that. In a new Zogby poll, for instance, Clinton is still leading dramatically among women, especially black and Hispanic women, one of the most loyal Democratic voting blocs.
Here to tell us what the numbers mean, where the candidates really are relative to one another, MSNBC political analyst and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen; and senior editor of The New Republic, Michael Crowley.
Welcome to you both. Hilary, the new USA Today poll has Barack Obama at 30, Hillary Clinton at 29. The Hillary Clinton campaign says this is an outlier. This is an anomaly. It is inconsistent with all other national polls, but it seems to me like a lot of people have been waiting for this poll.
You know, with all the hype Obama has, with all the doubts many Democrats have about Hillary Clinton, I‘m kind of surprised it has taken until today to see a poll like this.
HILARY ROSEN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is a little surprising. But first of all, the reason the Clinton campaign thinks that the poll is inaccurate is because it includes independents who are unlikely to vote in a Democratic primary.
ROSEN: But I think, you know, we have seen Obama raise a significant amount of money the first quarter. I think the second quarter he is going to have a very big filing. And so there is a significant Obama kind of primary (ph) that is now showing up in polls.
CARLSON: Just to address the—their point, though, if there was ever a primary season in which independents would vote Democratic, it is this one.
ROSEN: Potentially, or they might—just because of interest. Although that‘s not a likely voter survey, that‘s a Democrats and independents survey.
CARLSON: Right. I just wonder, I mean, why haven‘t we seen the surge
the Barack Obama surge yet? I mean, if the—and this guy has the wind at his back. He has got the sympathy of everybody covering this campaign. What is wrong with him that he isn‘t ahead?
MICHAEL CROWLEY, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Well, exactly—no, I mean, it comes just in time. Because I think we were starting to reach a point where it was hype, hype, hype, hype, and it wasn‘t translating into polls. And I was starting to think, it‘s only people on TV, and (INAUDIBLE) journalists who think that this guy can be president.
So it is happening just in time. And on if flip side, it‘s a mortal threat to Hillary. And you can imagine why they would want to spin against a poll with a lot of vehemence in a case like this because it is a mortal threat to her. Her inevitability seems to be shaken.
An essential rationale of her campaign is, look, she‘s inevitable, get on the train, it‘s leaving the station, that is applies to activists, donors, journalists who want to curry favor with a future president. You know how it works.
So I would imagine it is very terrifying for them. But I am surprised it has taken this long. And then one last point I would add is that I think she has done great in the debates. And I think Obama has a little been lackluster. I don‘t think the debates are a great setting for him. So I am surprised. I expected this to happen two months ago.
ROSEN: . debates are not a great setting for him since supposedly what he has is oratory and.
CARLSON: That‘s exactly right.
ROSEN: . stature and idealism. I think the other thing about these polls that are quite interesting, not in the USA Today poll, but a New York Times poll and a Zogby/Pew poll, is that Hillary Clinton seems to be leading among lower income Democrats, which makes me think that Obama has become kind of the luxury candidate.
CARLSON: Yes! This is so deeply (INAUDIBLE) -- you are totally right! This was my theory from day one.
ROSEN: If people want something from government, if they want a fighter, if they want an aggressive, you know, traditional Democrat, Hillary Clinton is the place they go. If they are looking for some cynicism or idealism about politics, they go to the luxury guy without experience.
CARLSON: . Obama‘s base is not poor people or black people, it‘s upper middle class guilty white liberals. If you went to Oberlin—seriously, if you went to Oberlin and you have a lot of bracelets and big earrings, you are a Barack Obama fan. If you are babysitter in my house, you are for Barack Obama, right?
I mean, and if you‘re a union person, if you are like literally poor, you are for Hillary Clinton. Here—and this is I think a poll that touches on that a little bit. This is a new Zogby/Pew poll. Hillary Clinton—this is among non-white female Democrats. Hillary Clinton 44, Barack Obama 19, spanking him.
But he is the black candidate, shouldn‘t he be—I mean, this does kind of turn on its head in I think a pretty nice way the conventional wisdom about black candidates drawing black support.
CROWLEY: Well, and also there is a pattern. I mean there is sort of a pool out there in every presidential election, for this group of people. So Bruce Babbitt had it. Bill Bradley had it. It‘s the person who talks about it.
And I think that this is a potential major flaw of this campaign, that you talk about the process, you know, politics are broken, campaign finance system is not right, and that really appeals to people who follow politics closely, think about it, feel badly about the state of it.
But I think it‘s exactly right that there are a lot of voters—they don‘t—they just say, what are you going to get done? Are you on my side? Are you going to get this taken care of? I‘ve been waiting for years to have better health care coverage.
And I‘m not interested in whether our politics are broken or not. So it is something that is played time and time again. I think that Obama‘s campaign has a lot of parallels to the Bill Bradley campaign, which I covered for a long time. And for a while, a long time ago—and the Tsongas campaign.
And you know—and that just—when Al Gore finally came out and started throwing Chinese stars and playing really rough, there was just not enough there to stand up against it.
CARLSON: But this—I think Obama has deeper reserves of talent and support, with all due respect to the senator from New Jersey, than Bill Bradley did.
ROSEN: Well, he is clearly is getting a lot more money, Bradley did.
And he is a much more serious candidate, and more serious threat.
CARLSON: Why doesn‘t he run the following campaign? Here‘s the winning campaign for him. He is the insurgent campaign. He is running against the kind of staid, constipated Democratic establishment as embodied by Hillary Clinton. She is the Stalinist candidate, he is the breath of fresh air, not a Baby Boomer. I mean, that‘s the winning campaign.
ROSEN: He is not. John Edwards is running that campaign.
CARLSON: I know! But John Edwards is fatally flawed.
ROSEN: And Barack Obama is not, I think, in some respects taking advantage of the Senate perch to be out there and be the new Mr. Smith comes to Washington.
CARLSON: Why isn‘t he being the young guy?
ROSEN: I don‘t know. I think that his advisers are trying to keep him in this position where he is the uniter. He is trying to be above talking about politics and criticizing.
CARLSON: Ugh, God!
ROSEN: And I think the jury is out as to whether he can sustain that much longer.
CARLSON: One word: barf. I mean, barf. That just is not—that has to be the most tedious campaign idea ever.
CROWLEY: He wants to be president, control the nuclear weapons, I mean, you don‘t want to be too young. You want people to think, you know, you‘ve got the seasonings.
CARLSON: Yes, but you have got to win the nomination. And at this point he‘s going to lose. He‘s going to lose the Democratic nomination and just be one of 100 senators. Do you know what I mean?
CROWLEY: Well, we started out, Tucker, about how good this poll is.
And we circled all .
CARLSON: All things being equal, do you agree Hillary Clinton wins the nomination? All things—I mean, she has all of the advantages.
ROSEN: I think she wins the nomination, but I think we are a long way from there. Barack Obama is raising a huge amount of money. He is not a sideline candidate. He is—he may end up being the number one money raiser in this quarter. And so that is going to carry him a significant way over the next five or six months.
CARLSON: Well, see, the money—I agree, the money—those will be interesting numbers.
Former White House aide Scooter Libby is sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for lying and obstructing justice. Will he be pardoned by the Bush administration?
Plus, some Republicans say Fred Thompson could save the party in 2008, but what do we really know about Fred Thompson and where he stands? Do we know enough to anoint him savior? Some are. You‘re watching MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED THOMPSON ®, POSSIBLE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don‘t think anybody has got all the answers to anything, but I have been in and around government, the political process for a while. But it‘s ultimately up to the American people what they think about it.
There are probably an awful lot of people who think they would make a good president. I think that—I‘ve never desired to hold the office particularly. In fact, not at all, but at this stage of things, I sometimes think that I do desire the opportunity to do some things that only a president can do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Boy, is he mellow. You just heard him say it, Fred Thompson has never even wanted to be president, which may help explain why the 2008 Republican field takes the stage for tonight‘s debate in New Hampshire without Thompson. He won‘t be there.
The question is, does he even really, really want to be there? He may have what it takes to be president, but some doubt whether or not he has what it takes to win the nomination. MSNBC political analyst, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen joins us once again; as does senior editor of The New Republic, Michael Crowley.
Michael, there is a really interesting piece by Richard Cohen in The Washington Post today in which he quotes Fred Thompson saying to him as he left the Senate—intentionally, under his own free will, left the Senate. He said this: “I don‘t want to spend the rest of my life up here. I don‘t like spending 14- and 16-hour days voting on sense of the Senate resolutions on irrelevant matters.”
The point Cohen is making is this guy doesn‘t want it enough. He is not a serious enough person in order to be president. You really have to have a messiah complex, essentially. And Thompson doesn‘t have it. Do you think that is fair?
CROWLEY: Well, there is a little bit of a catch-22 in political journalism, because, you know, John Kerry was sort of taunted with this notion that he was born wanting to be president. He organized his whole life around it.
And then somebody who doesn‘t want to be president is criticized for not having enough fire in the belly. And he shouldn‘t be president. So it doesn‘t bother me that much. And I think that they do waste a lot of time up there in the Senate. And there are probably a lot of senators who really don‘t get that much done, can‘t get that much done.
I think the proof will be in the pudding. If he can—the campaign is trial by fire and if you can really go through with a campaign and days that long, that amount of travel, that amount of abuse and come out on the other end, you are probably qualified to do the job. George Bush came into it seeming like a lazy guy who might not want it.
CROWLEY: Now qualifications, was he a good president? That‘s another question. But I mean.
CARLSON: . absolutely smart to say that. Here‘s—what Thompson has said reminds me of—I remember Bush saying this to me in 1999. You know, I can take it or leave it, his was the Zen candidacy. I don‘t need this. I don‘t believe it in either case. I didn‘t believe it when Bush said it.
I don‘t believe it when Thompson says it.
Nobody runs for president unless he really, really wants it because it‘s too much hassle.
ROSEN: I mean, Bush at least had a record and a philosophy when he was governor of Texas. You could argue about what—whether it was good or not. But I thought the other interesting piece of Richard Cohen‘s story was how many times people are comparing Fred Thompson or Ronald Reagan.
And that Fred Thompson has nowhere near the sense of ideology or the.
ROSEN: . issues that Ronald Reagan had. And so the comparison is really just because they both had an acting career. But importantly, Ronald Reagan actually left his acting career because he believed so passionately in his ideology. Fred Thompson left the Senate and went to be an actor. I mean, of all the things he could have done, he went to go be an actor because he just didn‘t really care that much about anything else.
And I think that that comes back to haunt him when he goes out on the campaign trail and tries to convince people that he has got a passion for governing and policy.
CARLSON: Does he need an issue? I agree with you completely. Does he need an issue? I mean, don‘t—candidates who get in late, seems to me, typically ride an issue or a cluster of issues into the campaign. Nobody is addressing this, says Ross Perot, so I‘m getting in. Ralph Nader made the same argument.
What does Thompson say? Like, what is the idea that is pulling him into this race?
CROWLEY: It‘s not clear to me. It‘s this amorphous sense of a conservative beacon or something. It‘s not entirely clear. I mean, I thought that was something that was weird about his answer in the clip that you just played, was, I never really wanted to do this, and now, though, I kind of feel like there are some things I can do.
Well, what about the guys who are out there? There are a lot of guys who want it, a lot. And they have some particular ideas.
CARLSON: Yes. More than 10 of them, actually.
CROWLEY: Yes. And so, what is different about you? And you know, I think his failure to articulate that is going to -- at some point he has got to articulate that more clearly than he has. So I think you are absolutely right.
But right now it seems to me this amorphous sense of a real conservative, whatever that is. And again, a sort of Reagan-esque figure. But you know, maybe he just kind of bluffs his way through because he looks like a president and he has played one on TV.
CARLSON: And the field is so weak.
ROSEN: His candidacy is an insider candidacy. I mean, as a practical matter, he is running because, you know, a significant portion of conservative Republicans are not happy with the field. And so what they are going to do is place on Fred Thompson all of their hopes and dreams for holding on to the White House.
And I just don‘t know that you can run from the outside in. I think you have to run from the inside out.
CARLSON: You may be absolutely right. What an insult this is to the 10 or more, depending on whether you include John Cox, I think his name is. There are a ton of people running. The whole spectrum is represented in the Republican field right now. And still Republicans have this nagging sense that it‘s not enough, that the guy—the man isn‘t there.
How unbelievably insulting. If you‘re John McCain, you‘ve been running for president since—you know what I mean? Since 1999, and your old pal Fred Thompson basically gets in and gives you the finger.
ROSEN: Well, this is very much an anti-McCain thing, because McCain is not a conservative for the conservatives. Also, an Iowa reporter this week said that if Thompson gets in, it might actually help McCain in Iowa, because he really takes away from Romney in Iowa, who is in the lead. And McCain could then—but Thompson doesn‘t take anything away from McCain.
CARLSON: There are so many contenders. I don‘t even pretend, and hope I never pretend on this show at this stage to understand the Republican nomination race right now.
Barack Obama blames the current president for not doing anything to prevent a quiet riot from erupting among black Americans. He says they are frustrated and hopeless. Will Barack Obama be their savior?
Plus, Congress debates it is bipartisan immigration deal reached with the White House. Could this legislation actually make things worse? This is MSNBC, the place for politics.
CARLSON: Barack Obama was talking about a quiet riot today. And no, it was not a reference to a 1980s heavy metal band, unfortunately. The senator waded into the controversial waters of race during a speech Hampton University in Virginia. He said the Bush administration has done little to quell a brewing storm among some black Americans. He compared the current tension to what fueled the L.A. riots in the wake of the Rodney King verdict.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: These quiet riots that take place every day are born from the same place as the fires of destruction and the police decked out in riot gear and death. They happen when a sense of disconnect settles in and hope dissipates. The stare takes hold in young people all across the country; look at the way the world is and they believe that things are never going to get better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: This is not the first time Obama has sounded such an alarm, but will this kind of rhetoric help or hurt his chances to become president? We welcome back MSNBC political analyst and Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen and senior editor of the “New Republic” Michael Crowley.
Hillary, it seems to me that when people burn down stores, kill because they‘re Korean, or beat people in the head with cinder blocks because of their race, like Reginald Denny, that‘s not a political statement. That‘s just crime. And Barack Obama seems to me to be giving a political justification to totally unacceptable, never justifiable behavior. And I think it‘s pretty outrageous.
ROSEN: I don‘t think that is what he is saying. I give him credit for talking about this, although I don‘t think he is alone here. John Edwards has been talking about poverty taking over too much of America. Hillary Clinton has been talking about the invisible people that this administration doesn‘t take care of.
I think there is a sense of alienation among poor and minorities in this country, but I feel that there‘s a disconnect.
CARLSON: I think that‘s great and --
ROSEN: And the fact that it simmers with anger, guess what, it does.
CARLSON: But there‘s never any justification—the people who killed Koreans or beat Reginald Denny behaved like animals. And there‘s just no justifying what they did, and there‘s no explaining it away as a political statement. Because it wasn‘t. It was crime.
ROSEN: Well, look, I think if you parsed his words with him, I don‘t know that he would say that he is justifying crime. I think what he is talking about is—
CARLSON: But he said the riots came out of neglect. That‘s another way of justifying it. And it just seems to me that we need to draw the line really, really clearly between political demonstrations, which are obviously legitimate and good in some cases, and violence, which is bad.
ROSEN: No, I think what he is saying is we all have a role to play. And yes, maybe the riots resulted in really bad things and crime, but what fueled the riots and what fuels the alienation is something that people have not dealt with.
CARLSON: -- shot gun. I think—plus it was raced based. That riot was raced based and nobody ever said that. Nobody ever did a follow up. Where is Reginald Denny today. Do you know what I mean? That‘s because he‘s white. That‘s what the riot was about, but you‘re not allowed to say that for some reason. But it‘s true.
ROSEN: Well, it followed a police verdict for a guy who got beaten up because he was black.
CARLSON: The guys never went to prison and the people who burned down the stores --
ROSEN: You‘re focusing much to much on the L.A. riots from his speech. I don‘t think he said that. I think what he said was that there was alienation and despair among young black people and that exists—
CARLSON: That‘s fair and I agree with that. I just think, got to draw the line at violence.
Will the Bush administration pardon Scooter Libby?
CROWLEY: I don‘t know, but I tend to think why not if you‘re Bush.
Everybody‘s furious at you anyway, except for the base, and the base will love it. I think he probably legitimately feels like this is an outrage, legitimately in his heart. I mean, a jury convicted Libby and I‘m not saying that he should be pardoned. But I think that Bush sincerely—is the word I‘m looking for—sincerely feels that this was a miscarriage of justice.
I just don‘t see why he can—his polls are going to go down to 20 percent? And if they do, so what?
CARLSON: I totally agree with you, completely. And yet, you saw this
That should be his whole world view. Everybody hates me except those who love me. I really should be pandering to those who love me. And yet last week he comes out and questions the motives of his own base, who disagree with his immigration plans. So clearly he‘s not thinking along those lines.
CROWLEY: In a way, he seems to relish doing the thing that he is not supposed to do. So think back to late winter. The war in Iraq has gone up the rails. The Iraq Study Group says get out. It‘s a lost cause. And what does he do? Send over more troops and start talking about a 50-year commitment. This is a guy who thrives on poking the conventional wisdom in the eye and doing what he‘s not supposed to.
ROSEN: The president is Scooter Libby‘s only hope, because this judge has thrown the book at him and is not going to give him much leeway in terms of when he goes to jail. The prosecution has said, you know what, Scooter Libby has never actually shown any remorse, not just for what he did, but for the situation that was created, for what happened to Valerie Plame, for what happened in the leak, for the discomfort that CIA operatives felt after that entire incident.
CARLSON: But he wasn‘t convicted or even charged with anything having to do with that.
ROSEN: You know, he wasn‘t, but there was an entire round of opportunities for Libby to have stood up and said, OK, maybe something—
CARLSON: I‘m not aiming this at you, but we know—we think we know anyway from the Mike Isikoff, David Korn book that Dick Armitage, over at the Sate Department, is the one who leaked Valerie Plame‘s name to Robert Novak. Why doesn‘t anybody care? Why isn‘t Dick Armitage out there apologizing for harming American national security?
ROSEN: What we know is that Scooter Libby was covering up for the vice president and trying to make it easier for him. That‘s why he didn‘t tell the truth to the prosecutor.
CARLSON: None of this has anything to do with the original so-called crime. And all the people who are literally tearing their hair out about how the Bush administration was outing a CIA operative, and all this crap, they don‘t even seem to care about the guy who actually outed the CIA operative. Why don‘t they care?
ROSEN: Well, because the prosecutor decided that he didn‘t have a case. But he did have a case for Scooter Libby lying as a central pin in this entire environment. All I‘m saying is, I agree with you. The president is going to do this probably because—
CARLSON: You think he will pardon Scooter?
ROSEN: I think he will, because, you know, this guy who has basically taken the heat for everything that the White House did in this entire affair is going to go to jail for 30 months and nobody else is.
CARLSON: I think you both have made a rational case for why he ought to. Why wouldn‘t he? But his way is to, I think, betray the people who put their faith in him. That‘s my view. So I don‘t think he will. Maybe I‘m just being a pessimist.
Someone else who has betrayed those who—very few who had faith in him, Congressman Bill Jefferson of New Orleans, a very courtly, but very roguish guy, who, according to prosecutors, solicited a bribe in the House dining room, of all places.
ROSEN: And his constituents re-elected him after that.
CARLSON: Of course they did. They‘ve got low standards. Yes. Here is what Nancy Pelosi, a woman who presides over the single most ethical Congress really in the history of representative government, had to say about this today: quote, “while Mr. Jefferson, just as any citizen, must be considered innocent until proven guilty, if these charges are proven true, they constitute an egregious and unacceptable abuse of public trust and power. As we have demonstrated in implementing tough ethics reforms, Democrats are committed to upholding high ethical standards and eliminating corruption and unethical behavior from the Congress,” blah, blah, blah, blah, yap, yap, yap, yap.
ROSEN: You‘re not criticizing the speaker for her statement? You agree with her, right?
CARLSON: I could not disagree more. This guy was caught with 90,000 dollars wrapped in tin foil in his freezer. There is no explanation for that, and he never gave one. And he still had a committee seat up until today. How the hell do you do that and still claim that you run the most ethical Congress in the history.
ROSEN: Well, he was stripped of the majority of his committee seats, for one.
CARLSON: He was seated on a committee.
ROSEN: He was seated on a committee because his constituents reelected him.
CARLSON: Now you are blaming them?
ROSEN: Well, I‘m saying I think the speaker said, all right, now there‘s an indictment. He is gone.
CARLSON: But if you‘re really ethical, you would say, I don‘t care what a bunch—who knows what the motives—
ROSEN: If you‘re really ethical, you uphold the law. Innocent until proven guilty.
CARLSON: Hold on, the wheels of justice grind slowly. So it takes a long time—it‘s taken two years for him to be investigated and indicted. But we knew two years ago that he was found with this money in his freezer. She should have demanded, if you want to sit on a committee, which is a privilege, not a right, you should explain what you were doing with 90 grand in cash in her freezer. Why didn‘t she do that?
CROWLEY: Tucker, I think you‘re right and that‘s fine. But, you know, no harm done. So he was on some back bench committee that didn‘t do that much. And I think it‘s important to draw a distinction between Jefferson, who was a sleazily rogue, and what happened in the Republican Congress, which was systemic. There were people, it seems, quite likely on the take in leadership offices, wives on payrolls, doing favors for --
CARLSON: Where are they now? They are out of power. And they lost -
they lost, depending on which poll you read, primarily because of the perception they were corrupt. That‘s my only point. I‘m not saying Republicans haven‘t done it to. They have.
CROWLEY: That‘s why I‘m making this point. The Democrats are in—no where an analogous situation with the Democrats.
ROSEN: He felt pretty punished last year when they stripped him of his Ways and Means Committee seat and did not feel rewarded by getting to stay on the Small Business Committee.
CARLSON: I‘m so sorry.
ROSEN: You don‘t have to be sorry. What I‘m saying is that the speaker took a tough action, made it happen against the will of some of her colleagues, and stuck with it.
CARLSON: If I were speaker on either side, I would say, you know what, I‘m sorry pal, you have to explain yourself, I mean 90 grand in cash. Or at least give me half. If you‘re not going to explain, cut me in on it.
That‘s what I would say. We‘re out of time, sadly.
ROSEN: Nancy Pelosi can‘t win with Tucker.
CARLSON: No, I like Nancy Pelosi. I‘m just trying to help.
CARLSON: Thank you both very much. Republicans and Democrats say the immigration deal reached with the White House is not perfect, but it is so far from perfect, will it ever get through Congress?
And things aren‘t so perfect for Paris Hilton these days. It‘s day two of her 23 days behind bars. America held hostage. Our chief jail correspondent Willie Geist has the details next.
CARLSON: Nothing focuses a Congressman‘s mind like a Memorial Day visits with his constituents. Last weekend lawmakers got an earful on immigration when they went back to their districts, especially Republicans. Their constituents are mad about the immigration deal the president seems to be cutting with Congress. Will it pass? Should it pass?
Joining us now we are proud to welcome from Slate.com, the great Mickey Kaus.
MICKEY KAUS, SLATE.COM: Hey Tucker, thanks.
CARLSON: First of all, just on a political level, is this going to become law?
KAUS: I‘d say it‘s 50-50. You know, the constitution gives you all sorts of ways to stop a law. It has to pass both houses in the same form and be signed by the president. But bush is so desperate for a legacy, he‘s made it clear he is going to sign practically anything and Democrats may take him up on that opportunity. This is an historic opportunity for Democrats to get lots of new Latino voters. That may prove irresistible. So I would say it‘s 50-50.
CARLSON: That is almost explicitly the justification for this. John McCain has said that out loud. Look, it‘s better than nothing. Do you think this is like Clinton‘s final desperate meetings in Taiba and the Arab/Israeli peace stuff he did before he left office in an attempt to build a legacy?
KAUS: Yes, and I think it‘s a disaster. It‘s also very similar to the Iraq war. It‘s a big grandiose plan. It is supposed to solve everything at once. I think this enforcement mechanism that Bush has put in place will probably work about as well as his attempts to train the new Iraqi army. I think it is going to be a debacle. And it‘s a very similar debacle to the Iraq debacle.
CARLSON: You made, I thought, a really great point the other day when you said if Karl Rove had sat down with a team of pollsters and devised diabolically the most efficient way to alienate the Republican base, he could not have come up with anything better than this. Why did they do this?
KAUS: This is one of the four or five idees fixed that Bush had, fixed ideas, before he came into of us, Social Security, Iraq war, No Child Left Behind and this. He has pursued them ploddingly and methodically against all evidence. And the goal is—they have this crazy idea that it is going to win them Latino votes for generations, because Bush, like Abe Lincoln, is going to be the man who brought amnesty to millions of Latinos.
I think Bush thinks it‘s right. But what is driving it in the Republican party is A, business money, and B, this crazy idea that it is going to make the Republican party a majority for decades to come because it‘s going to win them this Latino vote.
CARLSON: The irony is that the Democrats feel the same way. Democrats think they win in a long term demographic way from this. They think they are getting the new voters. Karl Rove thinks the Republicans are getting the new voters. Who is right? Do you think the Democrats are right?
KAUS: I think they both can‘t be right. I think the Democrats are more right on this. It‘s like hoping that the Iraqis are going to welcome us with open arms. The Latinos are supposed to welcome Bush with open arms and say, oh, you‘re our savior. And I don‘t think that‘s going to happen. I think Latinos, at least for the first few generations, are natural Democrats and they‘re going to vote Democratic, as they have voted here in California.
CARLSON: Why are they natural Democrats?
KAUS: Well, they come from societies with big labor movements that venerate the welfare state. If you come from Venezuela, they elected Hugo Chavez. It‘s true they are people fleeing those governments, but they bring inherited political affinities for social Democratic left politics.
CARLSON: What about the argument that some conservatives are making that this would be 1986 over again, that this amnesty would just encourage more people to come here illegally? Is there evidence this is true?
KAUS: I think they are completely right. I mean, it did in 1986. So the fact that it failed in 1986 is not evidence that it‘s going to work now. It‘s a presumption that it‘s not going to work now. Every time in Europe where you‘ve had an amnesty, it‘s been followed by a flood of new illegals seeking the next amnesty. And I think that‘s what‘s going to happen here.
And the only hope is that you have the border controls in place before that wave of new amnesty seekers comes. And I have no confidence that Bush is going to put that in place. Why not put it in place first and then worry about the amnesty down the road.
CARLSON: It seems to me the final thing this does is it removes immigration as a usable issue for Republicans in the presidential race. If Bush weren‘t so left wing on this question, the Republican nominee could get up and beat up on the Democrats for being pro-amnesty and wanting more illegals to the come to this country. But they can‘t do that now. Can they?
KAUS: Don‘t you think Thompson could get up, whose been the most vocal against this bill, could say, look, I disagree with the president. I think it‘s a terrible bill. If it is passed Congress, I want to repeal it. I don‘t see why he can‘t say that. I don‘t think it takes the issue off the table for anybody. I think that‘s another Republican fantasy that somehow it is going to inoculate them from this internecine strife. It‘s not.
CARLSON: The Republicans—it‘s not just my imagination. I think they‘re getting dumber. In fact, I know I‘m not imagining that. It‘s true. Mickey Kaus, thank you very much.
KAUS: Thanks Tucker.
CARLSON: Who says the relationship between Russia and the U.S. has become chilly? President Bush took a moment to give his buddy Vladimir Putin a shout out during a press conference today. Our chief diplomatic correspondent Willie Geist has details on that. You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: It is a bird. It is a plane. No, it is not, ladies and gentlemen. It is Earth bound. It is Willie Geist joining us today from New York City. Willie, welcome.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I like to bounce around, Tucker, keep the authorities guessing. You know what I mean? Tucker, you know I‘m as fascinated—more fascinated than most people by Paris Hilton. But we are two days into this prison sentence, and I am not going to lie to you, we are already reaching for angles.
Tell me where this one ranks on the lameness scale. “Inside Edition,” the TV show, reports today that the jail where she is being housed has a problem with staph infections. An L.A. County health official tells the show that 13 of 1,000 inmates at the Lynwood Correction Facility develops a staph infection while serving time there.
So, today‘s headline, Paris Hilton has a 1.3 percent chance of getting an infection during her time behind bars. We will continue to follow the story and bring you details as they become available to NBC News. Yes, Tucker, only 21 more days of this.
CARLSON: That is not at all the kind of infection that we‘re hoping for.
GEIST: Oh, Tucker.
CARLSON: You know what I mean?
CARLSON: No, I mean, we aren‘t hoping for anything. I‘m just saying, it is hard to see how the Paris Hilton story gets more interesting from here. And I am really on the verge of calling for a boycott. I do not know if we can live up to that high standard. But I almost want to call for one.
GEIST: We at least need a cell mate to spice things up. She‘s living by herself. That doesn‘t do us any good.
CARLSON: I‘ve got her pictured in my mind right now.
GEIST: I‘m sure you do. Madame Tussaud‘s wax museum, by the way, in New York City has her dressed up today in prison stripes. She has a ball and chain around her ankles. So everybody is getting in the spirit.
CARLSON: What is she doing there in the first place? She has never had a job. Like, who is Paris Hilton. I mean, if you take three steps back, it‘s all pretty appalling.
GEIST I know you have never been to Madam Tussaud‘s, so I won‘t even ask that, but the standards are pretty low there, let me just say. I think I have a wax figure there.
Well Tucker, while Paris Hilton rots in solitary confinement, another celebrity criminal seems to be finding his way finally. Boxing champ and noted crazy person Mike Tyson says he is going to put his tattooed mug up on the big screen for all the world to see. Or at least all of India, any way.
Tyson told an Indian newspaper that he plans to pursue an acting career in Bollywood films, that‘s Indian movies. He says he caught the bug while shooting a music video in Las Vegas for an Indian director. Tucker, my personal doomsday clock on Mike Tyson just clicked ahead one minute. It‘s not clear what the man will not do for money.
Can you picture this meeting? They set him up on a conference call with a random Indian director and say, we want you to come to Vegas and shoot a movie video for -- We‘re going to pay you in raw meat. I hope that works out OK for you.
CARLSON: I would love to cast the first stone. But the truth is, if I got a call from Bollywood, I would probably do it. What the hell. It actually sounds kind of interesting.
GEIST: I‘m just picturing—And also, Tyson had to get permission from a judge in Arizona to actually even go to Vegas to do the shoot, because he‘s being held there for drug charges, DUI, you name it. So that guy has one complicated life. He needs a couple of bucks. So sometimes you do a Bollywood music video. What the heck, I guess.
CARLSON: I could think of more demeaning things.
GEIST: Like Paris, we just wish him the best. Well, Tucker, this is scary now. Our good friends on the island of Japan have taken another creepy step forward in their relentless quest to make human beings obsolete. Check out the facial expressions on this robot, and then feel the chills go down your spine.
This robot is named Ken Sei (ph) and it has 500,000 facial expressions to respond to keywords. So if you say the word bomb, Ken Sei frowns. If you say the word sushi, Ken Sei smiles. Oh my goodness. Tucker, the robot movement in Japan is starting to get a little bit out of hand. Am I the only one who‘s going to say it out loud? Why are we contributing to our own demise?
Why are we helping the robots along? Didn‘t you seen “Terminator?” Haven‘t you seen “Robo Cop?” They are going to turn on us. So why are we helping them do it?
CARLSON: You know what, there is a deep streak of masochism in our society. I have thought that all along. I agree with you completely. Why do we pay attention to Paris Hilton? They are related, those phenomena.
GEIST: I guess they are. But I just wish Japan would spend a little less time developing robots who can ballroom dance and maybe focus on other areas.
CARLSON: You know what? It is better than having a military there.
GEIST: I guess so. Well, Tucker, all the talk around the G-8 summit has been about this increasingly cool relationship between Russia and the United States. But when talking today about the missile shield that is causing some of that trouble, President Bush went out of his way to express just what good buddies he and Vladimir Putin are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My message would be, you know, Vladimir—I call him Vladimir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Vladimir, I call him Vladimir. What else would you call him? Frank or Steve or something? I love it. That is just the old Bushie, you know, congeniality.
CARLSON: It is just almost too much. That is so cringe-worthy.
Looked into his soul stuff; that‘s been six years. That still hurts me.
It‘s like a wound that hasn‘t closed.
GEIST: I know. I think he has given up. I think he is giving up.
He‘s just throwing this stuff out at press conferences. Who cares?
CARLSON: At this point, who does care? I agree. Willie Geist from New York, thanks a lot.
GEIST: Thanks Tucker.
CARLSON: And for more of Willie Geist news, you can check out ZeitGeist at Tucker.MSNBC.com. It is excellent. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. “HARDBALL” is next. The great Mike Barnicle is hosting, so definitely stay tuned. Have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.