updated 7/5/2007 3:19:17 PM ET 2007-07-05T19:19:17

Guest: Timothy Noah, Peter Beinart

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  He was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in a case involving the outing of CIA employee Valerie Plame.  Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff was sentenced to 30 months in prison and a quarter million dollar fine, but last night, Libby got the news that he will not be reporting to prison. 

President Bush commuted his sentence, and in so doing, sparked a firestorm of indignation and outrage, mostly from Democrats, but not entirely.  Today, the president took a step further by announcing he has not ruled out a pardon for Scooter Libby.  Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  First of all, I had to make a very difficult decision.  I weighed this decision carefully.  I thought that the jury verdict should stand.  I felt the punishment was severe, so I made a decision that would commute his sentence but leave in place a serious fine and probation. 

As to the future, I’m, you know, rule nothing in and nothing out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  We’ll examine all the angles, the anger, the relief, the long term political effect for Bush, and the 2008 election.

And a little later, the very latest on the terror plot in the U.K. 

Can it happen here, is it just a matter of time? 

Plus, can John McCain go from straight talker to comeback kid after slashing 50 members of his campaign staff—is he dead? 

Plus, Bill and Hillary Clinton are in love.  Her husband gets mushy at a campaign event in Iowa.  Just how much of the former president are we likely to see in the coming year? 

But first, the wide range of reaction after President Bush commutes the sentence of Scooter Libby. 

Joining me now, senior writer at Slate.com, Tim Noah.  Tim, thanks for coming on. 

TIMOTHY NOAH, SLATE.COM:  Thanks for having me.

CARLSON:  Now, you write for a mildly, kind of center-left, sensible liberal publication, I think that’s fair to say.  And yet, you have a piece saying this is a good idea, Bush did the right thing, he did the morally right thing by commuting the sentence. 

NOAH:  I think commuting the sentence was the right thing.  I think the pardon would have been a wrong thing.  And I think if he’s considering doing it now, that’s not very wise on his part.  But, the commutation was, I think, just the right thing to do because it lets the conviction stand, it lets the disgrace stand, it is not an act of forgiveness.  It is merely an act of mercy.  And I think that’s appropriate. 

Libby has suffered considerably.  He probably won’t be able to practice law, at least for a while.  And—he’s a first time offender, I think if he had not been a White House official, he would have gotten a much lighter sentence, and possibly a suspended sentence. 

CARLSON:  We keep hearing this was within the guidelines.  You write, though, that Judge Reggie Walton went overboard in this sentencing to 30 months.

NOAH:  It was the upper end of the guidelines.

CARLSON:  This is about twice as long as the prison term recommended by the Courts Probation Office. 

NOAH:  Yes, no, the Probation Office recommended about 15 months. 

CARLSON:  So this is—I mean, I’ve covered crime for a while and people who stick a gun in other people’s faces and steal their purses don’t you know, don’t serve 30 months a lot of the time.  Why this sentence? 

NOAH:  Well, Walton wanted to make an example of him.  And the fact that he was a high-ranking official was something he counted against him.  I think he was probably also offended by the outpouring of letters from celebrities ...

CARLSON:  Every neo-con in town, right.

NOAH:  Not just every neo-con, but all kinds of celebrities on his behalf.  I mean, it massively backfired for him.  And look, I—I don’t take lightly what Libby did.  I think that he thought he was above the law and he did lie to a federal prosecutor.  We can argue about the seriousness of the underlying matters.  But he lied, and especially government officials are not supposed to lie to prosecutors. 

CARLSON:  That’s bad. 

OK, so here’s the point in your piece when I begin to worry for you,

OK? 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  You said, “Walton wanted to make an example of Libby. 

What’s the matter with that?  Two words: Bill Clinton.  No fair-minded person can deny that the previous president committed perjury about Monica Lewinsky while serving in the Oval Office.  The country knew it, and they let him get away with it.

NOAH:  You’re going to defend Bill Clinton to me now. 

CARLSON:  I’m going to ask you what your e-mail box looks like after writing something like that in Slate.

NOAH:  Well, I’m getting a lot of e-mail, and a lot of people are saying, what do you mean he committed perjury?  You know, there is a—there is a fine grain, just essentially stupid debate about whether Bill Clinton technically committed perjury.  He was, in the end found by a judge to have made false statements rather than perjury. 

You know, I think it was perjury, I think most people understand what he did to have been perjury.  And I don’t think anybody can deny that he lied repeatedly about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky under oath.  So, you know, he did a bad thing, and the country pretty much let him get away with it. 

CARLSON:  Yes, they did.

NOAH:  Yes, he got a slap on the wrist, he got a fine, he had his law license suspended for five years.  But that was very soto voce, that was after, way after the impeachment drama.  And essentially, Clinton was not punished at all except by the impeachment and trial itself. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

Here’s the one thing—I mean, I agree fundamentally with your piece, I think it’s smart and I think it’s right.  I think Scooter Libby did wrong, but I don’t think he ought to go to prison for 30 months.  Here’s one thing that did bother me. 

The Press Secretary Tony Snow was out there today, all these reporters going after him.  I’m sure you saw it, it was a pretty intense scene.  Ann Compton from ABC asked what I thought was a really smart question.  Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN COMPTON, ABC:  There are more than 3,000 current petitions for commutation, not pardons, but commutation, in the federal system under President Bush. 

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Right.

COMPTON:  Will all 3,000 of those be held to the same standard that the president applied to Scooter Libby? 

SNOW:  I don’t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I don’t know, is the answer.  I mean, the answer is no, of course, but he gave the only answer that he could. 

NOAH:  But he ought to, he ought to.  Look, I mean he’s got a terrible record in this regard, and nobody knows this better than you.  You’ve reported the single worst thing I know about George W. Bush, back during the 2000 campaign, his mocking Karla Faye Tucker, and her pleas for clemency. 

But you know, just because he’s behaved badly in the past, that doesn’t really mean he’s obliged to continue to behave badly to the end of his days.  He showed some mercy here, I’d like to see him continue to show mercy.  Will he, probably not, but he ought to.

CARLSON:  So you’re taking a consistently pro-mercy position?

NOAH:  I’m taking a consistently pro-mercy position, with, you know, within reason. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

NOAH:  He should get what people typically get for this kind of crime. 

CARLSON:  Good for you.  Your a brave man to write this.  I appreciate it.  Tim Noah from Slate, thanks.

NOAH:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Did President Bush do the right thing by commuting Libby’s prison sentence and what will be the political consequences? 

Plus, Hillary Clinton unleashes a secret weapon on the campaign trail, her husband Bill.  Will he help?  Will his presence remind voters that she is not him?

You’re watching MSNBC, the most impressive name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  President Bush is refusing to rule out a pardon for former White House aide Scooter Libby.  He’s already commuted his two-and-a-half year prison term.  Did he make the right decision?  Will he go farther?

We’ll tell you, we’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Conservatives have been asking, begging, sometimes even demanding President Bush pardon Scooter Libby.  Well at the 11 hour, the president finally did respond, sort of.  Vice President Cheney’s former aid still has to pay a big fine, he is still facing probation, but he is not going to prison.  The president commuted his sentence.  President Bush tried to show that he still values loyalty.  But will it be enough to satisfy an increasingly restless base?  Will he pay a political price because of it?  Here to tell us, we welcome MSNBC Political Analyst Pat Buchanan and Peter Beinart, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and editor at large of the “New Republic.”  Welcome to you both. 

Pat, if the president is going to do it, why not go all the way?  I mean this does seem, if you stand back a little bit, an effort to placate both sides. 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I do not think the president wanted to do it.  I mean, you take a look at that statement he came out with, and he says, you know, basically praises the jury, he praises Fitzgerald, he says perjury is a very serious crime.  Scooter is going to pay with his reputation, he has been disgraced and all this.

And, however, the sentence is too long, therefore I am commuting it and he drops it six hours after the appellate court knocks down Scooter’s stay of—imprisonment.  And he doesn’t speak out on it himself, he walks in and throws it over his shoulder to the press. 

I think the president felt somewhat under duress and pressure.  I think he is a law and order guy.  And I think—I don’t think he wanted to it.  This looks like a grudging consent to the demands of people who are his friends that he doesn’t entirely agree with. 

CARLSON:  But it is almost like an apology, Peter.  If you’re going to apologize, if you have decided to apologize, just do it.  Just grovel, or don’t.  There is no middle ground.  It’s not like he made liberals happy by only commuting the sentence. 

PETER BEINART, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS:  That is exactly right.  There is something farcical in their effort to paint this as kind of splitting the baby in such a way as the liberals—if anything, he might have just made a few conservatives a little annoyed with him that he did not go the whole way.  And he keeps the issue alive because there are people who are going to keep pressing him for the pardon.

I think politically, it would have been better for him just to do the whole thing.  But I think Pat is right, the best explanation although it is odd with politicians is actually conviction.  Is that this ...

CARLSON:  Totally!  Because he allowed, I mean for one thing, he allowed the trial to go on at great political risk.  And in fact great political cost in the end, to him.  He could have just short circuited it by pardoning the guy.

BUCHANAN:  But what you got to ask is why he did anything?  Why?  Why did he act now?  I mean, he has no obligation to act.  So you’ve got to look at the forces on him and that tells me that the neo-cons and the others were on his case.  “Wall Street Journal” this morning is unhappy—did you read their editorial? 

CARLSON:  I did.

BEINART:  Yes.

BUCHANAN:  They don’t like all the things he said about Scooter. 

Scooter is a hero, so I think, again I think the guy did not want to do it. 

CARLSON:  Well, I think—I mean, I actually think the explanation—

I mean, the obvious explanation is that Dick Cheney walked into his office and said please do it.  We will never know, of course because Cheney is in the habit of telling ... 

BUCHANAN:  Dick Cheney did for the simple reason, he’s his friend.  He has been his alter ego.

CARLSON:  Well that’s exactly right!

BUCHANAN:  I would do it if he was my buddy.

CARLSON:  That’s right.  Thirty months in prison.  All these people are saying, go to prison, no big deal.  Going to prison is a big deal!  Ever been in a prison?  Its a big deal.

BEINART:  No, but this is exactly the problem.  We have a political culture in America of severe sentencing. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Yes we do.  I agree with that.

BEINART:  We have a very long—it is part of our national character.

CARLSON:  Yes, I hate it.

BEINART:  And it is particularly been pushed by the sense of the American right. 

CARLSON:  That is not true.

BEINART:  And people like George W. Bush.

CARLSON:   That is totally false. 

BEINART:  What do you mean that is false?

CARLSON:  That is total crap.

BEINART:  Law and order has not been up held.

CARLSON:  Eliot Spitzer and—using ...

BEINART:  Would you rather be convicted in Texas or New York? 

CARLSON:  I would rather be—it depends what of.  If it was a corporate crime I would much rather be convicted in Texas ...

BEINART:  We are seeing the most conservative states in the country that execute the most people. 

CARLSON:  Yes, that is true.

BEINART:  That have the most barbaric prisons in this country.  Right?  I mean, the point is, I think what this really raises—I really do have sympathy for Scooter Libby or anybody except for maybe the worst monsters who are going to the hell of ...

CARLSON:  Yes.

BEINART:  ... America’s prison system.  But it seems to me that this raises a real question about equality under the law ...

CARLSON:  Let me say ...

BEINART:  ... so you have to see it in that context.

CARLSON:  The most liberal states have the worst prisons.  There is no question about that.  Would you rather be in prison in New York, Massachusetts or Utah? 

BEINART:  Vermont or Alabama?

CARLSON:  Vermont because no one lives in Vermont.  I’m saying the states with a major population, I’m serious, the blue states are the worst states. 

I agree with you.  We sentence people to too much time, particularly for non-violent crimes.

BUCHANAN:  But look, Tucker, look.  Why did he step in?  Would he have stepped in if the guy had not been a key aide to the vice president on his own senior staff?  This is an intervention—a special intervention on behalf of a guy that he knows very well. 

CARLSON:  That’s right.

BUCHANAN:  He’s done it for no one else at all.  He did it—there was no demand for a commutation by Libby to him.  And so he steps in and intervenes and does it.  Out in the country, the perception is, Bush is taking care of his boys.  That guy walks, somebody else would have walked into prison. 

BEINART:  And a larger piece that is going to be a bigger and bigger issue in American politics, who fought in the war in Iraq?  Rising income and equality, unfairness, I think and inequality is going to be a bigger and bigger issue in America. 

BUCHANAN:  Yes.

CARLSON:  You know what?  People are going make this into a metaphor that is not something a metaphor for.  If I can say that.

Here is Barack Obama.  This is his reaction, everyone decried this on the Democratic side. 

“This decision to commute the sentence of a man who compromised our national security, cements the legacy of an administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division.”  Blah, blah, blah, that guy needs to be quiet for a minute.

Cynicism and division—hush!  You know, go teach at a community college if you are going to talk that way.  You know what I mean?

I do!  I am totally for it.  But the point is, there is no evidence that he compromised national security!  I mean, he wasn’t convicted of that in any case.  What the hell are you talking about?  This was about perjury and obstruction, it was not about leaking the name of a CIA officer.  I mean, lets just be real here, for a second.

BEINART:  Well, I mean, that was the thing that set it is motion. 

CARLSON:  Yes, but that was not what he was convicted of or indicted of or even accused of.  So what the hell is that?

BUCHANAN:  Well, but—politics of it.  Now, because he has done this but has not done the pardon, the issue does not go away.  The issue is dropped right into the politics of 2008. 

The candidates in the national debate will you pardon Scooter Libby if you are elected in November?

CARLSON:  Yes.

BUCHANAN:  I think it becomes an automatic ...

CARLSON:  Well, that’s a good point.

BUCHANAN:  ... issue for a Thompson or a—Mitt Romney.  Romney says he would.  And I’m not sure that is going to be a very exciting position to be in.

BEINART:  It is yet another example of a place where the conservative base of the Republican party is wildly at variance where the American people are.  And are pushing otherwise strong candidates into positions that are going to be very hard for them to defend in the general election.

CARLSON:  I don’t think the base cares or knows anything about this.  I think people who know Scooter Libby personally care about him and his family and they are upset about this.

BEINART:  But then why are these Republican presidential candidates all gung ho?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Because the know him, that’s why!

BUCHANAN:  What it is—you are right.  The national base doesn’t care.  The commentariat in this town, the op-ed writers, the talk-show host too, those folks are all upset about ...

CARLSON:  Right.

BUCHANAN:  The country does not care.  The conservatives in this country ...

BEINART:  But those people influence conservative opinion out in the country. 

CARLSON:  You may be right.

Democrats say President Bush ignored the rule of law in commuting Libby’s sentence.  What kind of lasting mark will the decision leave on the president’s legacy? 

Plus, new details emerging about who was behind the terror plots in London and Scotland.  We’ll get the latest on who the suspects are and how they are connected, all of them.  That is next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH WILSON, VALERIE PLAME’S HUSBAND:  Mr. Libby was convicted of lying, perjury and obstruction of justice.  And it’s the president of the United States who has decided that he would commute his sentence, thereby raising the very real suspicion that he’s participant in a cover-up in an ongoing obstruction of justice.

They have been trying to make this about me from the very beginning, when in fact it’s about them.  It is about the lies they used to justify the war.  It is about the betrayal of national security in the leak of a covert CIA officer’s identity to the press. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was Joe Wilson, former CIA officer Valerie Plame’s husband.  Vice President Cheney’s former aide Scooter Libby was, of course, spared by President Bush in the investigation into the leak of her identity. 

While Libby is said to be relaxing at home today, Democrats are far from relaxed.  They are howling mad.  Senator Dick Durbin said, quote, “Even Paris Hilton had to go to jail,” while the other senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, stayed lofty as usual.  He said the administration, quote, “has consistently placed itself and its ideology above the law.” 

Democratic lawmakers told angry voters to flood the White House phone bank.  Can Democrats finally make these charges stick?  Up until this point, the Libby drama was a long, at times convoluted trail that only the most ardent political junkies could or cared to follow. 

Now, the Democrats will try to paint things more simply: President Bush let a criminal off the hook.  Will that narrative stick?

Here to tell us, a man who has covered this from day one, MSNBC’s David Shuster.  David, welcome. 

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  It’s good to be with you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So Joe Wilson I guess is not going away.  That was my one hope in all this, that Joe Wilson would just go to New Mexico and be quiet.  He told Keith Olbermann that there was a quid pro quo involved here, that Libby had agreed to remain silent in exchange for a pardon or commutation. 

But it turns out, we learned today, that Scooter Libby had no idea that his sentence was about to be commuted. 

SHUSTER:  He had no idea, but...

CARLSON:  He was preparing to go to jail.

SHUSTER:  He had no idea, but think back to Pat’s question in the last segment.  Why now and why the special intervention?  And the way the president seemed to handle this, by not going into the Rose Garden, by doing this sort of secret statement, then by having a statement today where he takes one question—I mean, it fuels the idea that the White House did not want Scooter Libby to wake up this morning, one day after the appeals court said no, you have to go to jail in two weeks—they did not want Scooter Libby to wake up and think, I haven’t heard from the White House; maybe I ought to make that phone call to prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and suddenly tell him about the conversations with the vice president that I couldn’t recall at the trial. 

CARLSON:  OK, maybe, but wait a second, let me ask (inaudible)...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... a question here.  All these shows, all these hyperventilating cable hosts—I’m not going to name any names here, but we know some of them—were all upset about Scooter Libby’s duplicity.  They don’t seem to care that Joe Wilson is just a screaming, obvious, outed liar.  Nobody cares.  People keep having him on their shows, like you know what I mean?

SHUSTER:  It doesn’t matter.  I mean...

CARLSON:  Oh, it doesn’t matter?

SHUSTER:  Joe Wilson was not charged with lying to a grand jury.

CARLSON:  I’m not saying he has committed a felony in lying.  I’m just saying, that since we’re all so keenly interested...

SHUSTER:  All right, what is the lie...

CARLSON:  ... in honesty for its own sake...

SHUSTER:  What’s the Joe Wilson lie?

CARLSON:  The Joe Wilson lie is Joe Wilson claimed that he—his wife had no role in sending him to Niger, and we know that that is totally false.

SHUSTER:  He did not say that.  He did not say that his wife had no role.  What he said...

CARLSON:  He said she did not recommend him.  We know that she did recommend him.

SHUSTER:  Well, I have to go back—well, the fact of the matter is -

and that’s been—that’s been (inaudible) by both sides.  A lot of people have said, oh, Joe Wilson claimed that Vice President Cheney sent him.  And Joe Wilson never claimed that.

(CROSSTALK)

SHUSTER:  What Joe Wilson said all along was that there was an effort by the vice president to get the CIA to look into this raw piece of intelligence. 

CARLSON:  Right.

SHUSTER:  And the CIA turns to the person who happens to be an expert on this, Valerie Wilson, and says, hey, you know about this.  And she says, oh, yeah, and by the way, my husband has experience in this part of Africa.  Maybe you should send him. 

CARLSON:  Right.

SHUSTER:  Valerie Wilson peels off, and the CIA calls Joe Wilson, and that’s the end of Valerie Wilson’s involvement. 

Now, that is a pretty straightforward narrative that both sides have gotten wrong.  But it does not take away from the main point.  The main point is that Joe Wilson comes back from Africa and tells the CIA there was no effort by Iraq to seek uranium from Niger.  But still, that ended up in the president’s State of the Union speech. 

And then in the spring, a few months later, there is the vice president’s office.  When Joe Wilson starts popping up in some of these columns, and they decide, we’re going to hit back.  And they called the State Department and said, “get some information.”  And they called the CIA, “get some information.”  And the vice president gives Scooter Libby some information. 

The investigation begins when Joe Wilson (sic) is outed, and Scooter Libby says, oh, no, I learned about this from reporters.  Come on!

CARLSON:  Wow!  That was—I sort of lost the point of the question, but that was an able recounting of some of the basic facts of the case.  And since you are an expert on basic facts of the case, I’d be interested to know what you make of Harry Reid’s description of what exactly we’ve witnessed over these past 24 hours.  Here’s what he said: “The president’s decision to commute Mr. Libby’s sentence is disgraceful,” huffed Harry Reid.  “Libby’s conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for the White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq war.  Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone.”

So, in other words, Harry Reid sees Scooter Libby’s conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice charges as justice having to do with the Iraq war?

SHUSTER:  Well, look...

CARLSON:  What the hell is that?  We don’t send people to prison they are not accused of committing!

SHUSTER:  I will grant you that if there is one thing that will end this dead in its tracks, that would end this political controversy, would be the idiocy of the Democrats and some of the statements they’re making out.  If the Democrats, though, instead of making these highfalutin comments about the Iraq war, the intelligence, could simply say, you know what, the Republicans are the party of law and order, and there is the president engaged in cronyism, taking care of a friend, that would seem to me that that would make a lot of sense... 

CARLSON:  But wait a second.  Let’s be totally real here.  Bush comes out with a statement and says, he did it.  He lied.  His lying undoes this system we hold sacred, our justice system.  That’s bad.  But the punishment was too strong.  What’s wrong with that?  That’s not—that’s not undoing...

SHUSTER:  Because when the president says and when Tony Snow says the punishment was excessive, you look at the case and you look at these issues were argued, and the judge said no, 30 months is not excessive.  And you’ve got a parole board that says 16 months...

CARLSON:  Seems excessive to me.

SHUSTER:  But the judge, a Republican judge, appointed by President Bush to the bench...

CARLSON:  We went through this yesterday.  The fact that he’s a Republican—David Souter is a Republican!  I mean, so what?  

SHUSTER:  But if you have respect for the judiciary, why do you have respect...

CARLSON:  I don’t have respect...

SHUSTER:  (inaudible) the jury...

CARLSON:  ... for every decision that every judge makes.  Judges screw it up.  I don’t have respect for the O.J. jury either.  What the hell are you talking about?

(CROSSTALK)

SHUSTER:  ... come out and say—the president should come out and say, you know what, I respect the jury, but I don’t respect this judge, even though I appointed him.  I don’t respect him, he was wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  No, he says I think it was excessive, and in fact (inaudible) Tim Noah, the noted right-winger, saying, pointing out that this sentence, 30 months, is twice the recommendation of the parole board.

SHUSTER:  All right, well, everyone who’s sitting in prison who says their prison sentence was excessive, do they now get to weigh in and ask President Bush and say, hey, my judge...

CARLSON:  I think that’s a fair—you know what, I think, as I brought up in the first segment of the show, I think that’s a very fair point.  I think there are a lot of people who are serving...

(CROSSTALK)

SHUSTER:  ... go outside the boundaries of the justice system, because if somebody can weigh in and say, oh, well, the judge was wrong, and the appellate court was wrong, and the prosecutor was wrong and the jury was wrong, at what point do we say to those people in prison, oh, but no, you have to...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But the president isn’t saying that.  He isn’t saying any of it.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  He’s just merely saying the sentence was too long.

SHUSTER:  Right...

CARLSON:  I think I’m coming very close to convincing you, David, but unfortunately, we have to take a commercial break, something you know a lot about.  David Shuster, thanks for joining us.

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Tucker, it was a pleasure.

CARLSON:  Sweet talk here on MSNBC.

The terror plots in London and Scotland are a stark reminder that terrorism in the name of Islam poses a major threat.  Why is Britain’s new prime minister downplaying that risk? 

Plus, John McCain is running out of money, running out of support among the Republican base.  Is he running out of time?  We will tell you.  We will be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Developments continue to unfold quickly in the investigation into the terror attack in Scotland and the car bomb plots in London over the weekend.  For the very latest on that, let’s go live to London now and NBC’s Stephanie Gosk, who’s standing by.  Stephanie? 

STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, today we learned that Khaled Ahmed and Bilal Abdullah, the drivers who were in that Jeep Cherokee that smashed into Glasgow Airport were also behind the failed car bombs in London on Friday.  Now these two doctors both worked at the same hospital, the Royal Alexandra Hospital, just outside of Glasgow. 

Ahmed right now is in that hospital with severe burns.  Doctors say he

is not expected to survive those burns.  You know, right now investigators

the real question for them as they look at these suspects is whether or not they knew each other before they entered the U.K.  None of them are British citizens.  And the question now being were they organized before they entered this country or did they meet after they arrived here. 

The reason they look at this question is to determine whether or not there might some kind of larger strategy to search out young professionals and recruit them by al Qaeda, to bring them into the U.K., because it’s easier to get visas that way. 

CARLSON:  Interesting.  Stephanie Gosk in London; thanks a lot Stephanie. 

Well, terrorism in the name of Islam is nothing new.  In fact, the great majority of terror attacks over the last 20 years in the West have been the work of radical Muslims.  This weekend it happened again with an attack in Scotland and a thwarted plot to detonate car bombs in London.  Why is the new British prime minister, Gordon Brown, telling the world that these attacks have nothing at all to do with Islam?  Why would he make such a pronouncement in between meetings with Muslim leaders to talk about preventing future attacks?  Is Brown denying the undeniable?  Or is he just scrambling to pacify all parties before he’s even had time to attack?

Back with their insights, we welcome MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Peter Beinart.  Welcome to you both.  Why—I wonder why Western leaders, Peter, persist in a lie everyone know is a lie.  This has nothing to do with Islam.  Bush did the same thing after 9/11.  Gordon Brown is doing it now.  Why do they keep saying this? 

BEINART:  It’s basically the same relationship the Ku Klux Klan has with Protestant Christianity.  There is clearly a relationship, but it’s on the extreme of a very multi-faceted tradition.

CARLSON:  I don’t think that’s much of an analogy.

BEINART:  Why not?

CARLSON:  Because the Klan was not a religious movement.

BEINART:  But the Klan clearly has roots in Christianity.  It was very anti-Catholic, very anti-Jewish and had a vision of America as being a Protestant country. 

CARLSON:  There’s no question it was anti-Jewish and very anti-Catholic, but members of the KKK didn’t sit around and study the Bible for their inspiration.  I mean, the idea was Klan members didn’t become better Klan members by becoming better Christians.  Do you see what I’m saying?

BEINART:  Most Muslims would tell you these guys don’t become better Muslims by -- 

CARLSON:  Let me put it this way, in every single instance, when one of these guy is apprehended, you always see some relative or someone who knew him—I was a little worried because he started taking his religion more seriously. 

BEINART:  Well, I think actually, in a way—these people tend to be people who don’t know anything about their religion, and therefore are easy prey for people who sell them very extremists and very flip versions of Islam.  So they are taking their religion more seriously, but I actually think, in a way, it’s because they lack grounding in traditional Islamic methodology.  These are kind of very new converts.

CARLSON:  I think that may be right.  Just take Peter’s example of the KKK.  When the Klan was active in the teens and 1920’s, there were a number of Christian groups that opposed it, groups with preachers at their head, who said this is not a valid expression of Christianity.  Why are we not seeing an analogous situation, where modern Muslim leaders are saying this? 

BUCHANAN:  They have a very hard time doing it, because what’s happening world wide is Islam is rising again.  It was dormant or sleepy, if you will, but it’s rising as well.  Not only in London, Londonistan, or whatever you’re going to call it.  You can go to the Philippines, you go to Indonesia, you go to Thailand, you go to Nigeria, you go to Chechnya, you go to the Middle East, all the places where Islam is rubbing running up against—whether it’s Israel or whether it’s Russia, Orthodox—even in Paris, it is very much on the rise. 

It’s a militant Islamic movement.  These people basically has failed.  Nationalism has failed them.  Socialism has failed them.  All these things have failed them.  And they believe they have the West on the run.  And a lot of young people are attracted to this.  Thirteen percent of the Muslims in Britain approved of what al Qaeda did in the bombing in London and the bombing of 9/11.  When you got that, I think the British better wake up and smell the coffee, and realize you can’t keep bringing people in from a community that holds those kind of extreme views as immigrants.

CARLSON:  They do have the West on the run.  And we keep making apologies for their behavior. 

BEINART:  Who is they? 

CARLSON:  Radical Muslims in Europe, and to some very much smaller extent the United States.  There’s a piece in the “New York Post” today in which it says, in London the current explanation for these latest attempted attacks is Muslims outraged by Salman Rushdie’s knighthood.  He was just knighted.  And apparently that, you know, stirred people up.  And that’s sort of understandable.  Or people disagree with our Iraq policy, they’re saying, or our policy towards Israel. 

When is the west going to say you can’t express your political views with violence, period, and there is no excuse for it.  We don’t care what your rationale is.  We’re opposed to it. 

BEINART:  I thought that was already our position.  If you express your political views with violence, we’re going to throw you in jail and lock away the key, no commutations like Scooter Libby.

CARLSON:  How many times have you heard somebody say the Iraq war—this is blow back from the Iraq war?

BEINART:  There is a difference between an explanation and justification.  It may be that the Iraq war leads to increased chance of terrorism in the U.K.  That doesn’t mean it is any more justified. 

BUCHANAN:  Listen, we’re going to have this with us a long time.  I would be astonished if you don’t have successful type car bombings here in the United States.  Because there is an awful lot of folks out there in Anbar Province that really know how to do these car bombs and they are going to be coming out of there and they’re going to be coming west. 

What’s astonishing to me is how these things failed so horribly when it’s not all that complex an exercise.

CARLSON:  Well, if what you said is right, and I bet it is, wouldn’t it be a national priority not to let those people into the country. 

BUCHANAN:  Exactly.

CARLSON:  I mean, wouldn’t you want to say, you know what, if you’re from a country whose population hates us, you know what, we are probably not going to let you in. 

BEINART:  Well, that is part of the reason why many of the Iraqis who risked their lives for us in Iraq today are having so much trouble getting in to the United States.  There are very, very difficult moral decisions to make.  Also, when you let Muslims into the United States—not radical terrorist—But other people, they sometimes see things about America’s way of life and, as opposed to spending their time in Saudi Arabia and becoming more radicalized, they, in fact, become more liberalized.  There’s a real trade off here.

CARLSON:  Which is a great thing.

BUCHANAN:  America really does have an assimilationist tradition.  These folks come into the country and their kids are playing with a football and they are brought in.  Western Europe has never had a mass immigration movement, I don’t think ever in its history.

BEINART:  France; a lot of immigrants to France—

BUCHANAN:  Well, now they’re coming out of Algeria, but these folks are now second and third generation, who are the ones that are going bananas, and who haven’t been assimilated at all.  There’s not a single Muslim, I believe, in the French assembly.  Is there?  Not one.  They got about five to eight million of them in France.

BEINART:  No, I think it is an area where we should be very proud of

the United States.  America is a society where you do not have to check

your religion at the door to be a full American.  And we’re a society that

where people have more economic opportunity. 

CARLSON:  But you could say the same thing about Great Britain, actually.  I mean, there is more religious freedom—you could even make the case that people have more political and religious freedom in Great Britain than they do in the United States.  I mean, Hamas and Hezbollah are pretty open there.

BEINART:  It’s different.  You’re never going to have a Muslim member of the British Royal Family that represents British identity.  British identity is wrapped up in being Anglican in a way—

(CROSS TALK)

BEINART:  Look what happened to them.  America is a more genuinely multi ethnic society.  In Britain, you talk about minority rights.  Americans view is that there are no minorities. 

CARLSON:  Yes, that doesn’t appear to be the American view at all.  The American view appears to be there are minorities and they ought to get nine points on the SATs because of it. 

BUCHANAN:  What about bussing and quotas. 

CARLSON:  That’s exactly right.  I’m sorry, have you forgotten about the last 40 years? 

BEINART:  That was the pursuit of integration.

CARLSON:  That was the pursuit of integration, OK.  But, my point is, you can have a completely open, liberal in the best sense society, that welcomes everybody and tries to hold everyone to the same ideal and still have that society rejected out of hand by the people you welcome into it.  I do not think we recognize that.  We think if people want to come here, they will love us.  They may come here and hate us. 

BEINART:  Then we have to struggle against everything they believe in.  And if we find them and they are pursuing violent acts, we have to put them in jail.

BUCHANAN:  Well, one of the objectives too, and one of the primary causes of terrorism is the perception that we are dominating their part of the world.  I mean, as our friend Ron Paul said, they are over here because we are over there.  I really believe that.  The American imperial presence in that part of the world, in Saudi Arabia, is what bin Laden declared war on.  That’s what initially did it.  The very fact we’re fighting now in Iraq, we are creating recruits for al Qaeda right now.

There are a lot more al Qaeda people because of this war we launched then there were before it. 

CARLSON:  All right.  The Clintons go stumping for votes in Iowa.  It’s their first joint appearance since Hillary jumped into the race.  Will having her husband by her side soften her image and make voters like her more?  Or less?

And, think you know all you need to know about Scooter Libby?  Think again.  MSNBC’s Scooter scholar Willie Geist reveals the real person behind the persona.  That’s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  The grumbling is growing that John McCain’s presidential hopes are cooked.  He is shedding campaign staff.  His fund raising is lagging.  But reports of his demise might be premature.  Can he right the ship and get the Republican nomination anyway? 

Plus, the Bill and Hillary Clinton show rolled into Iowa, complete with the former president in a corn hued shirt.  As he introduced his wife yesterday, he oddly remarked that he would be stumping for her even if the couple wasn’t married.  Hmm. 

More important, is Bill’s presence a sign the Clintons hope to score a knock out punch?  Are they getting worried about Barack Obama and his fund raising?  Welcome back MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and editor at large of the “New Republic,” Peter Beinart. 

Bill and Hillary Clinton together again.  Here’s Bill Clinton in Iowa claiming that, you know, it doesn’t matter that they are married.  Bill Clinton—

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I would be here tonight if she asked me if we were not married.  I would be here because when I was eligible to vote—the 18 year olds did not have the vote yet.  So I couldn’t vote until I was 21.  In 2008, I will celebrate my 40th year as a voter.  And in those 40 years, tumultuous, fascinating years for America, she is by a long stretch the best qualified non-incumbent I have ever had a chance to vote for president. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Interesting.  The most qualified?  She is not the most qualified actually.  It if interesting that he focuses in on that, her qualifications for president.  That is, I believe, not accidental.  I think they understand that is her weakness. 

BEINART:  Yes, she is not the most qualified.  I mean, George H. W.  Bush was extremely qualified, unless you consider him an incumbent, because he was the vice president.  But I do think that you are right.  That is their selling point and it is pretty plausible and credible. 

CARLSON:  Joe Biden is about 100 times more qualified than Hillary Clinton is. 

BEINART:  Yes, but she has seen the inside of the way an administration works.  She has always been a policy wonk.  She is surrounded by a lot of people that were in the administration, who have a lot of experience.  It is pretty credible to say she would be a very sure footed president, who would probably feel pretty comfortable in the job right away. 

CARLSON:  That is true.  It’s just that the fact they keep bringing it up, the Clintons—you always know their perceived weak spots are the things that they hype.

BUCHANAN:  He said most qualified non-incumbent.  You’re right.  George H. W. Bush really had a tremendous slew of credentials.  It’s hard to think of—she is up there.  She’s got a lot of credentials.  She spent eight years in the White House, which—I think the fact really that she worked with him in the White House and she was there, that counts for a lot. 

CARLSON:  In the seven years Bill Clinton has been out of office, who has he helped to get elected?  Everyone talks about the Clinton magic.  He’s a great campaigner—

BUCHANAN:  He didn’t campaign for anybody in 2006 who won. 

CARLSON:  That’s a good point.  We didn’t win the race, did we, Tucker?

CARLSON:  You could have won as a Democrat that time, Pat.  I do not see his political skills as transferable.  I don’t think they ever have been.

BUCHANAN:  No, but I do think if Al Gore had been smart and used him in Arkansas or Tennessee, some of these places, I think he could have added a little something in a very, very tight race.  He does energize African Americans as much as anybody I’ve ever seen as a speaker and as a candidate, as one who has enormous rapport with them. 

BEINART:  That is very important.  I think it is very important that Hillary Clinton get her share of the African American point, as Mondale did with Jesse Jackson in 1994, for instance.  And I think Bill Clinton really helps her with that. 

BUCHANAN:  He can get the votes that she can’t.

CARLSON:  Is it over for McCain? 

BUCHANAN:  I think it is because he pulled out of the Iowa straw poll. 

I think he’s running sixth in the polls out there.  How then do you go back out there, build an organization from scratch and beat Romney, who is beating the drums out there.  It looks like he is going to win it.  If he goes back out there, puts his money there and gets beat, how does he then beat Giuliani and Romney and maybe Thompson in New Hampshire?  What is the argument? 

If he doesn’t win Iowa or New Hampshire, I don’t think he wins South Carolina.  He’s gone. 

CARLSON:  It seems to me that Republicans instinctively go with the establishment guy.  They go with the older guy.  They go with the guy they know.  Right?  So when it comes down to it this next January, I think people are going to take a second look at John McCain.

BUCHANAN:  I immigration has just about killed him. 

CARLSON:  You think so?

BUCHANAN:  In South Carolina he is down to single digits with Lindsay Graham—of course, Lindsay is probably with him right now.  But after that immigration thing, it’s just killing him down there.

BEINART:  Yes, I mean, that is the perception we all have of the Republican part.  But it’s not like Bob Dole, who ran and lost, and was always considered a good soldier.  McCain really was an insurgent in 2000 in a way that a lot of people remember.  He’s also at a time—it is not if the Republican party is in a particularly good mood and the guy who has managed to become Bush’s successor is in such a strong position. 

There is, although it’s coming from different ideological directions, extreme discontent in the Republican party.  And I think the great irony of McCain is he went from being an outsider candidate to being an insider candidate just as the Republican party was really losing happiness with its own inside establishment.

CARLSON:  I think that is exactly where McCain likes to be.  I have never seen McCain as uncomfortable as the night he won the New Hampshire primary by 19 points in 2000.  He really is happy fighting off his back.  

BEINART:  He’s getting his wish.

CARLSON:  He’s probably as happy as he’s ever been losing.  That’s exactly right. 

(CROSS TALK)

BUCHANAN:  It would not surprise me if he did not make it to there. 

Two million dollars after raising 22 million bucks?  What is going on? 

What are they managing up there? 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  Especially since it’s not going to advertising. 

BEINART:  The irony is that he’s sucking—he doesn’t need K Street.  What the Internet has shown, what Obama has shown is that if you really catch fire, you can raise huge amounts of money from small donors. 

CARLSON:  Who is that guy on the Republican side this time? 

BEINART:  There is nobody, and that is because the Republican party is really in a historically weak moment. 

BUCHANAN:  You’ve got the three top candidates who were in there—you’ve got Romney, McCain and Giuliani, none of them have a real reach to that conservative core base, which turns out the great number of checks and people.  The Internet, I’m sure would—none of them are there. That is why Thompson is able to move. 

CARLSON:  You’re making the point that everyone forgets every single election, which it’s ideas and ideologues who drive elections every single time.

BUCHANAN:  The conservative wing of the Republican party always has a guy in the finals.  He may not win it.  I mean, Reagan won it. 

BEINART:  That’s why Thompson has an opportunity, but he needs a message today.  And he needs a message of today, not I’m Ronald Reagan back in 1980.  It has to respond to the realities of today.  And so far I have not heard it from him. 

CARLSON:  No, I haven’t heard it either.  Scooter Libby is not going to be enough of a message for Fred Thompson.  I hope he comes out with one.  Thank you both very much. 

Scooter Libby had become something of a hero in the hip-hop community since his conviction.  But now it looks as though he will be crossed off 50 Cent’s Christmas card list.  Why is Scooter losing his street cred?  Urban culture expert Willie Geist joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  I want to apologize for the second day in a row for reading a tease I didn’t fully understand.  Before we went to break I said we would tell you what Scooter Libby had to do with the hip-hop community.  And the truth is I have no idea.  So, for answers, we welcome Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I like to keep you on your toes, confuse you.  It’s lots of fun for everybody I think.  I will get to that in just a minute.  But I want to just clarify a little thing here, Tucker.  I think one of the reasons so many people are up in arms about the president’s handling of Scooter Libby is because they believe it fits a pattern of cronyism in the Bush administration. 

Now, NBC News has obtained a piece of video that helps to illustrate that argument.  Take a look at this.  Taken in November last year.  In it, you can plainly see President Bush casually circumventing the justice system by issuing pardons to a pair of turkeys who frankly deserve the death penalty to which they were sentenced. 

So, we have been holding on to this video, Tucker.  But we felt like this was the appropriate time.  Those of us who have seen the video, frankly, not surprised by the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence yesterday. 

CARLSON:  You’ve got documentary evidence there, Willie.

GEIST:  Well, I am a journalist.  That is what I do.  Tucker, I think a lot of people who just started tuning into this case when the news broke yesterday don’t really understand who Lewis Scooter Libby is.  He was, of course, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and an adviser to the president.  But in his heart of hearts, Scooter Libby is an author. 

In 1996, he put out a novel called “The Apprentice.”  The book’s most noteworthy passage is one that makes bizarre, vague reference to bestiality and prostitution.  I will spare you the gory details.  Now, Tucker, that book was largely ignored when it was released.  But sales actually spiked when Libby was indicted in the Fall of 2005. 

So now not only does Scooter Libby not have to go to jail, but his book is going to fly off the Barnes and Noble hourly best-seller list.  And, of course, he will write a new book of his own, Tucker.  Any chance, as elaborate as it may sound, this is a public relations scheme to move books, this whole thing? 

CARLSON:  That would be a pretty tricky scheme, but given the margins in the book business, probably not a wise one.  You know, he wrote that book on the subway on the way to and from his law office over the span of 20 years.  Yes, he wrote it on legal pads over 20 years.  Amazing.  I never read it.  But apparently it was good. 

GEIST:  Well, we know he is going to write a new book now which will actually sell copies.  So, stay tuned for that.  Here is the one you’ve been waiting for now.  Scooter Libby may have gained freedom and an inevitable book deal yesterday, but he sacrificed his street cred, Tucker.  Libby had earned a small degree of cult status in some circles for his willingness to do time in jail rather than to squeal on his friends. 

He was compared to four foot eleven inch rapper Lil Kim, who just spent 10 months in prison after a shooting incident.  You can see here that Libby and Lil Kim are like two peas in a pod.  Yes, Scooter Libby was, albeit briefly, a hero in the hip-hop community.  Now that he’s not going to be locked up though, Libby’s friendship with the Wu Tang Clan may be in jeopardy it appears. 

CARLSON:  I don’t know.  It’s the same principle.  He was willing to do the time. 

GEIST:  That’s right.  No snitching, man.  Scooter Libby, a temporary hero. 

CARLSON:  The Wu Tang Clan.  For more on that, check in tomorrow.  Willie Geist, thanks Willie.  And for more Willie Geist, check out ZeitGeist@Tucker.MSNBC.com.  It is excellent and worth watching.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  We’ll be back tomorrow.  See you then. 

END   

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Guests: A.B. Stoddard, Bill Press, Mike Pressler

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  A terror attack in Scotland and a foiled plot in London have the U.K. on edge, and America is wondering if it is just a matter of time before similar attacks are carried out on U.S. soil.  Welcome to the show.

Authorities say the attempt by several men to drive a jeep into the main terminal at Glasgow Airport in Scotland was just part of a wider plan to detonate a series of devastating car bombs in London and elsewhere in the U.K.  A massive manhunt continues for more suspects, who may have been involved.  We will talk to a leading terrorism expert to find out if this is the new phase of al Qaeda, and whether or not we ought to be bracing for more spectacular attacks on our shores this summer.

Also ahead, the new fund-raising numbers are in and Senator Barack Obama is the big winner by quite a bit.  We‘ll take a look at how much he raked in and whether or not it‘s already become a two-horse race among Democrats.  Sorry, Joe Biden.

Plus, are you disgusted with Congress?  Polls show most people are. 

One of those who is happens to be the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. 

She says she hates her institution. 

Plus later, the Duke rape case comes full circle with the resignation of Durham DA Mike Nifong, and not a day too soon.  We will talk with the former men‘s lacrosse coach at Duke and ask him why was he fired. 

But first we go to London and NBC‘s Stephanie Gosk with the latest on today‘s developments in the U.K. terror plots.  Stephanie, what is the latest?

STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC NEWS:  Well, Tucker, we are just learning that there has been an eighth arrest.  There are now eight suspects being held.  We‘re not told where this eighth arrest took place, whether it happened here in the U.K. or abroad.

Together, there were three arrests today, and we are beginning to learn more and more about the suspects that were arrested. 

At least two of them are doctors, including 26-year-old Mohammed Asha.  He studied medicine in Jordan.  He was caught on the highway with his 27-year-old wife on Saturday night.  His house was searched this morning in northern England. 

The second doctor, Bilal Abdullah.  He is an Iraqi, who received his degree in 2004.  He was the passenger in that jeep Cherokee that crashed into the Glasgow Airport on Saturday.  The driver of that car is in critical condition with serious burns in the local hospital.

At that hospital today, earlier today, there were controlled explosions in a car that police thought was suspicious—Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Is there any evidence that that car was a some—part of a terrorist plot, or was it just someone‘s car that got blown up? 

GOSK:  Well, at this point, we are not sure.  The police are not saying.  We, you know, there was an NBC reporter there on the scene who said that it did not appear as if there were explosives in that car. 

There was another controlled explosion at that same hospital yesterday.  And on Saturday, when they brought in that driver with those severe burns, he actually had a belt on him that they thought was an explosive belt.  Later on, police determined that there weren‘t explosives in that belt, but certainly that hospital has been a hot spot here in this case so far—Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Stephanie Gosk from London.  Thanks a lot, Stephanie, I appreciate it.

Well, what does—what does this situation in the U.K. mean for the United States?  The al Qaeda threat—apparently, it is changing.  Do we face the threat of home-grown terror here on U.S. soil?  NBC News terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann joins us now with answers.

Evan, thanks for coming on.

EVAN KOHLMANN, NBC NEWS TERROR ANALYST:  Thanks for having me.

CARLSON:  Everything we know about the men who have been arrested in this U.K. plot cuts against what I thought I knew about terror plots in Europe.  The conventional explanation was, these are people who are marginalized by European society, they live in housing projects, they have no hope, right?  They are children of immigrants, and they—and because they are on the outside, they lash out against the culture.

Two physicians arrested suggests to me these are people who had a lot to live for, and yet they were throwing their lives away and committing acts of terror.  Why?

KOHLMANN:  Well, it‘s funny you should ask that.  I think it‘s part of the stereotype that goes into terrorism.  I think it‘s something that people learn from watching too many episodes of “Syriana,” that every terrorist has no money, has no education, is poor and disenfranchised.

The reality is that a lot of people who are being drawn to terrorism these days are professionals, have skill sets, are smart, are well educated. 

We just had a case here in New York, in the Southern District of New York, where we had a doctor, a Columbia University-trained physician, who was convicted of attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda.  He actually thought that he would go to the front lines in Afghanistan and serve to give first aid to the mujahideen, the holy warriors. 

So you know, it is just about everyone who gets pulled into this.  And always keep in mind, the deputy commander of al Qaeda, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, he is a doctor.  He is not just any doctor.  He‘s a pediatrician.  So you know, just because you are smart or because you are educated, that is not a block to be drawn into this ideology. 

CARLSON:  So in other words, all this trope that you constantly hear, this cliche—we just need to be educated.  If we just knew more about each other, right?  If we were just more aware of one other, we‘d all get along—it‘s a complete lie, as it turns out, actually, in the end. 

KOHLMANN:  It really is meaningless.  And look, al Qaeda, they are not stupid.  They are not looking at pulling morons into their organization.  They are looking to pull in people with skill sets, who are useful, who are smart, who are going to be able to outthink authorities.  If they are only pulling in people who are morons, chances are most of their terrorist plots are going to fail. 

And I should stress, it‘s not just al Qaeda specifically.  Even in home-grown terrorist plots, I think we‘re most commonly used to seeing plots like the Fort Dix plotters, who are not the brightest bulbs in the batch, but there are some really smart people being pulled into this. 

You had a 20-something guy over in London who was running circles around the FBI and Scotland Yard with his knowledge of the Internet and how the Internet can be used to support terrorism.  Literally running circles around them.

So don‘t underestimate these folks.  I mean, they can be quite intelligent. 

CARLSON:  So they‘re ideologues.  They‘re not doing it for the money, they‘re not doing it because they‘re desperate.  They are doing it because of belief. 

Where are they fed?  Are they getting their ideological reinforcement

from the Internet?  Are they getting it on cassette tapes?  I mean, where -

who is feeding these people the ideas that are causing them to try and kill? 

KOHLMANN:  Well, a lot of the people that are in the United Kingdom are receiving this message, number one, through the Internet; number two, through watching satellite television like Al Jazeera.  There is even bookstores in the United Kingdom—for instance, in Birmingham, were some of these searches have taken place already—you have a book store called Maktabah al Ansar, which specializes in selling videotapes of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda leaders.

But you know, reality, we don‘t really know much about the folks that are specifically involved in this plot.  They are Iraqis, they are Jordanians.  One—you know, the tendency, at least in my mind, is to think that maybe their motivation has to do with the participation of the United Kingdom in the war in Iraq, and the repercussions of that.  And potentially the anger of seeing this through the eyes of Western media.  And I mean, they certainly wouldn‘t be the only ones.

CARLSON:  See, you have got to figure that every person who goes and buys or orders radical Islamic literature online or goes to a book store like that in the United States or frequents chat rooms on jihadist Web sites is being monitored by our intelligence services, right?  Please tell me yes.

KOHLMANN:  I mean, I wish the answer was yes, but the reality is no.  It‘s not.  I mean, there are definitely people out there who are involved in this world, who are active participants, who are not being monitored as closely as you might like. 

I mean, the guy who I was just telling you—talking about, who had ran circles around the FBI and Scotland Yard, he called himself Irhabi 007, Terrorist 007, because he was literally able to move without being detected.  Eventually, he made stupid mistakes and he was captured, but you know, there are people out there who are tremendously skilled and who are visible in the world of online terrorism, and yet their identities are still somewhat unknown to law enforcement.

Again, it is a scary thing to say, but it‘s impossible to do this job perfectly, and I think especially when it comes to online recruitment, we have a long way to go in terms of progress.

CARLSON:  Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., there are literally roadblocks—I got caught up in one two weeks ago—that pull you over if you are not wearing a seatbelt.  Just to give you some sense of what our law enforcement dollars are going toward. 

Evan Kohlmann, I appreciate you coming on.  Thank you.

KOHLMANN:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Barack Obama finishes first in the all-important dash for campaign cash, but is it all-important?  What‘s behind his record haul, and how much pressure does it put on Hillary Clinton?

Plus, Fred Thompson says he is a reformed outsider ready to take on Washington.  But how much of an outsider is he really?  And how deep-rooted is his family tree?  Questions about Fred Thompson, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Barack Obama raises more money than anybody in the history of politics in the last three months.  So why isn‘t he top in the polls?  Why is Hillary Clinton still beating him, according to surveys?  That next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time to check today‘s Obamameter.  Barack Obama‘s campaign coffers are overflowing as he topped front runner Hillary Clinton in the second quarter money race.  That is the Obameter going off, by the way, in the background.  Obama ranked in a staggering $32.5 million, compare that to an estimated $27 million for Hillary.  And he raised that cash from over 150,000 people.  Hillary‘s camp is yet to release he donor tally.  It is expected to be dwarfed by Obama‘s list, though.  You can bet on that. 

Here to tell us what it all means, A.B. Stoddard.  She‘s executive editor of the “Hill,” and Bill Press, you know who he is.  He is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. 

Now, I‘ll never forget, A.B., in 1999 I was traveling with Bush as a magazine writer, and I actually in the car with Bush when he announced his fund raising totals, at the time was $37 million for the first two quarters.  That was mind-blowing, $37 million, that was the biggest to date.  It was shocking, it was staggering.  I called my editor, OK.  Fifty-eight million Obama has.  I mean, this is without precedent.

A.B. STODDARD, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  It is, but I think the fact that the new dollar amounts to me are just not as riveting as the fact that he surpassed Hillary Clinton.  He was never supposed to the first time, he was never supposed the to the second time.  It was unthinkable. 

It is staggering and it‘s stunning.  I do not know how it is going to translates to votes, it is not translating in the poll numbers.  But they are small inspired donors who can come back again.  And it is just unbelievable that anyone—no one on either side of the isle, on either party, was supposed to be able to come up against that machine. 

CARLSON:  Here‘s some of the numbers, Bill.  Once you break it down,

110,000 online donors, 90 percent of those were for $100 or less, 50

percent of the online donations, so more than 50,000, were for less than

$25 apiece.  I mean, everyone talks about grassroots support, that is

grassroots support

BILL PRESS, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO HOST:  Absolutely.  I have to tell you, we were sitting at dinner the other night, and Carol said, oh by the way, did I tell you I wrote a check to Barack Obama?  And she‘s one of those people.  I mean, he is picking up ...

CARLSON:  She only sent him $25?

PRESS:  A little more ...

STODDARD:  People bring ...

CARLSON:  Come on!

PRESS:  A little more than $25, but the point is, you know, this is phenomenal.  It really is a phenomenon in fundraising, particularly bringing so many new people in.  In the entire year of 2003, Howard Dean had 250,000 contributors online.  Right?

Barack Obama in the first half of 2007 has 258,000. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But he has shattered every record. 

PRESS:  And she is right, they will come back and back and back.

CARLSON:  It‘s about, and I don‘t mean to seem drippy here, I‘m not voting for Barak Obama, obviously, but here‘s the narrative.  Hillary Clinton is the establishment, she is the Death Star, right? 

PRESS:  Yes.

CARLSON:  He is the insurgent, you know?  He‘s the Viet Cong marching 50 miles a day on a bowl of rice with the support of the peasantry or whatever, you know, pick your dumb metaphor.  

But, the truth is, he is the outsider that has the support of all these people.  She is the Washington insider.  When is he going to start saying that explicitly? 

STODDARD:  Well, you know, I don‘t—he has not wanted to take her on.  I think he is waiting for her to take him on so he can respond.  It is probably going to become a real liability for him if he does.  He‘s trying to wage a new kind of politics, a new kind of campaign.

We‘ve talked about that maybe being to his detriment.  She has getting Bill Clinton out there to fundraise and then starting tonight to campaign.  It is going to be a big problem for Barak Obama.  She is the frontrunner.  She is the front runner and she leaves him behind.  He has to catch up.  I do not know what the dollars are going to mean in terms of him really taking him on.  His campaign is trying to lower expectations that he won‘t come up to chip away at her support until early next year, but at some point, these inspired, excited people in his army of believers have to propel him to the front where he actually becomes ... 

CARLSON:  This is the Democratic Party, Bill.  The establishment is not going to win in the end, right, someone is going to give the middle finger to the man, OK?  And the man in this case, is a chick, Hillary.  She‘s the man here.  Right?  She‘s the DNC.  When are ordinary Democrats going to say that we are sick of having Rome, or whatever, the man tell us what to do and start backing Barak Obama?

PRESS:  Look, Tucker, at some point Barak Obama is going to make his move.  I do not know whether he is going to be able to overtake Hillary or not.  But the fact is, and this shows it, he is going to have all the resources he needs, all the people he needs, to tackle Hillary and take her head on.  She is going to have a full fledged, totally ...

CARLSON:  Seems like kind a wuss, though.  Don‘t you have to be tougher than just the man who is against cynicism.  The purer than thou candidate? Vote for Barack Obama because he is more decent and you are, come on. 

STODDARD:  He is going to have to get past that.

PRESS:  There is a side—he is, but there is a side of Barak Obama that we have not seen yet.  We don‘t have to see it now.  I think he is in a perfect position of second place and ride that through.  Look ...

STODDARD:  I think he‘s waiting too long.

PRESS:  I disagree.  I don‘t think he‘s waiting too long.

CARLSON:  What is he?  I mean, does he strike you as a little soft?

STODDARD:  The problem is that people—he is trying to convince people not to take the safe route.  The safe route is a Clinton.  The safe route, in 2000, was Bush, his daddy was president.  These are scary times.  You don‘t take a Senator who has been in office for two years.  And if he wants to start establishing himself as someone who can really have what it takes in the long haul and be president of the United States, I think he better start soon. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

PRESS:  I think you are both just impatient and don‘t recognize the reality of politics.  It is like the Kentucky Derby.  The one that comes through is not the first one out of the gate that leads all the way, look at the last couple of races. 

CARLSON:  She is just going to spank him like a red-headed stepchild. 

She is tough.

PRESS:  Obama will make his move when the time is right.

CARLSON:  You know what, they are mean as hell, the Clintons.  And I say that with a mixture of disgust and awe and a tiny bit of admiration.  But I‘ve lived here and I‘ve watched it and they are mean.

PRESS:  He may not make it.  But this is too early for him to make his move. 

CARLSON:  Alright.  Fred Thompson came out swinging against the Cubans.  No one really flinched except for Hillary Clinton.  She immediately attacked Thompson and defended the Cuban people.  Is Thompson the candidate Hillary takes most seriously?  It looks that way.

Plus John McCain‘s campaign seems to be treading water at best.  Reportedly he is laying off scores of staffers and his own campaign manager will be working for free.  This on top of a dismal second quarter fundraising record.  Does McCain still have a shot at the presidency?  Are writing him off too soon?  We will tell you when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Although Rudy Giuliani is still running first in most national polls, Hillary Clinton might be keeping a closer eye on the guy nipping at his heels.  He is former Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee and he has yet to officially jump into the race.  But that did not stop Hillary from treating him like the Republican to beat.  The New York Senator got fired up after Thompson went off of the cuff down in South Carolina.  Listen to what Thompson said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED THOMPSON, FMR. SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE:  The year 2005, we apprehended over 1,000 folks that originally come from Cuba.  They are coming from Cuba.  Where else are they coming from?  And I don‘t imagine that they are coming here to bring greetings from Castro.  We are living in an era of a suitcase bomb.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Hillary blasted Thompson for the alleged Cuban terrorism link.  And she said, “I was appalled,” I can‘t do her accent, I‘m sorry, but here‘s what she said.  “I was appalled when one of the people running for or about to run for the Republican nomination talked about Cuban refugees as potential terrorists.  Apparently he doesn‘t have a lot of experience in Florida or anywhere else, and doesn‘t know a lot of Cuban-Americans.”

Huh.  So how worried is Hillary and the rest of the Democrats for that matter about Fred Thompson?  We welcome back with answers, A.B. Stoddard, she‘s associate editor of the “Hill.”  And Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio talk show host. 

Apparently he does not have a lot of experience in Florida and doesn‘t know a lot of Cuban-Americans.  In other words, Hillary knows a lot of Cuban-Americans, and she knows that they would not commit terror.  Because she knows them, like some of her best friends are Cuban-Americans.  What the hell is she talking about? 

PRESS:  Look, Tucker.  When somebody gives you an opening like that you are a fool if you don‘t take advantage of it.  It was a stupid thing for Fred Thompson to say. 

CARLSON:  Why?

PRESS:  If there are terrorists ...

CARLSON:  Is he not allowed to say something bad about Cubans because they are a voting block?

PRESS:  No, it was a stupid thing for him to say, because if terrorists are coming to this country, and they will be and some of them are already here.

CARLSON:  Yes.

PRESS:  Let me tell you.  They are not going to Cuba and then floating over to the Keys on inner tubes.  I mean, they are—that is not what they are going to do. 

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  I don‘t know why not.  I mean, we‘ve

had         ...

                PRESS:  Come on, Tucker.  That‘s absurd.

                CARLSON:  It‘s actually not absurd.  There are people in federal

prison right now, Cuban nationals who were arrested, who are they for espionage, who came floating over, who were spying on us.  So, I don‘t know, I do not think that is crazy in the slightest. 

PRESS:  There is scary things in this world.  Cuba is not one of them.  OK.  Miami can relax, Hillary is right.  Fidel Castro is not going to invade southern Florida. 

CARLSON:  So she knows, Hillary knows the Cuban people so intimately.  You know, Hillary is pandering to the Cuban exile community.  You know, Republicans had kind of a lock on the pander to that community, but Hillary being a wise woman, has decided that she is going to attempt it, too.  This is like the most revolting ethnic pandering.  What they are above terrorism, Cubans? 

PRESS:  Oh, Tucker, Tucker.

STODDARD:  Hillary—I really think Hillary is speaking to the Democratic base and showing them before the general election campaign that she is going Republicans off at the ankles.  And that she has promised to do.  And she is trying to show them, without sniping at her rivals on the Democratic side, how tough she is.  Because she is going to not let one Republicans whatever attack go unanswered.  And she took an opening and that was a misstep and it was an opening.  I think John McCain and  Rudy Giuliani wish that they beat her to it. 

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  But she took an opening to show that she is the macho candidate that will not let the Republicans sleep at night.

CARLSON:  I don‘t think I have ever heard a presidential candidate in either party, even Independent, ever say a single bad thing about Cuban-Americans.  I like Cuban-Americans, personally.  But it is interesting, Thompson is the only person who didn‘t go out of his way, to you know, pander.

PRESS:  Which shows why he is not ready for Broadway yet.

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know!  Maybe it is nice to have a guy who does not pander once in awhile. 

PRESS:  A little more practice.

CARLSON:  There was an interesting piece in the “Washington ...

Right.  You got to—he‘ll be down telling us about the wonders of soy beans soon and how good ethanol is.  They all get the same patter after awhile.

The “Washington Post,” today has got a piece on his two boys—

Thomson‘s two two sons were lobbyists, followed him into the lobbying business after he was elected to the U.S. Senate, back in 1994.  NBC—our first read, our note, our political director had a really interesting piece, point this morning, he said, Thompson‘s camp ought to view this piece as a warning that this guy has got to define himself soon.  Because the Democrats are on their way, maybe fairly, to defining him as a Washington lobbyist and you don‘t want that. 

How would you define yourself if you are Thompson?  Who are you?  Are you the outsider southern guy?  Who are you?

PRESS:  I think Thompson should stop, by the way, I think you‘re Reid is absolutely right, that this is a wake-up call to Fred Thompson. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

PRESS:  That once he becomes a candidate, everything, everything is going to come down on him.  And he has been portraying himself, wants to still, I think, as the folksy outsider in the red truck, right?  From Tennessee.  And that is not really who Fred Thompson is.  He was a lobbyist for 17 years, he was a senator for what, eight years or more, I forget, 10 I think.  And I think he has got to fess up that he is an insider, maybe with better answers or with better direction or a better candidate or more of a conservative.  And stop this outside thing because it doesn‘t play. 

CARLSON:  Well here is Newt Gingrich, very quickly, this is the nastiest, cattiest thing I think I‘ve read in a long time.  Lloyd Grove interview Gingrich for the “Washington Post.”  Gingrich says of Mr.  Thompson, I think he becomes the establishment alternative, “I have been fond of Fred since the red—the Hunt for Red October.  I think he was totally convincing as an admiral.”  

Talk about faint praise!

STODDARD:  Newt Gingrich is actually waiting to see if he is going to make a move in September to see what happens to Fred.  To see if Thompson implodes in the next few months.  Everybody is threatened by Fred Thompson.  Everybody. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t feel threatened.

STODDARD:  It has messed things up for Romney ...

CARLSON:  Doesn‘t threaten my masculinity.  I kind of like the guy.

STODDARD:  And its messed things up for McCain, for everybody.  And like we keep saying, once he is in, he is going to be under all of this scrutiny.  He is going to make missteps and he is going to have a rough time, as they all do.  But depending on how badly or well he does, we will see what he does, to everyone right now, they are all really nervous. 

PRESS:  My advice would be, hold off as long as you can before making any announcement. 

CARLSON:  I would say get in soon.

STODDARD:  He is going to have to make the announcement because there is thing with their finances and it is becoming ...

CARLSON:  He‘ll be better than Wes Clark was, that‘s all I can say. 

Anybody would be—I‘d be better than Wes Clark was.  

A leader never gives up on her team.  Right?  Well if you are Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not quite.  Fielding criticism of Congress over which she presides, Speaker Pelosi threw in her two cents of disappointment.  I‘m disappointed with Congress, she said, so much for loyalty.

Plus disgraced DA Mike Nifong is officially, finally unemployed, that‘s almost a year and a half after he falsely accused three Duke University students of rape.  We‘ll talk to those boys former lacrosse coach, a man who was himself forced to resign in the middle of that non-scandal/hoax.  That is all coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  He was once considered the likely Republican front runner for the White House in 2008.  Now Senator John McCain is reportedly cutting his campaign staff by 50 or more people.  This after six months of lackluster fund raising and a third place finish in the first quarter race for cash.  As of today, McCain has raised reportedly just 11.2 million dollars in the past three months.  He‘s making his sixth trip to Iraq, where he will spend the Fourth of July. 

The question is, are these trips and his unyielding support of the president‘s war policy and his immigration policy costing McCain a shot at the White House?  A.B. Stoddard joins us again.  She‘s associate editor or “The Hill.”  As does Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio talk show host.  Welcome back. 

There‘s no way to spin this.  This is bad, firing 50 people on your campaign.  These numbers are terrible.  But if you take a look—and these numbers aren‘t out, but I have talked to someone familiar with this.  The burn rate in this campaign—McCain had almost no money on hand at the end of the first-quarter and is likely to have very little on hand at the end of this quarter, when it gets reported in two weeks.  This campaign is just not well run, the McCain campaign. 

PRESS:  I think the only candidate with less cash on hand is Mike Gravel, which is pretty embarrassing for John McCain.  I like John McCain a lot, Tucker.  You and I were with him in 2000 in New Hampshire.  But I think today you can stick a fork in him.  I think he‘s done.  I don‘t know how you can turn this thing around.  One thing, you have to admire that he really does believe in certain things.  He believes in that immigration bill and he believes in Iraq.  and he has ridden both of them, I believe, to disaster. 

CARLSON:  It‘s interesting.  You get a sense from a campaign what sort of president someone might be.  George W. Bush‘s campaign in 1999/2000 was run basically like the White House is run now.  It was the same.  McCain—his campaign announced today 50 people are getting fired.  The fundamental leadership of the campaign will not change, the fundamental leadership.  Which means John Weaver, who‘s running the campaign, will remain in that job.  Widely regarded as incompetent by, I think, everyone who has dealt with him, hated by many people around McCain and yet, he is going to keep his job. 

What does this say about McCain that his campaign is going right into the toilet and they don‘t can the guy who is responsible for it? 

STODDARD:  We see it in the administration right now.  He‘s a very loyal fellow and they don‘t want to change the guard. 

CARLSON:  Do you think McCain knows?  I think people have told McCain you‘ve got get rid of this guy.  You‘ve got to make—I know they‘ve told him you‘ve got to get rid of this guy.  You‘ve got to have a major shakeup.  Do you think McCain is aware of how badly he‘s perceived as doing? 

STODDARD:  I have a feeling that he‘s a loyal person who doesn‘t want to throw these people that have worked a long time and very hard for him over, when actually it‘s immigration and other troubles that are spoiling his chances at the White House. 

CARLSON:  The campaign is being run by a liberal Democrat. 

STODDARD:  I just think getting rid of John Weaver might not fix things for John McCain. 

CARLSON:  It might not.  And let me just say this: do you remember Iowa four years ago?  Right?  It‘s 2004, and John Kerry is considered a joke.  I remember laughing at his supporters.  Two weeks later, he wins the Iowa caucuses and is the nominee, essentially.  I mean, he destroyed Howard Dean in a day.  John McCain, I wouldn‘t put it past him.  What, is Giuliani going to kill McCain in the end?  I don‘t think so. 

PRESS:  No, but Tucker, look, you have to have the resources to get there.  I mean, two million dollars you burn—in these campaigns you burn two million dollars in one trip, or certainly in one advertising buy.  So he‘s going to have to have the resources in Iowa, even though he‘s pretty well known.  And, you know, it‘s a more crowded primary with more heavy hitters.  I think Romney is a heavy hitter.  Giuliani‘s a heavy hitter.  Fred Thompson is a heavy hitter.

CARLSON:  I bet you in the end he cans John Weaver, sooner rather than later, one hopes.  And I bet he‘s got a pretty good shot at being the nominee.  You heard it here, July 2nd, 2007. 

PRESS:  He certainly believes that.  I was at an event last week where he talked candidly about his problems and he said these are just the ups and downs of campaigns.  I‘ve been there.  I know this.  I know what the rhythm is.  I‘m in good shape right now.  I‘m not worried at all. 

CARLSON:  You know, people don‘t like Congress, Alexandra, at all.  And I was amazed to—I understand why.  I was amazed today to find out that Nancy Pelosi, who runs the House of Representatives—she‘s the speaker of the House—she‘s not happy with Congress either.  Quote, I‘m not happy with Congress either.  What does this mean? 

STODDARD:  She‘s upset with the Republicans in the Senate. 

CARLSON:  A House divided against itself cannot stand.  I don‘t know if you know that.  

PRESS:  Did you just come up with that?

CARLSON:  I did, just like that.

PRESS:  Lincolnesque. 

CARLSON:  Thank you. 

STODDARD:  It‘s a real problem for them.  They go home and tell their constituents that they‘ve changed the debate on Iraq.  And they have.  But they have not done anything else.  They have not been able to—the whole ethics reform earmark appropriations thing became a complete mess for them and embarrassment, with Republicans holding their feet to the fire.  They have not passed the 9/11 Commission recommendations.  They have not forced the government to negotiate prescription drug prices.

They have not done all these things, passed an immigration reform bill.  They are not legislating.  They are investigating, but they are not legislating, and they have not been able to muster the votes for Iraq.  Now, they are going to come back and do all this stuff in July again, deauthorization, a redeployment plan, more readiness certifications for the troops. 

But they know that six months in they are running out of time.  They are running out of time before they are actually going to campaign for those seats again and before the presidential campaign overtakes them. 

CARLSON:  It‘s my kind of Congress, doing nothing.  I love it.

PRESS:  The bottom line here is, if you‘re going to have a revolution, you need to have enough troops.  And the Democrats simply don‘t have enough troops.

CARLSON:  That‘s not what they told us when we voted for.

(CROSS TALK)

PRESS:  In the House, they said they were going to pass six things.  OK, they passed all six in the House.  George Bush vetoed one of them, stem cells.  He signed minimum wage.  The other four are bottled up in the Senate.  Immigration, bottled up in the Senate.

CARLSON:  No one even remembers what they were because they were so insignificant. 

PRESS:  Iraq, George Bush vetoed it.  So, if you don‘t have enough votes, you can‘t over ride a veto.

CARLSON:  Those four or 19 items, whatever, the contract with the world, or whatever the hell they were calling it, is so meaningless that it will be forgotten in a year.  Iraq is why they were elected, and they haven‘t done squat about it. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  Then they shouldn‘t have told us that they had the votes.  That‘s my view.  On to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the president‘s house.  The “Washington Post” has a really interesting piece about the president‘s habit, heretofore unreported, of bringing in historians and other deep thinkers to talk about his presidency and what went wrong. 

Here is Erwin Steltzer (ph), who is an interesting—I can vouch for him—very smart, thoughtful person from the Hudson Institute here in Washington.  Here‘s what he said, quote, “you don‘t get any feeling of somebody crouching down in the bunker.  This is either extraordinary self-confidence or out of touch with reality.  I can‘t tell you which.” 

He says that Bush in private is like Bush in public.  He doesn‘t have a care in the world and doesn‘t feel under siege and he is not apologizing.  Could that be real? 

STODDARD:  Well, the fact that he‘s bringing in people and having these very private meetings that are not on his schedule, et cetera, to humbly ask where have I gone astray, I think, shows that he‘s self-conscious about this, that he wonders why America is hated and why he is hated. 

I actually thought it was quite profound to learn that he was doing this.  And the fact is Jack Kingston, Congressman from Georgia, had an interesting quote in there, saying, it‘s sort of his strength and his weakness, that he‘s not effective.  It‘s why he carries on with the things that he believes in on principal, like immigration and Iraq.  And it‘s also what makes him incapable of listening to dissent and criticism.  It‘s helped him and hindered him. 

CARLSON:  Sum it up super quick.

PRESS:  Yes, I thought that was a sad article, because obviously he

knows he‘s in trouble.  His polls are in Nixonian levels.  The Iraq war is

not going well.  He‘s got a year and a half to go.  And he knows his legacy

basically he doesn‘t have one. 

And he‘s bringing these people in, saying where did I go wrong?  What did I do?  You know what, listen to the American people.  That‘s what he ought to do. 

CARLSON:  If you feel bad for him, now I‘m starting to feel bad for him.  Bill Press, A.B. Stoddard, thank you both. 

The lives of those three students changed forever a little more than a year ago when they were falsely accused of raping a North Carolina stripper.  We‘ll talk to their former lacrosse coach about what it was like in the days following, unfortunately, an infamous, extremely uneventful Duke lacrosse party. 

Plus, so much for President Bush having a home ocean advantage.  It seems Russian President Vladimir Putin is no rookie when it comes to fishing.  Our MSNBC senior angling correspondent Willie Geist will bring us details. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Mike Nifong, the disgraced Durham County district attorney officially entered a letter of resignation today.  The writing had been on the wall.  First the rape case fell apart spectacularly.  then Nifong was disbarred.  In June hew was suspended from office, not a moment too soon.  Later this month, Nifong could face more trouble—keep your fingers crossed.  A judge will decide whether he broke the law while prosecuting those three Duke lacrosse players for a rape they did not commit. 

All charges against the trio have been dropped with extreme prejudice.  Another person dragged down by that investigation, one that was botched from the start, is the former coach of the Duke lacrosse, Mike Pressler.  He resigned under heavy pressure shortly after the firestorm began in the Spring of 2006.  Pressler is back coaching again.  He is at Bryant University in Rhode Island.  He has reached a financial settlement with Duke and he has also co-written a new book titled “It‘s Not About The Truth, the Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives it Shattered.”

Joining us now is Mike Pressler.  Mr. Pressler, thanks for coming on. 

MIKE PRESSLER, FMR. DUKE UNIV. LACROSSE COACH:  Thanks, Tucker.  Great to be here.   

CARLSON:  I‘m really glad to talk to you, because your element—your part of this whole disturbing story was the one that confused me the most from day one.  Why were you forced to leave Duke?  You were never accused of anything, were you? 

PRESSLER:  That‘s a great question.  I think you‘ll have to ask the Duke administration.  We never really got an answer to that and I‘m certainly very surprised that my termination was a result of this.  So I think you have to ask them. 

CARLSON:  But what did they say to you when they came to you?  You heard your team, most members of your team had been at this party, and that an allegation had been made about conduct at the party.  And then the university comes to you and says because they are on a team you coached, you‘ve got to leave?  What was their explanation to you? 

PRESSLER:  There was never really an explanation.  I was given basically an hour and a half to decide my future, and that‘s what happened.  There was not a lot of dialogue there at that time.  And you‘ve got to remember, Tucker, there was a few weeks there, from the 13th of March to April 5th of 2006.  So there was time there and this case was spiraling downward in the public opinion polls and certainly in our communities.

So I think they have the answers to the questions you‘re seeking.  I have not spoken to them since regarding this, and don‘t expect to from here on out. 

CARLSON:  I thought it was B.S. from day one.  I just smelled it on the story from day one.  I thought this woman was lying, and it turned out she was.  But it seemed like many people at Duke didn‘t have the same B.S.  detectors.  My feeling, at least from Washington, looking down at Durham, was that a lot of people on Duke‘s campus assumed from day one that your players were guilty.  Is that right? 

PRESSLER:  So many folks.  There‘s a great quote in the book, you know, if there was 50 of us that believed one truth, and 50 million who believed another.  And nobody wanted to hear the truth. 

CARLSON:  Why? 

PRESSLER:  Everybody prejudged this.  Again, I think you go back to the story from the beginning.  There were so many ingredients that came into play.  To quote, the perfect storm, the title of chapter one, the haves versus the have nots; race; Duke University and the Durham community.  There were so many ingredients that came together and here we have this tidal wave against myself and the team.  And, you know, I think that was the most difficult thing.  There was no evidence, and nobody wanted to see any evidence.  We were all prejudged here. 

CARLSON:  Were you convinced the entire time, from the moment you heard these allegations, that your players were innocent? 

PRESSLER:  Absolutely.  I found out 48 hours after the event, and the captains swore to me on my children that they didn‘t do this, that this is totally untrue.  And I said, boys, I will back you until the end and support you until the end.  And from that moment on, I had absolutely no doubt that certainly didn‘t do this, but were not capable of doing this. 

CARLSON:  How has it affected their lives, the three that were accused? 

PRESSLER:  I think certainly today we‘re all in a better place.  If you asked us the same question a year ago at this time, I think we‘d have a much different answer.  But David Evans has moved on.  He‘s got a great Wall Street job.  Reade Seligmann is going to be my neighbor here up in Brown University.  I‘m a Brown fan right now.  And Collin Finnerty is going to find his school here very soon, and continue his lacrosse career.  So we‘re all moving on, moving forward, and the D.A. is going through the judicial process that, you know, he deserves.  So we‘re all in a much better place today. 

CARLSON:  Do you think he‘s going to be punished?  I mean, the D.A., let‘s be honest, he‘s resigned his job, but he hasn‘t been punished.  Do you think he‘s going to go to jail? 

PRESSLER:  I expect the full—whatever punishment the system levies on this guy, he deserves that and then some.  You‘ve got to remember, this guy maliciously pursued this case, knowing that these kids were innocent from soon after this case broke.  So that‘s criminal, in my opinion.  And he could have got out of this on many, many occasions, but continued—you know, he wanted to take this to trial and put these guys away for 30 years on capital rape charges. 

So he‘s getting what he deserves.  Disbarment was one piece of it, resignation is number two.  And certainly the criminal and justice system doing their due diligence here.   

CARLSON:  Our society entrusted Nifong with so much power and he abused it for the smallest reasons.  I hope he goes away for a long time.  I‘m really glad to talk to you finally and I appreciate you coming on. 

Thank you.

PRESSLER:  Tucker, two things.  First, you and Dan Abrams, I remember, early on, were trying to slow this case down.  And you were one of the few in the media—you and Dan—that were really, wait, let‘s see some evidence here before we judge this team and this program.  So I want to thank you both for your support from day one. 

CARLSON:  I appreciate it.  Mike Pressler, thanks a lot for coming on. 

PRESSLER:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  What do Vice President Dick Cheney and Michael Jackson have in common besides their inherent creepiness?  Let‘s just say, they might be running into each other at the block party this year.  Willie Geist has the neighborly details when we come back.  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Before the last break, I promised to reveal what Dick Cheney has in common with Michael Jackson, and the truth is I have no idea.  Thank god Willie Geist is here to clear it up.  Willie?

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  That‘s why I‘m hear, Tucker.  You know how you and I get really excited when the Reverend Al Sharpton is coming on the show for say a five or six-minute segment? 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

GEIST:  Well, in about five minutes, you‘ll get an hour of the Reverend Al Sharpton guest hosting hardball.  I dare you to turn the TV off.  How could you not watch that?

CARLSON:  Can you just do that?  Can you just turn your show over to Al Sharpton?  I didn‘t know that was allowed.  I‘m going to try that. 

GEIST:  He might take your show.  It‘s up to him.  We‘re playing by his rules.

CARLSON:  Right, I‘d come back from vacation and find it was the Al Sharpton Show. 

GEIST:  Absolutely.  I‘d watch it, believe me. 

CARLSON:  I‘m too insecure to do that. 

GEIST:  He‘ll be on in a couple minutes.  So stay with us.  Tucker, quick bit of news, Lindsay Lohan, your friend and mine, turned 21 years old today.  She can finally take that first drink she‘s so been looking forward to.  I have to be honest with you Tucker, I thought she was like 35 years old.  But apparently she turns 21 today.  She‘s lived a lot of life for a youngster.

CARLSON:  She road hard and put up wet.  She‘s been around.

GEIST:  Unfortunately, she‘s spending it quietly with her family because she‘s in rehab. 

CARLSON:  At Promises.  Everyone goes to Promises.  I want to go to Promise at some point. 

GEIST:  Tucker, the kind of dirty Heidi Fleiss is doesn‘t come off with soap and water.  But that didn‘t stop her from opening a coin laundry outside Las Vegas yesterday.  The one time Hollywood madam said she opened the 24 hour washer/dryer facility, called Dirty Laundry of course, to get her mind off the death of her beloved pet Macaw.  I‘m not making that up.

Fleiss, who once ran a call girl service that served some of Hollywood‘s biggest names, says the coin laundry is only the beginning.  She plans next to open Heidi‘s Stud Farm, a bordello where women will be able to enjoy the company of male prostitutes.  Kind of a poignant tail there, isn‘t it Tucker?  At one time rubbing shoulders with the Hollywood elite, now opening up a coin laundry 60 miles outside Vegas. 

CARLSON:  Yes, but you know, the whole stud farm idea, that has been tried again and again and again.  It just conflicts with a basic truth about human nature, women aren‘t going to pay for it.  They don‘t have to and they won‘t. 

GEIST:  Of course not.  You‘ve got men.  We‘re the most willing beasts on the face of the Earth.  Why would you pay for it?  It‘s so ridiculous.

CARLSON:  It‘s like capitalism, everyone would be undercutting everyone else‘s prices.  You‘d wind up free in about four minutes. 

GEIST:  She‘s actually offered Mike Tyson a job as one of the studs. 

So that‘s next level of depression.

CARLSON:  My gosh. 

GEIST:  Well, President Bush and President Vladimir Putin met again today at the Bush family home in Kennebunkport, Maine.  After a couple of hours of breakfast chit-chat about things like containing the Iranian threat and building a missile shield, the two presidents got down to business.  They went fishing, Tucker. 

The president had a little bit better luck today than he did yesterday, when his boat got stuck on some rocks and he had to be freed by the Secret Service.  Bush and Putin fished for about an hour and half this morning.  But the president later reported Putin was the only one who caught anything.  Score one for the Russians, Tucker. 

Just another example of the erosion of American power under this administration.  We can‘t even beat him fishing in our own backyard.  You live there.  You spent your whole life growing up.  You know where the fish are.  You have to win the fishing dual. 

CARLSON:  What‘s infuriating to me.  I spent the weekend fishing in Maine.  And I had a pretty slow weekend, fish-wise, and to think that Vladimir Putin caught have been the reason. 

GEIST:  He plucked one out of there.

CARLSON:  Right, that he caught a bigger—this foreigner, sneaking into our country, doesn‘t even like us and catches a bigger fish than I do in Maine.  It‘s just infuriating.

GEIST:  Frankly, it‘s humiliating.  And Bush should not have admitted it.  What do you think they were going for? 

CARLSON:  Stripers.  They were going for striped bass. 

GEIST:  Maybe hit some blues up there too every once in a while. 

CARLSON:  Making me jealous.  If Vladimir Putin could be fishing in Maine, kind of makes you wonder what we‘re doing here? 

GEIST:  I know, it‘s pathetic.  It‘s pathetic.  Well, if reports out of Maryland‘s eastern shore are true, here‘s your story, Tucker, Vice President Dick Cheney may not be the creepiest guy on his block for long.  Word is that Michael Jackson was house hunting for water front property the other day in St. Michaels, Maryland, where the vice president has a home. 

Jackson reportedly was traveling with an entourage and his every move was followed by a hovering helicopter.  That will win him over with the neighbors.  The good news about having the vice president of the United States in the neighborhood, a strictly-enforced no-fly zone will keep Jacko‘s choppers at arms length and will not disturb the rest of the neighborhood. 

So, I don‘t know, maybe they can keep the choppers away, but I‘m not sure the eastern shore is ready for a neighbor with an amusement park in the backyard.  That‘s going to ruffle some feathers, I‘m afraid.

CARLSON:  The amazing is Michael Jackson, according to your reporting, actually—I know all about this because of you, Willie—

GEIST:  Yes.

CARLSON:  He‘s completely broke.  He has less money than I had in college.  Yet he still somehow leases a helicopter to fly over him.  Who is extending him credit? 

GEIST:  I don‘t know.  And who are the member of this entourage?  Are they being compensated?  And if so, how?  I don‘t know.  There‘s so many unanswered questions when you talk about the Jacko budget.  You know what I mean?  There‘s a lot of questions.

CARLSON:  I think it‘s all the Jesus juice you can drink.  That‘s about it.

GEIST:  Tempting. 

CARLSON:  Willie Geist from headquarters.  Thanks, Willie.  For more of Willie Geist, check out ZeitGeist at Tucker.MSNBC.com.  It‘s worth it.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with the Reverend Al Sharpton.  Don‘t miss that.  We‘re back at 6:00.  See you tomorrow.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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.

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