updated 7/10/2007 11:32:47 AM ET 2007-07-10T15:32:47

Guests: Charles Rangel, Melinda Henneberger, Joan Konner

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Welcome to the show.  A hot July day in Washington just got hotter as the Congress reconvenes amid the strongest anti-war rhetoric to date.  On the skillet is the president‘s Iraq policy, having already lost the support of key Senate Republicans like George Voinovich of Ohio and Richard Lugar of Indiana.  The White House has, according to the “New York Times” this morning, entered an internal debate about the possibility of troop withdrawal from Iraq.  The White House denied that today.  On “Meet the Press” Sunday, the face of Republican opposition to the war, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska spoke matter of factly in terms that would make the White House denial a moot point.  Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL ®, NEBRASKA:  If we do not see this administration take some initiatives to make some changes, significant strategic policy changes over the next 90 days, then of course it would be forced on them.  And that would lead me to believe that they‘re just holding on, hoping that they can, at the end, resurrect something out of this at a great cost of our American men and women. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  The posturing also includes recently, retired anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan, who has been threatening to run against Nancy Pelosi‘s re-election unless Speaker Pelosi moves to impeach the president of the United States.

And Colin Powell tells a gathering in Aspen that he tried desperately to convince President Bush that the Iraq war was a bad idea and that he, Powell, does not believe American military force can solve the problems there. 

Meanwhile another 13 people died Monday in Iraq after a weekend that saw more than 220 people killed by violence.  Iraq‘s foreign minister warned today that withdrawal of American troops could make the civil war their worse.  It could lead to the collapse of that country. 

To make matters even more frightening, the Turkish army has massed 140,000 troops along its border with Kurdish Iraq.  It feels like put up or shut up time in Washington.  President Bush‘s political options have dwindled to a scant few.  But he remains the commander in chief, beholden to nobody, but to the keepers of America‘s purse strings.  Does Congress have the guts to cut off that funding for the war if President Bush does not agree to begin drawing down the number of U.S. troops in Iraq?

Here with his answer, maybe the definitive answer is Democratic Congressman from New York, and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Charlie Rangel.  Mr. Chairman, thanks for coming on.

CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK:  Good to be with you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So here it is almost exactly six months after Democrats took control of the Congress and we‘re having the same conversation that we had six months ago.  Why exactly did voters elect the Democrats?

RANGEL:  There is no question in my mind that the voters are way ahead of the House of Representatives and the Senate.  This has to be most immoral blunder that our great nation has ever involved itself in. 

And what you‘ve found in the past, and you‘re not going to find in the future, is the Republicans have been in lock step to support the commander-in-chief. 

But this is breaking and it has caused the Democrats to have three sets of Democrats: those who say the commander-in-chief, right or wrong, those who want to withdraw from the war and those who just want to cut the funds off and do it yesterday.

And so therefore we haven‘t been able to get the type of majorities.  But there‘s been over a dozen Republicans that have been there and they‘ve talked to the White House and they‘ve told the president that this election, their re-election is far more important than staying the course. 

And so I‘ve said it for months, Tucker, on your program, this war is over.  The only question is how many Americans and others have to die and be wounded before we realize that there is no military solution to the war. 

CARLSON:  OK, yes Mr. Chairman, you have been saying that on this show for months.  And I guess my question gets to the question of competence—the competence of the Democratic leadership in the Congress.  Here you have a number of Republicans on your side, but you have more importantly, you have the majority and you have public support.  And you haven‘t done anything.  So what does that say about your ability to run the Congress, the Democrats ability?

RANGEL:  This is not running the Congress.  This is a question that everyone agrees that we have to get the hell out of there and there is a legitimate concern by some people that we should not do it if it appears as though, that is the key thing, that it‘s going to adversely affect the safety of the troops that are there.  It is a legitimate concern for people.

CARLSON:  Yes, it is. 

RANGEL:  And so with the Republicans, and they‘re falling apart.  You can say what you want about the Congress.  The American people have dictated, get the hell out.  And how Dick Cheney has been able to so influence the commander-in-chief, there is no support for this war anywhere that you go.  It is all over, Tucker.

CARLSON:  But here‘s, I think, the other legitimate concern and I‘d like to hear you address it, since as you said the war is over and we‘re getting out.  We are fighting al Qaeda.  That‘s not a matter of speculation, it‘s a matter of fact. It‘s a bipartisan consensus that al Qaeda is in Iraq and we are at war with them.

RANGEL:  You don‘t know that, you don‘t know what al Qaeda looks like.

CARLSON:  Actually, I.

RANGEL:  . You don‘t know who we are fighting. 

CARLSON:  Is that true?

RANGEL:  And we don‘t either.

CARLSON:  Is that true?  I asked you that question precisely to find out if you were going to say what you just said.  Are you saying that al Qaeda is not in Iraq? Is that your position?

RANGEL:  I am saying that if they are in Iraq now, they came into Iraq.  We haven‘t the slightest clue as to who we‘re searching out and killing.  I hate to say they all look alike, we have no clue about what we‘re doing. 

CARLSON:  OK, that may be absolutely right. 

RANGEL:  It is absolutely right. 

CARLSON:  But our military commanders on the ground say we are fighting in addition to a lot of other people, al Qaeda - al Qaeda under the command of Osama bin Laden.  Are you saying that‘s not true? And if it true, what are we going to do when we leave?  Are they going to leave?  No, they‘re going to stay there.  That‘s a big problem, isn‘t it?

RANGEL:  I can tell you this.  It is silly to say that al Qaeda is under Osama bin Laden when all of the military intelligence indicates that he is in Afghanistan. 

The truth of the matter is that we have a religious war there that‘s been going on for thousands of years.  And I defy anyone to go into any town and tell me among the villages, the people who are there which ones is the Shiites, which one is the Sunni and which one is a Kurd.  We have no clue.  We don‘t know the language.  We don‘t know the culture.  We don‘t know the people.  All we know is that a lot of people are dying and being killed over there.

CARLSON:  OK, but here‘s—look.  President Bush is to blame for this war and it is a stain that he‘ll never erase and I‘m not defending the president. 

But he does make one point that you have to pay attention to.

RANGEL:  I sure want to hear it.

CARLSON:  I would like to see you respond to it.  His point is when we leave, chaos will reign.  There will be increased bloodshed for which we will be at least partly responsible and the lunatics will have a base of operation from which to attack us.  That‘s a very serious point.

RANGEL:  I can respond to that.  First of all, this commitment by other countries and coming in and helping us, you know, that wasn‘t true.  We‘ve alienated everybody that we can in foreign countries in order to help us get out of this. 

The answer to this is very simple.  We have got so many so-called friends there, the Egyptians, the Saudi Arabians, the Jordans.  They should be able to talk with the Syrians and the Iranians.  This is their mess. 

All I‘m saying is that if we don‘t have the wherewithal to bring them together and say we made one hell of a big mistake, we‘ve caused more problems there.  We can say we‘re well intended.  Everyone needs oil and we needed it. 

But the truth of the matter is, they‘re going to have to come in.  They don‘t even hold our coats while we‘re fighting there.  The Jordans run in and out of the White House, the president of Egypt is there.  The king of Jordan is there.  This is their mess and they ought to - I don‘t mind helping them in terms of getting resolved.

CARLSON:  So you‘re saying we turn our national security over to the Jordanians and the Saudi Arabians? Is that really a wise choice? They fight al Qaeda for us?

RANGEL:  Let me tell you.  Under what imagination do you have that our national security is in Baghdad?  Where‘s our national security?  What stretch of your imagination?

CARLSON:  I think thanks to Bush‘s blunders, it is.  I think we are fighting people who, when we leave, will continue to fight us.  I think there‘s evidence that that‘s true.  You don‘t believe that.

RANGEL:  Well, you can ask Tony Blair and those in England.  I mean, those that‘s been on our side are in jeopardy.  But you can‘t say - you sound just like Bush in saying we have to fight them over there so they don‘t come over here.  That is just a bunch of poppy cock. 

CARLSON:  No actually it was poppy cock.  Now, it‘s true.  It used to be poppy cock before the stupid war.  But Bush has made it true.  Now it is true and we have to deal with it.

RANGEL:  What makes you think they‘re coming over here as a result of us fighting and getting killed over there?  There‘s no connection at all.

CARLSON:  Some of the people were just arrested in Great Britain trained there.  It is like Afghanistan in the ‘80s and ‘90s.  It‘s a training ground for the lunatics.

RANGEL:  Then you proved my point.  Fighting over there is not telling us that we‘re safer over here.  We don‘t even know who we‘re fighting over there.  Maybe if we weren‘t over there, they wouldn‘t be fighting us. 

CARLSON:  Chairman, we‘re out of time, I‘m being told.  And I‘m sorry because I really appreciate your coming on and talking this through.  Thanks a lot for joining us.

RANGEL:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  With Republican support for the war crumbling, what does that mean for President Bush? Is he dead in the water on Iraq?  Plus, just how serious is talk of impeaching him?  Pretty serious according to one poll and Vice President Dick Cheney should not be sitting too comfortably.  He is in the crosshairs, according to this survey of the American people. 

We‘ll explain in just a minute.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  As support for his Iraq policy has eroded over the years, President Bush has been remarkably unwavering.  Even his many critics must admire his conviction.  However, fewer and fewer Republicans are willing to stand with him on the war.  Both Richard Lugar and George Voinovich, senators who have supported Mr. Bush until now have in essence defected.  They‘ve left the commander-in-chief in a precarious political situation to discuss the probable direction of American policy in Iraq.

Given the bad spot in which President Bush finds himself, we welcome Melinda Henneberger.  She is contributing writer for Slate.com and author of “If Only They Listened To Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians To Hear.”  And Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst, welcome to you both.  It is kind of over for the war, isn‘t it, Pat?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I don‘t think so for Bush because I think Bush only has to defy these folks for three more weeks and then you‘ve got the August recession and then the big battle comes in September.  I think Petraeus comes back then.  I still detect in Bush, here‘s a guy that, Tucker, that guy stayed with amnesty when the whole party just bolted.  He defied it.  I think he is going to defy it on the war.

CARLSON:  Boy, it just seems like you can get to a point.  And I‘m not even arguing the merits of it, what he ought to do.  But as a political matter, you get to a point where if nobody is for you, you got really no choice but to kind of go along with what the people running the show, which would be Congress, do, right?

MELINDA HENNEBERGER, SLATE CONTRIBUTING WRITER:  I read a quote in the “New York Times” where one of Bush‘s advisors was quoted as saying, of all the Republican defections, boy, the president has got to get out in front of this train. 

I thought that was an interesting choice of words.  It sounds like a guy who is writing for a new boss.  But, I agree.  I think not only is it way too late to get out in front of the train, but on every matter could you name, he‘s proven that he‘s impervious to that sort of pressure.

BUCHANAN:  Let me tell you why he‘s not going to do it.  You say politically.  What is in it for him, Tucker?

Let‘s suppose he comes out and says, well all these fellows are breaking with me.  I guess we‘re going to move in that direction.  He believes that will mean he loses the war.  He believes that means he will break the presidency.  He believes that means he will go down as someone who got us into a war and we were defeated. 

I think all of his interests, if you talk even cold political interests argue for not doing it.  There is some news, we get John Burns of the “New York Times” said this is working better than people think. 

I think his cold political interests are, OK, Lugar, you fellows, you want to go that direction?  You go, I‘m going to stay right where I am and I‘ll bet you that‘s what he does. 

CARLSON:  Well the irony, I think and I say this as someone who thought the war was a foolish tragedy for a long time.  The irony is the case for staying in Iraq, at least for not leaving is I think more compelling by the day. 

The evidence amounts that we‘re fighting this proxy war against Iran and they‘re fighting a war against us and there‘s a large number of al Qaeda members in Iraq who aren‘t going to go away when we leave. 

Can Bush still make that case?  That you may not agree with the war, but it‘s just too scary to leave.  Can he say that?

HENNEBERGER:  I don‘t think he would say that.  He could. 

CARLSON:  He ought to.

HENNEBERGER:  I think that the reality is that it will be complete chaos if we leave and even more chaotic if we stay.  So I don‘t think that anyone should be making the case at this point, that all we have to do is leave and the region will find its way.

CARLSON:  But that is in essence the case that Democrats are making.  At least the ones on this show, they come on and they say look, it has been going on for a long time.  It will simmer to low boil.  We should wash our hands of it. 

HENNEBERGER:  I think that‘s dishonest.

CARLSON:  It is totally dishonest. 

HENNEBERGER:  I think the reality on the ground is it‘s gong to be chaotic, we should get ready for that.  And it would be worse for us to stay.  That‘s what I hear people saying. 

CARLSON:  So just face it directly, tell the truth and say it‘s just going to be a genocide.

HENNEBERGER:  I don‘t think there is any chance that - well, there is always a chance.  But I do not expect the president to say that. 

BUCHANAN:  If we pull out, the people that cast their luck with us, they‘re the ones that are certainly going to be killed.  And I agree that the Shia will eventually win, at least in their part of the country easily. 

But the president has said that.  I remember one time, it sounded like he was talking to me.  He said even if you are opposed to this war or opposed to going in, we can‘t walk away now because of the disastrous consequences. 

If we walk away, quite frankly this is my problem with Lugar and the Iraq Study Group.  Their analyses are dead on, and then they say let‘s all get together and have diplomacy and we‘re going to save what, 155,000 Americans can‘t say fighting? That‘s preposterous.

CARLSON:  With the help of the Jordanian army.  I agree with you.  As a Buchanannite, I think he was speaking to me, too.  No, I completely agree with you.  It doesn‘t make me like Bush any more.  It makes me resent him more for getting us in this terrible situation.  But I reluctantly agree with everything you said.

Is the wave toward impeachment growing when it come to the eagle and the angler?  A new poll shows some surprising sentiments on that very sentiment.  The eagle and the angler of course are the Secret Service names of the president and vice president.  Plus, was conservative Fred Thompson working for a pro-choice group?  If he did, how is that going to play among Republican primary voters?  We‘ll tell you when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  It has been a pretty tough summer for President Bush.  His immigration plan went down in flames.  Support among conservatives is eroding fast and Congress keeps sending subpoenas to his staff. 

Could impeachment, a movement toward it be gaining steam as well? Well a new poll says that 45 percent of Americans want to see impeachment proceedings begin -- 54 percent want the same for Vice President Dick Cheney. 

Do these percentages simply represent registered Democrats?  Are they confusing impeachment with recall?  Are they just mad?  Are there even real ground for impeachment?

Here to tell us, we welcome back Melinda Henneberger, she‘s contributing writer for Slate.  And Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst. 

You have to think, I know you were here for impeachment.  I think you were.  You have to think that anybody for impeachment for Bush, no matter how much you despise Bush, either forgot about the first impeachment we had eight years ago or is just mad.  And that‘s what they‘re saying, I‘m just mad!  Do you really think they mean it?

HENNEBERGER:  I really think that what this means is A, I think it is very interested that they‘re more interested in impeaching Cheney than Bush, meaning that the public believes that it is Cheney who has been calling the shots all the time. 

This very interesting line in the “Washington Post” series about Cheney and having his finger in every pie.  Saying, yes, Bush was the decider but Cheney served up the menu of choices.  Sort of like the parent who doesn‘t say, so, darling, how about vegetables tonight?

CARLSON:  Right, you can have the green beans and the brussel sprouts?

HENNEBERGER:  You take carrots or the broccoli.  But I do think it is more desired to fast forward to the end of the Bush presidency surely than it is to go through impeachment again. 

I personally would hope that we would not go down that road and would put our energies into something a little more productive. 

CARLSON:  You would think that.  I wonder how many Democratic members of Congress will be thick enough to misread these numbers and see them as an actual endorse of impeachment.  Because nothing would be a greater disaster for the Democrats than to actually try to impeach the guy.

BUCHANAN:  I think Kucinich said he had 12 guys already to do it.

CARLSON:  Kucinich, you wonder who those 12 guys are.  And I say this as a long time fan of Dennis‘s.  But truly.

BUCHANAN:  He says they‘re not that foolish that they would attempt something like this. 

It would be the stupidest thing they could do.  With Cheney and Bush in there, they‘ve got the two guys they want sitting in there, in the White House right until the end, perfect targets for them. 

And if they tried this, I think a lot of people would react against it.  I really can‘t - this is an indictment of the American people.  Whatever you say about it, they are not guilty of any high crimes and misdemeanors. 

Both Clinton and Nixon had going into impeachment, independent counsels investigating all kinds of crimes.  And there is no independent counsel out there even investigating these guys.  What are you going to impeach them on?  What is the charge?

CARLSON:  That‘s a good question.  General badness. 

HENNEBERGER:  I‘m guessing you could come up with a lot.

CARLSON:  But actually, John Conyers has.  Chairman Conyers‘ staff has put together a book on impeachment.  Here‘s what I don‘t understand. 

During the 1990s, you had all these conservative who hated Clinton.  It became the ruling theme of their lives.  People like Bob Tyrell and other lunatics like that.  The Clinton administration—he wasn‘t.

HENNEBERGER:  My mom is reading his book.

CARLSON:  I‘m sorry.  Don‘t waste the money.  But my point is that guys like that, like Bob Tyrell did more to hurt conservatives than almost anybody.  And the Clinton administration help them up as the crazies that they were and said this is our opposition, right?

HENNEBERGER:  Right. 

CARLSON:  Why don‘t the Bush people do that? Boy, there are a lot of left-wing Bob Tyrell‘s running around.  You could hold them up and scare the beejesus out of everybody in the country.  Why don‘t they do that?

HENNEBERGER:  Well, maybe that would happen if they got further down the road.  I don‘t think the impeachment thing is serious.

CARLSON:  But in general, why don‘t - the mono-mania of Bush haters is something that I think would spook middle America. 

BUCHANAN:  They did that with Michael Moore in 2004 very effectively.

CARLSON:  They did.  That‘s a great example.

BUCHANAN:  They put the guy right in Carter‘s box. 

CARLSON:  I know, and the Republicans jumped on that and said, here‘s the Democratic Party.

HENNEBERGER:  But I think it‘s not mono-mania Bush haters.  It is the majority now of Americans who are very turned off by Bush‘s policies and by the consequences of those policies.  I really don‘t think it is Bush hatred run amuck.

CARLSON:  You may be absolutely right.  My point is there are a lot of really intense Bush haters who are not mainstream people.  And if you were the White House, you‘re going to hold them up and say, these are our enemies.  Don‘t they scare you?  Just as the Clintons did with some of the fringes of the right in the 1990s.

HENNEBERGER:  Because we were in so much opposition from really non-scary people, I‘m not sure that does a lot for them.

CARLSON:  Boy if I were the Bush people, I would try it.  But their PR department, I don‘t know if they‘re.

BUCHANAN:  Well Cindy Sheehan is now after Pelosi, isn‘t she, Tucker?

CARLSON:  You can‘t buy press like that. 

His presidential campaign is struggling.  And how his own advisors may be suggesting that John McCain hang it up and leave the Senate. 

And she may be back home from Crawford.  But Cindy Sheehan has not taken her sights off Washington.  The surprising part is who she‘s zeroed in on.  You heard it a minute ago: the speaker of the House.  That‘s all next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)  

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Senator John McCain‘s financial troubles are well documented.  The one time Republican front runner is now running to save his campaign for president.  Is it time for McCain to give up his Senate seat in order to show he is completely focused on the White House?  The “U.S. News and World Report” says some of McCain‘s own advisors are telling him to leave the Senate so he will have more time to raise money and won‘t to have cast votes on issues like immigration reform. 

Any chance McCain will listen to that advice?  Back again with their insights, we welcome Melinda Henneberger from Slate and Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst. 

Before we get to that, we were talking a minute ago about Iraq.  And I can‘t pass news from today; Colin Powell out at the Aspen Institute, Walter Isaakson‘s (ph) event, out in Aspen, talking about the war.  And he said this—this is just remarkable coming from the former secretary of state, quote, “I tried to avoid this war.  I took President Bush through the consequences of going into an Arab country and becoming the occupiers.” 

Now, Melinda, What strikes me about this is this is the same man who sold many Americans on the war in his U.N. speech.  Can he get away with this? 

HENNEBERGER:  This is the latest in a long line of sua culpas.  I tried, I tried, but it wasn‘t my fault.  I think that one of the reasons we‘re in the mess we‘re in today is because the press corps, left, right and center, at the time, thought this war was a really jammy idea and so many of my colleagues in the press would explain that by saying, Colin Powell said so. 

I blame Colin Powell personally far more than anyone else in that administration, because, by his own admission, he thought it was the wrong thing to do.  It is not being good soldier to say—to sell an idea that you think is so wrong, putting American lives at risk for a war that you don‘t believe in.  I think that he should really stop. 

CARLSON:  What you just said is unimpeachable in its rightness and its wisdom.  I just don‘t know why more people don‘t say that.  And 20 years from now, people will say, Colin Powell, oh yes, he was the guy who got run over by Bush on the way to war.  Poor Colin Powell.  He will sell this idea and I think it‘s wrong. 

Pat, John McCain, dropping out of the Senate to run for president. 

The U.S. News says there is talk of that. 

BUCHANAN:  I would drop out of running for president and stay in the Senate.  I think his campaign is about over.  Look, he has to make a decision on Iowa.  I don‘t think he‘s going to go into Iowa because I think Romney‘s going to run away with it, and his campaign organization is nothing.  He is out of the straw poll. 

His last stop is New Hampshire, I think, Tucker.  If he doesn‘t win New Hampshire, he‘s not going to win South Carolina.  He is out of the race if he gets there.  Why would he give up the Senate seat?  Why give it up?  He‘s at least got a position of power and a base there. 

CARLSON:  The idea is, if he remains in the Senate, he‘ll have to take unpleasant positions on things like immigration.  Oh, wait, he already has.  I agree with you.  I agree with you. 

BUCHANAN:  He should have done it before the amnesty bill if this is what he‘s going to do. 

CARLSON:  Do you think there is any chance he‘ll do it? 

HENNEBERGER:  My reaction was two words, Bob Dole. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly what I said!  I said that this morning.  Bob Dole gave up being majority leader. 

HENNEBERGER:  I don‘t see what that gets him. 

BUCHANAN:  He won the nomination for it.  McCain isn‘t even going to get the nomination. 

HENNEBERGER:  I would not completely write John McCain off though.  Only because I don‘t think Republicans have yet met the candidate they‘re in love with. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that.  We‘ll see when the other ones start blowing up and people think, who do we nominate?  Oh, wait, there‘s old John McCain in the attic.  Let‘s get him down.  I don‘t know.  You never know. 

Speaking of other candidates blowing up, Fred Thompson reported over the weekend, Pat, that he did lobbying for a pro-choice organization.  How real is this?  Is this a problem?

BUCHANAN:  It is a problem, I think.  He did lobbying for Father Aristead (ph) too.  This was done, I believe, before he went into the United States Senate.  So they‘re probably digging up a lot of this stuff.  I don‘t think it is a major grave and serious problem.  My understanding, Tucker, is he has really communicated with the Council on National Policy people and a lot of these conservatives.  And he is locking a lot of these folks up to get into the race. 

I think the question for Fred is, can he really be that dynamic and forceful and great a candidate?  If he is, he‘s got a wide open track to the nomination.  But that‘s a great big if.  

CARLSON:  It just seems to me, with Rudy Giuliani running as a pro-choice candidate, and running in first place, it is hard to believe Fred Thompson, who says I‘m opposed to abortion, he‘s going to be penalized for this.  It‘s kind of hard to see it. 

HENNEBERGER:  There are so many candidates who are not pure enough for either side on this issue.  That I think his problem fades into obscurity, as you say, when compared to -- 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  One thing the news teaches us is not everything does fade into obscurity, unfortunately.  I‘m speaking, of course, about Cindy Sheehan, who is still around.  Now she is planning, she says, if the speaker of the house does not impeach the president or attempt to, she is going to run against her in San Francisco for her House seat.  This seems to be a metaphor for the larger problem that the part—the Democratic party is facing; the net roots, the activists, the people who really care from—are really dissatisfied with how unradical this Congress has been. 

HENNEBERGER:  I‘m not sure Cindy Sheehan even speaks for net roots.  I think there is a lot of dissatisfaction, obviously.  But I think a lot of people understand too that if Nancy Pelosi doesn‘t have the votes, she doesn‘t have the votes.  I personally admire Harry Reid, on the other hand, for saying it is our moral duty to try to bring these folks home from Iraq. 

CARLSON:  Why shouldn‘t Cindy Sheehan run and win though?  Because she represents a completely valid point of view in the Democratic party.  You know, I don‘t know, why isn‘t Cindy Sheehan a more authentic voice in the Democratic party than Nancy Pelosi?

HENNEBERGER:  I think there are a lot of reasons for that.  But I think that most Democrats who are anti-war Democrats see Nancy Pelosi as an ally who doesn‘t yet have the votes to get done what she wants to get done. 

BUCHANAN:  Other than impeachment, where is Cindy Sheehan?  What is her disagreement with Pelosi?  Other than idiot move of having the speaker of the House lead to battle to impeach the president of the United States, which would be insane. 

CARLSON:  Well, Cindy Sheehan believes that America is a force for evil in the world, and she has said so pretty plainly again and again.  And I think she wants the speaker to articulate that point of view. 

HENNEBERGER:  Most anti-war Democrats do not think—

(CROSS TALK) 

CARLSON:  I think quite a few I know think the United States—if you asked, the people—we‘ve had many people on the show, you ask them what is the problem in Iraq?  It is us.  We are the problem in Iraq.  It was an idyllic scene, sort of Babylon on the Euphrates.  It was quite a great place before we showed up.  You know what I mean, America, the root of sin.  You don‘t hear that?

HENNEBERGER:  I think you‘re exaggerating a little bit. 

CARLSON:  I may be exaggerating slightly, but the core is right.  OK, You have written a book about what women want in politics and about what women would like to hear politicians say to them.  It‘s a complicated topic.  I want to zero in on the Hillary question. 

HENNEBERGER:  Everybody does.

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s interesting.  I don‘t really understand it.  Every woman I know doesn‘t like Hillary, and yet the polls suggest a lot of women love her.  What‘s the truth?

HENNEBERGER:  I can‘t really speak to the polls.  I can only speak to what I hear.  People can tell you things polls never can, and vice versa.  I went to 20 states over 18 months, talked to hundreds of women across the entire spectrum.  It was the opposite of a poll.  I never said Hillary up or down or any other candidate. 

So it was completely open ended, and in that way, probably the no vote was over-represented.  However, the one patch of common ground I saw from left to center to right was an expressed antipathy for Hillary Clinton. 

CARLSON:  Really, on what grounds?

HENNEBERGER:  It depends who you are talking to.  On the right, I don‘t need to explain.  On the left—not to you.  On the left, it is over the war.  It‘s over her support of the war and her reluctance to call her support a mistake.  But in the center—and those are the voters without whom no Democrat can win the White House. 

In the center, it is a vaguer, more visceral feeling that what you see is not what you get; that she would say whatever might be required; that this lack of authenticity. 

CARLSON:  It is interesting.  The antipathy is profound and measurable among well educated women. 

HENNEBERGER:  The women who are most like Hillary like her the least. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Here‘s this fascinating “Washington Post”/ABC News poll; Support among female voters without college degrees, Hillary Clinton, 61 percent, if you‘re talking about the Democratic field; Barack Obama, 18.  This is a group that Mrs. Clinton‘s campaigns as, quote, women with needs. 

But poor, less educated women love Hillary. 

HENNEBERGER:  Again, I can‘t really explain the poll. 

BUCHANAN:  Who did you talk to? 

HENNEBERGER:  I talked to everything from very wealthy to literally homeless—

BUCHANAN:  Did you get those numbers too? 

HENNEBERGER:  Yes, I‘ve seen the numbers.  I‘m just saying that what I heard a lot form the most—from the strongest Democrats, I heard guilt because they don‘t like Hillary.  I heard, I know I should and I would love to have a woman, but not her. 

CARLSON:  You know, this show is a safe place for those people.  This is a show where you don‘t have to feel guilty for not liking Hillary Clinton.  You can come here and be who you are. 

BUCHANAN:  Tucker‘s sanctuary. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.  This is a free space, exactly, for Hillary dislikers.  But I mean, it is interesting.  Why is she—she‘s winning among women nationally in the polls.  Why—is it female solidarity? 

HENNEBERGER:  No.  No.  It is women would prefer a woman candidate.  But it is not an automatic.  And it is seen as condescending in the same way African-Americans voters don‘t say oh, he‘s black, that‘s the guy for me.  Women voters would love to see a woman in the White House.  I did not hear even the most conservative women saying they weren‘t ready for that. 

But win my vote.  It is not an automatic because of your gender.  One of the most interesting quotes I heard was someone just recently, actually a friend of mine, who is a Republican who has turned blue after holding her breath for the last six years.  I said, you know, I think I think I would line up with Hillary pretty well on most of the issues.  She said really, how can you tell? 

There is that feeling that I don‘t know what she stands for.  Was that this week?  Was that this hour?  That‘s her problem. 

CARLSON:  Pat, I would say, among conservatives, you‘re friendlier to Hillary than almost any.  

BUCHANAN:  I think she has run a fine campaign.  I mean, just watching her; I was very hostile to her in early 1990s, you know, the head band and all that stuff.  But I think she has run a good campaign.  I think she won both debates.  I think she out shown Barack Obama.  I think she took charge in sort of knocking down the question, don‘t give us these silly questions.  I think she‘s done a great job.

I think she still does bump her head.  But I think she can be president of the United States. 

CARLSON:  She scares me.  I cross my legs every time she talks.  Pat Buchanan, Melinda Henneberger, thank you very much.  No, it‘s true.  It‘s involuntary.  I don‘t mean it.  But I do every single time. 

Politicians from George Bush to Hillary Clinton profess their faith as a way to connect.  But what if they declared they had no faith at all?  Would they still make it American politics?  Not likely.

And if money doesn‘t grow on trees, why is this bank robber covered in shrubbery?  Chief horticulture crime correspondent Willie Geist will explain.  You are watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Let‘s get right to it.  Do you believe in god?  If not and you admit it, congratulations, you‘re a member of perhaps the least popular minority in the country.  America is a nation that will gladly tolerate the most unlikely faiths imaginable.  Just ask Tom Cruise.  But no faith at all?  Not acceptable, at least not in politics, at least this year. 

But is that changing?  Joining us now is Joan Konner.  She is the former dean of the Columbia Journalism School and she has compiled a collection of quotations from notable thinkers, writers and scientists who have questioned organized religion and a belief in god.  Her book is called “The Atheist‘s Bible.”  Joan Konner, thanks for coming on. 

JOAN KONNER, “THE ATHEISTS BIBLE”:  Thank you for inviting a non-atheist who has written about atheism on your show. 

CARLSON:  There is a quote in here from Bertrum Russell, who is quoted throughout the book, that kind of sums up my personal problem with atheism.  And he says this—and I think this is meant in defense of it.  But he said, “not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality. 

In other words, zealotry is the enemy of rational thought.  Atheists strike me as every bit as dogmatic as any southern Baptist. 

KONNER:  I think that‘s in the book too.  There is a chapter in the book called the Brimstone Chronicles that quotes atheists and shows how extreme they can be as well.  And another chapter called Scientocify (ph), which is kind of a joke on science, when scientists are more certain than they can be. 

My one line introduction to the book is the reason why there are so many opinions is that nobody knows the truth. 

CARLSON:  Yes, and yet those opinions matter.  People who believe that all there is is not all that we can see, who believe in some higher power, whatever it is, it seems to me are going to be more restrained in their behavior than people who don‘t allow for the possibility of god.  If you think someone is watching, you‘re likely to be a better person.  Right?  Than if you don‘t think anyone is watching. 

So isn‘t it fair to ask that our political leaders believe in some kind of god? 

KONNER:  I think that that is kind of a juvenile point of view. 

CARLSON:  OK. 

KONNER:  That is—when cultures in its infancy, it needs something to be afraid of in order to act honorably or morally or ethically.  There is a chapter in the book that is called the book of common virtue.  It shows pages and pages of atheist who‘s are every bit as moral and every bit as committed to being honorable and fair and mature in their relationship to their fellow human beings without a belief in god. 

CARLSON:  I‘m sure that there are many.  In fact, I know one, a friend of mine, who is a professing atheist.  Here‘s an adult, rather than a juvenile point.  If you look back over the 20th century, the regimes that caused the most bloodshed were all atheist regimes, Mau, Hitler, Stalin.  These were not believers.  These were people who believed they were the final word.  There is a correlation, isn‘t there? 

KONNER:  There is a wonderful book—an old book called “To The Finland Station” by Edmund Wilson, that traces the course of revolutions.  And they all fail because they have fall into the wrong hands.  Those people that you are referring to are just the wrong hands.  There really is not a correlation between immorality and a belief in god. 

CARLSON:  I‘m not saying that there is a correlation.  I‘m not saying that people who don‘t believe in god are immoral.  I‘m merely saying that when you don‘t acknowledge that there might be someone more powerful than you, then, by definition, you imagine yourself god.  And that‘s a real problem, because there is no governor on your behavior at all. 

KONNER:  I think this country has every right to fall back on its founding fathers, who did believe in a deist democracy, but not a theocracy.  And it seems that the crumbling wall between church and state and the too often heard today, that we are a Christian nation, is becoming quite scary. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know what country you live in.  I bet you probably live in the upper west side of Manhattan.  But in the rest of the world, nobody ever talks about a Christian nation.  The only people who talk about a Christian nation are people who are upset about the idea that others might be talking about it. 

But, in fact, the country is becoming more secular by every single measure.  I don‘t know what America you‘re talking about. 

KONNER:  I don‘t think that‘s true.  I think that with the events of 9/11, and the headlines about fundamentalism and how I‘m right and you‘re wrong and that goes on both sides of this terrible war that we‘re in, that you‘ve been discussing, that in fact, people of faith are moving to the extreme.  And with faith-based grants from public funds—that is an erosion of the absolute wall between church and state. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Unfortunately, Joan Konner, as much as I appreciate it, we are out of time. 

KONNER:  Can I just read you one quote? 

CARLSON:  If you can do it in 11 seconds. 

KONNER:  OK, from Abraham Lincoln.  The bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession.  And John Adams, referring to the divinity of Christ, mystery is made a convenient cover for absurdity. 

CARLSON:  OK, well, he‘s not going to be elected archbishop of Canterbury, but he was a good president anyway.  I appreciate you coming on. 

KONNER:  Thank you for inviting me. 

CARLSON:  It might seem that Crawford, Texas would be the only place where President Bush could get a warm welcome.  But that could even be the home of the western White House—is beginning to tire of the Bush administration, apparently.  Presidential tourism correspondent Willie Geist joins us next with the details.  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  You‘ve waited all weekend for this moment. 

We would make you wait longer, but that would be cruel.  So we won‘t. 

Here‘s Willie Geist from headquarters.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, do you really cross your legs when Hillary Clinton talks? 

CARLSON:  Every time, involuntarily.  It is like those pictures you see of the soccer goalie when they‘re about to get the free kick.  That‘s me when she talks.  I can‘t help it. 

GEIST:  I know, she is actually kind of scary.  I have to admit.  I actually do it when Bill Clinton talks.  I don‘t know what that means.  I always feel violated. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think he‘s interested in you, Willie. 

GEIST:  Well, Tucker, There used to be a day in this country when it was easy to distinguish between the miss America and miss U.S.A. pageants.  Miss America was the classy one where the girls cared about charity.  And Miss U.S.A. had the slutty chicks.  Well, that line is being blurred now.  Miss New Jersey of the Miss America pageant is being black mailed with photographs that are said to be embarrassing to her. 

Packages with pictures have been sent anonymously to the Miss America Pageant with the demand that Miss New Jersey, Amy Polumbo (ph), seen here, give up her crown or suffer a public display of the photos.  See, that‘s Miss USA stuff right there. 

What kind of pictures are we talking about?  Polumbo talked about them on “The Today Show” this morning. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  There have been people who are questioning whether perhaps these photos are of you engaged in underage drinking. 

AMY POLUMBO, MISS AMERICA:  No. 

LAUER:  No underage drinking. 

POLUMBO:  I‘m not doing anything illegal.  Like we said, no nudity.  

LAUER:  Do you understand how strange it is for me to be sitting—

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  No drinking, no nudity, nothing illegal, what are we talking about here?  Why are you wasting my time? 

CARLSON:  It‘s probably her slouching.  The one thing I know about these contestants, they have perfect posture.

GEIST:  Also, she thinks she is a little racy.  Miss U.S.A. does her one better.  Miss U.S.A., in January, she stepped down because she was a 20-year-old who got knocked up and she had to give up her crown.  So, Miss U.S.A. still holds the mantle there.

CARLSON:  This girl is just bragging. 

GEIST:  Exactly.  Tucker, let‘s say you‘re sitting at home plotting a bank robbery and considering your options for disguise.  The ski mask and the panty hose are both so cliche at this point.  Why not mix it up a little bit with the cover yourself in branches and pretend you‘re a tree approach? 

Look closely at this picture from the surveillance camera at a New Hampshire bank.  Look down at the left there.  Yes, the man has duct taped leaves and branches to his head and his body to hid his identity.  Now, here‘s the scary part, he actually pulled off the robbery. 

He had no weapon.  He just cruised into the bank on Saturday, pretended he was a tree, demanded some cash and got it.  Well, the fun didn‘t last long.  Someone recognized him through the foliage and he was arrested the next day.  Regrettably, a police sergeant said of the robber, quote, he really went out on a limb. 

You knew that was coming.  You knew that was coming. 

CARLSON:  What is regrettable is this is New Hampshire.  This is the state that is likely choosing our next president.  These are its voters.

GEIST:  Yes, go with the fuller tree, like a Douglas Fir.  Just my two cents.

Finally, Crawford, Texas, Tucker, home to President Bush‘s ranch.  You would think the one place where he could catch a break.  But it turns out they‘re not real pleased with him down there either these days.  Reports say that tourism in Crawford has plummeted along with the president‘s approval rating.  He gave the nearly abandoned small town a big shot in the arm when he bought the place in 1999 and then again when he became president. 

But these days the Bush tourism business is less than brisk.  The Crawford Country Store was forced to shut down this year.  The owner says slow sales of Bush memorabilia forced her to, quote, face the facts.  Now, Tucker, this is sad, but there is hope.  They talk about Plains, Georgia when Jimmy Carter‘s approval ratings had to shut down.  They basically had to shut the town down, but he redeemed himself later with a good post president life.  And now they‘re back in business in Plains.  So, there‘s hope.

CARLSON:  What, there is like a Jimmy Carter shrine there? 

GEIST:  Yes, there sure is. 

CARLSON:  I would love to meet the pilgrims to that shrine.  Willie Geist, thanks, Willie.  For more Willie—you can‘t get enough—you can go to ZeitGeist@Tucker.MSNBC.com.  That‘s it for us tonight.  We‘ll be back here tomorrow at 6:00 Eastern.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.

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

END   

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