updated 7/16/2007 12:08:15 PM ET 2007-07-16T16:08:15

Guests: Frank Donatelli, A.B. Stoddard, Bill Press

CARLSON:  Welcome to the show.  After months, even years of slumber, the collective American consciousness of the terror threat reawakened.  Rising from the nearly pre-9/11 to complacency.  A week of disturbing reports about the freshly menacing power of al Qaeda ended with symbolic action on Capitol Hill today, as well as sharp rhetoric from a struggling presidential candidate. 

The Senate today passed the so-called Osama Bill.  The legislation doubles the bounty on Osama Bin Laden‘s head from $25 million to $50 million.  The bill passed by 87 to one.  And it symbolizes the helplessness many here in Washington, Republican and Democrat feel about the threat of al Qaeda. 

Is doubling down the right tactic?  We will get to that in just a minute. 

Meanwhile, John McCain tried to revive his dying bid for White House with a speech that attacks both al Qaeda and Hillary Clinton.  McCain, whose campaign meltdown co-incited with this week‘s troubling intelligence report spoke in Concord, New Hampshire, today.  Her is part of what he said.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  To talk about the struggle against Islamic extremists is of necessity, and to talk about our war with al Qaeda in Iraq.  Many Democrats claim this is a conflict we cannot win.  They ignore the consequences of a U.S. defeat at the hands of al Qaeda, and some ignore al Qaeda altogether. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Has the threat on terror on our shores and al Qaeda here reemerged as this country‘s most important security and political priority? 

Well, joining me now with  a first hand report from Capital Hill, is MSNBC Congressional Correspondent, Mike Viqueira.  Mike, what is going on up there? 

MIKE VIQUEIRA, MSNBC CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Tucker, first of all, doubling down on Osama bin Laden‘s bounty on his head.  You know, Democrats had a subliminal message here, as well.  Of course that National Intelligence estimate that was revealed earlier this week, claiming that al Qaeda had reconstituted itself with somewhat stronger than it has been since 2001.  Since the attacks of September 11th.  Democrats wanted to point out, by putting this bill on the floor, that Osama bin Laden was still at large, still on the loose, and the Bush administration has not yet caught him.  Even though he may or may not reportedly reside in that ungovernable wild area between Pakistan, on the border—between Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

You said the vote was 87 to one.  The one senator who voted against it was Jim Bunning, the conservative from Kentucky.  And here is what he had to say, “Catching Osama bin Laden and other leaders of al Qaeda is something the United States government has already made a top priority.  If Senator Dorgan truly supported our efforts to fight al Qaeda he would not support withdrawing from Iraq, a key battleground against al Qaeda in the war on terrorism.”

Now all day yesterday, you know, we had that bill in the House floor, Tucker.  That called for a withdrawal of American forces from a combat role by April 1st of next year.  Republicans repeatedly cited the reports of a resurgence of al Qaeda.  Today Democrats saying, hey wait a minute, al Qaeda and Iraq, and al Qaeda of Osama bin Laden, two separate entities here.  And of course, that‘s been part of the debate that‘s been raging for going on a year now in Congress.  But Democrats today, seeking to point out that they are two separate entities and that Osama bin Laden, the leader of the 9/11 attacks, still at large, still living far outside Iraq, reportedly between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  So Democrats are concerned, you are saying Mike, that if the focus goes back on al Qaeda, Republicans and the president will in turn say, well, they are in Iraq, so we need to stay in Iraq. 

VIQUEIRA:  Well, no.  They seek to make a distinction between al Qaeda in Iraq and the al Qaeda of Osama bin Laden, and ...

CARLSON:  What are they saying the distinction is? 

VIQUEIRA:  Well, that first of all, these are very familiar arguments.  Al Qaeda did not exist in Iraq before the American‘s and the coalition invaded Iraq, that‘s the first thing that they say.

Number two, that Saddam Hussein would have had nothing to with al Qaeda, and Osma bin Laden as it existed in 2001.  And that al Qaeda, in Mesopotamia, as they call themselves, at this point, is a creation of the chaos that has been engendered by the coalition invasion of Iraq. 

These are the points they are trying to make.  And that the people responsible for 9/11 are still on the loose.  From a political perspective, to their benefit they think, pointing that out is something that will benefit them politically, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Interesting.  There was also news today that Senators John Warner and Dick Luger, of course Republicans, both been around a long time, well respected, have drafted legislation that would ask the president, but not require him, to change course in Iraq.  What does that mean? 

VIQUEIRA:  Well, you know there has been a debate raging in the Senate, as well, it has taken up all of this week, goes into next week, this big defense bill. 

Democrats have put forward their measure, similar to what was passed in the House yesterday.  A withdraw has to begin within 120 days, and has to be completed by April 1st of next year. 

However, American forces could stay in Iraq to secure the boarders and to fight al Qaeda.  Republicans largely put the same piece of legislation, these two widely respected Republicans, of course, Dick Luger and John Warner, largely put forward the same piece of legislation without the timelines.  All they are saying, is that the Bush administration has to have a plan by October of this year, and it has to be quote, unquote, “executable by December 31st of this year.” 

It does not say that the president has to move forward with this plan.  No timeline whatsoever on this Republican version of the bill, unlikely that Democrats are going to go along with this, Tucker.  But what is significant here is Republicans now searching for something, a fallback position. 

Everyone agrees, that the next two weeks here, before Congress goes on a four-week recess in August, Democrats are going to be repeatedly putting these tough votes before them.  The House, for example, closing Gitmo, prohibiting foreign bases in Iraq.  These are all measures that will be put before Republicans in the House, who are so far remaining strong.  But the idea here is, is to keep hammering them, keep putting pressure on them.  As a practical matter, none of this is going to be passed by the Congress, or make it to the president‘s desk, and if some by wild stretch of the imagination it did, it would be vetoed. 

Republicans have said the for several months now, that the handwriting is on the wall, come September, it‘s all going to change.  So a lot of surprise could be seen in a political context what is going on here.  The remainder of this month in Congress, because when Congress comes back after Labor Day, Tucker, all bets are off.  And that has been made clear by Republican leaders to the White House. 

CARLSON:  You know, Congress is just complicated as hell.  And you explain it really well.  I am impressed.  Mike Viqueira, from the Hill, thanks a lot, Mike, I appreciate it. 

VIQEIRA:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  All right.

John McCain says it about Congress all the time, but now he concedes it‘s true, too for his presidential campaign.  They are spending money like drunken sailors.  McCain admits, he does, too.  It‘s his fault, he says.

Plus, if McCain were a Democrat, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards might try to cut him out of future presidential debates.  We‘ve got two of the Democratic front runners caught on tape trying to exclude their less fortunate colleagues.  You are watching MSNBC, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  John McCain takes responsibility for his struggling presidential campaign and he isn‘t giving up just yet.  Why does everybody else seem to this campaign is dead?  We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  John McCain accepted the blame for his disappointing campaign today.  And then he headed for New Hampshire.  The McCain campaign 2.0, however, is reigning things in a bit.  NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell reports that McCain flew coach to get to New Hampshire.  And the Senator traveling without an entourage.  McCain‘s operation takes on something of a Dennis Kucinich pall, the dean of political polls and trends says it‘s all but over for that campaign.  Be always cautious and measured and right Charlie Cook writes this.  Quote, “For all intents and purposes, McCain‘s campaign is over.  The physicians have pulled up the sheet.  The executors of the estate are taking over.  Paying bill and winding down—not strategizing, organizing and getting a message out—will be the order of the day.”

Well here to discuss whether Senator McCain can recover, we welcome Republican Strategist and McCain supporter and friend, Frank Donatelli.  Welcome, Frank.

FRANK DONATELLI, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Thank you.  Good to be with you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Now, Charlie Cook doesn‘t know everything, but he knows a lot.  And he is a pretty restrained character, I am not saying Charlie Cook is right, or that because Charlie Cook says the campaign is over, obviously.  But it‘s a measure of how everybody who is watching feels about it. 

DONATELLI:  Right.  Well, and of course, it‘s up to Senator McCain to prove them wrong.  It‘s only July of the year before the election.  There is six months to go before any ballots are cast, so it will be up to him to refocus the ship. 

I think they will have to slim down, they will have to do a lot more with less.  Most importantly, I think that they are going to have to focus on a message that is much more encompassing, and that really appeals much more to the Republican primary voters. 

CARLSON:  Republican primary voters, see—that‘s, here is my theory.  Everyone has—all the smart people, all the media people, the people who talk about this stuff for a living, say, well McCain‘s problem is, he is too closely aligned with Bush.  And he needs to stop that.

My theory is, he is trying to appeal to conservatives.  His problem is, they do not trust him.  Do you think that‘s right?

DONATELLI:  Well, there are some that do not.  And I must say, as a conservative Republican myself, I would say if you looked at the panoply of issues that should be of interests to conservatives, you could make an argument that John McCain has the most conservative voting record.  I am not talking about rhetoric in a presidential campaign.  But in terms of actual votes, he is the most conservatives when it comes to the war on terror, when it comes to judicial appointments, when it comes to holding down federal spending. 

I think on all of those things, he has a story to tell.  If you can get some of these other issues out of the way that has cluttered up the campaign so far. 

CARLSON:  But in the meantime, all these conservatives have gone over to Rudy Giuliani who is an out-of-the-closet liberal on a lot issues that used to matter to Republicans.  Even more insulting to McCain, in other words, it is personal.  So if you are McCain, and let‘s be honest, conservatives don‘t like him by and large, what do you do?  How do you win them back? 

DONATELLI:  Well, I think the big opportunity that Senator McCain has is there is no 800 pound gorilla in this race now.  The race is in flux.  There is no other way you can explain Fred Thompson, right?  He is not even a candidate, and now he is second or third in the national polls, depending on which one you take.  There is a huge undecided vote out there.  I think—my analysis talking to Republicans is, that people are still in a dating mood right now.  That they want to look at all the candidates and it‘s the candidate that can give the best—I mean, I think that someone that is a voting conservative, like McCain, that nevertheless is practical to reach across the aisle when necessary should be an attractive package for  a lot of Republicans.  If they will take the time to look at him.

CARLSON:  So presumably, McCain‘s strategy is John Kerry‘s strategy, in 2004, in the primaries.  Stand back, hang in the race, wait for the other guys to blow up, or collapse under the weight of their own silliness, like Howard Dean? 

DONATELLI:  You have you to slim down the campaign, probably you will to focus on fewer geographic, look at two early primary states.  I don‘t know if he wants to compete in Iowa. 

CARLSON:  Well, he did not last time. 

DONATELLI:  But he didn‘t last time, but he was going to compete this time.  I think that‘s one of the first tactical issues that they will decide, is whether they want to compete in Iowa.

CARLSON:  But Mitt Romney is the former governor of Massachusetts, was very high name I.D., New Hampshire has more former Massachusetts residents than ever.  I mean, half the state is foreign Massachusetts people fleeing taxes. 

DONATELLI:  Probably fleeing the state government. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right!  Running away from the bay state.  So Romney has a real advantage in New Hampshire. 

DONATELLI:  Well, Giuliani is close by.  But remember, New Hampshire is one of the states where Independents can vote.  I think McCain, through all of this, the other selling card that he has, is electibility.  Through all the bad news we have had, he still runs very close to the leading Democrats, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.  And Republicans are looking at a situation where it will be very tough to take back the House or Senate.  I think they will be looking at electibility far more than they have in the past.  And you have to look to McCain in that situation. 

CARLSON:  There is this kind of poignant description of Senator McCain flying up to New Hampshire last night, coach.  No entourage, only his son, Jimmy, who is an enlisted marine, about to ship out to Iraq.  He seems so alone.  Here is this guy, who has been this kind of heroic figure in American life for so long, and now he is humiliated and people are piling on.  How is he at this point?  This must be crushing? 

DONATELLI:  Look.  For something that spent seven years in a north Vietnamese prison camp, this is a walk in the park compared to that.  I mean, this is somebody that survived that, is not going to be deterred from what they feel like they need to do, by what they consider to be minor set backs like this.  Yes, he is going to have to fly coach for a while, and they are going to have to be conference calls and not big meetings, they will have to look at earned media, not paid media.  But if he has a fundamental message to impart to the Republican electorate, that I am a practical conservative that can work with Democrats when necessary.  I have the leadership, I can be elected, and I have the best story of any of the Republicans in the race right now.  The story, tell me about the man.  I think, you know, that‘s what he has got to focus on if is going to have a chance, going forward. 

CARLSON:  And Rudy Giuiliani explodes, too.  That would be another factor in the scenario for his victory. 

DONATELLI:  You know what?  I don‘t think you can predicate your focus on somebody else exploding.  You have to go after people you think you can appeal to. 

CARLSON:  Good luck with that. 

DONATELLI:  OK.  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Frank Donatelli, thanks very much.  I appreciate it.

Well, maybe all John McCain needs to save his presidential campaign, is more religion.  That seems to be working for Barack Obama.  Voters believe he is the most religious of all the democrats.  Will that actually help win votes? 

Plus, the Reverend Al Sharpton really does have God on his side, and he implies he does, Rudy Giuliani might be in trouble.  Reverend Al prepares to stalk America‘s mayor.  That‘s next.  This is MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  Just this week, Senators Clinton and Byrd, wrote an op-ed piece about the war in Iraq and never once mentioned al Qaeda or the terrorist presence in Iraq.  Foreign jihadists, al Qaeda operatives, are responsible for at least 80 percent of the suicide bombings that are the driving force of sectarian strife. 

They are in this war to win and we cannot let them.  Defeatism will not buy peace in our time.  It will only lead to more bloodshed and more American casualties in the future. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER:  That was Senator John McCain today suggesting that the party of Hillary Clinton, and Hillary Clinton herself, is not ready to fight terror.  Is he right?  And either way, will pointing it out help his struggling presidential campaign? 

A.B. Stoddard, Associate Editor of the “Hill,” joins us, as does Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio show host, and all around good guy, I might add. 

BILL PRESS, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO SHOW HOST:  Oh my God!

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF THE “HILL”:  Wow!

TUCKER:  OK.  I think McCain makes—everyone is down on McCain this week, he‘s a loser, he‘s imploded.  He makes a point that is impossible to argue with, which is, Democrats are down playing, in the case he pointed out, ignoring the presence of al Qaeda in Iraq because they don‘t want to deal with it.  It‘s politically inconvenient to admit it.

PRESS:  Are you asking me? 

STODDARD:  He knows I‘m going to agree with him.  

PRESS:  Listen.  It‘s not that Democrats are down playing it, George Bush and John McCain are exaggerating the presence and importance of al Qaeda in Iraq. 

The al Qaeda in Iraq, are not, despite what George Bush says and John McCain says, the al Qaeda that attacked us on September 11th ...

TUCKER:  I agree. 

PRESS:  George Bush said that yesterday, 30 times, Tucker. 

TUCKER:  OK.  Look, you know, he has an explanation for that.  But I am not going to defend Bush.

PRESS: OK.

TUCKER:  I am just going to make the point, call them whatever you want, al Qaeda, Mesopatamia, or whatever.  The fact is, they are anti-American terrorists with international support. 

So that‘s kind of a problem, isn‘t it? 

PRESS:  It‘s also—but he is wrong on the facts.  And most of the killing in Iraq and the generals just said this, it‘s taking place between the Shiites and Sunnis and we are caught in the middle.  You know what this is?  Tucker, look, let‘s be honest.  And you said this at the top of the show, this is a transparent effort on the part of the guy whose campaign is over.  His campaign will be over before our troops come home. 

TUCKER:  But that doesn‘t mean it‘s not true.

PRESS:  To resurrect his campaign by attacking the front runner. 

TUCKER:  That ...

PRESS:  That is exactly what it is.

TUCKER:  I am not sure that‘s exactly right.  I mean, look, McCain has been—this is an attempt to revive his campaign, no doubt.  But he has been saying this, for literally years. 

PRESS:  But he‘s wrong.

TUCKER:  It‘s one of the reasons he is unpopular. 

PRESS:  Al Qaeda is not the problem in Iraq.  The problem is the Iraqis killing each other with us caught in the middle. 

TUCKER:  Maybe there is more than one problem. 

STODDARD:  John McCain has not filled the void and found a way in the last year, to describe what will happen to us and our interests, if we leave Iraq.  He has not—Bush has not done it well, and John McCain has now found a way to articulate that. 

I think a lot of Americans, we‘ve talked about this a lot, have a funny stomach ache that they don‘t know what will happen.  But they just hate the war and fear its end for that reason.  If we leave the Middle East in chaos, John McCain, this might work, but it‘s too late.  I agree with Phil, actually trying to describe how there is a resurgence in Afghanistan. How there is a thriving al Qaeda in Iraq.  What will happen if we leave?  What will happen with Iran?  It‘s something that he should have found a way to describe earlier on as a candidate.  Going after Hillary Clinton, this is all great for the primary voters, but this is too late. 

TUCKER:  Yes.  Maybe it‘s to late.  Bit I think this actually transcends politics.  And I think, as a political matter, though, denying or down playing the presence of al Qaeda in Iraq is not wise, it‘s not wise.  Because people read the papers.  They don‘t think Petraeus is lying when he says we are fighting al Qaeda in Iraq.  Why would he do that?  He is telling the truth and when Democrats pretend it‘s not happening it makes them look what they are, which is irresponsible. 

PRESS:  Well, first of all, I am not speaking for any Democrat, you understand that.  I am speaking for Bill Press.

TUCKER:  Right.

PRESS:  The front page story of the “New York Times” today was citing expert after expert and military expert in Iraq, saying Bush ...

TUCKER:  No.

PRESS:  ... is exaggerating the al Qaeda danger.  

TUCKER:  That‘s not.

[CROSSTALK]

TUCKER:  I‘m sorry, just to clarify ...

STODDARD:  You are going to have to deal with it.

TUCKER:  That‘s not what it said.  It said that Bush was saying, that the people were fighting in Iraq, are the same people we were attacked by in 9/11, which is, you know, pretty debatable, at the very least. 

PRESS:  It‘s just not true. 

TUCKER:  The piece doesn‘t say, well his point is, they are part of the same movement.  They are not the same people.  Whatever.

STODDARD:  Right.  Right.

TUCKER:  I‘m not going to defend Bush.  I‘m just saying there is no debate among serious people that I am aware of, that there are internationally supported terrorists ...

PRESS:  That‘s true.

TUCKER:  ... al Qaeda, whatever the hell they are, in Iraq. 

PRESS:  That is true.  But to say ...

STODDARD:  And the Democrats are going to have to deal with that.

PRESS:  To say that they are the main problem in Iraq, is what is not true, and Hillary Clinton ...

TUCKER:  Oh, I don‘t know ...

PRESS:  Robert Byrd are another Democrat that ...-

TUCKER:  So they are not a serious problem?  They will go away when we leave?  I mean, that‘s the question. 

PRESS:  You know what Tucker?  I hear that.  That is a theory, that there is going to be a bloodbath.  It is also true that there is a bloodbath today.  You know, and ...

TUCKER:  I don‘t know.  It‘s like that in Cambodia.  It‘s bad now, how bad can it be?  Well, it turns out, actually, things can always get worse. 

PRESS:  I believe, my theory is, and I am not the only one, that there will not be an end to the violence in Iraq until we take the targets away and withdrawal the American troops.  And the Iraqis realize, you know what?  We don‘t have the crutch of the Americans to lean on anymore, we have to get our own stuff together, we‘ve got to govern this country, we‘ve got to come together, figure out how to share the oil revenue and do all of those things that they have not done so far yet.

TUCKER:  Yes.

PRESS:  And they are never going to do until we get the hell out of there. 

TUCKER:  Well, part of that is right.  I agree with part of what you are saying.  It‘s not the Iraqis and their parochial squabbles I‘m worried about.   It‘s the international elements that is dangerous.  I think.  Anyway, I am being told we have to go to break. 

John McCain‘s presidential candidate, certainly has seen better days.  Much better days.  But should he be cut out of future debates because he is not a front runner any more?  Two of the Democratic front runners might say yes to that question.

Plus the Democratic party of Louisiana is calling for Senator David Vitter to resign.  They say he is an embarrassment because his phone number was on the D.C. Madam‘s phone list.  Turns out Democrats now consider infidelity a disqualifying sin.  Wow!  More on that in a minute.  You are watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Not since Jimmy Carter ran and won as a born again Christian has the Democratic party used its candidates faith as part of its campaign for the White House.  But that may change.  This week‘s “Time Magazine‘s” cover suggests that Democrats are trying to take religion back from conservatives and it might be working.  According to a recent poll, among all the presidential candidates, the two perceived to be most religious are famously Mormon Mitt Romney, of course, and Barack Obama. 

Is that legitimate?  Will it last?  Will it help.  Back to check on our Obameter, two experts in the field, we welcome A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of “The Hill,” also Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio show host, and it turns out, speaking of religion, author of the book, “How The Republicans Stole Religion.” 

Welcome to you both.  Interesting, Howard Dean the other day goes on—recently went on the “700 Club,” A.B. and said this, quote, Democrats have an enormous amount in common with the Christian community, as if the two are mutually exclusive.  As long as you have somebody like Howard Dean, whose favorite New Testament book is Job, who is a drooling moron when it comes to religion, clearly hostile to religion, at the helm of the party, you are not going to make inroads.  Are you?

STODDARD:  Well, let me tell you, just because of your question, I will tell you that about a year ago I wrote this piece that “Time Magazine” wrote.  And you have to give Howard Dean some credit, because after the presidential election in early 2005, they took a look around and they were in a state of shock.  And Howard Dean was instrumental in actually beginning to research and focus group and reach out, and get on Christian radio, meet with religious leaders, learn about how Democrats can begin to talk in terms of values, and do something beyond the lace biblical references into speeches. 

And Howard Dean actually should be given some credit for doing that.  They worked very hard, and when I wrote about it, they had been at it a year and a half, and then it actually did pay some dividends in that election and they hope it will again. 

CARLSON:  OK, I know they do, and it‘s very cynical from my point of view.  But answer this question for me, if you would, Bill, why then on the DNC website, according to “Time Magazine,” if you are a Pacific Islander or a rural American, an elderly American, you can find groups all for you on the site, but there is no place on that website for religious Americans to go.  More over, the Democratic party is the party of secular American; 67 percent of secular people, who don‘t go to church, vote Democrat, or did in the last cycle.  It‘s the secular party? 

PRESS:  I don‘t know the DNC website.  I don‘t know that “Time Magazine” is accurate.  I do know that the DNC has an active out reach to members of—people of faith.  And they have a whole organization doing that.  So I would be surprised if there is not some link on their website.  I think “Time” may be wrong.  But, you know, A.B., Howard Dean does not get the credit.  I wrote the book, OK. 

STODDARD:  All right, that‘s true.  It was a momentary lapse, in memory actually. 

PRESS:  But my point in writing “How the Republicans Stole Religions” is that the Democrats had let Republicans steal religion as an issue, and it was time to steal it back.  Now, I think some Democrats are.  It‘s not just Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards all talk about their faith is important to them, helps them make political decisions. 

But you know who really did it first?  Tim Kaine, governor of Virginia.  He talked about how his faith motivated him to get into public service.  That‘s what it‘s all about.  And then he just talks—

He does not make a big deal of it. 

CARLSON:  He is also really—pretty conservative. 

PRESS:  He is conservative and he is genuine.  And I think that‘s what counts.  And I think when Barack Obama talks about how faith inspires him, he comes across as sincere and genuine and people accept it. 

CARLSON:  OK, Bill, I think you are right.  And Tim Kaine is actually more talented than people who haven‘t seen him speak realize.  No, he‘s pretty impressive, I think.  But the problem is that the party is dominated by people who are not just secular, but radically secular.  “Time” points out something I had forgotten.  Hillary Clinton came out and called abortion tragic and said she dreamed of a day where there would be no abortions. 

She was attacked from within her own party by activists that said that kind of rhetoric made women feel guilty about having abortions, and you definitely should not feel guilty about having abortions.  That‘s the base of the Democratic party is people who feel that way.

PRESS:  Tucker, in both parties you have people on the fringes who will never be happy. 

CARLSON:  That‘s not a fringe position in the Democratic party.  You know that.  And that issue is the issue that keeps a lot of religious people from voting Democrat, and you know that‘s true. 

PRESS:  We have talked about this before; rare, safe and legal is her position.  I think it‘s a vision of most of the American people have. 

CARLSON:  OK, so what are Democrats doing to make abortion rare? 

Anything?

STODDARD:  Well, I can tell you that Tim Ryan from, I believe it‘s Ohio—he is a pro-life Democratic, and he put together a package of legislation with Rosa Delaura, who is pro choice, Congresswoman from Connecticut, and they tried—what they are trying to do is begin a debate about reducing abortions, and providing—helping with child care, and helping with adoptions and trying to begin to talk about the issue in ways that are not radically pro life, pro choice, and a stark difference, to try and find the common ground between the pro life position and the pro choice position. 

And there are pro life Democrats.  And the pro choice leadership is actually trying to bring the pro life—they are giving the pro life Democrats a voice. 

CARLSON:  They are.  They are trying.  The problem is, as soon as you say out loud we should reduce abortion, you are acknowledging it‘s wrong.  And as soon as you acknowledge it‘s wrong, it‘s a pretty short step from there to say well, why is this allowed.  So I think it‘s a rhetorical trap.  But let me ask you this, a deeper question about religion here.  This is Nancy Pelosi quoted in “Time” about stem cell research, embryo research funding, quote, “Science is a gift to all of us,” Speaker Pelosi says, “and science has taken us to a place that is biblical in its power to cure.” 

So experimenting on embryos is now biblical, says Nancy Pelosi.  It reminded me, I actually kind of hate it when people of either party invoke the bible for political ends.  And the Democrats are particularly not good at it.

PRESS:  Well, I think if you read the new testament, Tucker, Jesus spent most of his time curing the sick.  I think that‘s what Nancy—

CARLSON:  With embryo research? 

PRESS:  No, but today, when medical researchers tell us that the key to cures for most of these debilitating diseases is embryonic stem cell research,  that science would lead people of faith to go there and to take maximum advantage of that. 

CARLSON:  I am not arguing against stem cell research.  I‘m not even sure what I think of it, personally.  I am only saying that Democrats always attack Republicans for invoking god—god‘s on our side, righteous cause.  And here you have Nancy Pelosi getting up there and doing the same.  My only point is it‘s every bit as unattractive.

STODDARD:  I think she is a bad messenger for you.  I think that it‘s not how religious or spiritual you are, it‘s how comfortable you are talking about it.  Barack Obama is very comfortable talking about his spirituality and speaking in spiritual or religious terms, talking about faith. 

Hillary Clinton is very faithful, according to the “New York Times.”  She doesn‘t seem so comfortable talking about it.  It might not work as well for her as it will Barack Obama, because she does not seem to be comfortable talking about it.  Nancy Pelosi probably was not very good at delivering that.  Maybe if it was John Lewis—

CARLSON:  I think John Lewis would annoy me too.  I just think if you want to keep religion out of the public sphere and out of politics, than keep it out.  If you want it in, keep it in.  But there is this weird double standard where we accept it on the one hand and reject it on the other.  I just think it‘s strange. 

We have breaking news today.  OK?

PRESS:  Let‘s get to it. 

CARLSON:  The candidates were at this forum in Detroit yesterday, on Thursday, and they were speaking, and they were caught with the mics open.  I think we have tape of this, of Hillary Clinton speaking to former—

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thanks for coming out today, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator John Edwards, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Senator Mike Gravel, Governor Bill Richardson, Senator Barack Obama, Senator Christopher Dodd and Senator Joseph Biden.  Again, thank you so much.  Thank you very much for coming.  Have a great afternoon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Wow, so we are the important ones.  Whereas John Edwards says we are the serious—John Edwards is a serious guy.  I don‘t know if you know that.  He‘s really seriously.  Not only a personal injury lawyer specializing in Jacuzzi cases, but a very serious person.  And these other guys like Gravel and Dennis Kucinich,they are just kind of beneath contempt and they should leave.  That‘s the message.

PRESS:  You know, Tucker, only you could make a big deal of this.  If you‘re a candidate and you have eight people up on the stage, of course -- 

CARLSON:  The Hillary campaign thinks it‘s a very big deal.  I can tell you that.

PRESS:  I am saying you have eight people on the stage and you have one hour.  Of course you would rather have two people on the stage so you get more time. 

CARLSON:  Why do you say it‘s serious? 

STODDARD:  Well, first of all, it‘s a great moment for Barack Obama.  It just is, because he is the only other person in the top tier, and he was not caught on a microphone.  And guess what, after Dick Cheney and George Bush, getting caught talking on a microphone is a little JV if you‘re asking me. 

CARLSON:  It is a little JV.

STODDARD:  It‘s really 101.  It‘s what your campaign says.  The day you begin the campaign they say, if you ever, ever are around a microphone, you are only on talking points.  It‘s just so obvious.  But, I think that it‘s just a fun story.  They are embarrassed, and Kucinich is right, they need to win.  And—

CARLSON:  I just ran into Kucinich in the hallway getting a cup of coffee just an hour ago here at MSNBC and he looked both outraged and delighted.  I don‘t think—

PRESS:  This is what primaries are all about.  And the only way they‘re going to get the other candidates off the stage is after Iowa and New Hampshire.   

CARLSON:  But this just verifies the world view of the Dennis Kucinich people that they are all against us, right? 

STODDARD:  That‘s right. 

CARLSON:  Some Louisiana Democrats are calling for Senator David Vitter to resign for committing, quote, a very serious sin with a female escort.  But do voters really care as much as Democrats do?  The newly moralistic Democratic party.  Plus, you thought Beatle mania was crazy.  Think again, two other Brits have invaded the United States and things may never be the same again.  One of them plays soccer.  But who are they?  Willie Geist will explain next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Ever since his number turned up in the phone records of a D.C. escort service, Louisiana Senator David Vitter has been missing in action.  The Democratic party in his home state would like him to stay in hiding permanently.  Democrats there are outraged.  They‘re shocked.  They are circulating a petition calling for Vitter to resign his Senate seat, because what he did is so embarrassing, it violates the high standards of the state of Louisiana. 

The question is, do voters feel that way.  And if not, why do Democrats feel that way?  Joining us now to explain, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of “The Hill,” and Bill Press, you know him, nationally syndicated radio show host.  Welcome back.  

STODDARD:  High standards. 

CARLSON:  It‘s outrageous.  Can you believe this guy went to a prostitute.  I think Democrats in Louisiana, having never seen anything like that before, they are just so shocked they think he ought to resign.  This is the distillation of hypocrisy.  People say David Vitter is a hypocrite.  The people attacking him are hypocrites. 

PRESS:  No, no, no, Tucker, come on.  The point—this would not be a story if David Vitter were not Mr. Family Values.  He has campaigned as Mr. Family Values.  He has sold himself as that.  He has given speech after speech holier than though on the floor of the Senate and the House, saying—talking about the sanctity of marriage, and the traditional marriage, and we have to preserve that.

And then he is out hanging out with hookers.  When Bill Clinton got into his problem with Monica Lewinsky, he wrote the famous article where he said Bill Clinton is morally unfit to serve.  By David Vitter‘s standards, his own standards, he is therefore unfit to serve. 

CARLSON:  You may be absolutely right.

PRESS:  I‘m not calling for him to resign or anything.  I‘m only saying, by his words, he‘s unfit to serve. 

CARLSON:  You know, that‘s a completely fair point.  But not by the standards of the Democratic party of Louisiana.  So why are they calling for him to resign?

PRESS:  Let me just tell you something, before I was on Crossfire, I was the Democratic state chair of California, which is not Louisiana.  But it is the Democratic state chairman‘s job to just go after the political red meat and go after every Republican and just smash them whenever you can. 

(CROSS TALK)

STODDARD:  Well, I disagree—I actually have to agree with Tucker.  It is—when your opponent has embarrassed themselves, don‘t embarrass yourself and take the heat on your opponent.  Make a joke like, we‘re still waiting for David Vitter to come out of the Cheney Fourth Branch of Undisclosed Location Government.  Do whatever you can to make fun, but circulating petitions and begging him to resign is ridiculous. 

Let the Republicans who want to primary him come out and trash him. 

There‘s ways to make fun and still—

CARLSON:  You know what‘s even more ridiculous, it‘s not really the Democrats who are doing it; it‘s the press.  It‘s us.  It‘s the media.  After humiliating David Vitter, putting his wife‘s picture on television, as many of us have, which is almost indefensible in my opinion, because she did not do anything—the guys has four kids.  We have helped destroy his life.  We publicized this thing he did.

Now we in the press are attacking him for not showing his face in public. 

PRESS:  Wait a minute, this guy lied for years about this, OK. 

CARLSON:  Lied about going to hookers.  Is he supposed to tell the truth?  What are you talking about?

PRESS:  He lied about going to a hooker.  By the way, may I point something out?  This is against the law.  This is a felony.  The question is not is he going to resign, the real question is; is he ever going to be charged with breaking the law.  By the way, prostitution is against the law even in New Orleans and even in Washington, D.C. 

CARLSON:  It‘s against the law in the sense that double parking is against the law. 

PRESS:  Tucker, you ask the vice squad about that.  They‘re a little more serious.  

CARLSON:  In New Orleans?

PRESS:  I think it ought to be legal.

CARLSON:  Have you ever been to a restaurant in New Orleans?  One out of three women is for sale.  I mean, come on—

PRESS:  It is not legal.  He is a felon.  Not a convicted felon, but that‘s what he is.

CARLSON:  Well then—

STODDARD:  They need to let it go.

PRESS:  You know what is ridiculous, I think, is all of these Republican senators running out to defend him. 

CARLSON:  They have not been running out. 

STODDARD:  Yes, they have. 

CARLSON:  Yes he did.  Orin Hatch said, quote, I have never judged a human being by those standards.  Does he think our memory is so short? 

CARLSON:  But that may be right—

STODDARD:  But do the Democrats think our memories are so short. 

The Democrats are saying this is unacceptable.   

PRESS:  I have not heard any Democrat attacking him. 

CARLSON:  I wish David Vitter were a Democrat.  I wish he were a liberal Democrat.  I wish he were Russ Feingold, because then I would defend him every bit as zealously as I am defending not what David Vitter did, but his right to be unbothered by the rest of us for something that‘s none of our business.   

PRESS:  He made this a problem only because it‘s such a double standard and it‘s such hypocrisy on his part. 

CARLSON:  Can‘t we agree if you—if Dave Vitter used federal money me to pay for this or she were a child—if this intersected with our interests, right?  Society‘s interest then OK, fine.  But can‘t we just all agree that if you do weird stuff in your personal life—

PRESS:  Wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  He was taking calls on the floor of the house from the D.C. Madam.  The phone records show that.  In that building—

CARLSON:  Did it affect his votes?

PRESS:  He was talking to whores on the floor of the House and you don‘t think that‘s a problem? 

CARLSON:  Wow, wow,

PRESS:  I‘m sorry, that‘s a problem. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know why that‘s a problem. 

STODDARD:  Isn‘t it better for Democrats to make a joke about that than to circulate petitions for his resignation.  Isn‘t it better just to say, wow, it reminds us of the Mark Foley story, another story --  

CARLSON:  So she‘s filthier than your average lobbyist, come on. 

Come on. 

We are all very moralistic today.  I must say. 

PRESS:  No, I am for—I am for serving one‘s marriage vows and obeying the law.  I know that makes me old fashioned.  And for not making calls to prostitutes on the floor of the House of Representatives.  I‘m sorry for being such an old fart.

CARLSON:  I appreciate it.  Alexandra, thank you. 

You see how crazy things get when people go running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.  Not a pretty sight.  Just wait until you see what it is like to run with a bunch of bridezillas at a department store sale.  That‘s even scarier. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Willie Geist is on vacation, apparently, or didn‘t show up for work today, or something.  Turning now to our first choice after all, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  That‘s awfully kind, Tucker, yes.  Willie‘s situation is under review, something about a newborn baby, a question of the guy‘s priorities.  But we figured we‘re going to dock him five minutes pay. 

CARLSON:  Five minutes pay, that‘s a lot. 

WOLFF:  Every nickel counts.  It‘s been quite a week for Bau Zi Shun (ph), Tucker, quite a life really.  The guy is 7‘9, after all.  He knows what the top of a refrigerator looks like.  First he got married in his native Mongolia, which was probably the thrill of his lifetime until one day later when Bau met 19-year-old Hi Ping-Ping (ph), who claims to be the world‘s shortest adult.  And I must say, it‘s hard to argue with him. 

Hi Ping-Ping, yes, that‘s his real name, is about 2‘4.  Now, a meeting of this magnitude, both big and small, doesn‘t just happen.  There was a broker, a mediator, if you will.  Given the world situation, that guy is now the front-runner for the Nobel Peace Prize.  The broker says it was Hi Ping-Ping‘s life long dream to meet the great Bau.  And now he has, Tucker.  What do you guess the conversation was like there? 

CARLSON:  China is a freaky place. 

WOLFF:  Well, certain corners are.  You don‘t want to generalize or paint with a broad brush.  But inner Mongolia seems to have some strange things going on these days.  Now, I‘m not an expert in international communications.  But I‘m just guessing, from my experience—my guess the conversation went like this: Hi Ping-Ping said, how is the weather up there.  And the big guy said, stand up.  No, seriously, stand up. 

CARLSON:  They have lame jokes in Mongolia too?

WOLFF:  I‘m no expert, like I say.  Now you‘re a dog lover, as I understand, Tucker, is that right? 

CARLSON:  I am. 

WOLFF:  You have furry friends of your own, I assume?  Lovable animals with various endearing qualities.  Well, all your bowzers better watch what they say around this beast.  This is Wendy the Whippet (ph), a Victoria, B.C. candidate.  And unlike most Whippets, which are sort of miniature gray hounds, Wendy likes to kick sand in the faces of wimpier dogs at the beach and then oil up and pose down. 

Now her owners claim that a genetic defect gave her double muscles, but baseball fans have heard that talk before. 

CARLSON:  This is the Barry Bonds of Whippets is what you are saying? 

WOLFF:  Well, I suspect something.  I can‘t prove it.  But it‘s just a shame if performance-enhancing drugs have entered the world of the canine, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  What we need is a Congressional inquiry into this. 

WOLFF:  I‘m going to call Harry Waxman.  We‘re going to get right on that.  He‘s the oversight guy. 

CARLSON:  He‘s a little busy right now.  I have a feeling Henry Waxman doesn‘t go home too much. 

WOLFF:  He‘s overseeing a lot of things.  Now Willie and Christina Geist, Tucker, have fresh competition for America‘s number one couple with last night‘s made for TV arrival at Los Angeles International Airport of the Beckhams, Sporty and Posh.  The former Spice Girls also apparently play soccer, or one of them does.  It is reportedly called football in their native England.

And the one who plays soccer is raking in about 250 million American dollars to do it in L.A.  Now lest they leave anything about themselves to the imagination, Sporty and Posh Beckham did a photo layout for “W Magazine,” with featured more oil than was spilled by the Exxon Valdeez.  In addition, Mrs. Posh, who looks like the galaxy‘s most attractive alien manachin, will star in a one-hour reality special about her life here in America on the NBC Television Network. 

You‘re encouraged to watch Monday night at 8:00 eastern, unless you‘re watching “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann, which follows “HARDBALL,” which follows this find program on MSNBC, the place for politics, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Can I just ask a question—and I don‘t want to denigrate NBC‘s programming, and I‘m not—

WOLFF:  Go ahead.

CARLSON:  But who are these people and why should we care? 

WOLFF:  They‘re fabulous Brits, my man.  They‘re getting paid a ton of money.

CARLSON:  I‘ve never heard of them really and they‘re already over-exposed as far as I‘m concerned. 

WOLFF:  Well, you have a hard heart buddy.  Keep an open mind and watch 8:00 NBC Monday night.  And finally, Tucker, gratuitous insanity.  And why not, it‘s Friday; more gore from Spain in the annual running of the bulls.  And away they go.  This, of course, the only sporting event outside of Philadelphia where spectators actively root for human injuries and it‘s all Earnest Hemingway‘s fault. 

Now in related and equally insane news, Towson, Maryland, the sight of the annual running of the brides, as Filenes offered wedding dresses, some of them with sticker prices up to 9,000 dollars for 90 percent off, many of the brides to be apparently wore bikinis in order to slip into the bargain gowns before some unworthy competitor beat them to it.  At last report, none of the lovely ladies was gored in her pursuit.  Ah, romance, Tucker.  Ah, romance.

CARLSON:  Boy, if you‘re watching that and the woman you‘re about to marry was in that tape, I think you‘d have second thoughts. 

WOLFF:  It‘s off. 

CARLSON:  It‘s off.  Bill Wolff from headquarters, thanks a lot. 

WOLFF:  Have a great weekend. 

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  We‘re back on Monday at 6:00 Eastern live.  Up next “HARDBALL” with the great Mike Barnicle.

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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