updated 7/31/2007 10:56:33 AM ET 2007-07-31T14:56:33

Guests: Ken Pollack, Peter Fenn, Steve McMahon, Lisa Lange

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show.  Could the United States be on its way to meaningful progress and lasting stability in Iraq? 

Well, outside the Bush administration and the Pentagon, there has not been much indication of that in months.  In fact, the conventional wisdom is the opposite.  So today‘s op-ed piece in “The New York Times” entitled “A War We Might Just Win,” stands out for its frank optimism about President Bush‘s much maligned troop surge.

The authors, Ken Pollack and Michael O‘Hanlon, two analysts who have by their own description, quote, “harshly criticized the Bush administration‘s miserable handling of Iraq,” return from an eight-day trip to the war zone with a decidedly different view.  They are reporting improved American morale, better security for the Iraqi population, as well as better services, and an improved strategy for fighting al Qaeda.  Pollack and O‘Hanlon concede the situation in Iraq is grave and uncertain, but conclude that the progress they witnessed merits extending the surge at least into 2008. 

Well, joining me now is one of the authors of that op-ed, former CIA analyst Ken Pollack, who is now a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, as well as the director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. 

Ken, thanks for coming on. 

KEN POLLACK, SABAN CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST POLICY:  My pleasure, Tucker.  Good to be here.

CARLSON:  So it‘s—I mean, everybody knows that Iraq is a disaster, I think, and it‘s the Bush administration‘s fault.  And you say that in the piece.  But what people, I don‘t think, have any understanding of is progress at all.  What progress did you see there? 

POLLACK:  Well, we saw progress in a number of different areas.  Most important of all, we saw it in the security sector.  U.S. forces had changed their tactics, they changed their strategy, and they really were actually having progress or having an impact on the Iraqis, creating some degree of security for them, repairing basic services, allowing them to live normal lives. 

In addition, what was most striking to me—because the last time I was in Iraq was about 18 months ago in late 2005, and I was over there looking at Iraqi army formations—and frankly, they were all awful.  This time around, the Iraqi army formations are really starting to step up to the plate.  And we have a number—I won‘t say the whole army, not even the majority of it—but there are a number of divisions and brigades and battalions that are really proving to be able partners of the U.S., to the extent that in some parts of Iraq, particularly Mosul, Tal Afar, some other parts, areas south of Baghdad, the Iraqis really are taking the lead and the U.S. forces are really just supporting them. 

That‘s a big change from 2005. 

CARLSON:  It is a big change.  It suggests that the Iraqis are not as lame as a lot of us, including me, assumed they were. 

POLLACK:  Yes.  Again, we‘ll be honest.  When I first saw those formations in 2005, I was thoroughly unimpressed.  And this time around, again, there is real signs of life.  And enough signs of life—I‘ll give you just one example—you know, Mosul, Iraq‘s third largest city.  It was a disaster even about a year ago, and the United States had tens of thousands of troops up in Mosul, trying to hold that city together. 

Well, when we were there last week, we found out that there were only a few hundred American troops in Mosul, because we now have a competent and reliable Iraqi army division and a competent and reliable Iraqi police division, which is incredibly rare in Iraq, who were able to do most of the basic security for the city.  And the Americans are simply there as advisory teams and fire support teams. 

Now, that is by far and away the best security situation we saw in Iraq, but it‘s huge.  It is a very important change from 2005, and it suggests that over time, we may be able to get there with other parts of the country too. 

CARLSON:  You are taking quite a risk in writing that, as I‘m sure you‘ve discovered today.  The response to your piece has been ferocious and really, really tough.  I mean you‘ve been attacked—I don‘t know if you‘ve had time to look online—but you‘re all over, everywhere, being slammed by the left.

It‘s worth pointing out that you were not an apologist for the administration.  You have been really tough on them, most notably, I thought, in that “Atlantic” piece several years ago.

Why are you being slammed? 

POLLACK:  Well, obviously, there are a lot of people who—I‘ll be kind—disagree with my perspective.  And you know what, it‘s America, it‘s a democracy, they are allowed to express themselves. 

And you know, I am going to go out there and I am going to say what I have to say.  I‘ve been doing this my entire life.  I say exactly what I think is the right answer.  I don‘t care about politics. 

Unfortunately, there are a lot of other people who don‘t always agree with what I have to say, and they sometimes express themselves, loudly and sometimes impolitely. 

CARLSON:  Here‘s the first line of the piece, for those who missed it.  “Viewed from Iraq, where we have just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal.  The Bush administration has, over four years, lost essentially all credibility.  Yet now, the administration‘s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place in Iraq.” 

It seems to me, if you‘re a member of Congress and you are debating whether or not to pull out, or as the situation is now, when to pull out, how quickly to pull out, you ought to be aware of the situation on the ground.  And yet you say they‘re not.  Why? 

POLLACK:  Well, again, Iraq is an incredibly complicated place, Tucker.  And a lot of the changes that we saw, the developments that we saw, are very, very recent. 

I‘ll give you another example: Al Anbar province.  Most of your audience has probably read something about it in the newspapers, but it is really hard to understand just how fundamentally it‘s changed until you actually see it in action. 

The place has gone from being the worst part of Iraq to, outside of Kurdistan, the best.  The Sunni sheikhs, the Sunni tribes have basically decided they don‘t want any more part of al Qaeda and the other Salafi jihadist groups, and they‘ve come to the United States and said, we want your help getting rid of them.  And they have—they have taken on that challenge and done it to a very significant extent.  And that‘s a very recent development. 

I sometimes feel like our news cycle and particularly our political cycle takes weeks, if not months, to catch up with what is going on... 

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s right. 

POLLACK:  ... in a place that‘s changing as fast as Iraq.

CARLSON:  That is exactly right.  I actually decided the war was a disaster by going to Iraq, and at the time, Hillary Clinton was out there saying that all was well. 

Speaking of—I found the place really threatening.  Did you feel less threatened than you did when you were there last? 

POLLACK:  In some places, yes; in other places, no.  And I‘ll put it this way: I always feel more threatened when I‘m with the U.S. military than when I‘m not.  Previous troops, driven around Baghdad in beat up old Chevys with some Iraqi friends, and you know what?  Things feel actually a lot safer than you do when you‘re riding around in a bunch of uparmored humvees, because even though you‘re very heavily protected, in the sense of having a lot of armor around you, you‘re a great, big target moving through the city. 

CARLSON:  Interesting.  Ken Pollack, I really appreciate you coming on.  Thanks a lot.

POLLACK:  My pleasure, Tucker.  It was good to be here.

CARLSON:  Thanks.

Well, judging by the online response, the op-ed we‘ve just been talking about, nothing offends liberal bloggers more than the suggestion we might win in Iraq.  We‘ll try to figure out why in a minute.

Plus, sure, they‘re at each other‘s throats now, but it will be a whole different world when Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama wins the Democratic nominations.  Will she pick him as her vice president?  Or how about vice versa?  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Iraqis have something to celebrate today.  Their soccer team beat Saudi Arabia 1:0, a huge upset, apparently, to win the first Asian Cup championship.  The captain of the victorious team used his international platform to say he hopes the U.S. will withdraw its troops from Iraq.

But today, two analysts critical of the Iraq war, very critical, say the U.S. troop surge is having the desired effect and should be extended until at least next year.  And yes, wrote Michael O‘Hanlon and Ken Pollack, who we spoke to, it is possible that America might just be able to win in Iraq. 

But is that what Democrats want to hear, or are they ignoring any sign of success?  Back with me now, we welcome Democratic strategists Peter Fenn and Steve McMahon.  Welcome to you both.

Steve, the response to this piece has been over the top.  I mean, the online, the blogger community, such as it is, is a pretty hysterical place anyway.  But this is some guy named Glenn Greenwald, whatever, some guy who writes on Salon—“This op-ed is an exercise in rank deceit from the start.  These two are among the primary authors and principal deceivers responsible for this disaster.”  It goes on for 11 pages.

It does not really address their reporting, which is to say actually, some things are going better than we hoped.  Why? 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I think—I mean, there are some people who are against the war and think we shouldn‘t be there and think we need to get out as soon as possible.  I happen to be one of those people. 

And I think it‘s wonderful if there is progress being made, but the question is whether or not the progress that appears to be—that‘s been reported on, or in this op-ed piece was reported on, is real, and how long-lasting it is. 

I mean, there‘s still a civil war there.  The Iraqi parliament is still on vacation.  There has been no progress in the political area.  And after all, I think most people agree now that the solution is not just a military solution.  It has to be political, it has to involve other people in the region.  And so far, there‘s no evidence that that‘s happening.  I think, Tucker...

CARLSON:  There‘s a lot of evidence it is happening.  I mean, we‘re arming the Saudis right now...

MCMAHON:  If you look at...

CARLSON:  ... in an effort to—because they‘re involved. 

MCMAHON:  Tucker, if you look at why we went over there to begin with, to rid the country of Saddam Hussein, the weapons of mass destruction, and to bring democracy—we have already done those things.  So the question is, why are we still there?

CARLSON:  So it‘s a success. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  I understand.  We won, let‘s go.

MCMAHON:  The military part of it was successful pretty early on.  The question is, what are we doing there now?  And how long are we going to stay?

CARLSON:  Let me just say, as I have said, I think every single day on this show or every single day since the war, I‘m against—I think going in was a huge mistake.  I think it‘s obvious now.  I thought it for years, long before Hillary Clinton thought it, by the way, and all these other people on the left who are screaming about it.  I was an early advocate of not being there.

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  We talked about it then on another network, as a matter of fact.

CARLSON:  Exactly, that‘s exactly right. 

But the point is, we are there, and I think everybody—every sober assessment suggests that an immediate withdrawal would be a disaster for them and for us.  Why not look upon this as good news?  Why isn‘t this good news?

FENN:  The fact is that everyone would love to see a situation which was stabilized on the ground. 

CARLSON:  Really?

FENN:  Where there were no—sure. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I don‘t see that at all.  I see some people wanting America‘s defeat (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Yes, I do, I do.  And I say that as someone who‘s against the war.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  No.  I mean, there may be people out there who do...

CARLSON:  Maybe people out there?  There are people.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  But look, it is—in a lot of our minds, it‘s the same kind of situation that we dealt with in Vietnam.  You get a positive report, somebody who will go over there for a few days and come back.  But the basic problem here is there has been no political progress to speak out of there, that these guys are on vacation all throughout the month of August, that the oil revenues have not been handled.

And these guys—with all due respect to them, they are very smart guys—but even Pollack today said, look, I‘m nervous about this headline, that we didn‘t write that headline.  Winning in Iraq—and even the president of the United States, he has not defined what winning really even means. 

CARLSON:  You know what?  The whole litany of Bush‘s sins...

FENN:  OK, I know, you...

CARLSON:  I didn‘t vote for the guy, I was so mad about Iraq.  So look, I get that. 

FENN:  OK.

CARLSON:  I‘m just saying...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... I honestly think John Kerry and the Democrats and that wing of the party he represents are irresponsible and don‘t care about things they really ought to care about, like America‘s place in the world.  Losing in Iraq would be a disaster for us.  Yes, Bush is a disaster, so what?  OK, let‘s just take Bush out of the equation... 

FENN:  Where are we with American...

CARLSON:  He‘s terrible.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  Let‘s talk about America‘s place in the world right now.  We get the report from the—National Intelligence Estimate saying, guys, we have got a real serious problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  What are we doing?  We‘re not where the center of this is.  We‘ve got a real problem with the folks... 

CARLSON:  Peter, Peter...

FENN:  No, I mean, right now...

CARLSON:  We should move U.S. troops to Waziristan?  I mean, what—this is very complicated.  I‘ve been there.  I can tell you what you already know, it‘s a very complicated question, what do we do? 

FENN:  Look, we create al Qaeda in frigging Iraq, and then we complain there‘s al Qaeda in Iraq. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.  Well, we should complain that there‘s al Qaeda in Iraq.  See, the point is...

MCMAHON:  It gives us an excuse to stay longer...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Look, here‘s the point—see beyond your Bush hatred.  I get it, it‘s our fault.  Bush is terrible.  He‘ll go down in history as an awful president.  Who cares?  The point is, our country is in peril.  Iraq is there.  Shouldn‘t we fight them? 

FENN:  Should we have a plan?

CARLSON:  Should we not fight?

FENN:  Do we have a plan?

CARLSON:  Here‘s the simple question:  Should we fight al Qaeda in Iraq? 

FENN:  Yes. 

MCMAHON:  Yes.

CARLSON:  OK!

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON:  But how should we fight them?  How should we fight them?

CARLSON:  Well, we can‘t fight them from out (ph) there (ph), can we?

MCMAHON:  By putting on camouflage and trying to referee a civil war that‘s been going on for thousands of years, or by moving the troops to a place where they can come in and strike like a Navy seal or an Army ranger might... 

CARLSON:  So by withdrawing, we‘re going to fight them more (inaudible)?  

MCMAHON:  By withdrawing, we‘re going to fight—by the way...

(CROSSTALK)

MCMAHON:  ... not in Iraq, anyway.  So...

CARLSON:  Al Qaeda is not in Iraq?

MCMAHON:  Well...

CARLSON:  They think they‘re there.

MCMAHON:  I‘m sorry, we‘re ignoring them in Afghanistan.  We need to fight them wherever they are, whether they are in Iraq or in Afghanistan.  What we don‘t need to be doing is staying indefinitely in a civil war, where even the Iraqis don‘t want us, and the legislature doesn‘t...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Let‘s—here‘s my plea.  Let‘s just open our minds, and if something unexpected happens, something we didn‘t imaging would happen—if it happens, let‘s acknowledge it.  Let‘s just say, you know what, reality is different than I thought it was going to be.  I‘m surprised.  This is great. 

FENN:  Tucker, if in three months we come on this show and there‘s been stability in Iraq, we‘re talking to Iran and Syria...

CARLSON:  Well, we‘re doing that now.

FENN:  We are—and the military situation is stabilized...

CARLSON:  OK, then I hope you will...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  ... I would love for that to happen. 

CARLSON:  We‘ve got to go to break.  I will be right back.  I would too—OK, good.  I‘m glad.  Let‘s all admit it when it happens.

Let‘s say you‘re Hillary Clinton and you‘ve won the Democratic nomination and you are looking for a running mate.  You call Oprah, but she‘s not available.  So who do you choose?  The answer may be more obvious than you think.  We‘ll tell you when we come back.

Then, a Republican candidate for president says we can learn a lot as a nation from—drumroll, please—Hezbollah.  That‘s right, the Iranian-backed terrorist group.  Who said it?  What the hell was he talking about?  We‘ll tell you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  I think that either Mayor Giuliani or Governor Romney or Senator Thompson would be a very formidable opponent for what I expect will be a Clinton-Obama ticket. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  He is the former speaker of the House, and has always been considered a possible presidential candidate.  He suggested it himself.  So when Newt Gingrich predicts a Democratic ticket that features Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, does it have an impact on either party?  And how would a Clinton/Obama ticket really work—or Obama-Clinton ticket, for that matter?  Is Obama likely to play second fiddle to the former first lady?

The recent spat over whether or not to sit down and talk to our enemies suggests two people who might not work well together in the White House.  Is Gingrich on to something, or is he just trying to scare the hell out of the Republican primary voters?

Joining us once more, Democratic strategists Peter Fenn and Steve McMahon. 

Peter, it does seem kind of obvious.  Why wouldn‘t you have a Hillary-Obama ticket?  I would think—I mean, I don‘t know what Gingrich‘s motives might be, but I think that would actually be a pretty formidable ticket? 

FENN:  Well, it‘s the ultimate change ticket, obviously.  It‘s the ultimate historic ticket.  You get two people...

CARLSON:  Why? 

FENN:  Why?

CARLSON:  They seem kind of conventional to me.  What, she‘s a chick and he‘s black?  I mean, their ideas...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  No, I mean, I‘m serious, OK, whatever.  So what?  (inaudible).  I don‘t know, I mean, their ideas seem very kind of ordinary Democrat to me. 

FENN:  Not the way you...

CARLSON:  I mean, a change ticket would be Mike Gravel.  I‘m serious, thought.  He‘s a white guy, but so what?  He‘s a radical. 

FENN:  That‘s the flake ticket. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Yes, it might be a flake ticket, but that would be real change. 

FENN:  Now, this is good.  I‘ll hold you to that as we discuss these in future shows about how mainstream the views of Hillary Clinton and Obama are. 

CARLSON:  No, I‘m just saying, within the Democratic Party, they are mainstream.

FENN:  I mean, I think absolutely—I mean, but I think the point is that you have got two folks who if, you know, personal chemistry would be important here if it ever gets to that point, but who have an amazing amount to bring, and you have got a constituency, I think the African-Americans in this country would be ecstatic to have a black on a national ticket.  I think obviously we‘ve already seen the poll numbers in terms of women and their support for Hillary. 

But I think the main thing on this is change.  I mean, basically what you have there—and competence, which is not a bad combination in this kind of...

CARLSON:  Well, it would—you know, that‘s always what the person challenging the unpopular incumbent runs on, is of course change, and I guess it would be a change.

I mean, how significant is the fact that they are bickering now?  It strikes me that would be irrelevant? 

MCMAHON:  It‘s totally irrelevant, because as you point out, you know, they disagree around the margins, but for the most part, you know, they want a fundamentally different direction for this country. 

CARLSON:  They are both wrong.  I agree.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  No, they are.  They‘re both wrong.  I mean, some are—there are varying degrees of wrongness, but yes, they are both totally off track. 

MCMAHON:  And you know, there are two theories when you‘re running for president.  One theory is to run to the middle, and if you want to run to the middle, then you pick probably somebody a little bit more conventional, like a Mark Warner, or somebody who‘s going to help you in some of the more red states. 

The other theory is to try to change the turnout.  That‘s the model that Karl Rove followed, where you actually do something that increases or gets a greater level of enthusiasm among the base.  So if you put Barack Obama on the ticket, you hope then that you‘re going to increase the African-American turnout significantly in swing states. 

CARLSON:  Well, what if you put Hillary on the ticket?  What if Barack Obama gets the nomination, God willing, and he decides to pick Hillary Clinton.  That doesn‘t seem as plausible, does it, somehow? 

MCMAHON:  Well, I think, you know, again, it‘s—if you are Barack Obama, you are going to be looking at the other side of the equation, so you‘ve got change—right now in the primary, you‘ve got change versus experience, seems to be the way it is kind of breaking out.  And for Barack Obama, having somebody who is steady and sure and tested and has been through tough campaigns—it‘s like Hillary Clinton could do for Barack Obama what Dick Cheney did for George Bush. 

CARLSON:  I was just thinking that.  She would be his Cheney.

MCMAHON:  However, when she got there, she would do a much better job than Dick Cheney. 

CARLSON:  Yes, because she‘s not secretive or weird or anything like Cheney.  It would be totally different.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Chuck Hagel‘s name has been floated too as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton.  That strikes me as ridiculous. 

FENN:  That is probably ridiculous.  

CARLSON:  Because he is, actually, believe it or not, despite the fact he dislikes the president, obviously, and is adamantly opposed to the war in Iraq, he‘s really conservative on the social issues, and that‘s one thing that will not fly.

FENN:  Yes, that‘s not a real deal.  I mean, I can see it if you have a Bloomberg ticket with him, but not—no, that‘s not going to happen. 

The other thing I think you have got to look at here is you don‘t want to go too heavy Washington, probably.  Neither of these two tickets—and the fact is that if Hillary gets the nomination, she may be looking outside, for a governor. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I think she would be wise to pick Barack Obama, or he her. 

Well, when you think of the average welfare recipient, you probably think of crumbling tenement buildings and government cheese.  You probably don‘t think of corporate farmers making a million a year, but thanks to the new Congress, that‘s now the reality.  More on the new face of welfare in a minute.

Plus the Hillary Clinton you don‘t see, courtesy of letters she wrote 40 years ago.  Details from her correspondence as a college student.  Bone chilling.  Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, Bill Clinton became the first Democrat since FDR elected to two terms as president, and he did it on a centrist platform that was crafted in part by the Democratic Leadership Council. 

Eight years later, not a single Democrat running for president—including his wife—will talk to the DLC.  Has the party moved that far left?  We‘ll tell you in just a minute, but first, here‘s a look at your headlines. 

(NEWSBREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  But there‘s more than one way to practice diplomacy.  You can make up your own mind about that.  But the point I want to make is that they and all of our other Democrats had a vigorous agreement on the big question, which is should we have more diplomacy?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was the No. 1 Democrat of them all, Bill Clinton, addressing the Democratic Leadership Council in Nashville, Tennessee, today.  The DLC is, of course, the centrist wing, if a wing can actually be in the center, of the Democratic Party, and it was the wing on which Mr.  Clinton rode to the White House twice. 

And it‘s the wing that not one Democratic presidential candidate for the ‘08 presidency would deign to address this week.  Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards and the rest of the field begged out of the gathering.  They‘ve already groveled before the abortion lobby, the unions again and again this year. 

And they‘ll also make time for the Yearly Kos.  That‘s the annual convention of the even further left Internet-based Democrat group.  Have the Democrats abandoned the middle?

Here to tell us are two who would know, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn and Steve McMahon. 

So, Peter it‘s OK to go before Planned Parenthood and say, “You know, Planned Parenthood, go commit another million abortions next year.  Good for you.”  As they did a couple weeks ago. 

They go—they go before the biggest abortion provider in the United States and endorse what they d, but they won‘t go before the DLC?  Like the DLC‘s some right-wing group?  What‘s wrong with them?

FENN:  They didn‘t go to Nashville, Tennessee.  Anywhere—several of them spoke to them last year.  I‘ll tell you at the DLC conference in Des Moines or Manchester, New Hampshire, you might have had a few more folks. 

CARLSON:  Bill Clinton got out of his busy money raising session to go.  Seriously, he wasn‘t speaking to Dubai.

FENN:  A lot of the ideas of the DLC are out there adopted by these candidates.  They‘re in—they‘re in the party platform of the Democratic Party. 

CARLSON:  What, like free trade, nation building?  Oh, wait.  Sorry.

FENN:  Listen, the refunding of the CHIP program, for example, which this president doesn‘t seem to like. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know what CHIP is (ph).

FENN:  Yes, you do.  It‘s the Children Health Care Plan.

CARLSON:  Oh, right.

FENN:  And not a bad idea to provide poor children with health care, I think.  But the central point here, Tucker, is that in your little intro there, they‘re not appealing to crazy whacko left-wing folks.  They‘re appealing to...

CARLSON:  So the Daily Kos is not left-wing...

FENN:  No, no.  It‘s a mainstream candidate. 

CARLSON:  The guy that posts to (ph) -- I recognize after this show. 

FENN:  I wouldn‘t call them seriously progressive.  But no.

CARLSON:  They‘re the...

FENN:  They don‘t seem to like the Iraq war much, just like you. 

CARLSON:  There is—there is a deeper point which actually is true, and these candidates have abandoned a lot of the basic principles—not all but a lot of them—that Clinton ran on.  One was free trade. 

Another was nation building.  I‘m not saying they shouldn‘t have been.  I‘m just saying it‘s notably that they have.  They‘re not running on Clinton-ite platforms, these candidates, including Mrs. Clinton.  What do you make of that? 

MCMAHON:  Well, I mean, I think—I think they are running on Clinton-ite programs in the sense that I think that, to all these candidates, America‘s standing in the world is very, very important, serious thing.

And I think, to all these candidates, Darfur, for instance is a very serious matter that needs to be addressed.  But there‘s no question you‘re right about one thing, Tucker, and that is the Democratic Party in the primary has decided that one thing is more important than anything else. 

And you know, you can make smart—smart-aleck remarks about the Yearly Kos and the Daily Kos, but the fact is that the net roots in this party have moved the Democratic politicians, I think, to a large degree, have started to move this country away from Iraq.  That‘s a really good thing. 

CARLSON:  Here‘s the deepest question of all.  If you‘re Hillary Clinton, and you‘re running on the prosperity of the Clinton administration or the Clinton years, that‘s prosperity that was built on globalization, NAFTA.  Plain and simple.  Right?  Globalization and NAFTA. 

MCMAHON:  Taxpayers balancing the budget, if surpluses...

CARLSON:  You know that if you point to one fact of the Clinton years that drove the economy, you would say globalization.  It was complicated at many different effects.  But that‘s kind of the court (ph) of it, and they‘re not running on that. 

MCMAHON:  Here‘s what they are running on.  Globalization is a fact of life.  The question now is not is globalization real.  It‘s how do you manage globalization.  How do you make sure that workers don‘t get unfairly penalized, because the economy is globalizing.

It‘s not something you can stop.  It‘s something you can stop.  It‘s something you need to try to figure out how to manage.  And so to that—in that sense, you I think have seen evolution of these candidates. 

But they still think that working men and women deserve a fair shake.  They still believe in taxpayers.  They still believe in working men and women.

CARLSON:  What does that mean, working men and women? I have worked every day of my entire life.  Am I not...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN:  Minimum wage or working wage which people can live on, which is the first thing that this Congress passed.  But the fundamental problem right now...

CARLSON:  You must mean only, not first. 

FENN:  Oh, no.  We‘re moving right along. 

CARLSON:  Huge. 

FENN:  Let me just make this one point, though.  The American people are so angry right now, not only at the president but also at Congress on Iraq. 

CARLSON:  Right.

FENN:  They want this Congress to do something about Iraq.  There is immense push there.  Now, they‘re not exactly sure what they want.  But they know...

CARLSON:  No, no, I got it!  They want to impeach the attorney general. 

MCMAHON:  Lie to Congress (ph).

CARLSON:  I‘m not defending Alberto Gonzales at all, on any level at all, politically.  I‘m just saying as a political matter, is it smart for a Washington congressmen, Democrat Jay Inslee of Washington state, to push for the impeachment of Alberto Gonzales?  If you—did impeachment work well for the Republicans?

MCMAHON:  It was totally different. 

CARLSON:  It was?

MCMAHON:  Bill Clinton did not go before the United States Congress repeatedly and lie. 

CARLSON:  I‘m just saying...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... stuff to talk about.  Their ethics, the war in Iraq. 

Why are they wasting time impeaching Alberto Gonzales?

FENN:  The biggest question is what is this guy—exactly.  The biggest question is what is this guy still doing there? 

CARLSON:  It‘s going to be a better nation in ways that average working people... 

FENN:  He‘s contradicted by his own people.  The Justice Department can‘t fill the slots. 

CARLSON:  You‘re missing my point.  My question is simple.

FENN:  Sorry, sorry.

CARLSON:  Here‘s the question.  If the whole purpose, the raison d‘etre, as the folks would say, of the current Congress is to help the working man, ordinary Americans, the one John Edwards knows so well and is fighting for, if that‘s the whole reason they‘re there, isn‘t impeaching the attorney general a distraction from that?  How is that going to help the ordinary working man?

FENN:  Maybe it will restore some confidence in the government of the United States to get rid of somebody.  The only reason this poor guy is still attorney general is that he‘s got his friend Bush. 

CARLSON:  Let‘s talk about the working man, the Democrats.  Farm Bill is one of the domestic achievements that went back to the districts to brag about.  They were—the Farm Bill.

Now, the Bush administration—not to get too boring about it—wanted to lower the cap on the Farm Bill.  So you couldn‘t get corporate welfare.  You couldn‘t get government welfare in the form of farm subsidies if you made over $250,000 here. 

Whoa, that‘s not enough, say Democrats.  They hiked it to a million dollars a year.  You can make a million dollars a year and still get welfare from the Agriculture Department in the form of farm subsidies.  Why is this a just, good, or moral thing?

MCMAHON:  I‘m not going to tell you that it is.  It‘s evidence of a very strong lobby out there.  It‘s evidence of...

CARLSON:  Nancy Pelosi, she‘s bragging about this. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Why is she supporting this?

MCMAHON:  Well, it‘s a testament to the power of these lobbies, which frankly... 

CARLSON:  She couldn‘t help herself?

MCMAHON:  No, no, listen.  It‘s not even Pelosi.  You‘ve Democrats and Republicans doing this.  They‘ve made some improvement on this, but I‘ll tell you, it‘s still not enough.  And I think that‘s outrageous...

CARLSON:  So you prefer Bush‘s position over Pelosi‘s position?

FENN:  Well, I‘m not saying Pelosi, but the bill—I do, I think you‘re right.  I think—it‘s ridiculous.

MCMAHON:  And corporate farming is something—the corporations are going in and they‘re taking advantage of a subsidy that was designed for small farmers.  And even for big farmers, who have significant revenue but who operate family farms. 

I think what you ought to take a look at is corporate subsidies and whether or not, you know, corporations that are already subsidized... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Why don‘t we just end it?  Why don‘t we just end it?  This is the libertarian position.  This is why more people know about the libertarian economic positions, because they like them. 

We‘re just going to end all the nonsense.  You—your business will rise and fall on our own efforts, not those of the federal government.  Just because you grow soybeans doesn‘t mean you‘re entitled to my tax dollars.  That‘s pretty simple.  Most people get that.  I don‘t want...

MCMAHON:  There‘s a big different between ending it, which could decimate a small town.  And it‘s all across America.  They‘re trying to come up with something that is somewhat...

CARLSON:  Have you been to the Midwest lately?

MCMAHON:  It wasn‘t because of the farm policies that the...

CARLSON:  It‘s because of globalization.

MCMAHON:  As you know, I‘m a Nebraska man. 

CARLSON:  You know who‘s not necessarily a small town American is Mitt

Romney.  Mitt Romney has made the point—and it‘s an interesting point—

that we can learn—I‘m paraphrasing him pretty radically here, generously

but that we can learn from Hezbollah. 

And that Hezbollah, which is both a political party and an Iranian-backed terrorist group, currently in Lebanon but also in other places, has built all these hospitals, which I have seen in Lebanon.  They actually exist.  And they‘re popular as a result. 

And that we ought to do things like that, the U.S. Government, in the Arab world as a way to become more popular.  It‘s not a stupid idea.  What do you think?

FENN:  Could that be a naive notion or what?  I‘d love to see us help rebuild the Middle East properly.  And I find it really funny, because when Patty Murray suggested that one of the strengths of al Qaeda was their health care, their education, their actual on the ground health for people, she was absolutely decimated by Republicans and the conservative attack machine as being supportive of al Qaeda. 

So now are the same people going to say about Romney, boy, he sure is supporting Hezbollah?      

CARLSON:  Yes.

MCMAHON:  But the fact is, this isn‘t really about Hezbollah or al Qaeda.  This is about where the United States should be spending its money and how it could improve its standing in the world. 

And if you divorce the incendiary rhetoric, you know, and you just say would the United States be better off by building hospitals in the Middle East or by sending troops?  And by improving education or by occupying Iraq?  There‘s no question, that we‘d be better off if we were building hospitals and improving education. 

CARLSON:  Really?

MCMAHON:  And improving the...

CARLSON:  Because I actually thought the people who led the 9/11 attacks, Mohammed Atta had a master‘s degree in architecture.  They were very well educated.  Education didn‘t make their religious fervor cool.  It incited them. 

MCMAHON:  Well, if you actually let little girls into the schools and not just little boys.

CARLSON:  I‘m for that.

MCMAHON:  And you actually develop a society that—where equality is valued. 

CARLSON:  I‘m for that.  I‘m not sure it‘s our business.

Speaking of little girls, very quickly, I‘m going to read you the following quote.  This is from a little girl.  Actually, that was a legitimate segue.  Here‘s the quote.

Quote, “Sunday was lethargic from the beginning as I wallowed in a morass of general and specific dislike and pity for most people, but me especially.”  This is written by someone—this is not.  This is someone who dislikes herself and other people.  Who is that?

FENN:  You‘re the worst. 

CARLSON:  Actually, it‘s a letter from college.  I‘m defending Mrs.

Clinton.  Anybody‘s college letters...

FENN:  I picked up my Sunday “New York Times”, as you did, and I thought, “We‘ve got a big story.”  I started to read it.  This poor pack rat, kept all her letters.  They are very self—introspective and I thought quite well written and very interesting but not terribly...

(CROSSTALK) 

MCMAHON:  What is going on in this guy‘s life that he‘d have these letters from 35 years ago?

CARLSON:  I must say, I felt sorry for Mrs. Clinton.  They‘re more insipid than most.  But you know, I wouldn‘t want my letters—I wouldn‘t want my letters.

FENN:  They wouldn‘t save my letters, I hope.

CARLSON:  Thank you both, very much. 

Michael Vick‘s codefendant pleads guilty to dog fighting, setting the stage for a very difficult trial for the football star.  When we come back, we‘ll be joined by one of the people keeping this case in the news.  She‘s the vice president of PETA.  You don‘t want her on your case.

Plus, the Donald—Trump, that is—weighs in on perhaps the biggest news story of the past few weeks.  That is, of course, Lindsay Lohan‘s latest DUI and drug charges.  He‘s got an offer for the starlet, one she just might want to refuse.

Our MSNBC senior Lindsay Lohan analyst, Willie Geist, has details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Go ahead and denounce the president, mock the pope, step on Superman‘s cape.  You can do all that in America.  But tangle with PETA?  Think again.

In a moment, the vide president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on Michael Vick, dog fighting and how to intimidate the hell out of your enemies.  That‘s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL VICK, ACCUSED OF DOG FIGHTING:  Under the right circumstances, and there would have to be a lot of things that would need to be worked out, you know, for them to put their trust and faith back in me, but if I had the opportunity, without a doubt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was NFL star Michael Vick talking about the federal dog fighting charges against him on the Porsche Foxx show.  The NFL kept him away from training camp.  Nike and Reebok withdrew their personal sponsorships.  Trading card companies decided not to distribute Michael Vick football cards this year.

Now, one of his codefendants has cut a plea deal with prosecutors, and all of that bad news precedes Vick‘s trial. 

Now supporters are voicing their support.  Former Dallas Cowboys star Michael Irvin, who‘s had repeated run-ins with the law himself, says Vick should not be kept away from the game. 

And the NAACP has weighed in, for some reason, saying the charges against Michael Vick may be serious, but it‘s a crime to prejudge him.  Given what we do now know, does Michael Vick deserve the presumption of innocence?

Here to talk about it is Lisa Lange.  She‘s PETA‘s senior vice president.

Lisa, thanks for coming on.

LISA LANGE, PETA:  Thanks for having me, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So this guy hasn‘t been convicted of anything yet.  We don‘t really know what happened.  Shouldn‘t we wait to lay the blame on him or call him a killer or animals?

LANGE:  Well, we think the NFL should suspend him right away.  It‘s not only the 18-page indictment, which you can see at our web site at PETA.org, that outlines how the dogs in this pit bull fighting ring.  And this dates back to 2001. 

Many of them were electrocuted.  They were smashed to the ground and killed.  They were hung and they were shot.  And whether or not he is—he is directly responsible for those deaths, and those were the deaths of the dogs that didn‘t test well in fights, whether or not he‘s responsible for the killing of the dozens of dogs who were dug up on his property, we know this took place on property he bought. 

He owned the property.  There were truckloads of dog fighting paraphernalia removed from his property.  So there is some responsibility there.

And the NFL has a personal conduct policy for things like this.  We believe they should move in right away and suspend him without pay.  We think it‘s fair.  We think it‘s right. We think there‘s enough evidence to do that now.

CARLSON:  If he‘s guilty of what he‘s charged with doing, if he directly participated in the murder of these dogs, what should be the penalty, do you think?

LANGE:  Well, we think the penalty should be much worse than it is.  Right now, he can get a maximum of six years, and we don‘t think that‘s enough. 

CARLSON:  But if you—let‘s say if you, Lisa Lange, vice president of PETA, were in charge, you‘re God for a day, Michael Vick is guilty and you get to decide what happens to him, what would you do to him?

LANGE:  I think he should lose his freedom.  I think he should.  I think that when you take it dog by dog and recognize...

CARLSON:  But what does that mean, lose his freedom?  For how long? 

Should he be executed or he should be in prison for how long?

LANGE:  No.  No.  I mean, I think—it‘s hard to say.  I haven‘t—I mean, I haven‘t actually thought that through, but I think he should get many years in prison.  I think he should get six years for every dog he‘s found guilty of killing or for conspiring to kill. 

But also, it‘s the survivors of these dogs.  We want people to think about the dogs who are sitting in kennels right now until the trial is finished.  These dogs will stay in kennels.  And then they‘re all going to be euthanized because they were fought.  It‘s not safe to have them in homes.  We‘re not—we are not able to rehabilitate them. 

We also have to think about all the animals who may have been victims, smaller dogs and cats who were used in bait in pit bull fighting rings.  There are 40,000 dog fighters out there. 

So this case is a high profile case, but it‘s not about this one man.  It‘s not about these four men.  It‘s about all the dogs and cats and smaller dogs who were killed because of this violent blood sport. 

CARLSON:  Well, I agree—I agree with you completely. 

And very quickly, when he went into court, Michael Vick, he was screamed at by a huge group of people.  Were those PETA people?  And if so how did you get them, and how do you mobilize so many people so fast?

LANGE:  Well, I‘ll tell you, it‘s not hard—it hasn‘t been hard to mobilize people on this case.  When the indictment came down, we were out in front of the NFL a day later.  And there were hundreds of people there, as well.

This is a case that‘s touched the heart of so many Americans.  Americans love football, but they love dogs more.  And we were able—you know, we sent out e-mails to our activists who work with us.  But of course, word of mouth.  People called us, saying, “What can we do?” 

Tens of thousands of people wrote to Nike, and as a result, Nike suspended his contract without pay.  They‘re writing to the NFL, as well, too, because they‘re going to our web site...

CARLSON:  Right.

LANGE:  ... anxious to figure out what they can do to help.  And so they‘re writing letters.

And we‘re also calling on people—if you even suspect a dog fighting ring in your neighborhood, call the authorities.  You never know if there have been other complaints about the same—about the same situation. 

So we‘re hopefully getting people to think more about these dogs who were the victims in this case...

CARLSON:  Good for you.

LANGE:  ... but also the thousands elsewhere. 

CARLSON:  Good for you.  You‘re—you‘re not always on the right side, in my view, but in this case I think you really are.  And I appreciate it.  Thanks a lot, Lisa. 

LANGE:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  We have breaking news.  NBC News can confirm that chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, has suffered a seizure.  It was reported earlier today that he‘d fallen in his island home in coastal Maine.

But it is now known that Chief Justice John Roberts has had a seizure of some kind.  He‘s in a hospital now in the state of Maine, where he will remain overnight.  We are working to get more details on his condition and the situation.  We‘ll bring them to you as they come in.

Well, there‘s no quicker way to end your career than to get on the wrong side of Oprah.  So which media big shot took her life into her own hands by publicly bashing the most powerful woman in the universe?  Well, Oprah Winfrey disciple, Willie Geist, will tell us when we come back.

You‘re watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

We have a developing story.  NBC News can now confirm that someone in the United States publicly has insulted Oprah Winfrey.  For more we go to Willie Geist, who is standing by live. 

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  Can you believe it, Tucker?  Someone broke the golden rule. 

CARLSON:  I can‘t.

GEIST:  It‘s one of life‘s unwritten rules, actually. 

CARLSON:  I‘ve been around a long time, Willie.  I can tell you honestly I‘m shocked.

GEIST:  You don‘t do it.  Thou shall not criticize Oprah Winfrey.  Everybody knows that.  Those who have taken shots at Oprah tend to end up sleeping under highway overpasses, talking to empty bottles of malt liquor, Tucker. 

James Frey drew her wrath, of course, when it was revealed that his memoir, “A Million Little Pieces”, was a complete fraud.  This after Oprah had chosen it for her book club.  You do not mess with Oprah‘s book club. 

Well, Frey‘s publisher, a woman named Nan Talese, who appeared with Frey when he returned to Oprah‘s show to get his public shaming, not making any apologies to Oprah. 

Talese told an audience at a book convention, quote, “I‘m afraid I‘m unapologetic about the whole thing.  The only person who should be apologetic is Oprah Winfrey,” end quote. 

She went on to say that Oprah has, quote, “fiercely bad manners.”  Criticizing Oprah‘s manners.  Tucker, there‘s a few thing I know that are important to a long, healthy life.  Eat your vegetables, exercise and do not criticize Oprah Winfrey.  This woman will disappear soon, I promise.

CARLSON:  I tend to—I tend to agree with you.  Her husband, Gay Talese, is just really one of the great writers of all time, so I feel kind of bad saying that, but maybe she just doesn‘t care.  Maybe when you‘re married to Gay Talese, it‘s just irrelevant to you.  But I think it‘s bad karma to criticize Oprah, and I would not do it personally. 

GEIST:  She‘ll learn quickly that it is relevant, Tucker. 

Another person you probably don‘t want to cross, the honorable Donald J. Trump. 

The Donald, never missing a chance to insert himself into the day‘s news, told the “New York Post” the other day, quote, “Find what you love doing,” when talking about Lindsay Lohan, “other than drugs and alcohol.  Work hard, stay focused, get a new set of parents.  Then join me on ‘Celebrity Apprentice‘, which is shooting soon.  I‘ll keep you straight.”

He‘s always there to help—himself. 

Lohan‘s mom, Dina, isn‘t taking kindly to Trump‘s advice.  She fire back today, saying she‘s disappointed in Trump‘s comments, because she has always admired him and has even read each of his books, Tucker. 

She asked him to be a part of the solution rather than piling on. 

And I think Donald was just looking out for the young lady, Tucker. 

What do you think? 

CARLSON:  She read his books?  It‘s one thing to support Donald Trump, and I do in theory, as a kind of American icon of vulgarity.

GEIST:  Yes.

CARLSON:  But to actually read his books?

GEIST:  Yes.

CARLSON:  That disqualifies you as a mother right there. 

GEIST:  Yes, I think so.  To go through that process.  You should probably—child services should step in. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

GEIST:  Tucker, as Lindsay Lohan‘s mother and father, actually, have proven, not everyone really ready to be a parent.  Check this out.

That message being driven home subtly in the Netherlands by way of a giant floating hot air condom.  The 127-foot prophylactic has the Dutch words for safe sex printed on it. 

The Dutch public health service hopes the giant floating condom will remind young people about the dangers of STDs.  The group is petitioning the Guinness Book of World Records for a spot as the world‘s biggest condom. 

And Tucker, I would say they‘ve got a pretty good shot at that.  And of course, Guinness inserting itself, like Trump, into every story, as they‘re prone to do. 

CARLSON:  That is amazing.  Will, you have been on an anti-Guinness Book of World Records tear for so long that it‘s...

GEIST:  Yes.  I won‘t stop here.  The Guinness Book of World Records, children, the elderly and robots.  Those are my pet peeves. 

CARLSON:  Let me ask you one question, Willie.  I—very early this morning, I happened to flip on the television, and you were there and I was impressed. 

GEIST: And I‘ll be there tomorrow. 

CARLSON:  Outstanding.

GEIST:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Willie.

Well, for more of Willie Geist, you can check out his “Zeitgeist” video blog.  And let me tell you, it is worth checking out.  Very few things on the Internet worth looking at in video.  This is one of them.  It‘s at Zeitgeist.MSNBC.com.

That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.

Up next, “HARDBALL” with the great Mike Barnacle.  Have a great night. 

We‘ll see you tomorrow. 

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

END   

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