updated 8/1/2007 10:12:29 AM ET 2007-08-01T14:12:29

Guests: Zach Wamp; A.B. Stoddard; Stephanie Cutter

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show. 

A funny thing is happening to Fred Thompson on his way to the White House in 2008.  He‘s actually having to go through the process of running, and the results are more mixed by the day. 

Today‘s downer was Thompson‘s fundraising disclosure.  The group that would be his campaign, officially known as “Friends of Fred”, had hoped to raise at least $5 million in its first month.  Today‘s news: the Friends of Fred raised about $3.4 million, or fully less than one-third of their apparent goal. 

Former Senator Thompson spun the news as well as he could, saying that quote, “The level of support and enthusiasm from people across this country is inspiring.  It tells me that people are ready for a leader who will change the national attitude from political bickering to a shared vision for our future, a leader who will bring us together, one who understands the challenges we face.”

That sounds good, but are people ready or eager for the real Fred Thompson to be that man, their leader?  Who is Fred Thompson?  And is Fred-mania ebbing as the world learns more about the candidate?

Just a thought.  Here to talk about today‘s fundraising numbers and developing Thompson campaign is one of the former senator‘s chief congressional allies.  He‘s a Republican congressman from Tennessee, Zach Wamp. 

Congressman, thanks for joining us. 

REP. ZACH WAMP ®, TENNESSEE:  Good afternoon, Tucker.

CARLSON:  These numbers seem fine.  I guess those of us who are paying attention and watch the national numbers come in, and Fred Thompson is right there in solid second place, gaining on Rudy Giuliani, had expected maybe $6 million.  Were you disappointed by these numbers?

WAMP:  Listen, he said all along, and I agree, this race started too early.  It‘s not all about money, because Mitt Romney is going to be able to spend his own money. 

Fred Thompson is up at the very top of the polling because he‘s Fred Thompson and he‘s walked down his own road. 

I was on that original call, June the 4th, when we first started putting some structure to this testing the waters, and to raise $3.4 million from June the 4th to June the 30th, I think, is fantastic. 

But again, it‘s not all about money because he hasn‘t spent a lot of money.  Yet he‘s up there with Rudy Giuliani at the very top, because he‘s Fred Thompson. 

So he‘s going to be able to raise plenty of money as soon as he says for certain, “I am running for president.”  And I believe that‘s going to happen. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Well, I like Fred Thompson.  I think he seems like a good guy.  I want him to be all he seems to be. 

I have to say, I was bothered by his response to the news that he lobbied on behalf of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, a pro-abortion rights group. 

The initial response from his organization was: “Fred Thompson did not lobby for this group, period.  There are no documents to prove it.  There‘s no billing records.  Thompson has no recollection of it.  It didn‘t happen.”

And yet, it did happen.  And when that was revealed by the “New York Times” that there were billing records, his explanation didn‘t make sense to me.  What is the explanation?

WAMP:  You know, I would say—and I‘ve known him for some time.  I didn‘t know him real well during that stage of his career.  But he‘s had, like, four different careers, because he‘s a very talented man.

And at that point in his life, he was working as a lawyer, as many do, with several clients.  And frankly, I think some of the people may have misspoke from the campaign. 

But in no way does this hurt him among social conservatives that know for eight years he had a solid pro-life voting record.  And he‘s never worked against that philosophy.  They may have had clients, but lawyers have clients of all sorts.  That‘s one of the problems with lawyers.

CARLSON:  But he wasn‘t acting as a lawyer.  He was acting as a lobbyist.  And there‘s a difference.  He tried to say, in writing for Powerline, a blog, he said, “Every person, unpopular or not, is entitled to representation.”  Like it‘s a—your moral duty to represent someone if that person wants to hire you.

But you don‘t have to represent any client if you‘re a lobbyist. You represent clients you agree with.  I mean, that‘s lobbyists do.  Why would he choose, if he was pro-life, to lobby on behalf of a pro-choice group?  That doesn‘t make sense.

WAMP:  It is before he was ever a candidate.  It‘s before he ever started voting and taking positions. 

And frankly, I believe that his position on the sanctity of human life has evolved into a very solid position, where eight straight years as a United States senator he voted pro-life all the time. 

And I was with the social conservatives, including the Family Research Council, at his event last night.  And they were very high on his record.  And that matters. 

CARLSON:  They actually are.  When we had Tony Perkins from that group on the other day.  And he didn‘t seem bothered by this at all, and I don‘t mean to be a sour puss or anything, but it‘s not everyday that you have a pro-lifer who turns out to have lobbied for a pro-choice group. 

And it just seems to me that a lot of people on the right are just kind of blowing it off or attempting to ignore it.  And it seems like a significant detail. 

Do you—is it your understanding that he has changed, affirmatively changed his position on this issue?

WAMP:  Well, I don‘t think there was a change, because once he hit the public arena, he was pro-life.  And he always voted pro-life, and he believes passionately in this issue. 

And I think that‘s going to be the test that conservatives actually look to when they determine who they‘re going to support.  Frankly, I think this is a tempest in a teapot, because there wasn‘t a whole lot of lobbying done, even way back when. 

CARLSON:  OK.  When—now his numbers are great, I mean, amazing for someone who‘s not technically in the race.  Do you expect them to go down when he actually gets in?  I mean, what is—what is going on here?  Why are his numbers so high when he‘s not actually a candidate?

WAMP:  Well, my view is he has maximized the ability to do it his own way and to walk down his own path in his own shoes.  I do believe that all this needs to be a definitive month, because this, to me, is like JELL-O being made.  There‘s a point at which you need to put the ingredients in, because this is going to form like JELL-O between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. 

And you‘re going to know the race on both sides.  And then the big dance is January, and as he prepares for that, I think August needs to be a definitive month, and actually, September needs to be an action month. 

So I‘m looking forward to the weeks ahead, because I‘ve got these people just champing at the bit, ready to go as soon as the gun fires.  You‘re got activists all over the country, including members of the House of Representatives that I have recruited and talked to, that are ready to rock and roll for Fred Thompson.

CARLSON:  Well, you‘ve been ready to rock and roll for Fred Thompson for some time, I think.  I can‘t remember the last time we talked to you.  But it was a while ago, and you‘re raring to go.  I can see. 

Why is he making you wait?  What‘s the hold-up here?  There‘s a race in progress.  Why not join it?

WAMP:  Well, it‘s—it‘s hard to argue his strategy to this point, Tucker, because without spending—without spending hardly any money, just being himself, doing it himself—I mean, he‘s done things like the Michael Moore confrontation on his blog.  I didn‘t think that up, but whoever did, that was a stroke of genius. 

So I hope Fred Thompson keeps being Fred Thompson and doesn‘t get recruited into being another one of the candidates, because he‘s not going to do well being another one of the candidates.  He‘s doing very well being himself.

CARLSON:  Well, you know, you‘ve got a good point.  He‘s doing great not in, why would he get in?  No, I guess common sense is the answer to that question.

Congressman, I appreciate your coming on.  Thank you.

Coming up, while you were sleeping, some in the Congress decided to impeach the attorney general of the United States.  Is that a good idea?  What exactly is he accused of doing wrong anyway?  What‘s his defense? 

Details in a minute.

Plus, Rudy Giuliani‘s wife catches it in the teeth from “Vanity Fair”.  Who does she think she is, the magazine wants to know?  But is that anyone‘s business?  What‘s fair game for the candidates‘ spouses?  That‘s next.


CARLSON:  Can you name the three branches of the federal government?  Do you know your congressman‘s name?  How many senators does each state get? 

Can‘t answer those questions, you may be too dumb to vote.  That‘s the position of one “L.A. Times” columnist.  Is he right?  Should the uninformed be prevented from choosing our government?  That‘s next.


CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Has not been a good week for the attorney general of the United States, Alberto Gonzales.  He apparently bollixed up his testimony before Congress.  Some Democrats have accused him of perjury.  One member of the House has called for his impeachment, though it‘s not clear that‘s going to happen.

Just moments ago, Mike McConnell, who‘s the director of national intelligence, sent a letter over to the judiciary committee, explaining why what the attorney general told Congress is, in fact, consistent with the truth and not at all perjury. 

Does it add up?  What will happen to Alberto Gonzales?  Is impeachment on the horizon?

Joining us now to discuss it, the associate editor of “The Hill” newspaper, A.B. Stoddard, and the famed Democratic strategist, Stephanie Cutter.

Welcome to you both.

Here‘s the letter, A.B., from Mike McConnell.  And it appears—it‘s very confusingly written.  It‘s written in bureaucratic language.  But it appears to explain why Alberto Gonzales did not lie. 

The bottom—the last line of the entire letter says this.  And he says, quote, “I understand that the phrase ‘terrorist surveillance program‘ was not used prior to 2006 to refer to the activities authorized by the president.”

In other words, when Gonzales said, when he was going into the hospital room to speak to then attorney general John Ashcroft, to speak to something other than the terrorist surveillance program—and members of Congress saying that‘s a lie, that‘s exactly what you‘re talking about—apparently the explanation is it wasn‘t called that then.

Is that what—is that what they‘re trying to say?

A.B. STODDARD, EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  I might be.  I don‘t think it matters.  I mean, I think what matters here is...

CARLSON:  That‘s pretty weak.  That‘s pretty pathetic, that that‘s what they‘re trying to say.

STODDARD:  Well, I don‘t think the perjury thing is really going to go very far. 

CARLSON:  Yes, and I‘m not saying it ought to, but I—if this is their explanation, I‘m not impressed. 

STODDARD:  Well...

CARLSON:  For whatever that‘s worth.

STODDARD:  The whole matter is not impressive.  I think he has grave problems.  Republicans that Republicans who support Bush needs on other matters are exasperated with Alberto Gonzales.  No one will defend him. 

And I think that the damage to his credibility is—is just a real problem.  But I know why Bush doesn‘t want to replace him.  But having him hang out there is—is—actually, really Christmas and July for the Democrats.  And they should not move to impeach him, because they should just let him twist in the wind. 

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s kind of what I was thinking.  I mean, you put it at the highest level of a—at least one presidential campaign.  You know how this works, Stephanie.  When the other guy has set himself on fire, you kind of stand back and enjoy it. 


I mean, I think that, you know, impeachment and charges of perjury and special prosecutor—that‘s what a Democratic Congress is supposed to do.  That‘s checks and balances.

Whether or not any of that will come to fruition, too soon to tell.  I think that efforts to impeach him won‘t come to fruition because at the end of the day, the American people don‘t want that.  They want, you know, progress on issues that matter to them.

Nancy Pelosi spoke to this today.

CARLSON:  I‘m not sure she exactly spoke to it.  Here‘s the account I‘ve read of it.  Really, her body language spoke to it. 

She was asked—Jay Inslee of Washington state has called for the impeachment of Al Gonzales.  And the speaker was asked, are you for this?  And this is the account.

Quote, “The speaker looked down and rubbed her temples wearily.  ‘I would like us to stay focused on our agenda this week,‘ she said.”  Whatever that might be.  I guess, millions to farmers in the Farm Bill. 

That‘s the agenda this week.

CUTTER:  Once you start down the road to impeachment, it completely consumes everything Congress does.  And that means nothing else gets done.  We saw that when Congress impeached President Clinton.

And that‘s not what the country needs right now.  We don‘t need more obstruction in Washington to getting things done.  People want to see results.  I think it would be a political problem for Democrats to go down the impeachment road, on anybody. 

CARLSON:  I completely agree with you.  It‘s—this is like Politics 101, you know.  Pull back.  You‘re the moderate, sensible person, and the other guy is crazy and radical and out of control and dishonest.  And you‘re just—you‘re the adults in the room. 

Why do Democrats persist in overreaching in this stuff?  They don‘t need to.

STODDARD:  I think there‘s, you know, just frustration on the base on Iraq.  And they, you know—any time they sort of dally a few news cycles over, you know, possible impeachment, it makes someone, somewhere happy.  I don‘t know if it raises any dollars.  But it‘s just something that they‘re doing to fuel...

CARLSON:  They‘re pandering to the whackos.  They‘re pandering to the...


STODDARD:  I wouldn‘t put it that way.

CARLSON:  You know it‘s true.

CUTTER:  Let‘s make a distinction here.  Investigating and performing the role of Congress...

CARLSON:  Right.

CUTTER:  ... is not overreaching. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that.

CUTTER:  That is something that Congress needs to do and hasn‘t done in many years. 

CARLSON:  I‘m happy to have a divided government.  I do.

CUTTER:  Going down the road on impeachment on things that you don‘t even have the facts of yet, you know, get to the bottom of it. 

CARLSON:  But also, the root—I mean, I‘m not—I actually think there is a problem with Gonzales.  And, again, if this is his explanation, that the program wasn‘t called that, that‘s pathetic. 

However, why doesn‘t somebody in the Bush administration stand up and say, “Wait a second.  We are in charge of the Justice Department.  If we want to fire attorneys, you know, U.S. attorneys, we get to do that?  That‘s—that‘s our right.”

STODDARD:  They‘d never, never have the nerve to say that.

CARLSON:  It‘s been done.  Why don‘t they just say that?  “It‘s none of your business who we canned.”

STODDARD:  Always the president‘s prerogative, to fire them for political purposes.

CARLSON:  Whatever.  “I don‘t like your necktie.  You‘re fired.” 

That‘s their right. 

STODDARD:  The cover-up is worse than the crime.

CARLSON:  Why don‘t they have the stones to say that, the Bush people?

STODDARD:  They‘re having a rough time these days. 

CUTTER:  That, and I think the president‘s loyalty to Gonzales is getting in the way of anything being done right. 

STODDARD:  Yes.  I agree.

CUTTER:  I mean, and the victim in all of this is the American people because nothing is going to get done at the Department of Justice.  Gonzales couldn‘t even go to the Hill this week and defend the FISA program that‘s up for reauthorization in Congress. 

CARLSON:  Well, I feel victimized by him.  I just feel slightly annoyed by that.  All right. 

Speaking of—speaking of victimization, though, John Edwards hasn‘t had that much luck attacking his fellow candidates for the Democratic nomination.  He remains in third place in national polls.  So he has taken a page from the Richard M. Nixon political playbook and started attacking the press.  Will it work?

Plus, Judith Giuliani wants to be first lady.  Does that mean the embarrassing details of her first two marriages are suddenly fair game?  Candidates‘ spouses under scrutiny, coming up.


CARLSON:  Rudy Giuliani seems to think a lot of his wife, Judith.  He‘s already said that, if he is elected president, she would sit in on cabinet meetings. 

He has also referred to her as an expert in biological and chemical disasters, based on the fact that she went to nursing school. 

Well, apparently, that was all enough for “Vanity Fair” magazine, which decided to take a look into Mrs. Giuliani‘s past and her relationship with her husband, the former mayor. 

The result is a savage hit piece in this month‘s edition, so nasty it‘s enough to make you feel sorry for Judith Giuliani, no matter what you think of her.  But it also makes you wonder if her husband can really get the Republican nomination.

And more than anything, it raises the question, are would-be first ladies really fair game? 

Back with me again, associate editor of “The Hill”, A.B. Stoddard and Democratic strategist Stephanie Cutter.

Welcome back.

Now, the “Washington Post”, which is, if nothing else, great at summarizing things, summarizes this piece this way: “Judith Giuliani is an opportunistic puppy-killing home wrecker who has a full-time hairstylist and needs an extra seat on planes for baby Louis, her Louis Vuitton handbag, at least according to a hatchet job in the September issue of ‘Vanity Fair‘.”

I mean, you can‘t overstate how unbelievably bitchy this piece is.  I mean, actually, it curled my hair. 

And the question is, you know, assuming that‘s all true.  Maybe it all is true.  I don‘t know.  Does Judy Giuliani—Judith Giuliani, by the fact her husband‘s running for president, deserve this kind of scrutiny?

CUTTER:  Well, two things.  I think that the story is over the top. 

It does dig into things that are not legitimate in this presidential race. 

The second thing is, you know, spouses should be covered.  You know, Giuliani made her an issue in his campaign by saying that she would sit in on cabinet meetings and she‘s an expert on bioterrorism.  So she should be covered as a person and her abilities and how she conducts herself on the campaign. 

Reading this article, I don‘t know what‘s fact or fiction, but it doesn‘t sound like she‘s operating with a lot of discretion and, in some ways, opened herself up. 

All that being said, this piece was probably one of the most over the top pieces.

CARLSON:  It was pretty over the top.  Now, I like an over the top person.  I mean, I was always been a huge—and to this moment—a huge defender of Teresa Heinz, John Kerry‘s wife, who I felt was a great character and a cool, funny person.

But I mean, she drops the “F” bomb like every other sentence. 

CUTTER:  No, she doesn‘t.

CARLSON:  Yes, she does.  You know she—come on, Stephanie.  You know that she does.  And I say that with love.  I really like her. 

However, she wasn‘t—I mean, there was never a piece like this about her in “Vanity”.  I mean, people pulled back a little bit, I thought, in covering her as they ought to have pulled back a lot bit.  She‘s not running for president. 

I don‘t know.  Shouldn‘t there be some zone of privacy?

STODDARD:  Maybe her background wasn‘t juicy enough.  I mean, it‘s a little more balanced, it seems.  Teresa Heinz has accomplishments behind her. 

And Judith Nathan has been, really, in the background all these months.  And now we know why.  And I don‘t—I think that the piece is over the top, but I think that—that politicians open themselves and their families up to scrutiny, and they always have.  This is not new. 

CARLSON:  You‘re right. 

STODDARD:  It makes for a good piece.  The stuff was there.

CARLSON:  It is an interesting piece.  There‘s no doubt.  And obviously, Giuliani is doing this voluntarily.  He‘s running for president knowing what that entails for his family.  OK, fine.

But what is the limit?  I mean, this piece, for instance, quotes her divorce proceedings and quotes her former husband.  Her second husband is saying these incredibly nasty things about her.  Again, maybe they‘re all true. 

But gee, you know, to go into someone‘s divorce records, is that kind of—is that the limit?  I mean...

STODDARD:  I don‘t think it‘s appropriate, but I think it‘s not—it‘s not going to be stopped.  I mean, there‘s no—this is—the less accessible she is, the more curious people are.  I mean, that‘s always the case.  And this is juicy.  I‘m not saying that it‘s right, but it‘s just—why is it surprising?

CARLSON:  What‘s next?  Are we going to get into Hillary Clinton‘s spouse‘s sex life?  Oh, wait, no. 


CARLSON:  That actually is an interesting question.  I mean, the question of—I mean, of Bill Clinton‘s, you know, current private life.  We have this kind of unspoken arrangement in the press that we don‘t get into that.  We‘re not just following Bill Clinton around to find out what he‘s doing. 

But hold on.  Let me just—let me offer a defense of that.  I don‘t think that we ought to be following Bill Clinton around and finding out.  I don‘t think it‘s our business. And I don‘t.  I really don‘t. 

But by this standard, maybe we should follow him around. 

CUTTER:  Well, I agree with you that I don‘t think it‘s your business, but I do think that there are plenty of tabloid type people following Bill Clinton around and trying to figure out whether or not... 

CARLSON:  And that‘s—that‘s legitimate?

CUTTER:  I don‘t think it‘s legitimate.  I mean, I think as a campaign person who‘s had to deal with that type of thing, there‘s nothing more infuriating. 

But spouses are parts of campaigns.  You use them as validators.  Your campaign always talks about—there‘s no better window into the candidate than through his spouse, at the type of person they are.  They are legitimate territory. 

But “Vanity Fair” shows you that things can be abused and go over the top. 

CARLSON:  What do you—I mean, if I found out that Bill Clinton had a girlfriend, I could just say I would not say that on the air.  I wouldn‘t.  Because I actually, on principle, think that it‘s wrong to bother people in that level. 

STODDARD:  You can make that decision.

CARLSON:  I‘ve made that decision.  I would—I would not do that.

STODDARD:  ... want to sell magazines.

CARLSON:  But what you think as a working journalist your whole adult life?  Do you think that that ought to be the standard, that you ought to kind of lay off a little bit on the spouse?

STODDARD:  I do, but I—but I don‘t cover the spouses of candidates.  I mean, I—it‘s not my—I‘m not an editor of “Vanity Fair” saying, “Let‘s sell these magazines.”

I mean, It‘s not—I mean, I think my personal taste is that it‘s not inappropriate. 

CARLSON:  Well, in...

STODDARD:  But they are—I mean, they do hang themselves out there -

it‘s not appropriate.  There is also... 

CARLSON:  Give me—from this, generalize (ph) very quickly in one sentence.  This piece is—you know what?  It‘s over the top, but there‘s also some stuff in here that kind of make you wonder about the private conduct of the former mayor‘s wife and the former mayor himself. 

STODDARD:  This is a big problem for him.

CARLSON:  Do you think it is?

STODDARD:  Yes, I do. 

CARLSON:  Do you think it is, too?

CUTTER:  Yes.  In the run-up to the primaries, definitely, it will impact his ability to raise money.  The people that will come out and endorse him, where he can travel and the type of events he can do. 

At the end of the day, voters don‘t actually vote on the basis of spouses, but it does influence how you get to the voting booth.

CARLSON:  I agree with you.  I actually think it is significant, even if ought to be off limits.  It does say something.

What if you held a fund-raiser for Barack Obama and nobody came?   Well, that is not a problem Oprah Winfrey is facing.  Her Obama-thon sold out faster than a Beatles reunion tour. 

So if Oprah is for him, why is Obama still losing to Hillary Clinton in the polls?  Hmm.

Well, as Joe Biden writes a book about—what else? -- himself. 

We‘ll review it, next.



CARLSON:  Welcome back.  It is time for a read of the Obameter.  And today‘s reading has risen by a factor of Oprah.  That‘s a lot.  The most powerful woman on television will host a September 8th fund raiser for the Obama campaign.  The price of admission is 2,300 bucks.  If you haven‘t got a ticket yet, rent a movie that night.  The event is sold out.  It sold out immediately and there is already a long waiting list. 

That splashy uptick in the Obameter reading did not stop the “Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson, a frequent guest on this show, from wondering in print today whether America is really ready to elect a black president.  Robinson says that a lot of black Americans wonders if, when it really comes down to it, white people will pull the lever for Obama once they are safely inside the voting booth.  Will they? 

Joining us once again, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and Democratic strategist Stephanie Cutter.  I think they will.  I think Obama‘s appeal has a lot to do with the fact that he is black.  And I do not mean that in a bad way.  I think that people look at Obama and they say, if I vote for him, it means that I am somehow moving beyond America‘s depressing racial past.  I am progressive in the best sense.  I feel good about myself when I vote for him.  I think white people will vote for Obama. 

STODDARD:  I think—In Eugene‘s column, he is actually talking about black support, and how much Hillary Clinton is trouncing him in South Carolina right now among black voters.  That‘s an important primary state.  But I think—I still see two sides to this.  He makes the point—Obama does in his interview—that black folks know the Clintons better and they do not know me.  And the same with his race for the Senate, once they know him, he does stratospherically well. 

I do not think that Oprah‘s viewers yet know—those who are not following the presidential race yet—know about her support for Obama.  I do buy into the argument that it is early yet.  There is time for him to build his identity among many voters, black and white, savvy and not focused on the race.  I really do think there is.

At the same time, I hear people like—I read Robinson‘s column closely.  He is raising the question—Congressman Clyburn of South Carolina, who is the whip in the House, also raised this question.  He is not going to endorse, but he is one of those people that everyone thinks secretly wants to endorse Obama and not Clinton.  But he‘s sort of under the pressure not to say anything.  He had him to South Carolina and hosted him and welcomed him to these events.  He is saying, you know, black voters are really wondering, can he make it?  Can he win? 

CARLSON:  Guess who can‘t address this question in public?  Barack Obama or his campaign.  The “New York Times” had this really interesting piece the other day—I think over the weekend—about his time in the state legislature in Illinois.  The grief he took there was almost exclusively from black legislators who thought he was not black enough.  I felt sorry for the guy reading this piece.  It‘s like he‘s got to prove his racial identity or something.

But he can never address this question in public.  He can never, ever suggest that white people might not vote for him because he is black, because then he is Jesse Jackson.  Right?  Can he ever talk about this?

CUTTER:  Well, it is not the type of campaign he is running.  You know, he is not running because he is black and he is not expecting black people to vote for him because he is black.  He is going out and trying to earn their votes.  I think that‘s the point that he was making in the column today. 

In terms of whether or not he should address whether white Americans are going to vote for him, I think he feels he probably needs to go out there and start earning their votes. 

CARLSON:  I think the archetypal Obama voter is a 28-year-old white, unmarried woman with a master‘s degree.  I mean, that is—Do you know what I mean?  No, seriously, it is well-educated, relatively affluent white people who love Obama. 

CUTTER:  That is what the polls show. 


CARLSON:  He is the candidate of Madison, Wisconsin, Berkeley, California.  He is the kind of hip, young—

CUTTER:  But he can also be the candidate of independent-minded New Hampshire.  You know, it‘s sort of that McCain-esque mold of 2000.  That‘s what I think the campaign is thinking.  I think that is what a lot of political analysts are thinking, that he could really make a splash in New Hampshire. 

I also agree with A.B. that it is way too early to consider this race over.  Hillary Clinton is the front runner right now and for good reason.  She has run a smart campaign, people know the Clintons.  People trust the Clintons.  They like the record of the Clintons.  But they don‘t know Obama and I think that anybody in any of these campaigns expects these polls to close as we move toward -- 

CARLSON:  Well, I know the Clintons well enough that I was not surprised to read the following: Hillary Clinton was asked about needle exchanges, federally funded needle exchanges, which I think have been shown pretty conclusively by the Clinton administration, for instance, to reduce the transmission of HIV.  The idea is the government gives drug addicts new needles or helps them exchange old needles for new ones. 

Hillary Clinton is asked about this.  Barack Obama is for it.  Are you for it, she is asked.  And she says, oh—right, does not answer the question.  She is pushed, she is pushed, she is pushed; show some spine.  She says, quote, I will show as much spine as we possibly can.  What the hell does that mean? 

STODDARD:  There was another quote in their about what is politically viable.  She actually said it out loud, about what happened in her husband‘s administration, and why they couldn‘t lift the ban, because it wasn‘t politically feasible.  She‘s the general election candidate.  This is no surprise.

CUTTER:  But also, needle exchange programs have always been very controversial. 

CARLSON:  But isn‘t it her job to take a stand on the controversial issues and tell us what she believes? 

STODDARD:  She did.  She actually took the opposite—effectively she is not agreeing with Obama. 

CARLSON:  But she is not saying—Rather than say, you know what, they encourage illegal drug use and I am against it, which is I think a fair position, right or wrong.  It‘s a principled position.  She is kind of saying, I am not going to tell you what I really think, but it is not politically feasible at this point.  That is a cowardly, almost by definition, position, isn‘t it? 


CARLSON:  Shouldn‘t she articulate a position here?

CUTTER:  I don‘t know exactly the details on this story.  But I think what she was trying to says was, I have lived through this.  I have seen these programs get debated.  I know what‘s possible to get done in this country.  And I believe we need to go in a certain direction. 

CARLSON:  She often says things like that.  This is interesting.  There was an interesting piece in “The Politico” today about how the John Edwards for President campaign has taken a page from the Richard Milhous Nixon play book and has decided to attack the press.  There is this amazing rant caught on YouTube where he is going before this audience in Iowa. 

He just goes absolutely bonkers; they want to shut me up.  That is what this is about.  They want to distract people who don‘t have health care coverage.  They want to shut me up.  I won‘t shut up.  They being, I guess, the press.  Is it a—you‘re running the message for a campaign.  Does this work, attacking the press? 

CUTTER:  I certainly never attack the press, Tucker.

CARLSON:  It really is the first and last refuge of the pathetic. 

Isn‘t it?

CUTTER:  I think it reflects the type of campaign he is running.  He is running against the establishment.  He is running against Washington.  Like it or not, the media is part of the establishment. 


CUTTER:  It‘s another branch of government.  And he is running against it just like he‘s running against anybody that‘s sitting in Congress right now. 

CARLSON:  But so is Hillary Clinton.  The “Washington Post”—Robin Given, the style writer, writes about fashion, writes this piece the other day about Hillary Clinton and notes that she had a plunging neck line and you can see her cleavage.  So Anne Lewis—poor Anne Lewis, very sweet woman, but who works over at the Clinton campaign doing outreach to the ladies, writes this fund raising pitch, which I saw, which says, “frankly, focusing on women‘s bodies instead of their ideas is insulting.  By now, the media should know better, but they don‘t.  Would you believe the “Washington Post” wrote this article on Hillary‘s cleavage?  That‘s grossly inappropriate.”

Like the “Washington Post” is noted for writing boob pieces or something? 

STODDARD:  It‘s just like Elizabeth Edwards calling up Ann Coulter.  If you see an opening take it.  If you can do a fund raising letter out of it, just seize the moment.

CARLSON:  But Hillary is the ultimate establishment candidate. 

CUTTER:  She is not running against the media.  She is running against that particular story, which talked about a body part instead of when she was talking about college affordability on the floor.  They were looking at her cleavage instead of listening to her ideas.  That is inappropriate. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  You‘re not allowed to note what she wears?  I don‘t know.

CUTTER:  Do you want to defend that story? 

CARLSON:  No, I want to say that the “Boston Globe” had a piece on (INAUDIBLE) released from prison the other day and it said, it is not yet clear whether he will continue to wear his toupee.  And I thought, that poor guy. 

CUTTER:  But they are not talking about his anatomy.

CARLSON:  Well, they are talking about something he pretends is his anatomy. 

CUTTER:  They weren‘t talking about whether or not Hillary Clinton was wearing a V-neck shirt.  They were talking about whether or not she was showing cleavage.  There‘s a difference.  

CARLSON:  But she was showing cleavage.  You‘re not allowed to notice? 

What are the rules exactly?

STODDARD:  It was gimme for Anne Lewis to write. 

CARLSON:  Cynical, cynical, cynical.  Well, speaking of writing, Joe Biden has written a new book about himself and about his life in Washington.  Joe Biden is an interesting guy.  It has the following graphic from his book “Promises To Keep,” in which he recounts a meeting with the president and the vice president, Bush and Cheney.  And Bush asks Biden, why do you keep picking on Rummy. 

This is how Biden answers in his book, he said quote, “I looked at Cheney.  Mr. Vice President, I said, full disclosure, were you not a constitutional officer, I would fire you too.  Simple reason, Mr.  President.  Can you name me one piece of substantial advice given about the war in Iraq that has turned out to be true?  That‘s why, Mr. President.”

What do you think the chances are that that exchange actually took place, that Joe Biden was lecturing the president and the vice-president? 

STODDARD:  It absolutely could have.  I would not put it past him. 

But is it going to galvanize the primary voters?  Not really. 

CARLSON:  You buy this too?  I mean, you know Joe Biden.

CUTTER:  Yes, he could absolutely have had that conversation. 

STODDARD:  He talks that way. 

CARLSON:  He does talk that way?  Interesting.

Very quickly, (INAUDIBLE), interesting piece today in the “L.A. Times” makes the point that most Americans—many Americans do not know how many branches of government there are, do not know how many senators each state have.  Two is the answer, by the way.  They don‘t know who their congressmen are.  He suggest, half facetiously, that maybe we ought to have a test of civics before people vote.  How, on the one hand, can we encourage everyone to vote, regardless of what they know, and then, on the other hand, claim that voting is the most important thing people do?  

STODDARD:  I‘m not going to agree with Jonah Goldberg, because I don‘t want my computer to break.


STODDARD:  On the other hand, voters are stupid when your party loses.  And when you win they are right.  That‘s all I have to say.  No matter what they‘re voting on—

CARLSON:  Don‘t you see an inherent conflict between to the two instructions?  You know, hold voting sacred.  It is the most important thing we do as Americans.  But on the other hand, let‘s just round up the homeless and mentally ill and get them to vote because it‘s their constitutional right and duty.   

CUTTER:  I do think that you can qualify a fundamental right based on intelligence or your knowledge of government.

CARLSON:  I don‘t think we should restrict voting.  I‘m not suggesting that at all.

CUTTER:  I do think that civics classes and making sure that everybody watch “I‘m Just a Bill Sitting on Capital Hill” and all of those types of programs are very important.  And, you know, children should be brought up learning how their government works. 


CARLSON:  I wouldn‘t—and I am not calling—to be totally clear—don‘t want my computer to blow up either—for restricting anyone‘s right to vote, because it is an absolute right.  I agree with that.  However, get out the vote efforts should be coupled, don‘t you think, with information about what you are voting for.  Don‘t you think? 

STODDARD:  I think the interested parties and campaigns inform us of what we are going to be voting for.  Your either pay attention to it or you do not. 

CARLSON:  If you don‘t you still get to vote, which is upsetting.  The longest serving Republican in the Senate is under investigation by the FBI and the IRS.  Federal officials searched his house yesterday, but why were they rooting through his wine cellar? 

Plus, John Edwards spends 400 dollars on his haircuts, but about ten bucks on his anniversary dinner.  Actually, 12 bucks if he super sizes it.  Where did he take his wife for their 30th?  Willie Geist has the greasy details when we come back.  You‘re watching MSNBC. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Republican Senator Ted Stevens is receiving some unexpected and probably unwelcome guests to his Alaska home.  FBI agents raided the house, taking pictures of everything from renovations to the senator‘s wine cellar.  Authorities apparently hoping to connect the dots between Stevens and an oil service contractor who oversaw improvements to his house, and whose company has won tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts. 

The Seven term Republican denies any wrongdoing.  For the latest on this investigation, we go to Capitol Hill and MSNBC Congressional correspondent Mike Viqueira, who is standing by live.  Mike—


CARLSON:  What do we know?  Why the wine? 

VIQUEIRA:  I don‘t know about the wine.  They say there were 15 federal agents investigating that home, or raiding that home in Girdwood, Alaska.  This is an area just outside of Anchorage.  It is known as something of a Tony place.  There is a ski resort there.  The home or villa, or whatever we‘re calling it there in Girdwood, that belongs to Senator Stevens, was renovated and the suspicion is—the allegation is that it was done with the help of these oil company executives, who have since pled guilty to bribing state legislators. 

As you mentioned, there are some allegations that they were the beneficiaries of some earmarks directed to them by Ted Stevens.  He, of course, ran the Appropriations Committee on the Senate side for six years.  In that kind of position, you have billions and hundreds of billions of dollars at your disposal.  We know that many appropriators are accused of bringing home the pork or the bacon.  Ted Stevens had that reputation for many years.  He had partial credit for the so-called Bridge to Nowhere, along with Don Young.

It is a very interesting delegation, incidentally, the Alaska delegation, between Ted Stevens and Don Young.  But you mentioned Ted Stevens; he has been here since 1968, although most people recently may never heard of him, except for his characterization of the Internet as a series of tubes.  And he called it the Internets. 

At any rate, he says that he and his wife, when it comes back to that house, paid every bill that they saw with regard to the renovation, leaving open the possibility, perhaps, that some other people took care of some other bills.  This is essentially the allegation.  We know that there are at least two grand juries, one here in Washington, one in Alaska, that have heard testimony in this case. 

Ted Stevens today spending much of his time in the Capital in seclusion in his redoubt, known as a hideaway, just off the Capital rotunda.  I should say that one brief video of him we see of him racing by in his tan suit to see a briefing by the director of national intelligence later this afternoon, that was behind closed doors, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  It is my understanding, Mike, that the Justice Department doesn‘t raid the homes of U.S. senators every day.  I‘m not saying there—

I am saying there appears to me to be a higher threshold for members of the Senate.  They do not do this randomly. 

VIQUEIRA:  And most of the defense attorneys or prosecutors that you will talk to will say that they have to go to a judge.  They have to prove some sort of cause or probability or likelihood, whatever the legal term is, and I don‘t know it, but that a crime has been committed.  Or else, you do not send 15 agents, IRS and FBI agents, crawling all over a United States senator‘s home. 

We also suspect that this goes to the highest level of the Justice Department before an action like this is taken. 

CARLSON:  Very quickly, Mike, Stevens—Senator Stevens had said, though he is in his mid 80s, that he‘s going to run again.  He‘s up again in the Fall of 2008.  Any change in those plans that you are aware of? 

VIQUEIRA:  Not that we know of.  He put out a statement today.  He spent the last several months, as this has sort of unfolded in slow motion, variously keeping mum and then talking to the press when he made that statement about paying every bill that his wife and he had seen. 

Now he has sort of gone mum again.  You‘re right.  He has said that he

will run in 2008.  Again, he is 83 years old.  I don‘t know of any major

health problems that he has faced.  Bob Byrd just got reelected in 2006, so

by that standard Ted Stevens is relatively young.   

CARLSON:  He certainly is.  Mike Viqueira on the Hill; thanks a lot Mike.  Well, is there ever a good excuse to lead police on a dangerous high speed car chase?  The guy driving this truck yesterday says he has one.  Are the cops buying it.  Willie Geist has the story from the MSNBC News chopper.  He joins us next. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  You know him from his AM news show, “Morning Willie,” if you were up early this morning.  Joining us now, star of MSNBC, Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, for obvious reasons, we elected not to call it Morning Willie.

CARLSON:  I love Morning Willie.

GEIST:  Vaguely pornographic.

CARLSON:  I think everybody can relate. 

GEIST:  You know, --

CARLSON:  Who doesn‘t like a morning Willie?  Come on. 

GEIST:  When you love the General Electric corporation as much as I do, there is no such thing as working too hard.  So, it is a pleasure to work 24 hours a day.  I enjoy it.  Tucker, I‘ve got some startling news here.  You‘re familiar with the vegan movement, aren‘t you?  They don‘t eat meat or animal products.

CARLSON:  Come on, I‘m from California.

GEIST:  OK, the movement is getting more hard-core.  They‘re now encouraging members to not have sexual intimacy with anyone who eats meat, carnivores, because those peoples‘ bodies are, of course, made up of dead animals, because that‘s what they eat.  So now if you‘re a vegan, you can‘t even associate with people who eat meat.  So they have drawn a line in the sand.  And things are about to get ugly. 

I think, if you‘ve ever met a vegan, most of them do not have the opportunity to sleep with a carnivore anyway. 

CARLSON:  Well, you know, the whole point of vegetarianism is to impress girls, I guess.  But the sad truth is, and this is true, being a vegan totally devastates your sex drive.  I know I‘m going to get a lot of emails saying, no it doesn‘t, but it does.   

GEIST:  You sound like a man who knows.  Did you go through a vegan phase?

CARLSON:  Talk to—have an honest conversation with anybody who has gone on a radical vegetarian diet, and they will tell you they have to remind themselves that sex exists.

GEIST:  I will have to look into that.  We just lost our vegan demo.  Way to go Tucker.  Well, Tucker, yesterday‘s cable news car chase du jour; a man in Texas leading police on a pursuit that reached speeds of 90 miles per hour, weaved through highways and residential streets.  The fun started when a driver took off after a routine traffic stop.  It finally ended when police blew out his tires with stop sticks. 

When police dragged the man from his car, he offered a simple explanation.  He was just trying to get his cat to the vet. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m trying to get to the vet.  The cat is in the car. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The cat‘s in the car?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The cat‘s in the car.  The cat is dying.  I‘m trying to get to the vet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why didn‘t you pull over and tell the officer that? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I thought about it. 


GEIST:  Further investigation into the suspect revealed that he is a

notorious cat person.  Is there anything worse?  Animal control officials

found a filthy scene at his home, where they say as many as 50 cats were

living, Tucker.  So, you know, maybe he was trying to get to the vet, but 

CARLSON:  Was that real?

GEIST:  That was a real sound bite on the scene as he was lying in handcuffs. 

CARLSON:  That is so great.

GEIST:  I have to—our executive producer, Bill Wolff—I‘m going to do this a disservice, but he does the best mock car chase analysis in a news voice.  And I was watching someone on a network I can‘t remember.  It might have been housed in this building.  They had an analyst on as they watched the car chase saying—Bill Wolf does this exactly—he may be intoxicated.  He may have committed a felony.  He may be mentally ill.  We just don‘t know right now. 

That is always the analysis as they watch a car weave through traffic.  and that actually happened on the air yesterday. 

CARLSON:  Because the truth is we know nothing. 

GEIST:  We don‘t know.  It is difficult position.  I‘m not criticizing the guy. 

CARLSON:  I have done it.  It‘s hard.

GEIST:  Why not just throw out anything.  It could be Jesus Christ in the car, we just don‘t know.  Anyway, let‘s move on.  The increasingly bold state of Iran continues to thumb its nose at the international community by building bigger and more sophisticated carpeting.  The Iranians unveiled what they claim is the world‘s biggest carpet in Tehran today.  It measures over 60,000 feet.  It took weavers 30 tons of wool, 15 tons of cotton and more than two years to finish. 

The carpet has been named the Palace of the World and will be placed in a mosque in the United Arab Emirates, of course a Gulf state that claims to be a friend of the United States, but clearly sharing carpeting, material and intelligence with Iran.  Now, do we need anymore evidence Tucker that Iran is a threat?  Look at the size of that thing.  Can you imagine what they could do?  

CARLSON:  No, I look at that and my first thought is there are a lot of seven-year olds with sore fingers from doing that weaving.  It‘s true.

GEIST:  Child labor in Iran?

CARLSON:  I think they may. 

GEIST:  They might.  Well, let‘s get to a little politics now.  For a guy who spends 400 bucks on haircuts and has a squash court in his house, John Edwards sure is cheap when it comes to taking his wife for an anniversary dinner.  John and Elizabeth Edwards spent their 30th anniversary of a Wendy‘s in Carrboro, North Carolina last night.  Actually, it is a tradition for the couple.  They were moving during their first wedding anniversary so they had to eat at a Wendy‘s. 

They have eaten there every anniversary since.  John had a cheeseburger and an iced tea.  Elizabeth went the chili and frosty, which is always a good call, Tucker.  I think Wendy‘s is excellent.  I don‘t know if I would take my wife there for anniversary.  Maybe when you reach John Edwards‘ income level, maybe you bump up to Applebee‘s.  I don‘t know.

CARLSON:  No, it is a purely ironic gesture.  Though I have to say, I agree with his choice of fast food.  If you‘re going fast food, it‘s Wendy‘s.

GEIST:  They suffer in the fry department.  McDonald‘s has them there. 

But I agree with you otherwise.

CARLSON:  For the burgers it‘s a no brainer.  Thanks Willie. 

GEIST:  All right Tucker.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist from headquarters.  For more Willie, check out Zeit Geist, his video blog, at ZEITGEIST.MSNBC.com.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  As always, up next, “HARDBALL” with the great Mike Barnicle.  We‘re back tomorrow.  Have a great night.



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