updated 8/7/2007 10:53:32 AM ET 2007-08-07T14:53:32

Guest: Eugene Robinson, Michael Crowley

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  So, there‘s a lot of pressing political news on the agenda today, but before we get to all of it, an update on a collapse of a coal mine in central Utah, apparently due to an earthquake.  Six miners are missing at the Crandall Canyon mine, and authorities have been unable to contact them since the collapse was reported before dawn this morning. 

In a press conference about an hour ago, officials offered the following details: The missing miners are believed to be about 1,500 feet below ground, about four miles from the mine‘s entrance.  Rescuers believe they are within 1,700 feet from the miners‘ presumed location at this point.  It is not known if the miners survived the collapse of the mine, but they are believed to have water and food and air that will last as long as several days. 

MSNBC will bring the latest details on that and developments as we learn them throughout the night.  So stay tuned.

Well, as mentioned, there is a lot of political news in America today.  With the Congress, the Iraqi parliament, and the prime minister of France all on vacation, the politicians who would be our next president have picked up the pace and heightened the intensity of their pursuit.  Democrats were in Chicago Saturday before the left wing blogger convention known as the YearlyKos.  The Republicans, meanwhile, debated yesterday afternoon in Iowa. 

The most compelling confrontation at the YearlyKos wasn‘t between any of the candidates, but between frontrunner Hillary Clinton and the nearly unanimously anti-war conventioneers.  And the most dramatic moment didn‘t involve the war, surprisingly.  Instead, it focused on the role of lobbyists in the political process. 

Here‘s what Mrs. Clinton said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  A lot of those lobbyists, whether

you like it or not, represent real Americans.  They actually do.  They

represent nurses, they represent, you know, social workers, they represent

yes, they represent corporations that employ a lot of people.  So you know, the idea that somehow a contribution is going to influence you—I just ask you to look at my record.  I have been fighting for the same things.  My core principles have not changed.  But I do want to be the president for everybody.  And I want to represent the entire country, and that is what I‘m aiming to do in my campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  If there is a more unpopular thing to say at the DailyKos convention, I don‘t know what it is. 

Meanwhile, in Iowa, the Republicans mainly bashed the Democrats rather than one another.  The biggest news probably was Mitt Romney.  He is the current frontrunner in that state.  Mr. Romney has either earned or been unfairly strapped with the label of flip-flopper.  That depends on your point of view.  In the debate‘s most significant moment, he addressed his evolving position on abortion.  Here is a part of what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You can go back to YouTube and look at what I said in 1994.  I never said I was pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice.  I have said that time and time again.  I changed my position. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  So, who came out ahead in these candidates gatherings, and what should we expect this week from the debates among the Democrats, the AFL-CIO convention and the Human Rights Campaign?  And also, from the Republicans, most of whom are stumping in Iowa.

Joining me now with his insights is a man who once lived his own campaign, MSNBC news political analyst and former presidential candidate, Pat Buchanan.  Welcome, Pat. 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC ANALYST:  Hey, Tucker, how are you? 

CARLSON:  I never thought I would say this, but I mean this with all sincerity: I was completely impressed by Hillary Clinton. 

BUCHANAN:  I thought it was a terrific answer.

CARLSON:  What a brave thing to say.

BUCHANAN:  It was her Sister Souljah moment to those folks.  The left-wing bloggers were all attacking every lobbyist as evil, and she said, look, a lot of them work for good causes and are good people.  I‘m going to be president of all the people. 

I think that sits—stands very well for her in the general election. 

That‘s what she‘s running for.

CARLSON:  I mean, short of endorsing the war, which I guess she has done time and time again throughout the past five years, you couldn‘t really say anything more offensive to the people gathered at that group than I am here to represent lobbyists as well, and they have a right to express their opinions too, just as you do. 

BUCHANAN:  That is a self-righteous crowd, the bloggers. 

Ideologically hard left types, you know, pure—and so they all booed her.

I think it helps her.  I think when people see her standing up like that and she‘s booed by people and she takes a position that‘s quite reasonable, intelligent—I think it helps her. 

CARLSON:  It certainly—I must say, I have never watched Hillary Clinton speak and thought, you know, I admire that. 

BUCHANAN:  Exactly.  Yes.

CARLSON:  And I really—I admire anybody with the courage to look right at the eyes of a group that you are supposed to be pandering to, and say the most unpopular thing you possibly can. 

BUCHANAN:  Yes, fundamentally, I disagree basically with you and here‘s why and these are good folks, even if you don‘t like them.  I credit her too. 

CARLSON:  Well, I hope they are adults enough to respect her for that. 

Mitt Romney did maybe less dramatic, but I thought significant version of the same thing, when he said to George Stephanopoulos and to Sam Brownback, with whom he was arguing at the time, I was effectively pro-choice and I changed my position.  I mean, I can‘t really think of a better answer.  It‘s hard to call him a flip-flopper if he concedes that he changed his mind, isn‘t it?

BUCHANAN:  He said, I flipped and flopped.

CARLSON:  Yes.

BUCHANAN:  But I changed my mind, you‘re right.

Romney‘s problem is this: Brownback has been savaging him with these push polls, these phone calls on his position on abortion, to strip away any Christian support he‘s got to, in order to draw down Romney to the point where he doesn‘t have a dramatic victory in the straw poll, which will really cause some air to go out of that balloon if it happens.  And Brownback is shooting hard for second out there, Tucker, so he can move into the top tier or near the top tier, and he‘s been very rough.  He‘s been rough on Tancredo and very rough on Romney. 

CARLSON:  Well, Tancredo, I have to say, came out with—not surprisingly—Tancredo, a—for whom I believe your sister is working.  Tancredo is a guy I really like, he was on the show a lot.

BUCHANAN:  She‘s handling foreign policy.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  Tancredo‘s foreign policy comes down to bombing Mecca and Medina.

BUCHANAN:  He‘s threatened to bomb them.

CARLSON:  He‘s threatened to.  And so, Stephanopoulos asked him, he said, you know, you said you‘d bomb the holy cities, and the State Department calls that reprehensible and quote, “absolutely crazy.”  To which Tancredo says, “if the State Department says it‘s crazy, it must be pretty good.”  Then he says, anybody who‘s running for president who would take that option off the table isn‘t fit to be president.  To which—that option being bombing Mecca and Medina—to which the audience applauded. 

BUCHANAN:  Welcome to (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  He was set up perfectly when they said, “the State Department doesn‘t like what you said.” 

So but you know, but Duncan Hunter came out—no, Duncan Hunter said the Pakistan thing.  I guess he disagreed on that.  But you know, Tancredo‘s got a little bit of a tough spot there.  It‘s like hitting, you know, the Irish Republican Army‘s Catholic and they attack your people in London, so you put one on top of the Vatican City?

CARLSON:  I mean, look, if I think it goes too far, that tells you how far it goes.  But you know what I mean?

BUCHANAN:  I‘ll give Tancredo credit, and he said this before.  And he came out and he did say—he made a very good point.  He said, look, you don‘t take any sort of threats off the table and things like that.  But I also think it‘s probably unwise that you make a public threat that we‘re going to take out Mecca and Medina.  I mean, that‘s a Salman Rushdie moment.

CARLSON:  Yes.  I still love Tom Tancredo.  I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  I do too.  He‘s a wonderful guy. 

CARLSON:  A very telling moment.  All the candidates were asked, “what is your biggest mistake?”  Tancredo said he became a Christian too late.  Huckabee said he let himself get fat.  McCain said he volunteered to fly over North Vietnam.  Romney said he was pro-choice. 

Rudy refused to answer, essentially, saying, you know, I will confess that to a priest. 

BUCHANAN:  But he also said, look, you have only given me 30 seconds. 

CARLSON:  Was that good enough? 

BUCHANAN:  I thought Rudy‘s was funny.  That‘s the way to deal with it. 

CARLSON:  It was?

BUCHANAN:  Sure.  Sure.  I mean, it‘s a good way to deal with it rather than just—some of these things are pretty unctuous, you know.

CARLSON:  Pretty unctuous?  Sam Brownback said, quote, “probably not telling my wife and kids and parents that I love them enough.”  If that‘s your biggest sin?

BUCHANAN:  OK.

CARLSON:  What about—my favorite was...

BUCHANAN:  He‘s probably headed for sainthood. 

CARLSON:  Ron Paul said, “I haven‘t fought hard enough for liberty.” 

If Ron Paul hasn‘t fought hard enough for liberty, what hope is there for you and me?

BUCHANAN:  There‘s none—listen, there‘s none for the rest of us, I‘ll tell you.  The guy has got the greatest voting record ever held in the Congress...

CARLSON:  Amazing.

BUCHANAN:  ... on cutting spending.  He‘s wonderful, though.  I‘ll say this about Paul too, and Duncan Hunter—I think they‘re all getting better, but I will say this about Ron Paul—he‘s got a superior stage presence to what he had early on, you know.  I think these guys have all been, you know, they‘ve been scrimmaging.  Now they‘re ready for the game.  They are much better than they were back in the winter.

CARLSON:  It changes you, doing it.

BUCHANAN:  It changes you.

CARLSON:  As of course, you well know.  Pat Buchanan, thank you very much.

BUCHANAN:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Well, Mitt Romney has a YouTube moment, but it‘s not clear if it will hurt him or help him.  It‘s a rare moment of campaign feistiness from the Republican Party‘s smoothest character.  We‘ve got it for you in a minute.

Plus, al Qaeda is in Iraq, and it doesn‘t matter how or when or why they got there, at least not now.  The only question that matters is, what do we do about them now that they are there? 

You are watching MSNBC, the place for politics. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  456 days until the election.  And just about five months until primary season begins, but you would never know it.  It feels like election day today. 

Republicans debated one another in Iowa yesterday, but most of their venom was reserved for the Democrats.  The Democrats meanwhile took their swipes at one another at a convention of liberal bloggers in Chicago on Saturday.  How did they do?  For answers, we welcome the “Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson, and “The New Republic‘s” Michael Crowley.  Welcome to you both.

I‘m a total sucker for the great line, even if it‘s hackneyed and clearly it was written by a comedy writer.  I don‘t care.  I love this line from Mitt Romney. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY:  At the same time, you look at that Democratic debate.  I had to laugh at what I saw Barack Obama do.  I mean, in one week, he went from saying he is going to sit down for tea with our enemies, but then he‘s going to bomb our allies.  I mean, he‘s gone from Jane Fonda to Dr.  Strangelove in one week. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST:  It‘s a good line.

CARLSON:  It‘s a good line, I guess. 

ROBINSON:  If you parse it, it doesn‘t necessarily mean anything.

CARLSON:  I‘m not saying it means anything, I just—my initial reaction to Romney was so instinctively negative.  I thought he was an appalling phony and there was something about his manner that I found very offputting and creepy.  However, I think his owning up to changing his position on abortion...

ROBINSON:  I don‘t know why you cut him so much slack for that, actually.  I mean, he...

CARLSON:  Because it seems candid.

ROBINSON:  What really was he before he decided to run for governor of Massachusetts?  Where was he on abortion then?  I thought he was a pretty conservative guy.  He gets to Massachusetts, he‘s pro-choice.  Because guess what, you are not going to get elected governor of Massachusetts unless you are pro-choice. 

CARLSON:  That‘s true.

ROBINSON:  And then, he has a sort of road to Damascus conversion and becomes pro-life again now that he‘s been governor of Massachusetts and can run for president.  You know, I think Brownback is right to go after him on that.  Brownback is very principled on the issue.  He takes a position I don‘t—I happen not to agree with, but he takes it very seriously, and I think he‘s right to call him on it. 

CARLSON:  Yeah, I guess it seems like Rudy would be the target.  I mean, if you‘re mad about abortion—and I think you have every right to be mad about abortion.  He seems to have taken on (ph). 

What did you make, Michael, of Hillary Clinton‘s defense of the lobbyist moment that I was so completely enamored of, so completely impressed by? 

MICHAEL CROWLEY, NEW REPUBLIC:  I thought it was totally bizarre.  So you know, the subject comes up at this blogger convention about who takes money from lobbyists and who doesn‘t, and Hillary decides this is the time to mount a ringing defense of the role lobbyists play in our political system, which reminded me of the things you were hearing from Jack Abramoff and his friends, you know, this sort of indignant outrage.  They have a role in the process, too.

CARLSON:  Yes, but they didn‘t have the brass to say it in front of the YearlyKos convention, did they? 

CROWLEY:  You know, you‘re right, Tucker, there was a way in which it was brass, but it also just was politically bizarre to me.  I mean, why couldn‘t she just say, OK, Obama doesn‘t take money from lobbyists, but he takes money from the corporations and from their CEOs, and there‘s not really a huge distinction there, and make that point as a matter of political strategy.  Why defend lobbyists when you can actually blur the distinction in terms that make you look much better, by saying—instead of owning up, yes, I do this thing that‘s kind of hard to defend, but here‘s this convoluted defense of it, say, well, those guys aren‘t that different from me, and here‘s why.  That‘s—you know, Hillary has been amazing in this campaign, surefooted, rarely makes a misstep.  I thought that was a kind of a brain belch, so to speak.

CARLSON:  Well, that shows you how perverse I am.  I am probably the only person in America who liked it.  I thought it was great. 

The Democrats are coming before big labor tomorrow—and we‘ll talk about that later in the show—but they are also speaking before the Human Rights Campaign, the gay rights group here in Washington.  And gay marriage has got to be at the very top of their agenda.  I believe it is. 

None of these guys or ladies is in favor of gay marriage.  How do they get away with that, exactly? 

ROBINSON:  Good question.  I mean, they‘ll get away with it. 

CARLSON:  Why? 

ROBINSON:  Well, because, I think the Human Rights Campaign and most gay groups will deem the Democrats to be more amenable to their positions than the Republicans, and therefore will stomach a little waffling on that.  And realize, because they can read the polls too, that coming out and saying, “I am in favor of gay marriage” is probably not a winning position in this country right now. 

CARLSON:  I think you can make a really conservative case in favor of gay marriage. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  ... marriage in general.  And I‘m just amazed by how these gay groups, just like every other—the abortion groups, the teacher unions, all these other lap dogs of the Democratic Party, they sit there and allow these candidates to get away with this stuff—just as evangelicals do on the right—and they endorse them anyway.  Why is that? 

CROWLEY:  Well, the alternative is so much worse. 

CARLSON:  Why, Rudy Giuliani lived with two gay dudes.  That doesn‘t make him pro-gay?  You know what I mean? 

CROWLEY:  I guess, but the Republican Party apparatus as a whole, you know, the influence it has (inaudible) powers is just so much worse for their agenda. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  What is the rationale against gay marriage?  What is Hillary Clinton going to say?  Why is she against gay marriage exactly?  It is not a position that makes sense.

CROWLEY:  No, well, I agree with that, but I just think that, you know, I think that a lot of these groups just have a realistic view of what can be done.  And there is a point at which I think they are feeling that pushing an issue too hard sets you back.  You know, you have to be strategic about it.

ROBINSON:  I think the Democrats this time in particular smell victory, think that it‘s certainly within reach, and I think there is a lot of pressure not to push an issue to the very edge. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Why lose on something that‘s not central?  Yes, you‘re absolutely right.  I just hope to see a principled conversation about it.

Well, the United States has provided an enormous number of weapons to Iraqi security forces, and an enormous number of those weapons are missing.  Who has got them?  How did this happen, and what do we do about it?

Plus, Rudy Giuliani‘s wife survived last week‘s PR hatchet job from “Vanity Fair” and she is hacking back.  What does Judith Giuliani say to her critics and how does she defend her man as the man?  That‘s just ahead.  This is MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Al Qaeda, the Base, the terrorist network responsible for 9/11 and some of the carnage in Iraq.  But are they ready and able to follow us home when we pull our troops out of that country?  And most important, are U.S. troops there making the progress against al Qaeda the administration says they are?  Will the attacks like the one today in Tal Afar, in which 28 people were killed by a suicide bomber, likely to go on no mater what America does? 

Finally, how is it that the Pentagon cannot account for almost 200,000 assault rifles and pistols that were given by us to the Iraqi forces?  Even if some of those weapons have found their way into the hands of al Qaeda in Iraq, what should we do about it?

Here to assess the latest from that sad country, “Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson and “The New Republic‘s” Michael Crowley.  Welcome back. 

I mean, I don‘t really know what to say about this, other than it seems important to note outrages as they occur and handing over lots of weapons over to the indigenous forces in Iraq, who we believe are our friends, only to see them disappear into the hands of our enemies, pretty disturbing. 

CROWLEY:  Pretty disturbing.  I hate to say it, but I would be surprised if it wasn‘t happening.  I mean, I just sort of take this sort of thing as the baseline right now.  I mean, Tucker, in fact, this I think is not even the worst sort of thing like this we have heard about.  It sounds like the insurgents are getting huge amounts of money from oil revenues and possibly in the billions of dollars.  You know, they don‘t actually need our, you know, they don‘t need some Glocks that we handed out.  They have huge amounts of money.  They can go buy explosives from—high explosives from Iran.  And I think that high explosives have gone missing.  There was the story that broke right before the election in the fall of 2004 that the Kerry campaign was using, about arms depots. 

CARLSON:  Sure, we never secured those.

CROWLEY:  So it‘s more of the same.  And once again, everyone said this point a million times, we didn‘t have a plan.  We didn‘t have enough people, and it all keeps coming back.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON:  U.S. largess has been played expertly by all sides in Iraq.  And so we have armed the Shiite government.  We have armed, you know, right now we are arming the Sunni sheikhs out in Anbar, and we have set up the Kurds.  And they are all just, you know, getting all this...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But doesn‘t this suggest...

ROBINSON:  ... fight it out. 

CARLSON:  There‘s an even bigger problem when we leave?  I mean, we know al Qaeda is significant there.  I mean, I do think that‘s beyond debate, whether you—I mean, you can blame the president for that—I think it‘s fair to blame Bush for that—but that doesn‘t change the reality of their existence there.  And as Michael said, they are arming themselves with oil money and they have all these weapons.  What happens when we leave?  There will be nothing to stop them. 

ROBINSON:  Well, I think there is a very legitimate question.  First of all, nobody knows exactly what will happen when we leave. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ROBINSON:  I think you could argue that maybe the Iraqis will take care of al Qaeda when we leave.  That maybe the Sunni sheikhs who are now demonstrating that they can turn on al Qaeda when they want to, and the Shiite government, and the Kurds who certainly want no part of it, will find a way to deal with any foreign influences of al Qaeda and neutralize it. 

CARLSON:  Is it time—Michael Yan (ph) I think has a really interesting piece I think in “The New York Daily News,” he‘s a photographer, who spent a year and a half in Iraq.  He makes the point that al Qaeda is actually serving to unite various forces in Iraq.  Their tactics are so repulsive that, in fact, they are helping the opposition coalesce against them. 

But it‘s just another example of the fact that, A, things are—do seem to be changing in Iraq on the ground.  Like the country is going through some kind of transformation, and B, we are not so well-informed about it in the United States.  That‘s what I‘m beginning to suspect.  Like, our assumptions that have been the same for the last four years maybe are wrong now. 

CROWLEY:  Well, maybe.  I mean, Tucker, I know you have never been someone who wore rosy glasses about this war, but I‘m always...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Passionately opposed to it.

CROWLEY:  OK.  I‘m always really suspicious about people who say there is some new positive storyline that we‘ve all been missing in the press. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But things do change, though.  And our storyline hasn‘t changed in four years.

CROWLEY:  And there are some good things that have happened the last few months.  Primarily, the sheikhs turning against al Qaeda, that‘s true.  But look, even the president, I mean everyone involved, says the key is political reconciliation at the top in the leadership of the country, and there is basically no evidence of that.  I mean, what sign is there that these people want to come together and live together, Sunni, Kurd, Shiite, under a central government?  I mean, there is just—and now the parliament is on vacation in Jordan... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, they‘re terrible. 

ROBINSON:  (inaudible) has walked out. 

CARLSON:  Of course.  But wait a second.  I thought we agreed day one that there will never be a political solution until there is some semblance of orderliness and a rule of law there. 

ROBINSON:  I thought what we agreed was that there could not be peace and an orderly arrangement in Iraq until they began to work on a political solution. 

CARLSON:  But how can that (inaudible) chaos?  It just seems to me, as a practical matter, it‘s impossible.

ROBINSON:  Well, as a practical matter, it seems to be impossible to impose order in Iraq right now. 

CARLSON:  I guess...

ROBINSON:  The Iraqis don‘t want it. 

CROWLEY:  But the other thing is, we‘re still so far from the conditions where you can have political reconciliation.  I mean, there has been some progress, but our military is totally maxed out.  Even people in the military leadership say the surge can‘t be sustained through the spring. 

So if you don‘t think it‘s going to happen in the near term, if you don‘t think we‘re going to have the security conditions and the political reconciliation, holding on—look, I think his name was Biddle—had an op-ed in “The Post” recently that said, go all out and find a lot more troops somehow—I don‘t know where—or get out entirely.  Because the middle ground, 100,000 and change, is never going to get us over the top.

CARLSON:  Right.  I think that‘s a fair point.  I guess I‘m just, as I say every day on this show, getting more and more freaked out by the possibility of a full-blown collapse in Iraq that would lead to a regional war, weaken our hand in the world, and really cause consequences that are just terrifying.  I don‘t know, I‘m afraid.  Yes, I blame Bush, but so what.  That‘s my view.

Well, if all politics are local, then Rudy Giuliani has a pretty big problem on his hands.  Stay tuned for the latest political defection from America mayor‘s campaign.  It doesn‘t hit any closer to home than this. 

And two other high-profile New York mayors made the news today.  Ed Koch wants you to support Michael Bloomberg for president, and he says so in “The Washington Post.”  We‘ll tell you why in moments.  You are watching MSNBC, the place for politics. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Well, Mitt Romney is blindingly polished, apparently unflappable, unyieldingly poised.  He‘s got great manners.  So his appearance on an Iowa talk show, which is making the rounds now on Youtube, is remarkable not simply for its substance, but also for the heretofore unseen fire displayed by the former Massachusetts governor. 

The confrontation began with the radio host‘s questions about Romney‘s abortion stance and how it jibes with Mormon religious law.  Here‘s a piece of that continuation, which took place off the air during a commercial break. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I don‘t like coming on the air and having you go after my church and me. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m not—I agree with your church. 

ROMNEY:  I‘m not running as a Mormon.  And I get tired of coming on a show like yours and have it all about Mormons. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t mind it being about that.

ROMNEY:  I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I agree with the ethics of your church, for Pete‘s sake. 

ROMNEY:  So do I.  You are trying to tell me that I‘m not a faithful Mormon. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m trying to get you to reconcile what I think is a disparity. 

ROMNEY:  And have a great discussion about Mormonism and the Mormon church, the doctrine of my church, and where my view is.  You know what?  I‘m not running to talk about Mormonism.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

CARLSON:  Did Romney clear the air on his stance on abortion?  And is there significance in his rare show of defensive passion?  Here to discuss it, the “Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson and the “New Republic‘s” Michael Crowley.  

You really kind of—There was a ten minute clip on Youtube.  And this guy Jan Mickelson is, like a lot of radio show hosts, just an over bearing horrible person who is in love with the sound of his own voice.  You kind of want to punch him out.  What‘s interesting to me is Romney kept his cool the whole time.  Mickelson is trying to explain how he knows more about Mormonism than Mitt Romney.  But I came away kind of liking Romney after this.  Why doesn‘t he do that in public?

ROBINSON:  I don‘t know.  I would have to sympathize with Mitt Romney, with whom I don‘t usually sympathize, because I think he‘s kind of a phony on abortion and other issues.  But on this, I would be with him.  There‘s no—find me the candidate who, in his private life, always lives all the tenets of his religious faith and—I haven‘t found that candidate yet. 

I think Romney is really getting a lot of heat for being a Mormon.  I think that‘s unfair.  But he is.  Look at the polls.  They show that as a very, very high negative for him.  And I think that was a genuine reaction.  I think he‘s getting fed up with it. 

CARLSON:  And people aren‘t embarrassed about it.  I mean, people I think lie about their biases all the time.  If you say, would you vote for Barack Obama; he‘s black.  Everyone says, of course.  Who knows what they really mean.  They‘re totally happy to admit, no, he‘s a Mormon.  I‘m not voting for him. 

Does Romney, do you think, need to get up, Michael, and address the Mormon question head on in a speech? 

CROWLEY:  Look, I thought so.  If I remember correctly, earlier this year there were stories coming out in the Utah papers, where his advisers were saying this is going to happen.  We know he has to do it and it will happen.  It hasn‘t.  I don‘t know whether they have decided not to.  But look, the guy, at this point, is basically the front runner. 

He has episodes like this, but, by and large, it hasn‘t completely hobbled his campaign.  So maybe he doesn‘t.  And maybe it happens piece meal through events like this, where, I have to say, I agree with you guys.  I think he looked relatively sympathetic.  He looked like this guy was giving him a hard time.  The guy was claiming to know more about Mormonism than Romney himself did. 

Even though Romney thought was he off air, he didn‘t really turn into a big jerk.  He was combative, but I thought fairly human.  So maybe he doesn‘t.

CARLSON:  What a humiliating process, I mean, running for president.  You have to go sit and listen to blowhards like this radio show guy in some little town in Iowa.  

ROBINSON:  Kind of like a book tour.

CARLSON:  But you are not even making any money.  Lecturing you about your own religion; and you have to sit there and be like, of course, Mr.  Mickelson, your point of view really makes sense. 

CROWLEY:  Can I just say something?  If there are Democrats and liberals who are sort of laughing at this, remember what they said when the Catholic church—conservative leaders of the Catholic church were hammering John Kerry, saying he can‘t take communion.  You know, Democratic politicians who break with the church on things like abortion should be cast out.  They didn‘t like that one bit, and I think people should keep that in mind when they‘re kind having some fun at Romney‘s expense. 

ROBINSON:  Absolutely right. 

CARLSON:  I agree.  I‘m sort of happy when the religious people stand back and don‘t get directly involved, even when I agree with them.  Judith Giuliani, some one who is not standing back, who has, in fact, given an interview over the weekend to the “New York Times,” is attempting, I guess, not to be an issue.  Here‘s a line from the Times piece—the reporter had lunch with her—“Judith carries some distinctly un-Laura Bush-like baggage.  Like her husband, she has been married twice before.  They also had a secret affair for a year before Mr. Giuliani announced it to the world and to his second wife at a news conference.” 

Just seeing that in print like that, it‘s kind of bad.  What good can come out of this? 

ROBINSON:  She can‘t be hidden for the entire campaign.  So, she speaks.  And the facts are the facts.  It‘s perhaps better to get them out now.  I don‘t know. Do we need a discussion about them?  I don‘t think we particularly do need to have a discussion about Judith.  Maybe a lot of people in the Republican primary do want to have a discussion. 

CARLSON:  Well, they‘ve gotten pretty—Now the Giuliani‘s have said where they met.  They met at Club Macanudo, a cigar bar on East 63rd Street one night in May of 1999.  She was living with a boyfriend and her child at the time.  He was, of course, married.  They have provided us the details of their elicit courtship. 

Does anyone care?  If this happened in 1992, if a candidate had come out not so long ago and said, well, you know, I was cheating on my wife with my current wife; that would have been a deal killer right there, don‘t you think? 

CROWLEY:  Deal killer, I don‘t know.  But I will say that there are a lot of reasons that Rudy Giuliani and the other Republicans are not happy that Fred Thompson may enter this race.  But there is one reason why Rudy Giuliani is probably delighted that Fred Thompson and his wife are entering the national stage, which is that she actually has managed to be more interesting than Rudy‘s wife, I think. 

The point is, you know, a lot of these guys have things in their lives that are not easy for them to explain.  I don‘t know that this will be so debilitating for Rudy. 

CARLSON:  That‘s fine.  In general, I don‘t think that people‘s private, marital sex lives need to be a part of all this.  I hate even to get to the question of the candidates‘ families, because I think it‘s too personal.  I feel almost guilty bringing up the following story.  But I can‘t help but note it, because I think it is significant. 

There is a piece today on Slate.com by Lucy Caldwell, who is a student at Harvard, who I predict will be a famous, well known writer some day.  She reports that Rudy‘s daughter on her public Facebook page says she is voting for Barack Obama.  I don‘t know. 

ROBINSON:  His daughter is 17.

CARLSON:  I believe she was a freshman at Harvard, 18 or 19.   

ROBINSON:  I have a 17 year old, and he‘s probably texting his friend right now, going, boy, Tucker‘s doing a better job than dad is.  So, I don‘t take that seriously.  Everyone knows by now that there is estrangement between Rudy Giuliani and his kids.  That‘s for the Giuliani family to work out.  There are a lot of families in which there are these kinds of complicated dynamics.  So that‘s for them to work out.

The only thing I think that does bear pointing out is that it‘s the Democratic front runners who have these kind of very, kind of, Republican family value marriages.  They have been married for a long time to one person. 

CARLSON:  And there was Hillary Clinton defending lobbyists in public.  It‘s like the world is turned upside down.  Ed Koch wrote a piece yesterday in the “Washington Post” saying, I predict—says Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City—that Michael Bloomberg, the current mayor of New York City, will run for president and that‘s a good thing.  Bloomberg is really going to run? 

CROWLEY:  I don‘t see it.  I‘m still not convinced that there‘s a scenario where he‘s more than a spoiler.  Ed Koch—I don‘t know.  It‘s like Joe Piscopo says that Mike Bloomberg should be president.  Ed Koch is still around?  Every time Ed Koch pops up, I feel like Dan Aykroyd cast of SNL and early Lou Reed albums. 

I don‘t know.  Ed Koch was last seen championing the war on terror and standing by Bush‘s side in 2004.  I just find Ed Koch—I have trouble focusing on the substance of what he said.  That said, I don‘t think Bloomberg is going to run, but I don‘t have the inside track on it. 

CARLSON:  Let me just pause and note the nastiness of that 90 second rip on Ed Koch. 

ROBINSON:  It was very good though.  But also, Ed Koch hates Rudy Giuliani, wrote a book about how nasty he is.  So any other mayor of New York is better than Rudy Giuliani. 

CARLSON:  Ed Beam—

ROBINSON:  Exactly, Ed Beam, Jenkins, anybody.

CARLSON:  Massachusetts apparently proposing a law to protect fat people from discrimination in the workplace.  Now this—I‘m sure we are going to get calls after this saying that was a parody and you unfortunately put “The Onion” on the air as news once more.  Apparently, this is real.  My first reaction is, you have to be kidding.  On the other hand, what is the rational against it? 

CROWLEY:  I don‘t know.  I can tell you, I spent some time covering the state legislature in Boston.  I recognize the name of the legislator who is sponsoring this.  I don‘t think it‘s a parody.  Based on what I know about him, there are some liberal legislators up there.  The argument against it is that government intervention should be a last resort in these situations.  I would like to—I don‘t want to just pop off, because I don‘t know if the statistics bear it out, but if there is real evidence of discrimination -- 

CARLSON:  Come on, I would bet my house that fat people are, in fact, discriminated against.  Of course they are.  Everyone looks down on fat people. 

CROWLEY:  If there are ways to do it without government intervention, that‘s better.  Maybe a public awareness campaign, or something, I don‘t know. 

CARLSON:  You know what?  We are laughing now.  Five years from now when the fat person‘s party nominates its first Congressional candidate and he wins, we will look back and say, those were the early days.  We didn‘t take it seriously then.  We didn‘t know the movement was sweeping America.  But it was.   

The Democratic candidates are meeting more frequently than network television executives these days.  And that is saying something.  Will the Clinton/Obama verbal battle continue at tomorrow‘s AFL-CIO forum?  We will carry that event tomorrow.  We will preview it in just a minute.

Plus, the new president of France went nuts on a photographer during his American summer vacation.  What led to this international incident, and who said the French president could vacation here in the United States?  Willie Geist has all the diplomatic answers when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  On Tuesday, seven of the eight Democratic presidential candidates will face representatives of a traditional pillar of their political base, big labor, now much smaller than it used to be.  They‘ll be gathering at the AFL-CIO‘s Working Families President Forum at Chicago‘s Soldier Field.  Fewer Americans are now union members than a generation ago, but the AFL-CIO still packs power and speaks to the issues central to the Democratic party, especially people like John Edwards. 

Joining me now with a preview, the “Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson and the “New Republic‘s” Michael Crowley.  Gene, it does seem like the private sectors are—I mean, in decline is to put it charitably. 

ROBINSON:  Yes, they have been in decline for some time.  Look, they still represent a substantial number of people.  But you see that, you know, John Edwards has made a real push to get labor support and it really hasn‘t done all that much for them.  The clout that big labor has, they are still waiting to see how Hillary and Obama do. 

I was talking to a labor guy and he was like, yes, Edwards says a lot of great things and we like him, but we think it‘s going to be Hillary or Obama.  We‘re talking to them.  So—

CARLSON:  You mentioned a minute ago, Michael, the kind of musty retro odor that accompanies former Mayor Ed Koch wherever he goes.  Big labor—it just seems to me that there really isn‘t a group that is less about the future than big labor.  I was at a restaurant in Washington last week, eating dinner outside, and Barack Obama was eating inside with these very famous labor leaders, including some who are often on this network. 

They all came out and Obama got into his Chevy Suburban, and they all got into limousines.  They‘re all wearing suits with suspenders.  They didn‘t have cigars, but they should have.  I‘m sure they fired them up inside.  They all have chauffeurs.  They were kind of a parody of what you think they are.  That‘s not the future, no? 

CROWLEY:  Well, OK, there are labor leaders that there have been some stories about.  They really do get amazing amounts of money some times.  There are still corrupt leaders.  But I don‘t think that is the movement from top to bottom.  OK, fine, but what does that really tell you about the movement?

The truth is that under the past several year, I think there have been a lot of policies that have been bad for people who work for low wages, union workers.  I don‘t think they are greedily gobbling up whatever they want.  Those days are over.  A lot of the pension benefits that, for instance, they negotiated with the auto makers are now kind of being voided or rolled back.  They‘re seeing a back slide.

So I guess my point is, all right, some of these guys have big salaries and limos.  But I don‘t think unions are out of control in this country anymore.  And they are still very important within the Democratic party, particularly as an organizing tool to get voters out, to contact, to do field work, to do grass roots politics.  They are still very important. 

CARLSON:  Yes, but if you look at the sectors of America that are vibrant, where people are thinking of things never thought of before, and that are really growing quickly, they are not union dominated sectors.  Maybe there is a reason. 

ROBINSON:  Public sector unions—some public sector unions are doing pretty well, SEIO.  The Service Employee Union is a union that is energetic. 

CARLSON:  -- the head of that union flying in first class on a plane last week, where I was sitting in coach.  Just noticed that.

ROBINSON:  Energetic union that has organized a lot of people.  There are union leaders who are thinking imaginatively and toward the future about the immigration issue, for example, and not reflexively saying no to immigration, but saying let‘s organize these people.  Let‘s bring them into a movement. 

So, yes, labor, overall, is playing more defense than offense.  But there is some offense being played. 

CROWLEY:  Can I say something quickly in defense of the past?  The past was a time when people could count on a pretty guaranteed set of benefits, where you could work for a company, make a lifetime there, have health care, have a pension you could count on.  Now there were some draw backs that drove up some costs, and not all of that was sustainable.  But now we have this economy where you might not get health care.  You might not get a lot of benefits, sort of the Wal-Mart-ization of the—

So I think a lot of people—if you voted past, versus your version of the future, the past might win.

CARLSON:  I have to say, that‘s the world I live in.  I am living under the certainty of being fired at some point.  I have been fired a number of times before.  I have four kids that I have to support myself.  And I‘m certain that I will be fired at some point, probably sooner rather than later. 

I‘m just saying, that‘s kind of the world.  That‘s the way it is.  In every country around the world, people live with risk.  It‘s scary and unpleasant—

ROBINSON:  There are a lot of countries where people live with a lot less risk. 

CARLSON:  Western Europe—outside of Western Europe and Canada, that‘s the way life is, isn‘t it? 

ROBINSON:  There are a lot of places where there are actually tougher labor protections, in terms of firing and job security, certainly, and pensions than there are here.  You can argue that‘s part and parcel with economic problems that big countries in Latin America have, for example, and the stagnation in Western Europe.  But there are more protections. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I don‘t know.  It just seems like the future is, almost by definition, going to be less secure and less stable than the past.  That‘s kind of the trade off.  But, I don‘t know.  I guess, you will have one guess where Lindsay Lohan has checked herself in once again.  If you said the Courtyard by Marriott, you don‘t know Lindsay Lohan.  Good for you.

Willie Geist joins us with the latest chapter in the most predictable book ever written.  You are watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  We have spent the last 55 minutes not telling you where Lindsay Lohan is.  It was not a mistake.  It was by design and it led up to this moment for Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  The moment everyone is sick of hearing about.  Tucker, you will be relieved to know that Lindsay has been returned to captivity after an unsuccessful attempt to reintroduce her into the wild.  Reports say Lohan has now checked into the Cirque Lodge Drug and Alcohol treatment center in Sundance, Utah. 

This is Lindsay‘s third stab at rehab now.  She finished a six week stay at Promises in Malibu less than a month ago.  But she was arrested for DUI and cocaine possession less than two weeks after her release.  I‘m sure things will be much different this time, Tucker. 

I‘m actually exhausted and sick of her, Tucker.  I guess this is the last resort.  If you can‘t stay clean in Utah, it is over.  Right?  I mean, if you can‘t do it there, you can‘t do it anywhere.  

CARLSON:  It is hard to sin in Utah.  I have tried. 

GEIST:  I‘m sure you have.  But, frankly, I‘m a little tired of the story.  Alas, I report it anyway. 

CARLSON:  Can I just be completely honest?  That mug shot picture of her was the only picture of Lindsay Lohan that I have thought, gosh, that girl is kind of cute. 

GEIST:  She‘s all right.  She is not bad looking.  

CARLSON:  She looked better in mug shots than publicity -- 

GEIST:  Exactly.

CARLSON:  Can‘t say that for many people.

GEIST:  As you know, now it is Britney Spear‘s turn, I think, in the rotation.  Paris just went, so we‘re on Britney.  Well, Tucker, my Yankees will catch the first place Boston Red Sox on their own.  They don‘t need help from this clown, a stupid Moose driving an ATV.  The Seattle Mariners mascot, who is a moose for some reason, nearly ran over Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp right there during yesterday‘s game. 

Yes, his name is Coco Crisp.  More on that in a moment.  Crisp dove out of the way as the Moose pulled in front of the Red Sox‘s dugout on a four wheeler between innings.  Some of Boston‘s coaches got up and screamed at the Moose as he drove away.  You can see right here, none too pleased.  Red Sox manager Terry Francona said, quote, I have got enough to think about, let alone a guy on a motorcycle.

That is just one of those hazards you should not have to deal with as a baseball player, a moose in a costume driving a motorcycle.  I‘m actually against baseball mascots.  I think sports fans will back me up.  There‘s no place for them. 

CARLSON:  Yes, what‘s the point?

GEIST:  You don‘t need them, unless you‘re the San Diego Chicken or the Philly Fanatic.

CARLSON:  I grew up with the San Diego Chicken.  How demeaning is it?  I don‘t think we should let people dress up in those animal costumes, even if they want to. 

GEIST:  There is a grown man in there, with a long sad story behind that moose head.  By the way, for the record—I know you‘re fascinated by this—the Yankees won in Toronto today, tying them for first place in the wild card.  Here come my Yankees.  This rag tag bunch of kids; what a story. 

CARLSON:  It is like rooting for the house in Blackjack. 

GEIST:  Like Microsoft, it‘s the best.  But I do it.  It is my team.  Well, in other sports news, Tucker, they held the ninth annual World Sauna Championships in Finland over the weekend.  One hundred one competitors from 17 different countries got together to sweat all over each other and to see who could endure heat the longest. 

Officials say the saunas reached 230 degrees.  Is that possible?  That might be wrong.  The rules are simple, last person to walk out of the sauna ins.  A home town guy from Finland won the men‘s competition after lasting 12.5 minutes.  That doesn‘t sound like a lot of time to me. 

I don‘t know, Tucker, something about the World Sauna Championships just rubs me the wrong way.  I can‘t put my finger on it.  I think it is the sauna concept, the sweating and sitting around with the fellows.  Do you know what I mean?

CARLSON:  I believe the Fins have the highest suicide rate in thee world.  We can check that.  But I believe that‘s right, if that makes you feel any better.

GEIST:  Too much time in the saunas you think, possibly?

CARLSON:  I‘m not drawing any connections. 

GEIST:  It‘s possible.  Finally, Tucker, French President Nicholas Sarkozy, vacationing on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire right now.  It appears he is having a little bit of trouble relaxing there.  Sarkozy was out on a boat yesterday when he spotted a pair of photographers taking his picture across the lake.  You see him there on the left pointing. 

The president pointed at the men and began shouting at them in French.  Then he ordered his boat to pull up alongside them and, get this, he jumped aboard their boats to confront them.  The problem was, the American photographers could not understand a word he was saying. 

A translator finally stepped in and ask that they stop taking pictures of Sarkozy and his family.  The photographers agreed and Sarkozy was led away by U.S. Secret Service agents.  An international incident on Lake Winnipesaukee. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know, I‘m kind of impressed by that.  A, he can vacation anywhere he wants, presumably in the south of his own.  He chooses northern New England in the summer time, so he‘s got good taste.  Second, he is a tough frog and there are some.  I like that.   

GEIST:  He is a tough frog.  You know what else is interesting?  He‘s over here in the United States, couldn‘t find a couple minutes to drop in on the president maybe, have a little conversation.  No, he‘s up on Lake Winnipesaukee, canoeing with his family.  I do not know what that says about our relations. 

CARLSON:  Live free or die, New Hampshire.

GEIST:  That‘s right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Willie.

GEIST:  All right.

CARLSON:  Well, for more of Willie Geist, you can watch him on the morning show tomorrow, starting at 6:00 a.m.  You can also check out the ZeitGeist video blog.  That‘s at ZeitGeist.MSNBC.com.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.  See you tomorrow.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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