updated 8/9/2007 11:10:53 AM ET 2007-08-09T15:10:53

Guests: A.B. Stoddard, Jonathan Alter, Mike Wise

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Welcome to the show, we‘re live from San Francisco today just blocks from Barry Bonds‘ historic home run record last night.  We will discuss that later in the show.

But first a day after the Democratic candidates showdown in Chicago, the assessment of that evening‘s winners also-rans continues.  The roars and occasional hostility of the huge crowds at Soldier Field of union labor served to score the play players on-the-spot, at least on a gut level.  And the winner appeared to be or sounded like, anyway, hometowner Barack Obama.

In maybe the most interesting ex exchange of the night, Obama‘s foreign policy stances were dissected by the rest.  Last week the Illinois senator suggested that as president he would not rule out a unilateral U.S.  strike in al Qaeda inside Pakistan in the government of Pervez Musharraf was unwilling to act.  Well, Hillary Clinton and Christopher practically scolded him for his naivete and Obama struck back at their demonstrably bad judgment on Iraq.  The crowd seemed to side with Obama, was it hometown favoritism or was Obama‘s point about Clinton‘s Iraq war record better than her point about his experience.

Well, in a moment we‘re going to be joined by David Axelrod, who is Barack Obama‘s senior media strategist, but first we are joined by associate editor of “The Hill” A.B. Stoddard and “Newsweek” senior editor Jonathan Alter.  Welcome to you both.



CARLSON:  John, this really was the moment I just want to play for those who missed it.  This is the exchange that began with Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut on this topic.  Here it is.


SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD, (D) CT:  I think it is highly it is highly responsible - or irresponsible for people who are running for the presidency and seek that office to suggest we maybe unilaterally invade a nation here who are trying to be more cooperative with us in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I find it amusing that those who hope helped to authorize and engineer the biggest foreign policy disaster in our generation are now criticizing me for making sure that we are on the right battlefield and not the wrong battlefield in the war against terrorism.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You can think big, but remember, you shouldn‘t always say ever everything you think if you are running for president because it can have consequences across the world and we don‘t need that.

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST:  I owe Senator Dodd a response.


CARLSON:  Than is just an amazing exchange on a punch of different levels.  But here is the first thing that struck me.  I think Obama has a real case for moving into Pakistan if Musharraf stands in the way and yet he didn‘t make it.  He basically just said well you guys supported the war and therefore you have no credibility.  He went ad hominem instead of responding on substance.  Do you think he missed an opportunity, Jon?

ALTER:  I do.  I agree with you, actually, I think the onus should be on the other candidates in both parties to explain why they would not strike Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

CARLSON:  Right.  Exactly.

ALTER:  If that‘s where he is and we have actionable intelligence, as Obama said, and have a good shot of taking him out, how could we not try to do that?  What he failed to do was give you some context about politics within Pakistan.  And he let Hillary Clinton‘s claim that attacking Osama bin Laden there would destabilize Musharraf and let Islamists take over in Pakistan.  That is a totally unexamined and probably untrue assumption.  If you actually look closely at the status quo in Pakistan, it is not as if the Islamists are at the doorstep of taking power there.  They, depending on various accounts no more than 10, 15 percent of the political muscle in the country.  Unless they staged a coup d‘etat, which they are not capable of doing which they don‘t control the army in which is an extremely important point.  The army is controlled my secularists.

So they are not going to take over there even if we did something to really tick people off there, namely after going after bin Laden in the hills.  So on the merits, Obama is right he did not make the case clearly enough.

CARLSON:  And he didn‘t.  And Mrs. Clinton responded in a way I thought was so interesting.  She basically said adults don‘t say these things in public, when you are running for president, you have to be subtle and you can‘t telegraph your threw in tensions all the time.  This is a complicated place .

ALTER:  She is going to pay for that line.

CARLSON:  I actually think she has a point there, but A.B., it seems to me that is the point that someone who assumes she will be the nominee if not the president makes.  That was her whole point wasn‘t it?  That I‘m the one, get used to it.

STODDARD:  The thing is she‘s not boxing herself in with her school principal tone, and I speak insider code and none of us talk about nukes when we‘re running for the president and none of us talk about going into an ally‘s country, etc, but at the same time on balance look at what happened in the last couple of weeks to her poll numbers since she wracked Obama on this.

She is going to stick with this.  She might have gotten booed last night and he did indeed miss an opportunity since last Wednesday.  She agreed with him on the actionable intelligence point that he made.  She did agree with him and he did not call her out on that last night.  But I think that she is go together stick with this, I‘m the grown up and you are the insurgent thing because it is working for her.

CARLSON:  Well, apart from John Edwards, who is I think in full kamikaze mode, ready to set himself on fire to get attention and show that he means it, none of the other candidates went after Hillary Clinton particularly hard.  I thought Chris Dodd made a good point that I would like to see all of them make, Jon, and I wonder why they don‘t, which is, shouldn‘t you apologize for voting to authorize this war in Iraq?  Why haven‘t you apologized?  You are running against the war.  You can‘t admit it was a mistake to vote in favor of that war?  Why don‘t they say that?

ALTER:  Well, that is an issue that got talked about a lot more months ago and Edwards has kind of dropped it.  I think the other candidates, they want to try to take out Obama and Edwards, the Bidens and Dodds of this race .


ALTER:  In order to move up because they want to get a shot at Hillary Clinton and they don‘t want to take her on right now.  That‘s not their strategy for getting ahead.

But I think you make a good point and there is another vote here that has not gotten very much attention.  Hillary Clinton said, and she said this repeatedly, that yes she voted to give the president the authority to go to war but she wanted to pursue diplomatic solutions.  She was not voting for war, she was simply voting for the president having the authority.

The problem with that is there is a vote called the Levin-Reed amendment in 2002 at the time of the authorization.  It was right in that very period.  And she voted against that.  And that bill would have allowed diplomatic activity to continue.  No there are some others who voted for the authorization but also for Levin-Reed to allow diplomatic activity to continue, to go the last mile for peace .

CARLSON:  Right.

ALTER:  . before we took this terrible, disastrous course.  She was on the wrong side of that.

CARLSON:  She certainly was.

ALTER:  None of the candidates have tried to pin her down on that.  Especially since she said she was for diplomatic action.  So, so far she has skated through on that and I don‘t think that will last forever.

CARLSON:  All they would need to do is read the two pretty meaty biographies of Hillary Clinton that have come out in the last couple of months and they would have a lot of ammunition but they don‘t seem to have bothered to do that or they are afraid to act on it.  Quickly, A.B., were you surprised that the rest of them stood there and allowed Mrs. Clinton to criticize NAFTA when her husband, on whose record she is running, was the driving force behind it?

STODDARD:  Well, I don‘t know what the shift is with the lower tier candidates.  But there is certainly one taking place.  And I don‘t know if they are positioning themselves to curry favor and try to work in her administration if this all goes in the tank for them in a few months.  But you can definitely sense a shift now that Barack Obama is the punching bag and she is to be respected.  If you listen to their comments it is interesting how that shifted.

CARLSON:  Boy, she has intimidated them.  It is unbelievable.  First them and then the rest of the country.  Yeah, I can see the pattern here.  We‘ll be right back.

The AFL-CIO is postponing its endorsement of the Democratic nomination because they say there is no consensus candidate.  So does that mean Hillary Clinton is not labor‘s girl after all?  Plus Barack Obama doesn‘t want to run as the black candidate and now people are questioning where he is black enough.  Is that even a fair conversation to have?  You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for politics.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Barack Obama seemed to the hometown favorite at Soldier Field‘s AFL-CIO event last night.  But his six rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination last night had crowd pleasing moments as well.

The bottom line about events last night is did any candidate do anything to move voters in his or her direction and given his advantage and the clear distinction between Obama and his rivals on the Iraq War and foreign policy, did he score in a meaningful way last night?  Joining me now is Barack Obama‘s senior media strategist David Axelrod.  David, thanks for coming on.

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA STRATEGIST:  Glad to be here, Tucker.  I am also grateful to be in an air conditioned studio.  It was a little warm out there last night.

CARLSON:  I bet you are.  I was grateful not to be there myself.  So Bill Clinton makes NAFTA the centerpiece of his first term as president, he‘s been bragging about it ever since.  His wife gets up last night and acts NAFTA is something that Satan thought up and she has had nothing to do with it doesn‘t support it and your guy stands her and lets her say that without challenging her.  Why?

AXELROD:  Well, I think that we had our own points to make last night.  We didn‘t come there last night to challenge her or any candidate but to make the case for change in this country.  Change in terms of challenging the lobbyist culture of Washington, change in terms of challenging the conventional thinking on foreign policy.

And that‘s what we did.  It wasn‘t our goal at each and every instance to challenge any particular candidate.

CARLSON:  But do you see a certain irony or hypocrisy there?  That it‘s pretty bold of her to say that?

AXELROD:  Well, it is obvious that she - and perhaps a good strategy, that she would like to own the things that people feel positively about from the Clinton years and she would like to walk away from the things that people don‘t feel comfortable about.  That‘s politics.  I think people recognize that for what it is.  How people process that in terms of what she would be like as president, I don‘t know.

But the important thing is that she will make her case and we‘ll make ours.  And our case is that we need real fundamental change in Washington and not just a change of party.

CARLSON:  Barack Obama made the point last night that he would like to pull troops from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan, in that region to fight al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  But does that mean he not want to fight al-Qaeda any longer in Iraq?  I‘m confused and if so, why would he want to fight them in Afghanistan and not in Iraq?

AXELROD:  Well, Tucker, I think because you are a student of these things and have probably read the intelligence reports and understand that the fundamental threat to our country is still in those hills in between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  That is where the plotting against this country is going on.

There is very little indication that what is going on in Iraq poses a threat here to the homeland.  The plotting against us is being done by the same people who plotted against us in 2001.  And the tragedy of the war in Iraq, and this is the point that Obama made then and that he is making now is that among other tragedies it diverted our attention from the people who actually attacked us.

CARLSON:  That‘s a fair point but he also conceded last night, and I think I am quoting him correctly, he said we want to make sure that they, al-Qaeda doesn‘t establish long-term bases Iraq.  He understands the possibility that they in fact could become a problem in Iraq if they do establish long term bases in Iraq.  What exactly is he going to do about it since he will have pulled all of our troops out?

AXELROD:  Well, first of all, he has said having been opposed to the war in the first place he has acknowledged for years that we have to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in and that means that we can‘t precipitously withdrawal every troop, we couldn‘t physically do that anyway and that we have to maintain certain arrangements there in terms of training.  We have to have an over horizon force and we have to begin to use aggressive diplomacy to bring others in the region in.

Right now, though, we are fulcrum for activity, terrorist activity there, we are a target for them, we are inflaming them by being there and we are in this endless civil war that he himself forecast when he opposed this thing in the first place.  So there is no doubt that we have to be careful about how we effectuate the withdrawal and that is his point.

CARLSON:  The Association of Black Journalists is having this question this week and they are now famously discussing the question, is Barack Obama black enough?  Kind of a stomach churning question, I think.

But it does raise the question of identity and I have a question for you, and please don‘t demagogue, give me an honest answer because it is an honest question.  So Barack Obama‘s father as black and his mother was white, why could he not call himself white, then?

AXELROD:  Well, because - and I think if you read his book, he wrote a whole book on this subject .

CARLSON:  Right.

AXELROD:  . called “Dreams from my Father” and that was one of the struggles of his youth.  Because hose decisions aren‘t - those decisions aren‘t ones that you make yourself they are largely made for you.  The fact is he is black, he was identified as black, and he really searched for a place where he felt the community in which he felt at home accepted and ultimately his identity grew and he identified himself with the community.

And he came to Chicago, worked here and married his wife and settled in the community and joined the Trinity United Church of Christ.  This is where his roots are.  But Tucker, when you say why couldn‘t he have , the fact is that society makes judgments as well and his struggle was to figure out how to deal with all that.

CARLSON:  Right - that‘s - very quickly, just one sentence, he was asked by Keith Olbermann last night, if Barry Bonds were to break the home run record would he have a ceremony at the White House and Mr. Obama responded by saying it hasn‘t happened yet.  Now it has happened.  Would he invite Barry Bonds to the White House if he were president?

AXELROD:  It would be awfully late, right.  That‘s 18 months .

CARLSON:  Good answer.

AXELROD:  That‘s someone else‘s problem.

CARLSON:  That‘s why you‘re a senior advisor.  David Axelrod.  Thanks for joining us.  If elected Barack Obama would go down in history as the first black president.  But some say he is not black enough.  What do they mean by that?  And is it fair to measure a candidate by the color of his skin or is it offensive?

Stay with us.  We‘re just minutes away from the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavor.  We‘ll bring it to you live right here on MSNBC.


CARLSON:  It is a question that no other presidential candidate has had to face ever.  Is he black enough?  That question continues to nag Barack Obama‘s quest for the Democratic nomination.

This week a meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists will confront the very topic.  The conversation comes before Obama addresses that group on Friday.  What exactly do people mean when they talk about Obama‘s blackness?  Is it a fair question?  Is it an understandable reflection of American society or is it a racist jab by its very existence.  Joining us again to discuss it, associate editor of “The Hill” A.B.

Stoddard and “Newsweek‘s” senior editor Jonathan Alter.

A.B. I‘m not even sure what that question means.  I know that it makes me uncomfortable and it strikes me as unfair but what does it mean?

STODDARD:  I don‘t know that it is offensive so much as it is unanswerable.  Obama‘s blackness is an intangible.  If he wins the nomination and wins the presidency we‘ll never know if he was black enough to be the first black president.

It is one of those things.  If you look at Richardson.  He is not necessarily the dream candidate of the Latino community, Hillary Clinton is not the ultimate female candidate, John Edwards is not the ultimate southern candidate.  Barack Obama is black when Joe Biden calls him clean cut and articulate.  He is black when he throws out those lines about hailing cabs in Manhattan.

At the same time he is biracial and he‘s an immigrant and he went to Harvard and many black people in America don‘t see themselves in him.  It is just to me, it‘s not that it can‘t be asked but I don‘t think it can be answered.

CARLSON:  I think that is a fair point.  I actually think it is an academic question, Jon.  It is a fair question.  No question is really an unfair question academically, but there is an implication behind it that I guess bothers it, that there is something about the culture of achievement that he has been immersed in since he was young that is somehow not authentically black.  And I think that implication is really corrosive.

AALTER:  I agree with that.  I don‘t like the question, it makes me under comfortable and I think it doesn‘t really contribute to the debate.

CARLSON:  Have you noticed that he take takes more grief from black people than from anyone else?  The “New York Times” account of his years in the legislature.  It wasn‘t Klansman who were going after him, it was black legislators asked this question of him in an insulting way.

ALTER:  Wait a minute.  It is very interesting what happened here in Illinois where I am today.  Initially a lot of African Americans in Chicago asked that question and he lost a race for the House in part because he wasn‘t seen as black enough there in that congressional district.

He lost to Bobby Rush but then over time he has amassed more and more African American support where now it has to be up in the 90s in Chicago among those who know him.  In other words, there‘s really nobody among people who have gotten to know him well enough who asks that question about him anymore here.

Maybe there are a few people but it is not really a pertinent question.  It is mostly columnists and commentators and the rest of the country who are asking it and some black folks who don‘t know him very well who are asking it but I think the question is going to recede in importance as time goes and if he does go ahead and wins the nomination which is still a distinct possibility, then the question will be, for a lot of people an even more uncomfortable one with much deeper roots in American history, which is, is he too black to be president and certain you know whites who could never in the past have imagined themselves voting for an African American will be wrestling with that question in a general election.

CARLSON:  And my instinct is he will get a lot of white votes if he is in fact the nominee.

A.B. this raises the broader question of what does it mean to be a black American?  There are thousands upon thousands of black immigrants from Africa to this country every year.  They are black but they share almost nothing in common with any American‘s culture right?  So I think the definition is changing in ways that we don‘t acknowledge.  It is not 1967 anymore, it is 19 - 20 -- whatever, it is 40 years later.


CARLSON:  And I just don‘t think that burden should fall on Barack Obama.  He is not Africa American but he is African but he is American but, but, but, I mean he is married to a black woman and goes to a black church and as Jonathan said, there will come a time if he is the nominee about whether or not he is too black to be elected president.

Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson didn‘t get all of the black votes when they ran.  The Democratic contenders who were white who beat them did.  Clearly getting all the black votes which Obama by the way is gaining in that voting bloc on Hillary Clinton and I think they are kind of neck to neck now but does that mean that he is going to be the black candidate?

It is such a strange question too when you look at his candidacy people say, do black people want to vote for him because that will help them later or do black people want to vote for him because they see themselves in him?  Those are two separate questions.  And then when you get to African or African American or just American, it is just ridiculous.

CARLSON:  It is ridiculous and it would be—We‘re almost out of time, Jonathan, but very quickly.  Here is a guy whose mother was white, was raised by white people, went to predominantly white schools, if he could identify as white and if he did people would flip out.  They would not allow him to identify that way which tells you something pretty upsetting about American society in my view.

ALTER:  I think as David Axelrod said, that is really about how society viewed him.  He didn‘t have a lot of choice in that .

CARLSON:  He should be allowed to make that decision but if he made that decision the left would jump on him.

ALTER:  That is not the society that we live in, Tucker.  And his book is really interesting in the way he grapples with all of this.  Look, the key voting bloc in these primaries that hasn‘t gotten enough attention, African-American women, which way will they go?  Will they identify more with Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, it is too early to tell.  Many are undecided.  I talked to a number before the event last night in Chicago, the debate and a lot of those African American women were torn.

CARLSON:  I bet that they go for Hillary, unfortunately.  Coming up, we‘re just minutes away from the launch of the space shuttle Endeavor.  We‘ll bring it to you live when we come back.


CARLSON:  We turn our attention now Cape Canaveral, Florida, where the Space Shuttle Endeavor is expected to launch momentarily.   

We‘re looking live at the Space Shuttle Endeavor on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.  The six crew members on board are making their final preparations to launch at exactly 6:36 p.m.  Eastern time.  Joining me now from the space center is NBC‘s Jay Barbrey.  

What are we looking at? 

JAY BARBREY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  We‘re looking at Complex 39A here.  We were just checking our clocks.  Everything is right on time for a launch in three minutes and 40 seconds.  This will be the first time for Endeavor in five years.  However, it is the first of 14 missions they hope to fly before September 30th, 2010, Tucker, in which they will try to finish constructing the International Space Station. 

What‘s different here today—they are carrying up another part of the truss, the backbone of the station.  But what is different here today, one member of the crew is a teacher turned astronaut.  Her name is Barbara Morgan.  She was the backup to Christa McAuliffe back in 1986 when they lost the Challenger.  It broke up and burned, you will recall, shortly after take off.

She went back to become a teacher afterwards.  But NASA made a promise that when civilians flew, that she would be the first one to fly.  So she went back as a teacher, but ten years later a guy by the name of John Glenn decided he wanted to fly again.  Actually, he was a civilian then.  So what they did, Tucker, was they made her a full fledged astronaut, so they could get off the commitment they had with her. 

John Glenn made his great flight back in 1998.  So finally, after 26 years, she is getting ready here to fly.  Tucker, we are two minutes and 30 seconds away from launch at this time.  And in the background you can hear the final count down taking place.  We are hearing from the astronauts themselves, talking to launch control and mission control.  And we are also hearing the voice of George Diller, who is the NASA spokesman inside the launch control center. 

But it‘s absolutely a perfect day here for launch.  Everything is ready and set to go.  You --  they just told the crew to put their visors over their face, get ready.

We can see here on our screen what‘s happening.  They call that the beanie cap.  This is the last connection between the shuttle and the ground.  Everything is go.  They are saying right on the count. 

CARLSON:  Jay, what are the astronauts doing inside the shuttle right now? 

BARBREY:  Well, what they‘re doing, Tucker, they just put the helmet visors in place.  They are seated.  They are tucked in.  They are going to let the commuters launch this thing.  They do nothing but ride and read instruments as they go up.  They are a minute and 30 seconds away. 

If we can bring up the count down in the background of the program.  We‘re listening to George Diller in launch control.  He‘ll be bringing us up if anything happens that we need to know.  A minute and 20 seconds, we‘ve just been told.  If we could bring the NASA up in the background. 

OK, I‘m hearing George.  Do we have him on the air?  Bring him up here so we can hear George as he talks and we can get the last few seconds of the countdown.  We‘re now moving one minute away and everything is set to go. 

GEORGE DILLER, NASA SPOKESMAN:  Solid rocket booster joint heater is being deactivated.  Going into a final check of solid rocket booster commanding. 

BARBREY:  That was George Diller telling us that everything is go and get ready.  We should be able to get into the final count here. 

DILLER:  Drain valves are closed.  Flight data recorders for the SRB is activated. 

BARBREY:  Once we have lift off here, you will hear the voice of Rob Navius in mission control. 

DILLER:  Hand off has occurred to Space Shuttle Endeavor‘s on board computers. 

BARBREY:  OK, so everything is on time; 20 seconds and counting here.  Let‘s stay with George Diller here for the final 15, 10 seconds of the count down. 

DILLER:  RNJ armed.  Minus ten, nine, eight, seven, six—go for main engine start—four, three, two, one, zero.  And lift off of Space Shuttle Endeavour, expanding the International Space Station, while creating a classroom in space. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Houston now controlling the flight of Endeavor.  The Space Shuttle begins its journey back into orbit.  Endeavor rolling onto the proper alignment, heads down, wings level for the eight and a half minute ride to orbit.  Taking aim on the International Space Station for docking on Friday.  Thirty seconds into the flight.  The liquid fuel main engines will soon throttle back to 72 percent of rated performance in the bucket to reduce the stress on the shuttle as it crosses the sound barrier. 

BARBREY:  -- taking us through this flight—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This view from long range trackers.  Now from a camera on the external fuel tank, showing the bird‘s eye view. 

BARBREY:  -- here on ground—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  54 seconds into the flight, Endeavor already eight miles down range.  Standing by for the throttle up call from Cap Com Chris Ferguson. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Endeavor, go with throttle up. 

BARBREY:  Here we go. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The throttle up call acknowledged by Commander Scott Kelly, joined on the flight deck by pilot Charlie Hobaugh, flight engineer Rick Mastracchio and Tracy Caldwell, Dave Williams, Al Drew and Barbara Morgan, seated down on the mid deck.  Morgan racing toward space on the wings of a legacy. 

One minute, 30 seconds into the flight.  Endeavor currently traveling almost 2,000 miles an hour, 14 miles in altitude, 15 miles down range from the Kennedy Space Center.  Three good fuel cells, three good auxiliary power units, three good main engines. 

BARBREY:  Everything is right on time here, Tucker, as it heads into orbit.  We are coming up here on a crucial moment.  That is when the solid rocket boosters burn out. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Endeavor flying straight as an arrow; 1 minute 55 seconds into the flight.  Standing by for solid rocket booster separation. 

BARBREY:  When this occurs here, they will be relatively safe on their way into orbit.  You can see it.  The solids have just come off of the shuttle.  They are moving away. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Booster officer confirms staging, a good separation solid rocket booster separation.  Guidance now converging.  Endeavor‘s on board computers commanding the main engine novels to gently swivel, aiming Endeavor for a precise key hole in space for main engine cut off. 

Two minutes 25 seconds into the flight.  The propulsion officer reports the orbital maneuvering system engines have ignited, providing Endeavor with a kick in the pants for the next minute and half, assisting the shuttle and its crew on its climb to orbit. 

Endeavor 40 miles in altitude, 59 miles down range from the Kennedy Space Center, traveling more than 3,400 miles an hour. 

BARBREY:  This is a beautiful flight into orbit by Endeavor.  Everything is going smoothly, as it should be.  It is climbing toward that donut in space, where it will go into orbit to chase down the space station. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Three minutes into the flight.  Endeavor 75 miles down range, traveling almost 4,000 miles per hour, 47 miles in altitude.  All of its systems looking good.  Endeavor flying on the singular power of its three liquid fuel main engines, draining a half a ton of fuel per second from the shuttle‘s fuel tank. 

BARBREY:  Everything right on the money as Endeavor heads into orbit.  We‘re coming up here now for another couple of minutes before it burns out and actually enters orbit.  We are listening to (INAUDIBLE) launch control. 

CARLSON:  Jay, how long—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re coming up to the point of no return, where the shuttle will be too far down range, too high in altitude to return to the launch site in the event of an engine failure. 

BARBREY:  What this means on negative return is—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Endeavor currently 135 miles down range from the Kennedy Space Center, flying true. 

BARBREY:  Negative return means it cannot come back to the Kennedy Space Center to land. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Passing four minutes into the flight.  Endeavor more than 60 miles in altitude, 160 miles down range from the Kennedy Space Center, traveling 5,000 miles per hour. 

BARBREY:  What is happening here—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The environmental systems officer reports a good flash evaporator system has been activated aboard Endeavor, providing cooling for the avionics until -- 

BARBREY:  They are going to cross the Atlantic. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Four and a half minutes into the flight, 63 miles in altitude, 200 down range for Endeavor. 

BARBREY:  What‘s happening here is that they are going into orbit over the Atlantic.  If something should happen, they could land either in Spain or in France.  But shortly here, they will come up on what they call ATO.  That‘s abort to orbit.  So that they can go into orbit on a single engine. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Coming up on the five minute mark into the flight.  Three good main engines, three good power producing fuel cells, three good auxiliary power units.  Endeavor clean as a whistle. 

BARBREY:  It‘s been a great flight.  This is the 150th space flight by American astronauts. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Endeavor pressed to ATO.  


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That call from Cap Com Chris Ferguson indicating that even in the event of an engine failure, we can make our minimal orbital altitude targets.  However, all three main engines continue to function normally.  Endeavor currently traveling 8,000 miles per hour, 67 miles in altitude, 300 miles down range from the Kennedy Space Center. 

BARBREY:  Perfect, on its way into orbit right now.  It could make it into orbit on one engine. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Endeavor, single engine—

BARBREY:  Tucker, there is one thing I would like to tell you right now.  You are in Secaucus, New Jersey; here, in just about one minute, they are going to be about 160 miles due east of you, off of the Atlantic City, New Jersey coast line. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The guidance officer here in mission control confirming that Endeavor‘s computers are commanding the main engines to swivel again, enabling the shuttle to roll to a heads up position above its fuel tank.  This will enable Endeavor to gain better communications through the tracking and data relay satellite systems. 

BARBREY:  Single engine.  So no problem.  Here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That call indicating that even in the event of an engine failure, we can make normal orbital cut off targets.  Endeavor looking very fine right now.  Three good main engines, three good fuel cells, three good auxiliary power units.  Traveling more than 11,000 miles per hour, 66 miles in altitude, almost 500 down range from the Kennedy Space Center. 

BARBREY:  It‘s been one of the cleanest flights yet into orbit.  It is headed with a little more than a minute to go, about a minute and 20 seconds.  And it should enter earth‘s orbit. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Seven minutes into the flight, about 90 seconds of powered flight remaining for Endeavor and its crew. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Go for the plus X.  Go for the pitch. 


BARBREY:  It will be a normal shut down here.  And let‘s watch it, everybody.  You see the shuttle on top of the external fuel tank. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That call indicating for Commander Scott Kelly—his plan of attack once Endeavor is off—


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Seven and a half minutes into the flight.  The main engine soon will throttle down to limit the stress on the shuttle and its seven crew members to that of three times the effect of gravity.  Endeavor currently traveling more than four miles per second.  At the time of main engine cut off, Endeavor will enter its preliminary the orbit at a speed of five miles per second. 

BARBREY:  Five miles per second equates to 17,500 miles per hour.  We are getting ready.  If the picture holds here, you will see Endeavor separate from that external fuel tank.  Everything is perfect.  We are ready for the burn out coming up here now any second.  You see it over the left of your picture.  You see the actual burning of the engines. 

And it should be taking place any second.  At 8:07 --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Twenty seconds of powered flight remaining.  Standing by for main engine cut off, which will be followed a few seconds later by the separation of the external fuel tank. 

BARBREY:  Cut off coming up now any second.  You still see the flames in the upper left side of your picture.  There it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Booster officer confirms main engine cut off. 

Standing by for external tank separation. 

BARBREY:  There goes the separation rockets.  There it goes.  You see it flying away. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  External tank separation confirmed.  Endeavor now in its preliminary orbit.

For Barbara Morgan and her crew mates, class is in session. 

BARBREY:  This is perfect. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Commander Scott Kelly now maneuvering Endeavor to the correct orientation so that video and digital stills of the fuel tank can be captured by cameras embedded in the Shuttle‘s umbilical well.   

BARBREY:  That is great news, Tucker.  That was a great flight into orbit.  And everybody can relax a little bit now.  And they will be two weeks up there in space getting the job done.  What a beautiful show they gave us watching it go into space, Tucker.  It was great to have that camera there.   

CARLSON:  I am sitting here with my mouth open; 18,000 miles per hour. 

Fewer than ten minutes to orbit—that is really --  

BARBREY:  That is five miles a second, as Rob was saying a while ago.  You can imagine traveling five miles in one second; that is getting the job down.  They will go around the Earth every hour and half and they will be up there now for two weeks, before they come back around noon time to land here on August the 22nd.  Tucker?

CARLSON:  Jay Barbrey of NBC; I can‘t think of a man I would rather watch a launch with.  Thanks a lot, Jay.  I appreciate it.   

BARBREY:  My pleasure.  Thank you for having me on, Tucker.  I appreciate it. 

CARLSON:  Thank you.  Well, up next, we‘re live in San Francisco today, the site of Barry Bonds‘ historic home run record last night.  Is it worthy of celebration?  We‘ll tell you when we come back. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  -- while creating a class room in space.


CARLSON:  There is a new home run king here in San Francisco, and he is Barry Lamar Bonds.  Bonds hit the 756th home run of his career here last night to pass the legendary Hank Aaron.  By contrast, Bonds lives under a dense cloud of steroids suspicion.  In a surreal post-game press conference, the home run king insisted that his new record is not tainted in any way. 

As for the reactions of the most other notable players, baseball commissioner Bud Selig did not attend the game.  president Bush waited until this afternoon to drop a congratulatory phone call to Bonds.  It was Aaron who graciously congratulated Bonds in a videotaped message played at the stadium, because that is who Henry Aaron is. 

But is Barry Bonds a hero?  Is he a villain or a victim or some combination there of?  Here to talk about it is “Washington Post” sports columnist Mike Wise.  Mike, thanks for coming on. 


CARLSON:  We know he is a great athlete.  Is he a hero? 

WISE:  No.  I think that would be a little much.  Especially after 9/11, we should reserve that for fire fighters, teachers, doctors in this country.  What he did was an incredible accomplishment.  And I think it is sad that this accomplishment may have been—been able to be accomplished without the use of performance enhancing drugs. 

I think Barry Bonds is a certain Hall of Famer without steroids.  And now I think it is definitely tainted. 

CARLSON:  Do we know—we all know, or we think we know, that Barry Bonds achieved this with the help of steroids.  Do we know that conclusively?

WISE:  We know about as close to the truth as possible.  He admitted in Grand Jury testimony that was leaked to the “San Francisco” chronicle several years ago, that became the basis for the book “Game of Shadows,” that he used—he says it was unknowingly.  We also have cycles in that book. 

It is one of the more seminal books on steroids in America.  And once you get through reading it, you do not think about Barry Bonds being a performance enhancer.  You think we have a public health crisis on our hands here if kids are putting this into their bodies. 

CARLSON:  You almost kind of—I mean, Barry Bonds is a famously difficult person.  I just talked to someone here in San Francisco who said he watched someone in a wheelchair come up for Bonds‘ autograph, and Bonds literally pushed him away with his foot.  The wheelchair rolled slowly backward.  It was like a scene out of a movie. 

You have to feel sorry for Bonds.  He achieves this great thing, and yet, somehow, he can‘t savor it.  Is he bitter?

WISE:  I think so.  I think it was appropriate that it was done in San

Francisco.  That whole city, in response to Barry Bonds, has been in denial

for several years now.  There is almost a covenant between he and the fans

do not ask, do not tell.  You won‘t ask me if I use steroids, and I won‘t not tell you if I use them. 

So, I think that, in a different way, it is almost a sad statement on the American fan.  We are almost to a point where we do not care how that ball gets in the water, gets in the stands.  We just want someone to hit it over the wall for us. 

CARLSON:  According to Nancy Pelosi, who, of course, in addition to being speaker of the House, represents San Francisco in the House—She said that “Barry Bonds etched his name into baseball‘s history books and takes his rightful place among the sport‘s immortals.”

WISE:  With all due respect to madam speaker, I am a little disappointed in her statement.  Was there a congratulatory call from the president, because I know Hank Aaron got one when he hit one out against Hal Downing.  And I think that was pretty sincere. 

CARLSON:  Yes, there was a call from the president. 

WISE:  So he is in denial, too. 

CARLSON:  Well, it was coupled—yes, he is, but that is another conversation.  Mike, thanks a lot for joining us.  I appreciate it. 

WISE:  OK, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Just when you thought she hit rock bottom, oops, Britney Spears appears to have done it again.  What this time?  We‘ve got the raunchy details.  Of course we do, coming up.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  We told you a minute ago there was news on the Britney Spears‘ front.  I do not know what it is, but Bill Wolff does and he‘s here to tell us.  

BILL WOLF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  Tucker, you‘ve had quite a show so far.  We have seen a lot of real news, the space shuttle launch, Barry Bonds, and now the important stuff.  Our old friend Lindsay Lohan‘s most recent alleged car commandeering, 100 mile per hour drive under the influence of some cocaine in a pocket of some pants that she claimed she borrowed from somebody else set the human behavior bar mighty low.

Leave it to Britney Spears, or Old Reliable, as we call her in the news business, to limbo even lower.  “US Magazine,” Tucker, your favorite, and the magazine of record, reports that Matt Encinias, a 21-year-old extra in Britney‘s latest video, partied at a down town L.A. roof top pool at 2:00 a.m. with the mother of two and a bunch of other male extras.  Quote, Britney was the first one to undress, and then everyone else followed. 

Encinias told “US,” I turned around and saw that she was topless.  All she wanted to do was kiss a boy, and that is what she did.  Mission accomplished.  What followed was a topless game of truth or dare, which reportedly wound up in a make out session between Britney and this random dude.  In the name of fairness, it must be noted she was not expected to take custody of the kids until noon the next day, Tucker, which was minutes and minutes from the time she was getting wasted and making out with someone she did not know. 

CARLSON:  Truth or dare?  How old—is she in eighth grade now? 

WOLFF:  Twenty five; so she is probably in eighth or ninth, hard to say.  On the other hand, if she were a guy and there were a bunch of female extras at a roof top pool party and they played truth or dare, everybody would be going, yes, dude.  So I say, leave Britney alone.  Britney, remember who stuck up for you.

Finally, Tucker, we have just enough time for a story about French Prime Minister Sarkozy (sic), or a debate, but this is commercial television, so roll the puppies.  This adorable, ratings grabbing little guy is one of the 15 surviving puppies born to a Great Dane named Macy in one 20-hour delivery.  That is right, 20 hours of labor.  But it was worth it.  Look at the 15 heart melting bundles of joy.  Call your friends.  Tune in tomorrow in case we do it again.

Doctors only expecting four, leading me to think steroids were involved.  A ratings grab. 

CARLSON:  You are a cynical man, Bill.  Bill Wolff from headquarters, thanks.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.  We will be back tomorrow.  See you then.



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