updated 9/4/2007 11:24:37 AM ET 2007-09-04T15:24:37

Guests: Lynn Sweet, Tom Andrews

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC ANCHOR, TUCKER:  After five messy days Republican Senator Larry Craig is going to keep the pain going a bit longer.

Hi, everybody. I‘m David Shuster in for Tucker Carlson.

It was not the clean break today Republicans had been hoping for.  Idaho‘s Larry Craig, who pleaded guilty to misconduct following his arrest in an airport men‘s room, is still refusing to resign. There have been no press conferences, no statements yet on his website, no apologies for branding the GOP, the so-called family value party, with the letter H for hypocrisy.

However, Craig‘s office is now saying the senator is planning to talk about his future, tomorrow. In a moment we will have the latest.

Plus—

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The police report says he tapped his foot which means, “I want gay sex”. It also means I will never wear my iPod in the bathroom again.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SHUSTER:  What exactly does foot tapping mean? And is there really a code that signals certain intentions to certain people? We will talk to an expert.

Also 2008 campaign politics. (AUDIO GAP)  bring you all the latest highlights in the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns.

Meanwhile, the lights are dimming fast at the White House. Spokesman Tony Snow is now heading out the door. It now appears some legal problems may have had something to do with the departure of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

And later—

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

SEN. LARRY CRAIG, ®, IDAHO:  Let me be clear. I am not gay. I have never been gay.

BILL CLINTON (D), FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinski.

RICHARD NIXON ®, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Well, I‘m not a crook.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

SHUSTER:  Tonight, you get to weigh in on how Larry Craig‘s denial ranks with the most infamous of the last 35 years. 

But we‘re going to begin this hour with the latest news in the Craig scandal.  This has been a day of intense speculation and in some quarters there has also been great frustration. NBC‘s Mike Viqueira joins us tonight from Capitol Hill.

And, Mike Viqueira, the statement that coming tomorrow, any indication of what we can expect?

MIKE VIQUEIRA, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Not really, David. As you know, all

day long Republican officials here in Washington telling us they expected

an announcement at any moment about Larry Craig‘s plans. And they certainly

did hope that his plans included an immediate resignation from the United

States Congress and not have him hang on until next year when he is up for

re-election.

Senator Mitch McConnell, he is the head of the Republican Party in the United States Senate, the nominal boss of Larry Craig, who just stripped Craig of his most vital committee assignments, today calls Craig‘s behavior unforgivable.

As the drumbeat continues, President Bush appeared at the White House at an unrelated event, saying good bye to his press secretary, Tony Snow, and as he walked off the stage he was asked to comment on Larry Craig, to ask whether he thought Craig should resign. Bush kept on walking. So, no one here in Washington certainly stepping forward.

We understand that high-level emissaries of the Idaho Republican Party have been to se Larry Craig, who remains in seclusion, said to be on vacation somewhere in Idaho, we assume.  And then late today we find that Senator Craig will in fact make his announcement in Idaho.

But, David, we still do not know what that announcement is going to contain.

SHUSTER:  Mike, do we even know if this is going to be an on-camera announcement, or some people were suggesting he might make some sort of statement on his website?

VIQUEIRA:  Yeah, that was some of the speculation. I have to tell you that there seems to be a differentiation between how this is being seen in Washington. Republicans here, both at the RNC and in Congress hoping against hope that Craig puts everyone out of their misery, and out of his own misery, and goes ahead and resigns. We had heard several times he would do it on his website. We heard that would not be the case. But to answer your question, we don‘t know what time. We don‘t know the venue. We don‘t know the place. We don‘t know the medium, in which he is going to make this announcement, David.

SHUSTER:  All of these I don‘t knows certainly have got to be infuriating some of the Republican leadership in town. But in any case, Mike Viqueira reporting from the capitol.

Mike, thanks very much.

VIQUEIRA:  Thank you, David.

SHUSTER:  And for more on the political scandal, and the political follow up from all of this, let‘s bring in our panel, Lynn Sweet, from “The Chicago Sun-Times” and Tom Andrews, national director of Win Without War, and a former Democratic congressman from Maine.

Lynn, the fact that it seems like all these sort of pushes, by the Republican leadership is not really having the desired effect. What does that say?

LYNN SWEET, “THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES”:  I think he just wanted to—he needed time.  I can‘t predict any better than Mike, who is in the capitol day and night, what he is going to do. It seems if he stays he faces having to explain to the people of Idaho why he has no job to do in the Senate, because he has been stripped of his activities.

I don‘t think this is a long time.  I do have a more charitable impulse, perhaps, than some people saying that it seems that his career is basically over, one way or another, whether or not he quits tomorrow, maybe he just needed to get used to what he is going to do and think it over for a day or two. I don‘t think that is all that unusual under the circumstances.

SHUSTER:  But, Tom, that raises the possibility that instead of the resignation that Republicans have been demanding for several days, that instead Larry Craig says, you know what, I‘m up for re-election. I‘m not going to run. Would that be good enough?

TOM ANDREWS, WIN WITHOUT WAR:  First of all, Mitch McConnell is not Larry Craig‘s boss. The people of Idaho are Larry Craig‘s boss. If he thinks he can make the case to the people of Idaho that they should re-elect him and put him back in office, should make that case and he should see how it goes. 

Of course, I‘m saying that as a democrat. Because then it might give a slight advantage to Democrats in Idaho. But, listen, those are the people who have to make that decision.

This is supposed to be the sleepy week, politically, here in Washington. This week has been anything but. I can‘t even imagine next week when the circus all comes to town.

SHUSTER:  One of the things that I found so striking today, it‘s so remarkable, and Mike Viqueira alluded to it, and that is President Bush had this announcement of Tony Snow and he was asked, what about Larry Craig?  Should Larry Craig resign?  The president walked out, without answering.  Tony Snow the other day, sort of refused to take a position. This is from the White House that took office, campaigning to restore dignity.  Why is this such a difficult question?

SWEET:  The White House said that they are disappointed. That is a lot different than saying, disappointed?  He should be—you know, he should quit. I think you have to think, what is the end that you want?  If the desired end is you want him to resign, the method might no be to have public calls for his head.

SHUSTER:  But here‘s the hypocrisy, Lynn, and that is a lot of these Republicans who were staying silent, saying oh, we wish he would resign.  These were the same Republicans who as soon as they heard the information about Monica Lewinski and Bill Clinton, while, while President Clinton was still saying he did nothing wrong, they said the president ought to resign.  And yet, one of their own guys has already guilty—and they‘re staying quiet.

SWEET:  So the lesson from that is, since President Clinton weathered the storm, don‘t be surprised then if Craig decides to stay one.

SHUSTER:  Well, at least there should be consistency, right? 

SWEET:  No, of course not.

(LAUGHTER)

SHUSTER:  If they are so willing to jump on President Clinton why is it so difficult for the White House to say, you know what, this is not what we expect in a senator, and yes this senator should resign. Why is that so difficult?

SWEET:  Dr. Sweet, the political psychologists says, because they want him really to resign and if there is more overt pressure from the White House it might not happen as fast as it seems inevitably that it will.

ANDREWS:  This is what drives people crazy. It‘s the hypocrisy. Say one thing at one time, our of one side of your mouth, and say something else at another time, out of the other side of your mouth, depending on who it is, whether it‘s your guy or their guy. It is not about what is right and wrong. It‘s what about what he should do or not do, but is it, is he our guy or their guy.  And people are sick of that kind of partisanship.  And I think this is hurting—

SWEET:  I don‘t know if that is partisanship.

ANDREWS:  It is hurting the Republican Party. It is hurting—and until obviously they stand up and say I think it is wrong. You violated the law. It is unconscionable. Their base, starting number one, are livid, are furious. So it is having enormous harm to the party.

(CROSS TALK) 

SWEET:  Two of the most vulnerable Republicans, Susan Collins and Norm Coleman have already called for him to resign.  And that makes sense, because people there don‘t like—especially, Norm Coleman, a Minnesota governor, it would be hard to stay silent under the circumstances.

SHUSTER:  Well, we‘re not done talking about this, we will talk about it with both Lynn Sweet and Tom Andrews later in the show. 

Coming up, Hillary Clinton lights up “Late Night” with David Letterman.

And also, when does a foot tap in a public bathroom become more? A professor will enlighten us on what the code really is and, is not.  You are watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

SHUSTER:  There‘s the Omega Code, the DaVinci Code and the color code, but this week has been all about the Bathroom Code. Next, we decode the code that could bring down Senator Larry Craig.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

SHUSTER:  A few weeks ago I took a flight from Washington Reagan National Airport. Before I boarded the aircraft I went to the restroom and brought my roller bag in the stall with me. My bathroom break was uneventful. But this week, like many Americans, I began wonder if my efforts to keep my bag from being stolen could have unwittingly signaled something else.

Indeed, the Larry Craig‘s scandal has raised a lot of questions to a lot of people.  And here to help us sort things out is John Gallagher, professor of sociology at the University of Missouri in Columbia. 

And Mr. Galliher, is something as simple as a roller bag against a stall, is that really a signal of something?

JOHN GALLIHER, PROF., UNIV. OF MISSOURI-COLUMBIA:  I don‘t think the roller bag in and of itself means anything. I have done the same thing on numerous occasions with nothing happening.

SHUSTER:  You have written a lot about the very sort of code that signals the desire to engage in lewd behavior. Explain what the codes are and what they are not.

GALLIHER:  Sure. My understanding of this comes from research of Laud Humphreys, my late friend, who did research in the restrooms of St. Louis, in Forest Park. What he found is anything except words could signal your receptiveness to public sex in a male restroom. Foot tapping, finger pointing, hand movement, eye movements, body posture, and most of all, the display of an erection.

SHUSTER:  Explain, in your research, why the bathrooms, why have bathrooms been this sort of gathering place?

GALLIHER:  Well, it seems like, to me, it is, this is one place where you can anticipate only men are going to be around. You are not going to be interrupted by women. And it will be a place where—it‘s just part of the culture that this is the place where this same sex occurs.

SHUSTER:  There has been a lot of discussion about some sort of self-humiliation that Senator Larry Craig may have been engaged in. Is part of this sort of—I don‘t want to say culture, but this sort of type of behavior?  Is that the psychosis, which is part of this?

GALLIHER:  I don‘t—I‘m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, so I couldn‘t really comment on this.  It strikes me that people like Larry Craig want it both ways. They want to be able to engage in public sex, in anonymous situations with men, and also have a family life. They are not gay, as he said on numerous occasions. They are not bisexual. Laud Humphries called these people ambisexuals. That is that they were ambiguous about their sexuality. They were often very high profile people, very powerful, very far to the right. In fact, they often lead crusades against sex in bathrooms.

SHUSTER:  So, in other words when Larry Craig says that he is not gay, I suppose he is coming up with a sort of different definition of what gay is, and what most people would think?  Or that they really do believe that he is not engaged in gay sex, whatever that may be?

GALLIHER:  I‘m taking him at his word. I don‘t have any idea whether he is lying or not, but let me say this. This is a great cover, according to Laud Humphrey‘s research for this kind of behavior.  Because who would have thought this moral crusader in the U.S. Senate would be involved in this kind of sexual escapade?

SHUSTER:  Tell us a little bit about the things people sort of worry about, the they now reach down in a bathroom, and pick up a piece of paper, whether that is going to be taken as some sort of signal. Is that a signal?

GALLIHER:  Not in and of itself. The police officers, I‘m sure, were looking for patterns.  They were looking for hand signals, which apparently Senator Craig displayed, they were looking for the roller bag against the door to block public view. And they were looking for eye movement.  Apparently Senator Craig made eye contact through a crack in the partitions in the stall. All these things together add up to more than just one hand signal.

I might add this, that I‘ve never felt like I was threatened in a public restroom. And I have been using restrooms in airports for a lot of time now and I think this is just a pattern.  If you engage in this kind of pattern you can expect you are going to be arrested.

SHUSTER:  In other words, regular people who just want to use the bathroom it will be pretty clear to anybody else who was there, that you are not following these sort of codes taken together. And, therefore, you should be fine.

In any case, John Galliher, professor of sociology at the University of Missouri,  thanks for coming in and trying to sort this out for us. We appreciate it.

GALIGHER:  Sure. Good luck.

SHUSTER:  Fred Thompson is getting ready to make a big announcement next week. What will his entrance in the race for the White House mean for the GOP field?

And later, Karl Rove, the man some call Bush‘s Brain, walked out White House today and spokesman Tony Snow announced he is leaving in two weeks.  Does it signal the onset of a lame duck president?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The job was to be in hip boots with an apron, with a spoon.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, LATE NIGHT:  A spoon?

CLINTON:  A spoon. And salmon would be brought in, and they‘d be slit open and the caviar would be taken out, and they would be thrown in a big pile. My job was to grab them, and these are big fish, and to take a spoon and clean out the insides. That is why it is called sliming fish. Best preparation for being in Washington that you could possibly imagine.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

SHUSTER:  That, of course, was Hillary Clinton last night on “The Late Show With David Letterman.” Joining us to talk about the latest in the 2008 race for the White House, are Lynn Sweet of “The Chicago Sun Times”, and Tom Andrews, national director of Win Without War, and former Democratic congressman from Maine.

Tom, you reaction to how Hillary Clinton is doing.  She certainly—the big hurdle seems to be likeability, she certainly seems to be making some progress there.

ANDREWS:  I think so. She needs to show her warm side, show her humorous side. Those Top Ten were actually pretty funny. She actually pulled it off delivering them. The one that kind of surprised me, I got nervous, when she was saying, if you are having trouble getting a flight and Air Force One is available, it is yours. All I could think of, gosh I hope she doesn‘t say if you are having trouble getting a room in Washington, if the Lincoln Bedroom is free, it‘s yours.  But she didn‘t so there was—

SWEET:  Actually, I thought she did that one, because one of the scandals of the Bush administration was that they gave donors rides on Air Force One. I was surprised that that was a little too close to creating a stir.  I thought the funniest thing, when she said, for No. 10, bring stability and long-term security to “The View.”  Now that is a national security issue and she addressed it and she addressed it and I think she did a terrific job.

SHUSTER:  Lynn, you‘ve been traveling with the Obama campaign, in Iowa, and elsewhere. How worried are they, right now, about how well Hillary is doing in the national polls, it is tight in Iowa. They must look up and be kind of disappointed that Obama is now sometimes, 15, 20 points back in some of the national polls.

SWEET:  I think the national polls are not that important to them. I agree. But I think that every day, every way, they care very much what Senator Clinton is doing. Every day, every way the Obama campaign is paying attention to the Clinton campaign.

ANDREWS:  When I was first running for this congressional seat I was way behind because my name recognition wasn‘t enough, and my opponents were better known, the were statewide figures.  I didn‘t worry about that so much. I worried about the fundamentals. I worried about how I was doing and then looked for that opportunity when the focus was clearly on this race, and see what you can pull off.

And, in course, in Iowa, a state like Iowa, visibility is not as important as organization and motivation, that is what Barack Obama is focusing on.  I think he should be at this point.

SHUSTER:  It sounds like, for all of the democrats, I mean, whoever comes out of Iowa is going to have a huge steam, roll of steam, going into New Hampshire. For somebody, especially like John Edwards, who doesn‘t have a great organization in New Hampshire, and sort of in South Carolina, but he‘s really relying on an Iowa win, or else he‘s out, right? 

SWEET:  Oh, that‘s true. But I don‘t underestimate how well he may do in Iowa. I want to go quickly back to point of self-deprecating humor.  Senator Clinton does it extremely well, because she knows she has a lot of material.  When Obama turns on himself, he could do it well.  I think for some reason, Edwards had some good lines, poking fun at himself. These are people that you know work at a very high level of humor, and when they want to do it, it is very funny and it‘s very humanizing. 

Political rule, number one, if you want to make yourself more digestible to people, you know, the joke is on yourself.  It is a very effective tool. That is why she will be going around, she‘ll be making rounds of women‘s shows.  She will be on the “Ellen Degeneres Show”.   These are—you know, this works to her base, which are female voters.

SHUSTER:  One candidate who is getting in next week, who is very likable on camera and has a lot of experience is Fred Thompson, the actor, he was a senator from Tennessee. How much is that, Tom, going to shake up the republican race or the prevailing wisdom, right now, in Washington is that it is too late for Fred Thompson? 

ANDREWS:  I don‘t know if it is too late. I certainly think we are going to have to wait and see. The early signs, in my mind, are not very promising. He already fired some of his campaign staff. He made an announcement of what his goals were going to be for fundraising; he didn‘t have to do that.  And turns out, didn‘t meet those goals.

Now the Kleg (ph) lights on, the full public scrutiny on him.  He is going to have to worry about some of the things he‘s done in the past.  I mean, you know, he says I want to change Washington—

SWEET:  Oh, that‘s a new thing.

ANDREWS:  Well, you know, here‘s the thing, Fred Thompson has been a lobbyist in Washington.  Not only a lobbyist, but he has lobbied for causes he now says he finds morally offensive. People have a real problem with lobbyists, in general, which I don‘t think they should, but they do, but lobbyists that take an issue they find morally abhorrent—in this case he lobbied for an abortion rights organization. When it came out that he lobbied for an abortion rights organization, he denied it. It was only when they showed him the receipts and the documentation then he started to backtrack.

In both cases, the campaign and an issue like that, that will only come out more I see some problems with this candidate.

SHUSTER:  I want to go with some breaking news we started the show with. That is the situation with Larry Craig. The Associate Press is reporting that, in fact, Larry Craig, senator from Idaho, is going to announce tomorrow that he is resigning. He is going to announce that he merely not going to run, but he is going to give republicans, what they wanted, and that is he is going to resign from the seat.

Quick, reaction, Lynn.

SWEET:  Big favor for the Republicans.  It stops the hemorrhaging and it won‘t take the story away from the Democrats to use, but it stops the bleeding.

SHUSTER:  Tom, though, after five days, a lot of Republicans have to be thinking it is too bad he did not say any of this to the Republican leadership a few days ago.

ANDREWS:  Well, exactly.  The problem that that creates, I mean, obviously, it would have been better for Democrats if Larry Craig was running. Now the Republican governor in Idaho will be able to appoint a Republican in that seat. That, of course, is going to be the out of the starts gate and the advantage to establish himself as a senator in that race against Larry Loracco (ph) next year.

SHUSTER:  Again, just to set the table again, the Associated Press is now reporting tomorrow Larry Craig will announce his resignation. It is not clear if it will be on camera or with a statement, but this is the mood that Republicans have been demanding. Again, it a Republican who will take his seat, that Republican named by Idaho‘s governor.

Coming up.  What a bad week it has been for President Bush. Three of his top aides bailed out, another bad news report released on Iraq.  And what else, oh, yeah, Larry Craig occupied the news. What next?

Speaking of the senator from Idaho, could his comments from the past week haunt him over the over the long term? Coming up just ahead, we will look at some of the most memorable comments to come from the nation‘s capital.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

(MARKET REPORT)

SHUSTER:  To say this was a bad week for President Bush and the GOP would be an understatement.  Senator Larry Craig branded the family values party with the letter H for hypocrisy.  A government report concluded Iraq has met just three of 18 benchmarks for progress.  Alberto Gonzales resigned and the administration refused to say whether it was related to an internal investigation into the attorney general‘s alleged lies to Congress. 

And now White House Spokesman Tony Snow is leaving.  While Snow is one of the most likable and skillful officials in the Bush administration, today he reinforced a stereotype about Republican priorities. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Why are you leaving? 

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN:  Because I ran out of money.  A lot of people at home are saying, what do you mean.  You make all this money.  Well, you know, I made more money when I was in my previous career. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  For the record, tony Snow, as White House press secretary, is making 168,000 dollars a year.  We are joined again by Lynn Sweet of the “Chicago Sun Times” and Tom Andrews, national director of Win Without War, and he‘s also a former Democratic Congressman from Maine.  I have to say, I like Tony Snow.  He‘s an inspiration to anybody battling an illness. 

He should make as much money as he needs.  Doesn‘t this again underscore the disconnect between the White House and average Americans, many of whom are also battling diseases and would love to make as much money as Tony Snow is making now. 

SWEET:  And Tony could make it if he stayed until the end of the Bush administration, a year from now.  Presumably he could go out and make the same money on the lecture circuit or on TV.  He is so well liked in the business that if he was going to end up on TV in some capacity, he could get the job.  I don‘t think the year would make him less valuable as a commodity.  He must think so.

I guess he didn‘t want to say he is quitting because he is sick.  He says that‘s not the reason and he‘s leaving for money.  It just does look, and I like Tony Snow a lot, it looks crass, like it is time to cash out, and make some money.  But he did come from a higher income. 

SHUSTER:  At least he is being honest, but still. 

SWEET:  He was candid. 

SHUSTER:  I give him credit for being honest. 

SWEET:  When he did take on the job, he did say it was a big salary cut and he wants to make more money. 

SHUSTER:  At a certain point, shouldn‘t he just say I‘m leaving for reasons that I really don‘t want to talk about. 

ANDREWS:  He is being honest and that is fine.  How many Americans—in fact, I‘ll tell you.  Well over 97 percent of the American people earn much less than Tony Snow is making now, and he says I‘m not making any money.  What you try to do if you‘re a communications person at the White House is be able to relate to the vast majority of Americans and I don‘t think very many Americans are relating to what he said. 

SWEET:  -- his credibility—

(CROSS TALK)

ANDREWS:  Things are deteriorating all around him at the White House.  That is going to be a very, very tough job in the next several months, as things continue to deteriorate. 

SWEET:  If you don‘t want people to think you are leaving because of your illness—and he does show some affects on it.  He does look like he has gone through stuff.  If you don‘t want to say I‘m leaving to spend more time with my family, because you only use that excuse when you are fired, then he wanted to tell the truth, because that does give him credibility.  If he had left with another excuse and then five weeks from now we see him with a full schedule of hitting the book circuit and lecture circuit and he has a big fat contract, then you‘ll start broad casting stories that is what he was up to. 

I don‘t think this was a bad strategy.  Of all the problems the Bush White House has, that Tony is leaving to make more money is the least of their problems. 

ANDREWS:  Life is going to be much easier for Tony Snow, let me tell you.

SHUSTER:  One of the things that—as far as Tony‘s credibility, he is leaving with his personal credibility intact, but as he has been speaking for the Bush White House for the last couple of days, when he was asked about this Government Accountability Office report about Iraq, that said that Iraq has only met three of 18 benchmarks.  Tony Snow‘s response was it would be wrong for people to spend too much time focusing on the benchmarks.  Yet, these were benchmarks that the Bush White House and Congress agreed to four months ago. 

ANDREWS:  It is all about accountability.  One of the problems the Bush administration is facing is they‘re losing Snow; they‘re losing Rove.  Say what you want about them, they have been the masters of spin.  They have taken able to take those nasty facts and stark naked truths and be able to dance around them. 

This is a real problem for the Bush administration.  If you look at the GAO report and you look at the fact that things are actually deteriorating politically, in terms of the stability of the government in Iraq, since the surge began—the whole point of the surge was to give the government a chance to reconstitute itself, to meet the compromises that it needed to go forward and then it could rebuild. 

In fact, just the opposite has happened.  That is exactly what the GAO report reveals.  When the president talks about No Child Left Behind, it is time for us to have accountability for our children; it‘s time to have test scores and specific measures that we can use, OK, that is fine for kids.  What happens when you have those measures that he established for himself, well, we shouldn‘t be looking at benchmarks. 

It is about accountability.  It‘s about truth.  And the American people deserve to know the truth.  And the GAO report is a big problem for him because of that. 

SWEET:  It is going to be compounded when Congress comes back because you are going to have all kinds of Congressional hearings with the top brass running—the very top of the top of people who are actually in Iraq running the show.  And that will make the GAO report—this is just a foundation for more to come. 

SHUSTER:  That is what is so confused about this.  You are the White House chief of staff, Josh Bolton, wouldn‘t you say to Tony Snow, look, stick around for a couple of weeks.  The debate is coming in September.  He is leaving September 14th, in the middle of all of this.  He is the best defender the president has, and he is not going to be around for the most crucial debate facing the country at this point this year? 

SWEET:  You have a good point.  His replacement is not as well known.  I don‘t know why.  You have a very good point, but one of the things the White House wants to do is raise the profile of Josh Bolton, raise the profile of some other people who are there.  The White House hasn‘t made it a secret that there are other people standing in the wings who might not have the title of press secretary, David, but who are ready to take over spokesman duties. 

SHUSTER:  Another person whose profile is still going to remain fairly high, at least according to the reports this week is Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general who was—essentially resigned at the early part of this week.  A few days later we find out that the inspector general at the Justice Department is deep into an investigation as to whether Alberto Gonzales lied to Congress.  When we asked the Bush administration is this the reason Gonzales resigned after the president and Alberto Gonzales pretty much said he was going to stick around, the administration wouldn‘t say. 

ANDREWS:  Well, again, the problem here is accountability.  All of this stuff is beginning to add up and form a coherent hold for the American people.  The GAO report contradicting what we have been hearing from the  White House when it comes to Iraq.  Now Alberto Gonzales, he is going to have to face the music.  He did lie.  He did perjure himself before the Congress. 

Now, not only is there a Congressional investigation going on, in which, of course, the White House can say this is just a political witch hunt, but the inspector general is going to hold him accountable and do an investigation.  This all adds up to once again the theme being they are deceptive.  They don‘t tell the public the truth, and they refuse to be held accountable.  When they are held accountable, they do everything and anything possible to dismiss that accountability. 

SWEET:  We also knew that whether or not there is an internal Justice Department investigation, he knew Congress was ready to slice and dice him every way possible as soon as they came back, and it would never be over.  It would never be over.  It would be a state of permanent investigations dealing with what he said, how he said it, between now and the day he turned the light off in the Justice Department, if he stayed in the end.  I think it is a combination of everything. 

I don‘t think this one investigation was the trigger alone. 

SHUSTER:  Here is the other thing that happened this week which takes me back to Tony Snow and a White House that lives in its own cozy world.  This was the two-year anniversary on Wednesday of Hurricane Katrina.  Eighteen hundred people lost their lives.  As the president was in New Orleans with the solemn speech, the White House was pointing to Karl Rove‘s car in a White House parking lot which had been wrapped in plastic.  It was an internal prank and maybe it was funny to them, but on a day—a solemn day, where the president is trying to draw attention to Hurricane Katrina, I think it struck a lot of people as incentive.  Is that being too harsh? 

ANDREWS:  Probably less insensitive to, you are doing a hell of a job, Brownie, or mission accomplished on the Lincoln.  It is insensitive and it‘s once again an indication that the White House seems to not have a clue.  And is way, way out of step with the American people.  This was a catastrophe and demonstrated the incapacity of a government led by this administration, that fills these key positions with cronies, and we see the results, whether it be in Iraq, or whether it be with our attorney general, or whether it be with the poor tragedy in New Orleans. 

SWEET:  Here‘s where I think the more significant disconnect, the sub prime mortgage crisis.  President Bush talked about it today and he talked about the real way to solve it this is through the tax code, and people have to be aware of this and that when they do refinances.  Then he paused for a moment; he says, I bet a lot of people out there don‘t know what I‘m talking about.  Do they?  -- when I talk about re-fi. 

Well, the gift of a good communicator should be to take these complex ideas and make them simple.  To stand in front of an audience—and this is where I think when you talk about disconnect, it is more than whether or not Tony wants to make more money or not.  That‘s minor.  When you have a president who goes out and talks about something—to a lot of people, they don‘t have financial literacy, which is why we are in the crisis.  And even President Bush says I just talked about something you might not know what I‘m talking about. 

Instead of explaining it in a way that a leader would; here is a

problem.  Here is a problem that got some of you in trouble.  It‘s called

re-fi.  This is what it means.  Here‘s the solution.

SHUSTER:  That‘s why it is such a problem for Tony Snow to be leaving, for Karl Rove to be leaving, all these people who could do a pretty good job, whether you agree with them or not, of breaking this stuff down and selling it to the American people.  They are leaving.  In any case, you guys are both staying with us.

Senator Larry Craig is not the first Washington play maker to fall on scandalous times.  Coming up, we‘ll take you on a  trip down memory lane for a look at the most sensational excuses ever uttered by a politician. 

Is the million dollar man David Beckham a total bust for the season? 

Bill Wolff has the score.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LARRY CRAIG ®, IDAHO:  Let me be clear.  I am not gay.  I never have been gay. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  When Larry Craig made that declaration, more than a few pundits said Craig had done the impossible, and had eclipsed the legendary status of President Clinton‘s denial in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  Now we want to know your view.  We are going to play for you what we believe are the five most memorable scandal statements by politicians in the past 35 years. 

And we are inviting you to weigh in.  I‘ll explain that part in just a moment.  But first, here are the choices.  Number one, Richard Nixon during Watergate. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Well, I‘m not a crook. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Number two, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry after he was busted smoking Crack in a D.C. Hotel room. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARION BARRY, FORMER D.C. MAYOR:  I‘ll be damned.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You have the right to stop answering at any time.

BARRY:  The (EXPLETIVE DELETED) set me up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  The blankety blank that rhymes with witch set me up.  Number three, President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I

did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Number four, once again, Larry Craig.   

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRAIG:  Let me be clear.  I am not gay.  I never have been gay. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Number five, just because we thought it was memorable, though it was not a denial, former New Jersey Governor Jim Mcgreevy. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM MCGREEVY, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR:  My truth is that I am a gay American. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  So how should the memorable sound bites rank in history?  You can cast your vote at Tucker.MSNBC.com.  Here to get the conversation and the voting started, we are joined gain by Tom Andrews, the national director of Win Without War and former Democratic congressman from Maine, and Lynn Sweet is with the “Chicago Sun Times.”  Lynn, which one did you like? 

SWEET:  This is like a Jeopardy, under the category of having—of sexual matters.  That will knock out President Nixon.  I think, because it‘s so knew to me, I‘m still absorbing it, I‘m going to go with Senator Craig right now. 

SHUSTER:  Really, it has eclipsed President Clinton. 

SWEET:  A double denial.  I am not gay.  I‘ve never been gay.  I think because he was able to get a double denial in, I want to give him extra credit for that. 

SHUSTER:  Tom, that sounds like an assessment that this was a pretty memorable week in scandals. 

ANDREWS:  Apparently, but in terms of most significant and the greatest implications, I think Richard Nixon has it hands down, because he was a crook and look what it did to the country.  In term of most refreshing, most refreshing, I think the governor‘s—Mcgreevy, was quite refreshing.  He told the truth.  This is my truth.  He came clean.  Of course there were a lot of political ramifications for that. 

But isn‘t something to see a politician stand up and say something that is actually true. 

SHUSTER:  It was shocking at the time. 

ANDREWS:  Very shocking

SWEET:  All these sound bites you gave were memorable.  To have them together is really significant, that under a relatively small group of people in high political office, look at all the trouble they get into.  Just across the street from where we are at, Craig is in this jam, people are under investigation for being crooks and chiselers, under a population of less than 600 people.  Look at the trouble that they can‘t keep themselves out of. 

SHUSTER:  I still have friends who come to Washington who want to visit the Vista Hotel, where Marion Barry was caught smoking crack back in 1990 -- 1989, I beg your pardon.  In any case, what is it about the Larry Craig scandal that has registered so much?  Is it the way he said his denial?

SWEET:  It‘s sex. 

SHUSTER:  Because it‘s sex? 

SWEET:  Yes, of course it is.  And this nutty stuff going on.  It is sex.  It is even more is a salacious because it is gay sex, and even more because it‘s in the bathroom, and more because it‘s so improbable that if he wanted gay sex, somebody of that stature, who was recognizable, would risk it. 

ANDREWS:  What makes it even more bizarre, number one, is his denial.  I mean, the fact that he would go and plead guilty and then say, I didn‘t really—I thought if I pled guilty, it would be under the rug.  Come on?  That is number one. 

Number two, look it—you showed President Clinton, that famous statement he made.  That is exactly what the basis of the Bush presidency was going to be about.  The Republicans came.  We are going to clean up Washington.  We are going to have a president you can be proud of, an administration you can count on.  We will be honest. 

It was that expectation and that spin, and you take what we have got this week and what we‘ve seen up to this week, and contrast that with the promise of this Republican administration.  I think that really underscores this Larry Craig thing. 

SHUSTER:  I think the guy who was most disappointed, other than Larry Craig, who obviously made a big mistake and didn‘t handle it well, but I think the guy most disappointed in all the events that transpired this week, David Vitter, the Republican senator from Louisiana.  A lot of people I think started to forget about his acknowledgement in July that he had in the past visited a prostitute. 

All of a sudden that got dredged up again because people say, wait a second, if it is about sex and about breaking the law, there is a guy who admitted to breaking the law in some fashion. 

SWEET:  Well, it is not a good week. 

SHUSTER:  Not for David Vitter or President Bush. 

ANDREWS:  At least in Vitter‘s case he didn‘t do it in a public

bathroom.  I think that was the other element of this, that, you know, can

I bring my in.  But because of this program I know I can go in a bathroom -

SWEET:  So now we have different standards of sleazy behavior.  If you just merely go to a prostitute—the top level, then your gold standard would be just to have a mistress that no one knows about, and then go to a prostitute and then a public bathroom. 

ANDREWS:  A public bathroom where children could be, that is pretty bad.  Having a hooker is one thing in the privacy of your wherever.  It is, of course, whatever you think it is.  But I think doing this in a public bathroom, in a major airport, where children could be coming in, that is another level. 

SWEET:  This is the kind of week,  there is a saying in politics, when your rival is busy shooting themselves in the foot, you leave them alone.  One of the things that is notable about this week is how pretty silent the Democrats have been. 

SHUSTER:  The Democrats have been completely silent.  Except we had one Democratic lawyer who came on one of the shows this week and said this is a reminder that if you ever get in any trouble, don‘t do anything until you consulted a lawyer.  I bet that Larry Craig would have gotten out of this if he had called a lawyer.  He was under no requirement to give a statement to the police. 

If he had called a lawyer, the lawyer would have said don‘t talk to them.  Wait until we have had a chance to talk.  The evidence was he said, he said, which was embarrassing. 

SWEET:  When I heard the tape and he said this is entrapment and the arresting officer talked about how disappointed he was, that was just pressure.  And I think with a lawyer present, somebody could have stopped the line of questioning, stopped the preaching.  What have you got officer.  Show me in the way of hard evidence. 

SHUSTER:  Lynn Sweet from “Chicago Sun Times,” and Tom Andrews, national director of Win Without War, also former Congressman from Maine, thank you both for coming.  I appreciate it.  We‘ll be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHUSTER:  Now, the segment you have all been waiting for.  The guy who always gets the most votes on MSNBC.com, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  Not always, David, but I‘m working on it.  This is the slow news week?  Good gravy.  Chris Matthews will be along in about four minutes to get back into the Larry Craig stuff, but let‘s take a four minute break just to take a breather from all the seriousness, Dave.  Goodness gracious.

It is been a while since Internet gossipers and random anonymous oglers found miss Britney Spears attractive in most conventional sense.  The negative trend though has been reversed, David, at least temporarily, by a court filing.  Documents obtained from the divorce proceeding between her and first ballot freeloading hall of famer Kevin Federline, reveal that Britney takes in an average hall, David, of 737,868 dollars per month. 

I don‘t have a scratch pad, but 737,868 times 12, carry the six, that‘s a hell of a lot of money, David.  And there are those who might find it attractive.  In other Britney news, the “Daily News” of New York reports that she will perform at the upcoming MTV Music Awards with magician guy Chris Angel, and that the plan is for Mr. Angel to make Miss Spears disappear, a feat that lousy singing, repellent personal habits, repeated poor judgment, and absence of marketable job skills, have been unable to achieve until now.  Are you going to watch? 

SHUSTER:  Yes, Bill, that 768,000 dollars, that is a lot more than Tony Snow makes.   

WOLFF:  It‘s almost more than you make, Shuster.  As you know, David Beckham is going to make soccer wildly popular here in the United States, unless, of course, he doesn‘t.  He and his low scoring sport are a bit slow out of the old starting gate since he got here.  The hunky Brit, lured to America with a contract and endorsement package worth more than American soccer itself, really, has sprained his knew, and he will be out of action for six weeks, David, which is basically the rest of the MLS season. 

Poor guy.  Poor whole sport of soccer in the country.  Oh well, maybe he will soccer next year.  In the meantime, he and his creepily hot spice wife will have plenty of time to shop of Rodeo Drive, hang out with Tom-Kat and look at themselves in the mirror.

SHUSTER:  Bill, if I‘m a fan of the L.A. Galaxy then I want to see David Beckham hobbling everywhere around L.A. or that guy gets back on the field.

WOLFF:  Get back on the field.  This is America.  Sprained knee?  Come on, buddy.  Rub a little dirt on it and get back in there. 

David, we travel next to India, and the story of two crazy kids who defied the odds for love.  It turns out the kids are elephants and here they are.  The story is that male elephant, who has asked not to be identified, literally broke through the walls of a local service in pursuit of his enormous apple of his eye, a lady elephant working as a carny (ph).  I think she was operating a tilt a whirl.

Anyway, the big elephant would not be denied, and he and his girlfriend literally eloped to the forest.  Villagers who spied the packiderms together—and I‘m not kidding—said they appeared to be very much in love.  I‘m not a professional elephant lip reader, but I think she is saying to him, I love you so much.  And I think he said, I love you more.  And she said, no I love you more.

SHUSTER:  Elephants never forget, right. 

WOLFF:  No, they never forget, but they do apparently fall in love, at least for awhile.  Then things cool down when she finds out about his disgusting personal habits and desire to sit on the couch and watch elephant football on Indian summer days. 

Finally, David, a reminder that good things come to those who wait and wait and wait and wait some more.  Dateline Punta Gorda, Florida.  This is the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol, all licensed and trained to give money away.  And today they are visiting 89-year-old Joe Collins.  That‘s right, 89-year-old Joe Collins.  He just won a million bucks by opening his door, which is significantly easier way to do it than by divorcing Britney Spears, hint, hint, K-Fed.   Send in the form, buddy. 

Anyway, Mr. Collins figures about half of it goes to the government, and with the remaining dough, he will pay off the mortgage and sit on the rest of it until he thinks of something to do with it.  Reached for comment, for Publisher‘s Clearinghouse Spokesman Ed McMahon said, hey-o!

SHUSTER:  Bill, one of the funniest pranks I have ever heard about in local TV news was a station that actually went to someone‘s door pretending to be the Prize Patrol, and the person fell for it for about ten seconds. 

WOLFF:  Funny until the guy realizes what‘s going on.  Also, if I am that guy, if I‘m Ed Collins, no brainer; Vegas.  Come on, what do you have to lose?   

SHUSTER:  Bill Wolff, have a great weekend, thanks for everything.  I appreciate.  Thanks to everybody for watching.  Tucker will be back Tuesday.

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

END   

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