updated 9/6/2007 10:49:38 AM ET 2007-09-06T14:49:38

Guests: Ed Schultz, Peter King, Eugene Robinson, Ed Royce

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Welcome to the show.  Coming to you live from Los Angeles.  On second thought, Larry Craig may not resign from the Senate.  Craig‘s office announced in the statement that if the Idaho senator is cleared from charges before the end of this month, quote, “he may not resign.”

Well, today, Craig tried to take a step in the direction by asking the Senate Ethics Committee to reject the complaint against him.  The committee quickly turned down his request.  Craig became a household name last week when it came to light that he‘d been arrested in an undercover sex sting in a Minneapolis airport men‘s room.  During a press conference this Saturday, Craig said, quote, “It is my intent to resign.”

Well, it turns out that statement was carefully worded to leave open the possibility of his remaining in the Senate.  In a telephone message apparently intended for his attorney but left at the wrong number just before that press conference and now published by “Roll Call,” a Capitol Hill newspaper Craig explains his strategy.  Here it is.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. LARRY CRAIG, ® ID:  Arlen Specter is willing to come out in my defense.  Arguing that it appears by all that he knows I‘ve been railroaded.  All of that.  Having all of that, we‘ve reshaped my statement a little bit to say it is my intent to resign on September 30.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CARLSON:  But is there any chance the Republican Party that took about 15 seconds to bury Craig, will suddenly take him back if he‘s cleared?  We‘ll ask Congressman Peter King of New York in just a minute.

The other big story of the day, the night for Thompson.  Finally he‘ll appear on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno where he is expected to reveal the worst-kept secret in politics over the last couple of months, he will run for president.  Will Thompson be the white knight that some Republicans are hoping he will be?  Can he possibly live up to all of that hype?  Well, here to tell us about Fred Thompson‘s prospects and about the future of Larry Craig, we welcome Congressman Peter King of New York.  Congressman, thanks for coming on.

REP. PETER KING, ® NY:  Tucker, it‘s always great to be with you.

CARLSON:  So, congressman, what if Senator Craig is cleared?  If he‘s able to withdraw his guilty plea and he is found not guilty, would Republicans take him back?

KING:  Tucker, I don‘t see how.  First of all, all of this would have to happen between now and September 30th.  And the fact is he did plea guilty.  He, above all, being in politics, has to realize that appearances mean a lot.  That appearance can become reality.  And he just dragged the Republican Party further down.  To me for his own sake.  And for his family‘s sake and for the good of the Republican Party.  He should get out of there.

CARLSON:  But I mean have you entertained the possibility, congressman, that maybe he didn‘t do it?  And I‘m sort of interested to note that nobody believes him.  Nobody in his own party.  People who‘ve served with him and called him friend.  People who have accepted his endorsement for president.  Nobody even entertains the possibility that he‘s telling the truth.

KING:  I don‘t know Senator Craig personally.  But my feeling is he‘s been in politics for 27 years.  And once he pleaded guilty, that was it so far as his political career.  Now, listen, I guess some chance that he could be innocent.  But also, you have to play the cards you‘re dealt.  What he did in pleading guilty, that to me eliminates any chance of him be able to stay on with the approval of the Republican Party.  He should realize that.  If he is innocent, then he should just—again, offer it up to the Republican Party because he‘s put them in this position and just have to, you know, play the cards you‘re dealt.

CARLSON:  Here‘s one of his lawyer‘s Stan Brand, the famous lawyer writes this to the Senate Ethics Committee, this was hand-delivered today to Senator Barbara Boxer of California.  He said, this, the arrest quote, “involved purely personal conduct unrelated to the performance of official Senate duties.  And therefore doesn‘t fall went scope of the interest of the Senate Ethics Committee.”  What do you think of that argument?

KING:  I think it does come under the scope of the Ethics Committee.  But, Tucker, let‘s keep in mine, he‘s a person who had—and he knew these allegations against him for being homosexual for 27 years.  He gets caught in a men‘s room.  He pleads guilty.  Just getting—putting aside whether or not he‘s innocent or guilty, the reality is that once he pleaded guilty, he has to face the consequences of that.  He‘s a mature adult.  He speaks the English language.  He‘s intelligent.  He knows what law is.  And once he pleaded guilty, yes, he to those face the consequences.

Otherwise what he is saying is that he entered a phony plea.  That he gave into some kind of pressure.

CARLSON:  Wait a minute.  You said the allegation was that he is homosexual.  There are plenty of homosexuals in the Republican Party.  Some serving in office.  You know them, of course.  But being gay is that the problem?

KING:  No, no, what I‘m saying is he knew these allegations were out there.  He knew if he pleaded guilty, it was going to confirm a lot of beliefs about him.  He knew—in other words, he knew the realities in which he lived in politics.  And knowing that for him to plead guilty, he knew that or make it that much harder for people to disbelieve him.

CARLSON:  Right.

KING:  When he said he was really innocent is even though he pleaded guilty.

CARLSON:  And you‘re absolutely right.  People have been saying this about him.  He was caught apparently doing it.  I wonder, finally, though, a place for compassion here?  Here, the guy went from fairly well-thought of senator, so far as I could tell.  Not very famous, but everyone thought he was a solid guy to being the subject of just profound and really nasty ridicule from all sides.  Why has nobody stepped up and said, even though he was soliciting gay sex in a men‘s room, he‘s still a human being and a decent person?  Why has nobody had the brass to stand up for him?  It‘s kind of disgusting, isn‘t it?

KING:  I will say right now it is wrong to ridicule him.  I think that this was a victimless crime if it were a crime.  It‘s a personal tragedy for him and for his family.  And I have not taken—I will not take part in any type of ridicule publicly or privately like this.  This is to me is a tragic, tragic situation but he is only prolong it by staying in there.  I‘m saying as a very practical political matter, when you have these allegations against you, including allegations of sex in men‘s rooms before, and you plead guilty to that current charge, it just takes away any presumption that ever would have been there.

CARLSON:  You were recently quoted saying this of Fred Thompson, who incidentally is announces for president today or tomorrow.  You said, quote, “Rudy Giuliani is a real crime fighter.  Fred Thompson has primarily done it on television.  Rudy got crime under control in New York City.  Not by acting but by getting results.”

Why go after Fred Thompson of all of the other challenges?

KING:  That was an answer to a question to about, if the people are looking for a leader.  Someone who is strong against crime.  Someone who is strong against terrorism.  Doesn‘t Fred Thompson have the image to fill that bill?  And I said, no.  That the one person who does have the really tough record against crime, who has a strong record against terrorism, and who has articulated a strong position against terrorism is Rudy Giuliani.  Here is a guy who turned around New York City.  Who broke up the mob when he was U.S. attorney.  Turned around the city.  Brought murders down by two-thirds when he was the mayor of New York.  Was there on September 11th.  And as opposed to Fred Thompson, by the way, he‘s very able, very nice guy but the fact is his crime fighting credentials are fairly minimal.  He was an assistant U.S. attorney in Tennessee over 30 years ago.  And so far as terrorism is concerned, he really has had very little to say about it.

CARLSON:  You think—this implies not that you just support Giuliani.  You obviously do, but that you think that Thompson is a phony?

KING:  No, I think Fred Thompson is a very able guy.  I‘m just saying that he‘s not as qualified as Rudy Giuliani when it comes to fighting terrorism or fighting crime or providing the strong, tough leadership.  That Rudy Giuliani showed both as United States attorney in New York and also as the mayor of the City of New York at a time when people thought the city was going to collapse and was doomed.

CARLSON:  All right, Pete King, Republican from New York.  Thanks a lot, congressman.

KING:  Thank you, Tucker.  Appreciate it.

CARLSON:  Well, Fred Thompson has kept political obsessives waiting for months now.  Tonight, apparently is the night.  Thompson is skipping the latest Republican debate on Fox for Jay Leno‘s couch, what can we expect when he gets there?

Plus John McCain gives it right back to an underage question asker at a campaign event.  You‘ll see that next.  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  While the Republican presidential candidates square off in yet another debate tonight, their 413th, Fred Thompson will be on stage in Hollywood.  Or more precisely in Burbank.  He‘ll appear as a guest on NBC‘s “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno.  And tomorrow he plans to officially announce he is running for president.

Is he too late or did he wait just long enough for Republican supporters to get tired of their current crop of candidates?  Joining me now is “Washington Post” columnist Eugene Robinson and host of the nationally syndicated “Ed Schultz Show,” Ed Schultz himself.

Ed, if you were Fred Thompson and this remarkable hype were building around you, then it was sort of deflated after that, and then people were annoyed with you but also pinning their hopes upon you, what would you say if you went on “Jay Leno” tonight.

ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW”:  First of all, I think it‘s a brilliant move because he‘s going to get a lot of news repeat on being on “Leno.”  More people will be talking on his performance on “Leno” than they will about this debate.  We all know these debates are a joke especially on Fox.  Where they throw nothing but softballs at these Republicans.  So I think it‘s not too late.  He still has plenty of money.  He still has plenty of support.

The anticipation, actually I think the guy ought to be opening up a restaurant, there‘s been so much anticipation here.  I think he‘s going to have a good menu, I really do.

CARLSON:  Probably going to have a happier life if he did that.

SCHULTZ:  That‘s right.

CARLSON:  That‘s right.  Well, here‘s—the question for me, Gene, as I think most people watching this is, what is Fred Thompson‘s message?  I want you to take a look at his first.  This is his first ad apparently that‘s come out and it gives us some sense of what Fred Thompson‘s going to be running on.  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED THOMPSON, ® SOON-TO-BE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m Fred Thompson and I approve this message.

On the next president‘s watch, our country will make decisions that will affect our lives and our families far into the future.  We can‘t allow ourselves to become a weaker, less prosperous and more divided nation.  Today as before the fate of millions across the world depends upon the unity and resolve of the American people.  I talk about this tomorrow on Fred08.com.  I invite you to take a look and join us.

ANNOUNCER:  Fred Thompson, Republican for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Security, unity, prosperity - SUP for short.  What do you think of that?

EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST”:  Really, those are nice words. 

Those are strong, manly words.

CARLSON:  Yes.

ROBINSON:  And they should all make us feel better.  What do they mean is the question?  You know, security, I think—you know, he begins.  He starts at a disadvantage, at least in terms of him versus Giuliani on the security issue.  Giuliani‘s been hitting on that for months now.  Prosperity, what‘s he going—what‘s he going to—that anybody else wouldn‘t do to foster American prosperity?  Does he have, you know, a better idea about globalization?  A better idea about low wages in China?

You know I don‘t know what that is.  And unity, well, you know, I think we can—we can be united, Tucker.  I‘m thinking that unity‘s I good idea.  What does any of it mean?

CARLSON:  I will tell you exactly what the unity part means.  The unity part means if the Democratic Party nominates Hillary Clinton and unfortunately it looks like they‘re moving in that direction.  The Republican candidate will make the case.  Not only is she wrong on the issues but that her presence in the race is by itself divisive.  Hillary Clinton just, as Hillary Clinton, splits the country in half.  And that anybody running against her wants to benefit from that perception as the candidate that brings the country together.  I don‘t think that‘s—I mean I assume that‘s their thinking.  And it makes sense to me.

ROBINSON:  Well, she certainly has high negatives at this point.  But then again, look at her, you know, head-to-head against—in the prospective polls about they may not mean much but head-to-head against Republicans, she beats them.  So I don‘t—I don‘t know if unity is the word that‘s going to defeat Hillary Clinton, I think.  You know?  And I don‘t think Fred Thompson has some sort of secret sauce, anti-Hillary sauce that the other Republicans don‘t have.

CARLSON:  Ed, if you‘re running the Hillary Clinton campaign or the Barack Obama campaign and you‘re trying to imagine the candidate you don‘t want to run against, is Fred Thompson that guy?

SCHULTZ:  No.  I don‘t think the Democrats are worried about anybody in this lot.  I think they‘re worried about keeping the attention of the American people on the issues.  Gene‘s talking about unity.  I think there‘s a lot of people that are disenfranchised on the Republican side.  I think it‘s a pretty interesting word that Fred Thompson is using right now.  I mean the social conservatives are over here.  The fiscal conservatives are over here.  There‘s a split by many of them on how they really do feel about security in Iraq.  So it‘s a pretty generic message, but everybody has that.

I think his performance tonight on “Leno” is going to do him a lot more than being in the debates and I think it‘s not too late for Thompson.  But so far as Hillary goes, she doesn‘t have it yet.  There‘s some competition over there.  You see these union endorsements that John Edwards is getting, you see the big union endorsement that Chris Dodd got.  I mean we could have a situation where Hillary wins Iowa or Edwards wins Iowa, Hillary wins new Hampshire, Obama wins South Carolina, and Nevada‘s won by -- won by Richardson.  And then what‘s going to happen?  So I don‘t think they‘re concerned about the Republicans right now.  I really don‘t.

CARLSON:  So, John Edwards, the man who announced this week that he would require all Americans to go to the doctor to get checkups is going to be the Democratic nominee?  I mean I‘m not saying he‘d be worse than Hillary or Barack Obama, I will say though, I would be shocked if that happens.  But what do I know?

SCHULTZ:  Well, nobody in Iowa shocked.

CARLSON:  Well, no, they‘re not.

SCHULTZ:  They like Edwards.

CARLSON:  You are absolutely right.  And maybe when they look into the details of his plans, they‘ll like him more.  But maybe not.  We‘ll be right back.

Moveon.org has made a living going after President Bush and the Republicans.  When we come back, they set their eyes on Democrats.  Plus, if you think you know which Democrat Al Gore is backing, we‘ve got a surprise for you.  That‘s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Moveon.org has become a major political force on the left in this country.  In fewer than four years, the group has proved that an Internet-based political group with millions of members can shape the debate but what happens when activists begin to eat their own?

That might be a question for MoveOn‘s latest target, Congressman Brian Baird.  He‘s a Washington Democrat, a liberal who voted against the Iraq War but now says progress is in fact being made on the ground.  That‘s a judgment he made after going to Iraq.  Is moveon.org right to enforce ideological discipline or are they out of line?  Well, judge for yourself.  Take a look at their new ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  One day there was a riot in the Abu Ghraib market area.  We had 2,000 in the community protest our presence in their country.  These were not terrorists.  We were told that we were there to liberate these people.  They were shooting at us.  To keep American soldiers in Iraq for an indefinite period of time, being attacked by an unidentifiable enemy, is wrong, immoral, and irresponsible.

ANNOUNCER:  Support our troops.  Bring them home.

ANNOUNCER:  Moveon.org political action is responsible for the content of this advertisement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Well, joining us now, “Washington Post” columnist Eugene Robinson and host of the nationally syndicated “Ed Schultz Show”, Ed Schultz.

Gene, it seems to me that Brian Baird is not a screaming ideologue.  That he‘s a credible voice on this subject.  He‘s been to the region three times and I don‘t really think it‘s that helpful for the debate to squelch his point of view, do you.

ROBINSON:  I don‘t think anybody is squelching.  Look, I think there is general agreement on facts on the ground.  That there are some Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province who used to give support to al Qaeda who decided that they don‘t want to do that anymore for whatever reason and are now playing ball with the Americans.  And so those are facts.  And they can be, you know, how do you view those facts?  How do you interpret those facts?  Is this some big turning point in the war?

And you know, and I don‘t see this as a big turning point in the war.  And you know people—people paint moveon.org as you know lefter than left.  This ultra radical kind of organization.  You know, it‘s very—

Moveon.org is very close to where the American people are on Iraq.

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t think it‘s a left-wing organization, particularly.  I think they‘re lap dogs of the Democratic Party.  I think they‘re partisan.  I think they do what helps their party.  I don‘t think they‘re true to any kind of abstract set of ideas and I think they think he‘s a threat to the Democratic Party.  But listen, Ed, to what he had actually said.  We had Baird on.

And I think - here is what he said when he was on our show.  He said “I believe the decision to invade Iraq and the post invasion management of the country were among the largest foreign policy mistakes in the history of our country.  I vote against them.  I still think they were the right votes but we‘re on the ground now.  We have a responsibility to the Iraqi people and a strategic interest in making this work.”

Now that‘s basically my position, too.  So I‘m in favor of it.  But that‘s not any kind of right-wing neocon position.  That‘s a thoughtful position that cannot be dismissed by MoveOn or anybody else as a suck-up to Bush, because it‘s not.

SCHULTZ:  Well, Tucker, moveon.org, I think we need to profoundly point out that their membership continues to grow.  More and more mainstream Americans paying attention it them.  They‘ve gone after Democrats in the past.  They went after Steny Hoyer, a Democratic leader, I believe it was on the bankruptcy issue.  For them to stake their claim on the war is fair game.  And they have been very clear where they stand on the war.  They want a policy change.  And this particular congressman is shifting.  But other Democrats seem to be wavering.  I don‘t think that the Democratic leadership has been tough enough on the Bush administration.  This is going to be a very interesting September to say the least.  So I think that moveon.org has been consistent.  I think that they have been a favorite target of the media, to be painted as the poster child for whacked out lefties.  I think that‘s an unfair portrayal of this them.

CARLSON:  I agree.

SCHULTZ:  And I think—they‘ve gone after other Democrats in the past.

CARLSON:  They are hardly the most left wing people on the Internet and they‘re not the biggest haters on the Internet.  There are a lot of lunatics on the Internet on the left and I think they‘re in the moderate middle by comparison.

But Gene, what about this point that Baird makes that is, I think we‘re talking about.  He says, look, liberals are very concerned and maybe rightly by what rest of the world think of us.  And the rest of the nations in the region around Iraq think of us.

He says I‘ve been to all of these countries.  And all of them say the same thing, don‘t pull out now.  It‘s bad for us.  Iraq‘s neighbors don‘t want the United States to pull out right now.  How can Democrats who claim to care about world opinion ignore that?

ROBINSON:  Well, what neighbors are we talking about?  Are we talking about the Saudis, the Jordanians?  The Syrians?  The Iranians?  The Egyptians?  We‘re talking about a bunch of regimes that you know, that are problematic in various ways.  And you know, one could argue that the Bush administration has not been, for example, tough enough on the Saudis, in terms of democraticization, or tough enough on the Egyptians in terms of opening up to some sort of political dissent.  And that these governments help get us into the problem we‘re in now with a substantial portion of the Muslim world, hating Americans.  So you know—look, of course you take into consideration what the neighbors think.

Everyone has said that there has to be a regional—regional diplomatic effort, you know, that precedes or that accompanies disengagement.  But I don‘t think those views by the Saudi royal family, or whoever, should necessarily govern what we think we need to do in terms of getting out of Iraq.

CARLSON:  All right, John McCain isn‘t going down without a fight.  Even when a teenager confronts him about getting old.  And getting Alzheimer‘s disease and dying.  He fights back.  We‘ve got the tape.

Plus, a U.S. congressman gets a firsthand look inside North Korea. 

You‘ll find what he saw next on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Well the “New York Times” continues to serve as our own personal tour guide to the twisting alleys of Hillary Clinton‘s life.  The latest Times‘ pieces focuses on Senator Clinton‘s college years at Wellesley, where the unbearable angst of the 1960s transformed her from a conservative Goldwater girl to a liberal Democrat.  In the piece, a college friend tells the story of Hillary returning a bottle of perfume she‘d bought because she felt guilty indulging when there was such poverty around her. 

Here once again to tell us about their personal journeys, “Washington Post” columnist Eugene Robinson and host of the nationally syndicated “Ed Schultz Show,” Ed Schultz.  Ed, when is that generation going to stop talking about itself?  When do you think the Baby Boomers are going to stop comparing every single point in history to 1968?  I must say I‘m at the point of vomiting over it. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, you know, everybody got arrested back in the early ‘70s, didn‘t they?  I mean she was a young activist, very intelligent. very thoughtful.  She had the respect of her peers and did what most young college kids do.  They got involved.  And she asked questions that most people at that level ask and was active. 

I mean, I think that the people are going to view this material coming out on Hillary Clinton—number one, they probably didn‘t know about it.  Secondly, they‘re going to rethink—well, you know, maybe there shouldn‘t be any negatives here.  This is kind of cool that Hillary had her head screwed on right way back when, and she was independent enough to switch her thinking on some things and has been consistent ever since. 

CARLSON:  But I mean, isn‘t it—I‘m not attacking her for her statements made in college.  I wouldn‘t want to be held accountable for mine.  That‘s for sure.  I think that would be unfair.  I‘m not doing it.  I do wonder, Gene, there is this syndrome—and Barack Obama alludes to it in some of the things he‘s written—of Baby Boomers caught in a time warp, sort of hang up on days gone by 40 years ago.  And maybe it is time for a generational change. 

ROBINSON:  Look, I‘m a Baby Boomer and I‘m getting a little sick of us, to tell you the truth.  I mean, it is time to move on, as we were talking about it in the last block.  But—and certainly we‘re not—we‘re definitely not doing a retrospective on my college years at Michigan.  We‘re going to put that off-limits. 

But you know, it is—I think Obama makes an interesting and valid point.  There are a lot of people who are still fighting the battles of the 1960s.  This piece about Hillary Clinton, you know, it‘s kind of interesting in that it shows her evolution.  It‘s like a lot of other people went through.  Just the other day, George Bush talks about Vietnam.  It‘s as if he‘s still fighting the battles of the ‘60s -- 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

ROBINSON:  -- As well, saying, well, we should have stayed in there somehow, and won the war in Vietnam, the way we‘re going to win the war in Iraq.  So, yes, I think, you know—I think the Baby Boomers have been a great generation.  But maybe we should think about some other decade. 

CARLSON:  It is the most self-involved demographic ever.  And the moment they stop talking themselves, I‘ll be an old man, but I will be a grateful man. 

ROBINSON:  There are a lot of us, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I know, and that‘s the tragedy.  Ed, what do you make of the following exchange between John McCain and a very young and underage high school student, asking him questions recently at a campaign event?  Here it is.  Tell me what you think. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you ever worry that, like, you might die in office or get Alzheimer‘s or some other disease that might affect your judgment?   

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You know, my children

for many, many years have questioned my awareness.  I think it was my son -

one of my sons that alleged that I‘m getting to the point where I hide my own Easter eggs.  Every campaign I‘ve ever been in in my life, I have out-campaigned all of my opponents, and I‘m confident that I will. 

Thanks for the question, you little jerk. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  It does—I mean, it‘s kind of hard.  Everyone mocks John McCain.  But it‘s kind of hard to think, well, maybe he should be president.  Anybody who calls a questionnaire a little jerk is pretty close to getting my vote. 

ROBINSON:  That was pretty funny.

SCHULTZ:  Well, there were so many different ways he could have handled this.  He could have endeared himself to the kids that were there, because they were laughing about it.  And he could have made fun of his age.  I thought he got just a little too serious.  And I also question if John McCain is leading in polls, and if he is a serious contender, is that the way he answers that question?  I‘m not so sure about that. 

CARLSON:  Yes, it is, because John McCain has very limited control.  And I say that admiringly.  But John McCain is the kind of guy—John McCain told that joke about your own Easter eggs about old people one time, about Alzheimer‘s disease.  This is a guy who puts humor over his own success a lot of the time. 

ROBINSON:  I think this is the John McCain who‘s effective actually. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

ROBINSON:  This is the Straight-Talk Express.  Whatever, you know, comes into that consciousness comes out of that mouth.  And this is the more attractive John McCain, I think, than the more careful, you know, corporate John McCain that we saw earlier in the campaign that had to be restructured. 

CARLSON:  And that may be, to segue here, Barack Obama‘s problem.  Maureen Dowd—I‘m going to do something I have never done, quoting a Maureen Dowd column on the air.  But she makes a pretty good point in today‘s “New York Times.”  She says, “This pundit for one needs hope as much as any American these days, but the only time I roll my eyes is when my hope is dashed that Obama will boldly take on Hillary, making his campaign more than cameras and mirrors and magazine covers.” 

I mean, Gene, isn‘t that kind of the problem with the Obama campaign? 

Here he‘s losing to this candidate who he refuses to really engage.  Why? 

ROBINSON:  Well, you know, I really think Obama—you know, as McCain wants to be true to himself.  I think Obama wants to be true to his vision of himself, as a candidate of himself, as a potential president.  And I think he really believes that, you know, let‘s not—let‘s not have that kind of warfare or inter party warfare or even intra party warfare that we‘ve had, that not every question is either/or.  There are ways to synthesize points of view.  There are ways to unify the country. 

I have talked with him enough to believe that he‘s very sincere about that.  And that—and it seems to me, watching him perform as a candidate, he‘s obviously not that comfortable in attack mode. 

CARLSON:  No, he‘s not.  You know what his problem is?  He‘s an intellectual.  I mean that‘s—I‘m not sure intellectuals can win the presidency. 

SCHULTZ:  Don‘t hold that against him, Tucker.  Come on.

CARLSON:  I‘m not.  I don‘t hold it against him as a man.  I actually admire the fact that he‘s a fluid writer.  I mean, I think he‘s an impressive guy in so many ways.  I just think he‘s kind a lame candidate. 

SCHULTZ:  No, this is a marathon.  It‘s not a sprint.  There is going to be plenty of time out there to barb when the time is right.  I think Obama‘s philosophy and his strategy right now is to stay within striking distance of the leader, don‘t overreact to anything that might come out negative, stay consistent, stay motivated, keep people energized.  It‘s a marathon, not a sprint. 

I think he‘s running a real good campaign.  I think Hillary and Edwards are really making this a long marathon.  And it‘s going to come down to the wire.  And so I think Obama is doing the right things right now.  He‘s drawing tremendous crowds.  His wife this weekend on Labor Day gave, I thought, a fabulous speech in introducing him. 

And you‘ll notice that all of the candidates on the Democratic side that have got their spouses involved a lot are the ones that are leading;

Clinton, Edwards, Obama.  The other candidates who are falling behind don‘t have their spouses involved very much.  So I think they‘re set for the long hall. 

CARLSON:  Here‘s, Gene, someone who really hasn‘t had a problem engaging with Hillary Clinton, albeit in a kind of passive/aggressive way, Al Gore.  Gore was asked by a new magazine, would he be willing to endorse Hillary Clinton?  Here‘s his response; “Uh, no.  I have friendships with her and with other candidates.  They‘re all on equal footing at this point, as far as I‘m concerned.”

He added later that he does plan to endorse somebody.  OK, so here‘s a guy who worked with Mrs. Clinton, was in her social orbit in a pretty intimate way for eight.  And we in the press credulously reported this intimate relationship the two couples had.  If he doesn‘t endorse her, talk about essentially a forehanded attack. 

ROBINSON:  Well, first of all, I think Al Gore‘s having a great time these days.  I think he really likes his life right now.  He doesn‘t have to endorse anybody right now.  The Democratic party has several strong candidates and I‘m sure he‘ll get behind the nominee. 

And I think we‘ve all long since disabused ourselves of the myth that the Gores and the Clintons were intimate best buddies at the end of the administration.  They weren‘t.  I think everybody knows that. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

SCHULTZ: I think we also have to point out—I think we should also point out that Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean and he was the first one out of the race, if I recall.  I mean, so I‘m not so sure that Al Gore‘s endorsement‘s going to do anything.  He‘s kind of a one-issue guy right now when it comes to the global warming.  And that‘s where his focus has been.  So I don‘t know what his endorsement would do for anybody right now. 

CARLSON:  Yes, but from his point of view, it‘s the only issue that matters.  And you specifically, Ed, are immoral for not recognizing that.  Hang your head in shame. 

SCHULTZ:  OK, I bought his CD. 

CARLSON:  Apart from global warming.  Ask Al Gore, ask Laurie David. 

Thank you both very much. 

ROBINSON:  Good to be here, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Thanks.  What did you do over the Labor Day weekend?  Maybe you went to the beach or had a barbecue.  Our next guest did something a bit more adventurous.  He took a secret trip to North Korea.  He‘ll tell us what he saw. 

Plus our dear leader, President George W. Bush, admits in a book that he cries a lot.  Does he watch a lot of Meg Ryan movies or is it the job?  It‘s that depressing.  Willie Geist has the story when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  North Korea‘s the most closed and secretive society on earth, so when what he heard that California Congressman Ed Royce had just returned from a trip there, the nation that President Bush calls part of the axis of evil, we wanted to know what he found.  So he joins us now, Republican Congressman from California, Ed Royce.  Congressman, welcome back. 

REP. ED ROYCE ®, CALIFORNIA:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  How weird is north Korea? 

ROYCE:  Well, this is how odd it is; the malnourishment that you see in people‘s faces is so severe that, on average, they‘re about eight inches shorter than people in South Korea.  The income now, we‘re told, is about two dollars a month.  There‘s no economy virtually left.  The only thing you really see is a whole lot of military activity.  You see a lot of missiles and artillery pieces that are in bunkers.  You see a lot of trucks with military moving around. 

But in terms of watching people try to scratch out an existence in the fields, you just see total impoverishment and an economy that has collapsed. 

CARLSON:  Is it true that people walk around with pins with pictures of Kim Jong-il or his father, Kim il Sung, on them. 

ROYCE:  Yes, absolutely.  And it‘s also true that the military wear pins of Kim Jong-il‘s father.  The obsession with this cult is truly one of the most remarkable successes for indoctrination that I‘ve ever seen.  North Korean brainwashing techniques are about the most advanced in the world.  And of course they start right at birth. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

ROYCE:  And these people are just mesmerized.  And they‘re told that people in the South are less prosperous than them.  This is one of the reasons I support Radio-Free Asia.  I had legislation to start broadcasting in North Korea on these themes, because nowhere on the planet are people as impoverished as they are in this worker‘s paradise. 

CARLSON:  The term brainwashing was invented to describe what happened to U.S. POWs in North Korea during the war.  Given that, given that this is a bizarre state cult, can we trust anything they say when we enter into an agreement with them, as we appear to be doing? 

ROYCE:  Well in the ‘94 framework agreement, as you know, and as you commented in the past, that was broken.  And so now we‘re in the middle of the negotiation in Geneva.  We hear that they‘ve agreed in four months to disable their reactor.  Well, back if February, they agreed to do that in two months.  So one of the real questions here is how we verify this.  As President Reagan said, you can trust but you‘ve got verify on these agreements. 

That‘s the hard part and that‘s going to require harder bargaining.  And, frankly, I think the international community should be shutting off the flow of aid in to North Korea, South Korea in particular.  As you know, there is a summit coming up next month.  And President Roh from South Korea is going to offer many billions of dollars of economic aid and direct foreign aid to the North.  That undercuts our ability to keep the North at the table and to get disarmament, and we should be putting a lot of pressure on the international community not to infuse any money into that North Korean regime.  It only goes to weapons. 

CARLSON:  President Bush took a lot of grief for including North Korea in the triumphant, the axis of evil.  And the implication has been from some that calling that country evil made it behave in evil ways, made it spur its nuclear weapons program, for one.  Do you think that‘s true. 

ROYCE:  Kim il Sung and Kim Jong il have had the same doctrine since the Korean War, which is build up their military, put all of their resources into it.  It hasn‘t really mattered how we‘ve treated them.  They‘ve gone full board.  Part of the problem is that the elicit activity, counterfeiting U.S. hundred dollar bills—are we supposed to be quiet about that? 

The fact that they sell Meth and Heroin and other illegal drugs.  They sell missiles.  And now that they‘ve tested an atomic weapon and now that they‘re shooting off ICBMs, I think it‘s really time that we focus our attention on how we cut off the flow of funds into the regime that allows it to do this kind of research and development.  It certainly doesn‘t go to the people.  It only goes to military purposes. 

CARLSON:  And they also eat dogs, something people rarely talk about, but I think there ought to be sanctions against them for doing that.  Finally, how do they treat you?  I mean you‘re a Congressman.  You‘re a conservative.  Were they nice? 

ROYCE:  No, they‘re very hostile and angry.  But I think that‘s part of the training and the brainwashing.  So when they encounter people from the west, it‘s a bellicose confrontational style. 

CARLSON:  Fun, what a vacation.  Boy, better than the Outer Banks. 

Congressman Royce, thanks for joining us. 

ROYCE:  Thank you.  Good to be with you, Tucker? 

CARLSON:  Most people think it takes luck to win the Lottery.  This guy says it takes Wiccan magic.  He‘s the one holding the giant check for 82 million bucks.  Lottery and gaming expert Willie Geist has the strange story of the big mega million‘s winner when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Feeling a little down after our last segment on the evil hermit kingdom of North Korea, have no fear.  Here to make you feel better, Dr. Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, you have to admire a man who goes to North Korea by choice for vacation. 

CARLSON:  I‘ve always wanted to go.  It sounds interesting as hell. 

GEIST:  He went for his vacation—yes, it does sound interesting.  I wonder if he got in a round of golf with Kim John il.  Remember he shot like 18 holes in one his first time playing? 

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s because he‘s able to control the weather. 

GEIST:  And the flowers bloom on his birthday, I believe.  It‘s amazing how things work there.  Good for Congressman Royce. 

Well, Tucker, the first of four of those giant cardboard checks handed out in the 330 million dollar mega million jackpot today.  A guy from Maryland named Bunky Bartlett got his 82.5 million buck today.  Make no mistake, he didn‘t win the money because of luck, he won it because of Wiccan magic. 

Bunky is an accountant who also teaches Wicca, which is a nature based religion.  He and his wife were on their way it a mystical bookstore when he stopped to buy the winning ticket.  Bunky says, quote, the universe was working its magic.  He now plans to quit his job and concentrate on teaching Wicca. 

Boy you could teach a lot of Wicca with that kind of cash. 

CARLSON:  You‘re saying basically the U.S. government is subsidizing some kind of devil worshiper, Satanism. 

GEIST:  That‘s exactly what I am getting at. 

CARLSON:  That‘s perfect. 

GEIST:  Here‘s my big complaint with the Lottery, right?  So 82 million is his winning.  He takes the lump sum.  He gets a little more than 48 million.  You throw in taxes; he‘s walking away with 32 million dollars.  What do you do with 32 million dollars these days?  It‘s false advertising. 

CARLSON:  That‘s totally—and as I pointed out on this show time and time again, when the Mafia ran it—when La Cosa Nostra was in charge of the numbers, and you won, they gave you your money. 

GEIST:  That‘s right. 

CARLSON:  But the U.S. government cheats you.  That tells you all you need to know. 

GEIST:  Let‘s be honest, everything was better when the mob was running things. 

CARLSON:  That‘s why I‘m a Libertarian.  Ron Paul agrees with me.  

GEIST:  Let‘s get the mob back in charge.  Well, Tucker, another sad reminder today of the harmful effects of junk food in our society.  A 22-year-old Iowa man was arrested over the weekend and charged with assault after he threw a bag of Cheetos at his father during an argument.  The bag of fluorescent orange snacks hit father in the face and caused a cut on his nose. 

Here‘s a mug shot of the ruthless assailant.  Now, the police report of the incident included this wonderful line; quote, “the victim‘s t-shirt was covered in Cheeto dust,” end quote.”

Tucker, who knew Cheetos could be so harmful.  I think you want to go with something like softer like a Funyun. 

CARLSON:  It‘s funny you say that.  I was just thinking Funyuns.  I was also going Doritos.  Little Debby Snack cakes; all kinds of options.   

GEIST:  Now you‘re into the baked good.  That‘s a whole other territory—that‘s a whole other crime actually. 

CARLSON:  He looked like a very troubled young man.  It doesn‘t bother me he‘s off of the streets. 

CARLSON:  No, I think it‘s good.  Ever had a Cheeto, by the way?  My heavens are they good.  I got some here to eat after the show.  They‘re delightful.  By the way, I looked, there‘s not one natural thing in this bag.  It‘s amazing. 

CARLSON:  No and apparently they‘re not baked.  They spontaneously—it‘s a chemical reaction. 

GEIST:  I don‘t think they even exist actually.  They‘re in some synthetic universe out there.  But I like them. 

From the first angle here—watch this, Tucker.  It appears

Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback is whipping a New Hampshire crowd into I frenzy with an inspired speech about Social Security reform.  Well, perhaps the campaign should have kept the cameras in front of him, because here‘s what that frenzied crowd looked like. 

Wow.  Actually that‘s not a crowd.  I have more people in this tiny studio with me right now than he has there, and I‘m not even running for president.  Brownback was speaking at St. Anslem College in New Hampshire yesterday. 

I am shocked, Tucker, that more kids didn‘t turn out to hear a speech about Social Security reform.  Now, Tucker, doesn‘t this guy have an advance team?  Maybe they should have splurged for some posters at Student Union or something to let people know the senator was going to be on campus. 

CARLSON:  Willie, I, as often do, blame the people. 

GEIST:  Yes.

CARLSON:  We often hear the people—the voters care about issues.  They don‘t want any of this silly rock star stuff.  They care about the issues. 

GEIST:  That‘s right. 

CARLSON:  No they don‘t.  They don‘t show up when you talk about the issues.  That‘s why nobody does. 

GEIST:  Of course not, Sam Brownback and Social Security do not draw a crowd. 

CARLSON:  No. 

GEIST:  We just learned that lesson yesterday.  If we could see the shot again.  There‘s one guy sitting in a white shirt there, just kind of his hand.  Almost like he‘s required to be there.  He‘s in the right corner there.  Got his shorts and his t-shirt on.  I think he showed up at the wrong lecture hall for a class or something.  He doesn‘t even understand what‘s happening. 

Pretty sad.  Poor, Senator Brownback.  Yesterday we talked about President Bush‘s admission in a new book that he‘s already looking forward to getting on the speaking circuit when his term ends.  He says his dad gets 50 to 70 grand a pop, and he‘d like to get in on that too.  Well in that same book now, he admits that the pressures of his job often get to him. 

He‘s quoted as saying this; “I‘ve got God‘s shoulder to cry on and I cry a lot.  I do a lot of crying in this job.  I bet I‘ve shed more tears than you can count as president.  I‘ll shed some tomorrow.”

Now, Tucker, there‘s nothing wrong crying.  That‘s obvious, but it‘s kind of hard to reconcile that with the swash buckling cowboy image that he‘s trying to project.  So I think it‘s one or the other. 

CARLSON:  Yes, actually I disagree with you, Willie.  I think there is something wrong with crying.  If your dog dies, something happens to your family, that‘s all right.  Cry, it‘s appropriate.  But being president alone, crying and then bragging about crying, no, you‘d have to be a Baby Boomer to do that. 

GEIST:  He has had a few things to cry about.  I‘m just picturing him sitting in his PJs eating his Bon-Bons sobbing when the GOP won the Congress last fall.  

CARLSON:  Watching “Sleepless in Seattle” on TNT. 

GEIST:  Not a good image of our president. 

CARLSON:  Willie Geist from the headquarters.  Thanks, Willie.  Check out ZeitGeist, his video blog at ZeitGeist.com.  It‘s worth it.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next Chris on “HARDBALL.”

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

END   

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

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