updated 9/26/2007 12:55:05 PM ET 2007-09-26T16:55:05

Guests: Bill Press, A.B. Stoddard, Richard Land, Glen Heggstad

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Monday‘s theatrics at Columbia University gave way to a more formal, more civilized, less dramatic scene at the UN Tuesday.  Welcome to the show.  Coming to you live from Fresno to Florida, President Bush addressed the world‘s diplomatic body this morning, pointing out that America‘s humanitarian leadership among nations and calling for an end to tyranny around the world.

The theatrics were limited to the Cuban delegation, which responded to Mr. Bush‘s criticism of the Castro regime by walking out of the speech.  On the subject of Iran, the president was conspicuously silent, perhaps an intentional slight of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was there.

This afternoon it was Ahmadinejad‘s turn to speak.  Iran‘s president sharply criticized Israel, not surprisingly, and the U.S. as selfish, self-interested and incompetent, careless with the human nights, the most powerful nation, et cetera, and on so.  He said the UN Security Council is tarnished and he also claimed total transparency in Iran‘s nuclear program and criticized the quote, “arrogant powers” who are trying to derail that program, which he says has industrial scale nuclear fuel cycle for purely peaceful purposes.

He also declared the issue of Iran‘s nuclear program closed.  In some he positioned himself as David to America‘s Goliath.  In just a moment we‘ll assess his short trip to Manhattan, did he achieve his objectives in the West?

Also today we got a window in the power politics that make the Clinton campaign what it is.  “G.Q.” magazine reportedly buckled under Clintonian pressure and decided not to publish an article that examined the infighting in Mrs. Clinton‘s campaign team.  On the cover of “G.Q.‘s” December issue - - that‘s right—Mr. Bill Clinton.  Does anyone play politics better than the old Democratic Party?

Plus, a week after Fred Thompson absorbed a stinging rebuke from one of America‘s leading Christian conservatives, another evangelical leader takes up Thompson‘s cause.  Richard Land will join us to discuss Fred Thompson‘s conservative bona fides.

We begin today with Iran.  The U.S. and the UN and the two-day week now concluding in Manhattan, President Bush all but ignored Iran in his address before the UN today after much of the rest of the country spent much of last week yelling about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s presence here.

On the other hand, he pulled no rhetorical punches.  Joining me from the UN, NBC News‘ Ron Allen.  Ron, what‘s the latest?

RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Tucker, I think you said it well.  He is David to our Goliath.  And you have to remember, Ahmadinejad is playing to the hometown crowd as well as to the crowd here in this room at the General Assembly.  He‘s championed himself as one of the great defenders of the non-aligned cause and taking on the big powers.

The headline, if there was one, it was this notion that the nuclear issue in Iran is now dead.  And he says Iran is going to ignore anything else that the Security Council has to say.  As Germany and France were calling for more sanctions for that very reason.  A lot of theater here today as well as Columbia yesterday.  I feel like an expert after listening now to, oh, about two and a half, three hours of him speaking.

CARLSON:  You earned your salary today, Ron.  The speech yesterday before the audience at Columbia was a little bit far out, if I can say.  Parts of it didn‘t quite make sense, at least to Western ears.  Was his speech today more conventional?

ALLEN:  Well, I think you have to listen to him closely.  A lot of people tend to dismiss it as being far out or just irrelevant.  But the guy is the president of a country and he is an academic and he does reason some things.  A lot of people in the West do not accept his reasoning.  Yesterday, for example, he backed away from the notion that the Holocaust did not happen.  He said it needs more study and needs to be looked at from different angles.  That was one thing that was interesting.

I also thought that basically what he is saying, as he does here today, he‘s championing these causes, like the Palestinian cause.  He talks about 60 years of persecution there.  He reiterated that theme and goes about that again today.  And he takes on the United States.  He talked about violations of human rights.  That was the theme President Bush‘s remarks, human rights around the world, and the Iranian president turned it around and talks about wiretapping and listening to people‘s mails and Guantanamo Bay.  He engages, back at the home crowd in Tehran and elsewhere around the world, this stuff plays.

CARLSON:  You monitor the Internet.  We execute gay people.  Kind of parity there.  Were there any Ahmadinejad supporters, defenders?

ALLEN:  There yesterday at Columbia?

CARLSON:  There yesterday and today at the United Nations.  I know there were protesters coming out against him.  Was anybody there for him?

ALLEN:  No.  I mean, today he gets polite applause.  He is welcomed here by the crowd.  I think he‘s probably more warmly welcomed generally than President Bush or certainly President Bush comes here and it‘s a very uncomfortable, and very tense and very strained air in the room.  People are waiting to hear what he has to say and sort of glaring at him to some extent.  Yesterday at Columbia, most of the protesters, obviously all of the protesters were against Ahmadinejad.  He didn‘t have many supporters there, if any.  But I think, what I was struck by, after the speech and the forum was over, a lot of students coming out said that they may not have wanted him to be there but after listening to him, they felt that they heard something.  They were glad to hear without the filter of the media as well, they said.

They don‘t agree with him but I think the remarks went a long way towards at least understanding what his point of view is, even if you don‘t accept it.  A lot of the students felt that was important trying to—just trying to have peace in the world, trying to understand people in the world.  And I thought that was somewhat telling of the remarks.

CARLSON:  All right, Ron Allen, NBC News, at the United Nations. 

Thanks a lot, Ron.

So is it good or bad for us when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad takes the podium?  Joining us now, associate editor of “The Hill” A.B. Stoddard, and nationally syndicated talk show host Bill Press.

Welcome to you both.

BILL PRESS, TALK SHOW HOST:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  Bill, you just heard Ron Allen say it all, basically.  He summed up the UN I think in one sentence when he said Ahmadinejad gets a warmer reception there than President Bush.  That tells you everything you need to know.  Bush may be unpopular but Ahmadinejad, I don‘t think I‘m going out on a limb, when I say he‘s kind of a monster that represents a regime that has no respect for human rights.

PRESS:  True.  I understand that.  President Bush went and stuck his fingers in the eyes of the United Nations.

CARLSON:  Sounds like they deserved it.

PRESS:  There‘s still some lingering resentment about that.  But we overreact to a guy like Ahmadinejad.  Frankly, I think he is certifiable.  Last year it was Chavez.  A few years before that it was Fidel Castro and then it was Khrushchev.  It is a forum where somebody not friendly to the United States can get up and rant and rave and they go away.  So I don‘t think we should get upset about that.

CARLSON:  Why is it difficult for the American left to call America‘s enemies its enemies and side with the U.S.?  Why is it difficult to say this guy hates our country, up yours, Ahmadinejad.  That‘s not hard.

PRESS:  First of all, Tucker, I think we have seen this movie before and I think we ought to slow down.  To me it‘s eerily familiar.  You demonize a guy, you accuse him of having weapons of mass destruction.

CARLSON:  Maybe he deserves it.

PRESS:  And the Senate today, while he‘s speaking, passes a resolution authorizing or calling for the use of all military options against Iran.  It wasn‘t so long ago that we went down this road.  I just think we ought to slow down.  He is not the real leader of Iran anyhow.  The real leaders of Iran are the religious ayatollahs who selected this guy to be president.  He‘s a nut case, one nut case.  Let‘s just slow down.

CARLSON:  What does that tell you about the government he represents? 

It‘s not the man, it‘s the idea and the reality of the government of Iran.  But already salon.com, which once upon a time was kind of a liberal, normal, sane publication has a piece today defending Ahmadinejad.  And the idea is this is all—I think a lot of people on the left feel this way, this is preparatory to an invasion of Iran.

That U.S. and particularly Israel have a vested interest going after Iran and we are beating up on Ahmadinejad to bomb his country.  Have you heard this?

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  I think even if the reason to strike Iran was more credible than our reason to invade Iraq it is too late, it will be a huge debate because of what happened since 2003.

CARLSON:  As a practical matter, it would be more difficult.  That‘s right.

STODDARD:  But I think the left, the defenders of Ahmadinejad are few and they are alone.  I think this was a win, win, win.  He got to play to the street in Tehran, Bush looked like he was right, Hillary Clinton is a hawk.  Every Republican running for president is tough on him.  Everyone wins.  Same today as yesterday when he spoke to Columbia.

CARLSON:  I‘m not a big moralizer when it comes to really anything but it seems to me Lee Bollinger‘s performance at Columbia, I heard on another unnamed program on this network, I was just watching and the people on the show were in unanimous agreement, he was rude to Ahmadinejad.  And one person on the show said, well, you know, in Iran, that kind of rudeness to a guest is considered unacceptable.  As if they didn‘t take hostages in 1979 for 444 days.

Why is it wrong to speak truth to power to the guy at Columbia?

PRESS:  Tucker, a little reality test here for you.  Not everyone will agree with you or me.  By the way, I think Lee Bollinger is a hero.

CARLSON:  I agree!

PRESS:  I wish he introduced him to the United Nations today.

CARLSON:  And watching him, and I thought, I‘m glad they invited this guy to speak.

PRESS:  His defense of the freedom of speech, and he said we did not invite Ahmadinejad here today because he has a right to be here.  We invited him here today because of who we are.  That was very, very powerful.

CARLSON:  But they were saying he was very rude to Ahmadinejad.  The guy who screams death to America every morning.

PRESS:  But forget them, Tucker, they‘re just wrong.

CARLSON:  But they‘re Americans and it bothers me.  Is it bothers me .

PRESS:  I learned a long time ago, Tucker, not all Americans are right about everything.

CARLSON:  I‘m often wrong about a lot of things but it just hacks me off when people attack the country.  I don‘t know.  I know I‘m wrong.  I‘m not being self-righteous.  But I think we should say that that is bad.  It is bad.

PRESS:  But we will survive Ahmadinejad‘s visit to New York.

STODDARD:  We will.

CARLSON:  He looked short and pathetic.

Have you heard about the infighting in Hillary Clinton‘s presidential campaign?  Of course you haven‘t heard about it.  Because the story about it was never published.  Hillary‘s campaign made “G.Q.” pull that story.  The question is, what else has been pulled that you never saw?

Plus a supporter is holding a $9.11 per person fund-raiser for Rudy Giuliani.  9/11, get it?  One Democrat calls it unconscionable, shameless, sickening, what does Rudy say?  We will tell you.  This is MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Do Hillary and Bill Clinton have enough power and influence to stop a major magazine from running an unflattering story.  Well, apparently they do.

The men‘s magazine “G.Q.” was ready to go with the story about the infighting in the Clinton campaign, and then the Clintons leaned on “G.Q.”, threatening if the story was published, the magazine would have no more access to the former president, Bill Clinton.  Which is worse for the Hillary Clinton campaign?  An article about her campaign or the exposure that her campaign plays tough, nasty hardball politics with the Fourth Estate?

Here to discuss it is associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard and nationally syndicated radio show host Bill Press.  OK.  So this piece written by Josh Green, a friend of this show, good guy.

The irony in all this is Josh Green earlier this year wrote this 1,300 word piece for the “Atlantic” on Hillary Clinton‘s tenure in the Senate, which was, I thought, as someone who will not vote for Hillary, nuanced, smart, basically pro-Hillary and the Clinton campaign took it as a hit job on Hillary Clinton.

STODDARD:  I read the piece.  It was last November or October.

CARLSON:  It was a smart piece.

STODDARD:  And it was.  And it was very thorough and I think she took

she doesn‘t like the fact that he said her Senate record was thin and there was a great quote in there which reminded me of Sunday.  He says, something like, Hillary Clinton, the her time in the senate was—she was there to refurbish her image.  That she has plenty to talk about but not much to say.

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly .

STODDARD:  And I don‘t think they liked that kind of thing.

CARLSON:  They didn‘t but the piece was hardly a hit job.

STODDARD:  But we don‘t know what he was doing on this piece, which is the piece that they pulled.

CARLSON:  But apparently they were mad about that piece.  My question is if they are mad about that piece, if someone wrote that piece about me, would I do some serious soul searching but I would not be mad at it.  It really wasn‘t unfair.

STODDARD:  The last time I checked, you‘re not Hillary Clinton.

CARLSON:  I‘m not Hillary Clinton and that‘s the point.

STODDARD:  I don‘t think it‘s bad for her.

CARLSON:  This is someone who cannot deal with criticism, who lives in this tiny, sealed world and has kind of us versus them worldview.

PRESS:  Let‘s slow down.  Here‘s what happened.  They hear there‘s a piece coming out in “G.Q.” they are not going to like.  They put the pressure on “G.Q.”  They use big Bill as their stick.  And “G.Q.” kills the piece.  You know what I think?  Good for Hillary Clinton.  It shows that campaign is tough as nails.

STODDARD:  I agree.  She is Tony Soprano.  And I think ..

CARLSON:  She‘s tough?  She went to Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta from the “New York Times” wrote a biography as if they were somehow right wing crazes, as if they were Bob Terrell or some lunatic from the “American Spectator”?  They are not.

PRESS:  What campaign has not tried to kill a bad story?  You tell me one.  There is not one.  This White House tries to kill stories all the time.  Sometimes they succeed.  Sometimes they don‘t.  There have been other articles about in-fighting inside the Clinton campaign.  But this one just shows they play hardball.

CARLSON:  I don‘t know where it‘s run.  I get 30 magazines at home every month and I‘ve never read a real piece about infighting in the Clinton campaign.

STODDARD:  I think this is .

CARLSON:  But what about “G.Q.”?

STODDARD:  The more things that happen that make everybody are scared of them, the better for them.

CARLSON:  OK.  Sure.  You have been in press your whole adult life.  Don‘t think you ever had a job outside of journalism.  Right?  Not an insult.  But merely a fact.

Tell me what you think—And I have written for “G.Q.”  I‘m not attacking “G.Q.,” except I‘m a little blown away that Jim Nelson, the editor of this, would cave under the pressure of the Clinton administration.  We are going to take your cover shot away so we‘re not going to run a legitimate piece?  What is that?

STODDARD:  I would not want to be Jim Nelson today.  I don‘t know what to say about their decision.  But for her, if you combine Alan Greenspan making her husband the hero of his book in the same week with her healthcare rolling into this.  I‘m sorry.  I think it‘s great.  The invisibility (ph) thing is her best .

CARLSON:  But people attacked the Bush administration for managing the press and the press, and the timid lap dog press .

STODDARD:  No.  That‘s the rule from now on.  From now on White Houses will always manage the press.  That will never get back the other way.

CARLSON:  So that means all these lefty blowhards in the media, which means almost everyone in the media, is going to go along with this?  They‘re not going to complain about .

PRESS:  But here‘s what happened, Tucker.  There‘s no doubt “G.Q.” leaked this to “Politico” to make Hillary look bad but I think “G.Q.” ends up looking bad.  They look like a bunch of wimps.  They caved to the pressure and Hillary Clinton comes across looking strong and her campaign comes across looking tough and well-managed.

CARLSON:  But it‘s truth.  What‘s wrong with like letting out what is true and letting people judge?

PRESS:  I have to say something, who cares about in-fighting inside the of the Clinton campaign?  If Mandy Grunwald thinks one thing and Harold Wolfson thinks another, it‘s people like us in the Beltway that get our rocks off on this stuff.  It is boring.

CARLSON:  Really?

PRESS:  Yeah.

CARLSON:  So boring the Clinton campaign had to keep you from reading it.  I think I will judge whether it‘s boring or not.  I would like the opportunity to judge whether it‘s boring or not.  She doesn‘t want to give me the opportunity.  She‘s not about giving you the opportunity to make decisions.  She is about making those decisions for you.  You have to buy health care, buddy, because it‘s good for you.  If you don‘t like it, we will put you in jail.

PRESS:  Score one for Hillary.  That‘s what has you upset.  She won this round with “G.Q.” and you‘re upset about it.

CARLSON:  She is probably going to be president.  I‘m already upset about it.  I just hate bullies.

It‘s entirely possible Hillary Clinton could face Rudy Giuliani in the ‘08 presidential election and right now the battle lines are drawn between the Clintons and Giulianis.  But believe it or not, once upon a time long ago they were pals and we can prove it.

Plus President Bush says Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee.  But of course, she won‘t win the White House.  Why is he giving her advice about the Iraq War?  Ooh, irony.  You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for irony.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  In these days of feverish e-mail and instant messaging, texting and smiley faces made from punctuation marks, do you sometimes yearn for letters and signatures in cursive?  Well, witness early ‘90s pen pals, Bill Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, yes, actual letters between the pair have surfaced from that era when they worked on anti-crime measures like the assault weapons ban, the former president even began his letters with “Dear Rudy.”

Will this long lost partnership come back to haunt Giuliani?  Here again, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press.

We should say, Bill, each one of the letters on the back say, SWAK.  If you don‘t believe me, look at what these letters said.  Here‘s one from the former president to the former mayor.

“You can be proud of all of your efforts to promote this bill,” Bill said to Rudy after the anticrime bill in ‘94.  “Your hard work to make this victory for the American people.  Please accept the enclosed signing pen as a token of my appreciation and admiration.”

Well, here‘s what Rudy said to Bill Clinton.  This is 2004.  “Thank you for the signing pen.  I greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness and I look forward to continuing to work with you to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in New York City and across the nation.”

I don‘t know why I said 2004.  It was 1994.  In any case, they were obviously in love.  Is this a problem for Giuliani?

PRESS:  Is this a problem?  That is not the last time you are going to see those letters.  I predict you will see those letters in campaign ads of Fred Thompson against Rudy Giuliani.

CARLSON:  Just to refresh.  For those who have been not been thinking about 1994 all day, what do you think Clinton‘s approval rating was in 1994?  It wasn‘t Bush level but it was low.  It was a bad year to be Bill Clinton, remember?

PRESS:  Yes, absolutely.

CARLSON:  That was the year the Republicans took back Congress.  So Rudy Giuliani was like one of nine republicans in America who would talk to Clinton.

PRESS:  You know, Tucker, someday Republicans will wake up and realize that Rudy Giuliani is a Democrat.  He is pro-choice, he‘s pro-gun control, right?  Pro-gay rights and now he is pro-Bill Clinton.

STODDARD:  I disagree.

CARLSON:  But wait.  There are a lot of Democrats who love abortion and executing people.  That‘s basically—I like to execute people.  Clinton was running on executing retarded people and because of that, the idea was he is tough—it‘s true!  Ricky Ray Rector.  He‘s tough on crime, he‘s not so liberal.  That‘s kind of the way .

STODDARD:  Tucker, if we can just get back for a second.

CARLSON:  I‘m sorry.

STODDARD:  The letter .

CARLSON:  Did he execute a retarded guy or not?  Yes he did.

STODDARD:  The letters really, whether you are mayor of New York, New York or New Lebanon, New York, when the president of the United States thanks for help on the crime bill, you write back and say thank you for the pen.  You do.  You always do.  If you want to hold any public office in the future, it‘s doesn‘t matter.  And it‘s not surprising that Bill Clinton would be reaching out to liberal Republicans, either.  If you‘re Rudy Giuliani you have to write back.

CARLSON:  You‘re totally right, of course .

STODDARD:  I really liked our conversation when we stayed up playing poker .

CARLSON:  If Ahmadinejad wrote me a note, because I had good manners, I would always write back, sincerely yours, T. Carlson.  However, this comports with what we already think about Rudy Giuliani.  As bill just said, the guy is very liberal.

PRESS:  Here‘s the point.  He‘s in front of the NRA last Friday saying I‘m a Second Amendment guy.  I agree with you on everything.  And the fact is, he‘s not.  He‘s a handgun control guy.  Which I agree with him, by the way.  He‘s an assault weapons control guy.  But this just proves what he said to the NRA is a lie and that will hurt him.

CARLSON:  But why wouldn‘t you vote for Rudy Giuliani as a lefty?  Why wouldn‘t you cast a vote for Rudy.

PRESS:  Because I think he‘s phony about 9/11.

CARLSON:  Is he phonier than Hillary Clinton?  Let‘s be real.

PRESS:  Yes, yes.

CARLSON:  If he switched parties—you would vote for him.  Easy.

PRESS:  No, I would vote for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or John Edwards, any of the Democrats over Rudy Giuliani.  But I do think he‘s more of a Democrat than a Republican.  And he‘s hiding behind 9/11 and thinking that everybody will forgive all of this other lefty stuff because he‘s tough on security.  That‘s what his campaign is all about.

CARLSON:  And mad about obscene art.  That‘s the other thing.  Really, that was kind of the way that a lot of conservatives began to respect Giuliani because he took a stand for decency.  The other guy was throwing elephant dung at the Virgin Mary.

STODDARD:  I don‘t think he lied to the NRA.  He said, I wasn‘t with you then.  I‘m trying to be with you now and this is why.  And look, if he‘s nominated, it‘s because of the two words, strict constructionist.  He‘s found a way to say, you don‘t have to agree with me.  Because I‘m going to get these judges.  And some people, according to the polls, are buying it.  Republican voters.

CARLSON:  A lot of people are buying it.  What would you say the odds are now that Rudy Giuliani is the Republican nominee?

PRESS:  I really am starting to believe—I thought last week if you would asked me, I would have said Mitt Romney.  This week I believe this Giuliani kind of kabuki dance is going to work.  I really do.  I think he is going to be the nominee.

CARLSON:  If you have not seen Giuliani speak, you should know—this is not just about 9/11.  I‘m not speculating up in New York.  The guy is a great speaker.  He absolutely is.  And you have to be a great speaker to be president, with this current president an anomaly in history.

PRESS:  Republicans want to win so badly, I think they are going to decide he‘s their only shot and go for him and hold their nose.

CARLSON:  We will find out.  It will change the party forever.

Elizabeth Edwards takes aim at Hillary Clinton yet again.  The question is, who is running against Hillary, Elizabeth or that guy she‘s married to?

Plus a man takes a 25,000 mile motorcycle ride from California to South America but his trips turns into a nightmare.  We‘ve got the story on him just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Provocative details of Bill Salmon‘s new book, “The Evangelical President,” continued to leak today.  After learning yesterday that President Bush believes Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee next year, readers of Mr. Salmon‘s column learned today that the president has been quietly advising Democratic presidential contenders about their Iraq policy.  Through his aides, Salmon reports, the president has counseled Hillary Clinton, among other leading Democrats, not to box themselves in with promises of a complete troop withdrawal. 

According to the White House, anyway, Democrats have been receptive to that message.  Surprised?  Joining us again, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, all-around great guy Bill Press.  A.B., you have to wonder, if it‘s not true, as far as I know as of 6:33 p.m. Eastern time, no Democratic campaign has come out denying that it has received advice from the president or denying that, you know, they listened to that advise. 

I believe this, do you? 

STODDARD:  The way this town works—I mean, the way advice has been going through channels and everything, it‘s not—I don‘t think it‘s exactly the way he‘s painting it.  I also think that he‘s just trying to—

CARLSON:  He being the president? 

STODDARD:  Just trying to stir up trouble.  Generally speaking about -

this is how I would advise them and everything.  He hears what she‘s saying.  She‘s primary campaign candidate one day.  She‘s general election candidate the next.  She straddles it on the war.  Many of his comments, he‘s right, to certain extent.  You know, run against the president, but don‘t box yourself in on the war. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  But does it mean that Josh Bolten is on the phone with her? 

I‘m not buying it. 

CARLSON:  Mrs. Clinton clearly has taken his advice, or maybe they just believe the same thing.  She was out this weekend on the Sunday shows saying, I‘m not going to withdraw all of the troops from Iraq.  We are going to keep a ton of people there to fight al Qaeda and protect our men and women at the U.S. embassy there. 

PRESS:  First of all, let‘s be honest.  Bill Salmon is trying to sell books.  There is nothing is wrong with that.  So I think he‘s really exaggerating what‘s going on here.  You have the impression—when I read the story in the examiner this morning, I thought oh, my god, George Bush is on the phone, saying hey Hillary, tone it down a little bit.  No, I mean, he‘s trying to get messages to them saying, don‘t get too far out on the limb, because you may want to continue this war.  Don‘t get too far out on the limb about Gitmo, because you may need Gitmo to hold your prisoners. 

I think it shows how clueless George Bush is.  They don‘t want that advice and the American people don‘t want that advice. 

CARLSON:  Of course they want that advice.  No responsible Democrat—the two Democrats that have an actual shot at becoming president, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, both have taken basically responsible stands on the Iraq war.  They are not calling for a full withdrawal and they never will. 

PRESS:  But there‘s a difference between ending the war and calling for full withdrawal. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  If we have troops in Iraq fighting al Qaeda, and she‘s said that‘s what we will have under her as president, how is that the end of the war?  There‘s still a war going on. 

PRESS:  I think everybody has said realistically that bringing the troops home is their goal.  But it‘s going to take time.  You cannot—except for Dennis Kucinich, everybody else says you can‘t bring them home overnight.  That is not George Bush‘s war policy.  If he thinks they are going to continue his war policy, he is nuts.  He makes Ahmadinejad look sane. 

CARLSON:  Obviously, they are, you know, pursuing a different strategy than the president.  But they are not ending the war.  Let‘s be totally honest about it.  It‘s more lying from politicians.  They all lie and they are lying now.  I am going to end the war.  No, you‘re not.  They are not going to end the war. 

PRESS:  I disagree with you, Tucker.  I think they are.  I think they

CARLSON:  It depends how you define war.  But I define war as American troops in uniform firing on and being fired back at by bad guys.  That will still continue. 

PRESS:  But they are not going to do what they are doing now, which is basically providing security for the Iraqi people at street corners and going door to door—

CARLSON:  I absolutely hope not.  Very quickly, the Giuliani campaign is disavowing the apparently attempt by one of its supporters to start a fund-raiser, $9.11 per person.  The Giuliani campaign has implied we knew nothing about this.  I wonder, is this even—could this possibly be kind of a setup? 

STODDARD:  To help him look like he‘s disgusted? 

CARLSON:  No, to help him look like he‘s taking advantage of 9/11. 

Using it as a political prop. 

STODDARD:  No, this is sort of my defend Rudy Giuliani day. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  It‘s been a long time.  I really just think that until we know that his campaign advised them to use this little catchy theme, we should take him as his word. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I tend to kind of agree with that.  I have been beating up on him.  Very quickly, I want to know, Elizabeth Edwards—basically, John Edwards, I don‘t know, moved to the Bahamas or something.  She‘s taken over the campaign.  Here‘s what she said about Hillary Clinton.  I think we have it in a graphic on the screen, talking about the health care battle of ‘93, “it failed when the Clinton administration pulled this, when they said we‘re not going to use any more political capitol on this, on the fight for universal health care.  They lost the fight in 1993.  They pulled out because they wanted to use their political capital to get NAFTA passes as opposed to universal health care.”

There‘s some truth in that, by the way, but why is it Elizabeth Edwards who is telling the hard truths about Hillary Clinton and not Barack Obama or her husband John Edwards? 

PRESS:  I think this is starting to look silly, to tell the truth. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

PRESS:  I have to tell you, the Clintons should have stayed with health care.  They had the right issue, in my judgment.  So there‘s a little bit of truth there.  But the fact that they pulled out doesn‘t mean they did that because they wanted NAFTA.  And I think here‘s what John Edwards I think has to understand, that now he had—the only health care plan for a long time.  Now Hillary‘s got one, now Barack Obama has one, now Bill Richardson has one. 

He‘s got to get another issue on top of that, and I don‘t think he can continue to send Elizabeth out as the attack dog. 

CARLSON:  I agree.  It‘s like next time I have a salary negotiation here at MSNBC, I am just going to send my wife in, you know what I mean?  She can be the heavy for me. 

PRESS:  Better yet, send in Elizabeth Edwards. 

CARLSON:  I would be making a lot more, thank you very much. 

STODDARD:  He can‘t stop her. 

CARLSON:  You‘re right.  He can‘t stop her.  We are out of time. 

Thank you both so much.  A.B., Bill, I appreciate it. 

Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson is under attack from one of the nation‘s most influential evangelical leaders.  In an email, James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, said this, quote, isn‘t Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a constitutional amendment to protect marriage?  Believe there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won‘t talk at all about what he believes and can‘t speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?  He has no passion, no zeal, no apparent want to.  And yet he is apparently the great hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians?  Not for me, my brothers, not for me.”

End quote.  Does Dobson speak for all evangelicals?  Richard Land joins us now.  He‘s the president of the Southern Baptist Convention‘s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Mr. Land, thanks a lot for joining us.  I appreciate it. 

RICHARD LAND, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION:  Sure. 

CARLSON:  What do you make of that.  I‘m not attacking Mr. Dobson.  It seemed a disproportionate attack on Fred Thompson.  What do you think precipitated that? 

LAND:  I don‘t know.  I have a phone call in to Dr. Dobson to ask him that very question.  Look, I have tremendous respect and admiration for Dr.  Dobson and what he has done for our country.  But I found it to be, I guess, unfortunate, considering the fact that he‘s never met the senator.  I do have Dobson at a disadvantage there, in that Senator Thompson was my senator for eight years, since I love in Tennessee.  And, you know, Dobson is entitled to his opinion. 

We are all entitled to our opinions and we are entitled to, you know, criticize who we want to criticize.  The thing that concerned me the most was that he seemed to equate Thompson not going to church regularly with Thompson‘s belief and Thompson‘s claim to be a Christian.  And I think—as a Baptist minister, would I like Thompson to go to church every Sunday?  I would like for him to go to a Baptist church every Sunday. 

But Ronald Reagan did not go to church regularly either.  I think we have to be careful about challenging the faith of people who don‘t meet our standards for church attendance.  I think that‘s just unnecessarily harsh. 

CARLSON:  I agree.  And it‘s also personal.  You can‘t know someone else‘s heart, in the end.  John McCain, by the way, is now a Baptist, no longer an Episcopalian.  Are you going to support him now? 

LAND:  I don‘t endorse candidates.  I actually have known that Senator McCain had been going to a Southern Baptist Church for a good while in Phoenix.  But I do not endorse candidates as a matter of policy.  But I‘m always happy when people go to church and particularly happy when they go to Baptist churches. 

CARLSON:  Fred Thompson lobbied on behalf of a legalized abortion group, so-called abortions right group.  He said it didn‘t amount to much, but he did it.  Does that bother you? 

LAND:  It actually doesn‘t.  It‘s one reason why I‘m not a lawyer, because lawyers are supposed to represent clients and make sure they get the best legal—

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  He was not acting as lawyer.  He was acting as a   lobbyist. 

LAND:  It was a law firm, Tucker.  The law firm assigned him to do that task.  He did it.  But look, here‘s a man with a sterling voting record on pro-life issues.  Here‘s a man who has said—I have heard him say it with my only ears, I have always been pro-life, but it‘s personal with me now.  I have seen the sonograms of my two young children.  I have no questions about where his loyalties are when it comes to the pro-life issue.  He sent a strong message to the National Right-to-Life Convention this past June, saying that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. 

I don‘t have any question about where Senator Thompson is on that issue. 

CARLSON:  Interesting.  Finally, if you were Thompson and you wanted to, really needed to win over Evangelicals, conservative Christians to your cause, what‘s the one thing you would say to convince people you were on their side? 

LAND:  Well, I would keep talking about what my core values are and my core beliefs and my core convictions.  The one thing I would tell Senator Thompson is, don‘t go any farther than you feel comfortable with talking about your personal faith.  Because people can sense when you‘re comfortable and when you‘re not comfortable.  And if I were Senator Thompson, I would just say, be transparent, be as real and as genuine as you can be, and then see if that is the kind of candidate that Evangelical voters want. 

CARLSON:  I think that is great advice.  Mr. Land, I really appreciate you joining us.  Thank you. 

LAND:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  He went to hell and back and he lived to tell about it, unlike most.  Up next, we talk to an American adventurer who survived week after week of torture at the hands of south American terrorists.  A fascinating story. 

And call them crouching tiger, hidden burglar. two Ninja thieves make a quick get away.  Was that really a (INAUDIBLE).  Chief Ninja expert Willie Geist may have the answer and a better pronunciation.  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Imagine this—you sell everything you own, hop on your motorcycle in California and head south all the way to the tip of South America.  Everything is going well until you get to Colombia.  At that point, you are kidnapped by members of the National Liberation Army and tortured for weeks.  Glen Heggstad could never predict that could happen to him but it did happen to him.  He‘s still alive, amazingly.  He joins us now with his amazing and heroic story.  Glen, thanks for coming on. 

GLEN HEGGSTAD, SURVIVOR:  Thanks for having me, Tucker.  How are you all doing today? 

CARLSON:  I‘m great.  Give me the circumstances.  I‘m always interested, what is the moment you know you‘re in deep trouble?  What happened? 

HEGGSTAD:  I had made it down through Mexico and central America and

air freighted into Bogota.  I was on my way to Medellin.  It‘s a series of

the road is a series of switchbacks and hairpin turns and the rebels had set up a blockade there.  Maybe one vehicle per hour goes through and they stop and see if you look worthy of grabbing.   

CARLSON:  What did they say?  You pull through?  When did you know that they were going to grab you? 

HEGGSTAD:  I had to slow down to a crawl to get through.  And all of a sudden I see the rebels, and they are all pointing, probably 20, 30, 40 of them, I don‘t know.  They were off in the jungle.  They all had AK-47s and they leveled them at me and told me to get off the bike.  At that point, I knew I was in trouble.  I didn‘t really know who they were at the time.  I didn‘t have any way to identify them. 

I didn‘t know if they were bandits or what.  Once they heard me speak my broken Spanish with an American accent, they realized they hit the jackpot and scored a gringo. 

CARLSON:  Did you think you were going to get out of there? 

HEGGSTAD:  No.  It was hard to say.  In the beginning, it was a matter of focusing on staying alive day to day.  Toward the end, it was basically stay alive minute to minute. 

CARLSON:  What was the challenge of staying alive? 

HEGGSTAD:  Well, they were marching me every day.  We would go higher into the mountains.  It was like eight, ten hours march.  They gave me a cup of rice in the morning and a cup of rice in the evening.  By the time I was out of there, I went from 220 to 170.  And I was in shape when I went in.  So they peeled off 50 pounds of beef off me.  I discovered later that‘s their way of controlling you, is to basically just take you to the edge of starvation. 

CARLSON:  How did you get out? 

HEGGSTAD:  Well, in the end it was a matter of sabotaging my own health.  I had told them all along I was trying to make myself appear as worthless as possible to them.  They would interrogate me every night, ask me about family, friends.  I said, I have no friends, I live alone.  They said every man has a woman.  I said I have no women.  I have prostate cancer.  I‘m dying of prostate cancer. 

I figured if I told them that, that I was going to die, at least that would establish a timetable or time frame for them to relate to that they have to do something with me one way or another, or I was going to die on them.  Now assuming I had some value as a foreigner, as hostage for them, either for negotiation, money or some type of political gesture.  But dead I had no value. 

CARLSON:  Did the U.S. government come to your aid in the end? 

HEGGSTAD:  No, they didn‘t.  And I would say their particular strategy at that point was a good strategy, was to keep quiet.  They pulled my website down at the time and everything was quiet.  What these guys do, they are professionals.  They have a political wing inside the cities and they go on the Internet to see what kind of disturbance is going on in the Internet or the international media.  And had there been headlines around the world that this American had been taken prisoner, then they would have assumed that I was an important person and then they start ransoms at five million dollars. 

So that was one good thing the FBI did.  On the other hand, now they are refusing to give me a report on it.  And I tried to get it through them, Freedom of Information Act, appeal it.  It was denied.  I appealed through Mary Bono.  She tried.  She couldn‘t get it and recently Dianne Feinstein.  So we want to get the Bush administration to shake lose that report.  It‘s a matter of closure.  I would like to know exactly what the FBI did during this. 

We do know they spent probably more time than necessary investigating me and my friends than they did looking for me. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I don‘t imagine anybody has ever dealt with the DMV is surprised at all of that.  But there‘s so much more to your story.  I wish we had an hour-long show to get into it more.  But luckily, you can see the rest tonight on the National Geographic Channel, “Locked Up Abroad:

Colombia,” 9:00 Eastern and Pacific.  This is Glen‘s entire story.  It will be shown there.  Glen, thanks a lot for coming on.  I really appreciate it. 

HEGGSTAD:  Thanks for having me on. 

CARLSON:  Thanks and congratulations. 

Bill Clinton wants you to join him on his couch.  Don‘t call the cops just yet.  It‘s just part of a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton.  Willie Geist tells us what it will cost you to spend an evening on a love seat with the former president.  That story and more when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  No matter what you have seen for the last 55 minutes, you should know it‘s OK now.  Willie Geist is here.  Willie? 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, how is it you would like me to follow up that previous guest?  I was riding my dirt bike once when some guys beat me up and took my lunch money. 

CARLSON:  Exactly.  I ran into a parked car on my way to the store once. 

GEIST:  That‘s as tough as my life‘s been.  I hate to say it.  But I will be watching that show tonight.  What a cool story. 

CARLSON:  Cool guy, too. 

GEIST:  Tucker, how do you know when it‘s time to draw the line in the relentless criticism of Katie Couric?  When Miss USA feels compelled to pile on.  Rachel Smith, who famously fell on her can during the evening gown portion of this year‘s Miss Universe competition, tells the “New York Daily News” that she wants to get into journalism but only the serious kind, not the Katie Couric kind. 

Miss USA said, quote, “I always wanted to be a reporter, maybe some TV.  I just don‘t want to end up like Katie Couric.  I want people to take me seriously.”  Again, this from the woman who wiped out while coming in fifth place at a beauty pageant run by Donald Trump, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  You know what, most people in journalism are arrogant, but not that arrogant. 

GEIST:  No. 

CARLSON:  She‘s too arrogant even for journalism.  Let me just defend Katie Couric.  Katie Couric, whatever you think, trust me, I know, she is no worse than a lot of people who are getting a lot less criticism. 

GEIST:  She‘s much better actually. 

CARLSON:  Back me up here.  OK, good.

GEIST:  She‘s much better, actually.  And Miss USA does not get to enter this conversation.  This is where it ends right here.  Let‘s say right now, now that Miss USA‘s weighed in, it‘s over. 

CARLSON:  I never thought I would be standing up for Katie Couric, but I am in a heartfelt way.  Lay off Katie Couric. 

GEIST:  Yes, I just can‘t figure out what she ever did to me.  So --  

CARLSON:  I don‘t like it when there‘s someone who everybody pounds on.  I know from personal experience. 

GEIST:  That‘s why you‘re such a great defender of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. 

CARLSON:  I know what it feels like to be unpopular. 

GEIST:  That‘s not true, Tucker.  Come here, you.  Just when I had written off the modern American bandit as the kind of idiot who covers his head in duct tape to hold up a liquor store, we get a promising story like this one.  Two people dressed cleverly as Ninjas robbed a gas station in Pennsylvania the other night.  The suspect, both believed to be women, came fully equipped with samurai swords and daggers. 

The Ninjas did not just come for the cash.  As you can see in the surveillance video, they also took cigarettes and, yes, scratch-off Lottery tickets.  Hey, you never know.  The Ninjas have not yet been arrested, mostly because Ninjas are anonymous and invisible.  Ninjas do not get caught, as you know, Tucker. 

I was upset, as you know—we had the guy with the mop on his head, the guy who wore a branch over his head during a bank robbery.  But it looks like there may still be hope for bank robbers. 

CARLSON:  I give you the same quiz every time we have one of these people stealing smokes.  What brand of cigarette was it, Willie? 

GEIST:  Safe to say it was a menthol cigarette, I‘m guessing. 

CARLSON:  I‘m guessing Newports. 

GEIST:  Good call.  Probably Newport 100s.  Last year at this time, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was at the U.N. in New York calling President Bush the devil.  Chavez didn‘t make it to the General Assembly this year because he‘s busy back home launching a film studio.  Unhappy with what he calls the dictatorship of Hollywood, Chavez now has bank rolled a state run movie company that is certain to put out movies that are much more objective and completely propaganda free. 

He met yesterday in Caracas with actor Kevin Spacey.  And Danny Glover is set to co-star in the studio‘s first release.  Tucker, we have said it before and I will say it again, if you‘re starring in Hugo Chavez‘s first release, your career is in serious trouble, Danny Glover. 

CARLSON:  As your agent, I would not recommend that. 

GEIST:  Finally, Tucker, because he loves his wife so much and because he so desperately wants her to be the next president of the United States, Bill Clinton is going to spend some private time alone on a couch with complete strangers.  In a new fund-raising approach for Hillary Clinton‘s campaign, you can win the chance to watch a Democratic debate with Bill Clinton.  The former president said, quote, we will sit down in and front of a big TV with a big bowl of chips and watch the debate and talk about the race.

If you enter before the Sunday midnight deadline, you and a guest could be the ones to sit down with me to watch a he presidential debate.  Don‘t forget to send your measurements and an eight by 10 glossy along with your contribution.  He didn‘t say that part, but creative campaigning here, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I never liked Clinton but I have got to admit, he probably would be fun to watch a debate with. 

GEIST:  Absolutely.  Just be careful.  That‘s all.

CARLSON:  Yes.  I‘m not giving to her campaign though.  Willie Geist, thanks.  For more on Willie, you can check out his Zeit Geist video blog at ZEITGEIST.MSNBC.com.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  We‘ll be back tomorrow.  See you then.

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

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