updated 10/12/2007 11:58:38 AM ET 2007-10-12T15:58:38

Guests: John Keller, A.B. Stoddard, Dan Gerstein, George Radanovich

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, “HARDBALL”:  Right now, it‘s time for Tucker.

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  The fight for the Republican presidential nomination has gone straight to the bedrock of the party, Christian conservatives.  And the combatants are naming names.

Welcome to the show. 

Despite the often-stated theory that Mitt Romney‘s Mormon faith will alienate evangelical Christians, the “New York Times” reports this morning that the Romney campaign has the support of a crucial player in the world of so-called values voters. 

His name is Mark DeMoss.  He‘s a well-known publicity agent, and he‘s written a letter to 150 evangelical leaders, urging them to back Mitt Romney for president.  The reason?  DeMoss writes that Christians cannot allow the presidency to fall to either Rudy Giuliani or to Hillary Clinton. 

Is Romney right for the religious right?  Wasn‘t that supposed to be Fred Thompson‘s role?  In a moment, we‘ll ask one of the country‘s leading Mitt Romney authorities those questions. 

Then there are tremors on the Democratic landscape, as well, today.  The Al Gore—waits by the phone for his Nobel Peace Prize call.  The “draft Al Gore” organization got a write-up, also, in the “Times” today. 

With Hillary Clinton running ahead of her potential Republican rivals in all the polls, the Democratic Party can‘t seem to stand imminent success.  From the likelihood of Gore‘s run to the rationale behind the movement to draft him, we‘ll examine the latest gush of love for the Democrats‘ shadow candidate. 

And the shadow president emeritus, Jimmy Carter, has a new book to hawk, and his sales tour has included several attacks on the Bush administration, Vice President Dick Cheney specifically. 

Mr. Cheney‘s wife, Lynne, has a book of her own to sell, and her tour included a response to Mr. Carter.  We‘ll bring the latest on all that.

We begin tonight with Mitt Romney‘s outreach to evangelical America. 

Joining us now is the author of “The Bluest State: How Democrats Created the Massachusetts Blueprint for American Political Disaster”.  John Keller joins us. 

John, thanks for coming on. 

JOHN KELLER, AUTHOR, “THE BLUEST STATE”:  Good evening.  Thanks for having me. 

CARLSON:  So what‘s the truth?  Did Romney govern as a conservative, a moderate, a liberal when he was governor of Massachusetts?

KELLER:  Well, you can‘t get away with governing as a conservative he

re in Massachusetts.  You‘ll be ridden out of town on a rail with the

citizens with pitch forks and—and tar chasing after you. 

So of course he governed as a relative moderate.  He only ripped off his outer mask and revealed this inner conservative that was lurking behind when he decided to run for president about halfway through his term. 

CARLSON:  But, I mean, did he consistently buck the—the natural tide in Massachusetts, which moves to the left, as he was governor?  I mean, did he stand up and, if not, you know, make right-wing noises, at least try and stop the inevitable liberal creep of the state‘s politics?

KELLER:  He stood up as best he could on the core hot-button issues of taxation, of governmental reform.  He stood up against the president of the U. Mass system, who was refusing to testify in a congressional hearing into his gangster brother. 

He tried to reform the way state government operates.  He tried to rein in the runaway cost of the Big Dig, the world‘s biggest and most wasteful public works project.  And he fought to try to keep taxes in line. 

But he also approved hundreds of millions of dollars in fee hikes and the closing of corporate tax loopholes.  He functioned as kind of a can-do, try-to-get-things-done governor, which didn‘t always lend itself to the ideological extremes he‘s playing with now in this presidential race. 

CARLSON:  Well, much of the talk about Romney concerns his religion.  I want to play a sound bite—doubtless you‘ve seen it.  It‘s from the president‘s former counselor, Dan Bartlett, in a speech to the Chamber of Commerce.  Here‘s what he says about Romney‘s faith.  Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN BARTLETT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR:  I think the Mormon issue is a real problem in the south.  It‘s a real problem in other parts of the country, but people are not going to say it.  People are not going to step out and say I have a problem with Romney because he‘s Mormon.  But they‘re going to say he‘s a flip-flopper. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Now, if—evangelicals are out of step with Mormons or vice versa, it strikes me that, you know, Cambridge agnostics will be even more out of step with Mormons.  Was his religion an issue when he was governor of Massachusetts?

KELLER:  Well, Tucker, let‘s go back to 1994 when Romney ran against Ted Kennedy here in Massachusetts, one of the most heavily Catholic states in the country.  And the Kennedy campaign demonized his Mormonism very effectively.  That really hurt him. 

Flash forward, eight years later.  Voters knew him better.  They weren‘t as freaked out by the prospect of this alien being, and his Mormonism wasn‘t an issue. 

He doesn‘t have that kind of lead time to play with here.  That‘s why you see him flogging the character testimony that his wife, his marriage, and his family make.  He‘s trying to put that front and center to try to ease concerns about what is a Mormon and also to ease concerns about some of his flagrant, shall we say, situational ethics in his transition on certain issues like abortion and gay marriage.  So...

CARLSON:  Transition—transition is a nice way to put it.  But back up just a second to something you just said.  Ted Kennedy attacked the man on his religion?  I wasn‘t aware of that. 

KELLER:  Well, oh, yes.  He had his surrogates do it.  His nephew Joe, a congressman back then, start talking about how, you know, Mormons don‘t like black people and so forth. 

It was very effective.  Romney dropped in the polls when they started all of that stuff. 

Romney came out and said, “How dare you do that after what they did to John Kennedy in the run up to the 1960 election?” 

And, you know, there are a lot of people around Romney, as you know, Tucker, who think he needs to make a speech, the same way John F. Kennedy did back in 1960. 

CARLSON:  You know, I‘m not a Romney supporter particularly, but what a bunch of sleaze balls to do something like that, particularly the Kennedys.  And we lionize them, particularly on this channel, the Kennedys.  I don‘t know.  It‘s almost—it defies belief that they would attack the man‘s religion.  I mean, that‘s disgusting, considering what they went through as Catholics. 

KELLER:  Yes.  In Massachusetts, politics is a contact sport.  And anybody who thought that the Kennedys, when it came time to win reelection, walked around with halos on, sorry to have to disabuse of you that notion.  No halos here. 

CARLSON:  It‘s pretty outrageous, nevertheless.

Finally, Romney, if you look at the numbers, is doing well in New Hampshire.  And the conventional explanation is he‘s from the state next door, Massachusetts.  And a lot of former Massachusetts residents who‘d escaped to New Hampshire for tax reasons.

But New Hampshire is a pretty conservative state, it seems to me, even now.  Why are they supporting Romney?  Does that suggest he‘s a real conservative, or they believe he is?

KELLER:  He‘s worked it very hard.  He‘s been up there more than any other Republican.  He‘s poured millions of dollars into early advertising up there.  That helps.

You know, there‘s a big myth about New Hampshire that, you know, they look under the hood; they kick the tires.  That‘s all well and good.  The fact is most voters get their information from paid ads and TV news. 

He‘s got a leg up there.  He has to pray, however, that all of the independents go into the Democratic primary to vote for Obama or Hillary or whatever they‘re going to do there, because if they come rushing into the Republican primary and vote for Giuliani, he‘s got problems. 

CARLSON:  All right.  John Keller, thanks a lot.  That was interesting.  I appreciate it. 

KELLER:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Al Gore will find out tomorrow if he‘s a Nobel Peace Prize winner.  If he does win, will that change his mind about running for president?  A lot of Democrats hope it will.

Plus, Rudy Giuliani has criticized Hillary and Bill Clinton on the campaign trail.  Why is one of his own aides comparing him to Bill Clinton?  We have the answer.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  If Al Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize tomorrow, and he may, will he run for president? 

Well, this year alone his global warming film, “An Inconvenient Truth”, won an Oscar.  His cable network, Current TV, won an Emmy.  His supporters feel there‘s just too much momentum to pass it up. 

Yesterday a group called Draft Gore ran a full-page ad in “The New York Times”, begging the former vice president to run. 

All this as a high court in London says it found nine, quote, “scientific errors” in Gore‘s film and wants lesson plans to be more balanced before that film is shown to English schoolchildren. 

Joining us now for an assessment, associate editor of “The Hill”, A.B.  Stoddard, and Democratic strategist and founder of the political blog, Dangerous Thoughts, Dangerous Dan Gerstein.

Welcome to you both. 

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  Thanks, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Interesting.  This “draft Gore” movement, I don‘t think it will amount to anything, but it suggests, A.B., that there are Democrats out there who really worry that Mrs. Clinton can‘t be elected. 

STODDARD:  Yes.  There are.  And I think what‘s interesting...

CARLSON:  I think Republicans assume she can be elected. 

STODDARD:  The Clinton camp has tried to convince—I mean, quietly all year, convince the media that—that the other—the second-tier candidates, Edwards, Dodd, Biden, Richardson, Obama included now in the second tier, no longer a front-runner...

CARLSON:  Yes. 

STODDARD:  That their supporters will go to Clinton, that they‘re not anti-Clinton candidates. 

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  In the event that their candidate goes down, they‘re going to go to Hillary Clinton. 

But I think there still is a real healthy portion of the Democratic primary electorate that fears that she will become polarizing, that some issue will be caught up and tripped up in a general campaign. 

And Al Gore, something about—you know, he‘s sort of become a martyr, and people really love him more than they did in 2000. 

CARLSON:  I think that‘s it, Dan.  You forget that there are 300 million people in this country, and a lot of them, you know, are not well-adjusted.  And there are lot of people out there that really believe he is the president.  He‘s the rightful president.  He won in 2000. 

How sad is that, must it be to live with that frustration, the belief that a coup took place and there‘s nothing you can do about it?

DAN GERSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I think there is something to do about it.  And to A.B.‘s point, I think it‘s a measure of what a masterful job the Clinton campaign has done in managing expectations and framing her as a consensus candidate who can win, that there is such a small amount of people who are clamoring for Al Gore. 

I mean, he is a heavyweight.  He would be the most formidable candidate in the race.  He‘s clearly the most qualified to be commander in chief.  Yet he is giving every signal that he doesn‘t want to run, because he doesn‘t want to conflict with Mrs. Clinton.  I don‘t think there‘s going to be any ripple effect from this...

CARLSON:  Who he clearly doesn‘t love.  I mean, clearly.  No one is going to—no one is going to...

STODDARD:  He‘s not getting endorsements.

CARLSON:  That‘s the thing.  See, I don‘t think endorsements matter so much.  I do think an Al Gore endorsement would be significant to Barack Obama.  If he came out and said, “I‘m not going to run for president.” 

And by the way, he hasn‘t categorically said that he would not accept the nomination, but I don‘t think he‘s going to run.  Why would he?  It‘s too late anyway. 

But if he came out and said, “I‘m throwing my weight, considerable weight, behind Barack Obama,” what would that mean?

STODDARD:  It didn‘t do enough for Howard Dean.  But I think...

CARLSON:  No, it didn‘t. 

STODDARD:  But I think that for Barack Obama it might be a different story. 

Barack Obama really needs—it would depend on when it happened.  I think his time is running out.  But I‘m serious about that.  I mean, I think that it would have to collide with other things that built enough momentum. 

And he has to build—he has to jump in more, and he has to contrast himself more with Senator Clinton.  I think if everything continues as it has all along and the Barack Obama campaign stayed the same, even an Al Gore endorsement, I don‘t think it could stop her. 

CARLSON:  Hillary hasn‘t really made any mistakes, sizable mistakes so far.  And people—the press has been pretty nice to her, pretty respectful.  The other Democrats have basically kissed up to her.  You‘ve got to think that‘s got to end at some point soon. 

Gore‘s movie, Dan, was declared by a Labor Party judge—not some right-wing judge but a Labor guy—in Great Britain to be partly political propaganda.  His prediction, for instance, the seas are going to rise by 20 feet in—you know, soon, in coming years was found to be, correctly, ridiculous. 

Is there a consensus in this country that it‘s part politics, this film?  Or is it taken as a piece of science?

GERSTEIN:  I think it‘s advocacy.  He‘s trying to change people‘s minds.  Scientists—the scientific consensus has already decided this question.  There‘s degrees of difference in terms of how much, you know, human activity is contributing to global warming, but there is global warming, and humans are contributing to it. 

CARLSON:  Right.

GERSTEIN:  And there is—it‘s a major problem. 

CARLSON:  There‘s not consensus on what we can do about it, as far as I can tell.

GERSTEIN:  Well, that‘s obviously true, but I think this is completely meaningless in terms of affecting public opinion in the United States.  This is a subtle question. 

CARLSON:  It‘s totally meaningful, however, because the argument against the Bush administration has been they are subverting science because they‘re snake handlers; they‘re crazy, religious people.  They‘re Christians. 

GERSTEIN:  No credibility to talk about...

CARLSON:  Wait a second.  You can‘t—once you start playing around with science and presenting yourself as a scientist weighing in on scientific issues, you can‘t kind of get it right.  You can‘t make, you know, extrapolations from fact. 

GERSTEIN:  But Al Gore‘s not presenting himself. 

CARLSON:  Yes, he is.

GERSTEIN:  He‘s presenting himself as an advocate.

CARLSON:  He says it‘s hard science.  If you disagree, you‘re getting money from the coal industry.  I‘ve heard him say it. 

GERSTEIN:  He may be saying the science is sound, but he is an advocate.  He‘s not trying to pass himself off as...

CARLSON:  He‘s passing his opinions off.  I‘ve watched the guy.  Keith Olbermann did an interview where he said it.  Donny Deutsch did.  I watched them both, and he was, like, “If you disagree, you are immoral.  You‘re taking money from big business.  This is science, buddy.” 

STODDARD:  I agree with Dan.  He was an advocate.  He‘s trying to create urgency and he‘s trying to alarm.  So if the judge rules that this is alarmist and it‘s not exactly true, I don‘t know that Al Gore so much cares.  I mean, I think his movie is meant to prompt change and to scare the pants off these people. 

CARLSON:  It has—I guess I‘m struck by the religious quality of the debate.  It‘s like you‘re not allowed to ask questions.  If you ask questions about the degree to which human beings are responsible for global warming, you‘re considered some kind of whacko.  “That‘s not right.  You be quiet, buddy.  That‘s not—you know, that‘s illegal.” 

And if you ask questions about what we can do about it and is it worth it?  Should we spend our money, say, combating malaria or AIDS, as opposed to global warming, you‘re considered some kind of animal, a freak. 

GERSTEIN:  I agree with you.  Any time you‘re suppressing debate...

CARLSON:  Yes.  And they are suppressing debate. 

GERSTEIN:  Well, but I think part of the problem here is there‘s been such a long history on conservatives of denying the science at all that there‘s a natural counter reaction on the left...

CARLSON:  To deny science. 

GERSTEIN:  Not to deny science, but...

CARLSON:  They‘re saying you‘re not allowed to posit other theories or present your evidence.

GERSTEIN:  But guys like Senator Inhofe, with all due respect, who has been completely in denial about the science on this for years, he was the chairman of the environment—or was the chairman of the environment committee in the Senate. 

CARLSON:  So...

GERSTEIN:  To define the Republican position on global warming.

CARLSON:  But they‘re doing the same thing.  The Democrats are doing the same thing.  It is a matter of faith.  It‘s faith.  You‘re a better person if you drive a Prius.  They‘re religious whackos.  I‘m serious.  They live in my neighborhood.  I know.  You‘ve never met these people?  Of course you have.

GERSTEIN:  There‘s extremists on both sides.  I think what is...

CARLSON:  I‘ve never met the other extremists.  I don‘t live in Oklahoma.  Here, they‘re all on one side.

GERSTEIN:  The thing is here that in the Senate, there‘s a bipartisan consensus forming around my former boss, Senator Lieberman and John Warner, having a bill moving through the environment committee that has a real promise of passing and actually doing something about the problem in a way that is economically sensitive, which is obviously a concern and so a legitimate concern. 

CARLSON:  No, it‘s not.  I don‘t think it should be.  We should go back to, you know, living in the dirt.  We don‘t need electricity or oil.  You know that, Dan.  Are you some kind of corporate shill?  Come on. 

Rudy Giuliani and Bill Clinton, two peas in a pod?  You wouldn‘t think so.  But then, you‘re not a Giuliani campaign aide.  We‘ll tell you more. 

Plus, former president, Jimmy Carter, calls Dick Cheney a disaster and a militant, whatever that means.  Cheney‘s wife, meanwhile, tells MSNBC that Carter is predictable.  Who will launch the next attack?  Details on MSNBC next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Republican presidential hopefuls have been jockeying to be the next Ronald Reagan.  Rudy Giuliani in particular makes frequent mention of Reagan on the stump. 

But is Bill Clinton actually a better model for a potential Giuliani administration?  Well, that is the connection a top Giuliani aide made in his 2004 book, “Independent Nation”. 

If this is true, does it suggest that Giuliani could win next year, or will his Clintonian spirit kill off Republican voters?

We welcome back to answer that question associate editor of “The Hill”, A.B. Stoddard and Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein. 

A.B., this is a genuinely interesting question raised by John Avlon, who was a frequent guest on the show, really nice guy, smart guy, and author of this book on centrism, “Independent Nation”. 

But in the book, he quotes Giuliani as saying something interesting. 

I want to throw this up on the screen.  This is from the book. 

“Giuliani‘s independence and principled contempt for the extremes of right and left was put on display when he chose to give an address on tolerance that criticized both Patrick Buchanan and the Reverend Al Sharpton.” 

Now, it seems to me we can debate that all day.  And I actually know them both and like them both.  But according to GOP primary voters, Pat Buchanan is not the same as Al Sharpton.  But they don‘t see them the same way, on the Republican side.  Is that fair to say?

STODDARD:  Right, right.  We need to, you know, just get this out on the table.  And big Pat Buchanan fans...

CARLSON:  I love Pat Buchanan.

STODDARD:  You can‘t bust on Pat Buchanan. 

CARLSON:  I totally agree.  One of the most decent people.

STODDARD:  Rudy is in the doghouse with me. 

But, you know, he also has criticized—he was also critical of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson after—after their characterization of the cause of September 11.  And that‘s also...

CARLSON:  Right.  I think that‘s more in bounds.  What they said after 9/11 was pretty repulsive, I thought. 

STODDARD:  But these are—but these are people that he‘s courting for his presidential run. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  And—and, you know, this—it‘s not news that Rudy Giuliani is—is a centrist.  And I think he‘s going to run as one. 

But what‘s interesting is Hillary Clinton is now a—a newly-transformed liberal.  She‘s now a centrist, and she‘s running at one in the primary.  And she‘s going to, of course, going to be one in the general.  She‘s already started her general election campaign.

And Rudy is in a struggle to convince the Christian Coalition that he is really enough of—close enough to them, not going to do the wrong thing, not going to let them down, that he can secure the nomination when we all know he is going to run, should he run against Mrs. Clinton, as a centrist.  And they should not be fooled. 

CARLSON:  It‘s amazing.  You‘re a Democrat and you‘re kind of standing outside and looking in, so maybe your perspective—you may have a fresher perspective on this. 

Does it surprise you that evangelicals would choose Giuliani over, say, John McCain?  They hate John McCain, because they think he‘s liberal and anti-evangelical.  Rudy Giuliani is on the record slamming evangelicals, but they seem to kind of like him.  Why is that?

GERSTEIN:  I don‘t think he‘s on the record slamming evangelicals.  I think he‘s on the record slamming extremists. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But that‘s exactly why they hate McCain.  That‘s actually a very fair point.  No, you‘re absolutely right.  He‘s on the record slamming some of their self-appointed leaders.  And I‘m sorry I misspoke.  You‘re right. 

But that‘s exactly why they hate McCain, because he slammed those exact same leaders as, quote, “agents of intolerance” in 2000.  And they never forgave him, but they‘re forgiving Giuliani.  Why?

GERSTEIN:  A, because I don‘t think they‘re as familiar with his record when he said things like that.  But more importantly, I think it‘s largely because everything is relative here.  And it‘s not happening in a vacuum.

There‘s no solid social conservative in the race other than Huckabee, who‘s claiming the voters.  So they‘re all in play. 

And I think Rudy‘s trump card is terrorism.  And I think terrorism is the new communism.  Just like Ronald Reagan, who had been divorced and was not religious, somehow became a darling of social conservatives, in large part, because he appealed to something bigger, which was the threat of godless communism. 

And I think that is what Rudy is trying to do.  And I give him credit, because he‘s not trying to remake himself into something that he‘s not.  He‘s not doing what Romney is doing and pretending he‘s now pro-life. 

CARLSON:  Right.

GERSTEIN:  And—but he‘s saying, A, “I‘m the toughest guy around; I

can beat the terrorists.”  And—and “I can beat Hillary Clinton.”  Which

those two things are very important to a lot of conservatives. 

CARLSON:  That‘s what‘s—I‘ll give you 20 seconds.

STODDARD:  The interesting thing is Tony Perkins and James Dobson are mad at Rudy Giuliani, but he has courted the Falwell—the Falwell family, and he has courted Pat Robertson.  He called him a great leader at Regent University.  So it‘s—it‘s not as simple as it appears. 

CARLSON:  No, it‘s not.  And we‘re going to find out who the truly principled leaders of the evangelical political world are.  We‘re going to find out, because they‘re going to stick by their beliefs.  And if they‘re not represented, they‘re going to go third party.  Those are the ones who really believe what they say.

The ones who only did it because they want to support the guy in power, those are the ones who are going to support Giuliani, in my view. 

Jimmy Carter is a former president, a self-styled humanitarian, a Nobel Peace Prize winner.  Why is he declaring war on Vice President Dick Cheney?  We‘ll tell you. 

Plus, Barack Obama has a ton of charisma.  He can certainly draw a crowd.  But is he too cool for his own good?  Would it help him to get hot and bothered once in a while in public?  We‘ll answer that question, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  He‘s been a disaster for our country.  I think he‘s been overly persuasive on President George Bush and quite often he‘s prevailed.  It was one of his main commitments—was to go into Iraq under false pretenses, and he still maintains that those false pretenses are accurate.  He‘s a militant who avoided any service of his own in the military. 

LYNN CHENEY, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY:  Jimmy Carter is so predictable.  He brings out a book and he makes a fuss.  He‘s done it this year by, you know, criticizing the administration and calling Dick names. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  It‘s no surprise that former President Jimmy Carter has unkind words for President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their foreign fallacy.  As Lynn Cheney pointed out this morning with Joe Scarborough, Mr.  Carter has a book to sell and has never been shy to criticize the Bush administration. 

A quick programming note, by the way, Jimmy Carter will be a guest in the 8:00 a.m. hour of “MORNING JOE” tomorrow morning.  Tune in.  You can see our own Willie Geist, doing a great job, by the way. 

Was there anything to be learned or gained from Mr. Carter‘s latest round of critiques?  Do his words aid the anti-war movement, or do they hurt his own credibility?  Back to tell us, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein.

Dan, you know, calling the Bush administration the worst administration on foreign policy in history, you hear that a lot.  For Jimmy Carter to say that strikes me as—it takes a lot of chutzpah to say something like that if you‘re Jimmy Carter. 

GERSTEIN:  Yes, I have to say, I‘m in this awkward position, because I pretty much agree with everything President Carter said.  I just think he‘s the wrong person to say it.  I think there‘s been a strong tradition in this country of not having one—a former president take that kind of line against a current administration.  I think it has ripple effects in weakening presidential authority. 

And, again, I feel strange because I think he‘s right and I think Democrats should be saying this.  But I think there‘s a way for President Carter to express it without it being so personal and that, kind of, you know, vehemence.

CARLSON:  To what extent do you believe this is about Israel?  The Bush administration, whatever you think, has been as close aligned with Israel as any administration since 1948.  Jimmy Carter is, in some sense, an enemy of Israel, or is a harsh critic of Israel and its policies.  Is he annoyed by the Bush administration‘s stand on Israel?  Is this what this is about? 

GERSTEIN:  No, I think it‘s really unfair to say that, because Bill Clinton was a great friend of Israel and a strong supporter of Israel and Jimmy Carter never said those things about President Clinton. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  He caused a lot of problems for Clinton. 

GERSTEIN:  He may have caused some problems, but he didn‘t call him a disaster or—

CARLSON:  No, he didn‘t.  What do you think of this charge, A.B., that Dick Cheney didn‘t serve in the military?  Well, I don‘t know.  Neither did Barack Obama.  Neither did Hillary Clinton.  She could have volunteered for Vietnam.  What is this, this new idea that if you didn‘t serve, if you weren‘t a warrior for your country, you‘re not allowed to talk about foreign policy?  I don‘t know.  It kind of makes me want to vomit, honestly. 

STODDARD:  Well, it‘s really unpresidential, obviously, these comments.  I think when you want to pick on someone, you pick on whatever is considered a vulnerability, so that‘s his thing that he wants to criticize Dick Cheney on. 

CARLSON:  I‘ve heard it ten times in the last month.  Oh, they didn‘t serve.  Talk about a bunch of chicken hawks on the left; if you didn‘t serve in Vietnam, you‘re not man enough to lead the country?  Is that the new standard? 

STODDARD:  I mean, I don‘t agree. 

CARLSON:  It just infuriates me.  It‘s so unfair. 

STODDARD:  Jimmy Carter has been having coffee with Anne Coulter and learned how to sell books.  Maybe it‘s going to work for him.  But obviously there is an expectation in this country that former presidents are not going to talk this way and not going to do this.  He‘s trying to appeal to the left wing of the Democratic party and some people outside of the left wing of the Democratic party, a growing body of people who are very concerned that Dick Cheney is a madman, that he had his hand in the Israeli attack on Syria September 6th, that he‘s going to have a hand in provoking Iran through another attack, and that he‘s stirring his cauldron over there in some secret bunker. 

CARLSON:  They believe that.  Just for a guy who pardoned draft dodgers and people who ran away to Canada to criticize Dick Cheney for not serving is absolutely—it seems to be a bit much.  I want to get your take on something Barack Obama said.  I‘m always nice to Barack Obama on the show because I kind of like to guy.  But I want you to make sense of what this means.  This is an Obama op-ed—it came out today—on Iran. 

This is what he had to say; “there is no doubt that Iran poses a threat,” says Barack Obama.  “It has armed terrorists beyond its borders.  It maintains an elicit nuclear program.  Its leaders have issued belligerent threats.  But our first and most important avenue to contain aggression from Iran is to try the tough and direct diplomacy this administration has too often disdained.  Instead of encouraging that diplomacy, an amendment passed last month by the Senate that could be used by Bush as justification to strike Iran.” 

So it seems to me he‘s saying Iran is scary.  We‘ve got to keep them under control, but we‘ve got to never threaten to hurt them.  How can you negotiate with a country if you take force off the table? 

GERSTEIN:  I agree that assessment.  I think Obama is making a big mistake here.  He‘s trying to out-flank Hillary Clinton with the anti-war crowd.  He‘s saying this is the one area where I can draw contrasts and I can really attack her.  The anti-war crowd has already made up its mind.  There‘s a portion of the Democratic electorate that‘s going with Obama and Edwards and, to a certain extent, Richardson, because they‘re the hardest anti-war, anti-hawks.  And they don‘t think Hillary Clinton is acceptable. 

The rest of the Democratic party has sort of said, she‘s against the war.  She‘s committed to ending it.  She‘s voted for a timeline.  She‘s passed muster.  To keep going back to this and re-litigate why we went to war and who was against it from the beginning I think is not going to break into her—

CARLSON:  This is about Iran.  I think this speaks to a widespread, though seldom remarked upon, paranoia in the Democratic ranks, among ordinary activist Democrats, that we‘re planning some sort of sneak attack on Iran.  I know a lot of people in my neighborhood who seem to believe that. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  I‘m serious.  You‘re walking your dog at night; are we going to attack Iran?  I always say, I don‘t know.  I don‘t think we are.  We‘re not attacking Iran.  What is this?  They think we are, don‘t they? 

STODDARD:  Listen.  I‘m going to start what I‘m going to say by saying this blank check thing is going to work for him.  If anything works, this you can‘t trust George Bush with a blank check thing—it works with those voters.  It will maybe work with undecided voters who are between Obama and Clinton.  It actually might. 

John Edwards picked up on this at the debate, not Barack Obama.  And now he‘s stolen this from John Edwards.  He did not vote against that Iran thing.  And the other problem for him is that his senior senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, who voted against the 2002 resolution to use force in Iraq, voted with Hillary Clinton for the Iran resolution. 

GERSTEIN:  As well as 20 other Democrats. 

STODDARD:  So Barack Obama has a real problem.  Has he explained why he wasn‘t there to vote for this resolution? 

CARLSON:  Just like he wasn‘t in the Illinois state Senate in tough vote after tough vote.  He took a pass and voted neither yeah nor they—

You get my point. 

Quickly, Dan, am I missing—and be as honest as you can.  My impression of what is happening now vis a vis Iran is the Bush administration wants to keep a veiled threat on the table because without that nobody pays attention to what you‘re saying.  But we actually don‘t think we can take military against Iran right now.  I don‘t think we‘re planning that, are we? 

GERSTEIN:  No, I don‘t think we are either.  But I have to say, I disagree with Obama.  I think this is a losing tactic.  But I think what he‘s speaking to is very real, which is the incredible level of distrust, not just among the Democratic primary electorate, but broadly speaking the American people of this administration when it comes to foreign policy. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t trust them.  I don‘t trust them at all.  I agree. 

GERSTEIN:  It‘s even a case when they‘re pursuing arguably the right policies that there‘s still this suspicion that there‘s a conspiracy behind it.  And it‘s the secrecy and the arrogance of this administration that‘s fueling this. 

CARLSON:  But you don‘t have to be—I guess my problems with the Democrats—I agree with you.  I think there‘s a lot of reasons not to trust this administration on foreign policy or spending.  I agree completely.  However, that doesn‘t mean that they are hatching a conspiracy necessarily.  I mean, you‘ve got to kind of exercise self-control and not become a conspiracy nut, because you only make yourself look ridiculous when you do that.  And yet a lot of Democrats seem in the thrall of these conspiracies. 

STODDARD:  Even when you try to do the right thing, if you have no credibility left, you‘re going to fuel speculation that—people become paranoid. 

CARLSON:  It‘s sad to see rational people come to these crazy conclusions.  Very quickly, we‘re about to interview a Congressman on this in just a minute.  But the House, led by Democrats, intent on calling the killing of these Armenian Christians right around the time of First World War by the Turks genocide.  It‘s infuriated the Turks.  I‘m willing to believe it was genocide.  But by calling it genocide, we alienate a pretty important Muslim ally.  What‘s in it for us?  Why do we need to call it genocide? 

GERSTEIN:  I think it‘s the right thing to do.  I support the resolution.  I think the tragedy of this is that, to a certain extent, this could have been avoided if there had been any kind of bipartisanship in Washington and any kind of willingness to put aside some of the differences on Iraq and sort of say, OK, we have to do this.  How can we manage our relationships with the Turks.

CARLSON:  Why do we have to do it?  I don‘t understand.  Why?  it‘s an interesting academic question.  But it infuriates an ally we need.  What is it in for us?  Seriously. 

GERSTEIN:  It‘s sort of the same thing about, you know, should we not condemn slavery?  There‘s certain moral actions that demand—

CARLSON:  But it‘s already over. 

GERSTEIN:  It is over, but—

STODDARD:  Timing is everything in politics.  This is the problem.  And Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, said there‘s never a right time.  They want to be the anti-genocide party.  Darfur, Rwanda, bad things are happening.  They want to put their foot down.  But once this blew up, and as Dan is right, it never would have had they consulted with the White House and closely with the other party, once it blew up, now they‘re in a political pickle, and admittedly they will not bring it up next week, because they really want to showcase their FISA reauthorization and they don‘t want this -- 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  It must really give you headaches at the end of the day. 

Thank you both very much.  I appreciate it. 

Well, a vote in Congress mortally offends one of our most vital Muslim allies.  Congressional moralizing might make us feel better.  But at what cost?

Later, Willie Geist goes to great lengths to bring us the news every day from far, wide, and deep underwater.  It‘s the news beyond the news and it‘s coming up next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Congress is getting set to take on genocide.  Not the genocide that‘s been taking place on and off for the past several decades in Africa, but killings of Armenian Christians at the hands of the Turks that took place around the time of the First World War.  Almost nobody denies that those killings took place.  They did.  And yet the symbolic resolution, which describes them as genocide, has inflamed relations with Turkey, a key ally in the Iraq war effort. 

The White House says this resolution could put American soldiers at risk.  And yet backers of the bill, mostly Democrats, plow forward.  Joining me now is a Republican supporter of that resolution, Congressman George Radanovich of California.  Congressman, thanks for coming on. 

REP. GEORGE RADANOVICH ®, CALIFORNIA:  Tucker, good to be here, thanks. 

CARLSON:  Now this seems like a moral statement, almost a kind of moral preening or exhibitionism.  It may be right, but it seems to be playing out against our own interests internationally.  Why are we doing this? 

RADANOVICH:  Tucker, the genocide happened in 1950.  It‘s historical record that it was genocide.  And what I would do is put to you that when Hitler began to invade Poland in 1939, when people raised objections about public reaction to what he was doing, he said who raised objections to the massacre of the Armenians in Turkey?  And I think the important point to note is that genocide has existed throughout the beginning of the last century, all the way up until now. 

Had people stood up then, things like the holocaust may not have happened and we‘d have a stronger reaction in Darfur of what‘s going on there today. 

CARLSON:  You may be right.  I‘m not claiming that it wasn‘t genocide.  Frankly, it sounds like genocide to me.  I‘m not taking the Turk‘s side in this.  I‘m merely saying it‘s over.  We can‘t undo it.  And Hitler, by the way, died in 1945.  That‘s over, too.  It may feel good to describe it as genocide.  Here‘s the flip side; it infuriates the Turks.  We need access to their airspace, to their border crossing, to their military bases.  We may lose those things if we call it genocide.  So why don‘t we just—I mean, why are we doing this?  It is hurting us. 

RADANOVICH:  In some ways we‘re doing this to benefit the Turks.  They themselves want to become a member of the European Union.  And they‘re being turned down for the lack of recognition of some of their—the things that they do in their country.  One of the reasons, Tucker, is because they failed to recognize a genocide that didn‘t happen by the current Turkish government, but by an old Ottoman empire almost 90 years ago. 

In many ways we‘re doing Turkey a favor because they want to be a part of the west. 

CARLSON:  Oh, come on, Congressman. 

RADANOVICH:  Let me finish.  We‘re doing this as a favor, in some ways, to Turkey because they want to be a part of the west. 

CARLSON:  OK, but this is the kind of favor that, you know, you don‘t want done for you.  They hate this.  It‘s humiliating to them.  They‘re our friends.  We need them as our friends.  We‘re sticking our finger in their eye and you know it.  And we‘re doing it because there are a lot of Armenians in this country that are still mad.  I understand why they are still mad. 

This is interest group politics.  They‘re pushing American politicians to do something to address a historical wrong, but it‘s hurting America. 

RADANOVICH:  Well, Tucker, what I will say is that we occupy their base at Incirlik, which would be in northeast Turkey right now.  The American ambassador said we need Turkey.  Turkey needs us there as much as we need to be there, number one. 

And number two, the Turkish government is not going to be doing anything to resent this.  This is a resolution by the House.  This is the House opinion on what occurred 90 years ago in a different country.  The Turks should not take this personally.  It was the Ottoman empire.

CARLSON:  Just because we‘re accusing them of genocide, but don‘t take it personally.  I guess my bottom line question is what does this have to do with us?  OK, this is something that took place in Europe two generations ago.  Why—why are we getting involved in this?  Don‘t we have enough problems? 

RADANOVICH:  Because I think the—genocide is such a scourge on humanity that we ought to be confronting anywhere in the world to try to prevent it from ever happening again, in the Holocaust, in World War II, in Cambodia, in Darfur today.  The world needs to stand up and say, we can‘t allow this kind of stuff to go on in a civilized world.  And I think it‘s important to recognize it during the times that it happened, much the way that Congress recognized the Japanese comfort woman and the situation that happened back then. 

CARLSON:  If the Turks—very quickly, if the Turkish parliament or the Turkish people voted on a referendum to condemn America‘s treatment of American Indians and called it genocide, I think you and I and every other American would say, hey, pal, buzz off.  You know what I mean?  I personally had nothing to do with that.  Why are you criticizing us?  That‘s an attack on us.  Why wouldn‘t they take it the same way? 

RADANOVICH:  You know what I would do, Tucker, is recognize that that country as a sovereign country has a right to debate those issues and recognize those things around the world.  I mean, I would not see a problem if Turkey debated and passed a resolution like that.  And you know what, we wouldn‘t be pulling out of Incirlik if they did that. 

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s because we‘re not insecure because we‘re the most powerful country in the world.  But other countries look at us—we make them feel insecure and they take what we say personally.  And you know that to be true. 

Here‘s the bottom line.  Nobody who is responsible for those killings in Turkey is still alive.  So why are we attacking people—basically we‘re attacking a country in which the culprits are already gone.  Why don‘t we just leave it alone? 

RADANOVICH:  Well, what I would tell you, Tucker, is that Turkey is acclimated toward the west and they want to be a part of the European Community.  This issue is keeping it from happening.  They need to address it.  They need to not take it personally.  It‘s the old Ottoman empire.  They need to put it behind them.  I mean, these things don‘t go away just because people are dead. 

CARLSON:  Wait a second.  If it‘s the old Ottoman empire, then why does it have current relevance?  I mean, you‘re already saying that—

RADANOVICH:  Ask the Turks that.  Ask the Turks that. 

CARLSON:  I thought we condemn this every April anyway.  Congress under pressure from the Armenian lobby condemns these killings every April and has for some time, if I understand that correctly. 

RADANOVICH:  Not as genocide, Tucker.  But what I will say is the Turkish government spends millions and millions of dollars to erase the record so that it will never get recognized as genocide.  The world community itself has already recognized that this is a genocide.  And god bless Turkey, but they‘re trying to erase it from their past and pretend like it never happened.  And that makes the problem more urgent to recognize. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Congressman, you are certainly a vigorous and articulate proponent of your point of view.  And I appreciate you coming on. 

RADANOVICH:  Tucker, take care.

CARLSON:  We all know Donald Trump is in the business of making dreams come true.  Well, he did it again this week when he gave an interview to his biggest fan, Willie Geist.  Willie comes back to earth long enough to share some of that interview, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Joining us now, fresh from his meeting with Donald J. Trump, we are proud to welcome Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Am I beaming?  Am I glowing, Tucker? 

CARLSON:  Yes, you look like a different man, Willie.

GEIST:  Does it show?  I‘m going to get to Donald in a second, Tucker.  But if the Congressman thinks that genocide is a scourge on the world, he hasn‘t been paying close enough attention to Britney Spears.  She‘s back in court today.  She wanted to get custody of her kids.  Here‘s a picture of her car, not so much of her. 

But what she ended up with was one night of supervised overnight visits with her children.  That‘s it.  That‘s as good as Britney is going to get.  The rest of the time K-Fed gets them.  It‘s kind of all down hill from Paris Hilton with those court room shots, isn‘t it?  It‘s kind of lame.

CARLSON:  It kind of is.  It‘s all that extended—

GEIST:  Yes, that‘s exactly what I was thinking.  Well, Tucker, all the Nobel Prize talk this week centering, of course, around Al Gore.  But a new Nobel celebrity was born today.  Author Doris Lessing was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature this morning.  The 88 year old Lessing has written dozens of books, mostly novels.  Now, everyone knows what a life-affirming honor it is to win a Nobel Prize, right? 

Well, everyone but Doris Lessing.  This was Lessing‘s reaction when a group of reporters broke the news to her outside her home in north London. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DORIS LESSING, NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE:  Why are you photographing me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re photographing you.  Have you heard the news? 

LESSING:  No.

LESSING:  You‘ve won the Nobel Prize for literature.  How do you feel? 

LESSING:  This has been going on for 30 years (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  Overwhelmed with joy, not impressed.  Tucker, she went on to say, quote, I can‘t say I‘m overwhelmed with surprise.  I‘m 88 years old and they can‘t give the Nobel to somebody who‘s dead.  So I think they were thinking they had probably better give it to me now before I popped off.  And then she was reminded of the 1.5 million dollar prize that comes with the Nobel.  She says she can already imagine all the people who are going to come begging to her for money.  I love that woman. 

CARLSON:  The Brits are an excitable people, aren‘t they? 

GEIST:  There‘s jaded and then there‘s that woman.  That‘s unbelievable.  Speaking of Brits, Tucker, that we love, Mr—or Sir Richard Branson, the founder of all things Virgin and not one prone to subtle marketing, jumped off the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas last night to promote his new Virgin America Airlines. 

Decked out in a tux, Branson leapt 40 stories while connected to a rappelling line.  He smacked against the side of the hotel, ripping his pants and injuring himself slightly.  Branson was promoting the launch of Virgin American‘s San Francisco/Las Vegas route and I guess he got his promotion, one way or another. 

He also, Tucker, wore a priest‘s outfit and conducted Vegas-style weddings on the flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas.  So good for him.  You‘ve got to give him credit for trying. 

CARLSON:  It‘s pretty amusing, and I do. 

GEIST:  He is.  He‘s good.  All right, Tucker, now let‘s get to the moment we‘ve all been waiting for.  As you know, I try to be an objective journalist who asks equally tough questions of people on both sides of the aisle.  But I‘ve made no secret over the years of my weakness for Donald J.  Trump.  It‘s been our policy on this show to defend Mr. Trump regardless of circumstance. 

Well, in what historians will one day look back on as the peak moment of my life, I got the chance to interview the Donald on yesterday‘s “MORNING JOE” program.  The conversation inevitably steered toward Rosie O‘Donnell.  And I think we made a little news when Trump told us what Rosie did to the cake at his wedding. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  I‘ve never quite seen the appeal—I know you haven‘t either

of Rosie O‘Donnell. 

DONALD TRUMP, “THE APPRENTICE”:  I don‘t get it.  I don‘t get it.  I know her very well.  She came to my wedding, not as my guest, as somebody else‘s guest.  And I got extremely angry because the birthday cake was wiped out.  She wiped it out. 

She is a total disaster.  I mean, I know her well.  I know her as well as anybody probably knows her.  She‘s a nasty, mean woman.  She‘s a real disaster.  And she‘s not a very smart person.  I will tell you that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  That was just a portion of the interview.  I didn‘t know that about her having destroyed the wedding cake.  That‘s very interesting. 

CARLSON:  That‘s so good. 

GEIST:  He just won‘t let it go.  I have to say I baited him a little bit. 

CARLSON:  Of course you baited them.  Actually, he was probably on there to sell something, and you went right to Rosie.  Didn‘t you?

GEIST:  Well, he was selling his new reality show, where he has beauty pageant contestants living together.  Let‘s see what happens.  Got to love him. 

CARLSON:  I hope that‘s on our network.  So great. 

GEIST:  It should be. 

CARLSON:  Willie Geist, a dream fulfilled.  Thanks a lot, Willie. 

GEIST:  All right, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Well, for more of Willie—and I know you want more.  We all do—check out Zeit Geist, his video blog.  It‘s at ZeitGeist.MSNBC.com.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.  We‘re live from Los Angeles tomorrow.  Join us then.  Have a great night.

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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