updated 10/24/2007 1:25:33 PM ET 2007-10-24T17:25:33

Guest: Liz Cheney, Eugene Robinson, Bob Franken, David Adams

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Plenty of political news today, and we‘ll get to it in just a minute. 

But we begin with an update of the wildfires raging throughout southern California.  More than a dozen fires, fueled by powerful, dry Santa Ana winds from the east, have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres from Santa Barbara, south through San Diego County.  The fires have claimed at least one life in San Diego.  Two hundred and fifty thousand residents reportedly have evacuated their homes, at least 100,000 acres have burned so far. 

Joining us now from Rancho Bernardo is Chris Chan of NBC station KNSD.

Chris, what‘s happening where you are? 

CHRIS, REPORTER, KNSD:  Good afternoon, Tucker. 

Well, Rancho Bernardo is about 30 minutes‘ drive north of downtown San Diego.  And it‘s one of the places that was hit most hard by the driving winds and the flames that ripped through this area this morning. 

Now, the winds that you talked about, the 40-to-50-mile-an-hour winds, they‘re still happening and they‘re pushing the flames in several directions in San Diego.  Currently, we know that there are seven or eight individual fires.  You mentioned this earlier, 250,000 -- over 250,000 evacuated and over 100,000 acres burned just in San Diego in the past 24 hours. 

It started as just two fires yesterday and has spread to seven or eight individual fires.  And this is perhaps one of the largest fires in urban areas that we have seen in years.  People had been talking about the Cedar Fire that we had about three, four years ago, and this is—this is reaching those numbers as far as acres burned and the spread of the fire. 

CARLSON:  Amazing.  Chris Chan in Rancho Bernardo, San Diego County. 

Thanks a lot, Chris.

And now to another Chris, our own Chris Jansing, who is standing by live in Malibu, California, in Los Angeles.

Chris, are you there? 

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi.  How are you doing, Tucker? 

CARLSON:  Good.  What are you seeing? 

JANSING:  Well, I decided to get in the car.  I wanted to drive along the Pacific Coast Highway because I‘ve been a couple times earlier today, but I noticed as I was doing my live shots the winds were getting really—some of those gusts literally knocked me off a box that I was standing on to do my live shots.  And I did drive along and see a lot more emergency vehicles out there. 

They‘ve been getting a lot of reinforcements.  In fact, I first got into town yesterday, and they‘ve doubled the number of firefighters that they have.  But these guys are getting tired. 

I‘ll tell you, today I drove up to one of the canyons where the fires are burning, where they‘re under a mandatory evacuation order, and there were literally firefighters sleeping along the side of the streets.  They were just laid out on the pavement. 

One guy was standing watch over these multimillion-dollar homes.  One of the hillsides across from these homes was ablaze.  And he hadn‘t slept since 5:00 yesterday morning.  And it was about noontime today. 

So these guys are really working hard.  They‘re talking to folks in maybe Nevada and Arizona to get some reinforcements, because they‘ve got at least another day of this, maybe more—Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Wow.  Chris Jansing in Malibu.

Be careful.  Thanks, Chris. 

JANSING:  Sure. 

CARLSON:  We‘ll update you again on the California wildfires at the bottom of this hour. 

For now, we move to politics, where the Republican presidential contenders got a less let polite and, therefore, a lot more interesting at their debate last night.  On stage together in Orlando, Florida, the candidates continued to agree that Hillary Clinton should not be the next president of the United States.  But they also had words for one another. 

Bearing his teeth for the first time, former senator Fred Thompson let Rudy Giuliani have it.  Here‘s a sample. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED THOMPSON ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Mayor Giuliani believes in federal funding for abortion, he believe in sanctuary cities.  He is for gun control.  He supported Mario Cuomo, a liberal Democrats, against a Republican who‘s running for governor, then opposed the governor‘s tax cuts when he was there. 

So I just simply disagree with him on those issues.  And he sides with Hillary Clinton on each of those issues I just mentioned. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Ouch.  The debate concluded a weekend that saw the Republicans court the evangelical vote at the Values Voter Summit in Washington.  The Straw Poll of voters there put Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee in a virtual tie at the top, with Fred Thompson lagging well behind despite his anticipated appeal with social conservatives. 

Well, joining us now to talk about the race and Fred Thompson‘s place in it is Mr. Thompson‘s national co-chair, former State Department official, Liz Cheney.

Liz, thanks for coming on. 

LIZ CHENEY, FRED THOMPSON NATIONAL CO-CHAIR:  Thanks to you, Tucker. 

Great to be here. 

CARLSON:  So he just—he just let—he just let him have it, Giuliani have it.  He said what nobody has said to this point out loud, which is he‘s kind of a liberal. 

What got into Fred Thompson? 

CHENEY:  Well, I think you saw the real Fred Thompson.  I think, you know, he really very much laid out why he‘s the consistent conservative in this race and why he‘s the one who has a record that shows 100 percent pro-life voting record, always for cutting taxes, keeping them low.  And really beginning to distinguish himself from some of the other candidates on the stage, to demonstrate the kind of leadership and the kind of commitment to the issues that American voters really care about.

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m not attacking Giuliani, who I think is an impressive guy in some ways.  But everything that Senator Thompson said as far as I can tell is factually true.  He believes in sanctuary cities, he‘s for gun control, he supported Mario Cuomo, et cetera, et cetera.  Very liberal positions.

Why is he the front-runner in all these national polls of Republicans? 

CHENEY:  Well, you know, I think that Mayor Giuliani is a terrific American.  And I think that he served the state of New York very well after the 9/11 attacks.  And I think he‘s taken a strong position on national security.  And I think that it‘s an interesting race and you‘re seeing him stay where he is in some of the national polls because of his national security views. 

What Senator Thompson offers the voters in the Republican Party is that same position on national security in terms of making sure we‘re going to keep this country safe from future terrorist attacks, but also the conservative values voters can find somebody with whom they agree on key issues that matter to them—like the pro-life issues and spending issues. 

CARLSON:  Right.  And he has said, Thompson has said, “I had 100 percent pro-life voting record.  I‘m pro-life.”

There is this question of why he lobbied on behalf of a pro-choice group.  And I thought he struck the one false note last night when he said this by way of explaining.  He said, “I was a member of a firm, counsel to a large firm.  It was their client.  They asked me to do a little work on that account.  I made a few calls, and that was that.”

In other words, he kind of did it at the behest of his firm. 

You‘re a lawyer.  Would you work against your own conscience? 

CHENEY:  Well, I don‘t think that it‘s fair to describe it that way. 

I think, you know, Senator Thompson also pointed out last night, frankly, that Supreme Court Justice John Roberts had the same kind of a situation when he was up for confirmation in terms of being in a situation where you‘re in private practice with a firm, the partners in the firm ask you for some support on an issue. 

But as Senator Thompson pointed out, once he was in Congress he voted consistently against their issues.  And I think—but I think that what you‘ve got here, Tucker, is Planned Parenthood very much going after Senator Thompson, being angry about the extent to which he‘s voted against their issues, against their concerns, and not wanting to see him in the White House. 

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  It‘ not just Planned Parenthood.  I despise Planned Parenthood, and I‘m troubled by it.  And I—I mean, maybe I‘m na‹ve.

So you think it is common for lawyers to act on behalf of principles they strongly disagree with that undercut their own personal values.  That‘s like par? 

CHENEY:  Well, you know, I‘m not here to defend lawyers certainly. 

CARLSON:  Right.

CHENEY:  But I think that Senator Thompson laid out a very clear explanation for what seems to have been a couple of hours of work a long time ago.  And pointed people to what‘s important, which is that in contrast to the other front-runners in this race, he has consistently held the same view on abortion, he has consistently voted against efforts that would legalize abortion, that would make abortion easier for people to have access to. 

He‘s been consistently pro-life throughout his career, and I think that‘s the kind of thing you‘ll see when he‘s in the White House. 

CARLSON:  He was asked about No Child Left Behind, the educational legislation, kind of one of the centerpieces of the president‘s first term, I think it‘s fair to say.  He said, “Yeah, I did vote for it, and some of those critics who criticized that vote were right and some of us were wrong.”

Is no one going to defend Bush on anything at these debates? 

CHENEY:  Oh, I don‘t think that‘s fair at all.  I think that on No Child Left Behind, you know, you‘ve seen like in any large government program some difficulties with it. 

I think, for example, because there‘s no history test connected to No Child Left Behind, there‘s some argument that teachers teach more to sort of math and science and history gets left behind.  So I think that obviously there are some ways you can fix that program. 

But I think that in terms of defending George Bush, defending this administration, defending the importance, for example, of winning in Iraq and not cutting and running, as the Democrats would have us do, you‘ve seen Senator Thompson and others on the stage do that. 

CARLSON:  I missed that last night.  I think I‘ve missed—I think by implication a lot of what they say is a defense of the president‘s record.  But I haven‘t heard anybody say, you know what?  Everyone seems to dislike Bush these days, but I think he‘s kind of a decent guy doing a good job.  Nobody has said that. 

CHENEY:  Well, I don‘t think you were listening close enough, Tucker.  I think what you heard last night, for example, was a very strong defense of the Bush tax cuts from Senator Thompson and others on the stage, the extent to which they want to stand up and say, we can‘t let the Democrats roll these tax cuts back. 

Raising taxes on Americans now will hurt the middle class, will hurt small business owners.  What George Bush has done to cut taxes and keep this economy strong is something everybody stands behind. 

Similarly, in terms of the war on terror, I think that, you know, this administration has been effective at keeping America safe.  Now, we haven‘t been hit again in over six years.  And I think you‘ll see from Senator Thompson and others continued efforts to make sure that the next president has the tools that this president has needed to keep us safe. 

CARLSON:  Well, speaking of national security, here is a response that surprised me, and Thompson was not the only one to say this, by the way, but he did say it.  The question is, what do we do if Turkey sends troops into northern Iraq, into what the Kurds believe is Kurdistan?  And he says, “It‘s one of those situations where you‘ve got friends on both sides, built militarily and strategically, we have to understand Turkey‘s position.  I hope that they don‘t invade.”

You hope they don‘t invade?  A country we‘re responsible for, the only thriving part of that country, and Turkey invades it?  I mean, shouldn‘t we be telling the Turks, you can‘t invade? 

CHENEY:  Well, I think you‘ve got a very difficult situation with the PKK in northern Iraq...

CARLSON:  Right.

CHENEY:  ... operating across the border into Turkey.  And I think that there‘s an understandable response on the part of the Turks to say, you cannot attack across the border and kill Turkish soldiers.  Having said that, I think that we clearly need to urge, as we are diplomatically, that tensions be calmed here and that the sides speak to each other.

I would point out the real mistake in terms of Turkish policy over the course of the last week to 10 days was Speaker Pelosi attempting to bring the Armenian resolution to the floor. 

CARLSON:  Right.

CHENEY:  And doing it in a way in which, you know, as Charles Krauthammer suggested, it could be that there are number of Democrats in the House of Representatives who looked at that as potentially a back doorway to hurt the American war effort in Iraq. 

CARLSON:  Well, I think...

CHENEY:  Which I think is very serious.

CARLSON:  ... most reasonable people recognize that as a deranged effort that failed.  But I still—I‘ve still got to wonder why a candidate can‘t just stand up and say, no, our interests are in keeping Kurdistan, you know, peaceful and not having a war between two countries that is centered in a part of the country, again, that we‘re responsible for.  Why not just say to Turkey, our position is, you may not? 

CHENEY:  Well, I think that the United States of America works with its allies.  Turkey is clearly an important ally for us, as is Iraq, and saying you may not is not the way that we operate. 

We‘re not an imperial power, but we work very closely with these allies.  And clearly, behind the scenes, both in private and also in public, we‘ve been urging both sides in this matter to calm the situation.  I saw today that the Kurdish government has said that the PKK is going to call for a cease-fire.

CARLSON:  Right.

CHENEY:  So I hope that tensions will be calm. 

CARLSON:  But you think...

CHENEY:  But I think that...

CARLSON:  ... we would tolerate it if we do that?

CHENEY:  No.  I think that we hope very much that there will not be an escalation of tensions along that border. 

CARLSON:  All right.

Liz Cheney, thanks a lot for joining us.  I appreciate it.

CHENEY:  Thanks, Tucker.  Great to be here. 

CARLSON:  So who were the winners and the losers of the debate last night in Orlando?  We‘ll have our own debate coming up. 

Plus, Rudy Giuliani‘s personal life is subject once more of a debate. 

Chairman Charlie Rangel rips the Republican for extramarital affairs. 

Details in a minute.

You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Mike Huckabee called it a demolition derby.  And compared to prior debates, last night‘s Republican get-together in Orlando was indeed a smash ‘em up. 

Fred Thompson sliced and diced Rudy Giuliani for his liberal record as mayor of New York.  John McCain accused Mitt Romney of trying to fool voters about what he really believed.  And clearly McCain meant it.  And Romney responded by tearing into Hillary Clinton, wondering out loud if her presidency would amount to anything more than an internship, because she has no executive experience. 

Joining us now, Washington Post‘s Eugene Robinson and online columnist Bob Franken.

Welcome to you both. 

Holy smokes, Gene.  After—after Fred Thompson comes out there and he just basically lays it out—Giuliani is for sanctuary cities, for abortion, for gun control, he supported Mario Cuomo—I mean, it does make you take a step back and think, can the Republicans really nominate this guy?  Once you put that it way. 

EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Yes.  I mean, he made the case against Rudy pretty well...

CARLSON:  Yes.

ROBINSON:  ... in kind of his Arthur Branch voice as well.  I mean, you know, it was like “Law & Order”.

CARLSON:  Just lays it out in one paragraph.  Why has nobody done that so far? 

ROBINSON:  Well, nobody in the debates has done it...

CARLSON:  Yes, in the debates.

ROBINSON:  Right.  Maybe because—I don‘t know why.  I mean, you know, the case is there and it‘s obvious. 

Now, as he did point out, as Giuliani pointed out, you know, Fred has

his problems, too.  Mitt has his problems, too.  You know, there is nobody

I mean, Thompson is claiming to be the authentic conservative in the race.  Arguably, he might be, but the others, with the exception of Huckabee, who seems to be really moving up, by the way, another good performance from him, nobody else is purely authentic.  Rudy, least of all, I would say. 

CARLSON:  Everybody loves—I think Huckabee is this year‘s McCain. 

He is—it‘s unbelievable.  Everyone loves Mike Huckabee. 

BOB FRANKEN, ONLINE COLUMNIST :  A governor of Arkansas who has had to fight with his weight.  Come on?  It‘s never going to...

CARLSON:  Well, I think that‘s why the press loves him.

FRANKEN:  That‘s right.

CARLSON:  He‘s—it‘s the equivalent of Al Gore.  You know, if only he would run for president.  If he were to run for president, liberals would hate him, right? 

And so Mike Huckabee, you sort of know he‘s not going to be the nominee, so it‘s safe to talk about him that way.  John McCain, however, has kind of the opposite going, where nobody thinks he could become the nominee, but maybe he really can. 

He said something last night I thought very, very skillful and very witty, and the response was astounding.  He brought up the support for funding for a Woodstock-like museum.  Here‘s what he said, John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ),  PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  In case you missed it, a few days ago Senator Clinton tried to spend $1 million on the Woodstock Concert Museum.  Now, my friends, I wasn‘t there, I‘m sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event.  I was tied up at the time. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  You can‘t see in that clip, but he literally got a standing ovation at that.  Of course, he was literally tied up at the time in a tiger cage. 

I mean, that‘s kind of—you know, you look at that you think, well, why not McCain? 

FRANKEN:  Well, I‘ll tell you what‘s happening.  I think we‘ve gone with how many debates, 40, 50 debates?

CARLSON:  At least, yes.

FRANKEN:  So it seems.  And I think what‘s happened is, is that—well, I know why Fred Thompson, for instance, kept firing his staff.  He was looking for the person who could write the great sound bite. 

CARLSON:  Right.

FRANKEN:  And I think that that‘s what‘s happened with Thompson.  I certainly think it happened with McCain, who won the important sound bite of the night award with that one.  But I think that each of them did.  They got there to mix it up, try out their new material.  It was...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, they‘re looking better.  And I have to say, I‘m kind of slowly getting sold on the idea of Fred Thompson.  I hope he doesn‘t become ambitious or get all kinds of plans.  I like the idea of kind of laid back, maybe kind of lazy...

ROBINSON:  “You like me because I will be me”?  Is that the... 

CARLSON:  No, I like him because he doesn‘t have plans for what I should eat.  Hillary Clinton announced last week she wants to control what I eat for dinner, right?  And she‘s got a stick (ph) to make it come true. 

I don‘t think Fred Thompson cares what I have for dinner, and I like that about him. 

ROBINSON:  Well, yes, I like that about him, too.  I don‘t want anybody to care what I have for dinner.  But, you know, I‘m not sure Hillary is really staying up late at night worrying about what I eat. 

CARLSON:  But don‘t you want a candidate who is lacking in ambition for you?  I mean, don‘t you feel like, you know, your life is going kind of well, why do you want—who wants a presidential candidate with all kinds of plans for you and your family? 

ROBINSON:  I‘d like my president to have some ambition for something, for somebody. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know, I‘m kind of happy about that.  I liked Bush before God spoke to him and gave him ambition. 

FRANKEN:  I was going to say, I mean, the Democrats would have a three-word answer to that—George W. Bush. 

CARLSON:  No, but that was the beauty.  Bush, I thought, was a great president when he was kind of—when he was the C student guy.  He wasn‘t going to tangle in my affairs.  And then after 9/11 he got the word from God that there was this brave new world to be constructed in Mesopotamia, and it went downhill from there. 

FRANKEN:  You‘re talking about Vice President Cheney? 

CARLSON:  No, I‘m talking about—I‘m serious.  I mean, before Bush had all the plans he was a pretty solid character, wasn‘t he? 

FRANKEN:  I don‘t remember.  I was one of those who went to Woodstock. 

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  I hope—I hope Fred Thompson—stay lazy, Fred.  That would be my advice.  I honestly—I like it kind of like that.

All right.  We‘ll be right back. 

Charlie Rangel is supporting Hillary Clinton for president, so it‘s no surprise he‘s criticizing Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani.  But not on his credentials, on his personal life.  Is that out of bounds? 

We‘ll tell you.

Plus, at least a dozen wildfires burn out of control in southern California, more than a quarter million residents evacuating.  More than 100,000 acres burned.

We‘ll get update on what‘s happening in just a minute. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Congressman Charlie Rangel rips into Rudy Giuliani‘s personal life in this week‘s “New York Observer”.  Rangel and Giuliani have a longstanding adversarial relationship and Rangel is holding nothing back now.  He‘s now calling Giuliani a philanderer. 

Well, joining me now once again, we welcome The Washington Post‘s Eugene Robinson and online columnist Bob Franken. 

Bob, holy smokes.  Let‘s put the actual quote up here in case there are some out there who don‘t get the “New York Observer” at home. 

“Sons respect and admire their fathers, but they love their mothers against cheating God damn husbands.”

Well, I mean...

FRANKEN:  Don‘t you love nuance?

CARLSON:  There‘s not a lot of nuance there. 

FRANKEN:  No, there isn‘t.

CARLSON:  I guess what I think—I criticize Giuliani all the time.  I just spent two blocks criticizing him, totally criticize him.  I guess this implies that Charlie Rangel has never committed—we know that he‘s never committed adultery, ever.  And doesn‘t know anybody who has, because you couldn‘t say—I just think—let me just point out I‘m outraged by this.  I don‘t think you should attack Giuliani for philandering. 

FRANKEN:  Well, I mean, that‘s going to be an issue if he‘s the nominee.  It just is. 

It‘s going to be his relationship with his children, it‘s going to be an issue fair or not.  And the Democrats are not going to be—whoever the candidate is going to be—is not going to be out there taking the lead on this thing.  In fact, the candidate is going to deny it, a la the Hillary Clinton campaign. 

CARLSON:  This is the second time the Clinton campaign has had a surrogate attack Giuliani for... 

FRANKEN:  Well, first of all, we‘re assuming that it is the Clinton campaign having the surrogate.  I certainly suspect that. 

CARLSON:  I misspoke.  I don‘t—I‘m not saying that they sent Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, out or Rangel out, both of whom are kind of outspoken.  I‘m not saying that they sent them out.  I‘m saying both those guys are in—sometimes surrogates for Mrs. Clinton.  That‘s all I‘m saying. 

ROBINSON:  Yes.  I mean, you know, I would doubt very seriously that the campaign sent Charlie Rangel. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I agree with that.

ROBINSON:  I‘d like to say that Vilsack I‘m not so sure about.  But look, this is personal.  Charlie Rangel and Rudy Giuliani have a history going back to years in New York.  They don‘t like each other. 

CARLSON:  But do we want to go there?  Do we want to go there?  That‘s my only point. 

Like, you cheated on your wife.  No, you cheated on your wife.  I mean, well, I thought—well, maybe we should get Rangel on.  I‘ll just ask him point blank, have you ever cheated on your wife?

And then I thought, you know what?  That‘s disgusting.  I‘m not going to participate in that.  But that‘s kind of where you get once you start having that conversation, don‘t you think? 

FRANKEN:  Well, let‘s not forget the point of view of the Democrats, particularly the Clintons.  And for a very long time...

CARLSON:  Yes.

FRANKEN:  ... the issue was, so maybe we‘re having what‘s fair for the goose is fair for the Republican. 

CARLSON:  Except two points.  One, it was terrible for the Republicans in the end.  They hurt themselves by their zealotry, I believe, on that.  I think most reasonable people think that.

And two, the Democrats argue that that was out of bounds.  So how could they now argue it‘s in bounds? 

ROBINSON:  Again, I don‘t think this is the Democrats arguing that it should be inbound. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ROBINSON:  I think the Clinton campaign, the Obama campaign, all the Democratic campaigns, would be happy, you know, looking forward to maybe the prospect of running against Rudy Giuliani. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ROBINSON:  Would be happy just to have these issues out there.  And, you know, to the extent that maybe values voters would pay attention and not come out and vote for Rudy.  But I really think this is Charlie Rangel.  This is one politician who doesn‘t like another politician. 

CARLSON:  Oh, no doubt about it. 

ROBINSON:  And you know, and took a shot at him.  I just don‘t—I wouldn‘t make a bigger kind of Democratic attack out of it.

CARLSON:  OK.  I agree.  It‘s just that it seems to me if you argue that Clinton was persecuted for his personal behavior, and that persecution was unfair and reasonable, it‘s a bit—and Rangel did argue that with me many times.  It‘s a bit much to come out and do the exact same thing to someone else. 

FRANKEN:  Right.  But is it lower—is it lower than the much more subtle, I‘ll agree, comment by Mitt Romney last night in the Republican debate referring to Hillary Clinton and the internship in the White House?  Who is the famous intern in the White House? 

CARLSON:  It‘s funny.  Well, no, I thought that.  And I don‘t know. 

And I‘m not defending Mitt Romney at all. 

I‘m not sure—I mean, do you think that‘s what he was saying?  I wasn‘t sold on that. 

FRANKEN:  Be still my heart.  You don‘t think that he was?  You think that that was an accident? 

CARLSON:  Well, that was in the middle—I don‘t know.  Now that you say it, maybe not.  But it was the middle of I thought a fairly interesting point about, you know, she doesn‘t have any executive experience. 

FRANKEN:  First of all, it was a bit of a gratuitous point, number one.  And number two, of all the words you could have used, that word “intern” is so charged, it can‘t be an accident. 

CARLSON:  Maybe you‘re right.  We‘ll ask him. 

I should have asked Liz Cheney. 

Bill Maher kicks a protester out of his studio audience, but not just any protester.  A 9/11 conspiracy theorist, one of many in this country.

We‘ll tell you how many in just a minute. 

Plus, there‘s no objection—no question, rather, cigarette smoking isn‘t good for you, but what if cigarette companies could make cigarettes less addictive?  Would that prevent kids from getting hooked?

Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN:  See this is the problem—

(CROSS TALK)

MAHER:  Hey, do we have some security in this building?  Or do I have to come over and kick this guy‘s out of here?

(CROSS TALK)

MAHER:  Out, out, out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was the scene in Bill Maher‘s studio Friday night when a member of a very vocal 9/11 conspiracy theorist group erupted into the studio.  Maher ordered security guards to remove the hecklers, and his remaining audience cheered the move, deriding the conspiracy theorists as lunatics.  However, a poll in 2006 suggested that more than one-third of the entire American population suspects the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 terror attacks or took no action to stop them so the country could go to war in the Middle East. 

What explains the persistence of these conspiracy theories.  Here to tell us, we welcome back “The Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson and online columnist Bob Franken.  Gene, it‘s almost unbelievable, if you think about one-third of the population believes the federal government—presumably thousands or many hundreds of people in the government colluded somehow to kill American—innocent American citizens for some abstract reason? 

ROBINSON:  Yes, you know, it‘s a reflection I think at this point primarily of the unpopularity of the war.  I mean I get these e-mails.  I get e-mails from people all the time. 

CARLSON:  No one ever talks about the in the mainstream press. 

ROBINSON:  And why is the mainstream media hiding the fact that this and that.  Goes on to cite—

CARLSON:  We are hiding.  Here is what we‘re hiding; we‘re hiding the fact that hundreds of thousands of—many millions of people apparently believe this. 

ROBINSON:  Yes, I mean, I actually do wonder what that number means.  Is it that millions of people are willing to entertain this notion, millions of people have some sort of questions, think there‘s some unanswered questions about 9/11.  I don‘t know.  I wish I had a factual explanation for this.  Because on its face it‘s absurd. 

CARLSON:  If you‘re willing to even entertain the notion, think about what that means.  You are willing to believe that the president or the Congress or somebody, them, in the federal, people in charge, would kill more than 3,000 people who didn‘t do anything wrong because it helped them pass the Patriot Act or invade Iraq.  That‘s so evil, how could you still live in this country if you believed that? 

FRANKEN:  Well, I think that nobody takes it to that next step.  I think we have a combination of things going.  Number one, I think that there is an overall cynicism, probably warranted cynicism, about not just government, but this whole amorphous society that we live and all the institutions. who people feel are not treating them fairly, number one.  Number two, you have people who take advantage of the—talk radio hosts, people who blog, who are under no requirement to say anything that has any sanity it to.  They can say whatever they want.  Somebody‘s going to believe them. 

You put all those things together, and I think that you have a society right now that‘s willing to believe or, more probably, not disbelieve anything.  So there you are. 

ROBINSON:  One thing you have to add is that could anyone believe that the government of the United States would, you know, would cherry pick flimsy intelligence in order to justify an invasion say of Iraq in order to satisfy this grand dream of—

CARLSON:  I think people—I‘ve never bought—it would be so self defeating, without re-litigating this—but it would be so self defeating for the administration to make up evidence they know would be revealed as false.  It‘s kind of impossible to believe that. 

ROBINSON:  It‘s more subtle than that. 

CARLSON:  If I believe that people are stupid, yes, totally. 

ROBINSON:  To believe what they want to believe, to not believe evidence that perhaps one should give equal weight to, but that doesn‘t support the case for war. 

CARLSON:  Are you kidding, I do that all the time in my personal life. 

ROBINSON:  You‘re not president.

CARLSON:  I‘m not defending it.  I‘m merely saying, it‘s a long way from there to flying planes full of innocents into office buildings.  That‘s completely insane. 

FRANKEN:  I don‘t think it‘s a long way.  I think it‘s a short way.  I think what you if is this very short distance between people, as the movie once said, who are mad as hell and don‘t want to take it any more, and ready to believe just about anything.  

CARLSON:  That‘s frightening.  If you have a population that stupid and reckless and they‘re in charge of the government, maybe it is time to leave the country. 

FRANKEN:  Or maybe that fed up. 

CARLSON:  What does that mean?  I‘m fed up with a million things and I don‘t believe things that have no basis in fact. 

ROBINSON:  You don‘t think they believe this in France? 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  Maybe in Burkino Faso there is a little island of sanity.  I‘m just saying, that‘s frightening.  Considering that the population is in control, I don‘t even want to think it through any more.  This is why we never do this topic on the show, because it upsets me too much.  I don‘t want to know these kind of facts about America. 

Speaking of facts that are not widely known, the “New York Times,” Jim Rutenberg, this morning, sort of blew the cover on how the media industry works by outing our news director, Matt Drudge, on the front page.  He basically let everybody know that Matt Drudge picks our stories for us, which he does.  But he also revealed that the Hillary Clinton campaign, which has been attacked by Drudge over the years in some pretty duty ways, is now sucking up to Drudge and using him—or attempting to.  That‘s unbelievable. 

FRANKEN:  Which just goes to show that collectively the Hillary Clinton momma did not raise no fool.  The truth of the matter is that the bloggers now, particularly somebody like Matt Drudge, they are the ones who set the agenda.  When I was starting out in television news, the joke used to be, to find out what I‘d be working on, they‘d say read the “New York Times” and the “Washington Post.”  Now, to find out what is going to be in the “Washington Post,” you find out what‘s being said on Matt Drudge.  No offense to you. 

ROBINSON:  None taken.  The “Washington Post” website is the second most trafficked newspaper site in the country.  The biggest single driver of traffic to our website is “The Drudge Report.”  It really is.

CARLSON:  You got to wonder if people out in the rest of the country know that, but here we‘ve said it.  It‘s on page one of the “New York Times.”  Now you know our secret.  I feel like the magician—the lady is not really sawed in half.  I guess that‘s what people are finding out.  There‘s an amazing poll from the Value Voters summit, which we talked about last week.  It took place here in Washington.  All the candidates came and made their pitches.  Giuliani made his pitch.  They didn‘t agree with anything he said, almost by definition. 

Yet here are the results of the poll taken of people who attended afterward.  The winner was Mitt Romney, kind of amazing, considering these are mostly evangelicals and he‘s Mormon.  They don‘t seem to mind.  He got 27.  Mike Huckabee also 27, Ron Paul 15, Fred Thompson 10, Rudy Giuliani negative—less than 2 percent, John McCain less than 1.5 percent.  John McCain pro life voting record his whole career, since 1986.  What is this?

FRANKEN:  First of all, I think we should point out there were two straw polls.  One was of the participants there.  The second one was of the online poll.  The skeptic, lord knows I‘m not a skeptic, but the skeptic might wonder if Mitt Romney did the same thing did he in the straw poll in Iowa.  That is to say, see to it that those online voters were, how shall I say it, friends of Mitt. 

ROBINSON:  These are activists.  This is not a scientific poll.  Scientific polls of that voting population seem to indicate there are a lot of at least evangelical voters who have a real problem with Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith, and fewer who have problems on those issues with John McCain.  I‘m not sure I—

CARLSON:  I don‘t know, I bet—it would be interesting to see a reliable poll of sentiment among evangelicals.  I bet you Mitt Romney would beat John McCain.  There‘s just something stylistically.

FRANKEN:  But the real question is, in the straw poll who do think they was responsible for 9/11? 

CARLSON:  That‘s it.  Again, I don‘t even want to know.  That‘s the last time we‘re going to talk about that on this show.  It gives me the creeps too much.  Speaking of trends you would not expect, Bobby Jindal member of Congress, Rhodes Solar, head of the Louisiana higher education system, elected at the age of 36, governor—overwhelmingly governor yesterday, this week in Louisiana.  At a time when Republicans have never been less popular, this guy is conservative Republican by every standard.  He wins overwhelmingly. 

FRANKEN:  That just goes to show that in Louisiana they dislike Democrats more than they dislike people of color. 

CARLSON:  Hold on.  It‘s still a heavily Democratic state.  They had -

-

ROBINSON:  True, but Louisiana exceptionalism.  This is, number one, a weird state, number two, that‘s just had this enormous trauma, in which a Democratic governor did not perform well by all estimations.  Bobby Jindal is an extraordinary character.  He‘s been around awhile.  He‘s ingratiated himself. 

CARLSON:  You don‘t think this is any kind of—I‘m not even sure what I think of this, for whatever it‘s worth.  You don‘t think this is any indication that conservatism is—has any kind of tiny resurgence or is not entirely dead.  This is not a sign of hope for Republicans nationally. 

ROBINSON:  I wouldn‘t take it that way. 

(CROSS TALK)

ROBINSON:  Bobby Jindal is an unusual and very capable young man. 

FRANKEN:  He‘s just sort of a Republican.  He doesn‘t really present himself that way.  And this is a state, by the way, where your party label isn‘t really the final issue. 

CARLSON:  That‘s true.  He‘s an ardent catholic and pro-lifer.  He‘s not a liberal in any sense of the word. 

ROBINSON:  Nor is New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who, you know, there were questions about whether he was actually a Democrat before he ran for mayor of New Orleans.  First time he‘s been elected twice. 

CARLSON:  The first time he ran, Ray Nagin was the candidate of business. He got a lot of conservative white support.  There‘s no doubt about it.  He‘s not getting that now.  But yes, he was not a liberal either. 

Gentlemen, thank you very much.

There‘s a new idea in the battle against smoking; take out the nicotine and your cigarettes will be less addictive.  Taking the alcohol out of beer is that next?  We‘ll tell you.

Plus, Ellen just can‘t seem to dodge the doggie drama.  It turns out this is not the first time she has passed off an adopted puppy.  Bill Wolff gets to the bottom of the canine caper.  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Here‘s an idea, what if kids could buy a cigarette that made them feel cool about smoking, but not get them hooked.  That‘s the general idea offered by David Adams, a former director of policy and staff at the Food and Drug Administration, take the nicotine out of cigarettes.  Mr.  Adams joins us now live.  Mr. Adams, thanks for coming on.

DAVID ADAMS, FORMER DIRECTOR OF POLICY AT THE FDA:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  So the idea is you take the nicotine out and then kids won‘t want to smoke or what is the idea exactly? 

ADAMS:  No, the idea is really to give kids a chance to quit when they grow a little older and have a desire to quit.  The idea is to make available for them when they start smoking only cigarettes that are not going to have an addictive level of nicotine.  What we know is that when young smokers get a little older, into their 20s, they generally want to quit.  And most adults try quitting many times during their lifetime.  And they can‘t, or it‘s very difficult, because of nicotine addiction.  The idea is not to cause this nicotine addiction at the outset so that at the point which they want to quit they can. 

CARLSON:  I mean, people smoke cigarettes for the nicotine in the first place.  More over, kids aren‘t allowed to smoke anyway, aren‘t they?  It‘s illegal to sell cigarettes to kids.

ADAMS:  Well, kids below the age of 18, that‘s right.  In states generally there are restrictions on age.  But the experts tell us that when kids start smoking, as adolescents or above the age of 18, it‘s generally imitate behavior.  They‘re generally not starting to smoke because they have decided, I want nicotine, certainly not that they want to be addicted to nicotine, but not even because of a specific desire for nicotine. 

They don‘t look at—adolescents don‘t look at their older peers and say, I would really like to get some nicotine.  Could you get me some Nicorette gum or could you get me a cigarette.  They want to smoke a cigarette because it looks cool.  They‘re imitating peers and other people that they admire, think are cool. 

CARLSON:  But shouldn‘t—people over the age of 17, 18 and older are adults.  We call them adults.  We let them vote.  We treat them like adults.  You can‘t—can you really tell them what kind of cigarette they‘re allowed to smoke?  Can‘t they do whatever they want? 

ADAMS:  It‘s a good point.  It‘s a sobering aspect of my proposal, one that I‘m not totally comfortable with.  I would agree with you philosophically.  I have a hard time saying that 18 year olds who are adults can‘t do things that other adults can do, 21 year olds.  I‘m not even philosophically comfortable with denying 18-year-olds access to alcohol. 

This is quite different.  These 18 year olds are not desirous of nicotine.  It‘s something that is in the cigarettes, but it‘s not something that they‘re looking for.  They don‘t need the nicotine, and generally they don‘t even desire it. 

What we need to do is give them a chance to quit, to the point that they start looking at this issue—maybe they get married in their 20s or get a little bit older and start thinking about the issue and want to quit.  After a friend of mine from law school sent me e-mail today, after reading my op ed piece, talking about his daughter who started smoking at a young age.  She‘s now 22.  She really wants to quit. 

CARLSON:  Very quickly, we know that nicotine replacement therapy works.  Nicorette Gum doesn‘t harm you as far as we know.  It works.  People can quit very easily—many people can using it.  It‘s yet beyond the reach of most people because it‘s so expensive.  If the government really cared about getting people to quit, why wouldn‘t it subsidize that gum? 

ADAMS:  I think it‘s a good idea.  I‘m surprised hear you suggesting government subsidies. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  Here‘s my bottom line, I suspect the government grows rich from people‘s addiction to nicotine.  If it really cared about getting people it quite, it would actually help them, rather than bark at just them and not let them smoke in their own apartments, for instance. 

ADAMS:  I think the government, society collectively do care.  And Congress is looking at legislation at this point that would give FDA authority to regulate the content of tobacco products and apparently reduce the levels of nicotine to non-addictive levels.  Now that‘s quite a different proposition than what I‘m suggesting.  That‘s a proposition that you reduce the nicotine in all cigarettes and that would affect obviously freedom of choice among people, adults who are out there who are addicted or who simply like nicotine.  That‘s not why kids take up the habit. 

CARLSON:  I understand.  I don‘t think reducing people‘s freedom of choice is a problem for Congress.  Most of the time they don‘t mind.  Mr.  Adams, I appreciate you coming on.  Thank you very much.

ADAMS:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  The legend of Kid Rock grows.  First it was his televised melee with Pam Anderson‘s other ex, Tommy Lee.  Now Mr. Rock throws down in Dixie.  Waffle house correspondent Bill Wolff has details on that next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  You saw an ad for Chris Hanson on MSNBC tonight.  Joining us now, a different kind of Chris Hanson type figure, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  Not sure what that means but Chris is a dear friend and a credible reporter, so I take it as a compliment, Tucker.  Thank you.  There is Ellen DeGeneres dog re-gifting news today and it is either troubling or heart warming, depending on your level of personal bile. 

Page six of the “New York Post,” the best source in the world, of course, reported this morning that Ellen‘s placement of her adopted dog Iggie with another family last week was not the first incident of such scandalous behavior.  The paper quotes Los Angeles producer Kerry Randals (ph), who says she gave Ellen a dog named Stormy about two years ago, only to learn less than two months later that Stormy had been given by Ellen to a member of Ellen‘s staff, the horror. 

Miss Randals goes on to say a few unkind things about Miss DeGeneres, which don‘t bear repeating.  Page Six advanced other chatter would suggest there may be other cases of Ellen adopting then forwarding pets, Tucker.  Can you believe it? 

CARLSON:  You know what, I am not going to join in the Ellen DeGeneres dog adoption pile-on.  I‘m going to say I‘m agnostic.  I‘ve taken no stand on the question.  I kind of like Ellen DeGeneres.  I like the fact she likes dogs.  You know what, I‘m going to leave the details to someone else to sort out. 

WOLFF:  Well, also, the story isn‘t that like she took in the dogs and then threw them out on the street.  She found them new homes.  Not quite sure what the point of this one is, Tucker, but it‘s Ellen and it‘s dog.  Therefore, it‘s cable news. 

CARLSON:  They‘re always tough on the front runner, Bill. 

WOLFF:  You know what, it‘s totally true.  When you‘re on top they try to knock you down, Tucker.  Most show business types, Tucker. consider a trip to an all night breakfast restaurant an example of keeping it real.  For musician Kid Rock, it‘s about keeping it even realer, which he did in an Atlanta area waffle house on Sunday morning about 5:00 a.m. 

Mr. Rock and five colleagues entered—encountered a bellicose customer in line for waffles and they responded by kicking the snot out of him, first in the restaurant then out in the parking lot.  Rock and his entourage split in their tour bus, but were apprehended a mile down the road.  They spent 12 hours in the pokey for their trouble on a misdemeanor battery beef. 

Mr. Rock has issued no comment, except for his decidedly gleeful mug shot, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  If you can smile during a mug shot like that, you‘re kind of my hero. 

WOLFF:  If you married to Pam Anderson, come on, you come from Detroit. 

CARLSON:  Those are questionable judgments, those decisions.  But smiling for your mug shot, that is cool. 

WOLFF:  The guy hasn‘t washed his hair since 1974, and he is got about 800 million dollars.  The guy is a hero, Tucker.  Now the highly protected air space above and around the White House was briefly violated today, Tucker.  But don‘t panic, the culprit was a Dutch magician known as Ramana, who levitated outside the presidential residence using his magical powers, or maybe mirrors, or possibly invisible wires of some sort.  He says he acquired his levitational skills in India, where, he says, levitation is considered a science.  He not elaborate, of course. 

The incident was not terrorism related.  It is unclear whether the Secret Service or representatives of the Magicians Union informed the president about the floating Dutch man.  Look at him there, Tucker, amazing. 

CARLSON:  I live in the city, Bill, and frankly it gives me shivers to think there are Dutch people levitating in it. 

WOLFF:  Got to be very careful of those people.  Tucker, finally, another busy sports weekend behind us, plenty of baseball.  The Red Sox won.  Football, of course—but real fans took in a little robot soccer from Japan.  This was part of robot Athletic Meet 2007.  Some of the robots were remote controlled, others programmed to react to various motions.  Organizers say the annual event highlights the progress of Japanese robotics.  Others say the annual event highlights the fact that even when robots are playing, soccer is a tremendous bore, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I disagree.  I think they‘re more interesting than David Beckham and a better deal. 

WOLFF:  Who, the robots? 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

WOLFF:  I‘m talking about soccer. 

CARLSON:  Soccer‘s horrible.  Soccer‘s like the metric system.  It‘s -

WOLFF:  They keep threatening us with it.  We don‘t have to buy it. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that completely.  Bill Wolff, a wise man. 

Thank you, Bill. 

WOLFF:  You got it. 

CARLSON:  That does it for us, thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.  We‘ll be back tomorrow.  See you then.  Have a great night.

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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