updated 10/24/2007 2:09:38 PM ET 2007-10-24T18:09:38

Guest: Richard Wolffe, A.B. Stoddard, Dinesh D’Souza

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Hundreds of square miles of wildfire fueled by strong desert dry winds continue to burn virtually unabated this afternoon across Southern California.  Welcome to the show.

Day three of the firestorm that has burned San Diego County from its rural northern end all the way south to the Mexican border.  Hundreds of thousands of residents have been evacuated.  The fires have now killed at least two people across that region, at least 45 others have been injured, some gravely that include 16 firemen.  The Associated Press reports that more than 1300 homes and businesses have burned.  President Bush has declared seven counties disaster areas.  In a moment we’ll have live report from one of those counties.

Later we’ll examine Barack Obama’s political problem with gay activists.  The Obama campaign for president includes upcoming gospel tour entitled “Embrace the Change.”  Among the artists is Donny McClerken.  He is a singer who says he used to be gay but now crusades against homosexuality.  How his bout with it has been cured - that’s his claim.  Will Obama lose gay voters over this controversy?

And an old admirer of Hillary Clinton says she’s no longer a fan of the former first lady.  We’ll tell you why and whether it represents a broader change.

We begin tonight with the firestorm in Southern California.  Joining me now with the latest from there is MSNBC’s Chris Jansing who has been covering those wildfires since they broke out.  Chris, do we know how they broke out?

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, we know there are number of different reasons.  Some of the major fires simply sparked almost spontaneously.  We also know, for example, that there were downed power lines in couple of areas.  Those caused major fires including the one in Malibu.

There’s one that I can see from here, I can see tower of Magic Mountain Amusement Park, Tucker that was caused by a welder’s torch.  Let me tell why you that’s significant.  I don’t know if you can come back to me live but these winds have really been whipping up, maybe you can see the smoke behind me, several times today the fires have spontaneously come up from these Santa Ana winds, all they needed was the little spark from the welders torch and all of a sudden two neighborhoods had to be evacuated and 1,500 acres were gone.

In all across Southern California, an area the size of New York City has been decimated, virtually burnt to the ground.  Here in canyon country there have been three major fires, two of them they were fearing they were going to come together and perhaps burn out of control, total of 80,000 acres burning there.

So here is what they’re doing right now.  I’m along route 126 here in Valencia.  About six miles from here they’re setting some backfires, controlled burns.  They want to actually bring these fires into areas where they have firefighters lined up, where they can control them and where they will go into areas that are not heavily populated.  The problem with where I’m standing right now, the ridge line, that’s behind me that’s been flaring up all day long, if you go over that ridge line you see lots of new housing developments.  And a few years ago a fire sparked there spread extremely quickly.  So all day they have had air power dropping water on those hills behind me trying to keep that fire from spreading back in that direction.

Just got an e-mail from the office of Governor Schwarzenegger.  They’re bringing in 15 new air assets including some from Canada and from Oregon.  That’s been one of the complaints from some of the local fire officials.  They say they just don’t have enough air power in the areas that are so difficult to get to.  You can see we’ve got some very tough terrain here and although they may not be populated the concern obviously is that there’s so much dry brush here it could just spark and go quickly.

Right now, Tucker, it is 3:00 local time we’ve got another four and half hours of daylight.  Once we hit dusk some of these winds they hope will start to die down.  But they’ve still got that period of time where they know they’re still in a high danger situation.  Tucker?

CARLSON:  Chris, the air looks pretty clear behind you but all that smoke has got to be affecting the air quality in the whole southern part of the state, is it noticeable when you drive through Southern California?

LANSING:  It really is.  And obviously the closer you get to the fires the worse it gets.  They have been telling people to stay inside, close their windows, especially if they are anywhere within the area of a fire.  You don’t know when these winds are going to change.

I’ll also I will you that the problem out here in the very far north of Los Angeles County, we’re essentially in desert.  I’ve been in my car couple of times leaving my Blackberry and my phone in there.  Even though the windows are tightly closed, obviously there’s just layer of dirt in there, it’s been getting into my electronics.  One more thing that’s really causing a problem here, these Santa Ana winds have knocked down some lines that have affected cell service, that have affected television, cable.  These fiber optic lines that have gone down also service many people’s computers.

So people looking for information aren’t able to get it.  People trying to call in or out to find out if their loved ones are OK, aren’t able to reach them.  I went few miles down the road was trying to make a phone call, my cell service was out because of the company that I have for my cell service.  So all of these things combining together still making for a very unpleasant situation, even for people’s homes who may not be directly threatened, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Chris Jansing on the road, the scene of the fires in California, thanks a lot, Chris, I appreciate it.

JANSING:  Sure.

CARLSON:  And for more on the fire let’s check in with KPNX’s Jennifer Vogel.  She is in Rancho Bernardo, which is located in the northern part of San Diego County.  Jennifer, are you there?

JENNIFER VOGEL, KPNX CORRESPONDENT:  Yeah, I am.  Sure, Tucker.

We’re out here in some of the rubble, some of the houses that people are actually going to come home to once they’re allowed back in this neighborhood.  Let me take you over here really quickly and you can see this used to be a garage.  That there is the roof.  And we actually just a minute ago you can kind of see the smoke smoldering but there is still some hot embers.

Let’s go over here you can see some of the bicycles that have been left and even garage door that’s still intact, most houses you can’t even see that much.  If you look up here, you can see kind of the haze over the city, over this area.  We were here half hour ago, about, there was absolutely nothing, the smoke was completely blowing over those hills.

Then all of a sudden out of no where we saw fire come back up against this little hill that was closest to us all over the rim.  So again, another reason the neighbors are being asked not to come back to this area because fire is completely unpredictable.

Again, like we said we thought it was moving out and those flames started again on that rim.  We did just talk to the battalion chief for San Diego Fire, and you mentioned air quality.  That is a big issue especially for the firefighters.  They have seen over 100 firefighters come in, and a lot of them have masks like this.  But they have 200 guys only 150 are actually masks with proper masks that are going to protect them from those carbon monoxide gases that they’re getting from the houses and the cars.

Another big problem with the air quality, these winds are bringing a lot of things that are flying into people’s eyes and the firefighters are having to be treated for eye abrasions, so there’s lot of different things that are going on out here.  But a good reason for neighbors to stay away for awhile still in this area.  Tucker?

CARLSON:  Jennifer, I’ve been hearing about home owners remaining with their homes.  Is the state allowing that, the county allowing that, are they forcibly evacuating people or letting people stay if they choose?

VOGEL:  Well, in this area they actually forcibly evacuated people about 4:15 Monday morning.  They went over to most—most of them went over to Qualcomm.  We went they went over there we talked to them and they didn’t even have shoes on their feet.  A lot of them.  They had the clothes on their back, they were evacuated, the reverse 911 called them.

Firefighters went in got them.  One evacuee told us that he actually ran out while his house was burning as well as some of the other bushes and trees in his neighborhood.  He said he barely got out and just wanted to make sure that him that he and his wife and his mother got out safe.

CARLSON:  Amazing.  Jennifer Vogel in Rancho Bernardo, California in San Diego.  Thanks a lot.  I appreciate it.

Coming up, a gay rights group is urging Barack Obama to cut ties with a black gospel singer that they call anti-gay.  Will Barack Obama obey?

Plus, it’s been nearly a year since the Democrats gained control of Congress.  And they’re approval rating has been dropping ever since.  So what does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plan to do about it?  A P.R. blitz, more on that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Time now for check of the Obameter where controversy has erupted.  Gay activists are furious, some of them are, anyway, that Barack Obama will be traveling through South Carolina this weekend with a gospel singer who calls himself, quote, formerly gay.  Grammy award winner Donny McClerken is a minister who says he was able to overcome what he calls his homosexual demons.

Reaching out to Christian voters is the centerpiece of the Obama campaign but in doing so \will he alienate his gay supporters.

Joining me now, the associate editor of “The Hill” A.B. Stoddard and “Newsweek” senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe.

Welcome to you both.

Richard, this is, the more you think about, it not such a small thing.  Obama has made his pitch as an explicitly Christian candidate, pretty clear, particularly in the state of South Carolina.  And a lot of the voters there are the ones he’s trying to reach are not so pro gay actually it turns out.  And yet he needs gay voters, what do you do?

RICHARD WOLFFE, “NEWSWEEK”:  Well, no, it’s a tough choice for him.  And he’s got whole lot of problems with the netroots folks which is a significant part of the Democratic base, as you know.

This isn’t the first time he’s taken on the netroots folks, in the “Audacity of Hope” he recounts how he challenged some of the Daily Kos folks about the criticism of other Democratic senators about John Roberts’ nomination which he opposed, but there’s almost a sort of, I don’t know if it’s gratuitous, but a lack of regard for how this stuff will go down.

CARLSON:  I think so.  They’re the most annoying bunch of little rich kids I’ve ever dealt with in my life, the netroots people.

WOLFFE:  They are a vocal, they may be the vocal part of the Democratic base so he has to figure out how he’s going to negotiate it.  The other part of this is of course it doesn’t just apply to him, Hillary Clinton had Harold Mayberry who is this pastor out in Oakland who has also preached against gays and he spoke out very favorably about Hillary Clinton at Clinton event.  But it’s not the same as campaigning with some of these people or having them as a key part of the campaign.

CARLSON:  This is huge problem.  Because—we’re seeing it on the Republican side different elements of the coalition actually don’t like each other that much, and have not all that much in common.  And it turns out that religious black America is not the same as the Yearly Kos convention.  They’re just completely different.  And I wonder, I mean, Donny McClerken, I know nothing—I never heard of the guy until recently but apparently he says, he was gay, now he’s not.  Not allowed to say that any more?

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  Well .

CARLSON:  That’s not allowed?  What a bunch of fascists.  I’m serious.

STODDARD:  Among the advocates in the party for homosexual rights.  You don’t—This conversion thing is not acceptable.  Because that’s a nature-newer tour argument that’s over with.  This is the Democratic primary .

CARLSON:  I like gay people you ought to be allowed to say that if you want.

STODDARD:  I think—I could be wrong but there are a lot of southern gospel singers that I could have found for the Obama campaign that wouldn’t have been—he makes rookie mistakes and then he is stubborn about them.  It is not acceptable not just in the netroots .

CARLSON:  But wait a second.  What if Donny McClerken is a good singer and maybe it’s only Donny’s business who used to have sex with and who he has had sex with now.

STODDARD:  He denounced his views but he’s going to keep him on the tour.

CARLSON:  I just think is like complete—the thought police are out and enforcing the law as they see it.  And I think that’s creepy.

WOLFFE:  I don’t even think that it’s necessarily rookie mistake.  I think there is something about Obama which—where he takes difficult messages and sometimes—messages, unelectable messages to core groups.  Here he has talking about the African American vote and it clearly crosses over with another identity group, key core groups for the Democrats.

But look what happened at the recent African American debate.  He went out and said we’ve got to talk about HIV-AIDS.  What about the unspoken part of homosexual relations in the community.  And you know, he has delivered some tough messages which don’t make him popular.

CARLSON:  Good for him because that’s the truth.  Nobody actually wants a candidate who up ends the conventional wisdom or takes on the entrenched interest groups.  Everybody claims to want that.  I want straight talker, no you don’t.  You want somebody to kiss your butt, actually is what you want.  And when someone ceases to do it you hate them.

WOLFFE:  Look, it doesn’t help him.  He is a long way behind in the polls.  And clearly he’s got a big problem with the netroots right now.  Which he needs to fix.

STODDARD:  I think that you combine this with these other stumbles like on Iran right now.  Hillary Clinton is trying to backtrack and send out this mailer in Iowa saying that the Kyl Lieberman vote was the right thing for her to do.  Now he’s trying to jump on with his own mailer saying I oppose it and the Iraq War, she makes these mistakes, I’m stopping foreign policy blunders of Bush’s that Hillary Clinton agrees with.  He wasn’t at the Iran vote.

I think if you look at the accumulation of kind of awkward moments for Barack Obama in the last month, he blew off the AARP debate in Iowa.  If you look at the things, some of them I think are rookie mistakes.  And if you think—if you look at some of the steps he takes like the Iran message which is pretty nerving when he didn’t actually take that vote at all.  Combine with these other things.  It’s just bad for him.  He’s in a not strong enough position to that the blows.

CARLSON:  I agree with you there.  I don’t think, he’s obviously not the seasoned candidate.  But just to put some context around this conversation.  Here is Obama’s official statement about the McClerken controversial such as it is.  And I’m quoting now.  “I should have stated clearly my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity and rights of all other citizens.  I strongly believe African Americans in the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights.  And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClerken’s views and will continue to fight for these rights as president to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division.”

He’s basically saying, I love you, I agree with you, but that’s not good enough.  So some character called Earl Ofari-Hutchinson writes a piece, calling this “Obama’s gay bash tour.”

It just seems to me—that’s just so unfair.  I’m not voting for Obama.  I’m not a flak for Obama.  But just on principle, that infuriates me.

When’s the candidate going to stand up and say, listen, 23-year-old rich kids running Daily Kos, you don’t run the party or America, so shut up.

WOLFFE:  Like I said, that’s what he did when it came to the John Roberts criticism.  He wasn’t being criticized for it.  But he says in his book that he disliked the way they were going after his Democratic Senate colleagues and that won him no respect among netroots folks and it caused him a lot of trouble among his aides who said, why are you doing this?

CARLSON:  Because that party is hostage.  All parties go through this but at this point in history that party I believe is increasingly hostage to these lunatics.  I’m serious.  It’s a shame.  A Democrat is going to be elected president.  Do you want Daily Kos telling president what to do?  No.  I don’t.

Anyway, we’re going to get it anyway.  I’m going to be in Barbados.  Things haven’t been going so well for Nancy Pelosi since she became first female speaker of the House.  Approval ratings, low, low, low.  How to change it?  Well, with a P.R. blitz, of course.  Details on that in a minute.

Plus California wildfires force more residents to flee their homes.  Nearly 600 square miles charred already, 1300 homes and businesses destroyed.  We’ve got the latest on firefighting efforts coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  It’s been a year since Democrats took control of Congress.  And in that time they have failed to slow the war in Iraq, much less end it.

The president stopped virtually every one of their significant pieces of legislation, they have even been caving on warrantless wiretapping, all which could explain why Congress approval rating are even lower than the president’s historically bad 24 percent.

So instead of legislating or even rallying their base they have done what any unpopular but self aware bureaucratic body would, they have opted for a public relation blitz, will it work is the question.

Joining me now to answer that question, the associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard and “Newsweek’s” senior White House correspondent, Richard Wolffe.

A.B., you cover Congress, so you may know what almost nobody in this country knows, which is Democrat controlled Congress increased the minimum wage.  After something that monumental, why don’t Americans have more respect for them?

STODDARD:  Well, one of the things that’s happened, and they’re trying to address in this blitz, is that they haven’t talked about their own accomplishments.  They don’t have many of them.  And it is their fault because they spent most of their time behind closed doors talking about how to move the ball in Iraq, it hasn’t worked, and they spend most of time their in the public square talking about Iraq.

And so they haven’t touted the accomplishments they have.  The problem is they’re going to set out on this and try to talk about things that the House has pass.  And talking about things that the House has passed that the Senate can’t, and that can’t become law is not going to get them very far.  They can talk about the minimum wage, they can talk about—the SCHIP, the veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program probably politically speaking really works for the Democrats in the end which is just the crass truth.

But the Armenian genocide bill they had to pull and the retreat on warrantless wiretapping, that really were the Bush administration is going to get it’s way is going to be a problem for them and if you look at politically their strength right now, they’re in position of weakness whenever they get into domestic battle with the president or on the war they are in position of weakness.

And running around talking about minimum wage and saying the House passed this but the Senate can’t, is not—they can’t overcome this problem which is the Iraq .

CARLSON:  Of course.

STODDARD:  . and ultimately that’s what the voters want to hear about.

CARLSON:  And it’s partly—I don’t blame Democratic Congress entirely.  Nancy Pelosi is right, it is hard to move against a president even one with historically low approval ratings, he does have veto power.

But why a P.R. blitz in the first place?  I mean, Congress is held in low regard.  What’s the point of pumping up the public relations efforts?

WOLFFE:  Well, they obviously want their own numbers before the presidential race really sucks out all the oxygen.

CARLSON:  You think they need that go into this election?  You think Democrats are in tough position going into this election?

WOLFFE:  I think there’s a problem for them.  There’s a danger for them in that people think they have affected change already by having Democrats take over Congress, B, there is going to be a change of presidents so there’s another element of change.  So, C, what happens to the congressional vote are people going to split the ticket, are they going to vote on a different set of circumstances, there’s a danger there for them.

And what is the identity of Democrats now having over promised on the war and under delivered.  That’s their key problem.

So listen, they had good run with Alberto Gonzales there, they had a lot of support, popular support for investigating contracts in Iraq.

CARLSON:  Then why are their numbers so low?

WOLFFE:  But again the problem is Iraq, it’s topic number one, and they said they were going to stop the war.  They clearly went out and said that.  But they weren’t prepare to pull the ultimate lever which was to cut off funding for the troops.  And they didn’t have the votes.  So it was really a dead end strategy.

CARLSON:  I don’t know.  I think it’s—I agree.  Everything you said is correct.  But I think it’s even deeper than that.  I think a lot—I want to think anyway a lot of Democrats came to power, looked into the abyss of Iraq said as much as I hate this war and despise what the president did, pulling out precipitously would be a bad thing for the United States.  And I’m not willing to do that.  That actually they became more responsible once they were in charge.

STODDARD:  You’re giving them a lot of credit.

CARLSON:  I’m trying.  You know what?  I don’t believe in assuming .

STODDARD:  They’re own anti--- the members of the caucus that are truly anti-war are disappointed that their leadership didn’t have the nerve to pull funding and lot of them have voted to pull funding.  And the leadership won’t do it because they will lose the House if they do.

CARLSON:  Do you think that it’s a purely political .

STODDARD:  I’m not saying it’s pure.  I’m saying it’s a mix of many things.  Nothing is pure on Iraq any more.  The rhetoric changes because the story changes.  Look at what the Petraeus report was going to bring.  That was a totally different picture.  We’re now fighting al Qaeda in Iraq we’re about to be at war in Iran.  The picture on Iraq changes all the time.  So it is not one story line.

But for Democrats who are opposed to the war who voted to pull funding this year, they were hoping that their own leaders would be willing to go that far.  And of course they’re not.  That would be political suicide for them.

WOLFFE:  And look at how they need communications help.  To finally get a battle with the Bush White House which is good one for them in terms of children’s healthcare, what do they do?  They go out talking about SCHIP all the time.  Who in the world knows SCHIP is?  Instead it took them weeks to realize they should talk about children’s healthcare.  And you know, even on the communication, the basic blocks of communications they have missed opportunities.

CARLSON:  But it seems to me, I don’t want to personalize this too much, but that Nancy Pelosi—let’s say I’m a Democrat, OK, and I really care about the fortune of the Democratically controlled Congress.  I would be pretty upset with the stewardship of Nancy Pelosi.  I don’t think it’s been wise.  I don’t think it’s been good for the party.  I think she’s made kind of - for someone who has been there as long as she has, who is as sophisticated as she is, she had made some pretty kind of novice mistakes.

I mean, the Armenian genocide bill?  That’s like—that’s kindergarten stuff.  How could someone as smart as Nancy Pelosi do something like that?

WOLFFE:  There were Republicans telling that maybe this was some cunning strategy to end the war because if they closed down the Incirlik base in Turkey because the Turks were so annoyed you could shut down 70 percent of supplies.

CARLSON:  I don’t believe that.  That would be sort of—that’s almost an anti-American thing to do.  I don’t believe that she would do that.  I don’t want to believe that.

WOLFFE:  Yeah.  That wasn’t the goal.  But look, talking about human rights and whether it’s historical or current affairs, isn’t that what Americans do?

CARLSON:  I think they do it much less after Iraq.  We have this living lesson about a theoretical approach to world affairs based in human rights that was kind of tried under Jimmy Carter.  It was tried under George W. Bush.

WOLFFE:  You might want to tell the president that.

CARLSON:  Didn’t work either time.  You’d think Nancy Pelosi would have read that lesson into the disaster of the past five years, but apparently she’s not bright enough which is a surprise to me.  I expected more from her.

Republicans seem to want Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee. 

Is this a wise hope for the GOP or will she spank them?

Plus, wildfires in Southern California still burning out of control.  At this hour, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee, hundreds of thousands of acres charred.  We’ll get an update on all of that in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Almost every measure shows Hillary Clinton the likely Democratic nominee.  And her Republican rivals might just like it that way.  Is Hillary the Republican dream candidate?  Joining us once again, the associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard and “Newsweek’s” senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe.

Interesting, Richard; Jonah Goldberg has, I thought, a thought provoking piece in the “L.A. Times” today, in which he says, Hillary as the nominee could be good for Republicans because it puts them in the position of the change candidate, right, the party of change.  She is a link to the past, same old, same old, and they can out flank her on that question.  I’m not sure what I think of that. 

But it’s the only way that she is a good candidate for the Republican, because I believe she can win. 

WOLFFE:  Well, I’m not sure about the change argument, because I think the change people want really is about Iraq.  So hard for the Republicans to claim they can change Iraq when they the owned Iraq and have supported the president every step of the way on this.  But the Republicans on Sunday made something very clear, Hillary Clinton is an organizing principle for Republicans.  It’s a way of papering over the cracks for social conservatives and fiscal conservatives, to get together, bury the hatchet and say, you know what, we may not agree on a whole bunch of stuff, but we all agree that we hate Hillary.

That is the danger, that she energizes a very disillusioned base that we’ve seen with the Republican party, at least in the polls. 

CARLSON:  She is only—in the absence of any other organizing principle, there’s always Hillary Clinton.  But you don’t hear—we’ve talked about this before, A.B.  You don’t hear a lot of Republicans say in that haughty way of last year, if only they would nominate Hillary and we could crush her, because she’s fundamentally weak.  I don’t hear people say that.  Do you? 

STODDARD:  I think that—I really think that the Republicans—this started only recently.  I think some time in the last sort of six weeks I feel they started the inevitability tour.  But Karl Rove started talking about how she was definitely the nominee.  Then President Bush started talking about it.  You do see that it generates excitement.  I think, secretly, there are pockets in the party of people who worry that she could beat the Republican nominee.  But they will continue to talk her up like she’s pathetic because it’s so energizes that base they fear has left them. 

Just like Richard said, it’s that they think dollars that haven’t come in during the process will come in.  Voters will be excited; they will get engaged.  They will volunteer, and that that could actually push someone over the top.  You can’t say that—you can’t imagine that with Barack Obama or John Edwards. 

CARLSON:  Wouldn’t it be nice if the Republican party were unified in principle or around some issue.  Because that’s the—

STODDARD:  They don’t have the luxury of that right now. 

CARLSON:  I know but it would be nice.  Someone needs to rethink what that party is about or else it will cease to be a meaningful force, I think, in American politics.  Hillary Clinton’s birthday is coming up.  I don’t know if you have bought a present yet.  But you still have time.  She’s going to be 60.  Her husband is using this occasion for, what else, a fund raising opportunity. 

We have a short clip from the former president’s birthday message to his wife.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 

Hillary’s birthday is coming up.  She’s about to turn 60.  My wish for her is simple, to have the opportunity as president to do what she loves best, to help every child in our country live up to his or her God-given potential.  What’s your birthday wish for Hillary?  Let her know.  Sign the birthday card for Hillary and let her know what you want for her and for our country.  Thanks. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  She wants to raise my children for her birthday, that’s her

doesn’t she want a bracelet?  Wouldn’t she be happy with a new dress? 

WOLFFE:  Every time I wish happy birthday to my wife, I have romantic music playing in my head. 

CARLSON:  You say to her—You say, Mrs. Wolffe, I know what you really want; we’re going out to dinner, but what you really want is for every child in this country to live up to his or her God-given potential. 

WOLFFE:  I e-mailed their web video to her the other day.   

CARLSON:  Why throw this—Here’s my problem with it; A, why use the poor woman’s birthday as fund raising opportunity.  B, why throw your marriage into it again?  Why get in our face with the—the Clinton marriage.  We’ve all agreed we don’t want to talk about it.  We don’t want to get into their personal business.  Why are they putting it right in front of us all the time? 

WOLFFE:  I don’t think there’s any way for them to avoid it.  Look, he’s a huge asset, probably the biggest asset in fund raising and strategy.  How can you avoid him?  I hear Democratic supporters of her who go, listen, I just want to see more of Bill.  How could you not use someone like that?  But yes, it does open up the probability that the marriage will come back with a vengeance. 

CARLSON:  We’re never going to do that because most of us in the press support her anyway.  But it’s more than that, we feel guilty about what we din the ‘90s.  We’re not going to re-litigate—I’m serious.  We’re not going to re-litigate that.  I hope we don’t.  I don’t want to know any more about their marriage.  I don’t want to get into their sex lives at all. 

STODDARD:  But their supporters do.  Richard’s right.  They love him.  There’s a lot of banter back and forth in the fund raising e-mails about—she writes back if he sends one out.  She says, make sure that when he shows up he eats carrots and not French Fries, or whatever that little thing is about his diet.  And they do this intimate thing because people want more Bill, just like he said. 

It’s absolutely—can you imagine her trying to raise those funds on here own? 

CARLSON:  It bothers me.  Kaitlin Flannigan (ph) has a fascinating piece in “The Atlantic” this month that leads off with a long explanation of whatever happened to Sox, the presidential cat, during the Clinton years.  She reminds us that Sox was more than just a pet, but was a way for the Clintons to say we have real marriage.  This is an important part of our marriage.  This is a member of our family.  She wrote a book about Sox. 

Whatever happened to Sox?  Well, as you may remember, Sox was inconvenient in the end.  And kind of ditched Sox and gave her to the president’s secretary.  Sox is no longer around.  She makes a point, as a feminist and as someone who once really liked Hillary Clinton, this is kind of a window into the falseness of the Clintons’ inner lives, and they push this crap on us.  We have to sit there and take it.  I don’t know.  There’s something ugly about that.  By the way, who gives up a pet?  What is that about? 

WOLFFE:  Why do people buy into it in the first place?  Do people think it was real the whole Sox thing?  Look, cat lovers maybe voted for them—

CARLSON:  But you are a cynical worldly foreigner.  You were never—

But Americans are kind of sweet and ingenuous and they --  

WOLFFE:  They believe in—

CARLSON:  Stop using your family to get elected, that’s all I’m saying.  Is that fair or no? 

WOLFFE:  Given this family, that would be hard.  Look, there’s so much history here.  I don’t know how they walk away from it.  I don’t think they can.  The best idea is to work on the relationships they have; and they certainly doing that within the party, saying, you got to be loyal to me.  Bill says, you got to be loyal to me; be loyal to her. 

You know, it’s worked so far.  What’s not to like?  They’re 30 points ahead in the polls. 

CARLSON:  You’re right.  Poor John Edwards is not.  The Edwards’ campaign, not in public, though occasionally Mrs. Edwards once said, we can’t make John a woman.  We can’t make him black.  We have to do the best we can.  The idea is that they’re at a disadvantage because he’s a white man running in a party at this pint dominated by a woman and a black man.  But there also have been charges of racism and sexism against John Edwards for claiming that he’s the most electable, in other words, that the fact Hillary is a woman or Barack Obama is a black man hurts them, and that’s a racist or sexist thing to say.  What do you make of that? 

STODDARD:  I think that John Edwards is trying to use what he can, which is he probably speaks rural better than the other two.  It’s true that he beat the Jesse Helms political machine in a red state.  That’s great.  Well, he’s run way to left since then, for starters.  And I think it’s probably—he said something the other day very provocative, like, just picture the other—picture my rivals running in a rough place. 

And if you answer it—if he’s asked to elaborate on this, he could be really running—I mean, this could backfire on him.  You don’t play the white card in this party. 

CARLSON:  Do you think he is pulling the white card? 

STODDARD:  I don’t know for sure.  I’m just saying I understand what he’s doing.  He’s trying to say that he’s the rural candidate.  I understand that.  But if it—when he says, imagine them running in a tough spot.  Imagine him running in a tough spot.  He’s running to the left.  He’s extremely liberal now. 

CARLSON:  That’s a very good point.

STODDARD:  So what is he talking about?

CARLSON:  The white card is the one card you can’t play.  You’re not allowed to play that card, period. 

WOLFFE:  Here’s another problem with this argument, which is polls show he is actually less electable against Republicans than Hillary Clinton.  The polls don’t back him up on this argument. 

CARLSON:  Also, who says electability is the end all, be all.  Dennis Kucinich, a folk hero to many, is not the obviously most electable on the Democratic side, though he may have broken open a whole new voting demographic with the following news.  This comes from Shirley MacLaine’s new book.  She’s the sister of Warren Beatty, former actor, her new book “Saging While Aging.”  This is on pages 143-144.  She says this, “Dennis Kucinich had a close sighting of a UFO over my home in Graham, Washington when I lived there.  Dennis found his encounter extremely moving.  The smell of roses drew him out to my balcony, where, when he looked up, he saw a gigantic triangular craft, silent and observing him.  It hovered soundless for ten minutes ago and sped away with a speed he could not comprehend.  He said he felt a connection in his hart and heard directions in his mind.”

He heard directions in his mind.  I called the Kucinich office today and asked for comment.  Not surprisingly, they were not offering comment on this account.  He was getting directions from outer space according to Shirley MacLaine. 

WOLFFE:  Your point is?

CARLSON:  My point is—

STODDARD:  There were Iowa caucus goers on that craft.  You got to look for support everywhere you can. 

CARLSON:  Oh, my, gosh, that’s voter out, out, out-reach. 

WOLFFE:  The president has said that he has a connection with a higher authority.  Kucinich has a connection with an even higher one. 

STODDARD:  Dennis Kucinich is the happiest man in the Democratic field.  OK?  And I want to say—I just want to say that I watched the entire night of this debate at Howard University that PBS sponsor a few months ago.  Let me tell you, the audience clapped the most for Dennis Kucinich.  His responses got the most applause on the war, on poverty, on everything, better than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. 

So I know he’s not going to become the nominee, but that guy is definitely not a joke any more. 

CARLSON:  I am not in any way attacking Dennis Kucinich.  In 2004 we had a make-up artist—when I was at CNN—who was deeply into aroma therapy and new age healing.  She said of all the people whose faces she touched over 20 years as a make up artist, Dennis Kucinich had the purest energy. 

WOLFFE:  That’s endorsement. 

CARLSON:  That was an endorsement.  Everybody who lives in Taos—in places like Taos completely agree.  Dennis Kucinich is their candidate.  I like Dennis.  Thank you very much.  A.B., Richard, I appreciate it. 

Wind-whipped wild fires, trouble out west, flames racing in every direction sending hundreds of thousands fleeing their homes.  We’ll get the latest from one of the hardest hit areas.  That’s coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Back to our top story, the California wildfires.  San Diego county is one of the hardest hit areas.  The Witch Fire there has already charred more than 160,000 acres and engulfed at least 500 homes.  NBC’s Jay Gray is live in Rancho Bernardo and joins us with the latest.  Jay, what do you see? 

JAY GRAY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hey there, Tucker.  Yes, we’re just north of downtown San Diego.  The situation here, not very good.  We’re seeing more smoke.  There’s word of another fire that has sparked.  Currently working four very active fires in this area.  This neighborhood one of the hardest hit, as you take a look around.  This is what you see block after block.  Some of the rubble here still smoldering.

It is a very tense, very difficult situation.  As we walk back across now, this home gone as you look out over the deck.  What was probably a beautiful view at one time now looks down into a valley that is scorched.  There are burned homes.  Again, thousands have moved to shelters.  In fact, let’s take a look straight above now.  You can hear the choppers.  We’ll move up. 

Again, we continue to see choppers moving across the area just out of the reach of our camera.  Sorry about that.  But they continue to survey the hot spots around this area.  They are concerned that more fires, Tucker, could be on the way here. 

CARLSON:  Is there—let’s say the fire continues to move south, toward downtown San Diego; is there the belief that it can be stopped if it really comes down to it?  Can fire crews stop that fire? 

GRAY:  If the conditions stay the way they are right now, their answer I believe from the men on the front line is no.  We don’t have any control of this fire.  They say it is too hot here right now.  There’s no humidity.  But it’s the winds, the Santa Anas that continue to gust, at times over 70 miles an hour, that are causing the biggest problem and fueling this blaze. 

They do say all of that should change dramatically late Wednesday and into the end of the week.  They expect much better conditions.  That’s when they move from this preventive stance, from survival mode, if you will, into actually fighting and trying to contain the flames.  They expect that to happen late Wednesday and moving to the end of the week.  They expect to have better handle on what is happening here. 

CARLSON:  Jay, at least two people have died, we are hearing.  Do we have any idea how they died? 

GRAY:  No.  To be honest, we’ve talked with officials about that.  They say our focus right now is on protecting those that are still alive that may be in the danger zone.  We know they were trapped in the fire.  We’re not exactly sure how or why.  But again, they want to avoid situations like this.  They want to save and protect as many homes as they can and prevent them from becoming piles of ash that continue to smoke for days. 

They are going to work toward that effort.  They say they are going to continue and try to contain when they can.  But right now the situation is preventive.  It’s survival.  They say that is what we’re going to do.  We’ll get to the specifics of what has happened a bit later in this investigation. 

CARLSON:  NBC’s Jay Gray in Rancho Bernardo, California.  Thanks a lot, Jay.

GRAY:  You bet.

CARLSON:  You can’t prove it was science or reason; if you believe in the resurrection through faith alone, some people will call you crazy.  So what is so great about Christianity?  My next guest says plenty.  He’s here to explain.  You’re watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  We’ve seen a rash of books lately questioning faith in god, even the existence of god.  From “The Atheist Bible” to “God Is Not Great,” some have become best sellers, while other have caused some people to question their deepest beliefs.  Now comes Dinesh D’Souza’s book “What’s So Great About Christianity,” in which he uses historical passages, theology, even science, to argue that Christianity, in fact, makes sense and that doubters are wrong. 

Joining us now from New York Dinesh D’Souza himself.  Dinesh, thanks for coming on. 

DINESH D’SOUZA, AUTHOR, “WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT CHRISTIANITY”:  Nice to be on the show. 

CARLSON:  Here is a question I don’t know the answer to; in the world I live in, Christianity is deeply unpopular, as you know, in the media world.  But it’s uniquely unpopular.  A lot of religions out there, Hinduism, Islam, Orthodox Judaism.  But it’s Christianity people really team to hate.  Why is that? 

D’SOUZA:  I think there are two reasons.  One is that we learn Christianity when we’re very young.  We learn it, if you will, in a crayon fashion.  Then we go off to school and college.  We find that our Christianity comes under attack.  People say, how can you believe in a god with a big gray beard?  How can you believe in miracles in the 21st century?  So we find ourselves lapsing from the faith.

And why, because it was a very juvenile childhood faith that we couldn’t defend in terms of reason.  So many people feel they have out grown Christianity.  But they haven’t out grown adult Christianity, only the sort of adolescent or crayon Christianity that they learned as a child.  I think that’s why people feel I’ve out grown it.  I’m beyond it.  I got to look for something else. 

CARLSON:  Do you think Christians do a good job representing their faith? 

D’SOUZA:  No, particularly not now.  I think many Christians have gone into a very defensive mode.  They’re very nervous about science.  Many of them live in a sense in two worlds.  They kind of want to practice their faith in private, in church, at home, and leave the public square neutral.  But little do they know that the atheists would come galloping in, occupy the public square and basically attack Christianity not just ultimately for putting up a monument of the Ten Commandments, but for being irrational and even immoral, for leading to the kind of fanaticism that we’ve scene religious violence around the world. 

There’s a real effort on the part of the atheists to link Christianity to Islamic fanaticism.  Someone described 9/11, for example, as a faith-based initiative.  This is the atheist propaganda that my book, “What’s So Great About Christianity,” is trying to answer. 

CARLSON:  But we all know that religion causes wars, right?  I mean, most people in the 20th century were murdered by religious fanatics, weren’t they? 

D’SOUZA:  No, actually, in a funny way it’s odd how the atheists will focus on the religious crimes of 500 years ago, the inquisition, or a thousand years ago, the crusades.  And they missed the atheist crimes of really our lifetime.  In the last century you have atheist regimes not just Stalin and Mao, but Pol Pot, Ceausescu, Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro.  Tens of millions of people killed in the name of establishing an atheist utopia liberated from the shackles of tradition religion and traditional morality. 

So the atheists have a lot more to answer for. 

CARLSON:  You know, here’s kind of quasi political question; I’m Christian and pretty conservative.  Yet lot of Christian conservatives, I think, don’t do the faith really any good in the way they advertise it.  Why haven’t—why didn’t conservatives stand up and say—you know, I think Pat Robertson, personally, turns a lot of people away from Christianity.  Maybe he’s good for certain politicians.  But I don’t think he’s a good advertisement for the faith at all. 

Why have conservatives not denounced him? 

D’SOUZA:  I do think there is—because there’s a little bit of an unhealthy marriage of convenience in a way between the Christian right, if you will.  The conservatives have to some degrees used religion for their benefit and that’s why—that’s given the atheist a bit of an advantage.  They can attack fundamentalism.  When their real target isn’t fundamentalism.  It’s traditional Christianity. 

So in this book, “What’s so Great About Christianity,” I leave the politics out.  I’m defending not fundamentalism, not the Christian right, but traditional or main stream Christianity, which is the Christianity that the different denominations, the Catholics and the Protestants agree on. 

CARLSON:  Finally, what percentage of this country is Christian in an observant way, church going, really believe the basic tenants of Christianity? 

D’SOUZA:  About a half.  I would say that the—there are lots of nominal Christians who are Christian by birth, but not serious about the faith.  In some ways I even think you could call them practical atheist, by which I mean they live as if god did not exist.  So I would say the country is divided right down the middle between perhaps a narrow Christian minority, but then an increasingly vocal and militant secular, in some ways even atheist, minority that’s very determined to target the next generation, which is to say the children, through the schools and through the universities. 

CARLSON:  I hate to say it, but I think they’re winning.  I appreciate you’re coming on.   Thank you very much.  “What’s So Great About Christianity” is the book.  That does it for up.  Next up, “HARDBALL.”  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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