updated 10/26/2007 12:48:59 PM ET 2007-10-26T16:48:59

Guests: Bill Press, Michael Crowley, Ryan Lizza

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  The Bush administration gets tougher on Iran but critics say it‘s a stealth buildup to another war the welcome to the show.  The administration slaps sanctions on Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard Corps—a main unit of its Defense Ministry, three of its largest banks and eight individuals the U.S. government says are arming extremist organizations across the Middle East.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meanwhile denounced that move saying it pushes U.S.-Iran problems toward a dead end.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged that these tough new sanctions would be perceived in some quarters as a step toward war but she reiterate the administration‘s stand that the president is committed to a diplomatic solution to the rising tensions between Tehran and Washington.  Tough restrictions on North Korea predated the apparent solution to the nuclear crisis of Pyongyang.  Might the administration have done something smart or President Bush‘s critics correct that we are headed toward more armed conflict in the Middle East?  In the moment, Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia will join us.

Plus: Rudy Giuliani is all over the news today as well, from the story of the mob‘s decision not to whack him in the ‘80s to his controversial World Series allegiance with the Red Sox, to the report that a man in Giuliani‘s employment is a priest once accused of sexual abuse.  America‘s mayor is making headlines the way only a front-runner can.

And the man who would displace Giuliani at top to post—Mitt Romney is the subject of a penalty and strategy study in the New Yorker magazine.  Later in the hour, we‘ll talk to the man that did that study about the blue state normal Republican who just might end up winning the Republican nomination.

We begin with America‘s sanctions against Iran since the hostage crisis in 1979.  What they mean and what their affects may be?  Joining us is with his take is Democratic Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia.  Congressman, welcome.  I‘m a little confused why Democrats are upset about this?  This seems to be the course of action they‘ve been calling for since the beginning - more sanctions, tougher diplomacy to get Iran not to build a nuclear weapon.

REP. JIM RAND, (D) VIRGINIA:  You know, if that‘s all it is, Tucker, that would be fine, but we have a little history with this administration.  There‘s some deja vu, a sense of deja vu here.  They—they require things that they know are not going to be received well by the Iranian administration and it comes to a—you know, it comes to a stalemate, a chicken, if you will, and that‘s what we‘re concerned about because the same people that are pushing the tougher sanctions are the same ones that led us into war in Iraq.  So, you know, you have to forgive us a little bit if we‘re - we‘re a little more cautious this time around.

CARLSON:  Wait.  Wait a second.  I‘m confused, Congressman.  You just said that the administration is doing things that will not be well-received by the administration in Iran.  Do sanctions have to be well-received by the people they‘re aimed at?  I thought the whole point was if they don‘t like them so they change their behavior.

MORAN:  Of course, and I don‘t expect them to be well-received.  I‘m trying to be diplomatic on your show, Tucker.  But the fact is they‘re doing things they know are just going to—are going to taunt the Iranian administration and create a bolder stance on their part.  You know, we don‘t this to Burmese military or to the North Korean military who actually have a nuclear weapon.  We don‘t label any of these awful military regimes to be terrorists or to describe them in the way that we‘re describing the Quds Guards and the fact is that Iran has been helpful to us.  The North Koreans have never been helpful, let alone the Burmese military, the Iranians helped us in Afghanistan.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m a little—I‘m a little bit confused, Congressman.  Isn‘t the whole point to keep Iran from getting the nuclear weapon because once a nation has a nuclear weapon, you have very little influence over that nation.  I mean, that—that empowers the nation and makes it more dangerous.  That‘s the whole point.  We can‘t take a tougher stand with North Korea because they have a nuclear weapon.  That‘s where we don‘t want run to be,isn‘t that the whole idea?

MORAN:  Absolutely, Tucker, but I question that that‘s the result they‘re trying to achieve because they‘re not sitting down and talking with Iran under any conditions.  Iran has to agree to all of the conditions before they will talk to them.  That‘s the problem.  That‘s what we did with Iraq and what we have done in other situations except for North Korea.  We started talking with North Korea and we actually mitigated the situation.

CARLSON:  Wait, wait.  Hold on.  What do you mean mitigated the situation?  We talked throughout the 1990s - Clinton administration did in the hope that they wouldn‘t build the bomb.  They built the bomb anyway.  So we lost that battle.  They have a nuclear weapon.  They win.  We lose.  That‘s the whole point with Iran, isn‘t it?  Just try to prevent that from happening?

MORAN:  I‘m referring to the last several months as you know, Tucker.  We have achieved progress with the North Korean government and, in fact, they‘re allowing some inspections.  The State Department is pleased with the progress that Chris Hill has made.  But we don‘t want to engage in any kind of diplomacy, let alone multi-lateral action with—with Iran.  This is all unilateral.  It‘s the kind of approach that every other ally has rejected.  They‘re suggesting sit down, talk with them.  There should be give and take.  But Iran is a big country -- 70 million people.  We don‘t have the military capability to play chicken with Iran.

CARLSON:  Wait a second.  You say we need a multi-lateral approach.  The administration says they believe that, too.  I don‘t know if they‘re sincerity, but hold on.  The fact is that Democrats point to the Russian dissatisfaction with the sanctions as if it‘s significant.  Russia is a business partner with Iran.  Russian has its own seasons for not wanting the United States to take a tough stand with Iran.  Russia and the U.S.  have different interests.  So, maybe that‘s why we haven‘t been able to work together to disarm Iran.

MORAN:  Let‘s put this in context.  Last week the president

threatened them with World War III.  Now -

CARLSON:  He didn‘t threaten them.  Come on.  I can‘t sit here and listen to that.  That‘s not true.  I‘m not defending Bush.  He blew it in Iraq.  He didn‘t threaten them.  You know it.  That‘s ridiculous.  I did that story in the show.  He didn‘t threaten.  He said that what‘s going to happen if we don‘t pull back and if they get the bomb.  He didn‘t say we‘re going to wage World War III against you.  Come on.  You know that.

MORAN:  Alright, he used the term World War III and what I‘m suggesting is that - that is received internationally different than it is in this country.  You know, we don‘t take what the president says quite as seriously as we might have seven years ago, but they do in places like Iran and Russia and China.  And they start talking.  What if he‘s serious about World War III?  This is the kind of—the kind of attitude—my way or the highway.  That we have taken in foreign policy that‘s led us down the wrong path both in Iraq, which we can see, and possibly in Iran.  I don‘t want to get into more military confrontation with any country.

CARLSON:  I agree with you.  I‘m not arguing that a Bush‘s foreign policy has been a success.  This is my sole argument and I‘d just like a quick answer from you.  We know that Iran is moving toward possession of a nuclear weapon.  We haven‘t been able to stop them not the Europeans that they tried very hard.  What shall we do next?  What is the adult plan going forward to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons?  I think we all agree that would be terrible.  What do we do next?

MORAN:  We know that they are developing nuclear capability and they need it because they‘re refining capacity, et cetera, is not sufficient to power that country.  Now, are they developing nuclear weapons?  I would suspect that they have that in mind as well because that raises their stature and people who like Ahmadinejad would want something like that, but not necessarily the people who really control foreign policy in Iran.  But we don‘t talk with them.  We threaten them, be bully, you know, we make all kinds of grandiose statements.  We don‘t sit down and find out what they really want and I think we need to work with people like Al Barady (ph) and the international community, particularly people do talk to Iran, find out what they really are trying to achieve, and see if there is a way we can allow them to have nuclear power to power civilians, their civilian activities, but not to get into the area of nuclear weaponry.  I still think that‘s possible.  But how would we know when we‘re doing everything we I to isolate, to marginalize them, to create this confrontation, which I‘m afraid could lead to some kind of military confrontation, which is what some of the neo-cons that pushed us into Iraq I think would really like to see.  I don‘t and I don‘t think it‘s in America‘s interest to move in that direction, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Alright.  Senator Jim Moran of Virginia. Thanks up for joining us.

MORAN:  You bet.

CARLSON:  Move over, Iraq - Iran now the top foreign policy issue in the presidential campaign.  Hillary Clinton at the center of it all.  Could her vote on Iran hurt her chances for the nomination?  Did anything hurt her chances?  Plus, Rudy Giuliani has been called an adulterer, a Liberal other bad names, but now Yankee fans are calling him something far worse—traitor.  We‘ll tell you what he did.  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  So the question is, is Iran the new Iraq in this presidential race?  Joining me now, “The New Republic”s Michael Crowley and National Syndicated radio talk show host and all around good guy—Bill Press.  Welcome to you both.  This is not as simple, maybe, as it sounds.  I mean, I know that the Democrats are highly paranoid that the Bush administration is putting together another war and it‘s going to be poised it on America and all that  but the truth is none of the Democratic candidates can say that Iraq isn‘t a threat to world peace, because it is.

BILL PRESS, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO HOST:  Iran.

CARLSON:  Iran.  There you go.  Whatever.  All of those “I” countries in the Middle East, yes.

PRESS:  You know what I think?  We‘ve seen this movie before.  I mean, I did this—I wrote my column on this today.  We‘ve got the same characters reading the same script.  The only thing that‘s different is the name of the country.  And it‘s the same plot.  And they start out with sanctions and then Congress passes a resolution and the next thing you know, we‘re in the middle of a war.  You were suckered in by it the last time and a lot of other people were.  Americans will not be suckered in again.

CARLSON:  I wouldn‘t say I was suckered into it.  I was to the extent that I believed that if Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States, we ought to take action.  I still think that‘s a good guiding principle when to go to war.  It turned out not to be true.  That‘s right.

PRESS:  Now they‘re saying Iran is.  Why are they right about Iran and so wrong about Iraq?

CARLSON:  I‘ll tell you exactly why.  Because in Iraq, there was question about whether these—it turns out whether the weapons existed.  The government of Iran has said—this is one of the largest petroleum producing countries in the world.  They said we need a nuclear program for energy and we‘re going forward on with our nuclear program and that‘s our God-given right and you can‘t stop us.  We know they‘re moving toward nuclear capabilities.

PRESS:  Which is their legal right like the right of any country of

the planet -

CARLSON:  Absolutely not.  Says who?

PRESS:  To develop nuclear power, to provide electricity for their people.  That‘s their right.

CARLSON:  No, it‘s not.

PRESS:  Yes, it is.  Who‘s to say, they can not have nuclear power

CARLSON:  We are.  Because our country keeps order on this world, to the extent there is order.  That‘s true.  That‘s a fact.  That‘s what we are.

PRESS:  Tucker, I mean, if you—if that‘s—I mean, you‘re worse

than George Bush by making that statement.  If you say it‘s our right to

deny anybody on the planet the right to make technological progress because

we don‘t want it, its -

CARLSON:  It is our right to prevent threats to us from blossoming

into factual existence -

PRESS:  Well, then the question is -

CARLSON:  And this is an example of that.

PRESS:  Let‘s just assume—which is possible, right?  And I think there‘s a way that we could stop them from progressing from nuclear power for energy or electricity beyond that.  But let‘s just say that get to that point.  Why is Iran having nuclear power, power plants like we have in this country, why is that a threat to the United States?

PRESS:  Because it‘s not about—come on, Bill.  Iran wants a nuclear war.  Let‘s be real.  Who wouldn‘t want a nuclear weapon I mean seriously?

MICHAEL CROWLEY:  Well, I think it‘s not actually want a nuclear power there have been proposals, for instance, Russia has tried to say—and I‘m not going to get the details just right, but basically we‘ll have an arrangement where we control the fuel.  I mean, that would be a way around this.  If they‘re sincere, and that‘s when people at a way to call their bluff.  If you‘re sincere about just wanting power let someone else control the fuel and everyone is happy and you could have your power and they don‘t want that.  Now, they say this has to do with national pride and why should we have to share our fuel, and they‘re not totally crazy arguments, but I think they essentially put the light to the idea that it‘s just power that they‘re after.

CARLSON:  (INAUDIBLE). So, Iran I‘m not being Bill—I‘m not a warmonger at all.  Do you really want Iran to have a nuclear weapon?  Let‘s just be real about it.  That‘s a huge problem, no?

PRESS:  You‘ve jumped to a nuclear weapon now.  We were dealing before with nuclear energy before.  Nuclear weapon, no.  But let me tell you something and nobody mentioned this, OK?  There are other ways of dealing with this - look at Khaddafy (ph).  There‘s nobody crazier than Khaddafy.  We went to him and said, look, you must need something.

CARLSON:  We invaded Iraq and scared the hell out of the guy.  Come on, bill.

PRESS:  Tucker, don‘t believe the propaganda.

CARLSON:  It‘s not propaganda.  I‘m against the war in Iraq.

PRESS:  The talks with Khaddafy started way before the war in Iraq.  We talked to Khaddafy—we said there‘s something you need.  What can we give you that will—that—in return for which you‘re willing to abandon your nuclear program?  And we found it.  We could find it with Iran.

CARLSON:  Boy.  I just—I thing that—I just noticed the tone -

I mean, Obama released a statement today which begins this way, Mr.

Crowley.  It is important to have tough sanctions on Iran, particularly the Iranian Revolutionary Guards which supports terrorist. And then he goes on to say he has problems with the Kyle/Lieberman amendment.  His first line is, you know, I‘m as terrified of Iran as you are.

CROWLEY:  Well, that‘s what‘s so tricky at this debate.  Everyone seems to agree that we need really tough sanctions and really tough sanctions don‘t seem to be working.  So, you know, increasing sanctions is what everyone wants.  It‘s just that no one trusts this administration to do it and when you keep hearing about Dick Cheney‘s intentions, any intent to sort of turn the screws gets people understandably paranoid about it‘s a prelude to.  So, in other words, doing this the right way, which is to tighten sanctions and try to show the Iranians that you‘re serious is also consistent with this ramp-up to war that might seem like the beginning of another disaster.  So it‘s sort of hard to disaggregate what exactly is sort of sincerity and what is the ramp-up.  But I mean it‘s perfectly valid, it seems to me, to be imposing more sanctions, tightening the screws and maybe throwing around some tough rhetoric.  The problem is this is what the administration has sowed.

CARLSON:  I mean, they‘re sort of doing what Democrats have asked them to do, but apparently there‘s no trust left.

PRESS:  One of the problems is since it‘s resolution and  I think we haven‘t talked about this yet.  Hillary made a mistake voting for that resolution.  But since that resolution that the administration wanted there‘s no overthrow to Iran , there‘s been no talks with Iran or anything. 

The next step-is sanctions.  Tucker I talked to your friend of mine, Ron

Paul today interviewed him on my show.  You know what Ron Paul said about

this?  Ron Paul said sanctions are an act of war and this is the first act

of war in the—in the -

CARLSON:  I love Ron Paul.  I just think that United States has an obligation to protect itself against lunatics who might threaten it with the most powerful weapon ever devised.  I just don‘t think it‘s a good thing for them to get the bomb.  I don‘t know, call me a warmonger.  OK.  We‘re out of time.

CROWLEY:  Let me say one thing about Hillary.  Her Iraq vote everyone said was political.  This time she‘s not making the bait.  They said she‘s going to politics then she‘s going against the politics now.  You start to see a pattern that maybe she‘s actually a hawk.  She doesn‘t just blow with the winds.  And that‘s interesting here.

CARLSON:  I think she‘s a hawk for political reasons, but she‘s definitely a hawk.  I agree with that.

PRESS:  And that‘s why a lot of people on the left has problems with.

CARLSON:  Rudy Giuliani has at least one mob boss to thank for saving his life.  Otherwise he might be sleeping with the fishes.  Thank goodness the mafia is a democracy.  We‘ll explain that.

Plus: If Barack Obama is elected, he wants Al Gore to play a major role on his administration he says.  All that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Earlier this week, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani declared himself a Red Sox fan temporarily, anyway.  That development led journalists and political opponents back to the historical record where they found this.  Just last year, Giuliani was asked if the devil said you can be president if you became a Red Sox fan, would you do it?  His response?  I‘m a Yankee fan.

Back with us to discuss Satan and baseball, “The New Republic,” Michael Crowley and Nationally Syndicated talk show host Bill Press.  Michael Crowley, here is Rudy Giuliani explaining why after decades of Yankee fandom he has decided to side with the archenemy, the Boston Red Sox.  Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI:  I‘m rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series.  I used to do this in New York.  I‘d go to Queens.  I‘m a Yankee fan.  All Met fans in queens.  I‘d say I‘m rooting for the Yankees.  Now you can respect me.  They didn‘t.  But they did vote for me.  I‘m rooting for the Red Sox - - I‘m an American league fan.  I go with the American league team.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I know.  OK.  So that‘s the Yankees and the Red Sox are both in the American league.  But, I mean, come on.

CROWLEY:  That is such a lame explanation.  Anybody who knows what

that rivalry is like knows that -

CARLSON:  And he of all people.

CROWLEY:  Supersedes league rivalry.  I mean he is the only man on

earth who puts league rivalries ahead of the Sox/Yankees rivalry.  And

there‘s something kind of particularly sweet about this because you know, I

saw him in South Carolina a couple of weeks ago.  In a couple of events, he

took these really gratuitous shots at Hillary for pretending to be a

Yankees fan.  As I understand it‘s basically in mythology, this idea that

she created her being a Yankee fan when she wanted to run for Senator in

New York in fact, there‘s sort of contemporaneous evidence that says she

was really saying that back before she had any interest in New York

politics.  So, it was a cheap shot and better you should have bad taste

than trying to be a phony, which it what it looks like Rudy is doing.  And

just wanted to say one last thing, this is kind of a trivial thing.  On the

other hand, it‘s the kind of thing that people can relate to.  It‘s a kind

thing that breaks through to someone who‘s not following politics - you

know, the ends and outs of the value voters conference.  I think it looks

really -

CARLSON:  I completely agree.  That‘s why it‘s in the show.  And of course, New Hampshire is Red Sox country and this is a naked ploy for the votes of New Hampshire Red Sox fans.

PRESS:  I think it‘s all over.  Seriously.  You‘re absolutely right.  I mean, they can maybe live with his position on guns and they could live with his position on gays and might live with his position on choice, but this?  This is stuff people are really serious about.

CARLSON:  I agree.  It‘s pretty offensive at a pretty deep level.  “The New York Post” reports said that Rudy Giuliani was the seven supposed to  give a vote by the five mafia families in New York back in the ‘80s—a couple of them including the tip on Don himself voted to whack Mr.  Giuliani but three voted against it so he‘s still alive.

PRESS:  Yes and let me predict that had Rudy Giuliani backed the Red Sox back then, the vote would have gone the other way.  He would have been whacked.

CARLSON:  What about news today?  If Giuliani turns out one of his closest life long friends who works with the campaign who was a Catholic priest who was accused of molesting boys.  Three, I believe and removed from his duties as a priest by the Catholic church.  Giuliani came out today and defended him.  You couldn‘t make that up.

CROWLEY:   I‘m at a loss to give you, you know, any kind of intelligent response.  It‘s totally bizarre.  In a weird way, I supposed you could say that it says something about his willingness to stand up for a friend who‘s a pariah.  The guy hasn‘t been convicted.  That‘s the best you could say.  You judge people in politics and you throw your friends overboard, but this is a pretty special case.  And from the articles I read, it doesn‘t seem like it‘s a smear.  So it‘s a difficult thing to explain.  I will say, you know, it seems like a perfect middle of the night windshield flyer attack they put in South Carolina, you know.  I mean, I just feel like that‘s—it‘s going to come back to roost.  It‘s the nature of these campaigns.

CARLSON:  In South Carolina, I suspect catholic priests aren‘t that popular anyway in the heavily-Baptist areas but I mean, I don‘t know what to think, I‘m repulsed by this.  There are people who are on the record photographs on the newspaper who say this guy grabbed me.  This guy molested me.  What does Giuliani do?  This is one of his close friends.

PRESS:  Look, it‘s a question of judgment.  You‘re also known by the company you keep.  And he‘s got this Bernie Kerik, he‘s got to spend a lot of time explaining to and now he‘s got this defrocked Catholic priest.  What is - it‘s not worth his campaign to keep this guy onboard.  They had to throw them overboard, everybody would understand why.  He made a mistake.  I hired him, I didn‘t realize it.

CARLSON:  No, it‘s more than that.  He describes him as one of my closest friends.  I‘ll give him the presumption of innocence.  At least he‘s loyal.  That‘s good.

PRESS:  Then he‘ll go down with the ship.

CARLSON:  Hillary Clinton has widened her vast lead over Barack Obama.  Could it be over for the Obama campaign?  The lead is that big.  We‘ll tell you what it is.  Plus: A New Yorker digs deep into Mitt Romney. 

We‘ll talk to the author about what he found there.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  A day before her 60th birthday, Hillary Clinton got another indication that she will turn 61 as the Democratic presidential nominee.  In the latest “L.A. Times”/Bloomberg poll of Democratic primary voters, Mrs. Clinton earned the favor of 48 percent, to just 17 percent for Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.  That‘s a 31 point lead for those of you keeping score, and it represents an erosion in Obama‘s support among affluent and highly-educated voters.  That was his base, has been since day one. 

How close is the Democratic base from being the old mercury rule from little league baseball, where they call off the game to avoid embarrassing the losing team?  Or put another way, the Red Sox versus the Colorado Rockies last night at Fenway. 

Back to discuss it, the “New Republic‘s” Michael Crowley and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press.  This is bad, Bill.  Let‘s put the numbers up again, in case you missed them.  Here they are;

Hillary Clinton—this is a national poll.  Caveat, they‘re not determinative, but they‘re interesting.  Hillary Clinton 48, Barack Obama 17, John Edwards 13. 

I mean, the interesting thing in this is that, you know, highly-educated, affluent people, Democrats, moving to Hillary.  That‘s bad. 

PRESS:  Plus, you add to that a 31 or 20 some point lead in New Hampshire and not that wide of a lead, but still she was number one in Iowa the last poll that I saw. 

CARLSON:  Twenty one points in New Hampshire. 

PRESS:  I have to say, I keep waiting for Barack Obama to make his move.  And I‘m—there‘s still time for him to make his move, but there‘s not a hell of a lot of time.  We‘re in November.  Let‘s face it.  You‘ve got November, December, and we‘re there. 

CARLSON:  People aren‘t really paying attention yet.  It‘s early.  That‘s not true.  So you know what he needs.  He needs a little Al Gore injection.  Barack Obama has said—In fact, I‘ll tell you exactly what he said.  He was asked this recently, what about Al Gore?  Should he run with you as your vice president?  He said, I promise you that as president, I will have him, Gore, involved in our administration in a very senior capacity in his role.  Having won the Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar, being a vice president again would probably be a step down for him. 

Probably right.  Would definitely be right, of course.  What senior—what very senior role could Al Gore have? 

CROWLEY:  I‘m not sure.  I‘m not sure he really meant to formulate it the way that it came out.  It sounds like he was promising that he would be national security advisor in the cabinet.  I don‘t see Gore doing that.  In think it was imprecise language.  But, you know, the more he can associate himself with Gore, the better.  Gore is beloved. 

CARLSON:  But wait, Gore is part of the regime and the mindset and the Washington-centered nature of the Democratic party that Obama decries and is attempting to get away from. 

CROWLEY:  Well, an amazing thing is the way Gore has re-created himself during the Bush era, and partly it‘s how wonderful he looks to Democrats in comparison to Bush.  I don‘t think people see him that way anymore.  He‘s the fighting outsider. 

CARLSON:  He‘s the one that went on Larry King to debate Ross Perot on behalf of NAFTA. 

CROWLEY:  Nobody remembers that stuff anymore.  It‘s all been swept away.  And one thing about those national polls, Iowa, it‘s so much closer, as Bill mentioned.  I think that‘s where it‘s all going to happen.  If Obama can beat her in Iowa, which is—about half or more of the voters there are undecided.  It‘s really hard to poll because you have this caucus system and that‘s really weird.  In many ways, I think this race is actually not that far from being a toss-up.  John Edwards is right there in the mix.

I think people over-emphasize the national polls.  That said, I would rather be Hillary than Obama right now, not least because of what it means for your fund raising, the national polls.  But Iowa, you have to remember, is very close. 

CARLSON:  I would rather be Hillary, too, not least because Barack Obama is now, and I say this with real sadness, giving in to the nut cakes on the hard left in his party on this question of whether he‘s a gay-basher or not.  Barack Obama is avowedly pro-gay in every way.  He‘s as pro-gay as you‘re going to be in American politics.  And yet he‘s taking all of this heat for including some gospel singer who apparently was gay and now says he‘s not gay, and that‘s a violation of some of the rules. 

And now Barack Obama is out there saying, no, really, I‘m not anti-gay.  I‘m going to have a gay clergyman in my event.  He‘s being pushed around by a bunch of these authoritarian lunatic creeps online.  I don‘t know why he‘s standing for it.

PRESS:  Cry me a river.  Throw the guy under the bus.  It‘s not worth taking the heat for this. 

CARLSON:  What do you mean?  The guy—

PRESS:  If I‘m Barack Obama‘s advisor, I‘d say look, he‘s got a whole flock of gospel singers.  It‘s not like this is the only one.  This guy is militantly anti-gay, OK?  Get rid of him.  You don‘t need him.  Barack Obama doesn‘t need him. 

CARLSON:  Look, I‘m not defending the guy.  This is so not my battle.  I could care less whether he‘s gay or was gay or intends to be gay.  It‘s so immaterial to me.  I just believe in the right of people to have their own thoughts and beliefs about things.  And there‘s this McCarthy tendency on the left, particularly on the organized online left, that you‘re not allowed to have different thoughts. 

And this poor Donny McGlerkin (ph) -- or whatever the hell his name is

says I was gay and now I‘m not gay.  Whatever, let‘s just leave it at that.  But he‘s not allowed to think that.  So they beat him over the head and attack Barack Obama for having him sing. 

CROWLEY:  They‘re not saying he can‘t think it at all.  They‘re upset that—

CARLSON:  Yes, they are. 

CROWLEY:  -- that Obama is literally giving him a platform. 

CARLSON:  He‘s giving him a platform to sing.  If you‘ve once been gay and are no longer gay, you claim, you‘re not allowed to sing at an event?  What‘s with that? 

PRESS:  Of course—That‘s a different argument.  There‘s a straw man.  Of course, everybody has a right to think anything they want in this country. 

CARLSON:  You know that‘s not true.  That‘s false. 

PRESS:  Barack Obama stands for something.  And it‘s stupid for him to have somebody affiliated with his campaign who stands for the opposite—

CARLSON:  You don‘t see that—he hasn‘t invited Donny McGlerkin to talk about gay rights issues.  He wants him to sing a song. 

PRESS:  The fact that we‘re talking about it means, to me, that Barack Obama is making a huge mistake. 

CARLSON:  I thought Obama was the candidate of principle, who was supposed to be ushering in a new politics based on belief and hopefulness and decency and all of that. 

CROWLEY:  The fact that we‘re talking about this, to me, shows how much campaigns are about manufactured controversies and nonsense that has nothing to do with  running the country.  Yes, he wanted to have this guy sing, and I just think it doesn‘t really say anything about Obama.  What it says is that someone on his staff who should have caught it made a mistake and any other campaign would have caught it.  So the most you can say is that some staffer in the—

CARLSON:  No. 

CROWLEY:  -- which tells you nothing about Obama.  So who cares? 

CARLSON:  I agree with that.  But it tells you something deeper about the state of the Democratic party.  It says that these crazies have undue control over the direction of the party and the behavior of the candidates.  Rather than just blowing off and saying, you know what, I‘m not anti-gay, they have taken—the Obama people have taken the bait. 

CROWLEY:  They are no crazier than—

CARLSON:  Yes, but they have more control.  They have more control.  It would be like giving—I‘m serious.  It‘s like giving—people always say, Jerry Falwell controls the Republican party.  This is every bit that.  And nobody is mentioning it. 

PRESS:  Tucker, slow down.  You know what this is?  This is the mirror reflection of Rudy Giuliani and the—and the priest, OK?  Neither one need this grief.  It‘s both—it‘s a mistake on both candidates to keep these people around. 

CARLSON:  But the priest is accused of committing crimes.  And it‘s not a crime. 

PRESS:  He‘s an embarrassment to the campaign.  This guy is an embarrassment to the Barack Obama campaign.  If you‘re a candidate, you don‘t need this.  You‘re right, it was a staff error.  But when it gets up to Barack‘s level, he ought to say, hey that was dumb.  Get rid of the guy and it‘s over.  We wouldn‘t be talking about it. 

CROWLEY:  If the outraged people had as much control as you say they do, this guy would have been thrown under the bus, which he hasn‘t. 

CARLSON:  No, because actually they‘re—there are a lot of anti-gay voters in the black community in South Carolina that can‘t be alienated.  That‘s the truth. 

CROWLEY:  Which is why this is an interesting debate on its own.  I think it doesn‘t say that much about Obama, but it goes to this kind of complicated sore spot in Democratic politics.  There are social conservatives in the—in the black religious community.  And that‘s an interesting phenomenon.  But, you know, if these people were, you know, controlling him like a puppet, he would have thrown the guy overboard, which he hasn‘t done. 

PRESS:  If Barack Obama is keeping this guy around to pander to that crowd, then that says something about Barack Obama, which I don‘t think we want to hear. 

CROWLEY:  He‘s trying to split the difference by -- 

PRESS:  That‘s not what he‘s supposed to be. 

CARLSON:  Speaking of pandering outside of your normal group of supporters, the John Edwards for president campaign, the poor doomed campaign of John Edwards—it‘s not over yet.  You‘re absolutely right.  But it‘s come out with his bill of rights for hunters and fishermen.  And the idea is he‘s got a southern accent.  There actually are real hunters and fishermen on that campaign.  Mudcat Saunders, who often comes on our show, great guy, Edwards supporter and a big hunter and fisherman. 

However, do you think that the average, sort of moderate to conservative southern voter looks at John Edwards and says, he‘s going to protect my gun rights? 

CROWLEY:  No, I don‘t think so.  But I think it does help him in Iowa.  I think he has rural credibility there that is very hard for Hillary and Obama and the other candidates to match.  I‘ve been trying to read the “Des Moines Register” coverage and there was a story about Edwards and these manure laws, having to do with how you control hog manure on the farms.  They‘re causing all these problems.  And he‘s trying to clamp down on manure. 

He has—he dealt with this when he was a senator in North Carolina. 

CARLSON:  He ran against a pig farmer. 

CROWLEY:  He seemed very fluent in it.  That gives him great credibility.  On the other hand, I watched a video on his website today where he was introduced by Cooter Jones (ph) form the “Dukes of Hazzard,” and the guy gives this great introduction.  Then Edwards walks out clean cut as can be, looking basically like a corporate lawyer in blue jeans.  He doesn‘t—the contrast didn‘t necessarily aid him.  But I do think he still plays better with rural voters in Iowa than Hillary or Obama.  That‘s one of his great strengths there. 

PRESS:  I happen to think it‘s good for Democrats, particularly in a state like Iowa, to come out for the hunters and the fishermen.  That‘s a big constituency.  If you look at the top three—I would have to agree with you—you look at Hillary and Barack Obama and John Edwards; which one will look more authentic out there hunting pheasants? 

CARLSON:  That‘s not saying much really.  You‘ve got like the Harvard law guy and the senator from New York, right? 

PRESS:  The three. 

CARLSON:  No, you‘re right.  OK, that‘s absolutely right.  You make the point, Mike, that, in fact, Fred Thompson may, in fact, be lazy.  And that‘s not a bad thing.  I‘ve said that on this show.  I couldn‘t agree with you more.  Explain your thesis. 

CROWLEY:  Well, in an article I wrote in the “New Republic” magazine this week, I argued that Fred Thompson—the laziness rap against Fred Thompson is devastating.  It‘s probably true.  It‘s also unfair.  Our society stigmatizes laziness.  We‘ve become a culture of workaholics.  Americans are working I think a hundred—it‘s dozens of hours more per month than they used to.  It‘s terrible.

And the political press corps in particular has become this kind of puritan workaholic thing. 

CARLSON:  They‘re a bunch of weenies. 

CROWLEY:  And they can‘t stand to a guy relaxing a little bit.  The flip side is what it drives other candidates to do and what they get rewarded for is this insane behavior.  I wrote about how John Kerry went on a 24-hour bus tour through Iowa in 2004.  And I went back and read the coverage, there was no point to the tour except to show the world I‘ll drive around in a bus for 24 hours if you want me to show you I‘m a hard worker.  It didn‘t accomplish anything. 

There were some great men in history who were very lazy.  Winston Churchill often was in bed until noon, working in his pajamas.  So I wanted to show up for laziness in American culture. 

CARLSON:  You know?  We have found a point of bipartisan consensus.  I think that‘s great.  I think a president who doesn‘t have so many plans for me and my family is a good president. 

CARLSON:  And the last thing is if Bush had been a little bit lazier, and perhaps had never gotten around to invading Iraq—

CARLSON:  I couldn‘t agree more.  I liked Bush when he was lazy. 

CROWLEY:  A post it note on the wall with Saddam and a question mark.  Then, I never got around to it.  We‘d all be better off.  That‘s how I would have done it. 

CARLSON:  That‘s a totally smart point. 

PRESS:  If only he‘d taken more naps.  I agree, I think lazy Americans deserve representation as well. 

CARLSON:  Amen.  I want a lazy president.  Hillary Clinton not lazy.  Hillary Clinton is up until like 3:00 in the morning thinking about ways to make you obey.  Thank you both very much. 

PRESS:  You better. 

CROWLEY:  I‘m going to go take a nap. 

CARLSON:  Mitt Romney goes from pro-choice governor to pro-life presidential candidate.  Will his strategy of shifting stances be a recipe for success? 

Later, the devastating situation in southern California is hitting Hollywood pretty hard.  That‘s especially true for one star in particular.   Our star reporter Bill Wolff has all the details coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is a smooth-talker with perfect hair, a man who, as the “New Yorker‘s” Ryan Lizza puts it, brings a salesman‘s bravado and certainty to the issue.  There‘s no doubt about that.  The question is, is the product worth buying?  Joining us now, the author of that new profile of the former Massachusetts Governor, Ryan Lizza.  Welcome. 

RYAN LIZZA, “THE NEW YORKER”:  Thanks for having me. 

CARLSON:  So a salesman‘s bravado and certainty to the issues.  Your profile of Romney describes a technocrat, not an ideologue, a man who‘s interesting in the mechanics rather than the reasons behind them. 

LIZZA:  That‘s a good way to put it.  That explains—if you‘re a technocrat, you just sort of look at the situation, figure out how to fix it, how to manage it.  So, you know, I think a lot of people have looked at Romney and tried to figure out how did this liberal Republican in Massachusetts transform himself into arguable the most conservative guy in the race, at least of the front runners? 

The answer is very easy.  The management consultant in this guy looked at the Republican field and said, OK, there‘s an opening here, here, and here.  I need to appeal to this group, this group, and this group.  Just go out and do it.  In the business world and as a management consultant, when you go in and advise a company what to do, you don‘t stress out over whether the new position of the company contradicts the old position.  You just tell them how to get from point A to B.

I think he‘s very empirical and practical in that sense.  Obviously,

there‘s a huge down side in politics.  You know, that‘s the—that‘s the

second part.  In the business world this is no big deal.  You just sort of

re-engineer the company. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

LIZZA:  And you don‘t really care what your past position was.  In the political world, authenticity counts for something, right?  And that‘s more important. 

CARLSON:  I always—I always leave room for sincere changes of heart in position, because it has certainly happened to me quite a few times.  You make the point that he sold his liberal positions just as he sells his conservative positions. 

LIZZA:  If you look at the history, that‘s what‘s so interesting about this guy.  I mean, he‘s a great salesman.  You watch him on the stump, he believes passionately. 

CARLSON:  Does he? 

LIZZA:  Well, you never know what‘s in a person‘s heart, right.  But he seems to and he‘s very aggressive and he‘s very persistent.  You know, there‘s a book he read when he was a Mormon missionary called “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.  This was a guy in the 1920‘s who sort of invented the self help genre.  This was—one of Romney‘s friends told me this was a really, really important book when they were in France as missionaries.  They read it and they literally studied it. 

I went through this book.  The big lesson is, be absolutely persistent and goal-oriented.  This is something that‘s through his—comes through his whole life. 

CARLSON:  You make the point that his campaign understands that in addition to his flip-flopping, his change of position on these big issues, his religion is the problem they face.  They‘ve got to surmount voter concerns about Mormonism before they get the nomination and the presidency. 

LIZZA:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  You suggest that he‘s not going to give a Kennedy-esque speech about his religion. 

LIZZA:  I think—there‘s a very smart woman I talked to for this piece and helped me really understand Mormonism.  Her name is Jan Ships, ad she‘s considered the foremost non-Mormon scholar on Mormonism in this country.  She pointed out something very interesting about Romney and his relationship to Mormonism.  She said, look, the way to look at Romney is he‘s not Mormon in the way, say, Ted Kennedy is Catholic.  He‘s Mormon in the way Ted Kennedy is Irish.  Mormonism is in some ways a culture, an ethnicity. 

For him to get up and give a speech and in any way distance himself from his faith is very, very hard.  It‘s not just the theology.  It‘s not just the specific doctrines of his religion that he has to ease people‘s concerns about.  It‘s a culture.  It‘s who he is.  And the American public doesn‘t understand Mormonism in the same way that they understood Catholicism in the ‘60s.  It‘s a religion that to most people is much more foreign than Catholicism is.  So it‘s a very complicated issue for him. 

CARLSON:  Well it is. 

LIZZA:  You can‘t just do it with one speech was her point to me.  I don‘t know if she‘s right, but I thought it was important. 

CARLSON:  Who is more concerned about Mormonism?  From the beginning we‘ve heard that it‘s Evangelicals who don‘t believe Mormonism is a species of Christianity.   

LIZZA:  Southern Baptists, they have traditionally been the most hostile to it. 

CARLSON:  But what about—there‘s this kind of weird phenomenon—maybe not so weird—where when Joe Lieberman was chosen as the vice presidential candidate in 2000, he was viewed in a very positive way by Evangelicals.  He‘s an orthodox Jew, but they like the fact that he‘s orthodox and he means it. 

LIZZA:  There‘s this argument that religiosity is more important than the specific faith you‘re from, right?  I‘ll never forget the limits of this, though.  I was with Joe Lieberman in a black church in South Carolina in 2003.  And I was with his aides and his aides were saying this Joe.  It doesn‘t matter that he‘s Jewish.  It matters that he‘s really religious.  And that‘s how he‘s going to win over religious blacks in this primary. 

The choir leader was singing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus.”  And she walked over and she stuck a microphone in front of Joe Lieberman‘s faces and said, Senator Lieberman, tell me, do you love Jesus?  I thought to myself, this is the moment where the limits of this strategy becomes obvious.  There are these differences that are important to people.

CARLSON:  That‘s because in the end we don‘t all agree on anything. 

LIZZA:  That‘s—that‘s right. 

CARLSON:  Ryan Lizza from “The New Yorker,” it‘s a great piece.  Thank you for coming on.  Appreciate it. 

Cabinet meetings may look boring to the rest of us, but now we have proof they actually are boring to our ever alert Vice President Dick Cheney.  Details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  There is so much non-Iran related news in the world today. 

For that, we go to our special correspondent in New York, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  It‘s not Iran, but it is important, Tucker.  And it begins in the United Kingdom, where we have beauty pageant news.  Miss England, who is named Georgie Horzley (ph), has been advised to fatten up.  The fetching Miss Horzley currently weighs in at nine stone.  Had to add that up, Tucker.  It‘s an extremely fit 126 pounds here in the U.S.

The director of the Miss England contest advises that miss world judges, before whom Miss England will wear a swim suit and pledge to feed the children of the world, prefer naturally curvy women because the pageant wants to promote healthy eating.  So, in order to appear to be a healthy eater, Miss England is now working to pack on some weight with a new high-fat diet in preparation for the December 1st contest in China, Tucker. 

Healthy eating.  So she‘s eating as much fat as she possibly can so she can look healthy. 

CARLSON:  I sincerely, sincerely endorse this.  I think this is a great idea.  They‘re too thin.  I agree with that. 

WOLFF:  It sets a bad example for the women of America.  It‘s OK to weigh a normal amount.  Don‘t you think?

CARLSON:  I agree completely. 

WOLFF:  Now, I have a public service announcement for voters in the Republican primary, a vote for Mike Huckabee could prevent trouble with ass-kicking action star Mr. Chuck Norris.  Mr. Norris this week endorsed the former Arkansas governor to the exclusion of all other GOP candidates, saying that only Huckabee embodied what it takes to be president of the United States.  He encouraged his fans to contribute to and pray for the Huckabee campaign.  So be warned, folks, support Huckabee or Chuck Norris might track you down like the dog you are, get you in the Octagon, and make you watch reruns of “Walker, Texas Ranger” until you submit, my friend. 

CARLSON:  Did you know, Bill, that Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door? 

WOLFF:  Can slam a revolving door?

CARLSON:  Yes he can.  That‘s how tough he is. 

WOLFF:  Slam a—not sure what it means, Tucker, but he‘s tough. 

CARLSON:  He is tough.  When he goes to give blood, he doesn‘t use a needle.  He brings a 45 and a bucket.  He‘s one tough man. 

WOLFF:  I tell you what else, he‘s worn a beard for a lot of years. 

He pulls it off.  Not everybody can do that, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Good point. 

WOLFF:  I should say, Tucker, that not all vice presidents are created equal.  We all try to offer support and ideas to our superiors.  Vice presidents try to inspire their staffs to do their best work.  To one degree or another, vice presidents walk around in suits and attend meetings. 

There‘s only one vice president who can snooze in his boss‘ staff meeting and that‘s Vice President Dick Cheney.  There he goes, Tucker.  There he is in a cabinet meeting sawing logs, dreaming as Dick Cheney dreams.  A little disco nap to freshen up for the rest of the day.  Wisely, I should say, it appears that no one chose to wake him.  Best to let a sleeping VP lie, Tucker, know what I mean?

CARLSON:  He can be ornery when awakened unexpectedly. 

WOLFF:  Are you kidding me?  When you walk near him, you have to ring a bell so he knows you‘re coming and he won‘t attack you.  Nothing personal, sir. 

CARLSON:  It‘s like lepers in the Middle Ages.  You know, the more I see of Dick Cheney—I know everyone despises Dick Cheney.  I like Dick Cheney, partly because everyone despises him, but also because he doesn‘t care that everyone despises him and that‘s a refreshing quality in a politician. 

CARLSON:  I‘d say I don‘t know him personally so I don‘t judge.  That‘s all I can say.  He‘s from Wyoming, which is a beautiful state, full of open spaces, beautiful mountains.  A little bit arid for my taste.  But I‘ll pass no judgment on Mr. Cheney.  Never having met him, Tucker.  That‘s one vice president to another. 

CARLSON:  Dick Cheney and Chuck Norris.  There‘s a connection.  Bill Wolff from New York, thanks, Bill. 

WOLFF:  You got it. 

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night.  That‘s Friday night.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Have a great night.

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

END   

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

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