updated 11/27/2007 11:19:12 AM ET 2007-11-27T16:19:12

Guests: Tony Campolo, Bob Franken, Roger Simon, Faiz Shakir, Roger Simon, Bob Franken

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Is God himself walking with the Barack Obama for president campaign?  Well, the candidate himself says so. 

Welcome to the show.

At a Baptist church in Iowa yesterday, Mr. Obama told the congregation not only that God walked with his campaign, but that as Joshua was to Moses, so is Barack Obama to the leaders of the American civil rights movement, the inheritor of their righteous mantle. 

Does Obama have God‘s support and has the senator from Illinois just suddenly played the race card just weeks after Hillary Clinton received so much abuse for playing the gender card?  In a moment we‘ll talk to the Baptist minister who walked with Bill Clinton through his second term in office. 

Then, Hillary Clinton recently mocked Barack Obama‘s claim that growing up abroad gave him some unique qualifications to lead America in the world.  Now Mrs. Clinton claims that her eight years as first lady gave her special qualities of head of state. 

Has the mocker put herself in peril of being the mockee?  Later on the show we‘ll speak with a Clinton administration foreign policy advisor about the practical value of Hillary Clinton‘s White House experience. 

And seven years since one of them got the Oval Office and one of them went home.  President Bush and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore sat down privately at the White House today.  There weren‘t any flies on the wall, so we are left to speculate what exactly happened. 

What did they talk about?  Who let go of that handshake first?  And how different really are these two men? 

We‘ll tell you. 

We begin with Barack Obama‘s remarkable speech yesterday, his relationship with the civil rights movement, and his claim that God walks with his campaign. 

Joining me now is Tony Campolo, a longtime evangelical minister, professor emeritus at Eastern University, the founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education.  He‘s also the author of 35 books, the most recent of which is entitled “Red Letter Christians: A Citizen‘s Guide to Faith and Politics.”

Mr. Campolo, thanks for coming on. 

REV. TONY CAMPOLO, EVANGELICAL LEADER:  Thank you.  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So, are you made uncomfortable by this, this claim of Barack Obama‘s that God walks with his campaign? 

CAMPOLO:  First of all, I have to say that we‘re probably in agreement that the pulpit should not be used for partisan politics, that the separation of church and state is very much in question here.  I‘m tired of both Democrats and Republicans taking hold of the pulpit and doing partisan politic work.  It‘s all right to deal with issues, but to promote a candidate or a party is contrary to the law.  So I‘m uncomfortable with this, and I‘ll bet you are, too. 

CARLSON:  Well, here‘s—and now that you mentioned that, I actually have in front of me part of what Barack Obama said yesterday.  We don‘t have the sound bite but here—I have it written down.

“I don‘t want to get too political here,” he said, “but obviously they‘re not real pleased about what George W. Bush has done.  We were promised compassionate conservatism but we got Katrina that and wiretaps instead.  We were promised a unifier, we got a president who couldn‘t lead the half of the country that voted for him.”

Here‘s my question.  Of course we‘re in complete agreement you shouldn‘t say like this in church.  I would walk out, you probably would, too.  Why do churches get tax exemption when they behave like this?  That money could be taken and, you know, given to the common wheel.  And instead they don‘t pay taxes. 

Why is that? 

CAMPOLO:  Well, They are supposed to be contributing to the overall good of the community.  And that‘s the basis of their tax exemption.  But the law is very specific, you cannot endorse a candidate, you cannot do partisan politics.  And that was a pretty partisan statement. 

I‘m not a supporter of George Bush‘s policies for the most part.  But to say that he‘s not compassionate, I raise questions about that. 

He‘s done enormous good for the AIDS victims of Africa.  He has in fact tried to respond to Bono‘s plea to double the amount of money that is going to be spent on the poor. 

I mean, I don‘t like those kinds of political statements.  The thing that concerns me is that in this statement that he made, it‘s easily misinterpreted. 

He didn‘t say that he was the successor to Martin Luther King, or that he was the Joshua that was going to take over for the Moses.  What he was saying is there were religious leaders, Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy.  They blazed the path.  They suffered, they endured persecution. 

And now there‘s new generation of Joshuas. 

Note he does speak in the plural here, and I think he‘s justified in saying this, that the African-American community should be carrying on the struggle for civil rights.  I think he overstated things in his address when he said that there were just as many disparities between black people and white people today as there was in the beginning of the civil rights movement. 

That‘s not accurate.  The truth is that African-American people are nowhere near what they should be in terms of equality with whites and employment and opportunities.  But having said that, they are nowhere near where they were. 

CARLSON:  Of course not.

CAMPOLO:  Tremendous improvements have been made. 

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s a ludicrous statement that you often hear.  But I want to get to the broader question of religion and politics.

Liberals have pointed out over the years—and actually, I agree with them—that there‘s something wrong with preachers—and conservative preachers are the ones they point to—getting up and implying, sometimes saying, God is on our side, because at the heart of Christianity is, of course, humility.  You know, the idea that we‘re merely human, God is God, and we‘re not going to liken ourselves to him or presume to speak for him, right?  I mean, that seems to me part of what Christianity is. 

There‘s something wrong with conservatives doing that.  Why don‘t liberals jump up and down when Barack Obama says stuff like this? 

CAMPOLO:  Well, I‘m jumping up and down.  And I‘m a liberal.  And people will write to me and say, I always thought that about you, Campolo, but I am. 

I think that Hillary Clinton did the right thing.  She went to a Methodist church that same Sunday, sat in the congregation, and she nodded her head at certain things that were said and the music that was sung.  But she didn‘t make a statement during the service. 

Before the service she greeted people at the door.  That‘s far different and that‘s OK. 

But I do have to say that it would be easy to misinterpret the words of Barack Obama and to suggest that he is saying to us that in some way God has put his hand on his campaign.  I contend that God is with all of us, he‘s with Republicans, he‘s with Democrats.  And God is at work in the world and that doesn‘t mean that any of us are doing the will of God or the exact leaders of the plan of God. 

God is at work in the world, all Christians believe that.  He‘s working for justice.  God is at work in the world trying to overcome discrimination, trying to overcome poverty, trying to overcome war.  He‘s at work in the world to do these things. 

But having said that, no one candidate, no one party can claim, we are God‘s party, I am God‘s candidate.  I‘m not sure that that‘s what Barack Obama was saying.  But it‘s easy to twist his words and come out with that kind of interpretation. 

CARLSON:  “God is walking with us.”  So you think that God is walking with all campaigns.  He‘s as much with Dennis Kucinich as he is with Ron Paul, as he is with Mike...

CAMPOLO:  I would hope so.

CARLSON:  ... Huckabee and Barack Obama? 

CAMPOLO:  I think that God is at work in the world.  And you know what I have to say is I‘ve listened to the people on both sides of the political aisle.  They both have noble aspirations. 

I don‘t know a candidate that doesn‘t want to end poverty.  I don‘t know a candidate that doesn‘t want to end war.  I don‘t know of a candidate that doesn‘t want to end racism or homophobia.  They all want these things. 

The difference is—are, how are we going to achieve these goals?  And that‘s what a political campaign is about.  But I think that God is at work trying to create the world it ought to be.  And when we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” I think that God‘s work is being done through all of these people, and that in the end God‘s will will ultimately be done in history. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Tony Campolo, I really appreciate you came. 

Thank you very much.

CAMPOLO:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Hillary Clinton has traveled all over the world as first lady.  She‘s taken couple of international trips since becoming senator.  Does that make her a foreign policy expert as she claims it does? 

And there are just 38 days until the Iowa caucuses.  Things are starting to get ugly, especially among Republicans.  Does a guy named Mitt have the advantage when the gloves come off?

You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for political puns.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani are no longer close.  Romney says Giuliani is nothing more than an unpleasant clone of Hillary Clinton.  Giuliani calls Romney a phony and nasty, too. 

While the rest of us were giving thanks this weekend, the two Republican frontrunners were sharpening their knives and running as fast as they could from their liberal records in New York and Massachusetts.  Who‘s doing better?

Joining us now, we welcome The Politico‘s Roger Simon and online columnist Bob Franken.

Bob, here‘s what Romney said about Giuliani, the nastiest thing you could ever say from one Republican to another.  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  He is pro-choice, like Hillary Clinton.  He is in favor of civil unions, like Hillary Clinton.  He is in favor of sanctuary cities, like Hillary Clinton.  And the record of ethical conduct from, in this case, Bernie Kerik, reminds us very much of the administration that Hillary Clinton was part of in Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I don‘t know what Bernie Kerik has to do with it.  Everyone‘s jumping on Bernie Kerik all of a sudden.  But other than that, it‘s kind of hard—it‘s kind of hard to deny any of that.  I mean, that‘s all true.

BOB FRANKEN, ONLINE COLUMNIST:  Well, you know, first of all, who benefits from this?  We do. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

FRANKEN:  Second of all, I think it‘s fair to say that Rudy Giuliani is not—no longer on Mitt Romney‘s Christmas card list. 

CARLSON:  No, I think that‘s fair to say. 

FRANKEN:  I think that‘s fair to say.

CARLSON:  Well, but, because it‘s true—I mean, my theory has always been that true things hurt most, of course.  Because it‘s true, you know, he keeps that up, it hurts Giuliani. 

FRANKEN:  Well, you have to wonder if it hurts him also.  I mean, do you agree with me that he‘s sort of this goody-two-shoes person who has always presented himself as above the fray and now here he is mixing it up?  And I‘m not sure what it does him all that much good. 

ROGER SIMON, THE POLITICO:  There‘s a point where you can‘t stay out of the fray.  And Giuliani had dropped his own H-bomb, the Hillary bomb, by saying that Mittcare in Massachusetts resembled Hillarycare. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Which it does, by the way. 

SIMON:  Which is the worst thing apparently you can say someone in the Republican Party. 

CARLSON:  Because both containing a mandate requiring health insurance. 

SIMON:  But this is very dangerous stuff in a multi-candidate field.  When there‘s only two candidates going head to head saying bad things about each other, then voters have to decide who to believe, who they want to vote for. 

In a multi-candidate field, a voter in Iowa, let‘s say, could say, you know, I don‘t want either of these guys.  I might go for Huckabee.  He‘s not always bashing other Republicans. 

CARLSON:  Right.

SIMON:  And that is the danger of going at it hammer and tongs when there‘s more than two choices. 

CARLSON:  You, Roger, will be surprised to learn that in fact Giuliani responded to some of Mitt Romney‘s criticisms, and here is what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Crime went up, violent crime.  And murder went up while he was governor.  And I think that that is something that talks about not just an isolated mistake, it talks about a series of mistakes. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That is Rudy Giuliani on the hell that is Massachusetts.  Violent crime went up.  I don‘t know if it‘s the governor‘s job to keep track of violent crime in a commonwealth like Massachusetts. 

SIMON:  Well, governors always claim to have...

CARLSON:  Yes, of course they do.  Well, right, all politicians claim control of everything.

SIMON:  Rudy really has to do this to some extent.  I mean, he has to change the playing field. 

The original theory of his campaign espoused a few months ago was that he could afford to lose the first four primary caucus states...

CARLSON:  Right.

SIMON:  ... to Mitt Romney, come on stage in Florida, come on stage on the date of February 5th, and then sweep the field.  Well, I think they‘re coming to the realization that it‘s going to be very difficult to do.  That if you let Mitt Romney win the first four states...

CARLSON:  Oh, of course.

SIMON:  ... he‘s going to get enough head of steam to go on and take the nomination. 

CARLSON:  Of course he is.  That‘s exactly right, wins beget wins.  And whoever thought that theory up really ought to go into the insurance business or something other than politics, because it‘s so stupid. 

FRANKEN:  Well, I think what was most refreshing about Giuliani‘s comments is that he didn‘t talk about 9/11. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

FRANKEN:  Probably the first time that‘s happened in this whole campaign. 

CARLSON:  He‘s laid off of that a little bit recently. 

FRANKEN:  Well, he has and probably should.  But the other thing is, we don‘t know exactly what this campaign is about. 

Our paradigm is really based on Iowa and New Hampshire controlling things, and then South Carolina comes along and gives us what the right wing vote is going to be, the very conservative vote.  But now we have all these primaries clashed together.  And I‘m not convinced that losing either Iowa and/or New Hampshire is fatal.  I mean...

CARLSON:  So here we are a little more than month until the Iowa caucuses, it‘s not clear to me who is going to win.  It‘s always been clear in years past who the Republican nominee is going to be. 

What‘s the date by which that becomes clear, Roger? 

SIMON:  Oh, I think we‘ll know after February 5th.  I mean, you can spin a scenario which the media does every four years of the deadlocked convention...

CARLSON:  Right.

SIMON:  ... which, of course is what we want.

CARLSON:  But you think it‘s going to take us until February 5th to know? 

SIMON:  Oh, I think it easily could.  I mean, I think Bob is right, it may not be fatal if you lose Iowa and New Hampshire, but you don‘t want the one guy to win both of them and then get up ahead of steam into South Carolina, and having also taken Michigan. 

It doesn‘t—Rudy would like to derail Mitt Romney.  He would love it if Huckabee won Iowa.  Just as long as Mitt Romney doesn‘t win Iowa and then go into New Hampshire. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right. 

FRANKEN:  Well, real quickly, Mitt Romney really suffers a fatal blow if he loses New Hampshire, neighboring New Hampshire. 

CARLSON:  Of course, which—you know, that‘s it for him right there.  There‘s no rationale I think beyond that. 

Coming up, from hawking books to barnstorming for Obama, Oprah Winfrey is going to hit the campaign trail and see if her magic touch in publishing translates to politics. 

And then, does presidential pillow talk translate to leadership and experience?  Hillary Clinton says she‘s got both thanks to her eight years as first lady.

We‘ll explain what exactly she means coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  It was perhaps the most awkward photo opportunity in American history.  This afternoon, President Bush hosted this year‘s Nobel Prize winners at the White House.  Among them was, of course, Al Gore. 

Former Vice President Gore was conveniently positioned right next to President Bush for the media availability, and the two masked (ph) through what appeared to be one of history‘s longest forced smiles.  As much as Bush and Gore are linked forever as adversaries, how different are they really from one another? 

Back with us, The Politico‘s Roger Simon and online columnist Bob Franken. 

Roger, I am just struck by the similarities between these two.  Both have powerful fathers who served in the Congress and whose ambitions were passed on to their sons.  Both basically adopted new home states and kind of put on the dog pretending to be from that place. 

SIMON:  OK.

CARLSON:  Both kind of had less than distinguished younger lives, then sort of burst out in to this—into the national eye.  And both have kind of insecurity, I think, when you deal with them.  Gore and Bush are basically the same person. 

SIMON:  But one has the Nobel Prize and one is unlikely to get the Nobel Prize. 

CARLSON:  Yes, though he is president. 

SIMON:  There is a difference. 

I mean, it was funny what you said about longest smile in history.  It was almost as long as long as the kiss at the convention. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

SIMON:  But...

CARLSON:  Probably the most uncomfortable I personally have witnessed.  And I‘m including all sorts of drunk scenes at parties over the years. 

SIMON:  I Mean, Gore really dislikes President Bush.  He‘s called him the most dishonest president since Richard Nixon. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

SIMON:  He says he has broken the law.  You almost wonder why Gore wanted to show up for this ceremony. 

CARLSON:  Or why he was invited by the president.  The White House—they went out of its way to say President Bush wanted the former vice president to be there.  They asked Gore to come. 

Apart from masochism, what would compel a president to do that? 

FRANKEN:  Well, I think they wanted to talk about global warming during the Florida election.  I think that was what was involved here. 

No.  It was one of those things that it would have been awkward had he not invited him.

CARLSON:  Right.

FRANKEN:  He was the Nobel Prize winner.  What was he going to do?  So they had this—as you said, this forced smile, and I believe that I would disagree with you that there are no differences between them. 

CARLSON:  Oh, there are differences. 

FRANKEN:  Oh, yes.  I mean, first of all, you would not describe George W. Bush as earnest.  And if you were to describe Al Gore in one word it would be earnest to an extreme. 

CARLSON:  But he‘s also got a—I mean, Gore, like Bush, has a sly sense of humor and a sarcastic sense of humor.  My point was only they come from similar backgrounds and from precisely the same culture.  They‘re both fundamentally guilty baby boomer WASPs who—I‘m serious, who come from traditions of political leadership and who govern by their own—rather than by principle, from they‘re own feelings. 

SIMON:  Well, Gore was so immersed in the issues he was called wonky.  I‘ve never heard George Bush called wonky. 

CARLSON:  No, you never have.  But both of them have this kind of—this desire to do good.  And I don‘t mean that as compliment.  To impose, you know, they‘re kind of utopian vision on the United States. 

FRANKEN:  Well, first of all, George W. Bush was raised in the oil patch of Texas. 

CARLSON:  Right.

FRANKEN:  Al Gore was raised in a hotel in Washington and went to St. Albans, the very, very chi-chi private school. 

CARLSON:  Right.

FRANKEN:  So they‘re just night and day.

CARLSON:  Well, and Bush went to Andover and they both wound up at Harvard.  And do you know what I mean?

I mean, let me just put it this way.  Here is my guess, and I know that I‘m right—I will bet my car, in fact.  Bush will come out—this president, when he leaves office, will come out in the next decade or so as a strong advocate on behalf of ending global warming.  He will be—he will have an environmentally conscious post-presidency. 

SIMON:  Out of guilt perhaps? 

CARLSON:  Like you read about.  No.  Because I think those are his true feelings. 

I mean, the guy is—you know, he brags about his ranch being—you know, having a small carbon footprint.  I mean, they‘re very similar.  People—it‘s the same culture. 

FRANKEN:  Well, but they come at it entirely differently.  I mean, George W. Bush has come at as president from the point of view of corporate America, saying that we have to maintain our economy...

CARLSON:  Right.

FRANKEN:  ... and we have to figure out some sort of way consistent with that to attack global warming as long as we don‘t undermine the economy.  Al Gore comes at it as, I‘ve got a slideshow here that says that this is priority.  We have to do this... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Well, I mean, presumably keeping the economy from collapsing is not only good for corporations, but also for the people who don‘t—you know, so country doesn‘t live in poverty. 

FRANKEN:  But what I‘m saying is they‘re coming at it from entirely different directions. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Bush will change.  I‘ve been saying this for seven years.  Nobody believes me. 

SIMON:  But Al Gore will suggest that‘s eight years too late. 

CARLSON:  Yes, OK.  Well, I think—I mean, I think Gore would have been a disaster as president.  We‘d be living in the dark ages.  I think he‘s fundamentally hostile to human civilization—and a phony. 

SIMON:  Would we be fighting a war in Iraq? 

CARLSON:  We would likely be not fighting a war in Iraq.  We‘d also be living in (INAUDIBLE) in the dark, and that would be maybe almost as bad. 

When we come back, Hillary Clinton says her 35 years of experience makes her the best choice for American commander in chief.  But what experience exactly is she talking about?  We‘ll talk to a former Clinton advisor to find out. 

Plus, Oprah Winfrey now set to hit the campaign trail for Barack Obama.  She can certainly draw a crowd.  She can certainly raise cash. 

Can she help Barack Obama win? 

You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Hillary Clinton has been in public life for decades, it‘s true, but what has she done and what has she learned that would make her experience a vital asset as president? 

We‘ll tell you in some great detail in just a moment. 

But first, here‘s a look at your headlines. 

(NEWSBREAK)

CARLSON: We‘ve got the details now of the upcoming 2008 O-Extravaganza that O of course, being Oprah Winfrey.  Sorry, for the uninitiated.  Last week we learned that Oprah Winfrey, she is of course, the queen of television talk shows, and in fact television in general would hit the campaign trail for Barack Obama. 

Now we know that Oprah will make stops in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire over the weekend of, get your pens, December 8th and 9th.  What difference will she make in the end, as if we need to ask.  Back with us the politicos Roger Simon, and online columnist Bob Franken. 

Now Bob, interesting—I thought interesting piece by Mark Halpern in Time today.  And what he says is this, he says look, Oprah Winfrey coming to Obama‘s aid will bring the following four things, campaign cash, celebrity, excitement and big crowds.  As it happens, points out Halpern, those are exactly the four things Obama already has. 

He‘s already got a ton of dough, he‘s got huge crowds, he‘s very famous.  What he needs is garvitas, he needs to be taken seriously. Does she help there? 

BOB FRANKEN, ONLINE COLUMNIST: Well, look, she helps.  Let‘s face it.  Hillary has Bill Clinton as the I feel your pain person, and now Obama has Oprah Winfrey as the woman who can go out and feel the pain, too.  But she‘s not going to be his vice president (inaudible) running mate or anything like that, I don‘t think. 

But, she‘s not going to travel on a campaign bus, she‘s going to travel in the emotional roller coaster around Ohio—and we‘re going to have such great fun making fun of her while she does it I think. 

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: I‘ve never haven‘t heard Barack Obama being accused of lack of gravitas before.  I thought he had an excess of gravitas. 

CARLSON: He‘s grave.  He is definitely—he looks—he‘s got the sad mopey look. 

SIMON: What Oprah brings to the campaign is people who don‘t come to campaign events.  Those are the people in Iowa that you especially want.  It also helps him with women.  While I think he has better surrogate in Michelle Obama, his wife who is terrific on the stump, I don‘t see how Oprah is in any way a negative for this campaign. 

CARLSON: But Oprah likes him much more than Michelle likes him. 

SIMON: I don‘t think—

CARLSON: I don‘t think Oprah‘s going to get up there and complain about his smelly under shorts or—you know what I mean? Like his wife has. 

SIMON: We would hope that Oprah doesn‘t know about his smelly under shorts. 

CARLSON: Now that would be a moment. 

FRANKEN: Is she bringing her nutritionist? 

CARLSON: So, Mike Huckabee—you know Mike Huckabee is serious candidate when he starts getting attacked, and boy has he been attacked lately.  I don‘t think in an ad hominem way, in a fairly thoughtful way by conservatives who are saying that Huckabee is pro life, conservative on some issues, but fundamentally he‘s a liberal. 

Here is what Jonah Goldberg wrote yesterday in his column which I though was fascinating.  He said quote, “What‘s troubling about the man from Hope 2.0 is what he represents.  Huckabee represents compassionate conservatism on steroids.  A devout social conservative on issues such as abortion, school prayer, homosexuality and evolution. 

Huckabee‘s a populist on economics, a fad follower on the environment and an all-around do-gooder who believes that the biblical obligation to do good works extends to using government and your tax money to bring us closer to the kingdom of heaven on earth.

For example, Huckabee would support a nationwide ban on smoking. Why?  Because he‘s on a health kick.  He thinks smoking is bad and believes the government should do the right thing.” Boy, for a small government conservative there‘s nothing more damning than that paragraph. 

FRANKEN: I‘m not sure I agree.  I‘m sure Huckabee would answer, yes, I want to do good, nothing wrong with that.  Yes, I‘m against smoking, nothing wrong with that.  He would probably disagree that he wants a nationwide ban on smoking. 

CARLSON: He had said he wants a nationwide ban. 

FRANKEN: Well, I understand that.  But, the difference between wanting and trying to impose things are two different things.  He would probably consider, if I were him I would take that and run some ads with it.  It seems to me that he can turn that to his advantage. 

CARLSON: I wonder, though, this is of course, a race to win conservative votes in the primaries.  I wonder if the evangelicals who are  supporting Huckabee and his support is almost entirely evangelicals at this point anyway, at least in the last poll I saw last week.  I don‘t think evangelicals are all that committed to small government.  I don‘t think they‘re that conservative it turns out. 

SIMON: Actually in Iowa, where Huckabee is doing surprisingly well, he‘s getting huge support among self identified conservatives and not just evangelical Protestants.  What this shows me is that the Republican establishment wants the votes of evangelicals, they just don‘t want to nominate an evangelical. 

It‘s not that far out of the mainstream as you just said about the environment to be a pro-environment candidate.  Yet, this is listed as one of Huckabee‘s sins now.  His real sin is that Huckabee doesn‘t like greed.  He is committed not to making the obscenely wealthy, to use his term, even more obscenely wealthy. 

He rails against wall street CEO‘s who make 500 times what their average workers do which I think a lot of people are upset by.  But some Republicans would say, if someone‘s going to pay you an obscene salary, take the obscene salary.  That‘s what the free marketplace is all about—

CARLSON: Actually, I think most Democrats—these are the exact people who are funding Hillary Clinton‘s campaign.  So, there‘s a bipartisan consensus that, hedge fund managers ought to get richer.  That‘s not just the Republicans repore there.  I think it‘s disgusting, too.  I agree completely. 

The question is not do you find it repulsive, the question is, should government regulate their salaries?  Should government step in and do something about it?  That‘s an entirely separate question, don‘t you think? 

SIMON: I think it‘s a fair question.  I‘ve never heard that Huckabee say that government should put a cap on salaries.  But I do think he talks about a culture, that is based on greed and then he spins it off about oil greed and financing the Saudi royal family.  And he morphs into how we should be energy independent in ten years. 

I don‘t see why any of this should scare the Republican establishment. 

CARLSON: I‘ll tell you.  The Republican establishment despises libertarianism—despises true free markets.  They wanted the system rigged by government for their benefit of course, everyone—do you know what I mean?  Of course they do.  They‘re in business of making money.  But true small government conservatives I think are justly weary of the idea you can make people better by force, which is Huckabee‘s plan obviously. 

FRANKEN: But, aren‘t you making the mistake that in Iowa just about all the caucus goers are people who sit there night after night try and hone their philosophical purity.  Do you think that for instance, the Republicans in Iowa are saying, I‘m a libertarian, and Mike Huckabee departs from these—the dogma of this particular way?  No, I don‘t think so at all. 

CARLSON: Of course not.  But, the question is, where‘s the candidate who says, people are imperfect, they do crummy things but adults ought to be free to kind of do pretty  much what they want to do.  There‘s no Republican saying that.

FRANKEN: Well, Ron Paul. 

CARLSON: Ron Paul.  But I mean, Ron Paul is—Ron Paul, let me just say this, December 16th, I‘m not shilling for Ron Paul—okay, I am.  But, Ron Paul on December 16th is having another basically nationwide fundraiser.  He‘s not running, and he‘s not orchestrating it, it‘s done independently.  The last one which happened on Guy Fawkes Day raised some 4.3 or something million dollars, spontaneously. 

The Ron Paul people are saying they‘re going to raise $12 million this quarter, and I want to be on record saying I bet they will. 

SIMON: What is that going to do for him? 

CARLSON: It is going to probably not push him into the position as the Republican nominee.  But it‘s going to raise, I think, really important issues about government‘s role in life of the average person. 

SIMON: Dennis Kucinich says he would like to run on a ticket with Ron Paul, and actually on the war they are the same candidate.  They are the two most ferocious anti-war candidates in the field right now. 

FRANKEN: But to follow up on your point, if his sins, so to speak is being anti-greed that is to say Mike Huckabee‘s does this mean that Mitt Romney and Rudy Guiliani should come out as the pro-greed candidates?  All this can be sort of spun however you want it. 

CARLSON: Well, it‘s actually not a stupid way for Mike Huckabee to run against Hillary Clinton.  I‘m not suggesting he‘s going to get the nomination, I agree that the Republican establishment doesn‘t trust him, doesn‘t like him, hates the fact he‘s a Baptist preacher etc, he probably won‘t get the nomination. 

But, if he were to get it, he could run I think a pretty good campaign against Hillary, positing her as the statist, as the candidate of Wall Street.  Which by the way she is.  She is the candidate of Wall Street.  You won‘t catch her attacking hedge funds, will you? 

SIMON: No.  Well, actually she does, I‘m sure.  I just found it odd that in that column Jonah Goldberg dismisses being strong on social conservative issues, he just sort of throws that away as well he‘s strong on that, but who cares.  At the same time, I‘m sure he‘s horrified by Rudy Guiliani not being strong social conservative.  I mean, who satisfies him in this race? 

CARLSON: I don‘t know.  I‘m not speaking for Jonah Goldberg.  But I will say the thing that I have learned above all in this primary season so far is that just because are opposed to abortion, and I am vehemently opposed to it, doesn‘t mean that you are necessarily pro-freedom.  That you‘re for getting the government out of your life.  Right? It doesn‘t. 

SIMON: That‘s why I‘ve never quite understood, I‘m sure someone can explain it to me, why it‘s a libertarian position to be opposed to abortion.  If you want government out of your life unless you‘re a woman in which case government can tell you whether to carry a pregnancy to term—

CARLSON: Because killing people is one of the things you‘re not allowed to do, even on a libertarian system, and it seems to me that that‘s one of government‘s very few legitimate functions is to keep people from killing each other. 

FRANKEN: Well, of course there‘s a dispute about whether that‘s killing people which is fundamental—

CARLSON: I‘m saying, if you think it is. 

FRANKEN: If you think it is.  But, Roe versus Wade is really, when you think about it the pure libertarian position, which is, that government does not have the right to regulate that. 

CARLSON: I don‘t think that‘s pure libertarian position at all.  Again, if you believe that killing is taking place, as libertarian you say, the government ought to have a monopoly and a legitimate use of force and nobody else ought to be killing other people. 

Here is what Barack Obama said in response to Hillary Clinton‘s attack on his experience, he basically comes out says I lived for a couple years during elementary school in Indonesia, therefore I kind of know the world, and she said, that‘s ridiculous.  Here‘s his response to her response.  I think it‘s smart. 

“I think the fact of the matter is that Senator Clinton is claiming basically the entire eight years of the Clinton presidency as her own, except for the stuff that didn‘t work out, in which case she says she has nothing to do with it.  There is no doubt that Bill Clinton had faith in her and consulted with her on issues, in the same way that I would consult with Michelle if there were issues.

On the other hand, I don‘t think Michelle would claim she is the best qualified person to be a United States Senator by virtue of me talking to her on occasion about the work I‘ve done.”  Ouch.

FRANKEN: That leaves one person who is most qualified, Oprah.  End of discussion. 

SIMON: I thought that Hillary Clinton‘s attack on Barack Obama for the four years he spent overseas was one of the few calculated mistakes her campaign has made.  She‘s capable of mistakes, and she had a bad debate.  But, this one obviously was written out, this would be the message of the day, that they would attack him for that. 

It‘s a mistake because it raises exactly the issue that Obama brought up and that Maureen Dowd (ph) instantly brought up in a column, which is an  issue that she hadn‘t really been whacked on, which is how does she get to claim eight years of being First Lady as foreign policy experience. And, it made her vulnerable. 

She probably did more than Laura Bush, does more than Laura Bush, probably more than Barbara Bush, probably  more than Nancy Reagan, not as much as Eleanor Roosevelt.  But, do you want to really go there? 

CARLSON: No.  But the Obama people it seems to me ought to have been hitting her early and often on this question of experience, instead they allowed her to convince the broad majority of Americans that somehow she was ready to lead from day one.  That‘s issue in which she loses, I believe the most significant.  They should have from day one said, hold on, honey, you were First Lady that‘s great.  But were you secretary of state?  I don‘t think you were. 

FRANKEN: Well, first of all, they‘re not going to say honey.

CARLSON: Well, whatever.

FRANKEN: It ain‘t going to happen, and if it does it‘s over.  Number one. Number two—

CARLSON: The grouchy feminists can lighten up. 

FRANKEN: Number two, what she does is she puts herself in the position of running as wife-of and that‘s not something she wants to do. 

SIMON: There‘s one person who can tell us whether she played a significant role or not, and that‘s Bill Clinton.  He said she played a significant role.  You either believe it or not. 

CARLSON: The papers that have not yet been released from the Clinton presidency might also shed some light on this.  Maybe that‘s why we‘re not seeing them.  Thank you, both very much. 

FRANKEN: Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON: She mocked Barack Obama‘s experience living overseas, now Hillary Clinton brags of her own experience as First Lady.  How much more worthy is Mrs. Clinton‘s history than Mr. Obama‘s?  It‘s been a good year in the way of beauty pageant scandals.  Guess what?  We‘re not done.  The latest involves Miss Puerto Rico pepper spray and a bad case of hives.  Roving beauty pageant correspondent Bill Wolfe has all the seamy details coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Hillary Clinton says here 35 years of experience make her the best choice for president.  What exactly did she do as First Lady that make her a better head of state?  We‘ll tell you when we come back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: Unique experience, 35 years of experience, including the eight years in the White House where I was very actively involved in issues both here at home and around the world.  I traveled to—I think, I don‘t know, maybe 80, 82 countries.  I went a lot of places that the president or vice president or secretary of state couldn‘t go or couldn‘t get there yet. 

There are lots of ways in which what I did was the face of America when I was there, when I was representing not just my husband but the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: There you have it.  You thought Hillary Clinton spent eight years in the White House as First Lady, silly you.  In fact, she now says she spent the 1990s as para-president, a shadow secretary of state running America‘s foreign policy from behind the curtain.  What are we to make of these claims?  Joining me now former Clinton administration official, Faiz Shakir the Research Director of the Center for American Progress here in Washington.  Faiz, thanks for coming on. 

FAIZ SHAKIR, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON: Why did she have to say silly stuff like this.  Why shouldn‘t she just say, you know I‘m a pretty smart person, I‘ve kind of been around, I‘ve watched events unfold.  But she doesn‘t, she has to go the extra mile and B.S. us, I‘ve been to 80 or 82 countries like she‘s got a list in her pocket book. 

SHAKIR: That‘s not B.S.  She‘s talking about facts.  She did travel to 82 countries, that‘s experience.  I don‘t know what about this is so offensive to you.  That is actually part of the experience that she accumulated over eight years of being in the White House and six years of being in the Senate.  These are part of the experience. 

CARLSON: Okay, all right.  Since you‘re defending it.  Name three policies that she influenced. 

SHAKIR: You‘re the one who has been out here arguing about Hillary Care, right?  That‘s something that the conservatives said, oh she was the one who brought it down.  That was experience. 

CARLSON: That‘s real experience. 

SHAKIR: She traveled abroad overseas when she went to Bosnia, Pakistan, India, Africa, China delivering major policy speeches. 

CARLSON: I‘ve been to almost all those places.

SHAKIR: Okay, did you meet with the foreign heads of states of those countries? 

CARLSON: I want to know—the first lady travels around, does ceremonial trips and -- 

SHAKIR: She knows these leaders on a first name basis, it accounts for something. 

CARLSON: There aren‘t any leaders really left from her time as first lady. 

SHAKIR: Oh, but she‘s continued that through.  What do you think she was doing in the Senate? 

CARLSON: I‘m saying she is making—I‘m saying she‘s inflating her resume and it‘s kind of poignant in its ludicrousness. 

SHAKIR: I don‘t think she‘s inflating her resume.  But, whether her resume—

CARLSON: So, what are the policies she --  I want to know she‘s claiming that she helped influence American foreign policy during the 1990s in ways we weren‘t even aware of at the time.  My only question, okay, how? 

SHAKIR: I don‘t think she said that.  If you saw the clip that you just played she said that she traveled to 80, 82 countries, she went and acted as a diplomatic face of the Clinton administration when the secretary of state or others couldn‘t do it.  She was a diplomat. 

CARLSON: So did a lot of—tons (ph) of stewardesses.  What‘s the point?  She went to a lot of countries, that‘s great, so have I.  But, I haven‘t influenced any policies.  Why is it significant?  What policies has she—

SHAKIR: But that‘s a relevant experience in terms of, if you think about the Bush administration, you had a president who entered office who had no on the job training experience.  Right?  So, he was literally sinking below water. 

CARLSON: I‘ll give you that. 

SHAKIR: So, we have somebody—

CARLSON: You‘re not answering my question. 

SHAKIR: We have somebody who is ready to enter office with experience it helps. 

CARLSON: That‘s the slogan.  I want to know what the experience is.  They won‘t release papers pertaining to her time as first lady.  If they‘re so proud of what she did, why can‘t we know more about it?  The Clinton administration—all these papers remain locked up as you know. 

SHAKIR: I would encourage them to release those papers. 

CARLSON: Oh, yes, they should.  But clearly, they don‘t want to answer the question.  She wants the benefit, I‘ve been to all these countries; that‘s great.  But, what does that mean?  So, we‘re left to her own autobiography.  Here‘s page 402 of Living History, this is on Robert Mugabe, the monstrous dictator that‘s killed so many in Zimbabwe. 

Quote, “President Mugabe said very little during my courtesy visit with him in the presidential residence in the capital, Harare—as if we didn‘t know what that was—he paid close attention to his young wife Grace, while I made conversation with her and periodically broke into giggles for no apparent reason.”

SHAKIR:  The fact she can relate story like that indicates she‘s been in the presence of world leaders, knows how to act.  Those stories means that...

CARLSON:  She should be ashamed. 

SHAKIR:  ... she could pick up the phone and call foreign leaders, and...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Why was she meeting with Robert Mugabe? 

SHAKIR:  That‘s a question you should direct to the Clinton campaign. 

CARLSON:  OK, but, look, I‘m just saying, don‘t you think, I think Hillary Clinton has lot to recommend her; I‘m not a Hillary hater.  I think she‘s an impressive person in a lot of ways.  It‘s just I know when I‘m being BS‘d, and when she gets up there and says, I‘ve done this, that and the other thing, I think it‘s an honest response for me to say, OK, what things, specifically.  She‘s never explained. 

SHAKIR:  It‘s fair to ask senator Clinton...

CARLSON:  What are you talking about?

SHAKIR:  How do those experiences shape your foreign policy approach?

CARLSON: What are those experiences?  You met a lot of foreign leaders.  How did you represent our country?  What did do you? 

SHAKIR:  Those are substantive experiences that other candidates...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  But what are the experiences?  I don‘t know even what they are.  How exactly did you, quote, “represent our country.”  She just said she was an ambassador; she represented our country.  What did you do to forward our interests?  And she‘s never explained. 

SHAKIR:  She certainly been acting as our diplomat abroad in various conflict war zones.  She went to Bosnia, delivered a key speech there, went to China, delivered a key speech.

CARLSON:  Does Laura Bush qualify?  Laura Bush has been to a ton, a butt load of countries?  Is Laura Bush even qualified for high office because of that? 

SHAKIR:  When she runs for Senate after seven years of serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee, we‘ll talk about her experiences.

CARLSON:  No, she won‘t.  But do you think those experiences qualify her for high office since Hillary Clinton is coming...

SHAKIR:  They mean something.  Yes, they do mean something.  They put you in a stead that‘s different from the rest of your countrymen.  I mean, how many of us can claim that you met with foreign dignitaries, and sat at the table with them, and can pick up the phone and call them, and they can say, hey, nice to meet you, Hillary.  Thanks for calling. 

CARLSON:  I‘d like details.  But I appreciate your game defense.  Thank you very much, Mr. Shakir.  I appreciate it. 

SHAKIR:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  How tough do you have to be play football at Auburn University?  Two words: attack dogs.  Sports oddity and trivia correspondent Bill Wolff has the gruesome details ahead.  This is, needless to say, MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  So how is Hillary Clinton‘s experience as first lady relevant to run for the presidency?  Joining us now with the answers, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m sort of on the spot here, Tucker.  She‘s familiar with the White House.  She doesn‘t have to ask where the restrooms are, saves time.  She can hit the ground running.  I don‘t know.  She seems terrific to me, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Nice. 

WOLFF:  I love politics, but only thing better than politics is a beauty pageant, and the only thing better than a beauty pageant is a beauty pageant scandal.  Remember when Miss USA dabbled in liquor and controlled substances and public makeout sessions.  Well, the American Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has topped the mother ship.  This is Ingrid Marie Rivera, and during her bid to become Miss Puerto Rico, Miss Rivera broke out in hives, yes, hives.  First pageant officials figured she was nervous, and who wouldn‘t be. 

But as it turns out, some nefarious saboteur laced Rivera‘s evening gowns and her makeup with pepper spray.  Undaunted, Ingrid Marie Rivera completed the competition and was crowned Miss Puerto Rico.  She will represent the commonwealth in the Miss Universe contest next year. And I got to tell you, Tucker, I like her chances.  She overcame swelling and hives, remained poised and vowed to help the world‘s children.  Amazing. 

CARLSON:  That‘s amazing.  So you‘re saying that even though Puerto Rico is basically part of our country, they get their own entry into the Miss Universe contest. 

WOLFF:  They‘re a commonwealth; they are not a state, Tucker.  They operate independently, sort of.  They‘re citizens of the United States. 

CARLSON:  Sort of, with benefits. 

WOLFF:  Yes, with benefits.  That‘s exactly right.  They‘re subjects with benefits sort of somehow. 

Anyway, if memory serves, Tucker, there are 12 days of Christmas, and a corresponding songs which enunciates some gift-giving suggestions.  Now as a public service, PNC Wealth Management Company has calculated the cost of actually purchasing the drummer drumming, five golden rings, the geese a-laying, the turtle doves, the partridge and the pear tree.  Now this year, to do it right for your true love, you will need $78,100 American to buy all that stuff.  That is up 4 percent from last year.  and the rise is blamed on rising gold prices, geese prices, the rising price of calling birds, and the rise in labor costs for the maids a-milking. 

If you can find all 364 items at a better price than $78,100, Tucker, buy them!

CARLSON:  Where do you get maids a-milking? 

WOLFF:  I don‘t—it‘s very difficult to find documented maids a-milking, you know what I‘m saying.  It‘s all part of the same big controversy we‘ll cover that here tomorrow on MSNBC‘s super Tuesday, Tucker.  That‘s all I‘m saying. 

CARLSON:  One word, Vegas. 

WOLFF:  Yes, I‘m going, soon. 

Tucker, if you‘re strapped for cash and can‘t afford the five golden rings and rest of it, you can always do Christmas the old fashioned way, wait for Santa to deliver it overnight on the 24th of December. 

Now in preparation for his commercial duties, Mr. Claus and several wannabes participated in the Fifth Annual Santa Games in Sweden.  Thirty red-suited white-bearded contenders started the five-phase competition, but in the end only eight made it all it way through.  the contest included reindeer racing, porridge eating, chimney climbing and stealth present giving. 

As it turns out, a guy from Australia won the contest, which is wrong on just about every level, starting with the fact that Christmas happens in summer in Australia.  Tucker, it‘s more evidence the world is upside down. 

CARLSON:  That‘s an excellent point, Bill. 

Doesn‘t make any sense to me.  Santa comes from the north, and I‘m talking about the way north.

Finally, Tucker, very quickly, a sports update from a busy four day weekend.  As you know, there are strict rules about on-field celebrations in college football.  In Auburn, Alabama, they take the rules seriously.  This is sophomore quarterback, Gerard Howard, No. 8 for the Auburn Tigers. And note the police dog standing with the trooper.  Gerard Powers‘ hand right there snagged during a mild celebration.  He suffered a puncture wound on his left hand, causing some speculation that people for the ethical treatment of athletes might lodge a complaint.  None was forthcoming.  Alabama, Tucker, beat Auburn in the grudge match Iron Bowl, as I‘m sure you already know. 

TUCKER:  The dog bit him. 

WOLFF:  That‘s it.  Yes.

CARLSON:  Too great.  Bill Wolff at headquarters.  Thanks, Bill.

WOLFF:  My pleasure. 

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night.  Up next, “Hardball” with Chris.  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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