updated 12/17/2007 11:10:44 AM ET 2007-12-17T16:10:44

Guests: Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, Eugene Robinson, Peter Fenn, Chris Kofinis

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Doth the lady protest too much?  Hillary Clinton apologizes to Barack Obama for her campaign co-chair‘s attack on his youthful drug use.  That co-chair has since resigned, and Clinton‘s top lieutenant Mark Penn goes on HARDBALL yesterday ostensibly to apologize, but winds up saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK PENN, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHIEF STRATEGIST:  The issue related to cocaine use is not something the campaign was in any way raising.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Related to cocaine.  And Mrs. Clinton herself extended the contrition to her on the campaign tour in Iowa today.  Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m a known quantity.  I am tested and vetted, but what‘s most important in this campaign is who will be the best president.  That‘s my primary case to the people in Iowa and across America.  We don‘t know what‘s going to happen in the future, and we need a president who is ready on day one for anything that could happen.  You know, when George Bush was finally inaugurated president, we didn‘t know about 9/11.  We didn‘t know about all that would come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Hmm.  With an apology like that, why don‘t you go ahead and accuse Obama of being Pablo Escobar.  Clearly her campaign believes Obama‘s past is his vulnerability.  Is the Clinton machine right or is it desperate or is it both?

In a minute we‘ll get the view from the above the Clinton-Obama fray from John Edwards‘ campaign, which could be the chief beneficiary of what you just saw.

Also, today Oprah Winfrey‘s South Carolina appearance for Obama may or may not explain his rise in the polls there, which is remarkable, but her speech may also have alienated some of her audience, devoted Oprahians express their disgust with remarks she made at Obama‘s rally.  Could the P.R. coup of the ‘08 campaign backfire on Oprah Winfrey, or possibly her chosen candidate?

And critics pile on as Mike Huckabee‘s lead piles up.  We‘ll have the latest attacks from the left and the right on Huckabee‘s conservatism, his religious beliefs, and his electability.

We begin with the down and dirty passive aggression currently in play by the Hillary Clinton campaign against Barack Obama.  Who comes out ahead?

Joining me now we are proud to welcome the “Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.  Welcome to you both.  I wants you to take a look at Hillary Clinton being asked by our own David Shuster is it fair to go after Obama‘s youthful indiscretions?  Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  I wonder if you would take the opportunity to say that a candidate‘s indiscretions as a teenager should not be an issue upon which voters should make their decision.

CLINTON:  Well, I apologized to Senator Obama yesterday, and .

SHUSTER:  That wasn‘t my question.

CLINTON:  But that .

SHUSTER:  I want to know if you‘ll say that his indiscretions as a teenager should not be made into an issue for voters.

CLINTON:  It‘s certainly not an issue in my campaign, and I said that very clearly to Senator Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Wow.  Notice the nodding.  Look at the stern schoolmarm look.  My question is really a two-pointer.  One, could Hillary be more unappealing when she‘s on the defensive?  I don‘t think so.  And, two, is she telling the telling the truth?  Her campaign did make this an issue.

EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, you note that she said, well, it‘s not an issue for me.  You know, kind of letting hang the inference that it might be an issue for other people.  Like caucus goers in Iowa, but it‘s not an issue for me.  Clearly this has not been a great issue for the Clinton campaign thus far, and on the other hand just kind of repeating the word “cocaine” is probably not a great thing for Obama either.

CARLSON:  That‘s an excellent point.  I look at this—I read Obama‘s book.  I watched this.  I blame Hillary Clinton‘s campaign 100 percent.  I think it‘s sleazy.  I‘m all outraged about it, but I don‘t think I‘m the average voter.  I‘m wondering if this does hurt Obama actually.  Do you want cocaine in the same sentence as .

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  The crazy thing about this, Tucker, is we talked about this about six months ago on this show.  We talked about it being in the book.  We‘ve talked about whether or not it‘s an issue or should be an issue.  And you know, the public will decide whether they care that much about it.  My sense of it is he has explained this in the book very well.  He has talked about it.  He has said I did - And I thought, you know, it was kind of refreshing.  I mean, you get sick and tired of candidates lying about little things or even semi-little things.  And this guy was up front with it.

CARLSON:  Up front?  He didn‘t even have to admit it.

FENN:  I don‘t think that if this was a calculated move by anyone within the Clinton campaign, it was a very bad calculated move, so I think these people are pretty smart, and I think what you had there was Billy Shaheen kind of shooting off his mouth.  Now, I will say that do they want people to look at Obama and to say, hey, wait a minute, we‘ve been under the microscope.  Isn‘t it his time to be under the microscope a little?  Yeah.  But not on issues like this.

CARLSON:  Well, I agree.  Listen to what—everyone has said Billy Shaheen has made a mistake, and he has resigned.  Too few have taken a close look at exactly what Billy Shaheen said.  By the way, the husband, of course, of the governor of New Hampshire and the now Senate candidate, Jean Shaheen.

This is exactly what Bill Shaheen said.  Quote, “The Republicans are not going to give up without a fight and one of the things they‘re certainly going to jump on is his drug use.  It‘ll be, when was the last time?  Did you ever give drugs to anyone?  Did you sell them to anyone?  There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks it‘s hard to overcome.”

“Did you sell them to anyone?”  Like is he a crackhead or something?  I don‘t know.  I don‘t want to accuse the Clinton campaign of putting racial overtones in this but did you sell him?  That‘s such an outlandish thing even to suggest.  Where does that come from?

ROBINSON:  It‘s over the top.

CARLSON:  It‘s over the top.

ROBINSON:  As far as I know.  I know some people who were in school, in college, with Obama, and it just seems completely out of left field.  It doesn‘t comport with the Barry Obama they knew at the time, who was a regular kid.

So look, if writing about all this in his book, if that didn‘t inoculate him against serious damage from this, then it‘s impossible to inoculate anybody against anything.  He kind of laid it out in very personal and excruciating detail.

CARLSON:  Yes.  But not apologetically.  I remember being shocked by seeing him refer to cocaine as, quote, “blow.”  Which is not a term somebody unfamiliar would use.  He doesn‘t get up there and grovel and say drugs are bad, though, in this book.

ROBINSON:  A lot of people in this country have, I think, a somewhat different attitude toward drug use or experience of drug use than people in Washington and political circles tend to think.

CARLSON:  Right, I agree.

ROBINSON:  Every family has some experience, some problem with illegal drugs.

CARLSON:  Or lots of problems.  There are lots of people—No one wants to say this, because it‘s so unpopular, but the truth is there are 10 of millions of people that have done drugs and been fine, actually.  And he is one of them.

ROBINSON:  But the point is that the whole society has experience with the issue, so it‘s not like this exotic thing.

FENN:  And, you know, there is the experimentation doing stuff and then getting so involved in it and so hooked that you are a substance abuser, and that is a legitimate.  He talks about that.  A lot of us talk about involved with a group that‘s dealing with it right now.  And I tell you, I think, though, on these kinds of things, there is—the trouble we have now, we have such a primary season that‘s so tight that there is not a lot of time for the voters to sort through and vet this stuff.  The result is that a lot of stuff gets thrown out there.  I mean, you better vet it early on on everything.

CARLSON:  Right.

FENN:  Right.

CARLSON:  But he‘s not hiding it.

FENN:  Before the Republicans.  That was the point he was trying to make, which he made very badly and on the wrong issue in my book.

CARLSON:  It is.  This is not like Bush‘s DUI.  The reason that was the story in my view, and the reason Cheney‘s DUIs never were, is because it didn‘t come out until the end.

FENN:  And they tried to cover it up.

CARLSON:  Oprah Winfrey, queen of television, queen of gift giving, queen of the world.  Dare we criticize her?  No, we dare not.  Well, her tiara is a tiny bit tarnished after some fans say they‘re not happy about what she said about Obama on the campaign trail.

Plus is Al Gore going too far with his criticism of the United States?  We‘ll hear what he said at a climate change meeting in Bali.  We have the tape coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Well, from backlash against Hillary to backlash against Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey.  This time last week the political world was buzzing about the appearance of Oprah and what it would mean for Obama‘s campaign.  Now it seems some fans of the previously politically-neutral talk show host are giving her some grief.  Back with us “The Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.  Let‘s be reminded of—I want to put up Oprah Winfrey‘s quote from the rally she did in South Carolina, which struck necessity as interesting at the time, even more so now.  Watch this.  Here‘s Oprah on Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST:  Dr. King dreamed the dream.  We don‘t have to just dream the dream anymore.  We are get to vote that dream into reality.  About supporting a man who knows not just who we are, but knows who we can be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  Since when does Oprah talk that way, anyway, but I remember watching that and thinking—I‘m not saying it‘s an unfair point, but I was surprised to hear Oprah say that because it struck me as almost a specifically racial pitch.

ROBINSON:  Well, recall the “I have a dream” speech, a dream of a day when we will be judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.

CARLSON:  Right.

ROBINSON:  And so, you know, that is one of the hallowed landmarks of political oratory in this nation‘s history.

CARLSON:  Or of American history itself.

ROBINSON:  I don‘t think you can go that far wrong in quoting the “I have a dream” speech.

CARLSON:  Well, she - of course, everybody does.  I mean, conservatives, everybody quotes that speech.  This was in South Carolina.  I don‘t think she said that in Iowa, before a predominantly black crowd where his campaign was worried about getting the support of black voters.

ROBINSON:  Oprah Winfrey is very good at communicating with audiences, and, you know, obviously one of the things she can do in South Carolina is help Obama with African American voters by essentially giving them permission to imagine that Barack Obama could win.

CARLSON:  Do you think she has?  Do you think his rise in that state is partially due to her support?

ROBINSON:  I think—I don‘t think it‘s all Oprah.  Her numbers among African Americans in South Carolina—his numbers were rising before Oprah got there, and I only thought they would.  I always had a sense because at times when I was in South Carolina there were a lot of people who would say, you know, I like Obama.  I just—I just don‘t know if he can do it.  I like him.  So it really was a matter of seeing him rise in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire and places like that.  And when people started believing .

FENN:  He can win.  Believing he can win.  And the interesting thing about the Obama candidacy I think is he has not run a racial campaign at all.  He has not been a black candidate.  He has—if anything, he has been trying to run as a more unifying candidate.  Having said that, has he run weeks and weeks and weeks of ads on black radio in South Carolina?

ROBINSON:  Oh, yeah.

FENN:  You bet he has.

ROBINSON:  Oh, yeah.

FENN:  Because he knows that 47 percent of the South Carolina vote is African American.  That‘s a smart politics.  But I think that .

CARLSON:  Is this smart television?  You have corporate clients.  If you were advertising Oprah—if you are working for Oprah, Harpo hires you, would you say it‘s a good idea from a business point of view for her to go and endorse Obama?

FENN:  Oh, for a business thing?  Probably not.  Look, she was not known as a polarizing political figure at all.

CARLSON:  Right.

FENN:  She‘s known as someone who goes across genders and ages and race and ethnicity, and, you know, this is someone who has a brand, but, you know .

CARLSON:  It‘s pretty bold of her to do this.

FENN:  I will tell you, she—she—I admire her for it really.  And I know she was nervous about it.  I mean, you could see she‘s very comfortable on TV, but, you know, when she‘s doing something that she‘s not used to, she had a prepared speech and she had teleprompters and she started off nervous in Iowa.  She got into it, but she believes so strongly in Obama.

CARLSON:  She could hurt herself.

ROBINSON:  But she said—she said beforehand when asked about the endorsement and the decision to campaign, she said I thought about it.  I thought about, you know, will I lose viewers?

CARLSON:  Verbatim.

ROBINSON:  Oprah does not like to lose viewers, but she felt this was something she had to do.

FENN:  She‘s taking it now.  People are coming out, giving her lip about it.  I think she can take it.

ROBINSON:  I think she will.

CARLSON:  Think so?  That‘s a good prediction.  Always make predictions that are certain to come true.  That‘s my personal motto.

FENN:  Harpo Productions will probably survive, don‘t you think?

ROBINSON:  I think they‘ll make it.

CARLSON:  We‘ll be right back, and with all the mud slinging between Hillary and Barack, is John Edwards the one with the most to gain.  We‘ll talk to his communications director in just a minute.  Plus, Obama‘s fan base keeps growing.  He is seeing a surge in his poll numbers among black voters in South Carolina.  Watch out Hillary Clinton.  This is MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Just in time for the holidays, it‘s campaign dirty politics in action.  Hillary Clinton‘s campaign co-chairman brought up Barack Obama‘s past drug use, something he has written about, and that Clinton campaign official has now left the campaign.  Could another candidate be ready to reap the rewards of this brawl?  Joining me, one of the smartest men in politics, communications director for the John Edwards for president campaign, Chris Kofinis.  Chris, thanks for coming on.

CHRIS KOFINIS, EDWARDS CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So where is your guy on this question of cocaine use?

KOFINIS:  He has made it very clear that he rejected this kind of dirty politics, has no place, in this election, and I think it kind of bespeaks to where we are in this race.

CARLSON:  So it doesn‘t matter if you do cocaine?

KOFINIS:  The past is the past.  Talking about this and bringing up these kind of things and to try to dirty, I think, what is an incredibly important election when we really have the future of this country is at a crossroads.  We have to decide what kind of direction we want to go into and where we want to go as a nation, where we want to lead this nation.  And so I think bringing up these kind of, you know, past experiences, I think, it just was way below—way below the belt.  And was unnecessary.

CARLSON:  I‘m not going to belabor the point but I would like some guideposts here for future coverage.  When is it germane?  The past is the past, but we spend our whole lives talking about what the candidates did in the past.  How much cocaine is enough to be a legitimate issue?  I mean is it ever legitimate?

KOFINIS:  I think—I know you are being somewhat facetious.

CARLSON:  Sort of, but I am also being serious.  Why doesn‘t it matter?

KOFINIS:  The reality here is you have one of the most important elections facing this country.

CARLSON:  Right.

KOFINIS:  Where do we go as a nation, and you have, I think, Senator Clinton who has chosen, I think, to defend a broken system in Washington, a status quo system, and instead of proposing, I think, the type of bold change that this country needs, which Senator Edwards has made very clear, I think, the new type of change we need to go in a different direction, achieve universal health care, end the war in Iraq, end poverty.  You have this type of dirty politics that I think, unfortunately, happens at the end of every campaign.

CARLSON:  I agree with that.

KOFINIS:  We don‘t want any part of it.  I mean, the stakes in this

election, what the voters are going to have to decide, you know, who of the

three top candidates is the best to lead this country and what John Edwards

has said and I think is saying very passionately so is that we need to go

in a new bold direction.

We need a fighter .

CARLSON:  Let‘s talk about the different direction.

KOFINIS:  Who is going to change the way Washington works.

CARLSON:  You guys always say—and I think you are probably right—we don‘t talk enough about policy.  It‘s all about process and little contretemps like this which are ridiculous.  Let‘s talk policy, vis-a-vis your candidate, John Edwards.

Press release from your campaign.  Edwards talking about what he will do about credit cards and abusive lending.  Edwards will require minimum protections on credit cards like restoring a 10-day grace period before late fees and applying interest rates to increase future balances only.  Why is John Edwards getting involved in my credit cards?

KOFINIS:  I think it goes to the heart of what .

CARLSON:  Talk about micromanaging Americans‘ lives.

KOFINIS:  Listen, what is going on in this country, I think, is something that the American people are clearly upset about.  We have 47 million people without health care.  Tens of millions of people living in poverty.

CARLSON:  How many of those are illegal immigrants?

KOFINIS:  Tens of millions of people living in poverty.  We have one out of five homeless who are veterans.  We have 50 million people .

CARLSON:  I want to talk about the credit cards specifically.  You sent out this press release.

KOFINIS:  It goes to the point.  So we have to go in a different direction. 

We have to have a president who is going to fight for the type of change.  What we clearly have seen—and this has been going on now for years, for decades with a system in Washington that‘s broken down.  It‘s broken down because corporations .

CARLSON:  But let‘s get specific about the policy here.

KOFINIS:  Because corporations again and again try to have it their way.  So it goes to the heart when we‘re talking about credit cards, whether we‘re talking about health care.

CARLSON:  Name one American who is forced by corporations to get a credit card.  Name one.

KOFINIS:  It‘s not a question about being forced, but it‘s a question about being exploited, it‘s a question of being mistreated.  You know this, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So what are you saying is the American people are kind of like my kids.  They‘re sweet, but they don‘t know what they‘re doing?  I‘m an adult.  I take out my—hold on.  I take out my own credit cards.  I may get bad terms.  Whose fault is that?  It‘s mine.

KOFINIS:  Quite the contrary.  The notion that somehow corporations are absolved of all responsibility no matter what they do, it‘s OK, and that somehow millions of Americans are supposed to fend for themselves.  That‘s not what makes this country great .

CARLSON:  What part of .

KOFINIS:  You know this.  We rise and grow as a country when we work together to make this country better.

So the notion—so the notion that somehow corporations can do whatever they want, lobbyists in Washington can do whatever they want .

CARLSON:  But this is voluntary.  Hold on, Chris, would you at least concede.  You are getting into airy here, theories here.  I want to get credit cards.

KOFINIS:  Yeah.

CARLSON:  Not one person has ever been forced to take out a credit card on bad terms in the history of this country?  Is that correct?

KOFINIS:  How many people .

CARLSON:  Not one.  Not a single one.

KOFINIS:  How many people are exploited by credit card companies?  How many people are exploited by banks?  How many people are exploited by corporations?  You know this, Tucker.

CARLSON:  OK.  How can you exploit someone who does something voluntarily?

KOFINIS:  Oh, please.

CARLSON:  That doesn‘t make sense.  It‘s logic 101.

KOFINIS:  That‘s not fair .

CARLSON:  If I choose to do something, I‘m not being exploited, am I?

KOFINIS:  No, of course, you are.

CARLSON:  I didn‘t even know I was a victim.

KOFINIS:  Somehow you have corporations that are playing fuzzy with the rules and are fuzzy with the terms.  Whether it‘s credit cards or whether it‘s health care or whatever the key issues that are facing this country.  You know what the stakes are in this election.  And the notion that somehow corporations or lobbyists are absolved of all responsibility, you know better than that.

CARLSON:  I‘m not arguing that.  That‘s a red herring.  OK.  We did our policy.  We have one minute left.  Let‘s do process.

KOFINIS:  Yeah.

CARLSON:  Because it matters.

KOFINIS:  OK.

CARLSON:  If you guys lose Iowa, don‘t come into first place are you going to New Hampshire and then on, or will Edwards throw his support to Obama and behind end the Hillary menace right there?

KOFINIS:  Here‘s what‘s happening.  More than ever you are going to see the momentum out of this—out of that last night‘s debate where John Edwards gave a stellar, incredible performance, and you will be seeing that, I think, in the focus groups that happened during that day and the buzz that‘s coming out of that, and out of that debate and on the ground and what are you seeing is that growing momentum is going to propel us not only I think to victory, but to the nomination.  That‘s the key because the American people want change, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Chris Kofinis, the man who really should be representing the candidate on television.  Thanks a lot, Chris.  I appreciate it.

KOFINIS:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  It keeps getting better and better for Mike Huckabee.  After taking the lead in Iowa earlier this week, he is now in first place among Republicans in South Carolina with everything working in his favor.  Could he really get the nomination?

Plus, fuzzy math.  Remember that phrase from eight years ago?  Those two words are back, and now they‘re haunting Rudy Giuliani.  We‘ll explain.  You are watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Still to come, can anything stop Mike Huckabee?  He is dominating the polls in key primary states.  What‘s next?  The Republican nomination?  Maybe so.  We‘ll get to that in just a minute.  First, here‘s a look at your headlines.

CHRISTINA BROWN, MSNBC ANCHOR:  I‘m Christina Brown with breaking news right now.  Dramatic scene going on in the Chicago suburb of Oakbrook, Illinois, where a desperate rescue effort is underway at a pond which is mostly frozen over.  There are reports of a child who disappeared in that pond.  It is not clear if the child may have fallen through the ice, but as can you see, the effort to locate the child continues right now.

In other news, some scary moments this afternoon aboard a United Airlines flight from Shanghai to Chicago after the crew reported smoke in the cabin.  The plane landed at O‘Hare and the 269 passengers were evacuated using emergency chutes.

A winter storm is expected to dump heavy snow tonight on the Plains States and the Midwest where crews still struggle to restore power in from a massive ice storm earlier this week.  Nearly 300,000 homes and businesses remain without power.

Meantime, the Northeast is digging out from heavy snow yesterday and awaiting a second punch this weekend from the storm that will hit the nation‘s midsection.  Now back to TUCKER.

CARLSON:  Mike Huckabee‘s grassroots campaign has appealed to enough Republican primary voters to rocket him to the top of polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, and now South Carolina.  Nationally he is winning too.

Today he made his first big appeal to the Republican establishment by naming Ed Rollins his campaign chairman.  Rollins, as you may remember, worked for Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan and ran the 1984 Reagan campaign that was the biggest landslide in American history.

Can Huckabee bridge the gap, the apparent gap between the party‘s people and its elders who are still suspicious of him.

Joining us once again the “Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.  Okay, Ed Rollins.  This is a little inside, but I still think it‘s germane.  I like Ed Rollins.  Ed Rollins is a very smart guy, very personable guy, a guy with a history of beating up on his own employers.  He was hired by Ross Perot.  Almost immediately turned around and just pounded Ross Perot in public.  Every person I met in Washington said exactly the same thing.  Is this a wise move for Huckabee to have hired Rollins?

FENN:  I like Ed Rollins, too, and I think he is very skillful.  He needed a pro, Tucker.  I mean, he need somebody in there who made sure that he read the morning papers and knew what the National Intelligence Estimate was.

CARLSON:  Yes, that would be good.

FENN:  You know, now he is—he has gone from being kind of in the limelight to being in the spotlight, and you need some folks around you who are professionals.  So I think it‘s probably a very good thing for him to have Ed Rollins by his side.

CARLSON:  All of the sudden—Huckabee gets great coverage.  The press loves Huckabee.  All these secular reporters love this Baptist preacher up until recently when he‘s been getting hammered.  I‘ve noticed this dynamic, Gene.  People in the press have defended Romney by saying his beliefs are his beliefs.  Nobody should question his beliefs.  It‘s too personal.  And in the same breath almost and on this channel have said and, you know, that Huckabee, he beliefs in creationism.  You know, what a Bible-thumping freak, snake handler he must be.

ROBINSON:  And Mitt Romney believes in a lot of things.

CARLSON:  Well, exactly.  You wouldn‘t say that about Joe Lieberman.  Why do we feel like we can question Huckabee‘s religious beliefs but can‘t question anyone else‘s?

ROBINSON:  Huckabee makes a big deal of his religious beliefs, and he says on his web site and has said in public, my faith defines me.  I don‘t separate my faith from my personal or professional life.

So that is kind of an invitation to look at his—his religious beliefs, and, you know, he is a—he is an evangelical Baptist preacher is what he is, and so it‘s interesting, though, the contrast between those beliefs and the way he governed in Arkansas.  I mean, he—on abortion, absolutely.  He—I think he would get rid of all abortions if he could.  On other issues he was pretty moderate and pretty pragmatic.

FENN:  But he does deserve - and some of this is religiously based.  He does deserve to be asked about it.  I mean, you know, there is that line in there.  He was asked about it in a previous campaign that his church has.  “A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.” 

I mean, you know, there are issues like that where he should kind of .

CARLSON:  And the problem with that is what?

FENN:  Our wives would kill us, Tucker.

ROBINSON:  You can stay at my house tonight, Tucker.

CARLSON:  I just .

FENN:  No women .

CARLSON:  You can say anything on TV except you can‘t endorse that. 

They‘ll go crazy.  I‘ll get yelled at in the makeup room.

FENN:  Your life will be over.

CARLSON:  I think this is a very interesting point by Rich Lowry, editor of “National Review” has a piece just slamming Mike Huckabee.  I‘m not saying unfairly, but it‘s a tough piece.  He says this, among other things, quote “Social conservatism has to be part of the Republican message, but it can‘t be the message entirely.  Someone needs to tell Huckabee this.  His first ads in Iowa touted him as a Christian leader and his target audience has responded.  But according to a Pew poll released in early December, only one in seven non-evangelical Republicans supports him in Iowa and one in 20 in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

FENN:  He had to get on the board.  He really had to get on the board, and this is the way to get it on the board.  I think—listen, not in the business of defending Mike Huckabee, but I‘ll tell you, this guy by himself has managed to go not only in the—in Iowa and New Hampshire, but in the national polls gone up, and it‘s because of the strength of his appearances on television and people looking at him and saying I like this guy.  He sounds reasonable to me.  He has a sense of humor, for crying out loud, which the rest of these guys don‘t seem to have, and he doesn‘t flip-flop all over the place.

But he has got to explain things, you know, as he moves along.  But you know, I tell you, I think the guy is doing darn well.  I think he may do very well.  In spite of himself.

ROBINSON:  He speaks eloquently to ordinary Americans.  He inveighs against the greed of corporate CEOs who are making 400 times as much as their workers, and he has a populist side to him.  Here are the next questions about Mike Huckabee.  Number one, is he up to the job?  A guy who doesn‘t - who is the last person in America to, you know, to learn that Iran ended its nuclear weapons program four years ago.

CARLSON:  An embarrassing moment.  No doubt about that.

ROBINSON:  Is he up to that?  And second, is he really the nice guy he seems to be?  The way he kind of is wishy-washy when he talks about Romney and Mormonism.  Huckabee is a guy who studied at a seminary.  He studied theology.  He gives very sophisticated theological answers to other questions, but when asked about Romney and Mormonism, he is like, well, gee, I hear some weird things about him.  Aren‘t they the ones who believe that Jesus and Satan were brothers?  I don‘t buy it one bit.

CARLSON:  I think what people miss is evangelicals don‘t just disagree with Mormonism.  They‘re deeply offended by it.  I‘m not endorsing that point of view.  I am just telling you the truth from having lived in Arkansas and other places.  They think it‘s a perversion of their true faith, and they despise it.  They don‘t actively dislike.

ROBINSON:  I think this is a guy who has a much more sophisticated understanding of Mormon theology who is playing to that evangelical feeling.

CARLSON:  You are probably right.  What do you make of Al Gore‘s remarks in Bali?  He is there recently yesterday for a climate conference, and this is part of what he said.  He said “I‘m not an official of the U.S., not bound by official niceties.  I‘ll speak an inconvenient truth.  My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali.”

Now, that‘s annoying, but it‘s also a bunch of crap, actually.  Global warming is the responsibility of every country.  Why is it always the United States that gets pegged with the responsibility?  What about India and China.

FENN:  Let me totally, totally agree with Al Gore here.  He pushed the Kyoto Treaty.  He was out front in this thing 20 years ago.  He worked in the 1990s as vice president to get that thing.  George Bush comes into office in 2001 and scuttles it, and wait a minute.  Exactly.  Let me just .

CARLSON:  The fastest growing economy in the world.

FENN:  And China is now supporting climate change and supporting, let me .

CARLSON:  They‘re causing climate change .

FENN:  They certainly are.  Right now—let me give you the facts on this.  We have less than five percent of the world‘s population.  We do 25 percent of the CO2 emissions polluting.  China is second with 15 percent and they‘re rising and this is a serious problem.

At least some people over there—and they‘re giving lip service to it, but how can you go and negotiate with the world and try to push the Chinese if you don‘t do it yourself here at home?

CARLSON:  So it‘s unilateral disarmament, in other words.  Screw up our economy in the hope you‘ll do the same to yours .

FENN:  No, no.  Absolutely—our economy is .

CARLSON:  You know what, I have to say I wish we had more time because I feel like I could—I could actually help you, peter.  I could help you, but we‘re out of time.  We‘re out of time.  You all are the best way to go into the weekend.

ROBINSON:  We‘ll do another show.

CARLSON:  Yes.  I know.

ROBINSON:  I hate to get into that.  We need another show.

CARLSON:  In recent months Rudy Giuliani has been heard echoing President Bush‘s claim if you cut taxes, revenue will increase.  In fact Giuliani has made it the keystone of his economic message, but now some conservatives, believe it or not, are crying foul saying the former New York mayor‘s math is off.

Joining me now is the author of an excellent new book called “Blood on the Street, the Sensational Inside Story of How Wall Street Analysts Duped a Generation of Investors.”  He is no one else but CNBC‘s on-air editor, Charlie Gasparino.  Charlie, thanks for coming on.

CHARLES GASPARINO, “KING OF THE CLUB” AUTHOR:  And it‘s “King of the Club”, that‘s my new book about Dick Grasso and excessive executive pay.  Just what Mike Huckabee would like to talk about.

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.  I‘m going to ask you about that in just a second.

But let me ask you first about Giuliani.  Are his numbers right?  Giuliani claims, and I‘m going to quote it to you right here.  “I cut taxes 23 times as mayor of New York and saw lower taxes can result in higher revenues.”  Is that what happened?

GASPARINO:  You know, Rudy Giuliani was an interesting—I covered Rudy Giuliani for a financial publication, for “New York Newsday.”  He did cut a lot of taxes in New York.  He did not shrink the size of New York City‘s government, and that‘s the big problem that he has.  He was not a fiscal conservative.  Rudy Giuliani, when he came in, he promised to be a real fiscal conservative, to change the dynamic of spending in New York City, and, yes, he did cut taxes, and, yes, the economy did improve.  A lot of it improved because of the Wall Street boom.  Remember?  Wall Street bonuses go up.  The taxes go up with it.

But with that Rudy Giuliani did not cut the size of New York City government, and one of the problems is after 9/11, Rudy Giuliani was obviously out of office at that point after 9/11.  Bloomberg was in there.  The budget started going through real problems, and that is one of the problems of Giuliani‘s legacy in New York City is that he wasn‘t really a fiscal conservative when it came to the size of New York City‘s government, and when you talk about the size of New York City‘s government, you are comparing something close to, you know, Russia during the height of the cold war.  I mean, New York City has socialized medicine.  It is one of the biggest—it‘s definitely the biggest city government in the country. 

It‘s bigger than, from what I understand, most states except for New York -

except for California.  That‘s the problem he has.  He did not cut the size of government.  And conservatives are going to hit him on that.

CARLSON:  That‘s an amazing statistic.  Second only to California.

Mike Huckabee, you alluded to him a minute ago.  His—really they are essentially attacks on Wall Street include the following lines.  “I‘m tired of people thinking the Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street.”  He has denounced immoral CEO salaries.  “People will only endure this for so many years, he said, before there is a revolt.”  What do they think of that on Wall Street?

GASPARINO:  They probably think he is a jerk.  I don‘t hear his name much on Wall Street.  It‘s very interesting.  Hillary Clinton, the sort of—you might call her a socialist, the populist of the Democratic Party is getting a lot of Wall Street support.  And Wall Street is hardly a bastion of the Republican Party.  That‘s a misnomer.  It gives to both parties.  There are a lot of liberals on Wall Street.

Here‘s the thing that I don‘t understand.  What Republican focus group is telling him to go after wealth creators, go after—create class warfare.  I just can‘t understand it.  If Mike Huckabee does become the Republican nominee, he is going to need Wall Street money, I‘ll tell you, and for all I know, if Hillary is there, they may give to Hillary because a lot of people on Wall Street actually like some of things that Hillary Clinton says.  They think they can deal with her.

CARLSON:  Interesting.  So you think if it came down to Huckabee and Hillary Clinton, she might get as much or more money than Huckabee gets from Wall Street?

GASPARINO:  Yes.  You know who is supporting Hillary right now is John Mack, the CEO of Morgan Stanley, formerly a Republican, gave a lot of money to George Bush.  There are a lot of Republicans that think they can do business with Hillary.

By the way, that‘s her problem.  She‘s such an establishment, the base of the Democratic Party, obviously rebelling against her being such an establishment player and not answering questions.  That‘s why they‘re moving towards Obama, and that—being an establishment player means when you need to raise money, you can go to Wall Street.  You have people at various firms at Bear Stearns.  She used to have Warren Specter, a major player, John Mack at Morgan Stanley.  She can raise money.

I tell you, if Huckabee becomes the republican nominee, it‘s going to be very hard for him to go to Wall Street and raise money, and he will need to.

CARLSON:  Interesting.  As always, Charlie Gasparino, author of “King of the Club” a terrific new book on Grasso.  Just out.  Thanks, Charlie.  I appreciate it.

GASPARINO:  Any time.

CARLSON:  Nothing says merry Christmas more than Larry Craig and his Christmas card.  Check your mailboxes.  You may be one of the lucky thousands who is getting one.

Plus, those Russians sure know how to have a good time.  If you are considering plunging into cold water in the middle of winter.  That‘s a good time.  Our senior Olympic ice swimming correspondent Bill Wolfe has all the frigid details coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Nothing says Christmas like Larry Craig.  Ho-ho-ho boys and girls.

Joining us now, two experts on the subject of Christmas, Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger, the ladies of the “Washington Post” universally read gossip column, “The Reliable Source.”

Well, I saw both of you at the White House Christmas party tonight.  You looked tremendous, and I‘m glad you are here today.

AMY ARGETSINGER, “WASHINGTON POST”  Thank you.

ROXANNE ROBERTS, “WASHINGTON POST”:  That‘s why we‘re here.

ARGETSINGER:  It‘s that time of the year.

CARLSON:  Larry Craig has sent a Christmas card out.

ARGETSINGER:  No, no, no.

ROBERTS:  No, no.

ARGETSINGER:  It‘s not Larry Craig sending the Christmas card out.  This is a riff.  Have you seen the Christmas card?

CARLSON:  No.

ARGETSINGER:  I think your producers will be putting it up on the screen.

CARLSON:  That‘s why we‘re having on you.  To inform me.

ARGETSINGER:  We were ready for the Larry Craig Halloween costumes.

CARLSON:  That‘s horrible.

ARGETSINGER:  We were not ready for the Larry Craig Christmas cards.  A lobbying shop called Federal Strategy Group put this out.  They sent out 2,000 cards to people all over Washington, including to most congressional offices.  Not all.

ROBERTS:  Not every.

ARGETSINGER:  Yes.  And as you can see, it is one gentleman handing a large candy cane to another gentleman under a bathroom stall.

ROBERTS:  Ho, ho, ho.

CARLSON:  A big sticky candy cane.

ROBERTS:  Don‘t get dirty.

CARLSON:  I‘m not getting dirty.  Look, any time you have sweets in the John, that‘s dirty.  It‘s dirty by its very nature.  I have to say, though, my heart is going out, again, to Larry Craig.  The poor guy.  Speaking of Christmas, Josh Bolten, White House chief of staff.

ARGESTSINGER:  He is also in the holiday spirit.  We‘ve learned that he has a Christmas tree in his White House office.

ROBERTS:  Covered with .

ARGETSINGER:  Harley Davidson insignia and motorcycle ornaments.

ROBERTS:  Not to be confused with his motorcycle menorah.

CARLSON:  Ah.

ROBERTS:  I am having a hard time picturing that, too, but, yes.  It‘s hard to describe, I‘m told.

CARLSON:  Does the exhaust come out of the top of the candle holders.  How does that .

ROBERTS:  I think it goes room, room, room.  I‘m not sure.  I wanted to see a picture of it, but Josh said no.  He was kind of a private guy.

CARLSON:  Kind of a private guy.  That‘s how he wound up chief of staff at the White House.  What are the Osmonds up to?

ARGETSINGER:  Well, I know you have been waiting to see who the Osmonds were going to line up with in the big presidential race.  Finally we can report Donny and Marie have come out for Mitt Romney.

CARLSON:  Ah.

ARGETSINGER:  In case you are wondering.  Other celebrity endorsements .

ROBERTS:  The thing about it is Oprah has sort of eclipsed everybody else, right?

ARGETSINGER:  Do you think?  You don‘t think Donny and Marie are going to get quite as much juice?

ROBERTS:  No, no.  Sean Penn endorsed Dennis Kucinich.  He said the only reason he is unelectable is if people they think he is unelectable, and if all Americans who believe in the constitution and elected him, then he wouldn‘t be unelectable.

ARGETSINGER:  There‘s some logic.  Also, Martin Sheen has endorsed Bill Richardson.  And Kevin Bacon is endorsing John Edwards, and this week in Iowa was doing a special six degrees of John Edwards promotion .

ROBERTS:  Cheesy.

ARGETSINGER:  Yeah, pretty cheesy.

CARLSON:  When I come out and officially endorse Ron Paul, I think it‘s going to be overshadowed by all of that.  I don‘t think anybody is going to care.

ROBERTS:  I think it will.

CARLSON:  I think you are right.

ROBERTS:  Maybe they‘ll put your name on the blimp.

CARLSON:  I would be honored.  Ladies, thank you so much.

ARGETSINGER:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger.  Thank you.

Well, it‘s not your typical kitty litter.  In fact these guys will never be alone in the dark.  The newest feline phenomenon.  You won‘t believe it.  We‘ve got the tape next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Joining us now to send us on into the weekend in peace, the vice president for primetime here at MSNBC, Bill Wolff.

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC PRODUCER:  Tucker, I can‘t help but comment on a couple of the stories you just covered.  Number one, I always vote with Donny and Marie, so it‘s upside down for me now.  Number two, motorcycle menorah.  Please.  My extensive research shows a vast majority of Jewish mothers will not let their sons anywhere near a motorcycle, my friend.  Dangerous.  Broken bones.  Stay home.

CARLSON:  That‘s a good point.  They know something.

WOLFF:  It‘s oxymoronic, my friend.  Tucker, choosing one‘s favorite philosopher is not easy.  First, one must figure out what the hell each philosopher is talking about and then they must weigh the merits and decide 19th century German immoralist Fredrich Nietzsche wants your vote in his age old battle with the 18th century indecipherable Immanuel Kant, and the Nietzsche campaign has released this attack ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  Mr. Kant would have you believe that reality is purely nominal and beyond the reach of our phenomenal consciousness thereby being inherently unknowable.  Mr. Kant claims that a true deontological ethics is based on a universal maxim that must never consider specificity of circumstance, character or likely outcome.

Mr. Kant holds that the aesthetic appeal to the sublime is purely in its awakening the sense of our own rational mastery over situational meaning.  Immanuel Kant, wrong on metaphysics, wrong on ethics, wrong on aesthetics, wrong for America.

Paid for by the committee to elect Friedrich Nietzsche.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I am Friedrich Nietzsche und I approve of this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOLFF:  A Kant campaign spokesphilosopher, responded, Tucker, that Nietzsche hasn‘t been vetted, isn‘t tested, and the Republican opponent will bring up Neitzsche‘s youthful indiscretions.

CARLSON:  I was just thinking that exact same thing.  If they‘re landing on Obama for cocaine use, what are they going to make of Nietzsche‘s syphilis?

WOLFF:  Yeah.  How did he get that exactly?

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  I know it‘s very prevalent in St. Louis, Missouri, though, which is the number one syphilis town in this country.

WOLFF:  There is a venereal disease situations that I read about in the very fine “St. Louis Post-Dispatch,” but iIm not sure about the disease you have mentioned, that I will not name, my friend.  It‘s hard to improve a cat, Tucker.  What with their tidy personal habits, instinctive use of indoor restroom facilities, and generally low maintenance requirements.  Unless you make them glow in the dark, and guess which continent boasts the scientists who did it.  That‘s right.  Asia.

South Korean scientists cloned cats with red florescent protein in their skin tissue, and now these kitties glow under ultraviolet light.  The scientists say the research will help further understanding of genetic diseases.  More importantly, you‘ll never squash your cat when he is already in bed when you lay down in the dark.

CARLSON:  That sounds like it might be a problem in the Wolff household.

WOLFF:  Well, I have a very dark kitten.  He is actually a cat.  And he is black as night, and when he is lying in the bed, Tucker, you often hear meow, and it‘s me lying down on old Sunny Liston, who is becoming quite a legend in this segment lately.

Tucker, Russia is scary.  What with Vladimir running the place, loose nukes, a ruthless mafia and such.  But the scariest thing is how Russias are very willing to suffer.  It makes them very dangerous.  It is the first day of ice swimming season, everybody.  They‘re hard at it in the Moscow region doing what‘s known as walrusing in ballerina costumes.

They played a little game of ice dominos later on, bathe themselves in impossibly cold snow, and it‘s good times for them.  If by good you mean utterly torturous, and now I personally pause to thank my forebears for getting the hell out of there two generations ago.  Thank you, grandpa Chaim Goldstein.

CARLSON:  Yeah.  I mean, if it‘s not the cold water, it‘s the bathing suits.  Grape smuggler bathing suits.

WOLFF:  Just look at it.  That‘s horrifying.

You don‘t want to go to war with a country that will have people who are willing to do that, Tucker.

Finally, I want to tell you a quick story about the nation of Canada.  They have superior social services, but they have social deviants too.  Canada Post, which is Canadian for the postal service, will return any child‘s letter to Santa Claus with a form letter and a handwritten post script until now.  Letters from Santa have been suspended because of a rogue elf somewhere in that government-supported program.  A rogue elf has penned vulgar and cruel notes to innocent children.  A brother and sister pair in Ottawa received unidentified letters from this miscreant to the girl.  He wrote to the girl as Santa Claus, “PS, this letter is too long, you dumb four letter world.”

And to the girl‘s 10 year old brother the rogue elf wrote, “PS, your mom, five letter world, four letter word and your dad,” well, you get the picture, Tucker.  Got to go.  They‘re cruel in Canada, my friend.  Merry Christmas.

CARLSON:  Well, drunk Canadian Santa.  Bill Wolff.  Thanks, Bill.

WOLFF:  You got it.

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Have a great weekend. 

Up next HARDBALL with Chris, see you Monday.

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

END   

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