updated 9/27/2005 12:29:39 PM ET 2005-09-27T16:29:39

Guests: Bobby Jindal, Steve Ellis, Rachel Maddow, Fred Burton, Willie Geist

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  THE SITUATION with Tucker Carlson starts right now.  Tucker, what‘s THE SITUATION tonight?

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Thank you, Joe.  It can be an ugly process. 


CARLSON:  With hurricanes, yes, it can. 

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita continue to dominate the national conversation tonight.  We‘re looking at government contracts awarded without competition and the outrageous plans to spend your money to pay for them. 

Plus, we got a pretty scary look at what an emergency evacuation of New York or L.A. might look like, also discuss Lynndie England‘s conviction today on prison abuse, and show you the day‘s most incredible video, as we always do, on the cutting room floor.  So stay for the hour.  It‘s worth it.

Up first, Hurricane Rita‘s path of destruction became painfully clear today.  Entire communities reduced to rubble in parts of Texas and large parts of Louisiana.  Rescuers still pulling out stranded residents.  So far, the death toll from that storm stands at nine. 

NBC‘s Donna Gregory is in the city of New Orleans with the mayor there trying to put back the pieces.  Donna, what‘s going on there tonight?


The mayor is actually telling people that, in some neighborhoods, you‘re welcome to come back.  Keep in mind, there is very limited fire service, very limited police service, and no critical care service in the hospitals that are open.  So it still is an iffy situation. 

The clean-up mode is really underway here.  It‘s surprising how clear the streets are in the Central Business District.  Power is on throughout much of that area. 

It‘s also on in the town of Algiers, which was largely unscathed.  Remember last week, the mayor had said, come on back, you can operate businesses.  You can live in your homes.  And then had to halt that because of the second storm that approached. 

Well, those people were invited back today to just resume their lives.  However, with limited services, they‘re told, don‘t bring your kids, don‘t bring elderly people, and don‘t bring people who are frail, so it‘s not life as they once knew it. 

In another part of this really besieged town, St. Bernard Parish, people were allowed to come in and survey the devastation there.  This is some of what they‘re seeing.  There‘s still probably 20 percent to 30 percent of that parish under water. 

And we spoke with some of the officials tonight who are very fearful that once the water is finally pumped out in about a week, they could find more bodies in St. Bernard Parish. 

So the situation still very much in flux tonight here in New Orleans, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Donna, we‘re getting the impression, at least from here, that there is some disconnect between what city officials notably, the mayor, and federal officials want for New Orleans.  He—the mayor, Nagin, seems much more eager to have people back.  Are they quarreling?  Is there an argument going on about this, do you know?

GREGORY:  I don‘t know about behind the scenes.  In public, they say there‘s simply a difference of opinion.  You know, when you read some of the things online, some of what‘s printed in the newspaper. 

It seems that the mayor wants to concentrate on giving people some closure, just giving them their own firsthand look at the damage and then letting them decide how to go on from here. 

And the admiral, Thad Allen, is saying that it‘s more of an issue of public safety.  And he said better to be safe than sorry, better to err on the side of caution, all the cliches you want to say.  He‘s saying, just wait; give it a little more time. 

But you have to know here, Tucker, that the mayor is desperate to get this city up and running.  And that‘s the catch-22 you have.  He wants the businesses to open, but they have no revenue coming in until the people come here.  The people don‘t want to come to businesses that aren‘t doing business, so it‘s a chicken and egg sort of situation, who blinks first in this case. 

CARLSON:  I‘m on the mayor‘s side.  People want to go home.  That‘s understandable, completely. 

Tell me about the parts of the city tourists know, the Garden District, uptown, and of course, the French Quarter.  How do they look now?

GREGORY:  French Quarter has power tonight.  It‘s officially turned on in that area.  Garden District didn‘t suffer much of the flooding, if any, associated with Hurricane Katrina. 

So a lot of the areas are clean, well, clean is a relative term down here.  Cleaner than some of the damage pictures that you‘re seeing.  But there are still some areas that are under water. 

The French Quarter is not open for business, but definitely has power.  So it gives people a sense, I can get inside, figure out the damage, figure out if I want to reopen my business and then go from there. 

CARLSON:  All right.  NBC‘s Donna Gregory in New Orleans for us tonight.  Thanks, Donna. 

You probably already knew that hundreds of billions in federal taxes dollars—your federal tax dollars are now headed to the gulf region in the wake of this month‘s hurricanes, but do you have any idea where the money is actually going?

Specifically, according to this morning‘s “New York Times,” hundreds of millions have been awarded to companies that seem to have political connections to the Bush White House.  The majority came in the form of no-bid contractors.  Inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security is calling it a situation ripe for waste, fraud, and abuse. 

Our next guest agrees with that.  He‘s Congressman Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.  He joins us now by phone from Washington, D.C., where he just landed from a trip to New Orleans.—Congressman. 

REP. BOBBY JINDAL ®, LOUISIANA:  Tucker, it‘s good to be with you this evening. 

CARLSON:  Thanks a lot for joining us.  So you agree with the inspector general of homeland security that this is a situation that could be used by people to rip off federal money?

JINDAL:  Well, anecdotally, we already have stories about trucks of ice being sent on trips to nowhere, costing us thousands of dollars. 

We already have, anecdotally, stories of millions of dollars sent to the state health department that they didn‘t need, millions more than they actually spent in this disaster. 

My concern is we can‘t afford a story of a $600 toilet seat or a $400 hammer.  Once those stories come to life, I fear that the nation nation‘s patience will run out, and we won‘t have what we need to rebuild. 

One of the things I‘d like to see more of an emphasis on us we know we have to spend money rebuilding people‘s homes.  On education, homes, lives, and health care.

I worry that if we don‘t put even much or how has been on more getting rid of the taxes, creating jobs, people won‘t come back. 

And I think one of the ways to avoid some of the opportunity for   corruption and political favoritism is to get the money as quickly as possible to the private sector.  If you get somebody as quickly as possible from the private sector.

For example, if you declared it a no tax, government capital gains five years, got rid of taxes for two years, got rid of depreciation.   Think you could put people back to work.  They could quickly be back in their own homes.  I think that‘s a better potter to go. 

And I am worried we are going to use up the nation‘s resources and patience before we get to the critical—one of the critical aspects, which is give people jobs. 

CARLSON:  I totally agree with the first part of what you said, Congressman, that the rest of the country is going to come very soon to resent Mississippi and Alabama, but particularly, Louisiana, which is considered by most people, fair or unfair, as corrupt, if they think their money is being wasted.

But wouldn‘t people be sort of resentful, looking on at a state or region that all of a sudden doesn‘t have to pay the same taxes they have to pay?  Are people going to see that as sort of unfair?

JINDAL:  I think the argument is going to be this.  I think we spend a lot—look, we know as a nation, we‘re going to spend a lot of attention and resources rebuilding this region. 

We can either spend what I think will cost us a lot more money, giving people government provided health care, housing and education.  Again, I think we need to help people who are in very dire straits.  Don‘t get me wrong. 

But I think we have a choice: do we do that for a longer period of time or do we say, we want to help you go back to work as quickly as possible.  We think in the longer term it‘s better to put people back to work.  It‘s better getting companies to reinvest.  It‘s better to get the ports open, the oil and gas fields open.

But that‘s not only good for the region but it‘s good for the nation.  I think there‘s also argument to be made.  It‘s better to have people more self-sufficient. 

CARLSON:  Let me ask you, and I do tend to agree with what you‘re saying.  Let me ask you specifically about this “New York Times” story this morning.  It‘s a pretty tough story.  Parts of it, I think, are a little unfair, but parts of it strike me as significant and defendable. 

And one of the points that it makes is, a couple of these companies that have received huge, hundred million dollar plus contracts from the federal government were represented by Joe Allbaugh, who of course, was the president‘s campaign manager in 2000, former head of FEMA. 

What is the White House doing allowing Joe Allbaugh to lobby for companies that are receiving these contracts?  Why doesn‘t the president cal Joe Allbaugh on the phone and say, “I‘m sorry.  For appearance sake, if no other, you can‘t do this.  It just looks bad.”

Why doesn‘t the president do that? 

JINDAL:  And a similar issue came up with our governor.  I think similar issues will continue to come up, and that‘s one of the reasons I suggested they need to get somebody from the private sector, either Colin Powell or Jack Welch, somebody like that. 

I don‘t think it makes sense to send the same money through the same government agencies that didn‘t work well together right after the hurricane, the same federal and state bureaucracies.  You know, the inspector generals are great.  My worry is they‘re going to find out about all the misspent money after the aspect.  I don‘t want to wait until we have an audit.  I‘d rather catch it up front. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that. 

JINDAL:  ... not use the same bureaucracy.  And I do think that the private sector, there are people with logistical and private sector backgrounds.  Don‘t get me wrong.  I want the locals, people on the ground to be able to make the final decisions, but we need somebody who‘s got logistical experience, somebody like a Jack Welch, somebody who‘s run a massive organization to come in. 

CARLSON:  Relief, sure. 

JINDAL:  ... same bureaucracies, nothing is going to be any better. 

CARLSON:  Let me ask you finally a philosophical question, because I know that you‘re a thoughtful person and a conservative.  The federal government is paying about half a billion dollars just for debris removal, mostly in Louisiana, but also in the contiguous states. 

Why is that the federal government‘s obligation?  Why is that my obligation to pay for your state‘s debris removal?  That‘s not bringing water and food or housing to people who need it.  That is picking up trees and wrecked cars.  Why should the feds pay for that?

JINDAL:  Yes, and the president does a good job talking about public versus private infrastructure.  We‘re going to have to rebuild the military bases, the public roads, the public infrastructure.  I think that‘s—I think it‘s OK in times of a catastrophic disaster, to say, “We‘re going to help you get back on your feet.” 

My bigger concern is the half a billion, or whatever the money is, is going to mushroom if we don‘t get people back into jobs.  The Medicaid bills, the welfare housing care bills, housing bills, are going to be much higher than any kind of debris removal. 

What I worry about is six months now, a year from now, are people going to be back to work or are we still going to be providing government assistance?  And my concern is that the nation‘s patience will run out and we won‘t have the resources to really create the entire economy. 

CARLSON:  I hope—I hope that everybody else in Congress, the 535 people you serve with, pay close attention to what you just said, Congressman Jindal, because I think it‘s very smart. 

Thanks for joining us tonight. 

JINDAL:  Thank you for having me. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, contractors aren‘t the only ones going after government‘s deep pockets.  Wait until you see how much politicians from Louisiana want Congress to give them for hurricane recovery.  It‘s unbelievable. 

Plus, will the American military be best at responding to natural disasters like the hurricanes?  President Bush asked Congress to look into it.  We asked “The Outsider,” Max Kellerman, if he thinks it‘s a good idea.  Be right back.


CARLSON:  Coming up, the war in Iraq, two hurricanes, and a booming economy in China have sent gas prices to record highs.  Like many rich people who fly in their own private planes, President Bush thinks it‘s a good idea for the rest of us to car pool.  But is it?

And a new law in Florida has gun control warning tourists to stay away.  It‘s all next on THE SITUATION


CARLSON:  The state of Louisiana wants $40 billion—that‘s billion with a “B” for Army Corps of Engineers projects in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  Put that in some perspective: that is roughly 10 times the Corps‘ yearly budget for the entire country. 

It‘s part of the proposed $250 billion Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief and economic recovery act, which would actually cost more than Louisiana Purchase when adjusted for inflation. 

My next guest says correctly, that price tag boggles the mind.  He‘s Steve Ellis, the vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watch dog group. 

Mr. Ellis.  Thanks for coming on. 


CARLSON:  So why—just give me the quick explanation for why this is too much.  I mean, the average person watching says well, I don‘t know, they got pounded by the hurricane.  They need a ton of money.  Why is this too much for the Army Corps of Engineers?

ELLIS:  Well, I mean I think that the American public has shown by their generosity and trying to help out the Katrina victims, we want to help the people of Louisiana out.  We want to help the people of Louisiana out.  We want to help people from the gulf out.

But we‘re talking about a tremendous amount of money, not just the $40 billion for the Corps, but the $250 million, that is a mind boggling sum.  And what we should really be looking at is trying to make sure that we provide a hand up, not a hand out for these people. 

And $40 billion, that‘s an awful lot of money for the corps to be able to handle, when they‘re not used to having such staggering sums.  They‘ve a pretty bad track record of boondoggles and pork barrel projects. 

CARLSON:  Well, I just want to read a quote from a piece, a news story that is sort of an amazing statistic.  The Corps over the last 50 years has spent $123 billion on projects.  In that time, in a half a century, the average cost in real dollars of flood damage annually has doubled. 

So in other words, as you know, all that money in, and yet we‘re getting the opposite result we want.  Why is that?

ELLIS:  Well, what we‘re ending up doing is we‘re making it safe or appear to be safe for people to develop in harm‘s way.  We‘re making it so that we‘re building a levee that‘s supposedly going to protect soybean fields, and we‘re growing subdivisions.

And so when you look at the Corps‘ response to Hurricane Betsy, for example, in the mid-60‘s. 

CARLSON:  1965. 

ELLIS:  Right, exactly.  They built a longer levee that protected some of these other areas and drained wetlands, which now became developments, which have been flooded repeatedly, but now have been really been impacted by Katrina.  And now we‘re going to pay to either rebuild those homes or to move those people out of harm‘s way. 

CARLSON:  So OK, speaking of Betsy, that was almost exactly 40 years ago.  Fifty people have drowned in New Orleans in that storm.  The Army Corps of Engineers has taken billions of dollars just for New Orleans in the years since.  Why couldn‘t they build something with all that money that would have prevented what we saw earlier this month?

ELLIS:  What it really boils down to is that we need to protect our core.  We need to figure out—and I mean C-O-R-E core.  We need to figure out what are the most important areas, the areas that we can‘t move.  And we need to protect those to the fullest extent possible. 

And then there are other areas that we simply shouldn‘t be building in, we shouldn‘t be developing, and these are not—these are going to be high-risk areas that we can protect from small and medium-sized events, but a big event like Katrina or Betsy, we‘re not going to be able to protect from. 

CARLSON:  OK, Steve.  Give me, because this is always the part that gets my blood pressure so high.  We can put it on the screen.  TO don‘t know if you can see it.  A very partial list of some of the projects to which that money will be going.  Included, alligator farms, $8 million.  Rattle off for me, if you would, examples of pork in this disaster relief package. 

ELLIS:  Well, there‘s $8 million for alligators farms, like you said.  There‘s another $35 million that‘s going to be going for marketing for seafood products. 

There‘s a separate whole trade issue with China on crawfish that‘s included in here.  There‘s another $30 million for sugar cane research facility that hasn‘t even been constructed yet that is included in this.  Then you look at there‘s another project that really, really gets me going, and that is $750 million to build a new lock on the industrial canal. 

Now, this is a project that Louisiana politicians have been pushing for for a long time.  It‘s been opposed by the president.  No money has been provided, but members of Congress from Louisiana have gotten more than $70 million for this project over the last several years. 

The levee that runs right along industrial canal is the one that failed both in Katrina and Rita, and inundated the lower Ninth Ward. 

CARLSON:  Outrageous.  Why the hell would I want to pay so you can research sugar cane?  It‘s unbelievable. 

Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, joining us live tonight.  Thanks. 

ELLIS:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Coming up on THE SITUATION, President Bush wants the military more involved in the next disaster response.  But do we really want uniformed soldiers marching through our streets?  I don‘t think we do.  We‘ll debate that with “The Outsiders,” Max Kellerman, next.


CARLSON:  It‘s that time, time to welcome my man from outside the world of news, contrarian who lived to disagree and who does it well.  ESPN radio and HBO boxing, the great Max Kellerman. 

MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO:  Thank you very much. 

CARLSON:  Good to see you back, man. 

KELLERMAN:  Beyond a civil introduction, so complimentary. 

CARLSON:  We‘ve missed you. 

KELLERMAN:  Thank you very much. 

CARLSON:  Glad you‘re here. 

KELLERMAN:  I missed you, too. 

CARLSON:  First up, President Bush is asking Congress to consider giving the military a larger role, perhaps even a lead role in managing natural disasters that take place on U.S. soil. 

After assessing the response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the idea is that in extraordinary cases of natural disaster, the Department of Defense would lead relief efforts, implying Bush‘s generals do better job than the governors and the Department of Homeland Security.  Well, that is absolutely right.  Of course they do a better job. 

Everybody who lives in Washington, probably the rest of the country, knows DOD is one capable department in the federal government.  You still don‘t want this, for three reasons.  No direct civilian control.  Right.  Who runs it?

KELLERMAN:  President. 

CARLSON:  Exactly, only the president.  We don‘t want soldiers on the street, just for aesthetic reasons.  That‘s what happened in third world countries. 

But more important, this would inspire a passive attitude on the part of states.  We‘ll just call the cavalry, and they‘ll come and make everything all right.  Local officials would no longer be accountable for their own misdeeds, their own squandering the money and screwing up the evacuation, if the military were in charge. 

KELLERMAN:  Well, first of all, they do.  They squander the money.  There‘s so much corruption, especially—I mean, we‘re talking about New Orleans.  Local politicians, over the years, all that money for levees, where did it all go?

CARLSON:  You‘re right. 

KELLERMAN:  Lining politicians‘ pocket.  And sure, there‘s this Orwellian feeling.  You don‘t want the military—I‘ll tell you what, 9/11, after 9/11, when I used to see fighter jets go over New York City...

CARLSON:  Right.

KELLERMAN:  ... I felt good, and I would have felt good if there were some military helicopters dropping supplies in the Superdome. 

CARLSON:  Yes, yes, because America was threatened by a foreign force.  Not by foreign powers, by terrorists from foreign countries.  Therefore, the military response, it was a military response and appropriately so.  But response to a hurricane is a local and state government response. 

KELLERMAN:  Sometimes it‘s overwhelming.  It crosses local and state boundaries. 

CARLSON:  Then the state—the governors ought to get together and respond.  See, it‘s a copout.  It allows governors and mayors to say, “It‘s not my job.   It‘s the Department of Defense‘s job.  And they screwed up.” 

No, it‘s your job, pal, and if you fail, we‘ll vote you out. 

KELLERMAN:  I think you need someone who coordinates that whether its a position of the federal government.  But you need some kind of point person who can coordinate all the efforts of that many local municipalities.  I mean, if each one is acting independently, it‘s just not going to be as effective. 

CARLSON:  Someone is elected, though. 

Well, you‘ve heard of Las Cruces, New Mexico, no doubt.  It literally means the crosses, and on its city emblem are three of them. 

A federal lawsuit filed by two Las Cruses residents claim that the flag‘s crosses, serve, quote, “No governmental purpose other than to disenfranchise and discredit citizens, the goal of the suit, to remove it permanently.” 

Get a life.  Three disgruntled people, who are unhappy the town is called Las Cruces.  There are a lot of towns with unattractive names, French Lick, Indiana.  I would not live there, because I don‘t care for the name.  You don‘t care for the name of Las Cruces, New Mexico, move to a new town, pal.  It‘s a free country. 

KELLERMAN:  Like, the one guy who‘s causing problems for Howard Stern with the FCC.  Right, like one case... 

CARLSON:  Exactly. 

KELLERMAN:  You live in the crosses town, you think it may—I understand that. 

CARLSON:  Jesus belt.  Come on. 

KELLERMAN:  But it‘s still—there is the establishment clause. 


KELLERMAN:  There is a separation of church and state, no, it‘s not explicitly written that way in the Constitution, but it‘s been interpreted that way, and this is clearly preferring one religion over another.  They are crosses. 

CARLSON:  Not preferring it.  It‘s describing the name of the town, which is historic name.  Here‘s my problem.  It is allowing one person or two disgruntled angry people to choose the course for everybody. 

If you don‘t like it, convince people it‘s wrong, and hold a referendum.  Put it up to some sort of democratic process.  A vote.  This is tyranny by one man.  What a king does, I don‘t care for it, therefore, change it. 

KELLERMAN:  It‘s a very good point, but again it violates a very important constitutional principle, and therefore, doesn‘t need to be put up for referendum. 

CARLSON:  Come on.  A lot of constitutional principles are violated.  Abortion violates constitutional principles, as far as I‘m concerned.  A lot of things are problematic constitutionally.  This is so far down the list, it‘s an insult to the other constitutional violations even to acknowledge it. 

KELLERMAN:  But it‘s still the principle, we‘re the United States of America.  We‘re not the European Union.  Yes, there are states rights and local rights, but there‘s the supremacy of the federal government, which is explicit in the Constitution. 

CARLSON:  Let the people decide, I say. 

I like this one.  Florida‘s economy depends on a great measure on tourism, but gun control advocates want to warn potential visitors about the alleged danger of traveling there after Saturday. 

The gun grabbers will launch an international publicity campaign about a new law that takes effect October 1 that allows citizens to use force on attackers if they feel their lives are threatened.  Gun controllers refer to it as the shoot first law. 

They would wait until you‘re shot.  Then you can respond.  You have got to be kidding.  This law makes every bit of sense in the world.  If somebody comes into your house by force, into your vehicle by force, you don‘t have to wait to get killed before repelling that person by force.  How could you be against that? 

KELLERMAN:  OK.  I like the fact that it says—it‘s silly to argue that if someone is attacking you, you can‘t use force to defend yourself, even if it‘s deadly force. 


KELLERMAN:  Because you know, the right to swing your fist ends at my nose, the whole thing, your life is in your own hands, until you attack me.  Then you placed your life in my hands to do with it as I please.  That really should be the law. 

However, here‘s the argument against it.  And really, this it talks to interpretation of the Second Amendment in the first place.  Take Britain, for example, they don‘t need this law.  You know why?  No one has guns.  So no one gets shot and killed by guns as they do in the United States, thousands of people shot and killed by guns every year.  And so you need a law like this. 

CARLSON:  Look, here‘s the lesson.  Here‘s the lesson, in fact, of Hurricane Katrina.  No one will save you.  Your self-defense is your responsibility.  You call the police, they may come, they may not.  But it‘s your job to protect yourself.  And we have sort of forgotten that, and we have this illusion that you pres a button, and all of a sudden someone swoops out of the sky in a Black hawk and saves you.  False, pal, it‘s up to you to protect yourself and your family.  Period.

Kellerman:  It‘s a great point.  And I think you‘re in a much better position to protect yourself if you live in a land where guns are illegal.  Then you don‘t need them.

CARLSON:  Too late.  Well, I‘d also point out that the Brits have no trouble killing themselves, once they get drunk and go to soccer games.  They beat each other to death.

KELLERMAN:  Am I allowed to stampede and attack?

CARLSON:  No, you‘re not. 

Max Kellerman.  Thank you.

KELLERMAN:  Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Stay tuned.  There‘s still plenty more ahead on THE SITUATION. 


CARLSON (voice-over):  A photo finish for Private Lynndie England.  She‘s marching off to prison, but for how long?

Plus, are Americans pumped up about the president‘s energy plan?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Curtail nonessential travel. 

CARLSON:  The Manhattan Project, is New York prepared to deal with something like this? 

But wait, there‘s more. 

ASHTON KUTCHER, ACTOR:  You think I am going to have a problem?

CARLSON:  And a shaggy dog tale that‘s really hard to swallow. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I was amazed. 

CARLSON:  It‘s all ahead on THE SITUATION. 

KUTCHER:  It‘s a dirty job, but we all got to do it. 



CARLSON:  Welcome back.

Joining me now to debate the news of the day, our old pal, Air America Radio Host Rachel Maddow, welcome back Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO:  Hi, Tucker, good to see you.

CARLSON:  Nice to see you.

Everyone is all atwitter, everyone in the media world anyway, about this “New York Times” piece this morning about the no bid contracts.

MADDOW:  That‘s right.

CARLSON:  I‘m sort of in agreement.  I don‘t think they should allow Joe Albaugh (ph), nice guy though, he really is a nice guy, but just appearance it‘s just so bad, they should not have allowed that to happen.

However, the flipside of it is, people maybe who haven‘t lived in Washington don‘t know, it takes forever to get a government contract because of all these stupid and immoral affirmative action clauses and all these other competition clauses and all this stuff.

MADDOW:  Affirmative action is why it takes a long time to get a government contract?

CARLSON:  No, it‘s one of the—no, but it‘s one of the reason.

MADDOW:  Right.

CARLSON:  You have to bid it out and make certain right?

MADDOW:  Right.

CARLSON:  So there are two competing desires here.  One is to have a fair contract, which I‘m for, another desire is a speedy contract and the two are mutually exclusive.  We should keep that in mind.

MADDOW:  Well, I think that this is more fundamental.  I mean the guy who is in charge of buying stuff for the federal government, the chief procurement officer, the guy who‘s in charge of contracts, the least qualified person who has ever held the job according to everybody else who‘s ever held it, no procurement experience whatsoever.

Why did he get the job?  Because he was a lobbyist with Jack Abermoff (ph) and a lobbyist with Grover Nordquist and now he‘s been arrested.  That‘s the guy in charge of buying stuff for this federal government.  The Bush administration is very, very bad at governing.

CARLSON:  Wait, wait a second.  There‘s no one person in charge of buying stuff for the federal government.

MADDOW:  He‘s the chief procurement officer.

CARLSON:  But each agency procures its own material.  I mean that‘s just—that‘s just true.  DoD guys its own stuff.  He‘s not buying Black Hawk helicopters, DoD is.

MADDOW:  He has $300 billion in his remit with no procurement experience.


MADDOW:  You get this Bush—I mean this is a so-called conservative administration but they seem to be incapable of doing anything themselves and so they contract everything out and they‘re bad at overseeing contracts.

CARLSON:  But wait a second.  It‘s good when the federal government contracts things out...

MADDOW:  Not this one.

CARLSON: ...efficiently and I will say the one thing, you know, one of the things that infuriated me most about the last election was all this relentless attack on Halliburton.


CARLSON:  You know having been to Iraq and seeing Halliburton in action, I‘m sure they waste money like everybody else does but they do a pretty good job and that matters to me anyway and I would like to see someone attack Halliburton or Kellogg, Brown & Root on the facts.  I mean are they doing a bad job spending this money because that‘s sort of what matters?

MADDOW:  When they can‘t account for billions of your dollars, when they can‘t account for billions of dollars that they‘ve taken in federal contracts that means they‘re doing a bad job, $100 bags of laundry, they‘re taking advantage and how are they taking advantage?

CARLSON:  You‘re talking about Iraq.

MADDOW:  I‘m talking about Iraq but listen, I mean this government, the Bush government is bad at overseeing contracts and the people who are supposed to be in charge of overseeing contracts they keep firing.

CARLSON:  When the rest—I tend to agree with you but when the rest of us are on TV (INAUDIBLE), you know, why didn‘t the federal government act sooner and why aren‘t they sending in the bottled water and why aren‘t they solving all these problems immediately, to turn around and say wait a second they ought to use more deliberation in giving out these contracts, I mean come on.  Let‘s be fair.

MADDOW:  I want the federal government to be good at giving out contracts and when people blow the whistle on bad contracts and abuse and cronyism I don‘t want them to get fired like Bunny Greenhouse did at the Corps of Engineers.

CARLSON:  I agree.

MADDOW:  good.

CARLSON:  The president comes out.  Gas prices are really...

MADDOW:  You agreed.

CARLSON:  To some extent.


CARLSON:  Gas prices are incredibly high mostly because of China and growing demand there for gasoline but also because of the hurricanes and also frankly because of the war in Iraq, all right.  So, the president comes out and says we all need to start saving gas.


CARLSON:  And he said what all rich people always say which is why don‘t you people carpool, OK.  So here is my new rule and it goes for Bush but mostly the rich liberals who are always lecturing us about our lifestyles and how immoral they are.  If you‘ve ever been on a private aircraft ever in your life you may not say word one about carpooling, right?  Because anybody who has to carpool hates it.

MADDOW:  Right.

CARLSON:  And the rest of us who are blessed not to have to carpool are never going to do it.  That‘s the bottom line.

MADDOW:  Well, I could still advocate carpooling then.  I‘ve never been in a private aircraft.  But I mean the thing about this speech today this was a laugh out loud point and shriek speech as far as I‘m concerned.  This was so ridiculous.

In 2001, the first year of Bush‘s presidency, Cheney said “Well, conservation is a personal virtue but not the basis of an energy policy.” 

CARLSON:  That‘s true.

MADDOW:  Somebody asked Ari Fleischer does President Bush support saving gas, support conservation?  And he said, “That‘s a big no.”  I mean for him to turn around and say—start lecturing us about conservation that‘s ridiculous.

CARLSON:  He was right the first—he was right the first time.  Gasoline is subject to market forces like caviar, like diamond, like blue cards, like anything else.  If it gets so expensive that I don‘t want to pay that price, I will curtail my behavior.  My behavior will change. 

If I‘m paying for the gasoline at market price, I can do whatever I want with it.  I can drink it.  I can waste it in my SUV.  I can put it in my private aircraft if I want and nobody can tell me not to if I‘m paying for it.  That is a market economy and it‘s fair.

MADDOW:  A market economy is one thing.  That‘s the way that economics works.  But think about our national security.  I mean we‘ve talked about this before.  The fact that we are so energy dependent in this country, the fact that we have done nothing to conserve, the fact that we‘ve done nothing to adjust our foreign policy toward the largest—the people from whom we buy the oil that we buy means that we have a huge national security vulnerability and we need to conserve energy in this country and we need to have an energy policy driven by something other than the energy industry.

CARLSON:  Right.

MADDOW:  And we don‘t have it.

CARLSON:  But it‘s not the energy industry.  It‘s people‘s natural desire not to sit next to strangers on the way to work, control their own radios, have their own phone calls on their cell phones and not sit with a bunch of people they don‘t know in a carpool.  And next time anybody who has ever been on a private plane or is rich mentions carpooling I‘m going to flip out on the air.  OK, finally...

MADDOW:  No, wait, listen.  It is something more than the American way of life.  It is also something that has energy and security policy implications for this country.

CARLSON:  Yes, well...

MADDOW:  And the Bush administration has blown it completely.  I don‘t want to hear the lecture.

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m not—next time Barbra Streisand says you ought to carpool.

MADDOW:  The next time Bush says you ought to carpool.

CARLSON:  I agree.  I just attacked him.  I agree.

Finally, Lynndie England she‘s going to prison and she should.


CARLSON:  For wearing that stupid beret if for no other reason.

MADDOW:  They all have to wear the beret now.

CARLSON:  I know and it‘s ridiculous.  The Special Forces officers ought to be able and enlisted ought to be able to wear the beret but if you‘re a file clerk who is mentally deficient as she is and literally you should not be wearing the beret.  Moreover, you should not be in a position to be handling prisoners and I think that‘s the real question.  How did someone like this get in a position to handle prisoners?


CARLSON: I  think it‘s weird.

MADDOW:  And where was the leadership at Abu Ghraib?  First of all those berets are made in China, which is really embarrassing.  But the leadership at Abu Ghraib, the fact that it never occurred to Donald Rumsfeld that there might be prisoners in this conflict and that somebody like Lynndie England might need a little instruction on there, her whole defense was, “Oh, I was smitten with my sadistic prison guard boyfriend.”

Well you know what there‘s something called a chain of command.  You aren‘t some Bush administration contractor yahoo figuring it out as you go along.  This is the U.S. military.

CARLSON:  Well, hold on.

MADDOW:  There ought to be some (INAUDIBLE).

CARLSON:  I know a lot of those contractors and a lot of them, all the security guys are former Special Forces people who would never do anything like this ever.  They‘re superior people who know exactly what they‘re doing and they‘ve never been accused of anything like this.

MADDOW:  And the reason they‘re not Special Forces people anymore is because they‘re getting paid six times as much to be contractors and the military can‘t hold onto them.

CARLSON:  Yes, right.

MADDOW:  Because we contract everything out.

CARLSON:  All right, well Lynndie England, she ought to take that beret off and she will when she goes to prison.

MADDOW:  I don‘t care about Lynndie England.


MADDOW:  I want Donald Rumsfeld fired for this (INAUDIBLE).

CARLSON:  All right, I know you do.  He‘s the only cool guy in the whole administration.

MADDOW:  And he ought to be fired (INAUDIBLE).

CARLSON:  Rachel Maddow, thank you for joining us as always.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Great to see you.

Still ahead on THE SITUATION this bumper-to-bumper scene was enough to make some Texans stay home and face the wrath of Rita.  Is there a better way to get people out of our biggest cities?  If so, what is it?  We‘ll answer both those questions next.


CARLSON:  Despite the 15-hour highway backups heading away from the gulf coast last week, officials in Texas and Louisiana have been praised for the lifesaving effectiveness of their evacuations ahead of Hurricane Rita.  But how would other major American cities, like New York and Los Angeles, handle a sudden large scale evacuation?

Joining me now to answer that question is Fred Burton.  He‘s the vice president of counterterrorism and corporate security at Stratfor, the nation‘s largest and probably the best private intelligence service.  Mr. Burton, thanks for coming on.


CARLSON:  Now, did you know—as good a job as everyone is saying that Texas did with its evacuations have you noticed that the death toll from the evacuation at this point is higher than the death toll from the hurricane?

Well, yes.  Anytime you‘re going to move that volume of people, 2.8 million, you‘re going to have problems and no doubt there will be some lessons learned out of this that can be applied to other cities, which is a positive thing.

CARLSON:  Is it ever safer just to stay where you are?

BURTON:  Oh, most certainly.  It depends on the circumstance, like for example in some cases where you may have a catastrophic terrorist attack, such as a dirty bomb, it could be best just to hunker down and depend on where—and look for where the wind may be blowing.

CARLSON:  So, that‘s one instance.  That‘s one terrorist attack.  What if a bomb goes off in a city?  I mean once the bomb has gone off isn‘t it smarter just to stay where you are?

BURTON:  Well, it depends again on proximity.  If you look at some cities like New York, which is probably the best prepared city in the nation to deal with this type of incident, most bombs are contained and they‘re very—from a proximity perspective even if you look at the Twin Towers collapse that involved just blocks.  So, if you are uptown or in midtown in that case, there‘s no need to panic and it‘s best just to stay put.

CARLSON:  New York is a city I think everybody thinks of when the question of how to evacuate a city comes up because it‘s so hard to get in and out of.  I hate almost even to say this out loud because it‘s—you don‘t want to jinx it but it is a very tough city to get in and out of.  There are these choke points that could be cut off pretty quickly.  How would New York do if an evacuation was called?

BURTON:  Well, I think we saw evidence of that during the blackouts and most New Yorkers adapted quite well.  Folks just went out and walked through the tunnels.  The problems could be, Tucker, when you‘re looking at a catastrophic terrorist attack in New York City, let‘s say if we got explosions in the Lincoln and Holland Tunnel and then if you had a simultaneous attack on a bridge, such as the Brooklyn Bride, your methods for escape at that point in time are going to be very, very difficult and your routes are going to be cut off.  So, it‘s important to have good contingency plans and to have good communication plans so you know what to do in the event of a problem.

CARLSON:  What kind of—can you be more specific about what sort of plans those might be?  You mean individual families coming up with plans for what they would do?

BURTON:  Oh, sure.  If you look, and we do a lot of work in New York City for major multinationals, most insist on conducting drills and evacuations which actually saved lives in 9/11.  And I think that that lesson learned should be applied across corporate America.

The problem, Tucker, is when you empty a building most people really don‘t like to do it and even if you look at Houston, how do you plan and drill for the evacuation of that many people?  It‘s very difficult to do.

And then from a business continuity perspective, you have to shut the building down.  You have to shut the factories down in order to train on a mass scale and it really disrupts commerce.

CARLSON:  You say you need a clear line of communication to your family, for instance.  But cell phones, cell towers go down notoriously easily.  Cell phones always seem to be out when something like this happens.  Land lines, of course, are often out too.  What is a good means of communication?

BURTON:  A good means of communication, Tucker, and most people don‘t do this, I spent a lot of time talking to families and talking to executives on this front.  Very few people take the time to set down with their family or their business and plan.  From a psychological perspective just knowing that you‘re not going to be able to communicate in itself is comforting.

The most important thing about this is to have a rendezvous point or a communications hub that will act as a center of communications.  It could be a relative that‘s out of town.  It could be a mother in another state.  And the plan is that you know that everybody will check in with that person as soon as you possibly can.

CARLSON:  That‘s very smart.  Fred Burton of Stratfor joining us live tonight from Austin, Texas, thanks a lot.

BURTON:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Coming up next on THE SITUATION I‘ll check the viewer voice mail.  One caller has a great idea about who ought to be handling the massive hurricane clean-up and it is not the federal government.  We turn to the slammer for help when we come back.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.

Time to listen to some voice mail.  You call in and tell me what you think about the news or me.  We play it on the air.  Let‘s see what we have tonight.


KAREN, EAST HAMPTON TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY:  Hi, Tucker, it‘s Karen from East Hampton Township, New Jersey.  I think we should use all non-violent criminals in the gulf states to do all the clean-up work.  If they have six months or less to go on their sentence, let them work it out and then let them go.  That is an unexploited source of power we have and we never use it.


CARLSON:  Let me see, Karen.  We‘d get free manual labor.  They‘d get the opportunity to get outside and get some exercise.  I don‘t think the federal government will ever go for it.  Much better idea to spend half a billion dollars hiring private contractors to clean it up and that‘s I think probably what we‘re doing—next up.


JULIE, PARTS UNKNOWN:  Hello, my name is Julie Brinkrow (ph).  I can‘t believe this is my third call.  But Mayor Ortiz has not left any firefighters or police officers in Port Arthur, Texas to deal with any problems?  I‘m aghast.  That‘s what they are hired to do.  This guys needs a good lesson in management.


CARLSON:  I couldn‘t agree with you more, Julie.  You‘re talking about Friday night‘s late night show, midnight to 4:00 a.m. Eastern we were on.  We talked to the mayor of Port Arthur, Texas, Oscar Ortiz, who said he had called out all the firemen and cops from his town because it was too dangerous, leaving a couple hundred citizens behind to fend for themselves. 

I couldn‘t agree with you more.  You‘re not supposed to criticize cops or firemen, both of whom I respect and admire, but you know this is the whole point is to protect us, who pay their salaries, from natural disasters and I think you‘re absolutely right. 

And I bet if the mayor had said to them only volunteers stay behind, only stay if you want to, you know the risks, stay behind if you so choose, I bet a lot of them would have stayed behind, especially the firemen.  They‘re brave people.  He should have let them to do what they wanted to do and I think a lot would have stayed—next up.


CAROL, NEW YORK CITY:  Hi, Tucker, my name is Carol.  I‘m from Brooklyn, New York, love your show, love your writing.  I saw you with Bill Maher last night and I wish you conservatives would point out to Clinton supporters that in 1995 almost 1,000 people died during a heat wave in Chicago.  They were unable to evacuate.  They were too poor to afford air-conditioning and Bill Clinton and FEMA did nothing to help them and the media really didn‘t blame them for that.


CARLSON:  Oh, I‘m still blaming Clinton for the genocide in Rwanda.  I don‘t think the press would have been right to blame Clinton for that actually.  I think when people die in a heat wave in a city, you know, it‘s probably not the president‘s fault.  I think in that case Mayor Daley of Chicago, if anybody in government is going to get blamed, should have taken the blame.

I just don‘t think that tragedies like that, though they‘re tragic by definition, are necessarily the responsibility of the federal government to prevent, you know.  I just don‘t believe that. 

I think it‘s local authorities, people who are voted in by the people who live in that city should be responsible for what happens in that city period.  A small government guy I guess.  So, while I blame Clinton for a lot and do so joyfully that‘s not one of the things I blame him for—next up.


ROBERT, CONNECTICUT:  Hi, my name is Robert Young, Bristol, Connecticut.  I was curious to ask a question on could we have save fuel day across the country, everybody stops driving their vehicles for one day to help the cost of Katrina?  Thanks.


CARLSON:  Well, here‘s an idea Robert.  How about stop flying your private jet day?  A flight from here to Akron, Ohio wastes more fuel and burns more fuel than you and I burn together driving to work and back every day for ten years practically. 

So, if you‘re flying around in a private plane and lecturing the rest of us on how we ought to buy a Honda Prius or whatever the hell it is, some sort of hybrid car and we are morally inferior to you because we‘re not doing that and we‘re not carpooling and we‘re not, you know, I don‘t know.  We‘re flushing our toilet too much and using up all the earth‘s resources.

You ought to take a day off from flying around in your private plane or from getting in a limousine or for riding in the back of any car that‘s not a taxicab.  That‘s what we ought to do.  Let‘s save fuel that way.  Every mouthy rock star in the world is going to have to take the bus for a day.  How does that sound?  I like that.  We‘d save a ton of fuel doing that.  No private plane day.  That‘s what I‘m getting behind.

All right.  Let me know what you‘re thinking.  Call 1-877-TCARLSON or 1-877-822-7576.

Still ahead on THE SITUATION, they said it wouldn‘t last.  They said May and December didn‘t go together.  Well, Aston and Demi or Demi or whatever her name is have proven the celebrity obsessed doubters wrong once again.  The couple walked down the aisle right onto the Cutting Room Floor next.


CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Time again for the Cutting Room Floor, Willie Geist is back thank heaven and he‘s got all the news we couldn‘t pack in.

GEIST:  Tucker, you were so busy assailing celebrities on their private jets that we have to get right to it and we start with...

CARLSON:  I like private jets but, you know.

GEIST:  We start with celebrities and their private jets.

CARLSON:  Excellent.

People and “US Weekly” magazines, neither of which is ever wrong incidentally, are reporting that 27-year-old Ashton Kutcher and 42-year-old Demi Moore were married in a top secret ceremony over this weekend.  When the actors started dating about two and a half years ago, skeptics chalked their relationship up to publicity but the Beverly Hills nuptials are proof the couple is for real.

GEIST:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Moore‘s ex-husband Bruce Willis reportedly attended the wedding with he and Demi‘s three daughters.

GEIST:  We usually ask it the other way, Tucker, but do you think for Demi this is an upgrade or downgrade, Bruce Willis or the young buck Ashton Kutcher better husband?

CARLSON:  It‘s probably an upgrade.  Ashton Kutcher is a pretty funny guy actually.

GEIST:  Purely on age.  Yes, he is.  Punked is a funny show.  But for movie star, star power, Bruce Willis still.

CARLSON:  Yes, I think you‘re probably right.

GEIST:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Probably Bruce Willis.

All right, we go from a blessed celebrity union to a sad penguin break up.  Silo (ph) and Roy an pair of penguins who live at New York‘s Central Park Zoo made headlines six years ago when they came out as a gay couple.  Well, it turns out that Silo was just bi-curious.  Now, he‘s moved in with a female penguin named Scrappy and built a nest with her.  The understandably shaken Roy could not be reached for comment.

GEIST:  Silo and Roy there‘s got to be a Seigfried and Roy joke in there somewhere right?

CARLSON:  There‘s a Vegas act in their future.

GEIST:  Now listen, Silo, I understand experimenting.  We‘ve all been there.  But don‘t play games with another penguin‘s heart.  Don‘t do it at his expense.  That‘s all.

CARLSON:  Just for the record we have not all been there.


CARLSON:  Thanks for sharing, Willie.

GEIST:  Not with that.

CARLSON:  Well, they say puppies will eat anything, you know, things like your slippers, your Sunday paper, your 13-inch serrated knife.  Elsie (ph), a six-month-old St. Bernard from Fort Lauderdale, Florida swallowed one of her owner‘s knives whole last week.  It sat in her stomach for four days before her owner realized something was very wrong and took her to the vet.  At two-hour operation got the knife out of the dog‘s stomach and somehow she suffered no serious injury.

GEIST:  What an exceptional animal.  Most dogs happy to sit, roll over, maybe catch a Frisbee, swallowing swords at six months old, amazing.

CARLSON:  That is so cool.

GEIST:  Juggling is next.  Send Elsie to the circus.

CARLSON:  Well there‘s bad news tonight for those of you who buy new cars just for that new car smell.  It can kill you.  Research performed by Japanese auto makers reveals that the sweet smell of a new car is actually the result of a toxic combination of harmful chemicals.  The study shows that just sitting in a new car can subject drivers to emissions several times more toxic than those deemed safe for homes or offices.

GEIST:  Is it just me, Tucker, or is this a little counterproductive for an automobile maker to tell people that buying new cars would kill you?  Just an observation.

CARLSON:  Yes, better to lie.

GEIST:  Yes, I think the used car smell is probably more dangerous.

CARLSON:  No doubt.  Thank you, Willie.

That‘s THE SITUATION for tonight.  Thanks for watching.


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