updated 10/17/2005 10:12:31 AM ET 2005-10-17T14:12:31

Guests: John Dickerson, Akbar Muhammad, Dave Popenoe, Max Kellerman, Elizabeth Searle

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Thank you, Mike.  Thanks to you at home for staying with THE SITUATION on a Friday night.  We appreciate it very much. 

It‘s been a busy week, and we‘ve got a lot for you tonight, including the very latest on the Harriet Miers debacle, a disability claim involving a pet ferret—don‘t miss that—and a conservation with a top sociologist about why so few people are getting married these days. 

But first, Karl Rove, called before a grand jury for the fourth time today. 

Rove arrived at the federal courthouse in Washington earlier this morning, and walked into the grand jury area, with special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald reportedly told Bush‘s advisor he has yet to decide whether he‘ll bring charges over the leak of Valerie Plame‘s identity. 

Rove then left, after about four and a half hours, without speaking to reporters.  It was likely his last chance to prove he did nothing criminal. 

Joining me now from Washington with the latest on the Rove situation, among other things, “Slate‘s” chief political correspondent, our friend, John Dickerson. 

John, thanks for coming on. 

So how—the obvious question, I mean, this is two weeks from today, this grand jury expires, so if Fitzgerald is going to bring indictments, it seems likely he will, it‘s going to happen the next two weeks.  Are they completely freaked out at the White House?

JOHN DICKERSON, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, “SLATE”:  Well, they are trying to focus on other things.  Yes, this takes up a lot of mental energy, but there‘s not that much they can do about it.  Yet another problem at the White House they don‘t have control over.  So it gets in the way of their day, but you know, they‘re trying to sort of focus on what‘s in front of them and just wait for this—this report to show up. 

CARLSON:  What are people saying is likely?  I know there have been famously few leaks in this.  Or is that true: have there been leaks, A?  And B, what are people saying is likely to happen?

DICKERSON:  Well, there have been very few leaks, and certainly from Fitzgerald there, I think, have been no leaks, which is extraordinary in this town, that the special counsel‘s office hasn‘t leaked anything. 

The defense lawyers are talking some, and what they think may be happening is Fitzgerald is going after, not the original law that he was looking at, which is the intentional leaking of a CIA agent‘s identity, but perhaps a conspiracy or a perjury charge or an obstruction of justice charge.

And that opens the real nightmare scenario, because that offers the situation in which multiple White House aides could have been involved and in which the standard is lower, and you get a full-blown ugly scandal under those scenarios. 

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s just—it is absolutely the thing that every administration fears, and the potential targets here are probably the two most important unelected people in the White House: Scooter Libby in the vice president‘s staff, and Karl Rove on the president‘s. 

Why hasn‘t the White House gone after Fitzgerald?  That‘s what the Clinton people did, pretty effectively.  They went after the special prosecutor, Ken Starr.  Why haven‘t this White House done that?

DICKERSON:  Well, in fact this White House has done just the opposite.  The president came out and talked about the dignified process that Fitzgerald had been going through. 

I think they have tried to stay out of commenting about this, even on background, really.  Their hope is that, frankly, that Fitzgerald will produce a report that will exonerate Rove and Libby somehow, or at least get them out of it somehow.  And so if they denigrate the prosecutor going in, they lose the ability to use him later as a kind of seal of approval and everything is over and OK. 

CARLSON:  It just seems kind of naive to me, because, of course, if he does indict these guys, or other people in the White House, they‘re going to be stuck with the previous comments, “oh, Fitzgerald is a man of rectitude and an honest guy.”  And they can‘t really criticize him at that point. 

DICKERSON:  That‘s true.  And the president is also stuck with another set of comments, the ones he made during the 2000 campaign. 

I went back and looked at the speeches, when he talked about the responsibility era.  And he poked a lot of fun at Al Gore.  And what basically the president said was, you know, you can‘t—it‘s not just the legal standard.  It‘s the standard of ethics that have to be followed.

And in his own administration, he‘s got to make sure that, even if nothing illegal was done, that basically people have to live up to that special standard that George Bush set back when he was running for office the first time. 

CARLSON:  That‘s an excellent point.  John, you wrote a really smart column this week in “Slate” about the Miers nomination...

DICKERSON:  Sorry.  Sorry (ph).

CARLSON:  ... in which you pointed out the president is essentially using the standards of affirmative action in order to choose this nominee. 

Do you think she‘s going to have trouble in the Senate, in the committee, in the judiciary committee specifically?  And do you think she‘s going to be confirmed?

DICKERSON:  Well, the question whether she‘s going to be confirmed is still open.  Everybody seems to be sitting on the fence.  And that‘s perhaps proper and what they should do.  I think what we certainly know is the president is not going to back down, and we know he‘s not going to withdraw her name.  We know that it is...

CARLSON:  Really?  You really think he—I mean, there‘s so much pressure.  Every day, there‘s something more embarrassing that comes out about her that makes her look incompetent. 

DICKERSON:  But you know that about this president.  I mean, he—almost when he gets into a fight, he almost grits his teeth harder.  And particularly because a lot of this criticism is coming from what he thinks are sort of the intellectual elites.  He thinks, you know, “They don‘t know her.  I know her, and we‘re going to go forward.” 

So it‘s almost the amount of criticism sets him in harder. 

CARLSON:  Well, and he‘s absolutely right, this criticism is coming from the intellectual elites, and they‘re entirely right this time. 

Finally, if—if you see Republicans break of and oppose, vote against Harriet Miers, who will they be, do you think?

DICKERSON:  Well, the ones to look at, the first, Sam Brownback.  He is thinking about running for president.  He‘s on the committee, and he also has a constituency within the social conservatives who were most angry about Miers‘ nomination.  So I‘d look to him first.

And then I‘d look to George Allen, who‘s also running for president.  The reason you look for the presidential candidates is this is one of the few moments for a senator to stand up and do something bold.  Senators don‘t get that many chances.  And so this is a chance for them to do something bold, which would please that constituency, which has a lot of sway in those Republican primaries. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.  And if Brownback and George Allen come out and oppose Harriet Miers, the White House cannot dismiss them as tools of the liberal media, because they‘re not. 

DICKERSON:  That‘s right. 

CARLSON:  John Dickerson from “Slate” magazine, joining us again. 

Thanks a lot, John. 

DICKERSON:  Thanks, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I‘m joined by MSNBC contributor, Flavia Colgan.  Flavia, thanks a lot for coming. 

FLAVIA COLGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Thanks for having me. 

CARLSON:  This—this debacle just never ends; it gets worse every single day. 

COLGAN:  Which one?  I can‘t keep track.

CARLSON:  Well, the Harriet Miers, which I think is the significant scandal.  I mean, I think—we‘ll get to it in a minute, but undue attention has been paid to this Fitzgerald investigation, which is, at root, really not a lot.  This, however, is different. 

Gerard Baker in the “Weekly Standard” writes this today: “It is the simple depressing lack of seriousness demonstrated by the White House in coming up with such a candidate, the sheer cramped and occluded smallness of the thinking that now seems to characterize the Bush administration‘s approach to governing.  It‘s hard to overstate the mood of demoralization among conservatives in America.” 

COLGAN:  I know.  The Democrats are not out in front of this.  It‘s unbelievable that all of the op-eds really pointing out not just that she‘s not a conservative, because all this federalist stuff has come up recently, but more importantly, that from an intellectual standpoint, she does not have the heft to compete with a Scalia, with a Breyer, you know, with the people that are currently on the court.

And one of the most damaging things now is her own words.

CARLSON:  Yes.

COLGAN:  I mean, the David Brooks column is just devastating.  Not only are her words sort of abstract, she barely makes a point.  But then looking at her cards, where she‘s writing to the president.  I mean, the closeness to the president is also a huge issue for me.  “You‘re so cool.  You‘re the best governor ever.  You‘re the smartest man ever.” 

I mean, there‘s a reason it‘s the third branch of government.  I mean, they‘re supposed to be separate.  There‘s a reason the Senate confirms these people. 

CARLSON:  Of course.

COLGAN:  Checks and balances.  She doesn‘t have the intellect heft, she doesn‘t have the experience, and more importantly in my mind, her closeness to the president should be an automatic disqualifier. 

CARLSON:  All of this—so all of the criticism that you have made, and that is coming from the right, is hard to rebut.  And that‘s why they‘ve resorted to name calling instead of rebutting with an argument. 

All of it, however, makes Bush a lot weaker going into what we think are going to be indictments the next couple of weeks from Fitzgerald.  And it‘s a shame, as long as the White House is about some things—I believe the Iraq war and Harriet Miers—I don‘t think they are at fault with this Valerie Plame business. 

Here‘s what this really is in my view.  It‘s an attack on leaking, which is an attack on the public‘s right to know.  We have a right to know if, in fact, Joe Wilson was sent to Niger because his wife worked at CIA.  That‘s nepotism and it‘s wrong, and I‘m glad I know that.  So now it‘s criminal to tell me that?

COLGAN:  You‘re going to be surprised.  I somewhat agree with you.  But I think the Rove thing is much more complicated and far reaching than that. 

And what I mean by that is you‘re right; she might have just had a desk job.  However, guilt by association, anyone she was with could have put them in trouble.  But let‘s move beyond that.

It‘s always the cover-up that gets you, not the actual thing.  He didn‘t tell the FBI.  He was not forthcoming about his conversation with Matt Cooper.  He couldn‘t find the e-mail that he just found.  I mean, come on, because he didn‘t put the right search words in at the White House?  My 11-year-old brother would have been able to. 

CARLSON:  But who cares?

COLGAN:  I care.  You cared a lot when it was Clinton lying. 

CARLSON:  Actually... 

COLGAN:  He did not give information to the FBI that he should have. 

CARLSON:  First of all, A, we don‘t know that. 

COLGAN:  Well, we do know that because he now has had to go back and say, “Oh, I just found this e-mail.” 

CARLSON:  So we don‘t know—we don‘t know anything that he said to the grand jury or to Fitzgerald.  But the bottom—see, this is the problem with these investigations.  They get so far away from what they originated—what they were originally about. 

COLGAN:  I agree. 

CARLSON:  We forget that, at its core, this is not a big deal. 

COLGAN:  But the reason this is sticking is because it‘s part of a larger narrative.  If there wasn‘t (INAUDIBLE).  If there wasn‘t Scooter Libby.  If there wasn‘t the deputy guy that they just were going to appoint to the Justice Department who had to step down.  If the procurement guy didn‘t have to leave because he was arrested.  If there wasn‘t this culture of corruption that‘s pervading... 

CARLSON:  Come on.  That‘s such a weak argument. 

COLGAN:  No. 

CARLSON:  If I said to you, “You know what?  I don‘t have any evidence that you robbed a liquor store, Flavia.” 

COLGAN:  There is evidence he lied. 

CARLSON:  But let me just put it this way.  Let me just put it this way.  There are a lot of Harvard graduates who are women, who are wearing pink tops, who have committed crimes.  I‘m not saying we can prove you committed the crime, but you probably did, because a lot of people like you have.  That is not an argument. 

COLGAN:  Do think it‘s passing the smell test? 

CARLSON:  What is the smell test?

COLGAN:  I mean, it‘s certainly not passing the threshold that your last guest brought up, which is what Bush ran on, that you do the right thing. 

CARLSON:  OK.  The smell test is relevant in electoral politics.  The smell test is not relevant when it comes to prosecutors charging people with crimes. 

COLGAN:  I think that there‘s a pretty good—pretty good chance that, at the very least, Karl Rove was not forthcoming with the FBI, which I think is a very serious offense. 

CARLSON:  OK. 

COLGAN:  And that he held—withheld information. 

CARLSON:  Well, we‘ll see.  Given that, given that you say that... 

COLGAN:  ... and Scooter Libby, and the Judith Miller notebook that just came out does not make Scooter Libby look too good.  And the point is, this is distracting.  It‘s debilitating. 

CARLSON:  Is it really?  Because I‘m...

COLGAN:  Do you think Harriet Miers would have happened if Karl Rove was in the picture?

CARLSON:  Let me quote—let me quote a column that I just read, columns that I always read by this woman Flavia Colgan.  She‘s a contributor here at MSNBC. 

And she made a very interesting point.  She said according to the latest Zogby numbers, the polling on this, that Bush would still, today, beat John Kerry.  Given Bush‘s poll numbers are hovering around Gray Davis or Paul Potts, as low as they can get, and he would still beat Kerry, which is another way of saying, they may be blowing up, but the Democrats are not able to take advantage of it. 

COLGAN:  I mean, I wrote it.  And the point is, you can‘t beat something with nothing.  And it‘s unbelievable to me that this is not a home run for the Democrats.  But the metaphor I used in the op ed, which I think is very pertinent, you‘re a very sophisticated man.  I know your wife takes you to the orchestra and symphony. 

CARLSON:  Yes, right. 

COLGAN:  And when you get there early, all these fabulous musicians are all playing beautifully on their different instruments, but there‘s no conductor up there, and it sounds like garbage.  And then the conductor gets up there with his baton and suddenly it‘s music to your ears. 

CARLSON:  No, no.  Because...

COLGAN:  There is no conductor in the Democrat Party. 

CARLSON:  Here‘s where the metaphor falls down. 

COLGAN:  There‘s no baton in the Democratic Party.   They don‘t have a vision.  George Bush may have a screwed up vision, but at least he has one. 

CARLSON:  They don‘t have to extend the metaphor.  They‘re missing the sheet music.  They don‘t have anything to say.

And here‘s my question.  Look, you‘re not going to be taken seriously as a political party, as a politician, unless you have something to say about Iraq, period.  What do the Democrats—outline for me in two sentences, what‘s the democratic position on Iraq?

COLGAN:  The first two people to have a real stance on Iraq in terms of time tables were two Republican senators.

CARLSON:  Right.

COLGAN:  And the Democrats don‘t know whether to go down to hold Cindy Sheehan‘s hand, whether to say that she‘s Satan incarnate, whether they agree with her vote, whether they don‘t agree with her vote.  They‘re all over the place.  And hat‘s exactly the problem. 

They can‘t stand up against the bankruptcy bill, which is supposed to be something the Democrats are all about. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

COLGAN:  That‘s exactly what I am talking about.  They care about polls and they care about winning, when they should be carrying about principle and having a backbone, and the winning will come.  People want leadership.  People want people who stand up for the principles.  Period.

CARLSON:  The Republicans are so weak right now that if I ran as a Democrat and had something cogent to say about Iraq, I could win.  And the first Democrat who does have something to say that actually makes sense, that is moderate and not crazy, not in Cindy Sheehan land, is going to win. 

COLGAN:  And I will say it‘s going to come out of the governors‘ mansions.  That‘s where it has to come out of, people who have actually done something, instead of talked about it.  Cut taxes, created jobs.  And aren‘t involved in this whole inside the beltway mentality. 

CARLSON:  Maybe.  Yes, but then they tend to...

COLGAN:  Well, you‘re an inside the beltway guy.

CARLSON:  I am outside the beltway. 

COLGAN:  You‘re an insider.  I‘m the outsider. 

CARLSON:  The point is that, having covered a lot of gubernatorial races, you know, every governor thinks he‘s God.  Everyone‘s this little Nero figure.  Do you know what I mean?  So they have their own problems.  I think.  But anyway, you‘re not.  Flavia Colgan, thanks for joining us. 

COLGAN:  Thank you for having me. 

CARLSON:  Coming up, the Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan says it‘s possible the New Orleans levee was bombed to flood poor black people. 

It‘s up to the government to prove otherwise.  We‘ll talk to one of his

long-time aides about those inflammatory charges next

Plus, a look at the latest trends for marriage in America.  Red states and blue states having a decidedly different approach to tying the knot.  A walk down the aisle when we come back.

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CARLSON:  Still to come, so much for a kinder and gentler country.  A new poll says Americans are ruder than ever. 

Plus, a rude awakening for one man who thought he was off the hook for a shooting that took place 32 years ago.  An intriguing case you won‘t want to miss, when THE SITUATION returns.

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CARLSON:  Tomorrow, thousands of black men will descend on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March. 

The event, called the Millions More Movement, is headed up by controversial leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan.  Mr.  Farrakhan recently suggested that the flooding of New Orleans, which destroyed mostly poor black neighborhoods, may have been done on purpose by the government. 

Here to talk about tomorrow‘s event, and Farrakhan‘s comments, is long-time assistant to Louis Farrakhan, my old friend, Akbar Muhammad.  He joins us from Washington. 

Akbar Muhammad, thanks for coming on. 

AKBAR MUHAMMAD, ASSISTANT TO LOUIS FARRAKHAN:  Good evening, Tucker. 

I‘m very happy to be with you. 

CARLSON:  Nice to see you again. 

I went to the Million Man March 10 years ago, and I had nothing against it at the time, and I don‘t have anything against it now, but looking back, there‘s a kind of poignancy to it.  Leonard Pitts, who is a columnist with the “Miami Herald,” wrote this.  He was also at the Million Man March 10 years ago. 

He said, “Ten years later, over 65 percent of our children are still born out of wedlock.  We‘re still five times more likely to die of homicide.  Fewer than half of us own our own homes.  We still marry less, go to jail more, die sooner.  The promises we made that crisp day in October lie fallow and unredeemed.”

Why is that?  What—how did that march fail to bring about what it was intended to bring about?

MUHAMMAD:  Well, I think if he wrote that article, and he was at the march, then he didn‘t follow closely what really happened after.  He didn‘t mention how many black children were adopted in homes after the statement was made by Dr. Leonard Dunston (ph) on that in Washington. 

He didn‘t say how many churches, the increase of men—all membership in churches across America. 

He failed to say how the NAACP, Urban League, and other organizations increased their membership after that march. 

He failed to say how crime went down in just about every major city across America after that march.  And so he failed to say the good that came out of the march, but he wanted to talk about the negative things that are happening right now. 

CARLSON:  Well, you make a good point with the crime.  Crime has gone over the last 10 years.  That is absolutely true.

But it‘s the first statistic that really grabs my attention: 65 percent of kid born out of wedlock.  That‘s not good for anybody, especially children.  I know you disapprove of it.  Why—why is it 65 percent born out of wedlock, and what can be done about it?

MUHAMMAD:  Well, I hope you‘re not working up on William Bennett‘s statement. 

CARLSON:  No. 

MUHAMMAD:  He said that...

CARLSON:  Nobody is more opposed to abortion than I am.  I can promise you that.

MUHAMMAD:  OK.  OK.  Because we‘ve traveled together, Tucker, and I know that because of your stand, and the amount of children that you have right now. 

But let me say this, that because of the jail statistics in America, the way that the criminal justice system handles black people in America, so we have the absentee of men in the homes, and this is one of the issues that Minister Farrakhan will be addressing tomorrow on the Mall. 

The very fact that Minister Farrakhan has, in his own vision saw the importance of another march, not just a march, as he said.  This is more than a march; this is a movement.  So we can put in place institutions that will live beyond the march that will speak to the social ills that affect our community. 

CARLSON:  Well, if they speak to that social ill, I‘m for them. 

Now, speaking of Mr. Farrakhan, here‘s what he said just yesterday.  Quote, “I have heard from a very reliable source who saw a 20-foot deep crater under the levee breach that may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry.” 

That‘s an awful thing to say.  Why would he say that on the basis of no evidence?

MUHAMMAD:  Well, you know what, Tucker?  And I would challenge those who are listening, looking at this broadcast this evening, to get Minister Farrakhan‘s words in full context. 

CARLSON:  OK. 

MUHAMMAD:  For nearly 24 years, they do sound bites on Minister Farrakhan.  He went into detail.  This is a rumor that‘s all over.  And if it is a rumor, and it‘s not true, then the government, the state officials, the city officials need to work to dispel that rumor by having a full investigation. 

CARLSON:  Wait.  But Akbar, that‘s not the way rumors work.  If I say, you know, “Akbar, there‘s a rumor that you killed 35 people in a drug related murder spree,” you would say, “Wait a second.  That‘s a terrible thing to say.  Where is your evidence?”

And I would say, “Well, it‘s just a rumor I heard.  Disprove it.” 

Which you would say that‘s slander.  That‘s the same as this.  There is no evidence that the government blew up the levee.  It‘s a terrible thing to say and shouldn‘t Mr. Farrakhan not say things like that and take it back?

MUHAMMAD:  Let me say this.  He never said the government blew up the levee.  See, this is what I mean; getting his words right.  He never said the government. 

If you take the book “Rising Tide” by John Barry, John Barry never said the government did it.  He said a group of people met in an office in New Orleans in 1927.  They made a determination that they were going to blow up the levee, in order that a certain part of the town would flood, and save another part.  This is—this is history. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But we‘re talking about 2005, just a month and a half ago.  And there‘s—nobody was apprehended doing this.  No one was seen doing it.  There‘s been no conspirator who‘s come to light and admitted it.  There‘s no evidence this happened. 

And I just fear people believe what you say; they believe what Louis Farrakhan says.  This makes people hate one another.  That‘s why this is a very poisonous thing to say.

MUHAMMAD:  No.  It‘s not a poisonous statement.  In a book called “Body of Secrets” by Mr. Danforth, I believe his name, he wrote about a plot.  This is 19 -- the early ‘60s, that they had a plot at the NSA, to blow up a ship or a plane, and accused the Cubans in order to justify invading Cuba.  This is a part of Minister Farrakhan‘s tape at the press conference yesterday.  So this is—that was 1960. 

What Minister Farrakhan said, that if this is not true, and if there is no evidence of it, then do an investigation. 

CARLSON:  All right. 

MUHAMMAD:  Research the information that is all over the web sites, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  OK. 

MUHAMMAD:  And...

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m going to lay it to rest right now, Akbar, and just tell you, it‘s not true.  Rest easy.  No one blew up those levees.  They collapsed on television because of too much water. 

But it‘s nice to talk to you, nevertheless.  I appreciate it.  Have a good march tomorrow. 

MUHAMMAD:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Thanks.  Akbar Muhammad.

Still to come, Harriet Miers wrote this, Harriet Miers wrote that.  Constant television analysis of President Bush‘s Supreme Court nominee has sent one viewer completely over the edge.  Hear her angry voice mail when we come back.

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CARLSON:  You want to get married sooner rather than later, you might want to try relocating.  The Census Bureau has released a studying about the marrying habits of Americans, and it finds those near the coasts, east and west, tend to wait longer to get married than people in the center of the country and have fewer kids when they do. 

Here to talk about the study, David Popenoe, professor of sociology at Rutgers University and co-director of the National Marriage Project.  He joins us from Princeton, New Jersey. 

Dave Popenoe, hanks. 

DAVE POPENOE, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY:  Nice to be with you. 

CARLSON:  So what do you make of this?  These numbers seem to show that people in the blue states, coastal states, the states that voted for John Kerry, getting married later.  Fewer are getting married.  They‘re having fewer kids.  The opposite is true in the center of the country, in the red states.  Why is that?

POPENOE:  Well, the blue states, really, are moving in the European direction, with later marriage and high levels of nonmarital cohabitation, and those two things are very closely related to low birth rate, so that‘s what‘s going on. 

CARLSON:  But why?  I mean, what is it?  Is it a political divide?  Is it a geographic divide?  Is it a temperature divide?  What is it?

POPENOE:  It‘s probably more than anything else a combination of two things.  Education and income on the one hand.  In other words, slightly higher class levels on the coasts, on the two coasts, and then religion.  Religion is much stronger in the middle, and religion tends to lower the age of marriage and reduce the amount of cohabitation that goes on. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  But why does income affecting this?  Why are rich people less likely to get married and have kids?  That seems odd, since they can afford it. 

POPENOE:  Well, I mean, it‘s—think of it in terms of the fact the wealthier nations become, the fewer the kids.  And you know, rich people have a lot of other things to do.  There are plenty of opportunities, especially for the women.  And that‘s really what it‘s all about.  They don‘t have to get married. 

CARLSON:  They can kite board. 

POPENOE:  They can—spend time out wind surfing and things of that kind. 

CARLSON:  So you get the sense or I get the sense that there are fewer marriages overall in this country.  Is that a real trend, and how profound is it?

POPENOE:  Oh, it‘s an absolute trend.  The marriage rate has been dropping very rapidly.  In fact, faster than practically any other family phenomenon.  It doesn‘t mean that most Americans won‘t eventually marry, but we figure now it‘s about maybe 85 percent will ever marry, versus 95 percent in the 1950‘s era. 

But compare that with Europe now, where in Scandinavia, 60 percent of people will ever marry.  So marriage is quickly weakening there. 

CARLSON:  But isn‘t marriage, in addition to being a reflector of socioeconomic status and religious faith, as you pointed out, also a reflection of your confidence in the future?  If you‘re hopeful about your own life, you want to reproduce, don‘t you?

POPENOE:  Well, that may be.  You know, I think the biggest reason for low fertility is that women have other things to do.  And that comes with affluence.  And in every society that has wealth, why, you‘re getting very low birth rates. 

And America is, I won‘t say dragging our feet.  We may be going in another direction, but our birth rates are a little below replacement, but nothing like Europe‘s yet. 

CARLSON:  Boy, I‘m glad.  There‘s something incredibly grim and depressing about Finland and Scandinavia, where everyone is drunk and suicidal and childless. 

POPENOE:  Well, I‘m not sure.  Actually, the...

CARLSON:  That may be a mild generalization. 

POPENOE:  Well, the birth rate in Scandinavia is actually considerably higher than it is in the southern Catholic countries in Italy and Spain.  So...

CARLSON:  Boy, interesting. 

POPENOE:  And by the way, the alcohol rate is higher in Spain, France, and Italy, too. 

CARLSON: Really?

POPENOE:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Stereotypes, not always true.  One of the many things we‘ve learned from David Popenoe tonight.  Thanks a lot, David, for coming on. 

POPENOE:  Thanks a lot. 

CARLSON:  Coming up on THE SITUATION, I‘ll give you $1,000 if you can tell me how these are related.  Get a pen.  A college student, ferret, and an Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit.  We‘ll put that puzzle together when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  He is a man on a mission, an accomplished self-Googler, who‘s also the master of his own domain.  You may recognize him, well, from this show.  But he‘s also on ESPN radio, and he‘s also an HBO boxing host.  He is Max Kellerman. 

MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO:  Yes, actually I Google myself, two, three times a day. 

CARLSON:  It‘s wrong, Max, it can hurt you.  You go blind after a while. 

KELLERMAN:  So I hear. 

CARLSON:  OK, here‘s the story, here‘s the most amazing story I have seen in a long time.  This is the “New York Post,” America‘s greatest newspaper. 

KELLERMAN:  Yes, it is. 

CARLSON:  Page one, “Dead Weight,” a man, this man was shot 32 years ago in a fight in New York, he was left a paraplegic.  He died very recently.  The man who shot him, originally convicted of shooting him, served three years.  Now that this man has died, the shooter is being brought back into court and charged with murder. 

Now, this isn‘t, I guess, technically double jeopardy, but it‘s close enough to make me think they should not have brought charges.  He shouldn‘t have shot the guy, obviously, but he already served his time.  Maybe he should have served more.  But 32 years later?  It‘s a miscarriage. 

KELLERMAN:  I am actually surprised at your position here.  First of all, he was a quadriplegic for the last 32 years, because in essentially a race riot, he was shot, and the guy who shot him in a race riot that left him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life, was given three years in jail based on a technicality. 

CARLSON:  Right, which is wrong. 

KELLERMAN:  Now, the guy dies, as a result.  And the autopsy revealed that he died as a result of the gunshot wound 32 some odd years earlier.  I know, it‘s hard to believe, how is that possible? 

CARLSON:  Exactly. 

KELLERMAN:  But it‘s been medically—I mean, who are we to argue, the doctor said that‘s the reason. 

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know, I am not a doctor, but I am a talk show host, and I want to argue with the results of that autopsy.  Look, how do you know?  There‘s no way you can convince me you can know conclusively, I mean, in some broad sense, if you are a quadriplegic, of course that can hasten your death, and so the shooter is responsible.  But the point remains, he didn‘t kill him, and 32 years later, he dies. 

KELLERMAN:  Immediately.

CARLSON:  I know, but it‘s too long.

KELLERMAN:  You know, the sister of the guy who died is very happy about this.  She was crying tears of happiness.  You know why?  Because the guy who murdered her brother was—or may finally be brought to justice.  Isn‘t that a good thing?  There should be a statute of limitations on murder? 

CARLSON:  Of course not.  I am merely saying the guy has been tried and convicted before.  Now, just because the judges in New York state are so liberal and lame that 32 years ago they gave a guy who shot somebody else only three years in prison, you know, I don‘t know what to say, other than that‘s wrong, but you can‘t reconvict the guy of essentially the same crime. 

KELLERMAN:  But it‘s a different crime, because he died. 

CARLSON:  We Americans like to think of ourselves as refined and sophisticated, people with manners.  A new poll suggests we are nearly as awful as the French.  Maybe not that awful, but getting there anyway. 

Nearly 70 percent of those questioned in an Associated Press poll say Americans are ruder today than they were 20 or 30 years ago.  Part of the problem, high-tech gadgets like cell phones and our fast-paced lifestyle, fax machines, and everything else that makes us focus on technology rather than other people. 

This is clearly true.  However, this is my defense, always and everywhere.  We may be bad; everyone else is worse.  OK?  So Americans may be kind of rude thanks to their cell phones, but they are nowhere near as rude as the people in any other country around the world.  And I think the fact that Americans are worried about being rude tells you everything about how polite they are. 

KELLERMAN:  Well, I mean, I don‘t know if we are the most polite country.  I doubt we are the least polite.  But certainly you have argued in the past that technology has put us in a position where civility is something that it wasn‘t—that it‘s no longer something it once was, and we are a technologically advanced nation, and so it stands to reason, relative to other nations, we are becoming ruder. 

CARLSON:  That may be true.  However, again, the poll itself kind of disproves its own point.  In other words, if you are worried about being rude, if you think being rude is a problem, you are almost by definition polite, because what is politeness but concern for other people?  Politeness, the root of politeness is a concern, a fear of being rude.  So if you are afraid of being rude, you are polite. 

KELLERMAN:  Well, it‘s also a certain pace of your lifestyle. 

Americans I think work harder than most people in most other nations. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

KELLERMAN:  You would agree we are more productive.  You can look at our GNP, right?  And as a result of the constant work and especially the technology that allows us to work practically around the clock, we may not have as many—as much time for manners as someone, say in Italy, where they are striking all the time. 

CARLSON:  See, my strong experience has been that the rudest people I know are also the laziest.  In fact, the hard working people I know tend to be very polite.  They got their act together. 

KELLERMAN:  I agree with you.  I agree with you. 

CARLSON:  Finally, 19-year-old Sarah Savek (ph), a student at Our Lady of the Lake University in Texas.  Sarah has filed an Americans With Disabilities Act complaint against the school.  Why?  Because her pet ferret Lilly is no longer allowed in her door room.  Sarah says she has post-traumatic stress disorder, which leads to panic attacks, and only the Lilly the ferret can keep her calm.  Lilly the ferret is essentially like Prozac to this girl. 

So she is—she is not suing.  She is filing a complaint.  She‘s not asking for money, and that‘s key. 

Look, the Americans With Disabilities Act has done a lot of damage to this country.  I thought it was ridiculous when the first Bush signed it.  I think it is ridiculous now.  I think post-traumatic stress disorder is kind of questionable in the first place.  All of this kind of gooblygook makes me cringe. 

However, why not let the girl have a ferret?  I mean, who cares?  If her ferret makes her feel better, let her have the ferret. 

KELLERMAN:  This is just an obliquely—this is an argument related to your whole dog theory. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

KELLERMAN:  That dogs should be allowed everywhere.  And so you‘re afraid...

CARLSON:  A ferret is a little bit—like three degrees away from a dog. 

KELLERMAN:  That‘s right.  And you are afraid, it starts with a ferret, but it‘s a slippery slope. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  First they came for the ferret, exactly.

KELLERMAN:  And then they came for you, and there was no one else left. 

CARLSON:  Exactly. 

KELLERMAN:  Yeah, fine, I basically agree with you.  Here‘s the devil‘s advocate position, however.  A ferret calms her down?  She can‘t live—maybe her disability goes beyond—I mean, if it takes a ferret to calm you down, whose brain can fit on the point of that pen, by the way, maybe the disability goes a little beyond traumatic distress disorder.  Maybe this person shouldn‘t be in a social environment in the first place, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  No one is suggesting she is not a deeply troubled young woman, in the words of a high school guidance counselor.  Right, OK?

KELLERMAN:  What kind of a pet is a ferret?  You ever have a friend with like a pet rabbit?  I had a friend with a pet rabbit in college.  He used to just kind of come out of his cage, long enough to bite someone, and then go back in the cage.  Who needs it, get a normal animal. 

CARLSON:  You can‘t question or understand the relationship between people and their pets.  And I just think, you want to keep some weird pet, even a ferret if it makes you feel better, as long as it‘s not eating anyone, you ought to be allowed to. 

KELLERMAN:  Fine, you win. 

CARLSON:  Max Kellerman. 

KELLERMAN:  Tucker Carlson. 

CARLSON:  Happy weekend. 

KELLERMAN:  See you on Monday. 

CARLSON:  Thank you. 

Still ahead on THE SITUATION, last night we shocked you with the news that there‘s an opera in the works about Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.  Tonight, we‘ll get a special performance from the woman who wrote it. 

Trust me, you can‘t afford to miss this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Eleven years later, the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan saga seems kind of like a bizarre dream, doesn‘t it?  What began as a figure skating rivalry became a national fascination when an associate of Harding‘s whacked Kerrigan in the knee before competition, leading up to the 1994 Winter Olympics. 

Well, my next guest has written an opera—that‘s right, an opera—about the whole ordeal.  Elizabeth Searle is the author of “Celebrities in Disgrace,” and the writer behind “Nancy and Tonya,” the opera. 

Joining me tonight from Boston, Elizabeth Searle, thanks. 

ELIZABETH SEARLE, WRITER, “NANCY AND TONYA”:  Thank you for having me. 

CARLSON:  Let me ask the obvious question, why are you writing an opera about this?  Not that I am against it, but it‘s a different kind of choice. 

SEARLE:  Oh, to me, it‘s the perfect story for an opera.  And there were many sources of inspiration, but one I thought you would be interested in is a quote from the time of the scandal by one of your favorite people, George Will.  And George Will, during the scandal, was talking on a show, not unlike yours, and he complained about the amount of coverage, which was crazy, especially at the time, because this was the first really insane scandal that swept the nation. 

And he said, “this is a ridiculous story that has nothing whatsoever to do with life in America today.” 

CARLSON:  Oh.  Well, I am glad someone is paying attention to what people say on TV.  That‘s heartening.  But why would that observation, which is probably kind of true, it strikes me, why would that inspire you to write an opera?  How do you get from there to here? 

SEARLE:  Well, my immediate thought after that observation was, it‘s a ridiculous story, yes, of course, but it has everything to do with life in America today. 

CARLSON:  Like what? 

SEARLE:  Well, you know, I often tell my writing students, great stories turn up the dials on the emotions that are there.  I mean, this story, one of the reasons it‘s a great opera story, it has all these intense feelings, primal feelings like envy, competition, very American feelings.  You have got the locked-jaw smiles of the girls, with swirly skirts on stage, but backstage, they are clubbing each other‘s knees.  I think when you get into the characters of Tanya and Nancy, you have got some real classic American themes of class differences, differences between good girl, bad girl, so-called. 

CARLSON:  Yes, actually, I think I—I see where you are headed.  I actually think it‘s not bad as a series of metaphors about American life.  Do the women themselves know about this opera, and have you talked to them? 

SEARLE:  You know, probably in the last 24 hours, they do know about the opera.  I would love to talk to them.  I would love to have them see the opera.  I can certainly understand that probably their first reaction is to be suspicious and annoyed, but I am hoping that if they ever do see the opera, and they are certainly both invited to come to the premiere. 

CARLSON:  Annoyed?  If someone wrote an opera about me, I would be completely flattered. 

So let‘s hear it.  Give us a selection from “Nancy and Tonya,” the opera. 

SEARLE:  Well, I will.  Now, the music is still being written so I am not exactly going to sing, but I am going to try to mime the singing a little. 

CARLSON:  OK, give us some spoken word then, it‘s all right. 

SEARLE:  Yes, we‘ll give you the spoken word. 

So I‘m going to give you just a few lines from Nancy and a few lines from Tonya.  And these are based on actual remarks they made in the written record of all this.  I went on the Web and got a lot of newspaper quotes and things like that, and we chopped them up and mixed them up. 

So here‘s just a little bit of Nancy the week of the skateoff at the Olympics.  She said, “it‘s quite nice to be back on the ice.  My knee has a bump on it, but it doesn‘t hurt.  I can do everything I want to do.  I always hope everyone does their best.  If I can‘t win it for our country, I hope she does.” 

CARLSON:  Oh, heavy. 

SEARLE:  Yeah.  

CARLSON:  Now, also, it‘s in English rather than Italian, which I think puts it at least two pegs above the average opera. 

SEARLE:  Well, that‘s right.  This is very much... 

CARLSON:  So where is Tonya?  I want to see the dramatic reading from Tonya Harding. 

SEARLE:  Tonya, OK, Tonya.  Now, we take Tanya all the way up to the present day.  Who could have written a better ending for her than her new career as a boxer?  And so I thought some of the statements she made about her boxing were fascinating, so I am going to read from that, and part with Tonya.  And actually, this is edited a little for your listening audience, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  OK.  You got an R-rated opera on your hands.  OK. 

SEARLE:  Exactly.  Yes, you will have to see the real opera to hear it all.  Tonya.  Oh, she is swinging in the air.  We actually have boxing gloves for the actress to wear.  “The biggest difference between figure skating and boxing is you have to have the guts to get punched in the face.  My brains are scrambled, but not that much.  I think I am the Energizer bunny.  In the ring, I let everything out that‘s been bottled up.  The difference is, you have to have the guts to punch the other girl in the face.  The difference is, you don‘t get in trouble for hitting her.” 

CARLSON:  Elizabeth Searle, author of “Nancy and Tonya,” the opera, opening soon in Boston, and then I suspect around the country.  Thanks for joining us.

SEARLE:  I think so.  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Coming up on THE SITUATION, last night I defended a lesbian couple who is suing their sperm donor for child support.  Apparently, many of you don‘t share my opinion.  I will face that music when we check THE SITUATION voicemail next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Those of you who are lucky enough to have our super secret unlisted phone number have called and left voicemails.  Let‘s listen in.

First up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINDA:  Linda from Alberta, Alabama.  Harriet Miers, (INAUDIBLE) hasn‘t been put on the bench yet, and I‘m already sick and tired of her.  I don‘t think you necessarily need to have been a judge previously to be on the Supreme Court, but I have serious doubts about this person‘s ability to properly decide for the law. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I do, too, Linda.  And it may be straining your attention span, but I think it‘s worth doing stories on Harriet Miers, because she‘s a big deal.  She‘s about to be a big deal.  I mean, this is not just another update from Aruba; this is something that could and will affect all of us profoundly.  So we‘re going to keep reporting on it day in, day out.  It may be a little tiresome, but in this one case—not being self-righteous here—it really is worth knowing who this person is. 

Next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSE:  This is Rose, and I‘m from Albany, Georgia.  I just saw your scenario about the donation of the sperm with the lesbians.  Where in the world do you get your ideas from?  Because they live here, they have a right to sue the sperm donor?  The same thing should go for lesbians as heterosexuals.  Get your bowtie act in order.  Goodbye. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Rose, I just—I like your voice so much it‘s hard to disagree with you.  But I do.  Look, it‘s nothing with their being lesbians.  The point is, this child exists.  There is a child, and he‘s the child of the sperm donor.  Now, the sperm donor may not have wanted to be involved.  Apparently didn‘t want to be, but I‘m sorry.  It doesn‘t make the child any less real or his fatherhood any less real.  It‘s a reality, and he‘s got to deal with it.  This child, you know, is his blood. 

Next up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL:  Hey, this is Paul Allgood (ph) from Parkstown, Kentucky.  I watch your show occasionally.  It‘s you know, informative, entertaining.  Sometimes it‘s too much (INAUDIBLE) just yacking at each other, but what I was pointing out was the picture you put up at the end when you have your telephone number, and it looks like a picture from your sophomore year in high school. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Yeah, it does look pretty bad.  I completely agree with that.  Actually, it was taken in February when I got a bad hair cut, and nobody pointed out to me that I had a tragic haircut, so I went ahead and had my picture taken.  But you‘re right, I think we got to do something about that. 

Thanks.

Let me know what you‘re thinking.  You can call 1-877-TCARLSON.  That‘s 1-877-822-7576.  You can also send us your questions, any question you can think of, via our Web site.  You can e-mail me at tucker@MSNBC.com, and I‘ll respond every single day, I promise.  To check out my responses, go to tucker@MSNBC.com

Still ahead on THE SITUATION, giving birth to 16 kids is impressive, but is it enough to earn the coveted human of the week award?  We‘ll tell you when we visit the “Cutting Room Floor.” 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  It‘s been 24 hours since you‘ve seen him.  We know you missed him.  Willie Geist is back.

WILLIE GEIST, THE SITUATION:  Tucker, that‘s sweet. 

Going back to the opera, I would go see that opera.  I‘ve been to the real opera, and it‘s not fun.  And anyone who says it is, is lying to themselves.  But that sounds like a good opera to me.

CARLSON:  (INAUDIBLE) to the real opera.  I want this to be my first opera. 

GEIST:  Let me save you four and a half hours.  Don‘t go.  Trust me. 

CARLSON:  Thanks for your cultural advice.  I will take it.

Well, the other night we told you about a man who begged a judge to sentence him to jail to get away from his nagging wife.  Tonight, we have a man who went to incredible lengths to get out of his own wedding.  Kent Sadler of Sandy, Utah stabbed himself several times on Saturday so he wouldn‘t have to walk down the aisle.  He‘s now in stable condition at a local hospital.  Sadler‘s family says he and his fiance are working through their issues. 

GEIST:  Good, and I hope she doesn‘t take this the wrong way.  It‘s not—it‘s not that I don‘t love you, honey; it‘s just the very prospect of spending the rest of my life with you forced me to turn the knife on myself.  It‘s just a phase.  I‘ll get through it.

CARLSON:  I look so forward to the day when we eliminate from English the word “issues.”

GEIST:  Yeah.

CARLSON:  What the hell does that mean, issues? 

GEIST:  It‘s...

CARLSON:  It doesn‘t mean anything.  I can‘t stand it. 

Well, NBC‘s Michelle Kosinski is a very good reporter and a very nice person, but even she had to smile this morning at the “Today Show” report she did from a canoe in the northeast flood zone. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC NEWS:  Well, obviously, we‘re getting a nice break from the rain, but not the flooding.  This is essentially now a part of the Passaic River in this neighborhood.  It rushed in yesterday through the streets, and it‘s really tough to control a canoe or a boat when you‘re out in it—Katie. 

MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS:  Actually, Michelle, I‘ll take it.  Is there some kind of a severe drop-off there? 

KOSINSKI:  Hey, Matt.

LAUER:  Between the foreground—we saw these guys a second ago, Michelle, walking—are these holy men walking on top of the water?   What‘s going on here? 

KOSINSKI:  Why walk when you can ride, you guys? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Are these holy men?  That‘s the greatest line. 

GEIST:  That‘s a good line.

CARLSON:  If I came up with that line, I would be proud of myself for a month. 

GEIST:  That is a really good line.  In Michelle‘s defense, though, I saw her later in the show, I think she was just in a swallow spot.  She was up to her waist, she was paddling around.  So it was a legitimate report.  But that moment was hilarious. 

CARLSON:  Oh, I feel for her.  I one time covered a hurricane, it was a light (INAUDIBLE) -- light drizzle.  Here we are! 

GEIST:  Did you have your producer blowing a fan on you? 

CARLSON:  We should have. 

Well, it‘s time to crown our non-human of the week.  This is really a group of non-humans.  An expose in “The Sun of London” revealed that squirrels in that city are getting hooked on crack cocaine.  The report says the squirrels are digging up and eating the crack stashes hidden in neighborhood gardens by addicts and dealers.  One resident reported seeing a squirrel with bloodshot eyes desperately digging for crack. 

GEIST:  You know what, Tucker, I hope these squirrels get the help they need. 

CARLSON:  I hope they do, too.

GEIST:  All jokes aside. 

CARLSON:  (INAUDIBLE).

Our human of the week delivered her 16th human into the world on Tuesday.  Michelle Duggar gave birth to a 7-pound, 6-ounce Joanna Faith Duggar in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Joanna joins her 15 brothers and sisters, all of whom have names that start with the letter J.  The 39-year-old Michelle and her husband say they can‘t wait to get going on number 17. 

GEIST:  I predict, if it‘s not happening already, that they have a traveling family band within the next five years, and there will be some line dancing and violins, I predict. 

CARLSON:  And I bet you even more, I predict even further, they will be a lot more normal than the Jacksons.

GEIST:  Oh, you couldn‘t be less normal than the Jacksons. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  That‘s the prediction. 

GEIST:  The odds are pretty good.  They‘re in their favor.

CARLSON:  Willie Geist.

GEIST:  Have a good weekend, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Have a good weekend.  Thanks.

That‘s SITUATION for tonight.  Thank you for watching.  Up next, “COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN.”  See you Monday.

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

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2005 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation

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