Guests: James Carville, Christine Lim, Michael Malice
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”: That‘s all the time we have for tonight. I‘ll see you tomorrow as part of MSNBC‘s State of the Union coverage. But right now THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON starts—Tucker. What‘s the situation, buddy?
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Thanks, Joe. I‘m offended by that. I actually admire Bob Woodruff.
SCARBOROUGH: I do, too.
CARLSON: It‘s dangerous, and good for him.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Good for him.
CARLSON: Good to see you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s good to see you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Thanks to you for watching tonight. We always appreciate it.
We are live to you from Washington, D.C., tonight for a special edition of THE SITUATION.
Tonight, a horrifying new video, showing American hostage Jill Carroll crying out for the release of female Iraqi prisoners. Does the tape mean Carroll herself could soon be released? We‘ll ask an expert.
Also, my old friend James Carville joins us to discuss President Bush, the state of the Democratic Party and much more.
Plus, where in the world is Cindy Sheehan? Will she run for the Senate? Will she challenge Dianne Feinstein from California and does she have a chance? But more to the point, will she marry Hugo Chavez? Isn‘t it about time Democrats cut ties with this American-hating activist? The answers in just a few minutes.
We begin tonight with the two terror tapes shown on Al Jazeera earlier today. American hostage, Jill Carroll, pleading to the U.S. to release Iraqi female prisoners, and Ayman al-Zawahiri taunting President Bush, calling him a butcher and a failure. Both of them disturbing reminders of the ongoing war on terror.
Also disturbing, the roadside bomb that seriously injured ABC anchor Bob Woodruff yesterday just north of Baghdad.
Here now to discuss all three unfolding stories, MSNBC terrorism analyst, Evan Coleman. He joins us live tonight from New York.
Evan, thanks for coming on.
EVAN COLEMAN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Thanks for having me.
CARLSON: First, this Jill Carroll tape. First, what‘s the significance of it? And second, what‘s the significance of the news that the United States has released, as her kidnappers apparently demanded earlier, 10 female prisoners? Were they related?
COLEMAN: I mean, obviously, looking at this video is disturbing. We watch a weeping Mrs. Carroll—rather, Miss Carroll. We don‘t hear exactly what she‘s saying.
We have to take this into context, though. We know from other past hostages who have been freed that captors often tell their hostages that they must appear distressed, that they must weep, that they must cry. So just because she‘s doing this, we have to understand this is for the cameras. This is a ploy.
I think the fact that Miss Carroll is still alive, and we know she‘s at least as of January 28, and the fact that videos are still coming out, that could be a good sign. That‘s a sign that her captors are not eager to kill her.
COLEMAN: And it‘s also interesting, because again she repeats the same demand, or suggests anyway that if female prisoners in Iraq are released, that will release—that will lead, rather, to her freedom.
One would hope that is the case. We have to really see here. So far it‘s my understanding that these women haven‘t yet quite been released from custody. Once they are, and once that news comes out, we‘ll have to see what the Revenge Brigade does. Let‘s keep in mind that one of the motives of this group may be money.
CARLSON: Wait a second. I mean, nobody wants to see Jill Carroll released more than I do. I mean, you just feel for an American being held under the threat of death, forced to read these scripts, weeping on camera. It‘s heart wrenching.
But we as a country aren‘t supposed to be negotiating with terrorists, are we? Isn‘t our policy to ignore their demands? Could the United States government really have released these 10 Iraqi prisoners in response to demands from the kidnappers? That doesn‘t seem like something we would do.
COLEMAN: Well, the White House has continually insisted throughout this that they are not negotiating with terrorists, that they will not negotiate with terrorists and that Miss Carroll‘s release is not up for negotiation with regards to these women. Yet, they are releasing them at the same time. Either this is a curiously timed release, a very coincidental incident, or else there is a connection.
And it could also be possibly that after reviewing these women‘s cases, that the U.S. and Iraqi governments decided it simply wasn‘t worth keeping them custody any longer. That has happened before.
COLEMAN: Not just to female detainees but male. Obviously, we look at the timing here somewhat skeptically.
CARLSON: I can see why. Zawahiri released a tape today that, like Osama bin Laden‘s last week, seemed—to me, anyway—a direct appeal to American public opinion. He attacks the Bush administration directly, the war in Iraq and he really seemed to be talking to the American public. Is that what he was trying to do?
COLEMAN: Yes, definitely. I mean, if you look at these videos that are coming out from As Sahad (ph) media wing, the media wing of al Qaeda, these videos now contain English language subtitles. They‘re very carefully designed to reach out to the American public.
Obviously, this was a reaction to the failed missile strike on an alleged Zawahiri position in Pakistan. You know, here he‘s saying why can‘t you get me, I‘m right here. Taunting us, taunting President Bush. It‘s becoming a tit-for-tat media battle, really.
And I think that‘s exactly what al Qaeda want. Al Qaeda wants to jump up and down right now and wave their hands, as Zawahiri is doing, and say, “We‘re still here. We‘re still here.” Because they‘re continued existence alone is really a thorn in the eye of President Bush and really of the U.S. government.
CARLSON: Well, not only are they still here, but they seem to have access to a television studio. I‘m looking at the tape right now. I know you‘ve seen it. It‘s on our screen this minute. It looks like it was shot in a studio, and it also appears that al-Jazeera Television had word that this tape was coming. They were prepared for it before it arrived. These guys are not living in a cave.
COLEMAN: No, no, no. They‘re putting up advance notification now for the release of these videos. We‘re getting advance notification.
And, you know, it could be that this was filmed in some kind of amateur film studio, but let‘s keep in mind with the state of computer technology today, the availability of video editing software, it doesn‘t take that much to produce a video. It takes a couple people dedicated full time to producing them.
But we know that‘s already the case. In fact, we know that one of the people that could be involved with the production of these tapes is an American, Adam Gadan (ph), the young man who went bar who go over to Pakistan to join al Qaeda.
His voice has been featured on numerous—numerous of these tapes. His face has been featured on at least two of them. And it‘s thought that he‘s playing an integral role.
So yes, sure. They have an English translator. They have people that are familiar with video editing software. They have the Internet. That‘s really all it takes these days.
CARLSON: From, one of the most wanted men in the world to produce a tape of this quality is infuriating.
Finally, Bob Woodruff of ABC. We‘ve been getting updates, sketchy updates on his condition all day long. And it sounds—you know, we can draw the conclusion that his condition isn‘t great. I mean, he was gravely wounded. His cameraman was wounded, too.
Here‘s my question. The administration often complains about the coverage of the war in Iraq and that only the negative aspects of it are reported. I think most journalists looking at what happened to Bob Woodruff the other day are going to say, “Gee, you know, if the look at it and say if the anchor of ABC‘s nightly news can be gravely wounded in Iraq, there‘s just no place in that country that‘s safe.”
Does the Bush administration, it seems to me, risk having support for this war eroded because nobody can cover it?
COLEMAN: Yes, look. I mean, I think there probably is progress being made on the ground. Certainly, the more extreme insurgent factions are running into problems right now. But that being said, Iraq is one of the most dangerous places in the world, if not the most dangerous place. And even inside of an armored personnel carrier, you‘re still at risk.
And I think that, you know, there are dozens of reporters that are in Baghdad and its environs and elsewhere in Iraq who risk their lives every day. I mean, Jill Carroll is one such reporter. And there are casualties.
In just the same way that U.S. soldiers lose their lives on a day to day basis, anyone else who ventures out, especially in an area like this, 20 miles north of Baghdad, really in the heart of the Sunni Triangle, and a very dangerous area, an area where there have been numerous recent attacks.
It‘s not a big surprise, especially when, you know, unfortunately, Woodruff was riding in an Iraqi armored vehicle. This is exactly the kind of vehicle insurgents are targeting. That kind of thing happens in a war.
CARLSON: Yes. And it‘s sad to think it‘s happening to reporters who, of course, are not combatants. They‘re not armed. They‘re not trained for combat. They‘re there completely voluntarily. Very brave people, and you just hate to see anyone wounded. In my case, it‘s particularly reporters.
Evan Coleman, thanks a lot.
COLEMAN: My pleasure. Thank you.
CARLSON: Meanwhile, as the president prepares for tomorrow night‘s State of the Union address, a new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll shows Americans are still uneasy about George W. Bush and the job he‘s doing. His approval rating remains at 39 percent. Other national polls put him in the late 40s.
And only 25 percent of Americans say they want to see President Bush take the lead in setting U.S. policy, whatever that means. Most people prefer to turn the reigns over to Congress. Good luck with that.
Here now to discuss what the president will say tomorrow. What he ought to say, it could change some of those perceptions.
MSNBC chief foreign correspondent, our friend, Norah O‘Donnell. Welcome.
NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
CARLSON: So what‘s the president going to say?
O‘DONNELL: Well, first of all, one of the problems with this president are these approval ratings. And he faces the lowest approval ratings of any postwar president—post-war president, with the exception of Richard Nixon. The White House acknowledges this. He‘s coming off the worst year of his presidency.
CARLSON: Just to clarify, at, like, the height of Watergate, these are the ratings Nixon had?
O‘DONNELL: Yes. And so the president faces a tough sixth year in office. And of course, it‘s called the six-year inch, where most two-term presidents end up losing members in Congress.
O‘DONNELL: The exception was 1998 and Bill Clinton. But anyway, what the president has to do is—this is the only time of year that he gets his big national audience. Forty million people are going to be watching.
The president can seize the initiative, try and set the tone and in some ways restore confidence. He lost a lot of confidence over the last year in his handling of Katrina. And that‘s an opportunity for him to do that.
But this is not going to be a big ambitious speech, in terms of big policy proposals, because this White House says we know that there are midterm elections coming up, and we know probably a lot won‘t get done. And they know the report card from last year‘s address was pretty dismal. Social Security didn‘t get done, tax reform didn‘t get done, immigration reform didn‘t get done. The president said that he was going to ban gay marriage. That didn‘t get done.
So there‘s going to be at least less ambitious this year.
CARLSON: It‘s interesting politically that the president has only one job, and that‘s to help his party. He‘s not up for reelection ever again. Neither is Dick Cheney. It‘s the congressional Republicans who need the help, coming up in less than a year. What are—the Republicans in Congress want Bush to talk about?
O‘DONNELL: Well, a couple of things. I think they want him to talk about budget constraints and spending, for one. In the Republican Party, at least the rank and file feels that they‘ve gotten away from their principles in many ways.
We have a deficit that is $400 billion, in part because of Katrina. The president said he was going to cut the deficit, promised to cut the deficit in half by 2009. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says it‘s probably not going to happen.
They‘re debating budget cuts in Congress this week. So the president‘s going to talk about restrained spending. But he‘s also at the same time going to be talking about tax cuts for health care. He‘s going to talk about a new education initiative in high school, the No Child Left Behind version for high school.
O‘DONNELL: And so he is going to have these other.
CARLSON: Wait. But Congress is the body that spends the money, that appropriates the money, right?
CARLSON: So Congress wants Bush to say “Stop us, Congress”? Stop us before we spend again; veto us because we can‘t control ourselves?
O‘DONNELL: Well, he says that just about every year. And of course, the argument that some conservatives make is what the president has not done is use the veto pen to...
CARLSON: Not once.
O‘DONNELL: Not once, to veto some of these big, fat spending proposals. Of course, there‘s some lobbying reform proposals going to get rid of some of these earmarks up there, but spending is out of confront.
CARLSON: How is he going to address that, by the way? How‘s he going to address the Abramoff scandal? I doubt he‘s going to use the phrase “Jack Abramoff.” But he‘s got to make some reference to it. What‘s he going to say, do you think?
O‘DONNELL: I don‘t know that the president will address it. I don‘t know yet. But I think that the president in some fashion has to be for reform, to some degree.
O‘DONNELL: Because that‘s the politically popular thing. One of the interesting things I thought about the NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll showed that most people aren‘t paying attention to Jack Abramoff. So while you and I know just about everything about that story and this egregious super lobbyist who admits to bribery.
CARLSON: And all the creepy people involved.
O‘DONNELL: That very few American people are paying close attention to that story, even though it will be the biggest congressional scandal in decades.
CARLSON: That‘s a shame. I think it‘s interesting as hell.
O‘DONNELL: It is. And tomorrow night is an opportunity for the president to try and turn around—some people say he wants to restart his second term tomorrow night.
The president‘s chief strategist, Matthew Dowd, put out a memo today where he said don‘t expect a bounce in the polls. You know, all you pundits and people on TV always say Bush is going to get a bounce in the polls from the State of the Union. And they‘re making the case that Bush has not gotten a bounce in the polls traditionally. Last year he did, but overall he has not.
So they‘re trying to lower expectations.
CARLSON: They always do that.
O‘DONNELL: He is going to hit the road again. He is going back to being campaigner in chief, connecting with the American people, showing he‘s not inside the bubble, taking questions from people in the audience to sort of go out and reach more. And I think you‘re going to see a very engaged president.
CARLSON: I think he‘s good at that. I think he ought to do today. And you‘re good at covering him.
O‘DONNELL: Thank you.
CARLSON: We will see you tomorrow night, I hope. Joe Carville.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, we‘ll be here.
CARLSON: Thank you. Still to come, how can the Democrats take back the White House in 2008? They have a plan. Our old friend James Carville knows what it is and we‘ll ask him when we come back.
Also, in between calling for the president‘s impeachment and becoming a very close friend of Venezuelan madman Hugo Chavez, Cindy Sheehan may run for the U.S. Senate in California. Is she giving Howard Dean a run for his money as the most alienating Democrat in the United States? Sure she is. That‘s why we love her, next.
CARLSON: Still ahead, James Carville, a large bald man from Louisiana, stops by to discuss President Bush‘s agenda in 2006. Does he give the commander in chief his stamp of approval? Don‘t hold your breath, but stay tuned. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. A lot has been written lately about the president‘s approval ratings. They‘re terrible, the lowest of any president since Richard Nixon. Here‘s the question, though. If the president is so unpopular, and he is, why aren‘t Democrats capitalizing on it? Recent surveys show the public has about equal contempt for Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Why is this?
To put the question to James Carville. He‘s the author of “Take it Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future,” and also, of course, a noted Democratic strategist. James Carville, welcome.
JAMES CARVILLE, AUTHOR, “TAKE IT BACK”: Thank you.
CARLSON: Why is that? Why aren‘t Democrats able to?
CARVILLE: I‘m not sure. To be fair, they won two gubernatorial races by a big margin. ABC/”Washington Post” poll said, “Whose policies do you prefer, the policies of the Democrats or President Bush?” They won that by 51-31.
CARLSON: If you look at the numbers of Congress, they‘re almost exactly even.
CARVILLE: I understand, but not if you look at who do you plan to vote for, a Democrat or a Republican. The Democrats are anywhere from six to 12 points ahead. So the approval rating, I think, is less of a driver.
CARVILLE: I‘m not—again, let me point out that it may very—we‘ll know in November, but there‘s some evidence that they‘re benefiting right now. And the out of power party has problems.
Having said all of that, I think if we make observations and criticisms of the Democrats in there. But it‘s become kind of a “what‘s wrong with the Democrats”? What‘s wrong with the country, is the logical...
CARLSON: I don‘t know. As you point out in the prolog to the book, the Republicans control the federal government.
CARLSON: And have for awhile. Things, according to most people, are not going well. The right track/wrong track numbers don‘t favor the president, but he won anyway.
CARLSON: You lay that at the feet of Bush‘s advisers. You say we‘re wiley and just really smart in the way he conducted the campaign. You say the Democrats, you think, have no backbone.
CARVILLE: It‘s a little bit I think Bush did a better job—and in the book, we deconstruct the campaign, because you cannot—you can‘t fix things if you go back and survey and see what you think is wrong.
We also talk about some pretty specific things the Democrats can do. My point is this yes, the Democrats can do things better. I don‘t think they‘re doing nearly as poorly as they‘re perceived to do.
But the truth of that is, you‘ve got over half of the people in this country that say this is a failed president, which is a pretty staggering number, if you think about it.
We‘re stuck in a mess in mess in Mesopotamia, of which the refrain is, well, the Democrats don‘t have a plan to get us out. We no one does. We‘re stuck there for the foreseeable future.
But having—having said that, I think there are some legitimate observations that can be made about the Democrats in the last few election cycles, and I think we can learn from them. Hopefully, we can profit from that.
CARLSON: Give me two things Democrats need to do in order to win.
CARVILLE: Democrats need to produce American (ph) -- I‘ve said it this time and time again. I‘ve said it to you. I‘ve said it to audiences and everybody else. Democrats tend to get up and they speak like Roman senators: “And I stand for and they do a check list of the interest groups in the Democratic Party,” as opposed to a story, a narrative, a definitive thing to which you‘re for or against.
And I hope over the course of this year, coming into the congressionals, that we can do a little bit better than that and really hope we do better in 2008.
CARLSON: What is the narrative?
CARVILLE: Well, I think—I think the narrative is we‘ve got to solve our addiction to foreign oil. We‘ve got to move, you know, very, very decisively in this area.
And I think the narrative form is a real part of the narrative. That it‘s not just a couple of bad eggs in Washington, it‘s a bad barrel, and we‘re just going to change the barrel. We‘re not just going to change the—I guess apples would be a metaphor. We‘re not just going to change the apples. We‘re going to change the whole barrel the apples are in.
That would be my suggestion and we put it in the book, the whole sort of doctrine, if you will, of patriotic patriotism. The party will have to develop it, but I hope that we‘re able to develop a pretty clear narrative and a pretty clear thing of things that we‘re for, other than this sort of laundry list.
CARLSON: OK. Well, let me just give you an example. Cindy Sheehan making noises about running against Dianne Feinstein, Democratic senator from California. What do you do about that? Whose side are you on?
CARVILLE: Well, I mean, again, Cindy Sheehan can run. Cindy Sheehan is in Venezuela. OK?
CARLSON: She‘s actually in Washington.
CARVILLE: She was in Venezuela yesterday.
CARVILLE: But of course I would be for Senator Feinstein. But it doesn‘t matter. I mean, Cindy Sheehan is someone that—people challenge people in primaries all the time. I think that she is—you know, she‘s a woman that‘s gone through unbelievable grief. And you know what? She‘s been pretty effective in...
CARLSON: OK. Here‘s the point. She—the reason she‘s criticizing Dianne Feinstein‘s politics is not because she doesn‘t agree with Feinstein‘s politics. She does. But she disagrees with the Democratic Party‘s stance on Iraq. She doesn‘t think they‘ve been tough enough? Who do you think is smarter?
CARVILLE: I don‘t know, again, who I think is smarter. I think the fault is not Dianne Feinstein‘s fault. She‘s not conducting the war.
CARVILLE: The fault is not Cindy Sheehan‘s fault. She lost a child in the war.
The fault goes right to this president, who to my knowledge, and I‘ve asked people, never asked a single question about the occupation when he chose to invade Iraq.
So the idea—of course, there‘s angst and of course, there‘s passion. And of course—who can blame this woman? She lost a child. I would have not have—and you noticed. We were doing television together. I was never for this war.
But having said that, we‘re in it. We‘ve got 150,000 people in over. And to this day this president doesn‘t have the foggiest idea how to get any of them back. And what we‘ve set into motion is, you know, if we look at what‘s happened—what‘s happening in the Middle East, country after Middle East country, we‘re going in the wrong direction. But I can‘t understand what Ms. Sheehan is doing.
CARLSON: I guess my question is really simple. What‘s the most effective political tactic? You say it‘s not the Democrats‘ responsibility to get us out of Iraq...
CARVILLE: I think—my position would be the position that 40 Democratic senators voted on, that instead of talking about putting America on a timetable, let‘s put Iraq on a timetable. And there‘s certain things that they have to accomplish in a time frame, if they want to continue having our troops there.
For the conservatives, I don‘t understand. Because there‘s a sort of paternalism. We‘re going to stay until you get it right, as opposed to, “You know what? We‘re going to put you on a timetable and you have certain targets that you have to hit in terms of the number of people that you train in certain parts of the country or become secure by a certain date.”
That‘s what you had 40 Democratic senators for.
CARVILLE: That seems to me to be a pretty good parameter of a plan.
CARLSON: Let‘s say I‘m a Democrat at home and I‘m trying to make sense of all this. Who do I look for as a leader of the party? Who do I listen to? Is it Nancy Pelosi? Is it Cindy Sheehan? Is it Senator Kerry? I mean...
CARVILLE: We‘re working on—Democrats are going to decide that in 2008, when we‘re out of power.
CARLSON: So it‘s not Kerry?
CARVILLE: We‘re going to decide—no, I don‘t think it‘s anybody. Or is it Senator Reid or Congresswoman Pelosi? We‘re going to decide who our leaders are going to be in the 2008 primaries.
But between now and ‘06, I think if we can get—hopefully we can get some clarity out of Washington on a couple of big things the way we want to go. And that‘s what we need to strive for.
CARLSON: I‘m for Howard Dean, in that case.
James Carville, host of a new, to come, X.M. sports show every week and author of “Take it Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future” with Paul Begala. Thanks, James.
CARVILLE: Thank you, Tucker. Thank you so much.
CARLSON: Still to come, should teachers who don‘t support homosexuality be forced to put gay-friendly posters in the classroom whether they like it or not? I‘ll speak to the superintendent of a California school who says yes, they should, when we come back.
CARLSON: Welcome back.
“Walk, don‘t run,” and “Quiet please” are typical signs in schools, but have you ever seen a sign that says “This is a safe place to be who you are. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender”?
Well, that‘s the new sign teachers at a California high school are being forced to post in their classrooms, whether they agree with that sign or not.
Here to tell us why the signs are going up, Christine Lim. She‘s a superintendent of the San Leandro Unified School District. She joins us live tonight from Berkeley, California.
Christine Lim, thanks a lot for joining us. I wonder why—why are you putting up a sign with a political message in classrooms? It seems to me that‘s wrong.
CHRISTINE LIM, SUPERINTENDENT, SAN LEANDRO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: It is actually not a political message. It‘s actually a message to the students in our district, that as individuals and educators in our district, are obligated to provide a safe place for our students, regardless of their belief systems or their sexual orientation.
CARLSON: Is that right? So a student—but that‘s not true. It‘s not a safe place for students whose belief systems specify that homosexuality is wrong. If I‘m an observant Muslim or a Mormon or an evangelical Christian and I think homosexuality is a sin, your classrooms aren‘t a safe place for me to express my beliefs, are they?
LIM: This is not about sex. This is not about religion. This is about having a safe place for all of our students, and that‘s the message, through the poster.
CARLSON: So what about—what about those students? What about students who believe homosexuality is wrong? Are they—are they allowed to say that? Is it a safe place for them to be, in your classrooms?
LIM: Yes, we‘re not talking about that. Conversation needs to change to having a safe place for all of our students. It‘s about...
CARLSON: OK. You‘ve said—so if I‘m a student who believes that homosexuality is wrong, and a lot of people believe do believe that. I‘m not anti-gay myself. A lot of people believe it‘s a sin. Are they allowed to say that in class or are they going to get slapped down for harassment?
Can a student get up and say, “You know what? I think homosexuality is a sin. God frowns upon it. And I think it‘s totally wrong and ought to be banned in this country”? What‘s going to happen to that student? Is the classroom safe for him?
LIM: The classroom is safe for all of our students, and there needs to be meaningful discussions around what that means to be safe.
CARLSON: OK. Then why not have signs up that say, “This is a safe place no matter what your beliefs are. We welcome all beliefs”?
LIM: That‘s exactly right. And we are actually looking at expanding our posters to include all of our students. And as an antidiscrimination, harassment policy that we‘re upholding.
CARLSON: OK. But why wait now? I mean, if your point is that all students are protected, then why limit it to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender? I mean, it clearly—you‘re putting the signs up because you‘ve received pressure from a political interest group, the gay and lesbian, transgender and bisexual lobby. I mean, why not take those words out and say anybody is free to express him or herself?
LIM: We have. We have posters that say that there‘s no harassment in our schools. However, we do have a sexual minority that does not get—is not allowed to express their opinions. We know that the teenage suicide is the highest among gay and lesbian students, and so we, under AB 537, including sexual orientation and gender equity in our fight for antidiscrimination.
CARLSON: OK. And finally, I just want to ask you because I want to make sure I have this absolutely right, so it‘s on the record for when this actually happens, and I suspect it will happen. An evangelical Christian student gets up in a classroom in your school district and says directly to a gay teacher or a gay student, “I think what you do is wrong. I think God opposes your lifestyle.” That student will not get in trouble, because he‘s safe to express himself, right?
LIM: Exactly. All opinions are allowed. Yes.
CARLSON: Good, good. Well, that is true freedom of speech. If you uphold that and live to that standard, I salute you. Thanks a lot for joining us.
LIM: Thank you.
CARLSON: Up next, antiwar mom Cindy Sheehan went from the Crawford ranch to Caracas, Venezuela. Could she soon be headed for the halls of Congress, the U.S. Senate, in particular? It can‘t come too soon. Details when THE SITUATION returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY SHEEHAN, ANTIWAR PROTESTOR: I‘ve met people all over the world, who have been devastated by George Bush‘s lies. And it‘s not just George Bush. George Bush is the tip of the iceberg. I believe that anybody who said anything about Saddam and WMDs, who said anything about faulty intelligence, who said anything about a connection between Saddam and 9/11 should be investigated and impeached.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: That was Cindy Sheehan, speaking to a Washington-based antiwar organization called Democracy Rising early today. Besides saying she wants the president to be impeached, and private citizens to be impeached, you‘ll notice, Sheehan also announced she may run for the California Senate seat currently occupied by Dianne Feinstein. Here to help us make sense of all of this, Air America radio host, Rachel Maddow. Rachel from New York. Welcome.
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA: I hope you‘re having a good time in DC.
CARLSON: I‘m rolling around in it like a dog in, I don‘t know, goose waste. I‘m excited. This is a tough one for the cuckoo bird left, isn‘t it? Here you have Cindy Sheehan, who‘s unassailable, right, she‘s Cindy Sheehan, running against, potentially, Dianne Feinstein. Who does one back in this race? You can‘t possibly not back Cindy Sheehan. She‘s a woman of principle.
MADDOW: Well, Tucker, there are going to be Cindy Sheehans, and people with at least her position on the war all off the country, there are going to be primary challenges against Democrats all over the country because Democrats and activists on the left are going to be trying to push the party to the left just like activists on the right try to push Republicans to the right on anti-gay issues or whatever their issues are. On the left we‘re going to be pushing for the Democrats to be taking a harder stand on Iraq. That‘s how primaries work.
CARLSON: You‘re absolutely right, and I will counsel you and give you the advice that I myself follow, and that is follow your principles. Support the person who reflects your views, not the most electable person, but the person who is speaking truth to power. And in this case, Cindy Sheehan and her anti-American, antiwar, anti-Bush diatribes is speaking a lot of what the left feels. And I am going to be very disappointed if the left doesn‘t support her just because she‘s not very articulate or she looks kind of wacky.
MADDOW: Tucker, why don‘t you say what you mean. Why are you giving me that advice? Why are you giving the American left that advice right now? What do you want?
CARLSON: I am saying exactly what I mean, which is it‘s a shame when people who claim to have these principles sell out in favor of someone who is electable. I always vote my conscience and I think the left ought to do the same. If they agree with Cindy Sheehan, they ought to vote for Cindy Sheehan.
MADDOW: Tucker, on the principled issue, you vote your heart in the primary and you vote your head in the general election. We all know that. I agree on that.
CARLSON: That‘s not true. I always vote my heart. I couldn‘t find someone to vote for in the 2004 election, and I didn‘t vote.
MADDOW: That was your decision. I tend to vote my head in the general election, vote strategically in the general election, but I vote my heart in the primary. But the reason you‘re highlighting Cindy Sheehan‘s candidacy and the reason that you‘re telling me you ought to vote for Cindy Sheehan and she‘s a principled candidate here, is because you want to make everybody who‘s against the war feel like we‘re lining up behind Cindy Sheehan.
CARLSON: I disagree. I‘m against the war. I‘m saying I think what Cindy Sheehan‘s presence on the national stage highlights is the left‘s, A, unability (sic) to tell a wacko from a legitimate protestor, and B, its inability to get its act together. Nobody is in charge on the left. So nobody can say, hey, Cindy Sheehan, here‘s the hook, you‘re off the stage.
MADDOW: Who‘s in charge on the right? You think that Bush is in charge of policy on the right?
CARLSON: Nobody. Hey, I‘m not defending—nobody‘s in charge on the right. That‘s why they‘re having this meltdown right now.
MADDOW: This is how primary activism works. You get people who have principled stands who aren‘t necessarily electable and Cindy Sheehan says it herself, I don‘t expect to win it, but I do expect to push the policy issues. I do expect to push the other candidates in the race by the fact that I‘m taking a principled stand. This is what activists do in campaigns. She‘s not a politician. She‘s an activist, and that‘s why she‘s joining this campaign. But to say—to be antiwar is to be allied with Cindy Sheehan if you‘re on the left ...
CARLSON: No, I‘m not saying that. I‘m not saying that. I‘m saying that ...
MADDOW: But you‘re saying she‘s our principled stand here. You know, Cindy Sheehan, I don‘t reject Cindy Sheehan and I don‘t think she‘s a wacko. I think that she‘s a mom who lost her son in the war. I do think she has something to say.
CARLSON: I want to know if you know this, because I didn‘t know this until today and I don‘t know how this fact escaped me. I learned it at lunch and I checked it and it‘s true. Her son, Casey, reenlisted in the army in 2004 after the war started. Now, do you think that Cindy Sheehan is reflecting the views of her son, who reenlisted, knowing he was going to Iraq? I don‘t think so.
MADDOW: You‘re saying that her claim on her antiwar activism is less strong because her son reenlisted before he was killed in the war?
CARLSON: No. I‘m merely saying her claims she‘s speaking for her son sound like a crock to me considering he reenlisted after the war already began.
CARLSON: I didn‘t know that. I think that‘s a fascinating fact. Did you know that?
MADDOW: Wow. I would shy away from getting to the dynamics of whether or not she speaks for her son based on what her son did in his military service. I would shy away from ...
CARLSON: She is taking - because she is taking his memory and using it to make political point, something that is repulsive.
MADDOW: That‘s right. She‘s saying my son died, my son died in this war, I believe this war was unjust. And I don‘t think he should have died in this war and therefore I‘m running a protest candidacy. I‘m not going to impugn her for that.
CARLSON: And America is a terrible place. Go back to Caracas, Cindy Sheehan. That‘s my view. But before you do, beat Dianne Feinstein.
MADDOW: Tucker ...
CARLSON: Rachel Maddow, from New York, thank.
MADDOW: Look back to getting you back here, so I can whack you.
CARLSON: Thank you, Rachel.
CARLSON: Stay tuned. There‘s still pretty more ahead tonight on the THE SITUATION.
A disarming lesson to kids. Does a hands-off approach for education help raise your child‘s grades?
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BEN STEIN, ACTOR: Anyone? Anyone?
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CARLSON: Then from Mexico, harrowing the video of what happens when spectators are suddenly forced to take the bull bit horns.
Plus blind ambition. Wait until you see what makes this woman‘s work a cut above the rest.
And to have and to hold. We‘ll reveal which of these Hollywood hotties tops the marriage material list.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See, now, it don‘t seem fair.
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CARLSON: It‘s all ahead on the THE SITUATION.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it‘s going to be fun.
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CARLSON: Welcome back. Prime Minister Nehru of India once said, “The purely agitational attitude is not good enough for a detailed consideration of a subject.” Agitational. Joining me now a man whose attitude is anything but agitational, “The Outsider,” ESPN Radio and HBO Boxing host Max Kellerman joining us from New York. Max?
MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO: Tucker, you‘re a fish in water in DC, there. You look great.
CARLSON: Thank you. I like it here. It‘s a nice city.
KELLERMAN: Clearly. Clearly.
CARLSON: This is a city that can declare war. And I respect that. Even if I don‘t agree with the wars, I respect the power to have one.
First up, a British school is tossing a time-honored classroom tradition, raising your hand. No hands up. Notices have gone up in nearly classroom of a school in East London. The reason? To spare kids embarrassment when they don‘t know the answer. The school has even gone so far as to use what they‘re calling a phone a friend system, allowing a student to nominate a friend to answer the question, instead.
And when you get older, Max, if you‘re not prepared for your job, you can nominate a friend to go into work for you in the morning. This is one of those not-a-parody stories. The most probably useful thing about classroom teaching is firing questions at students, because it forces them to prepare. You never know when you‘re going to be asked. Taking that out of the mix allows all the kids just to get high and stare off into space. It‘s ridiculous.
KELLERMAN: Actually, Tucker, it‘s the opposite. This forces them to pay attention because it‘s not voluntary, it‘s compulsory. Listen, right now, kids raise their hand, they‘re going to be the ones who will be called on. This way, you can‘t raise your hand, which means it could be anyone could be called on at any moment and therefore everyone has to pay attention.
CARLSON: But wait a second. The raise your hand system is a meritocratic system. It rewards the kids who‘ve done the work, who actually know what we‘re talking about and who are bold enough to tell the class about it. It‘s like life, itself. The people who do the work and put themselves forward, who are brave enough to put themselves into the public arena are the ones who get the prize. That‘s kind of like life.
KELLERMAN: That‘s a very strong argument, however, the counter is—this is the way it‘s been done in this country since I‘m aware. This has always been done this way. And don‘t we get a lot of complaints about our educational system? I mean, are you saying that the status quo is good enough? That there cannot be improvements?
Well, intuitively, it does seem if in no one‘s raising their hand and then everyone is more engaged because you‘re forced to be, everybody‘s literally on the edge of their seat, right, that may be an improvement. Intuitively it seems that way. Empirically, we‘ll see.
CARLSON: Disband the teacher‘s unions and fire every mediocre teacher and send them to Dunkin Donuts for a job. That would improve everything quickly.
Well, it‘s not news that a politician will do just about anything to get elected. But it is what Italy‘s prime minister is not doing that is making news.
Silvio Berlusconio is saying no to sex in his own personal life, at least until April 9th, the Italian elections. A popular television preacher had praised Berlusconi for defending family values and this was his response. I think this is actually one of the sickest things I have ever heard in my life. Berlusconi gets up, who‘s married, by the way, gets up and says ...
KELLERMAN: Twice. Married twice.
CARLSON: OK. But he has a wife.
CARLSON: To whom he is obligated in a marital way.
CARLSON: And he gets up and says I‘m going to withhold sex from her, I‘m going to dodge my obligation until the voters elect me. And he is thereby praised by some crackpot preacher who says thank you for defending family values. When the Bible itself, the New Testament itself said, do not deprive your spouse of marital comfort, section. This is sick.
KELLERMAN: It‘s only for two and a half months. What is he a machine, Tucker? The reality is that politicians have always promised things, essentially bought votes. I‘ll lower your taxes, and this guy actually wants to lower taxes and simultaneously raise pensions. But they‘re always doing this. I say this is the next step. Turn them into performing monkeys.
Say you know what, fine, you‘re both promising to lower taxes, you‘re both promising to raise pensions, a better world, I want to see which one can jump on one foot and tap their head at the same time at the same time.
CARLSON: I don‘t necessarily disagree with you. But this has crossed a line, a visible threshold beyond which it becomes perverse. Celibacy is one of those things that is required under certain circumstances, but let‘s be honest. Let‘s say what we all know. It‘s a tragedy. It‘s a necessary tragedy. But for it to be a voluntary choice, for someone who‘s not even joining the priesthood, who‘s just trying to get votes, I think it‘s sick. It makes a mockery.
KELLERMAN: Tucker, have you seen the show “Jackass”? It‘s guys going out there and hurting themselves for the enjoyment of everyone else.
CARLSON: But this guy is hurting his wife, too.
KELLERMAN: Well, it‘s his family, it‘s his business. I say perform, monkey. Jump, monkey, jump!
CARLSON: It just offends my Protestant soul.
Max, great to see you.
KELLERMAN: Tucker, you too.
CARLSON: We will see you back here Wednesday after the State of the Union.
CARLSON: Still to come. Private conversations made public. We‘ll eavesdrop on the streets and subways of New York City when THE SITUATION returns.
CARLSON: Welcome back. It‘s probably not polite to eavesdrop on strangers‘ conversations, but in New York City you can hardly help it. Whether you‘re riding the subway shoulder to shoulder or sitting on top of the people next to you in a cramped restaurant, you are bound to overhear something amazing that Michael Malice has. He and his spies have collected some of the very best real New York conversations in a very amusing new book called “Overheard in New York: Conversations from the Streets, Stores and Subways.” It‘s also a blog, by the way, overheardinnewyork.com. Also overheardintheoffice.com. A man who overhears very much. Michael Malice. Thanks for joining us.
MICHAEL MALICE, AUTHOR, “OVERHEARD IN NEW YORK”: Great to be here.
CARLSON: So how do you gather this stuff?
MALICE: Well, we have a Web site set up and people send in things that they‘ve overheard and I go through them and weed out the bad ones and put up the funny ones.
CARLSON: Do you think they‘re real?
MALICE: Oh, if I have a doubt, I‘m not going to run it. Because at this point we‘re just inundated.
CARLSON: So what kind of stuff do people pick up?
MALICE: Well, what we go for things that not only do you not say in polite conversation, but subjects you don‘t even bring up in polite conversation. You‘ll have to excuse me but it‘s things like casual drug use, adverse (ph) sexual practices, just whacky views on religious. Really offensive things. Racism.
CARLSON: Huh. Now, women talk about sex a lot, right?
MALICE: Well, after that show, that awful show, “Sex in the City,” there‘s kind of—it‘s OK for them to run their mouths off.
CARLSON: But they say. They talk about men. They‘re pretty detailed, I think. Aren‘t women more detailed about that than men are? That‘s always been my hunch.
MALICE: I think they‘re more detailed in certain ways. The men are probably more graphic, unfortunately.
CARLSON: Huh. And have you picked up people you think are intentionally speaking in a loud voice, so other people can hear them, kind of conversational exhibitionists?
MALICE: I mean, everyone in New York speaks in a loud voice. You would down the streets, you can‘t help but listen. And the point is people never cared. But now that we‘ve put this little project together all of the sudden some people do care and they send in things to us. And now we‘ve put a book together and people can sit back and laugh and cry and all those other things.
CARLSON: Have you had anyone complain, hey, that was my secret?
MALICE: No. Not really. Actually people tend to be excited when they see something that they‘ve said on the site and they call their friends and whatnot.
CARLSON: Have you picked up actual secrets, things that shouldn‘t have been divulged?
MALICE: Actually, we broke a couple things. We broke the Katie Holmes story, because someone overheard her talking. And there was a girl who works for MTV was on the phone saying, “The show is going be to be called ‘America‘s Next Sweetheart,‘ it‘s top secret so don‘t tell anyone.” And she was on her cell phone in Times Square.
CAROLSON: That‘s so great. What Katie Holmes story did you break?
MALICE: The Tom Cruise. She goes, “He introduced me to his kids and this weekend he‘s taking me to Rome, the same morning that CNN broke the story we had in our site. And we also had our spy in the “New York Post” office told us that Rupert Murdoch was the one who said that Gephardt was going to be the pick.
CARLSON: So you think Katie Holmes actually believes the whole thing‘s real?
MALICE: Oh. I think she‘s doing it for the money. I doubt that they‘ve actually had sex. But that‘s kind of off the topic. I mean, clearly she‘s mad.
CARLSON: That‘s amazing. Any possible legal ramifications from this? I know there are laws against wiretapping. This is a kind of wiretapping, isn‘t it? Not that I‘m against it.
MALICE: No. I don‘t see how it‘s wiretapping. If people are in public, there‘s no wires involved.
CARLSON: Sure, there are no wires. But if I‘m in a public pay phone and you tap into the line, I‘m in a public space using a public accommodation, but my conversation is still presumed tot be private.
MALICE: That may be true but we don‘t really identify people by name and I don‘t really believe in a right to privacy, anyway, since it‘s not in the Constitution.
CARLSON: I guess my question, since this is in New York, you haven‘t had ambulance chasers attack you and try to sue you on behalf of the people whose secrets you‘re printing?
MALICE: Well, I mean, we don‘t use their name. You have to prove this is actually hurting a person.
CARLSON: Do you know the names of any of the people on your site?
MALICE: Well, most of the submissions are anonymous, but we‘ve got literally thousands of names of people sending stuff in.
CARLSON: Do you hear anything about terrorism, ever?
MALICE: Yeah, well there were these two PATH train staffers on the train and one says, oh, did you go for the terrorism training, and the other goes, no, I missed, and the other one says, yeah, I didn‘t go to mine either. So it‘s pretty funny. Again, that‘s not exhibitionism. That‘s not stuff they would want people to hear.
CARLSON: That‘s reporting, we call it. Good for you for putting it up there. Overheardinnewyork.com is the Web site. I‘m going to it directly after the show. Michael Malice, thanks for joining us.
MALICE: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Still ahead on THE SITUATION, if you‘re going to make a pastime out of taunting bulls, you have to think the bulls are eventually going to fight back. It turns out they do. We‘ll tell you about the damage this big fella did when we visit the “Cutting Room Floor” with Willie Geist. Be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. It is time for the “Cutting Room Floor,” Washington version. Wilie Geist is here dressed in a blazer. Let‘s cut to Willie so our viewers can see. There he is.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC PRODUCER: I look good.
CARLSON: You look very, very nice. So nice.
GEIST: I‘ve actually got a dinner appointment after this, so let‘s get this show on the road. You‘re not invited.
CARLSON: Thank you. The bull tends to take most of the humiliation and punishment at a bull fight, but this bull turned the tables. The thousand pounder named Little Birdie jumped into the stands during a bullfight in Mexico City and began tossing spectators all over the place. Somehow, when the rampage ended, only two people were injured. The bullfight resumed a half hour later. Did they kill him?
GEIST: They did. I have a feeling I know why this bull had a bee in his bonnet, though, Tucker, it might have been the little man in the ridiculous outfit who was stabbing him with giant swords. Eventually if you keep doing this, the bull is going to turn on you.
CARLSON: I think I know why some people from Mexico come to our country. This kind of thing doesn‘t happen in America.
GEIST: No. It sure doesn‘t.
CARLSON: I‘d flee, too.
Guys, we know you‘re all perfectly satisfied with your wonderful girlfriends and wives, but for argument‘s sake, let‘s say you were looking to upgrade. It turns out most of you would choose Jessica Alba in survey conducted by askmen.com. Men chose Alba as the woman with the most long-term relationship potential. The 24-year-old actress was followed by Siena Miller and Angelina Jolie.
GEIST: Tucker I think it‘s very big of these guys to be willing to pursue a long term. I would be willing to go short term short-term with her. A month, a week, ten minutes, whatever she wants.
CARLSON: You‘re flexible that way.
CARLSON: That‘s why the ladies love you.
CARLSON: Blindfolded haircutting is certainly not a technique endorsed by leading beauty salons, but this Indian woman has mastered the peculiar art. She has no formal training in hairstyling, but she has successfully performed more than 800 haircuts while blindfolded. The woman stumbled upon her rare talent when she realized she was cutting someone‘s hair while talking to her friend.
GEIST: What is she, training to become a Jedi there? That‘s some Mr. Miyagi stuff. Using the Force to give horrible haircuts.
Tucker, don‘t take this the wrong way, but have you been get getting your haircut in India?
CARLSON: I think I have. It‘s outsourcing, Willie. It‘s a lot cheaper.
GEIST: You‘re supporting that, aren‘t you.
CARLSON: I‘m actually not for it. Willie Geist, live from Washington.
GEIST: Tucker, State of the Union tomorrow night.
CARLSON: I like you in Washington.
GEIST: I like being in Washington.
CARLSON: We like being here. That‘s THE SITUATION for tonight. Hope you liked it. Thanks for watching. See you tomorrow. This timeslot will be taken over by MSNBC‘s State of the Union coverage so I‘ll be a part of that. But you‘ll get another episode of this program Wednesday night, so see you then.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.