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'The Situation with Tucker Carlson' for February 23

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guest: Jerry Nadler, Bruce Bartlett, Tom Thomas, Roger Schlaifer

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  And with that, let's turn it over to Tucker Carlson to figure out what THE SITUATION is tonight.  Tucker, what you got?


It's the breaking news tonight, the coverage of the port controversy. 

We're going to continue with it. 

Earlier today President Bush once again defended his administration's decision to allow a Dubai-based company to manage six major American ports.  The president says Americans don't need to worry about security, that ports will still be overseen by U.S. customs and the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Just moments ago Dubai Ports World, the company in question, offered to delay part of the deal.  Earlier Bush's top advisor, Karl Rove, announced that the president was willing to delay the deal in order to allow lawmakers time to review it. 

Will all of this be enough to satisfy the president's critics?  Let's ask one.  Congressman Jerry Nadler is a Democrat from the state of New York.  He joins us live tonight.

Congressman Nadler, thanks for coming on. 

Is it—Congressman Nadler?

Well, as we wait for Congressman Nadler's audio to come on, the deal has been delayed, as we reported a moment ago, apparently within the last hour or so.  At least as it's been reported. 

The company, owned by the United Arab Emirates, Dubai Ports, has decided only to move on parts of the deal that apply to the rest of the world.  The six ports in question up and down the eastern seaboard, including New Orleans, will be put on hold. 

The deal, of course, does not include security for those ports, as the president reminded the country today, only the operation of the ports.  But that is not—still with the president's critics.  They're still feeling ferocious.  Among them, as we said a moment ago, Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York, who I think is able to hear now. 

Congressman Nadler, are you there?


CARLSON:  Thanks for joining us.  What do you make of this news, that the company itself, the Dubai-based company, will delay the deal?

NADLER:  Well, I think it's a little common sense.  I mean, I think they could see that the American people and Congress were determined that this deal was not going to go through without a hard, hard look at it, so they might as well be nice and say, “OK, delay it and take a hard look.”  Because Congress is not going to sit still and have this ram through quickly without Congress having a chance to really look at it, which is exactly what it ought to do. 

CARLSON:  I agree with you.  And I don't think there's any defending the White House's handling of this on a political level.  But on a more substantive level, aren't you troubled by the effect this has on America's image abroad?

It's Democrats who are always reminding us that we're hated in the rest of the world, that the Arab world hates us, that we alienate the Islamic world for no good reason. 

NADLER:  I think...

CARLSON:  Is this another example of us alienating people who might be our allies?

NADLER:  Well, this could have some unfortunate affect.  No question.  But the fact is that you cannot expect a deal of this nature with a country that was, you know, the home of some of the people that took part in 9/11, a country that still is stonewalling the Treasury Department in looking into the finances of al Qaeda.  You're not going to—you can't expect us to go through, questions unanswered. 

Having said that, I want to say two things.  One, we ought to take—

I wouldn't rule this out.  But we have to take a cold, very hard, careful look at all the implications of this, No. 1. 

And No. 2, I hope that we will use this to look at the far more important question, far more important, of the fact that whoever is running the port, only five percent of the containers that come into our ports every year, nine million containers, are inspected. 

CARLSON:  Right.

NADLER:  The other 95 percent could have atom bombs in them, for all we know. 

CARLSON:  I think—I think there is some agreement on that.  But getting back...

NADLER:  Well, there isn't agreement on that. 

CARLSON:  Getting back to the story that's breaking right now, don't you regret the demagoguery that's been going on in Congress and on television, for that matter, over this story?  I mean, there has been—let's be honest—some hysteria about this, that the—the emirates are not going to be controlling and never were going to be controlling the security at the ports.  And yet, you'd never know that from listening to members of Congress. 

NADLER:  Well, that is true, but I think it's inevitable when something like this comes out and the details of that come out only more slowly that people are going to react in a very quick fashion. 

And the fact is, we don't know exactly what they're going to be controlling and what not.  We don't know how much danger there is from some possibly terrorist employee who slips through their security, whatever that may be, getting knowledge he shouldn't have.  And that's the kind of question we have to look at very carefully. 

And that's why the responsible thing is the Clinton—not the Clinton, the Schumer-King Bill, which is essentially, stop, look and listen, which I gather is going to happen now, despite the White House's attempt to bully this through quickly. 

CARLSON:  Right.  But you know, look, the president has a point.  I resented it when the president got up the other day and said, you know, you weren't mad when England owned the country; you're just mad now that a Muslim country owns the company.  I thought that was kind of a low blow. 

NADLER:  It was a low blow. 

CARLSON:  But on the other hand, he's absolutely right, and you know it.  I heard you say on television the other day you'd be totally fine if this country—this company were owned by Israel, but you're bothered that it's owned by the UAE.  This is...

NADLER:  That's exactly right.  Because...

CARLSON:  OK.  Look, I agree with you.  But let's be honest here. 

We're afraid of Islam.  That's the problem.

NADLER:  No, we're not afraid of Islam.  But we know that within the Islamic world there are people, a fair number of people, who are out to harm us.  We're not afraid of Islam.  But we know that within that world there are people who are out to harm us, who are terrorists, and, therefore, we have to be very careful. 

CARLSON:  I wonder, though, if there isn't—and of course, I absolutely agree with you.  I just wish people would be a little more forthright about their motivations. 

Back to the UAE for one quick second.  In early 2000 the Clinton administration sold $8 billion worth of weapons systems, including F-16s and missiles to the UAE.  This was after we knew perfectly well that members of the ruling family of those emirates were involved with al Qaeda.  And the Clinton administration sold this—this weapons material to the emirates.  Nobody said boo.  Where were you when that happened?

NADLER:  I don't remember it happening, but I have been very critical of sale of any advanced weapons to any of the Arab countries, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, if for no—and the same reasoning would apply here.  If for no other reason than it's only one coup d'etat away from having it in the hands of someone like al Qaeda.

CARLSON:  That's actually a pretty good point.  And I hope the next time a Democratic administration sells $8 billion of weapons systems to a bunch of people who are, as you said, one coup away from al Qaeda, you'll pipe up. 

NADLER:  Well, I pipe—I don't remember that specific instance, but I've been saying for years that we should—we should convert most of our military aid to Egypt, for example, into economic aid. 


NADLER:  Because what do they need advanced weaponry for, period? 

But I want to get back, because now that we're looking at the whole ports question, the bigger question—and it's not true that everybody agrees to it.  We ought to be spending $4.5 to 5 billion a year to insist that no container gets put on a ship in a foreign port bound for the United States until that container is inspected in the foreign port by an American inspection team and certified and sealed. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  I guess when I said nobody disagrees I meant I don't disagree at all. 

NADLER:  I'm glad you don't.

CARLSON:  I don't.  All right.

NADLER:  But the fact is we are—we've been saying this, some of us, for years, and the fact is this country is at mortal risk.  Because any one of those containers could have God knows what in it. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Well, I guess we should alert someone in Congress. 

Wait, you're in Congress.  Yes, you ought to sponsor a bill. 

NADLER:  Well, I have sponsored a bill. 


NADLER:  And in fact, we had a colloquy on the floor a couple years ago, and I offered an amendment.  And the Republican chairman of the homeland security appropriations subcommittee, Hal Rogers, said at that time, “We don't need this.  We'll inspect all the high-risk containers.” 

And I said, “Wonderful.  They'll put the bomb in the low-risk containers.”


NADLER:  We're not taking this seriously enough.  Not the Bush administration and not Congress.

CARLSON:  OK, well I hope that changes.  Jerry Nadler, thanks a lot. 

NADLER:  You're quite welcome. 

CARLSON:  Moving on now to another day of death and destruction in Iraq as U.S. troops are caught in the middle of what may be developing into a full-blown civil war. 

We go now to NBC's Ned Colt, who is in Baghdad.

Ned, set the scene for us.  What's going on? 

NED COLT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Tucker, very quiet here tonight.  Very quiet aside from the sound of crickets.  Very unusual to hear in Baghdad.

But that's because there's a curfew in effect as of 8 p.m. local time. 

That following yesterday's attack on the Shiite Askariya Shrine in Samarra. 

Now, in reprisal, dozens of Sunni mosques have been attacked in the past 24 hours.  A very dangerous day here across the country.  At least 50 bodies have been found across Baghdad alone today, many believed to be Sunni Muslims killed in retaliation for yesterday's mosque attack. 

Now huge protests took place today with thousands in the streets, and most were peaceful.  That's a good sign.  Politicians and religious leaders are continuing to call for restraint, worried that revenge attacks will push Sunni-Shiite tensions here even higher. 

Now all military and police leave has been canceled, as the government steps up security. 

Now other development today: the U.S. military says that seven soldiers have been killed in two separate incidents involving roadside bombs.  Always a big problem here.  But today, clearly a deadly one for U.S. troops. 

Also, we're hearing reports of 47 people found in a ditch outside of Baqubah.  That's north of Baghdad.  They appear to have been herded off of work buses and shot.  As of now, it's unclear what the motive may have been.

So violence, whatever the case, is on the increase here—Tucker.

CARLSON:  Thanks a lot, Ned. 

So what does this mean for U.S. troops caught in the middle of this mess?  For answers we welcome retired U.S. Army colonel and MSNBC military analyst, Jack Jacobs.

Colonel Jacobs, thanks a lot for coming on.

COL. JACK JACOBS (RET.), U.S. ARMY:  Good to be here. 

CARLSON:  So what does this mean?  I mean, if this gets worse and a civil war breaks out, does that mean we stay longer?

JACOBS:  Well, you're assuming a civil war hasn't already broken out. 

CARLSON:  Good point.

JACOBS:  It has.  And it's been going on for some time.  It's going to get worse, I think, and today is a good indication of how it can get worse. 

One of the things that we assume—and there's no basis in fact—is that there's just two competing organizations there.  You've got Shiah there, and you've got Sunni there, and, of course, the Kurds are by themselves up north. 

CARLSON:  Right.

JACOBS:  And they don't participate.  But in fact, both the Shiah and the Sunni are fragmented into lots and lots of little organizations.  And so there are lots of uncoordinated attacks.  And they will continue. 

There's no way to coalesce—it's going to be very difficult to coalesce these organizations into working operations that can deal with one another and actually turn that place into a genuine, Democratically governed place, because the population is just so fragmented.  And you see it today.

CARLSON:  If the chaos gets more extreme—there have been all these killings in the last couple of days of bystanders, essentially people were pulled out of their vehicles at phony road blocks and executed by the side of the road.  The U.S. military has not stepped in or taken sides in this.  Is that the right strategy?

JACOBS:  Well, I think in the circumstances it is.  If we had done things differently at the very beginning two years ago, disarm the militias, didn't disband the military...

CARLSON:  Right.

JACOBS:  ... we would be much further along, and we would have a security situation in Iraq that would be conducive to doing the kinds of things you really need to do in a situation like this, even if you had it at all, which you probably wouldn't.  But now we don't have the capability of stepping in, and I don't think we're going to. 

CARLSON:  Well, isn't the lesson though—that's a really interesting point.  Isn't the lesson of the way we mishandled things at the very beginning that if you let things get out of control you can't control them again.  And so if a civil war, this civil war gets worse, then there's nothing we can do. 

JACOBS:  No, and I think we're at the point already where there's nothing we can do except that which we're doing. 

CARLSON:  Right now you think we're at that point?

JACOBS:  Oh, yes.  I think we've passed that point already. 

We're doing all we can do, to paraphrase President Reagan.  We're—we're training Iraqi military.  We're training Iraqi police in the hope that they'll be able to coalesce into some type of cohesive security force that will be able bring to heel all these disparate organizations that are fighting each other. 

CARLSON:  There were complaints today that, not surprisingly, that the Iraqi security forces were doing nothing, or they were not to be found.  They were a bit like New Orleans cops on Katrina day.  You know, they were just gone.  If atrocities start to occur, become more commonplace, if this becomes Rwanda, can we really stand by and let it happen without...?

JACOBS:  Well, I think we're going to stand by and let it happen, because we're not in a position to wade in and separate the warring parties, because among other things, there are too many of them and they're fragmenting into even a larger number. 

Take a look at the—at the election.  Dozens of political parties.


JACOBS:  And that represents the different streams of consciousness that take place inside Iraq. 

Now this is a good news/bad news joke at the same time.  All the way up in the north in the Kurdish areas, very quiet.  All the way down south, near Basra and so on, it's relatively quiet.  The large proportion of mayhem that's taking place is in the middle, in the Sunni Triangle.

CARLSON:  Right.

JACOBS:  Because the Sunnis are now disenfranchised after running the country for 3 ½ decades.  But that's where all the—unfortunately, that's where the largest proportion of the population is located, the largest number of soft targets are located, and that's where all the action is. 

CARLSON:  Finally, what does this mean for the plans—the plans you talked about to bring the troops back in ever-increasing numbers?

JACOBS:  Oh, we're bringing them back.  I mean...

CARLSON:  We can anyway?  Even if it gets more chaotic?

JACOBS:  Well, we're going to do it.  We—we already have a plan and have begun to execute it to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq.  We reduced the number about Christmastime. 

And I believe that right now, while we may have 120,000, 125,000, 130,000 troops, depending upon how you count them, I think by the U.S.  election time in November, we'll be down below 100,000.  And there will be a larger proportion of advisors and a much smaller proportion of actual fighters. 

The bad guys don't want to fight American units, because we just squash them.  So they avoid them, and instead they try to blow up civilians, schools, mosques, and so on.  We're going to have most of our troops engaged in trying to train the Iraqi soldiers and police so that they can take over everything by themselves. 

CARLSON:  Boy, good luck with that.  Colonel Jacobs, thanks a lot for joining us. 

JACOBS:  You bet. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, is George W. Bush actually a pretend conservative bent on betraying the political legacy of Ronald Reagan?  Without question, says a former Reagan aide.  In a moment, you will meet Bruce Bartlett.  He's the author of the new book, “Imposter.”

Plus, did taking the Parkinson's drug lead a retired doctor to blow $14 million in a Vegas casino gambling spree?  He says so.  He's now suing a pharmaceutical company and the casinos to get his money back.  His lawyer talks to us live, next.


CARLSON:  Still ahead, how will South Dakota's abortion ban affect Roe v. Wade?  Plus, should transsexuals be allowed to teach elementary school kids?  Two tough questions, two compelling debates, next.


CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Is President Bush a die-hard spendthrift in Republican's clothing?  Would former President Reagan roll over in his grave if he knew how big government is getting under his vice president's son?  My next guest says, “Oh, yes,” to both questions. 

Bruce Bartlett worked in the Reagan White House and advised this president early in his first term.  He's now the author of “Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.”  Bruce Bartlett joins us live tonight from New York. 

Bruce, thanks for coming on. 


CARLSON:  Bush is a liberal?  I mean, this is going to come as a huge shock to the many obsessive Bush haters who think he's a right-wing maniac.  Explain. 

BARTLETT:  Well, I think there's a difference between saying somebody is not a conservative and saying they're a liberal.  I believe it was Bill Buckley who said George Bush is conservative, but he is not a conservative.  He's not one of us, basically. 

His conservatism is the conservatism of the guy who says, you know, like Archie Bunker, the good old days and why is everything, you know, not working the way it used to?  It's not borne out of thought or reason or analysis. 

CARLSON:  Now, you make the point, I think, very convincingly—very convincingly, in your book, that he is a big government conservative, or big government president anyway. 

You're an economist familiar with numbers.  Explain in a way that our viewers—many of them are not economists—can understand just how big a spender this president is. 

BARTLETT:  I did a calculation the other day based on officially—official Treasury Department data that showed that in the first four years of the Bush administration, the—our national debt—not just what we call the national debt, but all of the indebtedness—had increased by $20 trillion under this president. 

Let me give you another figure.  The Medicare drug benefit that he rammed through Congress a couple years ago has an unfunded liability of $18 trillion.  The Social Security system, which he talked so much about fixing last year, has an unfunded liability of only $11 trillion.  We could repeal the drug benefit, keep Social Security exactly as it is forever, and still cut $7 trillion off our national debt. 

CARLSON:  You can never repeal the drug benefit. 

BARTLETT:  I know. 

CARLSON:  I mean, as a political matter, that is going to be—our great-grandchildren will be weeping over it 75 years from now. 

BARTLETT:  Well, I say in the book, and a lot of people criticized me for this, that because of that program and because of the utter unwillingness to deal with entitlements, we're looking at, really, a massive tax increase over the next generation that I think we're going to need a new source of revenue to pay for. 

CARLSON:  I just want to restate, so it's perfectly clear to those watching, you are not a liberal, you are, in Washington anyway, a very well known conservative.  You are not attacking Bush from the left at all. 

You say something interesting, though—and given that, this is a fascinating statement—that you think the nation might actually be better off with a Democrat in the White House after this president. 

BARTLETT:  Well, I look at one of the most recent good old days we had, which was from 1994 to 2000, when we had gridlock.  I think the—perhaps the optimum policy from the point of few of fiscal conservatives like me is a Democrat in the White House and Republican control of Congress.  Because neither one can do anything, and we're on automatic pilot and we ended up with surpluses instead of deficits. 

CARLSON:  I think that's a very smart point.  We were designed—this government, of course, was designed to produce gridlock.  And a Republican Congress and a Republican president turned out to be bad. 

You said Bush has hurt his party by not designating a successor.  What do you mean?

BARTLETT:  Well, obviously, Dick Cheney is not going to be running to replace George Bush in 2008, and I think the Democrats are going to have—are going to be united.  I think they're going to have a stronger candidate than they've had recently. 

And I think that the Republicans are going to be handicapped by the fact that they've—they're going to have a wide open race, no frontrunner.  And it's going to be very difficult. 

And it would be a lot better if President Bush had had, as his vice president, somebody who was in a better position to replace him, which is normally what we do after two-term presidents. 

CARLSON:  Right.  But presidents with fragile egos can't deal with the idea of a competitor in the same building.  Is that the idea?

BARTLETT:  That's right.  But—but on the other hand, they also want their own success ratified, so they want their vice president to succeed them, because that is a way of the electorate saying that you did a good job. 

CARLSON:  Right.  Well, a long-term thinker might perceive that.  This president did not.  Bruce Bartlett.  The book is “Impostor,” an excellent book.  Really a thoughtful book.  I hope it sells a lot.

Thanks for joining us. 

BARTLETT:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Still to come, lawmakers in South Dakota vote to ban abortions in the state.  But what are the implications for the rest of the country?  Find out what may soon happen to Roe v. Wade, next. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Controversial news out of South Dakota tonight.  The state legislature there is close to passing a bill that would outlaw abortion except in cases where the mother's life is in danger. 

Liberal groups have already vowed to sue once the bill becomes law, setting the stage for a new Supreme Court decision and yet another national conversation on the subject of abortion. 

Here to tell us what all this means for 2006, MSNBC contributor, Flavia Colgan—Flavia. 


CARLSON:  Good evening.  You are hearing complaining already from liberal groups that this is going to go to the Supreme Court.  And I think it should go to the Supreme Court, frankly, and that the Supreme Court is going to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

I just want to set the stage by telling the truth.  This is what we know about the Supreme Court as of right now. 

You have two members, two justices, who are opposed to Roe v. Wade, Thomas and Scalia.  You have two, Roberts and Alito, where we have no idea what they think about it.  They could turn out to be liberal. 

And you have four, or rather five, Ginsberg, Souter, Breyer, Stevens and Kennedy, who are for Roe v. Wade.  So the bottom line is, no matter what happens, Roe v. Wade stands. 

COLGAN:  I agree.  And you might be surprised about this.  First, I have to say that I mean, abortion is a very visceral, emotional issue for folks.  And obviously the people in South Dakota, you know, they feel they supported George Bush.  They've got two of who they think their guys are on the court and they want to go with this right now. 

But I have to say that I think that their emotions are clouding their judgment.  Because from an analytical standpoint, strategically and timing-wise, I think this is a terrible move for the pro-life movement.  And in fact, I think that it will undermine their ultimate goal, which I'm happy to say why I think it will. 

And this might upset my progressive friends.  But if you're interested, I'm willing to lay out a strategy for the pro-lifers and how they could get Roe v. Wade overturned. 

CARLSON:  But before we get to strategizing...

COLGAN:  yes.

CARLSON:  ... tell me as succinctly as you can why is this a bad thing for people who oppose abortion?

COLGAN:  I think it's—for a number of reasons it's a bad thing.  If it gets to the Supreme Court, I think timing-wise not only is the country not with them, I think what they need to do is take a page book—a page out of the page book of Thurgood Marshall. 

I mean, you saw in Brown v. Board a buildup.  It was very incremental.  The pro-life movement should be doing what they've been doing, which is partial birth abortion, longer waiting periods, getting parental notification. 

I'm here in Arizona, for instance.  They have a bill where they're going to try to make doctors tell mothers that the fetuses will feel pain during an abortion process. 

I think that trying to go to the courts and get this end game is insulting to judges.  I mean, every institution likes to protect their power.  They like to protect their prerogative.  And this can be seen, and this might be exaggerating it, but a little bit of legal anarchy to essentially go for the gusto against something that the court has been fairly clear on.  And I think that is not smart. 

CARLSON:  You hate to—you hate to think Supreme Court justices would rule against something simply because they want to preserve their own prerogative or their power. 

COLGAN:  Well...

CARLSON:  That's terrifying.  But I agree with you on the first point, that an incremental changing of the public's view of abortion is the way to defeat abortion, if you're opposed to it. 

How about a bill sponsored in Congress to outlaw abortions for the purposes of sex selection?  Millions upon millions of abortions take place around the world based on sex selection, aborting female babies.  Why not make that illegal in the United States? 

What would be the argument against that?  How could NARAL, or how could Hillary Clinton in public argue against a law outlawing sex selection abortions?

COLGAN:  Well, look, I'm probably not the best person to ask, because, you know, I'm a Democrat, but I'm also a practicing Catholic and probably a little bit more conservative on this issue, certainly, than a lot of my progressive friends. 

But I think that you saw the Democrats did lose in this sort of partial birth discussion.  And, again, I think the same reason is the pro-life movement will lose if they go for too much. 

I mean, a really interesting book, “Bearing to the Right,” shows that the people in America right now do not want Roe v. Wade being overturned, but they also don't want people marching into Planned Parenthood and being able to get abortions on demand, you know, at six, seven months or for, you know, for reasons like you described, for sex selection.  And frankly, they're not that interested in having their tax money go to it either.

So I think if the pro-life movement were smart about this right now, they would do this incremental stuff. 

And you also have to look at a case like—a case like Roe v. Wade.  The Supreme Court is also not going to do a 5-4 decision on that.  I simply don't believe it.  Just like Warren waited for a 9-0 on Brown v. Board.  It's stare decisis.  There's too much precedent there.

CARLSON:  Right.

COLGAN:  They're not going to do something that's going to create a political football, when the Democrats are in, then they can just, you know, revisit this.  We went through this whole thing...

CARLSON:  I don't think—I hope they do only for one purpose, and that's to find out what Roberts and Alito think about it.  We've covered that—the process of their nomination and confirmation pretty closely on MSNBC, and I still have no idea how they might rule on that.  So that would be interesting. 

COLGAN:  But guess what, Tucker?


COLGAN:  I don't think this approach, like I said, will actually get to the bottom of that.  I think that you'd find that...

CARLSON:  You may be right. 

COLGAN:  ... who they are a lot better if you chipped away at it.  Because I think it's far too soon.  The timing is poor.  And this is a calculated risk, but I think they made a big mistake in South Dakota, I really do. 

CARLSON:  We will—we will find out.  Flavia Colgan, thanks a lot. 

COLGAN:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Up next, trophies for everyone, win or lose.  Does it crush the competitive spirit or does it give all kids a sense of accomplishment, albeit phony accomplishment?  We'll debate that when THE SITUATION comes back.



CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

After gambling away $14 million, a retired physician from Austin, Texas, is making one last bet, that he'll recover his loss by suing casinos and the makers of his Parkinson's medication. 

Dr. Max Wells says the drug company failed to warn patients that Requip and a similar drug called Mirapex could cause compulsive gambling.  He also says Las Vegas casinos, including the Wynn, Bellagio and Harrah's, share the blame because they let him gamble, even though they knew he was on the medication and compulsive about it. 

Dr. Wells' attorney, Tom Thomas, joins us live tonight from Dallas. 

Mr. Thomas, thanks for coming on. 

TOM THOMAS, ATTORNEY FOR DR. MAX WELLS: Thank you, Tucker.  Happy to be here. 

CARLSON:  Now, I understand that there's a likelihood that this medication did make your client compulsive about gambling; whether it made him a compulsive gambler is a different question.  But let's just—I buy that.  Let's just say that right off the top.  I think it's possible. 

THOMAS:  Yes, there are some studies. 


THOMAS:  Mayo Clinic published one in '05.  There's been one as recently as three weeks ago. 


THOMAS:  There's no doubt that in a number of these patients that they're compulsive gambling. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I absolutely believe it.  But this guy lost $14 million.  OK.

THOMAS:  Yes.  His life savings. 

CARLSON:  So after about—that's a pretty big life savings.  After about, say, a million dollars or $7 million or even, say, $10 million, why didn't he seek treatment?

THOMAS:  It wouldn't have made any difference if it had been $100 million.  If you've got a compulsion, you can't stop. 

CARLSON:  Well, you can tell other people you have a compulsion.  Of course you can stop.  I know a million compulsive drinkers.  I know some compulsive gamblers who've stopped.  I mean, there are a lot of people with compulsions who either control them or turn to other people to help them control them.  Why didn't your client do that?

THOMAS:  Because he's taking a drug.  You can't control it when you're taking the drug that creates the compulsion.  You can only control it by stopping to take the drug. 

CARLSON:  But he must have been aware that he was losing millions and millions and millions of dollars, correct?

THOMAS:  You know, he was aware of it.  But the compulsion overcame the feelings that you describe that most of us would have.  You're—you're importing or assuming—and properly and understandably so—a rational train of thought.  That's one of the evils of this particular problem, is it destroys rationality.  No rational person would squander $14 million in 10 months. 

CARLSON:  There's no question your client's insane, whether it's the drug's fault or not.  Of course, you lose $14 million it's bad.

I'm just saying that people with compulsions to drink, to do drugs, to gamble, are not completely insane.  They understand they're destroying themselves, and that's why many of them reach out to other people to help them.  There is an element of free will in this disease, even if you're taking Parkinson's medication.  So why didn't he do that?

THOMAS:  There's not much of an element of free will when you're choosing between the only drug that will give you any normalcy in your life and a byproduct that you don't know is being created by that drug. 

CARLSON:  But I'm wondering—I guess I'm not going to ask you for a fifth time why he didn't go to Gamblers Anonymous.  Why didn't his wife pipe up?  Apparently, the Las Vegas casinos treated them like the whales they were, and sent them on a cruise to Alaska, and gave them all kinds of comps.  She must have known. 

THOMAS:  She didn't know how much.  If you've been to—if you've been to Las Vegas, you know wives don't gamble with husbands.  And he had his own—their money separately.  She didn't know. 

CARLSON:  Wait a minute.  Didn't the casino send them to Alaska on a cruise?

THOMAS:  I'm sorry?

CARLSON:  Did the casino—did a casino send your client on a cruise to Alaska?

THOMAS:  They did.  She knew that they were gambling money.  She had no idea it was in the millions. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Well, I'm sure she didn't.  But I mean, she couldn't have imagined she was being sent on a cruise because her husband was winning at the craps table, correct?

THOMAS:  I don't know what she imagined about that.  She's a high school math teacher.  I don't think she knows beans about it. 

CARLSON:  She does now. 

THOMAS:  She does now.  And in fact, it was her ultimate questioning that led to Max's seeking some help where he was taken off the drug. 

CARLSON:  Wait.  Just to go back to something you said.  She's a math teacher you said?

THOMAS:  Yes, she's a math teacher. 

CARLSON:  But not—obviously, not a very good math teacher if she couldn't figure out that he was losing a lot of money. 

THOMAS:  Now, that's not so. 

CARLSON:  No, no, no, wait.  Come on.  I mean...

THOMAS:  You can't draw that conclusion if you don't know what's happening. 

CARLSON:  Well, because your case rests on the notion that he is not -

·         and his wife, by extension—is not in any way responsible for losing all this dough.  And I'm just suggesting that a math teacher and an aware human being might suspect that something was terribly wrong. 

Where did the $14 million come from, anyway?

THOMAS:  He sold his practice when he had to retire because of the Parkinson's. 

CARLSON:  Do you think there's any chance you're going to get this money back?

THOMAS:  Sure there's a chance I'm going to get this money back. 

CARLSON:  From the casinos or from the drug company?

THOMAS:  Both.  The drug companies have an obligation to warn what they know about, if it's a threat, and they didn't do that.  If they would had warned him, like anybody else, or most other drugs, then he could have gotten the help or taken the steps that he ultimately did once the warnings came out. 

CARLSON:  Finally, has any Las Vegas casino ever returned money to a person who claims he's a compulsive gambler?

THOMAS:  You know, I don't know the answer to that.  The ones that I do know about, the ones that went to final judgment, they did not.  I do know there have been several settlements where they have, in fact. 

CARLSON:  Boy, that would—if you win this, they're in deep trouble. 

THOMAS:  No, they really won't be.  This is a very unique statute that we have in Texas that we're suing under.  This isn't just generally saying give the money back because X, Y and Z.  This is saying give the money back because we have a very specific statute in Texas that I think prohibits what happened here.  So I can't imagine this case would ever repeat itself. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Tom Thomas, the attorney for Max Wells, the Parkinson's-afflicted doctor who's also apparently a pretty heavy gambler.  Thanks a lot.

THOMAS:  You bet.

CARLSON:  Stay tuned.  There's still plenty more tonight ahead on THE



CARLSON:  Identity crisis.  This teacher's past has ignited a firestorm. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I just want to let everybody know what's going on. 

CARLSON:  Wait till you hear why some parents don't want her near their kids. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The only thing surrounding this whole issue is fear. 

CARLSON:  And stall tactics.  I'll show you why this city hall restroom is giving a whole new meaning to the term “head.”

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It's disgusting. 

CARLSON:  And meet one court jester who will gladly jump through hoops for the home team. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A little pressure (ph).

CARLSON:  It's all ahead on THE SITUATION. 



VANESSA MCDONALD, PRODUCER:  Coming up, how would you feel if your child's new teacher was a transsexual?  Some New Jersey parents are furious that their kids are learning from a woman with an Adam's apple and a 5 o'clock shadow. 

CARLSON:  It's an uncomfortable story, but we'll debate it anyway when we come back in 60 seconds. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

“I don't ask other men's opinions.  I have my own.”  That's a quote attributed to Charles Manson.  Joining me now, a man who has his own opinions, “The Outsider.”  ESPN Radio and HBO boxing host, Max Kellerman, joining us live tonight from Las Vegas. 

MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO:  How are you doing, Tucker?

CARLSON:  Max, I hope you're not taking the Parkinson's drug. 


CARLSON:  Good, you're safe. 

KELLERMAN:  Actually, that's a good excuse.  If my wife can hear me. 

CARLSON:  That's exactly right.  You don't shake, but the bad news is you just blew the mortgage. 

First up, some school kids in New Jersey might be getting a lesson that has at least one parent up in arms.  A transgender substitute teacher is coming back to the classroom where she was once a he. 

Lilly Macbeth has been a teacher for five years at Eagleswood Township Elementary School.  But the last time she taught there she was a man.  Now one parent wants her barred from the school.  The school board has refused to comment. 

Max, you know, I'm pretty tolerant of whatever people want to do.  Very tolerant in their private lives.  If men want to dress up like women, that's fine.  I think it's dorky, but you know, it doesn't hurt me. 

If a person voluntarily undergoes a castration, that is totally different.  That is an act of a crazy person.  That's extreme.  That's like setting your hair on fire or blinding yourself.  You are unstable if you voluntarily castrate yourself simply because you feel uncomfortable in your own sex, and I don't want a person that unstable teaching my kids. 

KELLERMAN:  Well, in the first place, the parent who's bringing this to everyone's attention claims that, as a Methodist...

CARLSON:  Right.

KELLERMAN:  ... if this teacher were allowed in the classroom, it would be a violation of the parent's religion, because apparently, according to some biblical interpretation, sex change operations are strictly prohibited in the Bible or something.  It's crazy.

CARLSON:  Right.

KELLERMAN:  But that is an absurd argument to start with.  I mean, that's a clear imposition of someone else's decision. 

CARLSON:  Right, I agree.  I absolutely agree with that. 

KELLERMAN:  Now, the second part.  Look, castration.  It's not as though, you know, the person went in to have surgery and, you know, it's not as though they're the only person who's ever done it. 

Really, what we're talking about is children being exposed to an uncomfortable truth about the world, right?  That's what we're really dealing with.  And you know what, kids?  Get used to it.  Because life is full of them.

CARLSON:  Well, there are a lot of things you don't want to expose kids to.  But that's not even the point.  The point is people who—there are people who are born hermaphroditic or who are born with unformed or not fully formed genitals.  That's completely separate. 

There are people, and this man is one of them, who decide “I want to be another sex” and undergo castration.  Most doctors won't do it.  Why?  Because it's a sign of a profound personality disorder, and I don't want someone with a profound personality disorder teaching my kids. 

KELLERMAN:  Which means if someone actually successfully had the surgery, then enough people along the way or doctors along the way said, “No, this person is a good candidate.”  You could use the argument in reverse and say they survived that process. 

Don't you watch “South Park”?


KELLERMAN:  Mr. Garrison now.

CARLSON:  Yes, just because a doctor signs off on it, that means nothing.  Most doctors wouldn't do this. 

KELLERMAN:  They let Mr. Garrison get a sex change operation in “South Park,” and he's back teaching the fourth grade, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  OK, good.  Works in “South Park.” 

Woody Allen once said 80 percent of success is just showing up.  Well, in some schools it's 100 percent.  More and more kids are getting sports trophies not for winning but just for participating.  Critics call it self-esteem run amuck, says kids who get awards they don't earn won't learn to succeed. 

And the critics, of course, are completely right.  Too much self-esteem, in fact, is bad for kids.  People with too much self-esteem are selfish; they don't achieve as much.  Self-esteem is bad in high doses. 

How can you defend this, Max?

KELLERMAN:  Well, the Olympics are going on right now, right?


KELLERMAN:  If you come in third place, you still get a medal.  They have bronze medals. 

CARLSON: That's right. 

KELLERMAN:  So a medal of a trophy isn't always for the winner. 

CARLSON:  Right.

KELLERMAN:  They can reflect varying degrees of accomplishment.  The question is here is participation an accomplishment. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

KELLERMAN:  And you could argue, yes, it's an accomplishment.  It's not like the trophy lies and says you came in first place.  It says it's a participation trophy.  Kids know the difference. 

CARLSON:  I don't think they do know the difference.  Actually, I think the difference is completely blurred.  And in fact, though the existence of all these trophies, I think, devalues the trophies that actually matter, the first, second and third place trophies. 

KELLERMAN:  I will agree with you in the cases that the trophies, like the first place trophy, if it's not bigger or shinier, then there's a little bit of a problem.  But if you've ever seen participation trophies, they're not the big, nice, shiny ones.  They're the little ones, you know. 

CARLSON:  They're so lame, in other words, that they don't hurt anyone. 

KELLERMAN:  Or maybe they do, Tucker.  See, that's your real argument, that the kids do know the difference and that it hurts their self-esteem. 

CARLSON:  Boy, that's too clever for me. 

Max Kellerman in Las Vegas, controlling himself, as always.  Thanks a lot, Max. 

KELLERMAN:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Coming up on THE SITUATION, what are the odds you'll be attacked by a shark?  How about hit by lightning?  Or caught in a car wreck?  One man has actually calculated all those odds, so you don't have to.  He'll be with us here in just a minute with the bad news when THE SITUATION rolls on. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Have you ever read one of those news stories about a man who won the lottery twice in a single month or was struck by lightning in bed and killed and thought to yourself, “Boy, I wonder what the odds are of that happening”? 

Well, our next guest can tell you precisely what the odds are.  He has calculated the statistical likelihood of odd things that happen in the world.  His name is Roger Schlaifer.  He's the author of the book “Odds Are: The Odds on Everything Book.”  He joins me from New York tonight. 

Roger Schlaifer, thanks a lot for coming on.  You were also the inventor/creator of the Cabbage Patch doll?  Is that true?

ROGER SCHLAIFER, AUTHOR, “ODDS ARE”:  Well, I didn't invent the doll, but I did create the name and the story line and did the worldwide licensing for all the Cabbage Patch Kids. 

CARLSON:  Amazing.  So you actually had one; when no one else in America could find one, you had access.  Amazing.

SCHLAIFER:  We had a bunch.  But most of them were stolen from our warehouse. 

CARLSON:  This is a terrific book.  I'm assuming everything in it is true.  If the things in this are true, their remark was—I want to read one, to give a sense of what it's like.  It's a series of statistical questions and you give the likelihood of events happening. 

What is the chance anyone in the United States will die from flatulence?  One in 240 million.  Where would you get a statistic like that?

SCHLAIFER:  Well, we've got that—of course, the question was inspired by living in the South.  That's why we called it “Gone with the Wind.”  But the statistic came from the CDC.  A lot of the health facts and related information we got from the CDC or the Justice Department, depending upon the nature of the question. 

CARLSON:  So with 300 million people in this country, that suggests about two people die of it every year.  I've never met one.  I've never read that news story, but a great thing to know. 

You've got a lot of really fascinating statistics on sex here.  What are the odds that a married couple will be sexually engaged four or more times a week?  Only seven percent. 

What's the overview on America's sexual habits that you've come to after compiling this book?

SCHLAIFER:  Well, there's a lot of frustrated people out there.  It's probably why the porn sites are doing so well. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  So people are talking about it, thinking about it, but not, in fact, doing it all that often. 

SCHLAIFER:  Or at least together.  I think those statistics were—was a couple. 

CARLSON:  Yes, where there was actually another person in the room. 

SCHLAIFER:  Yes, the other statistics are much higher. 

CARLSON:  I bet they are. 

What about risk?  You hear almost nonstop about risk, certainly on television, and local news every night, you know, the threat to you and your family.  What is the threat to you and your family?

SCHLAIFER:  Well, it depends upon where you're getting it from.  Most of it is overhyped.  And that was part of the inspiration for the book. 


SCHLAIFER:  The more horrible it is, the less the actual risk, whether it's being attacked by a shark or having your house burn down, whatever really horrible tragedy, it's generally very unlikely. 

CARLSON:  So how are you more likely to die accidentally? 

SCHLAIFER:  Probably in a car accident. 


SCHLAIFER:  Accidents are one of the biggest killers, and cars are the, I think, the No. 1 in that area. 

CARLSON:  Well, you often hear people say, and I've never been certain if it's true or not, that it is, in fact, more dangerous to drive to 7-Eleven than it is to fly across country.  Are planes as safe as the airlines say they are, statistically?

SCHLAIFER:  Statistically, it's great.  You have a one in 11 million chance that you're going to be in a plane crash, and the chance of surviving a plane crash is a remarkable—almost about 30 percent. 

CARLSON:  Really?


CARLSON:  You have a 30 percent chance of surviving a plane crash. 

That is amazing. 

Now, with all of these statistics, they are fact-checked, apparently. 

SCHLAIFER:  Oh, yes.  We went through extraordinary pains to make these as accurate as the statistics allow. 

CARLSON:  You have here statistics from Alfred Kinsey's 1950s research on American sexual habits.  You say that the odds of a farm boy reporting that he had, quote, “significant sexual contact” with a farm animal, 17 out of 100.  Seventeen percent of boys who grew up on farms have sex with a livestock. 

SCHLAIFER:  That—some of that includes heavy petting. 

CARLSON:  That includes heavy petting.  Very good.  Almost as good as the book itself. 


CARLSON:  I'm not giving you flack here.  This really is a compelling book.  The book is “Odds Are.”  Roger Schlaifer, author.  Thanks a lot, Roger.  I appreciate it. 

SCHLAIFER:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Still ahead on THE SITUATION, no, this guy does not have a rare spastic disorder.  He just loves to dance.  We'll tell you what's got him so worked up when we visit “The Cutting Room Floor” next. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  The odds are it's time for “The Cutting Room Floor.”  That means Willie Geist—Willie.

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  Hello, Tucker.  I'm glad you could sneak in that question about livestock sex at the end.  It's important that viewers know the odds of that.


GEIST:  I want to go back to that transsexual teacher we were talking about. 

CARLSON:  yes.

GEIST:  That—I'll be damned if that's not Will Ferrell's Janet Reno.  Did you see him when he did Janet Reno?

CARLSON:  That's troubling.

GEIST:  That is a non-handsome woman. 

CARLSON:  I know.  You know, actually, as conservative as I am, I am tolerant, and I try not to mock people for their life choices.  But if you castrate yourself, I'm sorry.  I'm not on your side. 

GEIST:  I'm sure she's a lovely woman and a fine teacher. 

CARLSON:  She's actually a man.  Anyway, just to get that straight.

The University of Dayton might not have the best basketball team in the world, but it definitely has the best fan.  You're watching the now legendary dance moves of Dayton senior Kevin Davidson. 

GEIST:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Davidson charges onto the court during time-outs and whips the home crowd into a frenzy with his strange combination of towel waving and dancing. 

GEIST:  That guy is a star.  The Dayton Flyers, Brian Gregory's bunch, struggling a bit this season.  He is the star.  That's the only reason people come to the game is they wait for that moment. 

And I just think he's lucky there's no random drug-testing of the fans.  But he's kind of like Jim Morrison.  I don't care what fuels your creativity, as long as I get to watch it.  You know?

CARLSON:  I can't get past the fact you actually know the name of the coach of the Dayton Flyers?

GEIST:  That's Brian Gregory.  He's doing a heck of a job out there. 

CARLSON:  Did you really know that?

GEIST:  Yes.  They're 13-14 and have three games left. 

CARLSON:  I'm so impressed.  Willie Geist, on top of everything, an amazing sports fan.

How in the world could a five-star rating be a bad thing?  Here's how.  When the rating is given by a gay web site celebrating a public restroom in your city hall is a great place to have sex. 

According to, the Malden, Mass., city hall men's room is a prime location for sex.  We're talking five-star prime, in case you haven't been there.  The city council is demanding a security plan be put in place to stop the bathroom from becoming a brothel. 

GEIST:  Wrong approach, Tucker.  Wrong approach.  Embrace this.


GEIST:  ... is the Zagat's of gay bathroom sex.  When they speak, people who like to have sex in public restrooms listen.  So embrace it.  Charge admission.  Set up a concession stand.  Let's have some fun with it.

CARLSON:  But it's in city hall, Willie. 

GEIST:  No, you can raise money.  You can pay for sewer bond referendums and have better schools.  Don't you think?

CARLSON:  I think that's the kind of fresh, revolutionary thinking of tomorrow this nation needs. 

GEIST:  Capitalize on it.  It's America, baby. 

CARLSON:  And if it happened any place, it's Malden, Massachusetts. 

Trust me.

Willie Geist. 

GEIST:  See you Monday, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Thank you, Willie. 

That's THE SITUATION for tonight.  Thank you for watching.  We'll see you back here Monday night.  Up next is COUNTDOWN with Keith.  See you then.



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