Guests: Xavier Von Erck, Father Rick Ryscavage, Medea Benjamin, Tom Schatz
PAT BUCHANAN, SUBSTITUTE HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”: That‘s all the time we have tonight. I‘m Pat Buchanan. We ran out of time. Sorry about missing the hellfire missile and the car chase. Great stuff, my fault. THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON starts right now.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Thanks.
And thanks for you at home for tuning in. It‘s good to have you with us.
Tonight, Hillary Clinton says a new bill before Congress would make her a criminal. Not just her, Jesus, too. So what‘s the issue that puts the junior senator from New York and the son of God on the wrong side of the law? We‘ll tell you just ahead.
And some people vacation in Vegas. Cindy Sheehan vacations in Venezuela in Hugo Chavez‘s hot bed of revolution. It‘s tourism for a new generation of “sandalistas.” It‘s got some Americans hot and bothered. We‘ll talk to the woman who runs those tours.
Plus, Katie Couric steps into a new role on television. But can she crack our list of the top five TV replacements? That‘s coming up.
But first, a remarkable story still developing tonight. And official at the Department of Homeland Security caught in a child sex sting. Brian J. Doyle, the fourth ranking spokesman in DHS, was put on unpaid leave today after being charged with soliciting sex from a child. Authorities say he initiated sexual conversations online with an undercover cop he believed was a 14-year-old girl. Doyle was arrested Tuesday while he was online.
But the story of how he got caught raises questions. To answer some of them, we‘re joined now by Xavier Von Erck. He‘s the director of operations of an organization called Perverted Justice that seeks to bring creeps like that to justice.
Xavier Von Erck, thanks for joining us.
XAVIER VON ERCK, PERVERTED JUSTICE: Thank you.
CARLSON: I think a lot of our viewers may be confused as to where Mr. Doyle was, or was reputed or alleged to be, online when he was talking to this girl. If you‘re an older child molester looking for a child, where do you go?
VON ERCK: You would go to chat rooms such as on Yahoo!Chat or you would go to a social networking site such as MySpace.com or LiveJournal.com and try to find profiles of what you think are underage children.
CARLSON: And then you e-mail those children and say, let‘s meet?
VAN ERCK: It depends on the tactic (ph) of the individual. There‘s a myriad of different ways that predators try to get real children to meet them. Sometimes they say, straight out, “Let‘s meet, let‘s have sex. Let‘s do it.” Others are a little bit more cautious and will try to befriend the kid, do some research on what they think is a child and use that to befriend and then turn it to sex later.
CARLSON: You just named two pretty well known sites, Yahoo! and MySpace.com. These are big operations, part of big corporations. They must be aware, as you are, that this is going on, on their sites. What are they doing to stop it?
VAN ERCK: Yahoo! recently has closed down all their teen rooms and is trying to keep teens out of their chat services. But still, they don‘t have any moderators, and they can still do more.
MySpace is actually working—they‘re trying to play catch-up now with a staff that tries to eliminate predators from their services.
But there‘s also other sites out there that are just as dangerous, such as LiveJournal, which does not have any policies restricting pedophiles from their web site. And in fact, they‘ve said so publicly.
CARLSON: They have said out loud, pedophiles welcome to use this site. Not prohibited from it.
VAN ERCK: Nothing—nothing in their terms of service restricts them.
CARLSON: Wow. That‘s a little bit over the top.
So how—how do the police—or how do you, who work on this, as well, stumble upon, apprehend child molesters trying to pick up kids?
VAN ERCK: It‘s really akin to fishing. You know, you go to a boat, on a lake, and you put your hook out. And then, you know, fish will come by and come for it. It‘s pretty much the same way online.
You go online into a chat room, or on a social networking site, and you put your social profile up. And you just wait. And you will get bites. You will get older men who will contact you trying to see if you‘re willing to be with them.
CARLSON: Every time? If you put up a profile of a 14-year-old girl and didn‘t say, “I‘m open to having a relationship with an older man,” just a straight-forward 14-year-old girl web page, whatever that looks like, do you think you would actually get creeps coming on to you?
VAN ERCK: Oh, yes, you‘d get dozens of creeps coming on to you. Just recently in January in California, we had 51 individuals show up over three days to be arrested after soliciting our profiles and chat rooms. All we have to do is go into a chat room and sit. We will get predators soliciting us, usually instantly. And you‘ll usually get more than one.
CARLSON: Well, not to ask the same question again, but I‘m just a little stunned as to why more people aren‘t doing something about this? I mean, these web sites are owned by people. It seems to me they‘re—I don‘t know, they‘re maybe not complicit, but they have some role in this.
If I‘m a bartender and I serve a guy who‘s obviously drunk, and he goes and crashes into his car into a school and kills people, I‘m partly liable for that. Is that—that‘s not the case online?
VAN ERCK: It‘s not the case online. There‘s different court precedent that, you know, hold chat servers and people who own web sites not accountable for the actions of users on their web sites, as long as they have a terms of service agreement. So there‘s really no lawsuit liability yet for these businesses that have these chat rooms open or web sites open to predators.
CARLSON: You said that they‘re—on one site, there were -- 51 people were driven to a house where they were arrested. About mow many get arrested every year for trying to pick up kids online?
VAN ERCK: It‘s in the hundreds. So far this year, my organization, PervertedJustice.com, has had about 100 people arrested from January 1 to today for soliciting children online. And that‘s just us. That doesn‘t include local law enforcement and, as you‘ve seen in Florida, with you know, the Department of Homeland Security press secretary.
CARLSON: Does it seem to be making any dent in the weirdo community?
VAN ERCK: No, there‘s not enough teeth in the laws against them to put them in the jail for a long time. For example, three of the 51 individuals who showed up and were arrested were back in the rooms within a month, soliciting us again, because they were awaiting trial, their bail was too low. And they were out. And they got right back on the computer and tried to find a real kid.
Additionally, two weekends ago in Ohio, a 47-year-old man showed up to have sex with what he thought was one of our decoys. Turns out he was sentenced two days before to 11 months in jail. They gave him a week to take care of his personal affairs, and he decided to find a kid rather than take care of his personal affairs.
CARLSON: That‘s just—I mean, I‘m pretty libertarian about almost everything, especially regulation of anything, but you know, they‘re wrecking the Internet for people who have children. And it‘s just disgusting. I hope someone does something about it.
Thank you for doing something about it, Xavier Von Erck. Thanks a lot.
VAN ERCK: Thank you.
CARLSON: Now to another hot topic, immigration. The head of America‘s largest archdiocese stepped into the controversy yet again. Today, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles called for a day of prayer and fasting to show solidarity with illegal immigrants. Last month, Mahony instructed his parishes to disobey any law that prohibits helping illegal aliens.
All of a sudden, the Catholic Church is at the very center of this debate. We‘ll explain why, as Father Rick Ryscavage, the director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield University. Father Ryscavage joins us tonight from Stanford, Connecticut.
Father Ryscavage, thanks for coming on.
FATHER RICK RYSCAVAGE, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR FAITH AND PUBLIC LIFE,
FAIRFIELD UNIVERSITY: Good evening, Carlson.
CARLSON: So the position of the Catholic Church appears to be that it is OK to help people commit crimes if you agree with those crimes. Is that your position?
RYSCAVAGE: Well—well, no. Not exactly. I mean, I think within the Catholic community, there‘s a lot of debate about the immigration question right now. But I think what—what people don‘t realize is that it‘s the Congress who created this problem, not the church.
When Cardinal Mahony, you know, asks for support for a position on illegal immigration, he‘s merely reflecting 2,000 years of church ideas about how you cannot attach conditions to charity.
CARLSON: Wait a second. With all due respect, Father Ryscavage, the Catholic Church doesn‘t run America. Congress does. Congress passes the law and you—even you have to obey them, right? Those are kind of the rules, aren‘t they?
RYSCAVAGE: Well—well, to an extent. Unless they‘re stepping on the exercise of religious freedom. Because for the Catholic Church, charity is the very heart, the very core of the Christian faith. So when you tell the church you have to stop helping someone...
RYSCAVAGE: It‘s just unacceptable.
CARLSON: Stop helping someone remain in this—in this country. But just so we can achieve clarity here, what crimes is it OK for you as a Catholic clergyman to commit?
RYSCAVAGE: It‘s not OK to commit any crimes. We‘re simply saying that a law, a bad law that is really poor legislation oversteps its bounds when it restricts the religious freedom of the church to actually exercise charity. And there need to be more humanitarian space within the legislation for people to operate.
CARLSON: As far as I understand it, the law says that—and it‘s not a law at this point. Of course, it‘s a bill. It‘s been passed by the House of Representatives, not by the Senate.
CARLSON: But the bill says that if you help illegal aliens remain in this country, you‘ve committed a crime. Not if you give them aid, not if you give them, you know, food and water. Not even if you give them money. But if you help them stay here, then you‘ve committed a crime.
And it‘s obviously a—the intent of the law is to punish people who traffic in other human beings. What‘s wrong with that?
RYSCAVAGE: But it‘s a very badly written legislation. Surely all these sharp lawyers on Capitol Hill could create a piece of legislation that makes a distinction between crime and charity.
CARLSON: But here you are, as a Catholic priest, taking a very specific position on a specific piece of the legislation. The Catholic Church, of course, is tax exemption. Your lawyers have probably figured out how to keep your tax exemption while still lobbying on behalf of a specific piece of legislation, obviously. But don‘t you think you devalue your moral authority by acting any other interest group, lobbying Capitol Hill?
RYSCAVAGE: Just the opposite. I think what we‘re standing here is for a certain—certain protection of human dignity, protection of children, of kids, of families in a system where we‘re asking the law not just to take in account the political expediencies of the moment. But also some humanitarian considerations.
CARLSON: Wait a second. There are political expedience on your side, on the Catholic Church‘s side, too. Fewer and fewer native-born Americans going to Catholic mass, right, every week. A lot of immigrants do. Right? So you are, in effect, playing to your constituency by taking the side of illegal immigrants.
RYSCAVAGE: That‘s not the reason. The reason is we‘re...
CARLSON: I don‘t know. Hold on. You‘re accusing politicians of having a political—somehow unclean agenda here, and I‘m merely saying that the same could be said of you.
RYSCAVAGE: No, not an unclean agenda. We‘re just saying that you have to also take into consideration, besides politics, the human dignity of the person who is involved in these things. And protecting that dignity and allowing the church to assist people, you know, there‘s nothing wrong with that. And it should be part of a standard legislative policy in this country.
CARLSON: You‘ve got a position. And I think it‘s an honorable position. But if your position doesn‘t end up being reflected in the final law, will you obey that law? Do you see yourself as bound by U.S. law?
RYSCAVAGE: We‘re bound by moral law.
CARLSON: I‘m talking about—I know that. But what about U.S. law?
What about the Congress?
RYSCAVAGE: Well, domestic national law is not absolute. We were bound by higher things, and particularly when you‘re restricting our ability to actually assist people who are most vulnerable and at the edge of our society.
CARLSON: To make certain I understand your answer completely. You‘re saying if Congress passes a law that you don‘t like or you think is wrong, then you‘re not bound by it?
RYSCAVAGE: No, that violates our expression of religious freedom in actually offering charity to people.
CARLSON: It‘s the different way of saying the same thing. So if this, in fact, becomes law, you‘re going to ignore it?
RYSCAVAGE: We‘re not going to ignore it. We‘ll try to change it. I mean, I think—and the law is not law yet this. I mean, this is part of what the debate is about. Surely they can make humanitarian exceptions part of this legislation. I don‘t think—and that‘s not interfering with the political processes of the United States. The church is simply calling for some humanitarian piece to this legislation.
CARLSON: I don‘t know. Camping—Catholic priests camping outside the speaker of the house‘s home and his office in Illinois. There are a lot of other tax exempt groups who‘d love to be able to do things like that and keep their tax exemption.
RYSCAVAGE: Again, it‘s not legislative lobbying. It‘s a question of raising protest against an aspect of the law that is going to impinge upon human dignity.
CARLSON: All right. Father Ryscavage, thanks for joining us.
RYSCAVAGE: Thank you.
CARLSON: Still to come, Hillary Clinton says she‘s afraid that if Congress has its way, she‘ll be classified as a criminal. We‘ll tell you why.
Plus, here today, gone tomorrow. Or pretty soon, anyway. Katie makes a big announcement, and we‘re announcing our top five signoffs of all time. That‘s next.
CARLSON: Coming up, the immigration debate gets personal for the president‘s brother. Plus, Massachusetts decides to make you healthy, whether you want to be or not. Protect yourself or we‘ll hurt you. That‘s the idea. We‘ll debate it.
CARLSON: Welcome back.
What do Hillary Clinton and Jesus have in common? Well, apparently, they‘re on exactly the same side of the immigration debate. At least, that‘s that the junior senator from New York implied when she said a bill under consideration in the House would make both of them criminals for aiding illegal immigrants.
And the overblown rhetoric does not stop there or even on that side of the aisle. Florida Governor Jeb Bush says the tone of the immigration debate has been, quote, hurtful to him and his Mexican-born wife, Columba.
Has the debate gotten completely out of control? Joining me now to consider that, Air America radio host, Rachel Maddow—Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO HOST: I hope not. I‘m really enjoying watching the fight on the immigration thing. It‘s been very fun as a liberal outsider to watch that.
CARLSON: Well, I think it‘s actually—well, liberals are definitely
engaged in that fight. But I think it‘s—I think it‘s good for America -
good to debate, you know, what we believe.
We have a late breaking news here—a bulletin—the Senate, apparently the Republicans—the Republican leadership in the Senate has unveiled a new version of this legislation. That would make it much easier for some of the 11 million illegal aliens living in this country to become citizens.
MADDOW: As far as I—as far as I understand it, I was just looking at this a minute ago.
MADDOW: It seems like if you have been in the country for more than five years, the new provision would be that you don‘t have to leave the country before applying for permanent citizenship?
CARLSON: Right. That‘s exactly right. That is much different than the House version, of course. And different, much different than what a lot of conservatives, the three or four conservatives still left in the Republican Party, would like to see.
Hillary Clinton. I think she is involved in one of the most grotesque propaganda campaigns—and a lot of people have joined it—that I‘ve seen in a long time. The idea that this House legislation would—would send priests and nuns and social workers and people who work at missions in urban areas to jail for helping illegal immigrants. That‘s totally untrue. The legislation is aimed at penalizing human smugglers.
MADDOW: Yes, but you keep making this case about what the intent of the legislation is and why it was written this way and who it‘s about.
CARLSON: It‘s more than that.
MADDOW: But when look at the actual...
CARLSON: It‘s the wording, though, actually.
MADDOW: When you look at the actual wording the word that is the problem here is “assist.” If you assist an undocumented immigrant. If you assist an illegal alien.
CARLSON: Assist in doing what? Remaining in this country illegally.
MADDOW: Remaining in this country illegally, right. Remaining in this country illegally. For example, I operate a domestic violence shelter. A woman is in a domestic violence situation. I allow her to come stay at the shelter. I do not check her papers. She‘s an undocumented—an undocumented immigrant. I‘m providing her housing. I‘m extending her stay in this country, and I‘m liable to five years in prison because of it.
CARLSON: I don‘t—I don‘t believe that that‘s...
MADDOW: That‘s what‘s in the legislation.
CARLSON: I don‘t see that for a second.
MADDOW: It may not be what was intended, but it is how it‘s written, and it‘s why it‘s not going to survive any further.
CARLSON: No, it‘s not going to survive. You‘re absolutely right. But it‘s being used as a way to completely discredit what is, I think, not only defensible but pretty good piece of legislation.
MADDOW: I think...
CARLSON: Oh, it‘s going to put priests in prison. What a crock.
That‘s a total crock.
MADDOW: The way it‘s written, it actually would.
CARLSON: I don‘t believe—that is totally untrue.
MADDOW: It‘s not what you want it to do, but it is what it would do legally. And there‘s a problem with that. And they need to back down off of this stupid legislation.
CARLSON: Well, all of this—all of this is going to evaporate into a puff of smoke, because even a lot of the Republicans don‘t support it. You saw the president‘s brother, Jeb Bush, governor of Florida, actually a very smart guy and I think a very good guy, but make the dumbest, grossest kind of pitch, I thought, in the “L.A. Times” in a late night e-mail to the “L.A. Times”, where he said, “This essentially hurts my feeling. When people attack illegal immigrants, they‘re attacking my wife, who was born in Mexico.”
CARLSON: That‘s such an unfair non-argument. Right? Don‘t talk about it. It hurts my feelings.
CARLSON: That‘s not what—smart people don‘t talk about that way.
MADDOW: It‘s not an argument. You‘re right. It‘s definitely him saying, “This hurts my feelings.” He‘s weighing in on it.
CARLSON: But it‘s the same way with—it‘s the same as the left saying, “Oh, if you‘re against illegal immigration, you‘re a racist.” It‘s a conversation stopper.
MADDOW: No, it—no, it matters that—the tone of the debate matters. And when people are derided as the scourge on the nation, that does matter. When people are compared to—when their labor is compared to prison labor or slave labor, like some people have done on the right, it does matter. The tone does matter.
CARLSON: I actually...
MADDOW: It matters how we relate to each other in this country.
CARLSON: I strongly feel that—I strong feel that the second characterization is pretty close. We are creating a surf class. Upper middle class Americans don‘t want to clean their own homes, and they don‘t want to pay other Americans to do it.
CARLSON: So they hire people who are here illegally, pay them sub-standard wages, because they can, because they can get away with it. That is bad. We‘re creating two classes of Americans. This is bad.
MADDOW: That is—that is a bad thing. But what you‘re getting on the right, what you‘re getting from the people you‘re saying are the remaining conservatives fighting on this issue.
MADDOW: Tom Tancredo and J.D. Hayworth and...
CARLSON: That‘s right. Exactly.
MADDOW: ... and people who have taken leadership on this. You know, I interviewed Dana Rohrabacher today on my show. And it‘s so clear to me when you‘re talking one-on-one about what‘s motivating them, that the reason they‘re fighting on immigration right now is to explain all of the things that they have failed to provide for their constituents.
We have bad schools in my district. Blame it on immigrants. We have bad health care, the housing market sucks, the traffic is bad, there‘s crime, you have high taxes. Blame it all on immigrants. It‘s the catch-all blame game for all the things they haven‘t provided as legislators.
CARLSON: Well, two points. One, who cares? It doesn‘t mean they‘re wrong. Right? It doesn‘t mean they‘re wrong.
MADDOW: Health care is not a problem because of immigration.
CARLSON: Actually, immigration—illegal immigration is a huge drain on our health care system. It‘s a huge drain. I‘ve read about it. Trust me, it is. And B, they may be on to something.
MADDOW: You can blame it all on immigrants if you want, but it comes back...
CARLSON: I‘m not blaming it all on immigrants.
MADDOW: The Bushes, of all people, are standing against it.
CARLSON: Right. Well, they‘re for it, because the people who support them are for it. But I‘m not.
MADDOW: I‘m happy to watch the fight go on.
CARLSON: It‘s good. It‘s good for America, talking about it.
MADDOW: Please continue.
CARLSON: Rachel Maddow, thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Still to come, it‘s the end of an era for fans of Katie Couric. We‘ll flash back to the most memorable TV show turnovers ever. Where does Jay Leno sliding into Johnny Carson‘s massive shoes rank. Find out next on our top five list.
CARLSON: Welcome back.
Katie Couric is preparing to reset her alarm clock. She‘s bolting the peacock network for what she hopes will be greener pastures as the anchorwoman for the “CBS Evening News”, earning a reported $15 million a year. This is how she broke the news to her many fans on “The Today Show”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE COURIC, CO-HOST, NBC‘S “THE TODAY SHOW”: I wanted to tell all of you out there who have watched the show for the past 15 years that after listening to my heart and my gut, two things that have served me pretty well in the past, I‘ve decided I‘ll be leaving “Today” at the end of May.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: NBC is rumored to have “The View‘s” Meredith Vieira standing by in the wings. In tonight‘s top five, some other TV stars we once hailed as irreplaceable.
CARLSON (voice-over): Television may have its fair share of A-list celebrities, but as broadcast history has shown us time and again, no one, not even a megastar, is irreplaceable.
In 1976, Farrah Fawcett Majors was sailing on cloud nine as “Charlie‘s” sexiest angel. But after one season, she discarded her TV wings for the big screen. No problem. ABC promptly replaced its fallen angel with Cheryl Ladd.
CHERYL LADD, ACTRESS: Doesn‘t look like such a bad job to me.
ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY, ACTRESS: I‘ll be the best wife a man ever had.
CARLSON: ABC employed a little TV magic back in 1969 when health problems forced actor Dick York to retire from “Bewitched”. And so Elizabeth Montgomery and her new co-star, Dick Sargent, became the first sitcom characters ever to engage in spouse swapping.
MONTGOMERY: It‘s a little harder to break the habit than I thought.
CARLSON: She reigned as the queen of morning TV for 11 years, but Kathie Lee Gifford got a rude wakeup call when she abdicated as 2000 and Regis had no problem at all crowning a soap star as his new sidekick.
REGIS PHILBIN, CO-HOST, ABC‘S “LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY”: Say hello to my new co-host, Kelly Ripa.
WALTER CRONKITE, FORMER ANCHOR, “CBS EVENING NEWS”: President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.
CARLSON: Once the most trusted man in television, Walter Cronkite took command of the Tiffany Network‘s anchor desk in 1962. But after two decades on the job, CBS decided it would “Rather” have this guy. Cronkite passed the baton with grace and self-restraint.
CRONKITE: I don‘t remember most of it.
CARLSON: And in tonight‘s No. 1 spot...
ED MCMAHON, FORMER ANNOUNCER, NBC‘S “THE TONIGHT SHOW”: Here‘s Johnny.
CARLSON: His longevity as the king of late night on NBC was unmatched only by his enormous popularity. But even Johnny Carson‘s 30-year desk job was expendable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
CARLSON: Fourteen years later, Jay Leno remains the No. 1 rated late night chat guy. But no one will ever top the master.
JAY LENO, HOST, NBC‘S “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”: Let‘s see how you all feel in 30 years.
CARLSON: We‘ll have more on Katie Couric‘s jump to CBS later in the show.
But meanwhile, for decades, politicians have argued about what to do about the millions of American who have no health insurance. Yesterday, the state of Massachusetts found an answer: force them to buy it. The Massachusetts legislator passed a bill that would require everyone in that state to buy health insurance or face punishment.
Naturally, the health insurance companies love the idea. Why wouldn‘t they? So do politicians, most of whom devote their lives to forcing you do things that you don‘t want to do.
Governor Mitt Romney, who is expected to sign the bill, explains the wisdom of the idea this way: “We make motorists buy a liability insurance. Why not make the public buy health insurance?”
Well, Governor, because for one thing, the two have nothing to do with each other. Liability insurance protects other drivers. Health insurance protects only you. And you can‘t make people protect themselves.
Once you do start forcing people to protect themselves in the name of the common good, where do you stop? Why not prevent people from eating unhealthy foods or from drinking more than one beer at a time or engaging in any sexual practices that might spread AIDS?
Laws like these would make us a much healthier nation. We‘d save billions in health care costs. Don‘t think politicians haven‘t thought about it. Don‘t think it couldn‘t happen, it could.
The truth is some people don‘t want to buy health insurance. And that may be stupid; it may be reckless, but if they‘re adults, it‘s their right. And it‘s a right that really matters, no matter what the politicians say.
Up next, don‘t book that trip to Florida just yet. Some people are actually passing up Disneyworld for Hugo Chavez‘ world. We‘ll tell you why when we come back.
CARLSON: Still to come, is Katie Couric really moving on to bigger and better things? We will speculate. Plus, a high school softball player sues her coach for $3 million because he called her an idiot. Was she? We will tell you the outcome of that case in just a minute.
But, first, here what else is going on tonight.
CARLSON: Welcome back.
When you think vacation, you probably think Cancun, Disney World, Rome. You probably don‘t think of impoverished socialist dictatorships in Latin America, unless, of course, you‘re a left-wing activist, in which case, Hugo Chavez‘s Venezuela might be exactly the kind of place you would like to spend spring break.
And, in that case, the Global Exchange tour company has a vacation package for you. Global Exchange sells tours of Venezuela to Americans who want to see Chavez‘s revolution up close.
Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of Global Exchange. She joins us tonight from San Francisco to explain.
Medea Benjamin, thanks a lot for coming on.
MEDEA BENJAMIN, CO-FOUNDER, GLOBAL EXCHANGE: Hey, thanks for having me on, Tucker.
CARLSON: Now, why would you want to go to Venezuela? I mean, why not North Korea, if you want to go to a dictatorship? What—what‘s the appeal of going to Venezuela?
BENJAMIN: Well, actually, if you want to go to North Korea, we‘re trying to set up trips there, too.
CARLSON: You know what? I was making fun of you. I‘m sorry, but, if I had known it was real...
BENJAMIN: We go all over the world. We go India, Vietnam, South Korea. We go to dozens of countries. So, we believe Americans should get out of the U.S. and see the world through other eyes.
CARLSON: Oh, I—I believe...
BENJAMIN: And Venezuela is...
CARLSON: I believe that, too.
BENJAMIN: ... one of the most popular destinations we have now.
CARLSON: Absolutely. And I have been to a lot of crummy dictatorships and—and enjoyed it and learned a lot. And I think Americans should, too. We are—we‘re in agreement.
But, on your Web site, you explain that this tour, these tours of Venezuela, have a purpose. And that‘s to see the socialist revolution in progress in Venezuela. And I guess I would submit to you that it—it has been a failure, and that your tours are, in effect, a way of supporting the strong man who reigns there, Hugo Chavez.
BENJAMIN: Well, we invite you to come on a tour and see for yourself.
We take people to see all viewpoints. We meet with peasants. We meet with workers. We meet with government people. We meet with opposition. We meet with people in the media who lambaste Hugo Chavez all the time. We want them to see for themselves, but we actually think that people go away thinking, this isn‘t the same thing we hear in the U.S. on the media. There‘s actually a lot of fascinating things and good things going on in Venezuela.
CARLSON: Well, sure. I mean, I—I believe that that‘s the impression people get. I was in Nicaragua in the mid-‘80s, when the Contra war was going on. And I remember vividly these sandal-clad activists from Berkeley and up and down the left coast showing up to worship at the feet of Daniel Ortega.
And they came away believing that was a socialist revolution, authentic, and that the people, you know, were behind it. And that turned out, of course, all to be a lie. Is there a kind of propaganda element to all this?
BENJAMIN: Well, we think that some of the programs of the Chavez government are wonderful programs. One-point-four million people have learned to read and write that didn‘t get a chance to before.
Hundreds of thousands of young people are in college that couldn‘t
afford it before. The oil company is going to be redistributed through the
population, unlike here, where it goes to ExxonMobil. So, we think it‘s a
a lot of positive programs. We think there‘s a lot of problems, just like every government.
But our purpose is really to let people see for themselves.
CARLSON: But wait. It‘s...
BENJAMIN: We encourage them to go out on the streets, talk to people they meet on the bus, talk to people walking around the street, get a viewpoint of everybody you can talk to.
CARLSON: I—and I think that‘s useful. And I—I have not been back to Venezuela since Chavez took power. And I would like to see it myself.
BENJAMIN: Good. Well, we have trips twice a month.
CARLSON: However, don‘t...
BENJAMIN: And we would love for you to come with us.
CARLSON: Don‘t you think—don‘t you think it‘s important, though to acknowledge that Chavez is a dictator, who, in some cases, has killed his opponents, has put them in prison? And this is not just the State Department‘s...
BENJAMIN: I don‘t know where you get that from.
CARLSON: Well, how about...
BENJAMIN: But Chavez was elected democratically.
CARLSON: For—for instance...
BENJAMIN: He has got an approval rating that is about twice George Bush.
BENJAMIN: He‘s the most popular leader in all of Latin America.
BENJAMIN: So, what you hear in the U.S. is very...
CARLSON: Well, that‘s because he‘s...
BENJAMIN: ... different than what you see when you go down there...
CARLSON: What do you—what do you think...
BENJAMIN: ... which is why we tell people to come.
CARLSON: What do you think about the fact—what do you think about the fact, Medea, that he has, in public, recently announced a kind of ideological kinship, relationship with Iran and is one of the very few world leaders supporting its nuclear program? What do you think of that?
BENJAMIN: Well, I don‘t support that policy.
But I‘m not taking people to say Chavez is 100 percent our man. I‘m taking them to say, look at this. And it‘s very different from what you hear. Look at the policy—the programs that are being implemented, see people that have never had a chance to have a small business before...
BENJAMIN: ... that now they‘re giving out loans to people.
CARLSON: But you know as well that the...
BENJAMIN: It‘s a fascinating...
CARLSON: I‘m sure it is.
But you know as well as I do that the thread that ties all these countries together—and I mean Zimbabwe and Cuba and now Venezuela—is, they all hate the United States. And that is the appeal to the international left. They hate the United States; therefore, there must be something good about them. That‘s why the left has defended Castro for almost 50 years. That‘s true, and you know it.
BENJAMIN: Well, we‘re a group that likes to go to countries that are doing something new and different to try to eliminate poverty, to try to give health care to people who don‘t have it. And Venezuela is one of the best examples.
We are also market-driven. Tucker, I think you would like that.
CARLSON: No, I‘m not—I‘m not—you know what?
BENJAMIN: And it‘s the people now who are coming to us who are saying: We want to go to Venezuela. Can you organize a trip for us?
CARLSON: Yes. I‘m not—you know, I‘m for the market. I think the market is a little oversold, personally. You know, I‘m not a reflexive a market defender. But, anyway, I appreciate your coming on, Medea.
CARLSON: Thanks very much.
BENJAMIN: ... thank you. And we would love to have you join us on one of the trips.
CARLSON: I wish I had time. Sadly, I don‘t. But thanks.
We turn now to a man who actually honeymooned on the Hugo Chavez tour of Venezuela a couple years ago. He‘s the outsider, ESPN Radio and HBO boxing host, Max Kellerman.
How was Caracas, Max?
MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: As someone from the left, let me just tell you the problem with the left, Tucker.
KELLERMAN: They‘re suspicious of power, which means, automatically, if you‘re powerful, in the left‘s—from many in the left‘s point of view, you‘re bad. You must be bad. And, if you‘re weak, you must be good.
CARLSON: That‘s not true.
KELLERMAN: And there you go.
CARLSON: Hugo Chavez is the most powerful man in Venezuela.
KELLERMAN: But not...
CARLSON: Robert Mugabe is the most powerful man in Zimbabwe, Castro in Cuba. They‘re not suspicious of those guys.
KELLERMAN: In—in—in—in the...
CARLSON: They love dictators, as long as they hate the U.S.
KELLERMAN: In the Third World. But relative to First World powers, they‘re still weak. But they can be strong from the weaker point of view.
KELLERMAN: They like that very much.
CARLSON: No, it‘s all about hating us, in my view.
Anyway, on to happier news, Katie Couric‘s big announcement this morning—it has raised many questions. Among them, is she making the right move? In leaving “The Today Show,” Couric walks away from a place where she has succeeded for 15 years and dominated for more than 10. She could likely have kept that job for a long time. Instead, she‘s going now to CBS, where she has already received a chilly reception from resident curmudgeon Andy Rooney.
He said today he‘s not excited about her move, not enthusiastic about having her come.
So, is she better off at CBS than she was at NBC? That is the question.
I personally think she is making the right move. Max will argue, she would have been smart to stay put right here at NBC.
Max, look, she did it at NBC. She succeeded. Whatever one thinks of Katie Couric, she won. So, at this point, where is there to go from here?
KELLERMAN: Well, let me just say, first of all, Andy Rooney was exposed by Sacha Baron Cohen Ali G. I mean, you know, so, Andy Rooney—
Rooney saying he doesn‘t want her there, probably, you know, it‘s a good thing for her.
She‘s nearly 50 years old, Tucker. Right now, she has—she is—she is—she is a mother of two, a single mother of two. And, right now, she‘s done with her job by 10:00 a.m., doing nice soft stories.
KELLERMAN: She‘s back in the house before noon, Tucker, makeup off and everything.
I mean, you know, she—her day is done. And she has done a few things, a cooking segment, maybe. Now—now her job is going be to be sent—when a real story breaks halfway around the world, to be sent to that often dangerous place, this single mother of two. Which sounds the better job to you?
CARLSON: You have to be kidding. I mean, look, say what you want about morning TV—very, very hard. You have no life at night. You do three hours—on “The Today Show,” they do three full hours, right?
And then they have to go work much later into the day. Then you go home, you know, go to bed at 8:00 at night and get up and do the whole thing again. Anchoring, by contrast, you know, reading copy most of the time—not so hard.
KELLERMAN: You got two kids—you got two kids at home. Where are you going at night?
You know, it‘s the old Chris Rock line, when he says he—he saw the woman at the club at 2:00 in the morning. He goes, is it your birthday? Did you get a raise? I mean, where—where are these people going at night?
KELLERMAN: Eight o‘clock is a good time for her to be in bed.
She has got two kids.
CARLSON: You‘re—you‘re a real family man, Max.
CARLSON: I appreciate that.
KELLERMAN: You‘re forcing me to be one.
CARLSON: The time-honored tradition of coaches yelling at their players is safe tonight, thanks to the ruling of a judge in California.
The junior university softball coach at Arcadia High School was sued by the father of one of his players for $3 million. The angry dad said the coach caused emotional distress by calling his daughter—quote—“a 2-year-old” and an “idiot.” The judge said there was nothing wrong with a coach—quote—“pushing an athlete to excel, and, in doing so, using words that would be considered rude, demeaning, even intimidating.”
I‘m with the judge on this one. No amount of name-calling is worth $3 million. Max, on the other hand, thinks suing a J.V. softball coach is a nice way to raise capital.
CARLSON: Look, you hurting my feelings does not entitle me to money, ever, in my view.
KELLERMAN: Well, this is the—the court‘s ruling was calling a student a 2-year-old is insufficient to constitute a tort in a teacher-student relationship.
Really? He also was called an idiot—this 14-year-old girl was called an idiot. If your math teacher called you a 2-year-old or an idiot, do you people would sit still for that? No.
Why is it OK?
CARLSON: Well, I don‘t. It depends.
KELLERMAN: Why is it OK to do it? Why is the J.V. softball coach able to do it?
CARLSON: First of all, never exclude the possibility that the descriptions fit. I know nothing about this girl. Maybe she is not an idiot. Maybe she wasn‘t acting like a 2-year-old. On the other hand...
KELLERMAN: That makes it worse, Tucker.
CARLSON: ... maybe she was.
KELLERMAN: That makes it worse, not better. If it‘s an accurate description, it‘s more devastating to the kid.
CARLSON: OK. It may be—may be devastating when someone is mean to you. It hurts your feelings. But, again, that does not entitle you to monetary damages. You have the right to hurt other people‘s feelings. It‘s called speech, as in freedom of.
KELLERMAN: No, but not when it‘s an authority figure in a school environment, who is in a position where they‘re supposed to be teaching.
Listen, we‘re always mad at these, you know, little league coaches because they‘re taking it too seriously. This is junior varsity girls softball.
KELLERMAN: Not exactly “Friday Night Lights” or “Remember the Titans” here, Tucker.
KELLERMAN: This is not high-stakes, you know, athletics. This is—this is an—an environment where you want to send your daughter, so she can be in a good—you know, learn about competition and teamwork and everything else, and have some fun, and play some softball..
CARLSON: Well, I mean, you make a good point.
KELLERMAN: ... not be humiliated.
CARLSON: You make a good point. I think a lot of these coaches need years of intensive group therapy, clearly.
But they shouldn‘t have to pay the people they yell at, bottom line. You should be free to be rude, Max, without being indebted to the person to whom you‘re being rude. That—that‘s a principle I‘m willing to stand up for.
KELLERMAN: I‘m trying to think of something rude to say, but none comes to mind.
CARLSON: Thank you, Max.
KELLERMAN: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Max Kellerman.
Coming up on THE SITUATION: If you think Congress is flushing your tax dollars down the toilet, you are right, literally. We will bring the most outrageous government spending you have ever heard of when we come back in mere moments.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coming up: Do you work hard all day so your taxes can go to toilet research and teapot museums? Like it or not, the answer is yes.
CARLSON: Your tax dollars hard work—when THE SITUATION comes back, in 60 seconds.
CARLSON: Welcome back.
If you get angry every time you look at your paycheck and see how much is taken out in taxes—and you should—you are not going to be pleased to hear where some of your hard-earned money ends up, unless, of course, you want your taxes going to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington. And maybe you do.
Tom Schatz is the president of Citizens Against Government Waste and one of the authors of the annual “Congressional Pig Book.” The latest edition came out today.
Mr. Schatz joins me from Washington tonight with this year‘s most egregious examples of pork-barrel spending.
Tom Schatz, welcome.
TOM SCHATZ, PRESIDENT, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE: Thank you very much.
CARLSON: The Flushing Our Money Down the Toilet Award, which you have given out this year, goes to Representative Vern Ehlers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for $1 million the Waterfree Urinal Conservation Initiative.
Now, I know that can‘t be real. I know you made that up.
SCHATZ: No. We don‘t make this up.
In this case, it‘s $1 million in the defense bill, of all places. Some military facilities have these water-free urinals, but that‘s their choice. The Pentagon didn‘t ask for this money. And that‘s one of the criteria to determine whether an item ends up in the “Congressional Pig Book.” This one, we thought, deserved its own Oinker Award.
CARLSON: So, it‘s an initiative, though. It‘s not just a urinal.
SCHATZ: That‘s right.
CARLSON: It‘s a urinal initiative.
SCHATZ: That‘s right.
CARLSON: What is the distinction there?
SCHATZ: I think it‘s meant to interest other military facilities in these types of urinals.
And it just so happens, by the way—no surprise, I‘m sure, to anyone who‘s watching—that Congressmen Ehlers has a company in his district that makes these water-free urinals.
CARLSON: Not a surprise. I like Mr. Ehlers, actually, but that‘s not a surprise.
Won‘t a slit trench do? I mean, we have to have high-tech urinals now? I mean, come on.
CARLSON: The Mooing—Mooing Our Money Award you give to Tom Harkin, senator from Iowa, $250,000 for the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo, Iowa. What in the world is that?
SCHATZ: A lot of the things we found turned out to be even more outrageous once you look at them.
They have a—a program, or I should say, as part of their fair, a cattle cage combat contest. I don‘t make this up. You can go to the Web site. And they have a Wild West bear show. This is obviously a local fair. You add the word national and people think it‘s important. But everyone has some kind of cattle or livestock fair in their state. There‘s no reason the federal government should be supporting them.
CARLSON: That‘s a very solid point. I would pay nine bucks to see it, but I think we need 250,000.
SCHATZ: They charge $7, by the way. So...
CARLSON: Seven. OK. Good.
CARLSON: The Tempest in a Teapot Award, you give it to the Sparta Teapot Museum Initiative. That‘s in Sparta, North Carolina.
They took $500,000 in federal dollars. What is it, the Teapot Museum?
SCHATZ: Some local folks thought this would be a great way to get tourists into this small community, which is 77 miles outside from Winston Salem, to give you an idea of how out of the way it is.
We are calling it the museum in the middle of nowhere, in fact. There‘s about 1,100 people in the town. They expect 60,000 visitors. But even the local representative and senator think it‘s what they call a crap shoot. So, we‘re just gambling our money away here.
CARLSON: Sixty thousand visitors to a teapot museum? I mean, not to be mean, but that—that—that seems hopeful.
SCHATZ: At least, yes.
CARLSON: Yes, at least.
Ted Stevens, Republican senator of Alaska, really always at the top of these lists, he gets the Cold Shoulder Award this year for $325 million he brought home to Alaska, including half-a-million for the Arctic Winter Games.
What are those?
SCHATZ: This is another defense item. And...
CARLSON: Oh, it is?
SCHATZ: It is, in defense.
And Senator Stevens is chairman of the Defense Subcommittee. He‘s not chairman of the full committee, but he still brought home the most pork per capita.
The Arctic Winter Games is exactly what it sounds like, a sport competition, a circumpolar sporting competition, I might add, for only northern and Arctic athletes—not clear how they‘re being trained to defend the country, though.
Doesn‘t anybody say anything? When $500,000 winds up in a defense appropriation bill for the Arctic Winter Games, I mean, doesn‘t somebody—doesn‘t a bell go off, and somebody says, you know, we probably shouldn‘t do this, because Tom Schatz is going to embarrass us, for one thing, and, second, it‘s wrong?
SCHATZ: They do say things.
But, unfortunately, the way the system works now, they don‘t know about them until after the fact. A lot of these projects are added in conference. They can‘t amend these conference reports. But Senators McCain and Coburn and Congressman Flake and others are working on earmark reform legislation to try to bring more transparency and accountability, so we can cut these projects out before they end up being stuffed in at the last minute.
CARLSON: That‘s right. Earmark reform, it sounds so boring. Not one in 1,000 Americans, I think, has any idea what it is. But it‘s important, because it prevents the Sparta Teapot Museum getting a half-a-million dollars of your money.
Tom Schatz, president, Citizens Against Government Waste, thanks a lot for doing this and for coming on.
SCHATZ: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Still ahead tonight, if Eminem is in the news, you can be pretty certain the news is not good. We will tell you why the rap star is back in his home away from home, a courtroom, when we visit “The Cutting Room Floor.”
And, don‘t forget, THE SITUATION voice mail is back tomorrow night. Give us a call—the number, 1-877-TCARLSON. And you just might hear your call on the air. Be creative.
We will be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Time for “The Cutting Room Floor.”
And, for that, Mr. Pork Barrel Spending himself, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER: I‘m glad you brought it up, Tucker.
CARLSON: oh, yes.
GEIST: I took exception to the guest. There‘s no greater cause than water-free urinals right now.
CARLSON: I—I agree with that.
GEIST: And I‘m glad Congressman Ehlers had the courage to step up and finally do something about it.
CARLSON: He‘s such a nice guy, I have to say.
GEIST: It has been bugging me for years.
CARLSON: I visited him in his district one time in Grand Rapids.
GEIST: Loves urinals.
CARLSON: Didn‘t know that.
When you put out records with songs about torturing your wife, it tends to take a toll on the old marriage.
CARLSON: Eminem has learned that again. The rap star filed for divorce in Michigan today for a second time from the same woman. Eminem and his wife, Kim, were first divorced in 2001. They reconciled and were remarried just three months ago.
An attorney for Kim says the divorce papers came as a complete surprise to her.
GEIST: Tucker, I remember a little love song he wrote to Kim. And it was something about he had her tied up in the trunk, and he...
GEIST: He drank a fifth of vodka and drove off of a bridge.
It‘s a little sweet dilly. And with old-fashioned romance like that, I don‘t see where those kids went wrong.
CARLSON: Is that how he wooed her? Yes, it‘s...
GEIST: That‘s how he wooed her.
CARLSON: Almost like a Hallmark card.
GEIST: He‘s a sweetheart.
CARLSON: Kind of treacly.
GEIST: Yes. Oh, yes.
CARLSON: Car chases are a dime a dozen in L.A. In fact, it‘s the—it‘s the industry there.
But this one is pretty exceptional. Police pursued a stolen BMW and its very determined driver on the busy streets of L.A. today. The cops thought they had the man cornered several times. But he made a series of daring escape attempts, before finally getting boxed in. The perp tried to get out and run, but was swarmed and tackled by what appears to be the entire LAPD.
GEIST: I think that guy just auditioned to be a stunt driver.
CARLSON: I totally agree.
GEIST: He is good. Look at him.
Now, I want you to watch what happens here. If you‘re going to commit a crime in L.A., do it right now, because every cop on the force is out there. Do you think they have enough force on this guy? Look at this. Look at that swarm.
GEIST: It‘s like the Raiders swarming a ball carrier.
CARLSON: You know, and they know they‘re being watched. And they are just pounding him anyway.
GEIST: They don‘t care out there.
CARLSON: They don‘t care. They don‘t care.
CARLSON: Neither does anybody else.
CARLSON: Apparently, our invitations to England‘s wedding of the year were lost in the international mail.
Roberto, who was once officially the biggest rabbit in the world, was married in a ceremony that guests called creepy and awkward.
CARLSON: The 6‘3“-tall (sic) bunny put on a bowler hat and tied the
knot with his new bride. A British animal rights group called the ceremony
GEIST: And human rights groups believe the guests in attendance belittled themselves by being there, don‘t you think?
CARLSON: Honestly, I would go.
GEIST: No, you would not.
CARLSON: Yes, I would. I absolutely would. If you invited me to the wedding...
GEIST: What would compel you to go?
CARLSON: ... of the world‘s largest rabbit, I would absolutely go.
GEIST: Formerly. And you also said the rabbit was 6‘3“. It was actually 3‘6“.
CARLSON: Well, you know, a little hyperbole does sneak into the text occasionally.
GEIST: I‘m 6‘3“. That‘s a big rabbit.
CARLSON: Close, though, still freakishly large, if you ask me.
GEIST: Sell the story. Good job.
CARLSON: But I would go. I would rather go to this than Elton John‘s wedding.
GEIST: Oh. Oh, yes.
GEIST: Better entertainment.
CARLSON: Should a man who owns a bunch of strip joints sit on a local school board? Well, the voters of Mehlville, Missouri, say, oh, yes.
Michael Ocello, who is the COO of a company that owns strip clubs across the country, has been elected to the Mehlville School Board. Ocello‘s connection to adult entertainment was the source of some controversy during the election, but, ultimately, voters decided they wanted the strip joint guy to make the decisions for their children.
And who wouldn‘t, really?
GEIST: I—I totally agree. People are so dumb and knee-jerk.
What are they—do they think he is going to, like, put poles in the cafeteria at the middle school? He‘s a reputable guy. He‘s a businessman. Who cares? Put him on the school board. And, as a matter of fact, school board meetings, you ever...
GEIST: Have you ever been to a PTA meeting? It‘s a little boring. You might spice them up and have some fund with it. Come on. Open your minds.
CARLSON: Pay the—pay the teachers in dollar bills?
GEIST: Exactly. That‘s all he carries.
CARLSON: I don‘t know. I still think it—it just—it gives you the feeling that maybe the town is a little out of control.
GEIST: Fine. If it‘s going be out of control, I don‘t want to be in control.
GEIST: Strippers—strippers at the PTA meetings.
CARLSON: Thank you, Willie .
That‘s it for us tonight. Thank you for watching. We will see you back here tomorrow.
Have a great night.
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