Guests: Ray Flynn, Brad Lakeman, Donald Downs
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST: Thanks and welcome. I‘m Tucker Carlson, taking over the time slot recently vacated by Dan Abrams‘ program about justice. This is a program about injustice. On the left, on the right. Anywhere we find it. No secret agendas on this show. I‘ll always tell you exactly what I think everyday no matter what. That‘s our one promise.
Coming up, does academic freedom include the right to indoctrinate your students with lies, and to do it at taxpayer expense? A Wisconsin University professor accuses the American government of killing 3,000 Americans on 9/11. The university responds by letting him teach a course on, of all things, Islam. More than that in a minute. We‘ll talk to someone who defends it.
Also ahead, are you ready for the World Trade Center tragedy as a big screen blockbuster movie? One Hollywood director is betting you‘ll get in line to see it but is America ready for September 11th as entertainment?
Plus, Nancy Grace on Headline News. She can talk and talk and talk, but what happens when other people try to dare speak in her presence? We have got the ugly results on tape coming up in just a minute.
But first it‘s a story you would think couldn‘t get any worse and yet it does get worse and today it got much worse. An al Qaeda group has released a stomach-turning video showing the mutilated bodies of two American soldiers. The pair was tortured and killed in Iraq last month. This is not the first time Iraqi insurgents have desecrated the bodies of Americans and it won‘t be the last time.
Polls show many in that country sympathize with those who kill us. The truth is many ordinary Iraqis hate us and they want us gone from their country. So why are we spending billions of dollars to improve their country?
Joining me now to answer that question, among others, Brad Blakeman, he is a former deputy assistant to the president, President Bush. Brad Blakeman, thanks a lot for coming on.
BRAD BLAKEMAN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BUSH: A pleasure.
CARLSON: Let‘s first just stipulate what you and I both know and doubtless our viewers do, too. This tape was released supposedly in response to the allegations of rape and murder against American soldiers. They clearly are not related, this is just an attempt to issue propaganda from the insurgency in Iraq. So nothing we say going forward I think should in any way lend credibility to this tape because it is, again, just a propaganda vehicle. Do you agree with that?
BLAKEMAN: I agree. Absolutely. And if anything this tape shows the depravity of the enemy that we face. They have no rules, they have no morality, and they kill for sport. They hate us, and will go to any length to be brutal against our soldiers and their own people.
CARLSON: You‘re exactly right. Now, Brad .
BLAKEMAN: And they have to be stopped.
CARLSON: You‘re totally right. Now I want you to look at the tape—we‘re watching a tape now of people shouting in the street. Supporting the cause of the insurgency. Now, there in a street, they‘re in the middle of a public thoroughfare. Nobody is contesting them, no fellow Iraqis are firing on them, as they never do. The point is the insurgency, as horrible as it is, as horrible as you just said it was, has to some extent popular support. And that‘s the problem.
BLAKEMAN: Look, there‘s no question that the insurgency has support in Iraq. That‘s a fact. What is not true is that its popular support within the country. That‘s not true. Look at the Kurds up north. It‘s a peaceful north. There are pockets of insurgents, of course. There are a million bad guys put out of work when Saddam left, so of course there is nothing they‘d like better to get back in power. So of course there is going to be pockets. But the vast majority of Iraqis - you saw it by 12 million people going to the polls, want a safe and democratic and free Iraq.
CARLSON: That doesn‘t mean they like us, Brad. See this is the distinction I think is lost on the geniuses running our foreign policy over at the White House. Simply because people say they want democracy, it‘s not clear, A, that they understand what democracy is, understand there is ramifications or B, that they like America or its program. Or they don‘t want to kill Americans.
In fact, every poll I have seen, and we discussed this the other day on this show, indicates that Iraqis are sympathetic to those who kill Americans, because, guess what? They hate us.
BLAKEMAN: The vast majority of Iraqis do not hate us. I coined a term, we‘ve become momentarians in this country. We live for the moment. That‘s not what makes America great. That‘s not what makes our society free and a peaceful world. We have to look to the future and that‘s what George W. Bush is doing.
CARLSON: Wait a second, momentarians - wait a minute. Who is the momentarian. Who looked at 9/11 and said, oh, a new world order. Who sort of forgot the several millennia of history that preceded 9/11? Millennia in which the people of Iraq lived without democracy in a tribal society that was hostile to outside influence and had almost nothing in common with the West? All of the sudden that was forgotten, as you put it, in a moment. The White House totally forgot about all that. History didn‘t exist. All of the sudden we‘re in a new age, a new world. The people want democracy, they want it really, really bad, but they didn‘t and they don‘t and it‘s time to face reality on this one.
BLAKEMAN: No. There are people who want instant gratification. They want instant results. And democracy is not a switch you turn on. It‘s something that people fight for. And that people go to the polls for.
CARLSON: No. It is something that grows out of a civil society, it grows out of a culture that‘s ready for it.
BLAKEMAN: That‘s what society is about .
CARLSON: That‘s ready for democracy. In what as soon as is this a society ready for democracy?
BLAKEMAN: Were the Japanese ready for democracy after the war? No. We were there a very long time establishing a democracy with them and now they stand with us shoulder to shoulder at one of our greatest allies.
CARLSON: Let me put it this way. When Macarthur landed in mainland Japan after Nagasaki, OK, and Hiroshima, he could walk the length of Tokyo and not be murdered, right, because that country was in control, at the most basic level. There were not mobs of people running around abducting fellow citizens for ransom, murdering strangers, raping women without cause. That just wasn‘t the case. It was a society beaten, and therefore under control. That is not Iraq right now.
BLAKEMAN: We face a different enemy today. We face a much different enemy than we‘ve ever faced. They don‘t wear uniforms, they have no sense of norms, no sense of international law. And that‘s why it‘s important to say the course. The Iraqi people went to the polls three times. There‘s an established government. Let‘s give them a chance.
CARLSON: All right. Look, Brad, I‘ll by half of that. I‘, not saying we should pull out now. Here‘s the part I‘m contesting. The hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars we have spent so far on humanitarian aid and the billions more we have pledged.
Consider Israel, 1982, Israel senses a threat, believes it has a threat from Lebanon, it invades Lebanon and stays there for about 20 years. Does Israel justify its invasion of Lebanon on the grounds it wants to help the Lebanese? No. It did it to preserve its own security. Good for Israel. The point is we‘re in Iraq to keep ourselves safe not to make the Iraqis Switzerland or prosperous or democratic. Right? We‘re doing it for our benefit, not theirs.
Let‘s stop pretending.
BLAKEMAN: Of course there‘s a selfish interest there.
CARLSON: There ought to be.
BLAKEMAN: Of course there should be.
But our interest is not solely selfish, our interest is in the interest of our allies and the region and the world. Of course we have a selfish interest there. We wouldn‘t be there. But it‘s in everybody‘s best interest to have a safe and peaceful and democratic in their own democratic way, Iraq. And look, let‘s give them some time.
CARLSON: OK. But in the meantime .
BLAKEMAN: Let‘s give them some time to get on their feet.
CARLSON: I‘m all for that. I‘m for giving people time. I‘m not a momentarian. I‘m a long range guy. I meet all the criteria you just put up. Here‘s the one problem, Brad. They kill you if you walk down the street in Iraq and you happen to be American. They hate us. That is the one fact, the pretty inconvenient fact, that you and the other geniuses there seem to be ignoring. They don‘t deserve our aid.
BLAKEMAN: They don‘t hate us. What we tend to focus on in this country is .
CARLSON: They sure seem to, Brad.
BLAKEMAN: . is the bad news. There‘s a lot of good news there the basic news is look what they‘ve established in two years.
CARLSON: How far could you walk in Baghdad? So you leave central—you believe the Green Zone and you walk across the river bridge and you‘re in downtown Baghdad, how far do you think you can walk without being killed, since they like us?
I‘m just wondering how far .
BLAKEMAN: I have friends there right now and they tell me that they go out for dinner, that they walk the streets, and they get out of the green zone.
CARLSON: Outside the green zone?
BLAKEMAN: Yeah. Yeah, they do.
CARLSON: I wasn‘t able to do that when I was there and it wasn‘t that long ago, but it‘s worse now.
BLAKEMAN: Maybe they know who you are.
CARLSON: Here‘s the deal, you do that, you walk across downtown Baghdad, I‘ll give you a mile outside the Green Zone, I‘ll give you $1,000, if you don‘t die and if you do die, obviously we‘ll do an obit piece on the show about you. But you know and I know you‘re not going to take me up on that because it‘s not possible. Why? Because they hate us to the extent, they see you, fair haired, handsome Brad Lakeman, oh American, pow, and they kill you. You know that‘s the case. That‘s why these people don‘t deserve our aid.
BLAKEMAN: That‘s not true. And don‘t paint all the Iraqis with that broad brush. It‘s just plain wrong. There are a lot of friends of mine over there now, that say the only thing that makes the news back home is bad news out of Iraq. And there are insurgents and they‘ve got to be stopped and we are going to stop them and eventually Iraq will be handed over at a time and place of our choosing, our allies and the Iraqis.
CARLSON: Well, I think they behave like primitive, uncivilized people who hate us. But maybe I‘m missing something.
Brad Blakeman, thanks for joining us. And good luck in your stroll through Baghdad. Still to come, the Pentagon agrees to rights for terror detainees. Another setback for the White House or is it the beginning of the end for Gitmo? Plus, Cynthia McKinney, the congresswoman from Georgia finds a new way to make headlines, but not showing up.
We‘ll tell you why she was a no show for TV debates. That‘s coming up.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Here‘s a jeopardy stumper. What does it take to qualify to teach at an American university? Well, an instructor at the University of the Wisconsin Madison who believes and teaches that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks—orchestrated them and planned them. Well, far from being penalized, Kevin Barrett has been rewarded by the university with a class on Islam. That‘s right, here‘s what Barrett said in a recent radio interview.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KEVIN BARRETT, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON: There is this official conspiracy theory that it was done by Osama and 19 young Arabs. That is a bunch of losers who couldn‘t even fly planes.
The alternative theory is that they must have at least had some inside help and more likely that the whole thing was an inside job from start to finish.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
CARLSON: Joining me now from Madison, Wisconsin, a colleague who defends Barrett‘s class. Donald Downs is a professor of political science, law and journalism at the University of Wisconsin. He‘s also director of the university‘s legal studies program.
Mr. Downs, thanks for coming on.
PROF. DONALD DOWNS, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN AT MADISON: Hello, Tucker, how are you?
CARLSON: I‘m great.
A little dismayed, though, by the cowardly press release from your university today. This is what your provost, Patrick Farrell said about Mr. Barrett. He said, “There‘s no question that Mr. Barrett holds personal opinions that many people find unconventional.” Unconventional. This creep is alleging in public that the U.S. government killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11 and blamed it on the Arabs and that‘s an unconventional view? That‘s a sick view.
DOWNS: Let me start by saying, Tucker, I don‘t defend his course at all. That‘s a question of his views. What I‘m concerned about is the academic freedom issue that‘s posed by, after a contract that‘s been signed, for him to teach this course, then the state government gets involved and there‘s political pressure to get him fired from that position for this one term.
CARLSON: Academic freedom.
DOWNS: That does raise a question of academic freedom in terms of the university being pressured from the outside. I don‘t like to set a precedent where a politician who doesn‘t like what a professor has to stay the can call for this kind of inquiry.
CARLSON: Wait a second. I understand. I‘ve heard that argument a thousand times. But that arguments presumes the only players in this equation are politicians and university teachers—professors, instructors. But in fact, there are also students and taxpayers.
Let me put it this way. If I hired a plumber to come plumb by house, and I signed the contract, and he shows up and it turns out he knows nothing about plumbing or he is an active schizophrenic off his meds, I think I can violate that contract because he‘s violated it. He‘s not a good plumber. This guy‘s not a good professor.
DOWNS: Correct. The university looked in to the course, looked at the syllabus, interviewed him, some other people, apparently. They also looked at his previous course reviews and apparently he‘s come across as a decent enough teacher. That means can we fire him from this one position, for this one semester, because of the content of his views?
That‘s a different question from the one you‘re posing.
CARLSON: But hold on. It‘s not a question of blacklisting this guy because he‘s saying things that are politically unpopular. It‘s a question of firing him for teaching things that are provably untrue, and therefore he is violating the implicit contract a professor has with his students. Tell me things that are true. He is not giving theories about things that might have been, he says things that we know for a fact are lies.
DOWNS: What we have here is a species of conspiracy theory. Barrett says he‘s a 9/11 revisionist. OK. Maybe he is. But he has a conspiracy theory that‘s the basis of his revisionist views.
And I think the conspiracy theories are taught in various courses around the country, for example, about the Kennedy assassination, Robert Blakey (ph) of the University of Notre Dame Law School does a really responsible job of that, because he approaches it in a very intellect fashion. The question in Barrett‘s case is whether he does that.
CARLSON: He doesn‘t. And I was just on his Web site .
DOWNS: And that‘s an empirical investigation.
CARLSON: If you spent time on his Web site, you would know for a fact - “If non-Muslims persist in allowing the 9/11 big lie to stand in the teeth of overwhelming evidence, Muslims will be tempted to find something other than words with which to defend themselves.”
Here he is justifying violence on the part of Muslims against people who say 911 was committed by Muslims. That‘s not only insane, it‘s destructive—let me ask you this, if a professor got up and said I‘m here to teach history and I believe that black people are subhuman, what you say, that‘s an unpopular view, maybe even controversial, but we‘re going to allow it? You‘d say, no, out of here, pal.
DOWNS: Back in the 1990s, I‘m part of the movement on campus with a lot of conservatives, including myself, who defended academic freedom against the attacks from the politically correct left.
DOWNS: And in many cases we went through that scenario, we argued whether a professor would be protected, and we said yes, indeed, if those were honestly held beliefs and the person did a basically responsible job teaching in the classroom. Now we have a whole different issue coming from an entirely different political direction. In order to be principled on that you have to apply the same set of standards.
CARLSON: Maybe those standards need to be re-examined. Answer this. And I understand your point. You clearly are taking the stand on principle. You‘re a conservative. I‘m sure you find this guy‘s views repugnant.
DOWNS: I certainly don‘t agree with them.
CARLSON: So in one sense, good for you. But consider this, I pay if I‘m a Wisconsin taxpayer—even as a federal taxpayer, I pay this guy‘s salary. Don‘t I have a say in this? Just because he‘s a professor, he‘s somehow .
DOWNS: He‘s not a professor, he‘s a lecturer.
CARLSON: He‘s a lecturer. Because he works at a college or university, he‘s immune from political pressure? There should be political pressure on public employees.
DOWNS: He‘s not immune to counter-positions. He‘s not immune to being criticized for these views, very vehemently. The fact of the matter is the state of Wisconsin and taxpayers set up the University of Wisconsin system, Madison is the flagship institution, and we have been set up in order to promote academic disciplines as well as academic freedom and the clash of ideas. That is our state charter, which ultimately stems from the people of Wisconsin. If the people of Wisconsin want to change that, so they would have more control of what goes on in the classroom, they have that power, when all is said and done.
It would be a disaster for the university, though.
CARLSON: Wait a second. You all have responsibility, too, and one is to marshal facts in support of your theories. And if a guy gets up there and say, the theory of gravity is a crock, actually, it‘s not a law, it‘s a theory, and it‘s wrong, it doesn‘t apply, you would say OK, show me the evidence. And I don‘t have any, but that‘s my theory, and you would say you‘re not qualified to teach science. Fair?
DOWNS: The question is whether or not downtown line the university would maintain the relationship, that would be a judgment they would have to make on the merits of the case. But to fire a professor from teaching because of these particular views, really takes us down a very slippery slope.
CARLSON: How about—Let‘s just start by calling it more than, quote, “unconventional.” Maybe they could just call it repulsive or repugnant. We‘re standing up for academic freedom. I wish they weren‘t such wusses. And I‘m sure you feel the same way.
Anyway, Mr. Downs, thanks for coming on. I appreciate it.
CARLSON: Still to come. Our border with Mexico is drowning in garbage, tons of it, left behind by illegal aliens. Why do environmentalists blame the Bush administration?
Plus, Nancy Grace meets Geraldo Rivera. It‘s a battle of the two television titans. See who comes out on top in our “Beat the Press” segment. That‘s just ahead.
CARLSON: Welcome back. It‘s time for “Beat the Press.” A segment that‘s exactly what it sounds like. First up, over on Headline News Nancy Grace is keeping close watch on the trial of a creep named John Couey. Not surprisingly, Grace is upset about the way the trial is going and she wants to talk about it. And talk and talk and talk. Here‘s what happens when one of her so-called guests foolishly attempts to add his voice to the monologue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY GRACE, CNN HN HOST: We can all sit around and twirl our thumbs and go what a tragedy, but this judge, Howard, had the ability, Allan Rivka (ph) to do something about it. And let this jury know about the similar transaction. Listen, Allan, I‘m onboard with the judge disallowing this guy‘s confession. P.S., have you seen the confession? It‘s disgusting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Nancy .
GRACE: I did that. I know why it‘s ruled out, but why can‘t it jury know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: On Nancy Grace‘s show, all the questions are rhetorical. In the end, Allan got exactly who words in, before he was bulldozed by the human Zamboni of Nancy Grace. My question, though, if you‘re Allan, and you‘re contribution has consisted of two words, at which point you‘re interrupted, when you go home at night, does your wife say, Allan, I‘m really proud of what you did on Nancy Grace‘s show today? Probably not.
Next up, reality shows are all the rage these days. What about reality trips? Anybody watching “Fox and Friends” this morning learned about an adventure available to people wondering just what it‘s like to be an illegal immigrant. But that‘s not all. Viewers learned a little something about the demographics of landscaping in America.
Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This program, which is organized by an outfit called Global Exchange, it‘s called Mexico Beyond the Borders, Health, Labor and Environment, you can find out what it‘s like to be an illegal alien.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They also said they‘re going to show you the issues that bring people to sneak you across the border, they‘ll show you harsh working conditions, they‘ll show you the environmental degradation. You can also go to Colombia and learn all about the drug trade there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or go outside and ask how your landscaper how they got here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My landscaping is an American.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think so?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Now, there‘s been a long debate in this country over what the biggest lie is. Could it be the check is in the mail? It‘s me, really? No. The biggest lie ever told, my landscaper is an American. No, I‘m afraid your landscaper is not an American. No landscapers are American. This we know. Sorry. I had to bring that to your attention.
And finally, Geraldo Rivera, he‘s the iron man of television. Remember when a guest threw a chair at him during a fight on the 1980s talk show he had? His nose still looks broken, but just when you thought he couldn‘t get any tougher, he has an interview with a Tommy “Horsehead” Scafivi (ph). Scafivi revealed that the Philadelphia mob once had a hit out on the talk show host.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALDO RIVERA, TV PERSONALITY: Don‘t you think I have a right to be really angry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
RIVERA: Now you tell me these guys want to kill me, I should be looking to hurt somebody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, the best way you can hurt somebody, Geraldo, you do what you‘re doing, your job. I don‘t know if you‘re a tough guy, I don‘t know if you would get a gun and blow somebody‘s head of.
RIVERA: Can I speak with you .
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here.
RIVERA: Can I speak with you just for a minute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t think you are, but .
RIVERA: Maybe I can put a camera in their nose.
I don‘t mean to be disrespectful, I just need two minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get outta here.
RIVERA: Won‘t you talk to me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Geraldo, so tough even the mob is afraid of him. The quote of the week, “Geraldo, the best way to hurt people is do what you‘re doing, your show.”
So the mafia has drive-by shootings and concrete shoes. Geraldo has an incredibly annoying interview technique. You tell me which is scarier.
Still to come, are you ready for a summer blockbuster based on the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center? Or that tragedy too fresh for the big screen. Plus one of the Duke lacrosse player accuses of raping a stripper was convicted in a separate case. Wait until you hear the other ridiculous crimes he‘s wrapped up in. We‘ll tell you when we come right back.
CARLSON: Still to come, we get our first glimpse of Olive Stone‘s upcoming film about 9/11. So what‘s the conspiracy this time?
While Cynthia McKinney is a no-show at two televised debates, what was the cop-fighting congresswoman‘s excuse? We‘ll tell you in mere moments. But right now, here‘s a look at your headlines.
(STOCK MARKET UPDATE)
CARLSON: Time now for a quick look at the people and stories making news today. On second thought, the White House has announced that prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay and in military prisons around the world are, in fact, entitled to protection under the Geneva Convention.
The Bush administration had previously claimed those inmates were not prisoners of war and therefore not entitled to things like trials. Well, good, because at this point, those prisoners are being used as propaganda tools by people who hate the United States.
They are each one a little Mumia Abu Jamal, right? A little symbol of American imperialism for the international left. Let them be convicted in a normal court and sent away to some horrible prison. Then they just become prisoners, which is what they ought to be in the first place.
Well, a handful of critics got a sneak peek the Oliver Stone‘s upcoming 9/11 movie last night. The film is called “World Trade Center,” and it tells the story of two Port Authority cops that survived the attacks on New York. One critic called it elegant and moving. It may be elegant and moving, but neither I nor anyone I know is going to see it.
Why would you go see it? You see movies to enhance, to make more vivid, your memory of something, your experience of something. How could your memory, your experience of 9/11, be any more vivid than it already is, if you were and men in 2001? You couldn‘t be more vivid. You wouldn‘t want it to be more vivid. Don‘t bring it to the silver screen. We don‘t need it there.
Well, Collin Finnerty, one of the three Duke University lacrosse players accused in that ridiculous stripper rape hoax, was convicted in Washington today of a completely unrelated misdemeanor assault charge. What was his grisly crime? Finnerty taunted another man by throwing fake punches at him. For that, he‘ll be on probation for six months.
Here‘s the question you have to ask yourself. Sounds like Collin Finnerty was a jerk on the street corner in Washington. I‘m not defending that. But the question you have to ask yourself is, had he not been falsely accused of rape in Durham, North Carolina, would he today have been convicted of this crime? Of course not, which tells you all you need to know about how fair it was, not at all fair.
Well, illegal immigrants have turned our borders into a trash heap. If you‘ve been there, you know exactly what I‘m saying. One study showed six tons of solid waste left at one 75-mile stretch of the border, and that‘s every day. The Sierra Club says that is the government‘s fault. Huh? The environmental group said the administration‘s, quote, “restrictive border policies” have somehow caused this mess.
First of all, the administration doesn‘t have restrictive border policies. If they did, the border wouldn‘t be as dirty as it is. Second, the dirtiness of the border is the fault who made it dirty, the litterers, who are 100 percent illegal aliens sneaking over from Mexico. They‘re the ones polluting and despoiling our environment. And they‘re the ones who ought to take the blame for it, period. Period.
Well, when Cynthia McKinney isn‘t slugging Capitol Hill police officers, as she did earlier this year, she‘s skipping out on televised campaign debates. The incumbent U.S. congresswoman from Georgia was a no-show at two debates last weekend.
One of her challengers called her absence, quote, “a slap in the face to her constituents” and, I might say, to cable television producers across the country. There is nothing more certain to provide interesting and amusing TV tape than Cynthia McKinney in public on camera. And so, on behalf of all my friends here in cable news, I say to you Congresswoman McKinney, show your face, appear in public, talk. We need the tape.
Well, the massive Big Dig construction project has already cost Boston 15 years and nearly $15 billion. That‘s been paid for also by U.S. taxpayers. Today it cost a life. A woman was killed when a 12-ton slab of concrete fell from the ceiling of a new tunnel and crashed onto her car.
The city is already investigating a series of other problems with the project. Ray Flynn was the mayor of Boston from 1984 to 1993. The Big Dig started in 1991, on his watch. He‘s a former ambassador, as well, to the Vatican. He‘s now an author and commentator. Ray Flynn joins us tonight from Washington.
Mr. Flynn, thanks for coming on.
RAY FLYNN, FORMER MAYOR OF BOSTON: Hi, Tucker. Nice to be with you.
CARLSON: How could this be, ambassador, that after all the money—the $14 billion spent on this project, the largest construction project in the history of our nation, that it‘s crumbling already? I mean, it‘s unbelievable.
FLYNN: Well, Tucker, for years, several of us babysat this whole project to make sure that all I‘s were dotted and T‘s were crossed. I think that it‘s suffered greatly from the lack of scrutiny, political accountability—in fact, Tucker, the media in Boston has not done a very good job in demanding accountability, as well.
There have been many complaints about this project. I left for five years to go to the Vatican. And when I left, I probably knew as much about this project as anybody, Dukakis and Salvucci. But that was the end of that. And a new team came in. I‘m not criticizing the head of the Turnpike Authority, but I just don‘t believe there was the oversight or the accountability.
CARLSON: I have no doubt you‘re right, Mr. Ambassador. But let‘s go back to when you were in office, when you were the long-time mayor in Boston. You knew then, before you left to the Vatican, that a large part of the bill here would be picked up by taxpayers across the country, it would be federal dollars.
FLYNN: That‘s correct. That‘s correct.
CARLSON: Seven billion, at lease, in federal funding. Why should I, who live in Washington, D.C., pay for your tunnel in the city of Boston? I don‘t get that at all.
FLYNN: Well, it‘s a regional transportation system. It was the economic engine of the entire New England region. It doesn‘t just benefit Boston, it benefits the entire economy of the New England region.
And the fact is, Tucker, that the project ended up costing over $14.6 billion, but that was not the figure that I agreed to. I agreed to a figure somewhat in the area of $3 billion or $4 billion.
And all the cost changes, the overruns, the change orders, that‘s what happened here. There was just no scrutiny, no accountability. And the project just ran away. And as a result of that, there was nobody asking the right questions.
CARLSON: You make it sound as if Massachusetts is a corrupt, inbred, one-party state, dominated by the Democratic Party for so long that there‘s no over oversight of anything. I mean, that‘s the picture you‘re painting.
FLYNN: Well, the interesting part about the whole project, was during this whole period of time, we‘ve had Republican governors. And they‘re the people that did a lousy job in terms of...
CARLSON: How many Republicans in your congressional delegation from Massachusetts?
FLYNN: There are none.
CARLSON: Oh, none? OK. So it‘s a state completely dominated by the Democratic Party.
FLYNN: No. But it‘s the governor—Tucker, it‘s the governor that is in charge of the administration of this. And it was also the federal government. And you know who‘s been in the White House. So let‘s call it like it is.
CARLSON: It was congress. But look, here‘s the point. This project was under scrutiny by virtually everyone. You blame the “Boston Globe” and the “Boston Herald,” your hometown papers. But they were on it. I read those papers, so I know. They were paying close attention.
You would think, since it‘s the biggest project ever, local politicians would care. Plus, it tore up the very center of your city. So everyone was acutely aware that this was going on.
And yet, in the middle of all this scrutiny, somehow, a concrete company was able to foist sub-grade concrete—bad, crumbly concrete—off on the builders of this project, and the result is the fact the fact that it‘s crumbling. How could that happen? Nobody was paying any attention at all? I just don‘t understand. It sounds like corruption to me.
FLYNN: It‘s not corruption. It‘s just people not paying close attention to a job that they‘re supposed to be doing. Now, I think that there is a problem here with the process. I know people are—heads will be rolling, and there‘s going to be finger pointing. I just think the process stinks, whereby you approve this kind of money, of taxpayers‘ money, and that there is no level of accountable once you sign off on it. There has to be—go ahead.
CARLSON: Wait a minute. With all due respect, you just said a minute ago that I, as a taxpayer in Washington, ought to be paying for jobs in Boston, where you live, because—I don‘t know why, but I ought to be doing that.
Now you‘re telling me I‘m paying for those jobs, but the people who are doing those jobs aren‘t paying attention to their own jobs. So why should I paying for people not to pay attention to their own jobs? I don‘t get that at all.
FLYNN: It‘s happening all over the country. You know, what‘s interesting about this, John McCain said to me, when this project was approved, “Are you sure this is going to be OK? Are you sure that there‘s not going to be any problems?”
And I said to him, “Senator, I‘m leaving. I‘m going to become United States ambassador to the Vatican. There would be a new administration at the state, a new administration at the federal level. And what happens after that, unfortunately, I don‘t know.”
But I can tell you this, I probably know as much about this project as anybody in America, with the exception of Freddy Salvucci, and I‘ve not had one single phone call from anybody. In fact, you‘re the first person that has ever called me and asked my opinion...
CARLSON: And you know why?
FLYNN: ... about this whole project, and I‘ve dealt with this project since 1971.
CARLSON: Because we have better producers than anybody in television.
Not to brag.
FLYNN: I agree with you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Thank you. I appreciate it. Thanks a lot, Mr. Mayor, Mr.
FLYNN: OK. Nice to be with you.
In Pamplona, Spain, it‘s that time of year again, when man foolishly locks horns with the animal kingdom, referring, of course, to that celebrated tradition known as the running of the bulls, in which thousands of thrill seekers flaunt their annual need for speed, sometimes with painful, even often fatal results.
What, you might ask, would possess anyone to challenge the fury of a stampeding bull? We don‘t have the answer of that. But we do have other examples of bizarre, often dangerous, rituals that separate mere mortals from the truly demented. Here today‘s top five.
Be they goofy rights of passage or bizarre tests of manhood, here now, a salute to some of the world‘s most bizarre and just plain stupid rituals.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Our tour is now open.
CARLSON: This engaging event has been an annual spectacle at Boston‘s Filene‘s Basement department store for nearly 60 years. The object of this fashion feeding frenzy is to prove that no matter how hard you try, you can‘t fit a size 12 body in to a size six wedding gown. Blushing brides need not apply.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can‘t hold anymore.
CARLSON: You might be a redneck if you think bobbing for pig‘s feet, armpit serenades, and big hair contests are more fun than a jug of moonshine. This yearly Georgia ritual proves that despite Lee‘s surrender, the South became its own country, anyway. The animals of Favor College (ph) have nothing over the citizens of Bunol, Spain, home of the world‘s most colorful food fight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s good fun, man. You can get out your aggressions.
CARLSON: Yes, but consider the aggressions of the people who have to clean up this mess.
This worldwide event is strictly for the birds, mainly because these wannabe Wright brothers are wrong to think that what goes up might stay up. The object here is to soar as far as possible in a homemade flying machine.
But in the end, gravity always wins.
And finally, here‘s a cheesy spectacle, courtesy of the lunatics of Gloucestershire, England. Top prize in this neck-breaking competition? A whole cheese. Talk about the fool on the hill. And remember, kids, don‘t try this at home. The stunts you‘ve just seen were performed by professional morons.
CARLSON: Still ahead, yesterday, I asked Anderson Cooper to decide if he wanted to be Edward R. Murrow or an entertainment reporter, a reasonable request, I think. Well, the A.C. defenders came out in force, and I‘ll address their complaints next.
Plus, was this now-infamous head butt in the World Cup finally retaliation for an ugly ethnic slur? We‘ll get to the bottom of this festering international incident when we come right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. You can set your watch by it. Time for our voicemail segment. It consists of you calling in and leaving long messages on our machine and our replaying them on the air. First up...
MARY IN CALIFORNIA: Americans are persecuting the wrong people. They‘re closing the wrong border. The real danger are the terrorists that are coming from Canada. Illegals and Spanish immigrants are harmless, hard-working people.
CARLSON: Look, I‘m as upset about the influx of Canadian comedians into this country as I think anybody is. I recognize the threat that Canada poses to our way of life. But just to respond by the numbers, the number of people coming over the southern border dwarves the number of people coming over the northern border so completely—no, our attention ought to be south. That‘s where the people are coming in. Sorry. Next up?
JOE IN LOS ANGELES: Joe, from Los Angeles. You‘re absolutely right.
No one alive today is responsible for bringing slavery to this country.
But you do benefit from it. That makes you an accomplice after the fact.
CARLSON: That‘s so dumb, Joe, that I‘m not sure (ph) exactly how to respond. An accomplice after the fact? That‘s a legal term. I am no such thing. And neither is anyone living. You can say that about any historical crime, that we‘re all accomplices, because it happened on a planet that we live on.
And the fact is that slavery was very bad for this country. It hurt this country in many, many ways. And so we are all, as Americans, living with the ill effects of slavery. So, you know, I think this country itself is a victim of slavery. Next up?
ROBERTO IN PASADENA: Roberto from Pasadena. I‘m not a fan of Anderson Cooper‘s show, however, Edward R. Murrow did, in fact, have to do all sorts of horrible, long fluff pieces, was forced to do them in the 50s by CBS. Edward also covered the Miss America pageant as a news item.
CARLSON: He wasn‘t forced to. He chose to. Nobody made him. Those big, bad network suits didn‘t put a gun to his head. He decided to be a cigarette pitch man and a fluff journalist. Of course.
And so, the conclusion we‘ve reached is Edward R. Murrow was, in fact, a bit of a phony, too. Like all of us. But it‘s a matter of degrees. My point is, if you‘re going to run around, you know, being the intrepid shoe-leather journalist, the war correspondent, the tougher-than-though man on the scene, you know, be that guy. But don‘t go back and interview Britney Spears. Next up?
ROB IN LOS ANGELES: Why are you bashing the French soccer player and Italian player, calling him a terrorist? Because he‘s an Arab. It doesn‘t mean he‘s a terrorist for making a scene like this. He just head-butted him for the fun of it.
CARLSON: Oh, I get it. I get it. So the soccer player was mad because the other guy said, “Hey, you‘re an Arab. You must resolve conflicts with violence.” And the guy said, “That‘s outrageous,” and then went on to resolve that conflict with what? Oh yes, violence. That‘s what we call an irony story. Next up?
BRENT IN CARLISLE: Brent, Carlisle, Ohio. It seems so sad about the times which you feel like your drunk audience is going to be able to watch you, but I‘m here to tell you that I‘m one of them now. We‘ll get to see the whole thing before we go out and get plastered. So cheer up.
CARLSON: Thank you, Brent. You know, for a year, we‘ve been catering to the entertainment and news needs of a pretty intoxicated audience late night. And it‘s nice to know that some of you, at least, are sticking with us. And the rest, I hope, are going to rehab.
Keep the calls coming. Our number, 1-877-TCARLSON. That‘s 1-877-822-7576. We‘ll play the very best of your voicemails again tomorrow.
Coming up, Albert Einstein proves that brains really are attractive to women. Who knew? Newly unveiled letters show Einstein‘s genius went far beyond relativity. We‘ll explain when we come back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Time for the cutting room floor. And as usual, our producer, Willie Geist has hoarded all the best stories for himself. He produces them here now.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC PRODUCER: It‘s a little producing trick I‘ve learned. Save the best stories for yourself. Couple points, here. I want to thank Brent, our last caller. It‘s good to know the drunks are still watching the show. And we encourage it. If that means drinking during the afternoon, so be it. But we want you watching.
CARLSON: That‘s exactly what it means.
GEIST: And one other point. Your comment earlier in the show during “Beat the Press” about American landscapers? You‘re wrong. I was a landscaper three summers. I‘ll weed whack circles around you, buddy. I‘m good. Real good. In fact, one of the best weed whackers in the history of northeast New Jersey. Don‘t mean to call my own number, but it‘s a fact.
CARLSON: You‘re not going to catch me making a weed whacking joke.
GEIST: Good for you.
CARLSON: Well, it turns out AlEert einstein didn‘t just have a way with physics, he also had a way with the ladies. Letters released by Hebrew University in Jerusalem, yesterday, revealed Einstein had at least six different girlfriends, but he complained to his wife that the women‘s pursuit of him was, quote, “out of control.” In the letters, Einstein describes at least six women with whom he had sexual relationships while he was married to his long-suffering wife, Elsa.
GEIST: Who knew relativity was such a turn-on, Tucker? Good for him.
I‘m guessing “E equals MC squared” only works when you‘re Albert Einstein. Like, if you and I go out to a bar and start throwing that stuff around, it doesn‘t quite fly. Hey, Tucker, is that you? Can you see me? It‘s like “The Brady Bunch.” Here‘s the story...
CARLSON: You know what‘s amazing to me, though, is that Elsa Einstein received his letters and said, “Oh, yes, good.”
GEIST: Right, right. And his stepdaughter was the one he sent the letters to. So she knew about all these affairs while her mother was, you know, toiling away in the kitchen. And he was out all over the world with these hot chicks.
CARLSON: That is just—I‘m not passing judgment, but that‘s highly sick.
GEIST: It is.
CARLSON: Well, speaking of sick, Keith Richards has finally set the record straight about the infamous coconut tree accident that sent him to a hospital in Fiji for brain surgery a couple of months ago. The Rolling Stones guitarist says he actually only fell our of a small bush. Here he is attempting to explain that incident today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH RICHARDS, MUSICIAN: It was like (inaudible) bashed my head and went to the carriage and came out (inaudible). It was like—although I realize now that it was like a little more serious than that. But I tell you what, it was an experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: No. That‘s just not real. I‘m sorry. I love that man, but that‘s simply not the King‘s English. What is he talking? That‘s crazy. You know what that is, actually? That‘s a half-century of booze and smack on display laid out for the world to see.
CARLSON: That is the Ozzy Osborne school of elocution. (inaudible)
GEIST: Exactly. He‘s headed towards Ozzydom.
CARLSON: He‘s headed toward panhandling.
GEIST: Well, that‘s true. He looks like a panhandler. I will say, he‘s got to do the right thing and donate his body to science when he dies, because whatever his genetic makeup is that defies medicine, we need to learn from his body.
CARLSON: You and I will be long dead by then.
GEIST: We will.
CARLSON: Well, from a rock star who hasn‘t been sober since 1961 to a movie star who apparently wasn‘t sober last night, action hero Jackie Chan reportedly jumped on stage at a concert in Hong Kong, demanded a drunken duet with the band‘s lead singer, and then exchanged insults with the audience when he was heckled. Witnesses also said Chan tried unsuccessfully to direct the band.
GEIST: Wow. A drunken, belligerent Jackie Chan is a really dangerous thing. Because as we all know, Tucker, booze and martial arts simply do not mix. And I probably would not be the on heckling him because he‘ll scissor-kick you, and he won‘t apologize for it.
CARLSON: Imagine a drunken wheel kick. I‘d actually pay to see that. Well, the next time you order a martini, you may want to think twice about getting that salt or sugar around the glass. Two sisters were hospitalized in South Carolina after a bartender mistakenly dipped their martini glasses into cleaning solvent instead than salt. One of the women said she felt a burning sensation like she never felt in her life when her lips touched the glass. Thankfully, everyone‘s OK now.
GEIST: Tucker, that is simply careless bartending. And a word of advice, if you‘re going to that bar in Columbia, South Carolina—we won‘t give out the name because it‘s bad for business—don‘t order the vodka unless you like the taste of Clorox. That‘s all I‘m going to say. Don‘t go there.
CARLSON: Here‘s my question, Willie. Why are we helping a bar in South Carolina? Like, why do we know how to damage their business?
GEIST: I don‘t know. Remember in South Carolina, they used to give out the airplane bottles of liquor? Yes, those bars need help.
CARLSON: Good point. Willie Geist, back to his cube. Thanks, Willie.
Thank you for watching. We‘ll be back tomorrow. We turn now to “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.
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