Guests: Harvey Levin, Drew Pinsky, Philip Brenner, Dan Gillerman
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the show, coming to you today from the Bethel Inn in Bethel, Maine. Good to have you with us, as always.
First up, Mel‘s mea culpa. Mel Gibson apologized for the second time today for his drunken anti-Semitic rant last week, but in a bizarre twist, Mel Gibson is now asking Jewish leaders to help him stop drinking. Sound crazy? He may actually be.
Dr. Drew Pinsky will joins us with a diagnosis in just a minute.
Also ahead, they are partying in the streets of Miami at the news that Fidel Castro is sick, but the feeling isn‘t universal. Some on the American left are clearly upset by the prospect of a post-Fidel Cuba.
We‘ll debate that subject in just a minute.
And do the French have it in for American athletes? Of course they do.
Why Tour de France Floyd Landis could be the victim of yank bashing.
That‘s story‘s ahead.
But first, more fallout from Mel Gibson‘s meltdown. And it is a meltdown.
The Oscar winner just can‘t stop apologizing for his anti-Semitic tirade during a drunk driving arrest last week. Not that it‘s doing him very much good. Today, Gibson released a statement that said in part, “I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery.”
Well, meanwhile, allegations continue that the actor got special treatment when he was arrested. Here‘s what one investigator said this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL GENNACO, INVESTIGATIVE SHERIFF HANDLING GIBSON CASE: It is imperative that in doing so, the agency treats everyone equally under the law. In this case, the information reviewed to date indicates that LASD did ensure that the arrest of Mr. Gibson was handled in accord with its policies and practices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Joining me now with more, Harvey Levin, managing editor of TMZ.com.
You called this yesterday. You said—and it was hard to believe, I have to say—but you said early and loudly that there had been an attempted cover-up here.
Tell us what you know and why you think the sheriff‘s department would want to cover this up.
HARVEY LEVIN, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ.COM: Well, I mean, I think that in some ways, what the commissioner just came out and said completely syncs up with what we‘ve been talking about. I mean, he said that the arrest was handled appropriately, and we‘ve never disputed that, and that all of the information went to the D.A. That‘s true, it did go to the D.A.
What we had a beef about, because of the information we had, is that this deputy was ordered by his superiors to basically rewrite the report and then create a supplemental report that was not going to go to the media. And I don‘t understand that. I don‘t understand why some of that stuff was not put in that—the original report. And why—why have a supplemental report?
And I think, frankly, the answer is that they were going to transfer all that stuff to the district attorney so the sheriff could say, hey, we‘re not the one who exposed Mel Gibson, let the D.A. expose him. But they were going to do that by creating this main report, which was sanitized, and the supplemental report, which was explosive.
CARLSON: Well, you know, I don‘t know the answer to this question. Maybe you do. Legally, do we have the right to know what a man—a person who has been arrested says to the cop who arrested him—says, for instance, in the back of the police car? Is that by definition public?
LEVIN: Well, look, the cop has to chronicle what happened, because one of the issues that‘s right on the front of the report is, what was the behavior of the suspect? Now...
LEVIN: ... forget about the comments. What about the fact that Mel Gibson tried to flee and had to be subdued? And that was put in the supplemental report, and that the sheriff‘s department said that the—that the arrest occurred without incident. I mean, is it without incident when somebody tries to escape and has to be subdued?
So you‘ve got to wonder, what is going on here?
CARLSON: Well, what is going on here? I mean, it actually doesn‘t make sense. What do you—what do you think the explanation is?
LEVIN: Or it does make sense, Tucker. You know, Mel Gibson said in the back of that car, “I own Malibu” to the deputy, in a very threatening way. You know, to some extent, I really think it is true.
I mean, Mel Gibson is a rich, powerful person in Malibu, he‘s been allowed to skate before without getting citations. And I think it must have been stunning to him that he was actually answerable to the law by being put in the back of that police car, or the sheriff‘s car. So I‘m sure that‘s one of the reasons he went off.
But, you know, I have no doubt in my mind that the sheriff‘s department at a high level was concerned, gee, we‘re kind of exposing all these warts of Mel Gibson, for whatever reason they didn‘t what to do that. And by putting all that information in a supplemental report, they were throwing it ultimately in the D.A.‘s lap. Let the D.A. expose Mel Gibson, we won‘t.
CARLSON: Do you have any information, have you done any reporting on the origin of this second statement that Gibson released today, the second apology in which he says he wants the Jewish community to help him stop drinking? Did he come up with this himself, did someone help him draft that? What does that mean, whose idea was it?
LEVIN: You know, I don‘t know—I don‘t know who came up with it. And I don‘t know—you know, I guess the motivation here, clearly, he wants to rehabilitate himself.
You know, I‘m sure he wants to help himself, too. And I‘m sorry for being a little bit of a cynic, but it would seem that he knows he has a major PR problem right now, and it‘s kind of a smart move, I think, to try to bring the Jewish community in so that they can give their stamp of approval to his recovery and then make it all better.
CARLSON: Has he hired any kind of PR firm to help him craft these statements, do you know?
LEVIN: Yes. I mean, this is Mel Gibson we‘re talking about.
LEVIN: He already has a PR firm, and that PR firm was working overtime this weekend, and they tried to step ahead of the story and basically say, look, he‘s trying to get help, he‘s got a problem. So, you know, all of this was done, you know, almost when—you know, within hours after the report came out on our Web site.
CARLSON: Yes. And it follows such a predictable script, a script that we‘ve seen so many times, famous person in trouble, famous persons begs forgiveness, famous person takes off for some sort of rehab facility somewhere.
Has he actually checked him into to a residential facility, do you know?
LEVIN: I don‘t know it‘s residential. I‘m told he is in a recovery program. His publicist told us that. And they‘re distinguishing between rehab and recovery. They say it is not rehab, it‘s recovery. Don‘t ask me the difference.
CARLSON: You had said something yesterday that I thought was interesting, Harvey. You had said that Mel Gibson had a relationship with the L.A. County sheriff, Lee Baca.
Have you learned more about that?
LEVIN: Well, he did. I mean, you know, they‘ve—they‘ve worked on charities together, he has done public service announcements for the sheriff. And they have a friendship, from what I‘m told.
Now, that doesn‘t make it automatically wrong at all. I mean, it‘s not wrong to have a friendship with people in your community. There are lots of politicians who have relationships with famous people in this town.
I mean, that‘s just the way this town runs. And there‘s nothing on the surface wrong with that.
CARLSON: Good point.
Harvey Levin, thanks. Appreciate it.
LEVIN: See you, Tucker.
CARLSON: So, can rehab get Mel Gibson out of this mess, or is he just using alcohol as an excuse? And is it a fair excuse, for that matter?
Here now, addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of the show “Strictly Dr. Drew.” He joins us from Burbank, California.
Dr. Drew, welcome.
Do you buy this? Do you think alcoholism, drunkenness is an excuse that‘s
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST, “STRICTLY DR. DREW”: Absolutely. I don‘t understand why there‘s such surprise about this.
I treat alcoholics and addicts every day. They do reprehensible things when they‘re loaded. They feel regretful and shameful when they sober up, and they have to make amends.
That‘s inherent in the disease. It‘s in the nature of recovery. Because these people have such a high public profile, the consequences are profound, but there‘s absolutely nothing different about this than someone who shames himself in front of his employer, or in front of his family.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
PINSKY: It‘s the exact same pattern. It‘s just the problem is, we like to scapegoat these people.
CARLSON: But—no, no, I agree with you.
CARLSON: Here‘s the nub of the question. You‘ve heard a number of people say, none of whom are experts on alcoholism, I noticed, but they say, look, when people drink, they say what they really think. It‘s a kind of truth serum, alcohol.
Is that true?
PINSKY: No. No. No, Tucker.
When they drink—they‘re on drugs when they drink. They say things that are crazy. They do all kinds of things that they would never do in a—in a sober moment. They‘re on drugs.
CARLSON: But do those things reflect how they really feel?
PINSKY: Absolutely rarely is that the case. They become aggressive, they could become depressed. Their thought processes are disturbed.
This is a disordered brain on drugs. They say things that they regret profoundly and would never say in a sober moment. Not because they don‘t believe it—not because they‘re not feeling it, it‘s because they‘re actually—they don‘t mean it.
The just—they‘re enraged, they have all kinds of strange emotions. Alcoholics on drugs do all kinds of things that they would never do when their brain is in a normal state, because it‘s not their normal feeling state, it‘s not their normal thinking.
Thinking is disturbed in addiction. People don‘t undersand this. Thinking is what is at the service of the addictive process. It‘s why they think when they‘re loaded or using such awful things they‘re such great ideas. It‘s because it‘s part of the disease process.
And to hold him accountable of things he says when he‘s loaded I think is a horrible thing to do to the guy. It‘s very, very sad.
CARLSON: Gosh, that‘s interesting. Does this—does this behavior, do you recognize it? It seems almost—not almost, it seems intentionally self-destructive. Like this guy, once he got arrested, set out to really screw himself.
I mean, why would he say something like that? It does seem almost masochistic.
PINSKY: Well, something more was going on. Yes, something more was going on here than we know, that he—look at these pictures. I mean, he clearly was out for a reason, doing something—either this is part of an evolution that‘s been going on for some time, or he became acutely depressed, or something is going on here to motivate this, that this crisis has occurred in his life.
This is a human being in trouble, who deserves and needs treatment, deserves confidential medical care, like anybody else. And he said some reprehensible things. And I pray to god that what he means in his heart is what he said earlier today. I hope this isn‘t just a PR spin.
But time will tell.
CARLSON: Well, it almost looks like he—I mean, if you and I were to sit around over a drink, to think of like the most offensive thing you could possibly say, truly, we might have come up with what he said, which is interesting.
PINSKY: Yes, things like this.
CARLSON: So what kind of treatment does he need?
PINSKY: Interesting you would say over a drink. But be that as it may...
CARLSON: A Diet Coke, right.
PINSKY: ... it looks to me like this is someone who needs comprehensive alcohol treatment. He‘s checked into a program. And by the way, there is no such thing as a difference between a rehab and a recovery. I mean, they‘re hospital-based treatment centers, they‘re residential-based treatment centers. All alcohol and drug treatment centers. The basic modalities of treatment are the same in psychiatric care.
So, you know, putting a different name on it really doesn‘t change what‘s actually happening here. Hopefully he‘s getting comprehensive care, that his psychological, spiritual and medical needs ar are being attended to. And hopefully with time he will recover.
Now, I‘ve got to tell you that the reason you see this problem of celebrities going in and out of treatment so much is, putting yourself in shameful circumstances usually isn‘t sufficient to motivate somebody to seek recovery. I‘ve got to tell you that most alcoholic addicts that are in their disease and evolving don‘t really thoroughly engage in treatment, don‘t capitulate to the treatment process, until really they believe—one of two things happen, they become totally disgusted with what they‘ve been doing—and it takes a lot to do that, because, again when they‘re using they don‘t perceive a lot of these things—or they believe they‘re going to die if they‘re on the course they‘re on.
When they believe those...
PINSKY: When they have one of those two experiences, then they get with it, otherwise, they kind of stay distanced from their feelings about what they‘ve done, because it‘s terribly painful to acknowledge what they‘ve said, what they‘ve done, the shameful behaviors. It is exquisitely painful for them. And as a result, they deny it, they stay away from it, until they believe not dealing with these things are going to kill them. Then they get into recovery and they deal with this.
Now, having said that, occasionally I‘ve treated celebrities that will come into treatment as a result of these kind of circumstances and miracles do happen and they get better. It can happen. We‘ll see.
CARLSON: I hope so.
And finally, Dr. Drew, he—Mel Gibson said something today that was puzzling, at least those of us not familiar with the details of recovery programs. He said he wanted the Jewish community to help him in his recovery. Is there—what does he mean? Is there some kind of Hassidic 12-step program that he‘s referring—I mean, what does that mean?
PINSKY: I don‘t know really what he‘s referring to. In Los Angeles there is something called a Chabad program that is quite good. It is 12-step-based, it‘s highly—it has a spiritual component to it, and actually they treat non-Jewish individuals, as well as Jewish at times. So he may be sending out a feeler to get support from that community.
I really don‘t know. You know, the basic principles of treatment and recovery are the same regardless of your religious orientation. It‘s really just putting it into a cultural context that you can relate to very strongly.
I‘m hoping all he‘s looking for is support. He‘s a gentleman that has always valued his spiritual life, maybe he‘s going to diversify his opinions about spirituality and be more inclusive of other cultures and points of view. I don‘t know. We don‘t know.
He‘s just—that part of it sounds a little bit of PR, I‘ve got to admit.
CARLSON: I couldn‘t agree more.
Dr. Drew, that was interesting. That was really interesting. Thanks a lot.
PINSKY: My pleasure.
CARLSON: Still to come, is it the beginning of the end for Fidel Castro‘s regime? Cuban-Americans of Miami seem to think so, but are they celebrating too soon? And what will all of this mean for the United States?
And the East Coast is at the boiling point as this summer‘s heat wave rolls on, but it‘s not global warming. We‘ll tell you why coming up.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Time now for “Beat the Press.”
First up, Paula Zahn over at CNN. Here‘s a clip from her show last night a little after 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Pay attention to the bottom of the screen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How come you had 36 kids killed and many others killed, civilians? Show me one fighter of Hezbollah to believe the Israeli theory and argument.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST, “PAULA ZAHN NOW”: But you still haven‘t stated clearly here yes or no. I‘ve heard you dance around the question of whether you think they really set out to kill these civilians.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think...
ZAHN: Yes or no?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... my answer to be. I‘m telling you now. Yes or no, I‘m telling you yes, because I‘m a Lebanese.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: You‘ll notice the two magic worse at the bottom of the screen, “Breaking News.” Now, we all do this. Everyone in cable news pretends everything is cable news, but there is a time limit.
Here‘s the front page of “The New York Times.” This is yesterday‘s “New York Times.” This was printed about midnight Sunday night. “Doses Die in Israeli Air Raids.”
Now, almost 24 hours later, CNN is pretending this is still breaking news. Now, again, there is a statute of limitations for breaking news and CNN has violated it.
Next up, yet more Paula Zahn. She‘s a nice person, so it‘s nothing personal, but who is producing her show? For the third time in as many weeks, CNN has devoted an entire segment to the possibility that the apocalypse might be approaching.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Welcome back. Our top-story coverage continues with our look at the question of why so many conservative Christians in the U.S. are taking the fighting in the Mideast as a sign that the end of the world may be near.
And joining me now, the Reverend Jerry Falwell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Now, two things about this. Conservative Christians believe that fighting between Israel and Hezbollah is a sign of the end times? And they trot on Jerry Falwell to prove it? As if he stands for all conservatives Christians?
Only at CNN could people have such contempt for the intelligence of so-called conservative Christians that they could believe that they believe this skirmish, these series of skirmishes, constitutes the beginning of the apocalypse. And second, the obvious point, if not breaking news, then the end of the world. How is that for a grabber?
And finally, one of our favorites, Nancy Grace, also on CNN Headline News. Last night she covered the murder Chenelle Petro Nixon (ph), a 16-year-old New York girl found strangled to death in a garbage bag. And incase any of you don‘t know what that means or how a person could possibly fit into a garbage bag, Nancy Grace called on one of her producers to explain it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I‘ll tell you, Nancy, it‘s this, it‘s apparently two or three bags through. But these were double-bagged or triple-bagged. And I actually have in my hand right now a bag similar to what she might have been found in, a black industrial-size garbage bag.
It is approximately three feet by four feet. And honestly, I could fit in this bag in fetal position, and I‘m bigger than little Chenelle (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: I mean, come on. Yuck. You don‘t want to be self-righteous, but let‘s be honest here. This is pornography. You know it when you see it.
You don‘t need to imagine ow a girl was stuffed into a garbage bag and murdered. You just don‘t. That‘s not a key fact of the case, that‘s not something you need to ruminate on, fantasize about. And yet, they‘re inviting you to do it anyway.
That‘s porn. Gross.
Well, how would you like to help us beat the press? Give us a call, tell us what you‘ve seen. The number, 1-877-BTP-5876. Numerically, that would be 877-287-5876.
Still to come, was Floyd Landis caught with his hand in a cookie jar full of testosterone? Have you ever heard such a metaphor on television? Or are the French trying to take down another American athlete, as is their way?
And, “The Governator” offers Tony Blair a job. Details on that story when we come back.
CARLSON: Welcome back.
At any given moment, there are literally hundreds of video feeds and wire stories flowing into MSNBC world headquarters. Well, Willie Geist has made it his life‘s work to keep a close eye on all of that information. It may sound sort of sad, but it‘s all he‘s got.
Willie is here to bring us the very latest of what he has found today—
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC PRODUCER: Thank you, Tucker.
You call it sad, I call it an honest day‘s work. You ought to look into it.
News item number one, it is hot. Generally speaking, there are few things less stimulating than a conversation about the weather, but we‘ve officially reached the boiling temperature at which small talk becomes news.
The heat index reached 110 degrees up and down the East Coast today. New York City is pleading with its residents to conserve energy in order to avoid a blackout, and the mayor has declared an emergency.
Now the heat isn‘t letting up in the Midwest either. The humidity in Chicago is making it feel like 110 there, too. The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings in 19 states.
Tucker, the truth about this weather is both inconvenient and uncomfortable. It is time to admit Al Gore is right? Is there something to this global warming gobbledygook?
CARLSON: You complain about it now, Willie, on August 1st, but come February 1st, it‘s going to feel a lot more like gratitude.
GEIST: Tucker, I‘m a summer guy. I like it this way. And actually, I‘m going to conserve energy by not using my Jacuzzi tonight. Just doing my part.
Next, a two-part question. Did American cyclist Floyd Landis cheat? And if so, where have all the heroes gone?
Here‘s what the Tour de France champion said on Friday about allegations he used banned performance-enhancing drugs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLOYD LANDIS, CYCLIST: The levels I have had during the tour and all my career are absolutely natural and produced by my own organisms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Produced by your what? Excuse me?
Anyway, “The New York Times” is now reporting a drug test has turned up illegal synthetic testosterone in Landis‘ system. Results of the test are expected to be released officially on Saturday.
The French don‘t seem to like it too much when Americans win their precious bicycle race. They went after Lance Armstrong, too.
So, Tucker, the question is, is our military spread too thinly right now to invade France?
CARLSON: I love the frogs. They‘re not worth invading. It‘s too easy.
We should invade Mallawi (ph) first.
GEIST: Tucker, we are both French backers, but this situation is becoming untenable. We may have to go in soon.
In California, British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger under the guise of discussing carbon monoxide emissions, but let‘s be honest. Blair just wanted to get “The Terminator‘s” autograph.
After their meeting, the two held a press conference, where Schwarzenegger was asked what he thinks the prime minister ought to do after he leaves office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA: If he needs a job, he wants a job in Hollywood, I get him to play “Terminator IV.” I mean, anything is available.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Now that is definitely the best offer I‘ve had. Actually, the sad thing, it‘s the only offer I‘ve had.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Blair has announced he won‘t seek a fourth term as prime minister, so he should definitely jump on that “Terminator IV” gig. So much better than being an honorary professor at Oxford or U.N. ambassador, or something else lame like that.
Tucker, do you buy Tony Blair as an action hero?
CARLSON: You know, Willie, I hate to admit it, because anything they make in England is not as good as it is here, but Tony Blair is kind of impressive, and most to the point, Tony Blair is pro-American, which is not easy to be if you‘re a Brit.
I like Tony Blair.
GEIST: He‘s pro-American, but that does not make him a good action hero.
A little too weaselly (ph), if you ask me.
That‘s all we‘ve got on “Breaking the Press” today, Tucker. We‘ll send it back to you in Bethel.
CARLSON: Thanks a lot, Willie.
Coming up, Israel warns Lebanese residents to evacuate their homes as a relentless new bombing campaign begins. As the conflict drags on, is the state of Israel being embarrassed? We‘ll get a report from the front lines.
Plus, have we been wasting our time by dieting and sweating to the oldies? There may be a new obesity vaccine on the way. We‘ll explain when we come right back.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Still to come, just two years removed from a presidential campaign, John Kerry plays to a half-filled backyard barbecue in Iowa. Wait until you see the pictures.
Plus, Fidel Castro hands over power in Cuba. So will Havana soon be dodged with McDonald‘s and Starbucks? We‘ll get to that in just a minute, but right now, here‘s a look at your headlines.
(STOCK MARKET UPDATE)
CARLSON: Heavy fighting continues near the Israel-Lebanese border at this hour. Israeli ground troops are plowing their way deep into Lebanon while warplanes continue to pound Hezbollah targets. For more, let‘s go to Tyre, Lebanon and bring in NBC‘s Lester Holt.
Lester, what‘s the latest from there?
LESTOR HOLT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Tucker, let me get you up-to-date. A lot of late-breaking developments here tonight, and they not all located here in the south. In northeastern Lebanon tonight, there have been several air strikes in that area near the Syrian border, the Bekaa Valley.
Also reports of Israeli helicopters that may be inserting troops in that area. Again, that‘s all very late information. We can also tell you that some Katyusha rockets landed in Israel at some point this evening, Metusah (ph), Israel.
No word of injuries there, but we can report that a volley of those rockets were seen firing just a short distance from us here this evening around sunset tonight, clearly visible, heading in the direction of northern Israel. Not clear if those were the missiles that were reported in the area, but they certainly took off from this area.
Now, let‘s talk about this massive offensive in the south as we near, by the way, the end of that 48-hour moratorium that Israel had imposed on most of its bombardment. One of the top generals in the Israeli army now says there are 6,000 Israeli troops—at least 6,000 -- on the ground, saying that many of these units, these brigade units, have at least 1,000, and there are six such units on the ground.
There was fierce fighting in a lot of these border towns today. We saw a massive artillery shelling by Israeli forces in Atah al-Shah (ph). That‘s an area where Hezbollah fighters had taken out an Israeli tank. Three Israeli soldiers reportedly killed in that engagement. And we saw the outgoing artillery again from the Israeli side pounding Hezbollah positions.
And apparently, there was a lot of that fighting in southern Lebanon, in the central part. In other words, east of where we are here in Tyre. Now, there‘s also been some issues with humanitarian supplies. We noted there was that 48-hour slow down or pause in major war aerial bombardment.
In that period, the U.N. was hoping to get a lot of supply convoys in, but they report today they only got one of three convoys in. They say Israel refused to grant permission for two of those trips, and they continue to say there is a humanitarian crisis that is only building in this part of the world because of that.
Now, it is a little bit before midnight here. It‘s 11:36 as we‘re on the air here tonight. And sometime after midnight, Israel is expected to resume its full aerial bombardment campaign.
Which is not to say they haven‘t been hitting targets anyway, not only with warplanes in some cases to support ground troops, but offshore shelling from naval artillery has peppered some positions again, east of us here in Tyre at various times throughout the day and artillery firing from the ground on positions as well.
Now, from the political standpoint, Prime Minister Olmert tonight has offered some words that might suggest that he sees a cease-fire in the not-too-distant future. He says, “This is the beginning of a political process.” His words, that is the end—that in the end will bring a cease-fire under entirely different conditions than before.
So suggesting this military offensive will change the conditions on the ground that may lead to a cease-fire. So tucker, that‘s the very latest we have for you here. Let‘s send it back to you.
CARLSON: Lester Holt in Tyre, Lebanon. Stay safe, Lester. Thanks.
Well, here‘s a question. Is Israel headed for a major defeat at the hands of Hezbollah? That‘s a shocking idea to most of us in the West, but an op-ed in today‘s “Wall Street Journal” makes the case that, quote, “If it keeps going as it is, Israel is headed for the greatest military humiliation in its history.”
Joining me to talk about that possibility, Ambassador Dan Gillerman. He‘s the permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations. He joins us from New York.
Ambassador Gillerman, thanks for coming on.
AMBASSADOR DAN GILLERMAN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Thank you for having me on.
CARLSON: I know that you have read this op-ed. It‘s written by a man named Bret Stephens, who‘s clearly not hostile to Israel. He sounds like a friend of Israel. But he makes this point, quote, “The conflict with Hezbollah, a 15,000 man militia armed with World War II-era rockets, is now in its 21st day. Israel has nothing to show for its efforts. No enemy territory gained, no enemy leaders killed, no abatement in the missile barrage that has sent a million Israelis from their homes and workplaces.” That‘s all true. Is this war a failure so far?
GILLERMAN: No, this is not a failure. We are proceeding as planned. We never thought that this would be a picnic. We knew that the Hezbollah had entrenched itself and had six years to prepare for this, building bunkers and shelters and amassing over 13,000 rockets and missiles.
We knew exactly that are against a very hostile terrain under very difficult circumstances. But having said that, Israel has the power and the capability to totally erase the Hezbollah. We could have adopted a scorched earth policy, and there would be nothing and nobody left there.
The reason this is taking so long is exactly because we are proceeding as planned. We‘re being very cautious, very measured, and very careful not to kill Lebanese civilians, and also to save the lives of our soldiers. But we are proceeding as planed, and we will win this, and we will totally change the pattern of behavior and the culture of hatred in our region.
CARLSON: Well, I wish you luck on that, and I hope you succeed. I fervently hope you do.
GILLERMAN: I know you do.
CARLSON: However, this op-ed makes, I think, a very good point, which is you don‘t have a lot of time. Your presence, the Israeli presence in Lebanon, destabilizes the region. That‘s beyond dispute. And it hurts American interests in, among other places, Iraq.
The American military is now fearing an uprising from Shiites in Iraq who are angered by this offensive in Lebanon. That could be a real problem for the United States. So you, Israel, I think, are going to be coming under a lot of pressure to wrap this up very soon, as you know. So can you wrap it up soon?
GILLERMAN: This can be wrapped up immediately once the Hezbollah is disarmed and once they lose their capability to terrorize both us, Lebanon, and the region. We are not a destabilizing force in Lebanon. We never wanted to be in Lebanon. We left Lebanon over six years ago with absolutely no intention of ever coming back.
The only reason we are there is because the Hezbollah, which is a proxy of Iran and Syria, is terrorizing Israel, has kidnapped our soldiers and killed and also shelled our cities and towns. We will fight Hezbollah until it can no longer do that either to us or to Lebanon.
And I believe that most of the Arab world, most of the moderate Arab world, including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and some of the Gulf countries, realize that the threat of Iran, that extreme fundamentalist Muslim country who‘s trying to impose its rule and it‘s Shiite extremism over the region, must be removed. And believe me, they want us to succeed just as much as we do.
CARLSON: I believe they do. I believe they do. I think they‘ve supported you tacitly from the very beginning. But that support will evaporate if this goes on much longer because in war, civilians die. It‘s inevitable. In all wars, civilians die, and more will die in this war.
And they will not be able to contain public opinion in their own countries, and they‘re going to start publicly opposing you if this goes on much longer. I mean, that‘s true, don‘t you think?
GILLERMAN: Well, I think public opinion has been very understanding over the last few weeks precisely because the world knows that we‘re doing its work for it. We may have be paying a very high price, but we‘re doing the work for the rest of the world in fighting this terror.
And we will prevail, and I believe that we are very near to a point where the Hezbollah‘s ability will be degraded to a point where an international force can come in with all the preconditions set out by the United States for a political settlement are in place.
And we will then see a Lebanon free of terror, an Israel safe from terror, and a region in which Lebanese and Israeli children can go back to going to school rather than sheltering in air shelters because they‘re afraid of being hit.
CARLSON: Ambassador Gillerman, thank you. I hope you succeed, and I hope you do it quickly. Thanks very much.
GILLERMAN: I know you do. Thank you very much.
CARLSON: Time now for some quick hits on the news. A taxing lesson about school spending for the citizens of West Las Vegas, New Mexico. Some members of that district‘s bilingual program are being accused of going on a mad shopping spree with taxpayers money; $10,000 was spent alone on a staff party organized by the program‘s director.
And here, the plot thickens. That director just happens to be married to the state legislator who helped secure funding for the program. This is a metaphor. Notice the party was adults only. Not a party for children. Like bilingual education itself, it helps only the adults. It hurts the children. It employs lots of people. The unions love it. Does it make kids succeed better in American society? Of course not.
Well, the Hill is alive with the sound of anti-war Democrats. Top congressional voices are calling on President Bush to start bringing the troops home by the end of the year. Their united front comes a mere three months before midterm elections.
Democrats apparently believe the growing public discontent over the Iraq war is their best chance for retaking the House or the Senate. Who knows whether they‘re right, but for once, the Democrats are doing an honorable thing.
The war in Iraq is the one issue that really matters, the one issue that, 50 years from now, school children will learn about. It‘s the central issue of our time. For it or against it, you recognize Iraq is the key. And up to this point, Democrats have not taken a clear stand on the war, to their great shame. And now, they are finally getting their act together and making a stand. Whether win or lose, they‘re doing the right thing. Good for them, for once.
Well, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry meantime is focusing his own political sights a bit farther down the road than just the midterm elections. He‘s hoping his party will give him another chance to defeat the Republicans in the next presidential race.
But judging from Kerry‘s apparent inability to pack them in during a weekend stump tour in Iowa, you‘ve got to wonder—look at that picture. So sad. Now, every candidate—every candidate who wants to be president has to endure barbecues with small turnout, yawning audiences. It‘s part of the game. But John Kerry just has the stink of defeat on him. The question is, will anybody be bold enough and compassionate enough to tell him to his face? I hope so, for his sake.
Well forget the gym. Well, maybe some day soon you can forget the gym because a vaccine preventing obesity could be in our future. Scientists report that when injected, the vaccine kept rats from packing on the pounds, even after overeating.
The director of this study admits it may not be a cure-all for weight gain, but it is worth a shot. And it is worth a shot. And for all the people who criticized this as a quick fix, yes, so is penicillin. Let‘s hope this works. Here‘s to unlimited pizza.
Still ahead, Fidel Castro falls ill and Cuban Americans dance in the streets of south Florida. But will life after Castro really be different? Let‘s just say there won‘t be a Starbucks in Havana any time soon if the left has its way. We‘ll be back in a moment to explain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: For all Castro‘s attempt to impose himself on the Cuban people, much the same as what his brother did. So, no, there are no plans to reach out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: That was Tony Snow earlier today talking about what could happen in a post-Fidel Cuba. The party has been going strong in Miami‘s Cuban American community ever since news crossed of Castro‘s latest illness. But the next guest says the possible end of Castro‘s regime not necessarily cause for celebration.
Philip Brenner is one of the authors of the book “Sad and Luminous Days: Cuba‘s Secret Struggle with the Superpower After the Missile Crisis.” He‘s also a professor of international relations at American University in Washington from where he joins us.
Professor, thanks for coming on.
PHILIP BRENNER, PROFESSOR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Good afternoon.
CARLSON: Good afternoon.
CARLSON: Why wouldn‘t Castro‘s death be a great thing in every way? Evil man held his country hostage for almost 50 years. Dead, isn‘t that liberation?
BRENNER: Well, first, he‘s not dead. And there are reports that he might not be as near his deathbed as we thought. But let‘s suppose that he‘s...
CARLSON: Wait. I‘m talking about his death. He will die at some point. Even Castro will die, right? So what happens then?
BRENNER: Even Castro—the question is, good for whom? One idea is that it would be good for U.S. corporations and the corporations would like to go into Cuba. No, it‘s the U.S. government that‘s preventing that. It has nothing to do with Fidel Castro or the Cuban government. The question is, why does the Bush administration try to prevent U.S. corporations from going into Cuba?
CARLSON: Well, wait a second. I mean, you imply, by the tone of your voice anyway, that U.S. corporations going into Cuba is a bad thing. But that you‘re also implying that the government is wrong for preventing them from going in. So, you know, pick one. Who‘s at fault, here? The corporations or the government or both?
BRENNER: Well, I don‘t know where you got the tone of my voice.
Look, Cuba certainly needs investment.
BRENNER: And U.S. corporations can provide that kind of investment. And what Cuba would like to do, of course, is control the way that investment occurs. U.S. corporations are willing to do that, to allow that kind of control, not to have total free access to Cuba. It‘s the Bush administration that doesn‘t allow that to happen.
CARLSON: Wait. Here‘s what I‘ve never understood. Why can‘t the American left concede, openly, directly, often that Fidel Castro is evil and that, you know, he runs a country where people aren‘t even allowed to leave, and that that‘s wrong, and that human rights there are severely abridged, and that he‘s an authoritarian dictator? Why can‘t they say that out loud?
BRENNER: Well, the notion of good and evil is a silly notion in international relations. That‘s why the responsible left doesn‘t use terms like that. We want to talk about what has he done that has been harmful to Cuban people, harmful to people in other countries, and that‘s been good for the Cuban peel.
It‘s undoubtedly true Cubans don‘t have free access to information, that there is really not an opportunity to vote for their officials. And there are people put in prison sometimes for their ideas, although that‘s overstated. On the other hand, Cuba has one of the highest standard of living for poor people in the world.
CARLSON: Well, wait a—this is—wait, hold on. I‘m sorry. The propaganda meter is going off. People are not allowed to leave Cuba when they want to. So isn‘t that—I mean, what else do you need to know? If people can‘t leave the country if they want, it‘s an authoritarian situation. I mean, that‘s the most basic freedom, the freedom to leave, and they don‘t have it. How can you defend that country in any way?
BRENNER: Well, in fact, they do have the freedom to leave. But they can‘t leave en masse. There are—for example, the United States allows 20,000 Cubans to come into the United States each year, and they are free to go from Cuba.
You‘re not allowed to go if you‘re of military age, but that‘s true in a lot of countries where you‘re not allowed to leave of military age. And if you go and you‘ve had, say, a medical education, you have obligations to the government. We have the same thing. If you‘ve had a medical education free from the government, we have to pay those things back.
CARLSON: You‘ve got to be—wait, wait, slow—you‘ve got to be kidding. There is no comparison between the United States government‘s policy on letting its citizens travel and Cuba‘s. I mean, the average—
The average 37-year-old man in Cuba cannot go to the airport in Havana and buy a ticket to Europe with the expectation that he‘s going to live there. He can‘t do that, as you know. So I don‘t understand why you would defend that or make excuses for that. That‘s just wrong, isn‘t it?
BRENNER: Certainly, it‘s wrong. But I‘d like to understand why you can‘t go to Cuba. You‘re not allowed to go to Cuba as an American citizen.
BRENNER: Actually, I am allowed to go to Cuba. I am allowed to go to Cuba. I am a journalist. Right. I‘m not defending the embargo. I believe, if we drop the embargo, Castro and his regime would probably evaporate under the weight of Starbucks, and that would be a good thing.
So I‘m not for the embargo because I dislike Castro. But that‘s a separate point. Simply because our policy is flawed doesn‘t mean that we have to defend Castro‘s Cuba, and my meta-question is, why has the left been doing it for almost 50 years?
BRENNER: Well, because I think that there are very—you know, does the right have one voice? No. And the left doesn‘t have one voice. There are a lot of critics, Human Rights Watch, for example, that focuses largely on right wing dictatorships, also is very critical of the Castro government. But there are large segments of the population that find in Cuba a concern about the welfare of poor people that is not found in other parts of the world.
CARLSON: Boy, I just—I couldn‘t disagree more. But I appreciate and I respect your point of view, and I appreciate your coming on.
CARLSON: Professor Brenner, thank you.
Coming up, Mel Gibson asks the Jewish community to help him in his recovery. Should the Jewish community lend a hand? We‘ll discuss it when we come right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. What other show turns itself over to its viewers? I don‘t know, but we do in our voicemail segment. First up.
ERIC IN ILLINOIS: Hey, Tucker This is Eric in Illinois. I want to know, what was the purpose of Condoleezza Rice going over to the Middle East? She has no business being over there.
CARLSON: Well, I think she has business being over there. I mean, the United States is the world‘s place. Let‘s be honest, that‘s our role. But she didn‘t do anything, so that‘s an excellent question, I guess. Going over there and, you know, pretending to take an even-handed, thoughtful approach. But everyone knew America‘s position on this from the very beginning. There was no reason to go there. I agree with you. Pointless trip. Next up.
RANDY IN HAMPTON, VIRGINIA: Randy Logstan (ph), Hampton, Virginia. Mel Gibson is not news. You think it is, you need to get a job. He‘s a bag boy at 7-11. Gosh, report some decent news. Get Mel Gibson off the air.
CARLSON: Randy, I‘ve been making a similar case to my producers for the last two days. Look, it‘s August. And I think you‘ll find this applies to MSNBC, but also to CNN and FOX and other cable outlets. The definition of news is expandable, and it changes in the middle of the summer, particularly in the month of August.
Things that we don‘t regard as say news in, say, November or February suddenly become actual news. And that‘s a phenomenon you‘re witnessing now. Mel Gibson suddenly news. Trust me, I think the story is almost over, thank God. Next up.
LILLY IN SEWARD, NEBRASKA: Lilly Frank from Seward, Nebraska. I heard that Fidel Castro was sick and that his brother might be taking over for him. I just wondering if you thought that that was be a good move for Cuba, if he‘d be a better leader. And also, what does this mean for us?
CARLSON: Well, Lilly, I‘m against hereditary dictatorships of any kind. So I‘m not sure if you could say Raul taking over would be better or worse. It‘s all pretty crumby when people appoint themselves God, as they have in Cuba are for the past 40-odd years.
So yes, I‘m opposed to it. Democracy for Cuba. That seems like a pretty good idea to me. And more than that, Starbucks for Cuba. Nothing will make that country freer, faster, than commerce from America. That‘s my view. Keep the calls coming. You‘ve got our number. Give us a buzz.
That‘s the story from Bethel, Maine, tonight. Thank you for watching.
Up next, “HARDBALL.” Have a great night.
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