Guests: Bill Press, A.B. Stoddard, Mark Reis, Mary Ann Akers
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the show. According to British press reports out today, the Clinton administration tapped Princess Diana‘s phone in the days before she was killed in a car accident in 1997. That is right, not Mohamed Atta‘s phone, not Osama bin Laden‘s phone, Princess Diana‘s phone. Why would Bill Clinton want to spy on an unemployed blonde 36-year-old woman? For the answer, stay tuned on Jay Leno tonight, he will know.
Meanwhile, Democrat William Jefferson of Louisiana was reelected to his ninth term in Congress this weekend, crushing his opponent in the runoff election to represent the City of New Orleans. Even by local standards Jefferson is colorful, which is to say, crooked.
Not only has the FBI videotaped him taking what it says 100 grand in bribe money, but at least $90,000 of that money was found in Jefferson‘s freezer in the current in his kitchen at home. Two of the congressman‘s close associates, including a member of his staff, have pleaded guilty in that same bribery investigation. Jefferson himself is expected to be indicted sometime next year.
And yet, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin endorsed Jefferson anyway. In predominantly black districts, Jefferson won 79 percent of the vote. That is an almost North Korean margin. All of which makes you want to send even more of your tax dollars to New Orleans for hurricane relief, doesn‘t it?
Keep in mind too that Jefferson will serve until or unless he is hauled away in handcuffs in what Democrats are billing as the most ethical Congress in history. A body that has cast off the quote “culture of corruption” created by the Republicans. Yes, that sound you hear in the background is in fact the irony alarm going off.
Well, there was nothing ironic about Barack Obama‘s trip to New Hampshire this weekend. The Illinois Democrat and Democratic heartthrob did his best not to address the 2000 race directly, though he did say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: I am suspicious of hype. The fact that I have become—that my 15 minutes of fame has extended a little longer than 15 minutes I think is somewhat surprising to me and completely baffling to my wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Joining me now, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill newspaper; MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan; and Bill Press, author of, among many other books, “How the Republicans Stole Religion.” On my bedside table.
Welcome to you all. Bill Press, since you are right there, what exactly...
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Another objective work.
CARLSON: Objective work, exactly. More hard-hitting reporting.
BILL PRESS, AUTHOR, “HOW THE REPUBLICANS STOLE RELIGION”: Well, let‘s talk about immigration first if you want objective work here.
CARLSON: So, Bill, what exactly is Barack Obama running on? Because he is running. Do we even pay attention to what he is saying or is it all about Barack Obama the man?
PRESS: It is about Barack Obama the man. It is about Barack Obama the rock star. You know, but he sort of can‘t win. I mean, if he went to New Hampshire and nobody turned out, everybody would say, you see, all of this hype, it doesn‘t work.
He goes to New Hampshire. He has 150 reporters, which is a few more than Pat Buchanan had when he went to New Hampshire. Everybody says, oh, he is peaking too soon. Look, let him enjoy his run. I think he is hot presidential property. And Hillary Clinton is shaking in her boots.
CARLSON: I kind of agree with you, except then I heard—I mean, because I think it is an interesting story, and I think he is a talented guy and a compelling figure, Pat. But I was struck, amazed and disheartened to read—he was actually giving a speech on universal health care, which was so 1993, A. And B, the same old same old.
BUCHANAN: Well, universal health care is not one of those subjects that brings them out of their chair in New Hampshire.
BUCHANAN: They want to talk about guns. All right. Look, I will say this, he has gotten himself so far out there, Tucker, and he has got this big boomlet going, I do not know how he crawls back in from that limb. I think this guy has virtually put himself into this race. And I hope he is prepared for what is coming, because Hillary has been vetted to a T. There is nothing more we can learn about her. We don‘t know anything about this guy.
And I think he is going to have a very, very rough year. But there is no doubt about it, he is making all of those other candidates who are challenging Hillary look pretty bland.
CARLSON: Well, we know that he has done cocaine, because he said so, A.B., in his book. We know he smokes cigarettes. We know his middle name is Hussein. What else is there to know about Barack Obama that is going to be shocking?
A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: Well, I mean, I disagree with in that if he decides to pull out, there is no loss for him. I mean, you know, if he stays in, he gets pummeled, and we all know that is part of the process. He is being cautious enough to say, I‘m not going to run unless I‘m qualified. And he is going to try to dig up some substance in the coming months before he...
BUCHANAN: He is going to discover whether he is...
STODDARD: ... officially announces.
BUCHANAN: ... qualified in the next month or not?
STODDARD: Apparently he is. And I have a feeling he is going to pull back on universal health care when he does, should he run. But he is also trying to be humble and say, you know, I am really so surprised by the hype.
But I think it is just so telling about the opening—the sort of anti-Hillary opening. And there is a mirrored—they are opening exact same one on the Republican side with McCain. He is so—in my eyes, so much the early front-runner and has done so much of the work, yet there seems to be this—just this hostility towards him. And I just feel that is opening when you—and I talked to Democrats about this not so much, you know, how do feel about Obama, but how do feel about Hillary? And there is such hemming and hawing and Al Gore.
CARLSON: Is this all about Hillary?
PRESS: Well, there is a yearning inside the Democratic Party, on the part of many people, not a lot, because she has got her band of supporters, and they are strong, they are legion, and they are big, and they are powerful, and they have got a lot of money. But there is also a yearning...
CARLSON: But you make them sound scary. They are legion and they are big.
PRESS: Well, I will tell you, they are scary if you talk about the Hillary crowd. They are huge. But there is also a yearning within a great part of the Democratic Party for an alternative to Hillary Rodham Clinton. They don‘t see it in Evan Bayh, you know, they don‘t see it in Joe Biden, they don‘t see it in Bill Richardson, or Tom Vilsack. And Barack Obama has suddenly emerged as the guy. I think that, as much as anything, is what is fueling this campaign.
BUCHANAN: You know, if you take out Hillary, who is really a strong -
I mean, she is frontrunner not pre-emptive, but she is very strong. You need one of two things. You need charisma. Barack has got—Obama has got that. Or you need a blazing issue, a McGovern anti-war issue. And this is a problem with Vilsack and Biden and Kerry and the others—even Edwards has got the poverty thing. But that is not enough to do it.
But I will say this. Barack Obama is forcing the pace. Hillary is moving much faster to, you know, make people commit themselves now because she knows she has got a real challenger. I still think the one person that can beat her, and I may be the last guy to think so, is Al Gore if he gets into this.
BUCHANAN: I‘m not. I think he has got...
BUCHANAN: He is the anti-war candidate. And he has got the environment issue. And he is a mean guy who will go right at here. I think he could knock her off. I think it would be a great race.
CARLSON: Well, pardon my old-fashioned instinct to want to put everything in ideological terms, maybe...
BUCHANAN: He is Nixonian, Tucker. He is Nixonian. That is what I think.
CARLSON: He is kind of dark and brooding. You know what I mean? But I would like to know, I would like see his Internet search engine and what terms he is searching. I think that would be very interesting.
But, A.B., where is he politically? I know he says, oh, I am beyond left and right and we are in this new era. And to some extent he is right. But to some extent...
STODDARD: Oh, no, no, I mean, I...
CARLSON: Is he liberal? Is he conservative?
STODDARD: Apparently he is very liberal. I did not cover him in his early life but he is apparently very liberal. And until we get to his record...
CARLSON: What does that mean? What does it to be very liberal?
STODDARD: Too liberal. I mean, liberal is not allowed anymore, in case you have not noticed.
STODDARD: And I think that, like I said, I‘m not going to be surprised if Barack Obama runs if he does not moderate some of those positions before the primary even. Barack Obama is going to run on his likeability. And that is what he is going to run on. And those—and the substance will come later and it will be doctored and it will be tailored.
CARLSON: Has anybody ever done that?
STODDARD: But the likeability thing I really think is important here.
STODDARD: The—you can‘t—John Jerry is learning this, Hillary Clinton knows this from her husband. She has never been able to get the magic dust to rub off on her. You can‘t outsource likeability. And the hunger for likeability and charisma right now is so powerful.
BUCHANAN: Tucker, Ike ran on likeability, but he was also supreme allied commander...
CARLSON: Right. When you win the Second World War, you can do that.
Has anybody else ever done that?
PRESS: Well, I just want to go back to this liberal factor. I think Barack Obama is very much a centrist from what I read. He is not out there saying, bring the troops home tomorrow from Iraq. But in fact something we had better throw into this discussion. We—it may all be dated, because just a few minutes before we started this show, it was announced that Dennis Kucinich is running for president. The Barack Obama star may fall rapidly.
CARLSON: ... last campaign—fueled his campaign bus...
PRESS: You talk about liberal.
CARLSON: ... with vegetable oil. And when it drove, it smelled like Dunkin Donuts. And for that reason alone I really liked him.
PRESS: Watch out, Barack Obama.
CARLSON: You say he is a centrist. Can you think, apart from the war
and I guess he is not taking Kucinich position on the war, so he‘s technically a centrist, but apart from that, is there any subject in which he deviates from the kind of Democratic orthodoxy?
PRESS: Well, I do not think he is out there for universal health care so far as I know. He wants to do something about health care, but not turn it over to the government. Look at his record in Illinois. He was very much a centrist state senator who did not really make any waves. I think Pat is right. He has got charisma, he is articulate, he is a fresh, new face. And...
BUCHANAN: But he has also got, frankly, a new issue...
PRESS: He is the most exciting guy out there.
BUCHANAN: A rising issue in the Democratic Party is fairness, equity on economics, fair trade rather than free trade, and I think he is sort of differentiating himself from Hillary. I didn‘t vote for this war, I thought it was mistake, he says, which is the right position to be in.
PRESS: Right. Because he wasn‘t there.
BUCHANAN: I think the tough fairness on the trade issue is a good one for him to be in.
CARLSON: Do you think he will actually come out—I mean, that is a total rejection of Clintonism. If there is one issue that is synonymous with Clintonism, it is, you know, Democrats taking on free trade. You know, NAFTA and all that. Can he really do that, come out against NAFTA?
BUCHANAN: Sure. You know, you take—what is this, CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, 15 House members, Democratic House members voted for it, and they tried to purge them all. The AFL-CIO did. So, you know, fair trade is hitting the Democratic Party now. Hillary, free trade is not it.
CARLSON: A.B., quickly, can you think of an issue where he deviates from, say, Hillary where he is to the right of any other major Democratic candidate?
STODDARD: No, right now that is the issue that everyone is focused on. That is the issue where he‘s gotten the most—where he is building his profile, is, I didn‘t vote for the war. He is talking about global warming and things that, you know, again, I just do not believe that in April the Barack Obama that we‘re reading about now is going to be talking the same talk.
CARLSON: No, you are totally. No, that is always the case.
All right. Still to come, a rabbi wanted to see a menorah next to the Christmas trees at his local airport, so the airport took down the Christmas trees. The war on Christmas now includes a Hanukkah? Apparently so.
Plus, it is a new day for the U.S. Congress where a man found with tens of thousands of dollars in ill-gotten cash in his freezer can get re-elected in a landslide. If you love amazing stories of accused politicians, and we hope you do, stick around.
CARLSON: Well, you can argue about whether there is a full scale war on Christmas under way in this country, but there is no debating that a major skirmish is currently taking place at Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle, Washington.
The Port of Seattle has removed its annual stand of Christmas trees because a local rabbi threatened to sue if an eight-foot tall menorah was not put up to balance the religious symbolism. The theory, if he didn‘t bring enough gum for the whole class to chew, you know the rest. Here to explain what happened, Mark Reis. He is the managing director of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Mark, thanks a lot for coming on.
MARK REIS, SEATTLE-TACOMA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: My pleasure.
CARLSON: So, you kind of screwed everybody here. So the rabbi wants a menorah, so you say nobody can have his or her religion represented at Sea-Tac. What is the logic here?
REIS: About 10 years ago we changed the holiday decorations at Sea-Tac in order to make them more secular, if you will, removed and the angels and the other things that are more associated with Christmas, and tried to make a set of decorations that really spoke to everybody. And in doing that, we thought we had put this issue behind us.
Certainly no one had ever complained about the decorations until this year. And when we were threatened with a lawsuit and given a very short timeframe to respond, we just did not have time to sort out what would be an appropriate cross-cultural representation that would not offend any specific faith and decided that the best solution was to remove the holiday trees rather than face a lawsuit.
CARLSON: So in other words, for a number of years, literally millions of people from all over the world have come through your airport, because it is very much an international airport, seen these Christmas trees. Nobody was offended, one crackpot gets mad and you immediately buckle under the pressure. Cowardice? That seems like the term.
REIS: Well, I do not know that I would prefer to the person as a crackpot. And I think, it is a member of our community, it was certainly representative of an important faith in our community. And we did not think it appropriate on one hand to be in a big federal lawsuit with this particular individual and the organization. And we did not feel like we had the time to include other faiths in what might have been a more ecumenical display.
CARLSON: OK. But here‘s the reason I‘m calling him a crackpot. It isn‘t—needless to say it is not an attack on his faith. Here is the crackpot part. A Christmas tree is not a Christian symbol. A Christmas tree is nowhere of course mentioned in the Old or New Testaments, it is not a religious symbol. It is a—you called it a holiday tree. It is not a tree that reminds us of Jesus, it is a tree that reminds us it is winter and it is the holiday season. And so the idea that that would be an explicitly Christian symbol to one guy, that is a crackpot position. I guess that is my point.
REIS: Well, I do not know that I disagree with you. Certainly we still have some wreaths up at the airport and I have been asked, well, what is the difference between the wreath that is still here and the trees that are gone? And I have to say that would be something you would have to get some specialized legal help to...
CARLSON: OK. Wait, wait, wait, now wait—no, here‘s the point. You do not need specialized legal help. Look, I feel for you. I would hate to be in a position where I had to please people in the way that you do. However, doesn‘t somebody need to stand up for common sense and—right?
I mean, just say, look, I‘m sorry you do not care for the Christmas tree, pal. I‘m sorry you‘re going to sue, but, you know, up yours. I‘m sorry, we are not going to change because this is a principle worth defending. Shouldn‘t you be the sort of—the first line of defense against the destruction of our civilization?
REIS: Well, I feel flattered to have been elevated to such an appropriate level here. I think that it is a legitimate question. We have been—I have gotten a number of e-mails from around the country in the last couple of days suggesting something very similar to that.
REIS: On the other hand, we also don‘t want to be in a position where we are spending tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to follow—or to pursue litigation if we could just step back for the one season and look to figure out what would be the appropriate, balanced approach to the 2007 holiday season.
CARLSON: Right. I just hate how one misfit with a lawyer gets to determine what everyone gets to look at. It is very upsetting. Mark, I am sorry to have to deal with this. I know you are doing your best. Thanks a lot for joining us.
REIS: Thank you.
CARLSON: Coming up, there is nothing better than gossip and we plan
to have it every day starting today. What is the inside story on Barack
Obama, for instance? I would tell you now, but you would not stick around
if I did, so I won‘t. Stay tuned
Plus, salacious information about the late Lady Diana. The U.S. government may have been spying on her before she died. What is that about? We will tell you when we come back.
CARLSON: At 5:00 a.m. Eastern on Saturday when all of America but the real partiers and possibly Pat Buchanan slept, the end of the Republican rule of Congress officially ended. It began 12 years ago with a lot of promises—some of those were written down in the Contract with America.
Its time to see how they did. Here again, to give the Republican Party its final grade, three of the savvyest minds in politics -- A.B. Stoddard, she‘s the associate editor of “The Hill,” MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and Bill Press, author most recently of “How the Republicans Stole Religion.” Boy the more I read that, the more I want to read the book.
PRESS: You can read it. I‘ll give you a free copy.
CARLSON: So here‘s the Republicans 12 years ago. I was one of the eight dumb people who actually believed this—going to get rid of the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Education, Public Broadcasting, National Network for the Arts. At the end, they wind up adding another entitlement, the first in a long time, the prescription drug benefit. Bill, you must be pretty pleased with what they did.
PRESS: They didn‘t call it the do nothing Congress for nothing. I mean, and remember where we were a year ago—what was George Bush doing a year ago? He was running around the country saying Social Security reform. We‘re going to do that this year. Tax reform, we‘re going to do that this year. Ethics reform, we‘re going to do that. Immigration reform, we‘re going to do that. They did none of the above.
CARLSON: It‘s a pretty liberal record though. I mean in a way
PRESS: A liberal record—doing nothing is not a liberal record.
CARLSON: The only legislative accomplishment of historic significance as far as I can tell is the prescription drug benefit. I mean that‘s hardly conservative—that‘s very liberal.
PRESS: It‘s a lousy plan that screws a lot of people because of this donut and it was written by the prescription drug companies. And you can‘t import cheaper drugs from Canada. And you can‘t negotiate, the federal government can‘t negotiate with the drug companies for lower prices. So, it is a bum deal.
CARLSON: Do you see this as liberal? Am I the only crazy person who sees this as liberal?
BUCHANAN: Are you on this Medicare program yourself?
BUCHANAN: You‘re not? You don‘t get any of that Medicare? No.?
BUCHANAN: I do.
CARLSON: You do? Does it work?
BUCHANAN: Listen, I‘ll say it works. Yes, I do not think I should be getting it, I was against it. You know and I feel sort of—you know what are we doing getting somebody a health for nothing ...
CARLSON: Do you feel guilty for it?
BUCHANAN: Yes, sort of.
UNIDENTIFIED: Are due going to give it up? No.
BUCHANAN: No. But, ‘I‘ll tell you, No Child Left Behind, they did that one, and that‘s a big spending government intrusion into education, a very liberal program.
STODDARD: I think that‘s going to go down into history as one of the darkest moments in the Congress ...
STODDARD: ... for the Republicans because they held that vote open and there were running around buying people‘s votes.
CARLSON: Right, that‘s true.
STODDARD: And they had Tommy Thompson who is running for president, the HHS secretary at the time, on the floor with them as well, shaking people down for votes. And it really is sort of one of the moments that I look back to as sort of the nadir.
CARLSON: But do you see the irony, and I agree with you, of course completely, but do you see the irony though, that it was a Republican Congress that held open the vote for an hour to get this passed, that is the antithesis of conservatism.
STODDARD: I do see the irony. And before I continue to bash them, I am going to say this, I am going to stick up for the House Republicans here for a minute and say that they did pass a bill that opened up exploration of ANWR, line item veto, repeal of the estate tax, immigration reform, U.N. reform—lots of things that went into the Senate quicksand.
And I think there were a lot of factors in their demise at play. Once they started to go downhill, there was so much complacency that they could not see what was happening to them. And in discussions with them this fall, both before and after the election, they really see, in particular, like the ethics clouds that were hanging over them, it was something that they just threw over their shoulder and didn‘t deal with and really could‘ve possibly saved their majority.
CARLSON: What are people going to say? They are going to say, Newt Gingrich you know led this revolution in 1994, it lasted for 12 years, and what was the result?
PRESS: Right, here‘s what we got: We have a bigger federal government, we have a bigger federal workforce, we have more big brother in our lives and we‘ve got the biggest federal deficits ever and the biggest federal spending ever. That‘s the legacy.
BUCHANAN: You got—you rammed welfare reform down Bill Clinton‘s throat—that‘s a good thing. You got the Bush tax cuts, which were, they‘re not of Reaganite dimension, but they‘re good things. You got the Federal Supreme Court justices, two outstanding ones after Miss Myers were taken out of the game.
STODDARD: I agree also—even though they didn‘t put their money where their mouth was, so to speak, I think that they changed the bar for the sort of the baseline for the tolerance of deficits and Federal spending. And I might eat my words a year from now, but I think that the Democrats do not feel they can spend the way they used to.
PRESS: But what they did is I think, they turned conservatism, well Pat, you can speak to this better than I, they turned conservatism on its head. I mean, now they are talking about George Bush, he‘s a big-government conservative and that‘s what this present Republican Party is. I mean are you no longer Republican, but I didn‘t think that conservatives would go around bragging about expanding and growing the Federal government.
CARLSON: Well, you called this—you saw this was happening back years ago when nobody else was.
BUCHANAN: It was happening in 90... look Fred Barnes coined that termed for Bill Bennett and Jack Kemp who were going to run the cabinet in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. And George Bush came saying basically he‘s a big government guy that likes working with Democrats. But on a lot of these things, you know, like the war, he is an interventionist, Bush is and the party became that.
CARLSON: A utopian?
BUCHANAN: Yes, and he‘s a big free trader. That‘s not working anymore when you take a look at what happened in Ohio and Michigan. Politically it‘s not working. So the Republican Party is in bad trouble.
CARLSON: A.B. were you struck in the coverage, some of which you wrote, of the end of the Republican Congress, the bitterness voiced by Republicans themselves. One after another get up on the floor and denounce their own party.
STODDARD: It is really amazing because my sense since November 7 is that they have no idea what happened and they are still walking into walls. That is my sense. But I spent the entire month of September interviewing 30 plus members, maybe more than 40, about what you think—where do you think you went wrong? Do you think you are going to lose the election? Oh no, no, we‘re doing better now. OK, it was after September 11th, there was a huge bump in the polls. OK, even if you retain the House, anything you would do differently? Oh, no. I mean, talk about complacent. They were completely out of it.
BUCHANAN: The war took them down.
CARLSON: No, I know, but someone, Someone needs an intervention.
Coming up, remember the annoying allure of Fran Drescher? Maybe you never felt it. he voice that shouldn‘t have been coming out of that person. Well, the Nanny went to Capitol Hill and you‘ll love the gossip about her scandalous promises, the one she made to members of Congress. We‘re not kidding.
Plus, voters have spoken and they want a cleaner, more ethical government except in Louisiana where thousands of dollars stashed in a congressman‘s freezer at home means one thing—landslide re-election. Let the good times roll, next.
CARLSON: It has been almost a decade since the death of Princess Diana, a woman Al Gore memorably, and pathetically, called the people‘s princess. According to a new BBC poll, 31 percent of Brits still think her death was not an accident. A French inquest disputed that conclusion, but on Thursday Scotland Yard will release the results of its own years long inquest.
It will include of the eavesdropping on the princess, something that the U.S. government is denying. A former spokesman for Buckingham Palace says this fuels speculation among many, including the father of Diana‘s boyfriend, Mohamed Al-Fayed, that the crash that killed them was not an accident, and that somehow the U.S. and British government, possibly the Mosad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK ARBITER, ROYAL WATCHER: ... I am not terribly sure that it was, but because there were listening to her, but maybe the second party, maybe there were interested in Dodi Al-Fayed. Nobody knows and we‘ll never, ever see or hear those transcripts of the tapes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: A.B. Stoddard, Pat Buchanan, Bill Press remain. What‘s—let‘s look at his wood, A.B. ...
CARLSON: The Clinton administration, not spying on Osama bin Laden, Princess Diana, they bugged—now why in the world would they have bugged Princess Diana‘s phone?
STODDARD: I think it is Ken Starr‘s fault.
STODDARD: I do not know. There‘s some Dodi Al-Fayed, something that we do not know. I think we need another investigation and another report.
CARLSON: I mean, I‘m not interested in Princess Diana, as a rule, but Pat, this is kind of interesting. Don‘t you think?
BUCHANAN: Well, it‘s a very interesting story, but I can only figure this, is that it‘s an NSA sweep that gets, sort of, everybody, you know. And then, after the accident occurs, they say let‘s reel back through what we got from the car, something like that. I cannot believe that these guys are sitting there listening to what is going on with Diana and Dodi Fayed. Bill can. I can see it on his face.
PRESS: No, no, no, but just one thing, they were spying on Osama bin Laden. They didn‘t get him, but they were spying on him. The Diana thing to me is just—here is the only theory—here‘s my theory, OK. None of us know what we‘re talking about, but my theory is that Scotland Yard wanted to check up on this Dodi Fayed. They didn‘t dare tap her phone themselves, and so they ask the CIA to do it for them.
BUCHANAN: That‘s a good theory.
CARLSON: They‘re saying that they did not give the U.S., the NSA, or whomever.
CARLSON: My theory is Clinton‘s reading Star Magazine. Speaking of law enforcement, in its inner section, with her public life, Bill Jefferson in Louisiana, this is the greatest quote of all, out of today‘s Washington Post, terrific story in the Post—the Post is better than the New York Times in a lot of ways, if I can just say that—here‘s a quote from a voter from Bill Jefferson‘s district, Tom Golf, age 50.
He says, quote, if the federal government really wanted to help New
Orleans, they would have indicted Jefferson and taken him out of the game,
which is an excellent point. Here‘s my question, are members of Congress -
I can say, as a voter, how I feel—but are members of Congress going to be less likely to want to send a ton of federal aid to New Orleans knowing that this guy, about to be indicted, is the congressman?
STODDARD: I do not think that is how—I don‘t think that‘s—what is going to happen is Jefferson, who is no longer sitting on the Ways and Means Committee, and really no longer has really any support within his caucus of the Democratic party, is going to be outcast, and I think the Democrats are probably hoping that he gets indicted.
CARLSON: Hold on, did other members of Congress go and campaign for, was it Carter, the woman he ran against? Did anybody campaign for his opponent?
STODDARD: No, I was told there was no support.
CARLSON: But they didn‘t actively—they didn‘t work to defeat him. I don‘t remember any active members of Congress going down and saying, you know what ...
STODDARD: You know Tucker, this is a dicey thing with the Congressional Black Caucus and he --.
CARLSON: Yes, but what about ethics? This is a ...
STODDARD: We are straddling many political factors.
STODDARD: ... of ethics reform. But I think they have turned their back. Nancy Pelosi did kick him off his committee.
CARLSON: You are such a diplomat.
BUCHANAN: Wasn‘t the mayor of our city indicted and convicted and reelected and nobody objected?
STODDARD: The people have spoken.
BUCHANAN: ... nobody said, cut off the funds to D.C. Tucker.
CARLSON: They should have.
PRESS: Tucker, you are forgetting something, here. It is called democracy. The people have spoken. It shows the speaker of the House threw him off the Ways and Means Committee, but the people of New Orleans said, we like dollar bills.
CARLSON: As long as you are elected, OK, as long as the people, whomever they are, the 35 percent of people who actually vote, as long as they say it‘s OK, it‘s OK?
PRESS: No, no, no, but the way it works, he does have a seat in Congress because they elected him.
BUCHANAN: It is a Louisiana tradition, Edward Edwards was elected.
You know, vote for the crook, it is important.
CARLSON: I actually don‘t think the Congress, our Congress, the federal Congress—I don‘t think it is a very corrupt body. I don‘t think this is a very corrupt city. I really don‘t think there‘s much trouble. I just think if you‘re going to run an election, you know, standing up and grandstanding on the idea that the other guys are corrupt, you can‘t allow Bill Jefferson to be elected.
BUCHANAN: What do you do?
CARLSON: You send down Nancy Pelosi to the district and she says, look, I‘m going to be speaker of the House. I know this guy. I like him a lot personally—No, you go down there and you campaign against him, and they didn‘t.
PRESS: You know what, she did and they elected him. You cannot do anything about that and he will be indicted and he‘ll lose his seat.
BUCHANAN: But, you know, you‘ve got a point Tucker. They went down and campaigned against David Duke, didn‘t they?
CARLSON: Of course they did.
CARLSON: ... Republicans, Democrats, decent people decide, you know what, this is enough. We can‘t have this. Look at the Spanish Civil War. You know, you had to take a side, and people from all over the world jumped in. Maybe that‘s too strong an analogy. How embarrassing is this?
STODDARD: It is not an ideal outcome at all. I actually that there was ...
CARLSON: You know, you have got to join the Foreign Service.
STODDARD: I think there was a little RNC 72-hour program. I think the Republicans got him elected, because nothing could of been better for them. They were hoping for Chairman Hastings, Intelligence Committee. They were hoping for Majority Leader Jack Murtha. They did not get them. The Republicans are drooling. They have the $90,000 freezer man. And this will go on for two years.
PRESS: He‘s a outcast. He won‘t be there long. It‘s an embarrassment, but it gives us something to talk about. I love it. Ever since James Stravercan (ph) we have been waiting for somebody like William Jefferson.
CARLSON: But don‘t you—look, I actually like Bill Jefferson. He‘s a very courtly guy. When he goes to prison I am genuinely going to feel sorry, as I always do whenever anybody goes away to the big house for a long time, but can we all agree that Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership ought to stop pretending like they have come to root out corruption and stamp it out, because they have not.
PRESS: The voters have the ultimate say.
PRESS: Nancy Pelosi has spoken out against him, kicked him off the committee. The voters said, we still want him. God bless America.
CARLSON: Have you lost your faith in democracy? After watching what‘s happened in Iraq, and now New Orleans?
BUCHANAN: Tucker, I never had faith.
CARLSON: Paleo to the core, Pat Buchanan, I definitely admire that. When was the last time you heard—does anybody say that, A.B., can you imagine an elected member of Congress standing up and saying, you know what, the people have spoken and the people are dumb, and this is what you get when you allow the people to speak?
BUCHANAN: You know, power is the real problem. I remember when I was writing editorials back there, they threw him out and he got reelected ...
CARLSON: He moved to Bimini. He was in a foreign country.
BUCHANAN: Yes, but they re-sat him when he did that, I believe.
STODDARD: It‘s the people‘s house. It‘s not Nancy Pelosi‘s House. I mean people—you know, when did Bob Ney run into trouble? It took him a long time to resign his seat. People, he can stick around after he gets indicted if he wants, Bill Jefferson.
BUCHANAN: James Michael Curly was elected, I think, while he was in prison, or right after in prison.
CARLSON: OK, but James Michael Curly, of course, the mayor of Boston. If the Big Dig was going on at that time, I would say, you know what, if the people of Boston want to elect James Michael Curly as their mayor, great, have fun. I‘m not paying for your highway project though.
BUCHANAN: I would say, don‘t run the cash through the mayor‘s office for the Big Dig.
PRESS: Tucker, for people in that district, he delivers for the district, he brings home the bacon. They love dollar bills and they said bring him back.
CARLSON: I think that a lot of people in that district don‘t believe that he did it. They think there is a conspiracy against him. They think he was set up, he was framed, and I think it‘s another example of the deep distrust of some communities of the federal government, and I think it‘s very sad.
PRESS: It‘s part of that. It‘s like the Marion Barry thing. I remember when I came here, saw people wearing the T-shirt that said, about Marion Barry, the bitch set him up.
CARLSON: But can we be honest now? She did set him. She did. I mean, she did. I‘ve seen the video. She did set him up. He shows up and he says, hey baby. No, let‘s smoke some crack cocaine first. I don‘t want to smoke crack.
PRESS: Who put the cash in William Jefferson‘s freezer?
CARLSON: I don‘t know, gosh. Thank you all very much.
Coming up, what is Fran Drescher best known for? Her role as Natasha the nasal nanny. What‘s she doing hanging out with our senators? Hint, it‘s got something to do with a gynecological bill. That‘s actually true. We‘ll explain in a minute.
Plus, if it is gossip and it‘s Washington and it‘s right now, it has got to be Barack Obama. The insider‘s insider, the fly in every wall, joins me next with the daily gossip update. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Every day we bring you the latest news from Washington and around the world, the meaty, the gritty, the serious, how about a break. Much to your surprise, good gossip does but only live in New York and Hollywood. It is not just Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, though honestly it mostly is. Believe it or not, Washington, D.C. also breeds some gossip, and here to bring us the latest Mary Ann Akers. She is the woman behind Roll Call‘s “Heard on the Hill,” one of the most closely read pieces of print in this entire federal district. Mary Ann, welcome.
MARY ANN AKERS, ROLL CALL‘S “HEARD IT ON THE HILL”: That might be going a bit far, but thank you.
CARLSON: Well I go a bit far, that‘s my nature. So what‘s going on?
AKERS: Not much, you wanted to talk about Fran Drescher.
CARLSON: What is she doing here?
AKERS: She is a big-time lobbyists now.
CARLSON: Fran Drescher?
AKERS: Fran Drescher, and she gets it done. Last week she was here during the lame duck session to try and get this bill passed, on Gynecological Cancer Education and Awareness Act. And in her big lobbying blitz leading up to passage of this, she was sending out e-mails to health care staffers in the Senate, saying some of the funniest things I have really ever read.
She said, please urge Senator Coburn to vote yes on this bill. No good can come to women from killing it. And she said, tell him to rather, to appreciate that the benefits he reaps by passing this bill is me. She is offering herself up. Hey, he gets to hang out with me, she is saying.
CARLSON: Gets to hang out, or he gets to ...
BUCHANAN: I know Coburn.
CARLSON: He‘s not going to do it.
BUCHANAN: That‘s not a good bribe.
AKERS: And she added, don‘t clip my wings, together we can soar to the heavens.
CARLSON: You know what, that really ought to be one of those succesories (sic) posters in like the mid-level Radio Shack manager office. Together we can soar.
AKERS: She also mentioned that she is having dinner with Senator Specter to discuss the vision for this bill. She said in this e-mail to staffers, don‘t kill the baby. If it‘s not feeling like the language of the already passed House bill, you know, we can make changes. We can turn it around. She said, look, walk away knowing you are a big man and let me be your consolation prize. Doors open when you take the Frannie ride.
CARLSON: Boy, she really is going the extra step. Now, who is she lobbying for? And since when did Fran Drescher—I mean, know, you know, scripted television is on it‘s way out and everything, but when did she become a lobbyist?
AKERS: Well, she‘s a cancer survivor and she is very, very passionate about this bill. And she got it done.
CARLSON: I bet she did. Well, if you make those kind of offers, people will vote for you. I mean, that‘s kind of the most basic, almost biblical bribery.
PRESS: You know what‘s funny to me about this is the allure that Hollywood has on the Hill with grown-up U.S. senators and members of Congress. You could bring a C star on Capitol Hill and the glitter and everything, and they gather around and they just fall all over themselves for a movie star.
CARLSON: So there is love on the hill, you were telling me?
AKERS: There is love on the Hill. Yes, as a matter of fact, Henry Hyde, 82-years-old, secretly got married the day after Thanksgiving.
CARLSON: The Congressman from Illinois, great guy.
AKERS: That‘s right. He just retired. So now he is now retired, Henry Hyde, married his longtime chief of staff.
CARLSON: For real?
AKERS: For real. Yes, it‘s true. And who knows when we would have heard about this if not for Congressman Mike Pence, a little loose lipped on the floor on Friday.
CARLSON: But not in a whistle blowing kind of way.
AKERS: You know how crazy things happen in the waning hours of Congress, and just as they were about to bang the gavel ...
CARLSON: I thought of watching C-SPAN that late, and now definitely not. It does get pretty wild over there.
AKERS: It gets wild on the floor of the House of Representatives, and Mike Pence said, wow, I‘ve just heard that Henry Hyde got married the day after Thanksgiving, who knew? And it turns out he married his longtime chief of staff. Henry Hyde‘s wife died in 1992. And she is divorced for many years. And here they go.
CARLSON: That is very sweet. What is he going to do?
AKERS: No clue.
BUCHANAN: Isn‘t he going to stay here. He‘s not going to go back to Illinois, is he?
AKERS: I do not know what he‘s going to do. I mean, he is 82. He‘s not in the best of health.
BUCHANAN: He‘s been here a long, long time.
AKERS: This is a who he used to play basketball for Georgetown and is now in a wheelchair much of the time.
BUCHANAN: Oh, I didn‘t know he was in a wheel chair.
AKERS: A lot of the time.
BUCHANAN: I used to see him play for Georgetown. Did you know that?
BUCHANAN: No, my father went to Georgetown. We would take a few games when I was a little kid.
AKERS: You have been around a while.
BUCHANAN: A long time.
CARLSON: I was going to say, that was what, 50 years ago.
PRESS: Good for Henry Hyde. You know, Jerry Brown got married a couple of years ago for the first time in his life at 67, last year. Now Henry Hyde is getting married at 82. I have got to tell you, Tucker ...
CARLSON: It‘s nice to see—hear something about romance in Washington that does not have to do A, with underage boys, or with something illegal. No, I just think it is wonderful.
What are you hearing now, since you are at the nexus of, you know, gossip in politics, and you are a major gossip power broker here, an information power broker here in Washington, you must get a lot of people calling you up with tips they think are going to help their political campaigns. What are you hearing about Barack Obama?
AKERS: Well, you know, I get a lot of tips and sometimes I just can‘t do anything with them, because you can‘t substantiate them. So, even though we call it a gossip column ...
BUCHANAN: You can put them out over the air, just put them out over the air.
CARLSON: Oh, right.
AKERS: I will just give them to you, and you can tell them. OK, how about that?
CARLSON: Pat makes a great point. There‘s still a five second delay.
PRESS: Put it on a blog.
AKERS: No, all I‘m hearing—I did run into one Democratic political consultant, adviser, over the weekend, who said he would not be surprised if Hillary decides not to run as Obama Mania takes off. I think that‘s going a bit far. I think this is somebody who is probably in the Obama camp. So, those kinds of things are going on.
CARLSON: It raises a great question, if you are Hillary Clinton and you are genuinely succeeding in the Senate, it sounds like she is genuinely succeeding. Everyone likes her, a lot of people like her. Why wouldn‘t you just stay there? Whey would you risk it all to become president? I don‘t get that.
PRESS: Because becoming president is the most powerful person ...
BUCHANAN: Have you ever worked in the White House. It‘s a lot of fun Tucker.
CARLSON: Is it really?
BUCHANAN: It is a great place.
CARLSON: I go there for the Christmas party, that is it.
PRESS: Well Some of us used to get invited to the Christmas party before this president came in. Pat and I haven‘t been for the last six years.
BUCHANAN: I haven‘t been in 12 year—or 14, 15 years, but look.
CARLSON: Running for president against his father ...
BUCHANAN: But why would you want to be Hillary—I mean, after she‘s been in the White House eight years, and been there. And, of course, she‘s got a big deal up in the Senate. But I can see the enormous attraction to the White House that she may be able to succeed her husband there. It‘s an enormously pull.
PRESS: Yes, you‘re one of a hundred in the Senate. It‘s a great job.
BUCHANAN: And you‘re in history.
PRESS: ... the most powerful person on earth when you‘re president of the United States. Of course she wants to be president.
BUCHANAN: Even Filmore is in the history books.
CARLSON: Boy, I think I need more ambition.
AKERS: A lot of gossip in the White House, too.
CARLSON: Mary Ann Akers, thank you both very much. Pat Buchanan, thank you. Bill Press, outstanding.
Coming up, with the whole world Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton declares something. What exactly was it and why did she say it? Answers loom. We have the answers, in fact, not to brag. Stick around.
CARLSON: Believe it or not, we haven‘t covered it all. There were a few other comment worthy headlines today. And with those the vice president of MSNBC and our old friend. Bill Wolff is here, Bill.
BILL WOLFF, VICE PRESIDENT OF MSNBC: Tucker how are you?
WOLFF: Good show today.
WOLFF: You put Pat and Bill and A.B. in the same room, it will be a good time.
WOLFF: It‘s true. It‘s absolutely true. It‘s illegal in some states, not in the District though. As noted before the commercial break, Senator Hillary Clinton made a declaration about her presidential run while visiting an aircraft maintenance facility, the former Griffiss Air Base in upstate New York. That‘s near Syracuse. The declaration was that she‘s talking to her advisors about whether or not to run, but she won‘t declare the answer to that question until after the new year. So, it was her first official declaration that she‘s thinking about a declaration, Tucker.
CARLSON: That is so -- I mean that is ...
WOLFF: I‘m not making it up.
CARLSON: That is six degrees of Kevin Bacon. I mean, that is really
WOLFF: Well, it also—when that is news worthy. She is now announcing that she is thinking about announcing, but she‘s not announcing when she will announce about her announcement.
CARLSON: Oh yes, no bells went off in the newsroom. I‘m sure people were roused form their naps.
WOLFF: Yes, and it wound up on national TV thanks to you, Tucker. In another story that‘s unbelievable, three officials at the State Department told the “Washington Post” that in order to find Iranians who could be sanctioned for their involvement in the Iran‘s secret nuclear weapons program, which we believe exists, the Department of State assigned a junior foreign service officer simply to use Google.
People who‘s names came up most frequently in searches for Iran and nuclear have become targets for international rebuke in a draft resolution that was circulated at the U.N. on Friday, and I thought the Internet was just for shopping and gambling, Tucker. It turns out national security as well. You too can work in national security.
CARLSON: Shopping and gambling, now Bill, I think we are leaving some things out.
WOLFF: It‘s a family program Tucker. We‘re on early in the day, you understand. We‘re leading into “HARDBALL.” We can‘t be talking about that stuff. And finally, what‘s known in the trade as good video, Tucker. We got a split screen for you. That‘s a TV trick. On one side, an amazing car crash from today. It occurred in California, nobody hurt. Oh, it‘s on the right. Look at that, he goes crazy.
And on the left it‘s penguins. They‘re getting their exercise at a Japanese zoo because zoo keepers legitimately are concerned the little guys not put on too much weight over the winter. Now that‘s good video and a crass play for ratings. This is a true story for you about penguins, Tucker, we hired consultants at a network I used to work at, and the said, well you really want to know what‘s good for ratings? Animals are good for ratings. Well now, we weren‘t in the animal business, but he said animals are great, and it has been proven, penguins are the best. If you can put penguins on TV, you will get ratings, and therefore you just saw them Tucker.
CARLSON: That is the single most—and it‘s hard to shock me. I‘m essentially unshockable. That‘s the single most cynical thing I‘ve ever seen on television. The split screen with penguins walking and a car driving out of control.
WOLFF: That‘s right. And then a split screen of me and you. There you have it. Oh, listen to those TV‘s going on all over America, Tucker.
CARLSON: There‘s a reason you‘re vice president of the network, Bill.
WOLFF: I‘m still trying to figure it out myself.
CARLSON: The great Bill Wolff. Thanks a lot Bill.
WOLFF: My pleasure Tucker.
PRESS: Happy feet, Happy Feet, the number one movie of America. And that‘s why, because people love penguins.
CARLSON: They love penguins, and I love penguins too. And I don‘t, in any way, mean to cast dispersions on penguins, on the penguin community.
PRESS: Except they are gay.
CARLSON: Hey, I don‘t have a problem with that. No, there‘s nothing wrong with that.
PRESS: Gay penguins?
CARLSON: Quickly, we just batted around this all about Barack and Hillary, is it possible—is it actually possible that one or both of them doesn‘t run? Can you quickly tell me? Bill, do you thin ...
PRESS: Yes, absolutely.
CARLSON: What do you think the odds are Barack Obama is going to run?
PRESS: I‘d put it up in the 92 percent and Hillary in the 95 percent, but, Tucker, we‘ve been around long enough. In politics, anything could happen. One of them could decide not to run for whatever reason.
BUCHANAN: I put Barack Obama around 50 percent right now, trending upward, and Hillary, I would put her at 85 or 90. I think, unless something happens, she‘s going.
CARLSON: Last question, but you‘ve run for president Pat. People say, I am going to talk this over with my family. I‘m going to, you know, get my family‘s input on this. Does that actually play a role, or is that just cover?
BUCHANAN: No, it does. Sure it does. Do you want to go through this again type of thing. Sure it does and here‘s what‘s going to happen, what we‘ve got to go through, and stuff. Yes, I think it does play a role.
BUCHANAN: So Mrs. Obama actually could veto this?
BUCHANAN: I don‘t know if she could or not. My guess would be yes.
I‘ll tell you who was vetoed. I think Colin Powell ...
CARLSON: Colin Powell, that‘s exactly right. Thank you both, appreciate it. That‘s our show for today. Thanks for watching. We‘ll be here tomorrow. See you then.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.