Guests: Bill Press, Mark McKinnon, Michael Feldman, Roger Simon
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the Thursday edition of show.
A lot to discuss including, including an apparent resolution on an Iraq war resolution, the national mystery of Rudy Giuliani‘s political position, and President Bush‘s own Bidenesque articulation about Barack Obama.
We begin though with a flashback to the State of Union. Last month you‘ll remember the president addressed the country as he does by constitutional mandate every years. Like lots of other people, I watched the speech on television.
About half an hour in, I saw this...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They drove out the Syrian occupiers and chose new leaders and free elections. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a Democratic legislature. And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Now, from where I was sitting at the time it looked very much like Senator John McCain had fallen asleep. There is no shame there. I myself have napped through many State of Union addresses, but it did strike me as a pretty bold thing to do for a candidate whose age is almost certain to be an issue in the presidential election. I wrote as much in a blog for MSNBC.com.
Apparently, McCain read the blog and was outraged. I received calls from two different McCain advisers, as did an executive at NBC headquarters, demanding an apology and a correction.
McCain was not asleep, they said. He was reading the text of Bush‘s speech.
Well, in the days since I have watched the tape several times and so have my producers. My producers agree with McCain, that he was reading, not napping. For myself, I‘m still not sure what the tape shows. You can decide for yourself. You just saw it.
But I do know McCain pretty well having covered him extensively in 2000 and I think he is a pretty honest guy, so I‘ll take his word for it and acknowledge at the least that there was no way to know for certain whether he was actually sleeping or not. And I should have said that. And I‘m sorry I didn‘t.
And now the Iraq war and the tepid protest of the U.S. Congress.
Here to discuss new a non-binding, bipartisan resolution, as well as the rest of the day‘s news, we welcome Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio talk show host and author of “How the Republicans Stole Religion”—an open question—Mark McKinnon, a long-time Bush strategist and co-founder of hotsoup.com; and Michael Feldman, Democratic strategist and also hotsoup.com‘s co-founder.
Welcome, Bill and Hot Soupers.
BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: All right—Hot Soupers.
CARLSON: So this—boy, the McCain thing, they were annoyed.
A new non-binding resolution, bipartisan. Seems like there‘s a new one every day. Is this one more significant than the last? And will it actually affect the war in Iraq, Bill?
PRESS: I‘m sorry, I was sleeping while you were asking the question.
CARLSON: I actually have slept through the State of Union. You know, have a few drinks before the speech, fall sleep. I‘ll concede.
PRESS: Tucker, I think this is very significant. IT seems to me the only way to get out—to get a resolution out of the Senate was for John Warner and Joe Biden to get together on their resolutions. And it turned out to be Carl Levin who did the negotiating, not Joe Biden. Joe Biden was busy talking about Barack Obama, which I know we‘re going to talk about a little bit later.
Neither one of them had—neither resolution had 60 votes, could get 60 votes. As you know, Joe Biden said over the weekend he tried to get to John Warner and say, let‘s see if we can‘t get together, and Warner put him off and said, no, I‘m kind of sticking where I am.
But since then, the fact that these two resolutions have come together, I think it makes it certain that there will be a bipartisan, non-binding resolution out of the United States Senate saying, we Republicans and Democrats disagree with the president‘s policy.
PRESS: I think that is pretty huge.
CARLSON: Mark, there‘s all this pressure on Republicans, those who haven‘t declared their intentions on this, to not attack the president and his work policy. Specifically, the idea is that if you are against this war, or against Bush‘s prosecution of it, that somehow you are not a loyal Republican and you‘re a bad person.
That strikes me as unfair.
MARK MCKINNON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, : Well, I don‘t think so, Tucker. I think that there is an alternative resolution being worked on by Senator John McCain, who was wide awake on the job...
MCKINNON: ... as he always is, working with many of his colleagues on an alternative resolution. And we‘ll see where that goes. But I think what we are seeing there is people want to see an opportunity to succeed...
MCKINNON: ... and so that‘s what the resolution is about. And we want to give General Petraeus...
CARLSON: But the resolution is an expression of people‘s desire to see it succeed? It seems like a expression of people‘s displeasure at the president‘s policies.
MCKINNON: Well, I think people are displeased with the status quo. But I think the McCain resolution provides an alternative for Republicans and others for—an opportunity for General Petraeus and the additional troops to succeed.
CARLSON: Mike, General Casey was on the Hill today in the Senate. Pretty tough colloquy between him and Senator McCain. McCain pretty much went after him and said, you know, this has been basically a disaster.
Casey, who is a serious guy, said this, “I believe it can work. The struggle in Iraq is winnable. It will take patience and will in order to win it.”
Democrats done believe that now? What do they say? When Casey gets up, a guy who actually knows a lot about what he‘s talking about, and says we actually could win—yes, it‘s bad, but we could win, do they just dismiss that out of hand as nonsense?
MICHAEL FELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, look, I think there is no good outcome right now. I think increasingly Democrats and Republicans realize that. That‘s why you find the president increasingly isolated in that position. And I think that tactic of trying to isolate Democrats and say that we‘re somehow for losing in Iraq, or losing the war on terror by not backing the president, is a mistake.
CARLSON: Well, wait, wait, wait. Well, what are Democrats for? I don‘t know, is there a single Democrat apart from Lieberman who says we can win? And if you don‘t think we can win, then you acknowledge we‘re going to lose.
FELDMAN: I think it‘s making the best out of a very bad situation, Tucker. And I think—look, Democrats and Republicans, that‘s why they are coalescing right now around Levin and Warner. It‘s why an increasing number of people are opposing the president‘s escalation of the war, because that‘s the place where they are drawing the contrast.
Even Senator McCain, who is for larger increase in troops...
FELDMAN: ... is looking for a place to draw a contrast with the president. And I think his questioning today of Casey was very impressive, actually. And he‘s looking again to say, look, I don‘t exactly agree with how this has gone, how to we make it better?
PRESS: Tucker, here‘s the question, it seems to me. The real question is not what the Democrats are doing. Will the Republicans stick with George W. Bush or not?
And there are 21 Republicans up for reelection. They got their clock cleaned in 2006.
PRESS: They know it. So what has George Bush offered them to stick with the war on Iraq?
CARLSON: I agree.
CARLSON: I agree. Well, I don‘t know. He offers a sort of broader historical question.
I mean, if the war—if retreating from the war in Iraq turns out to be the debacle Bush says it is, then I guess from a historical point of view you don‘t want to be on the side of the people who say let‘s withdraw now.
MCKINNON: But he offers...
PRESS: They‘re tired of hearing that.
MCKINNON: He is offering an alternative plan, and we‘ll know within six months or eight months, or a year—certainly before those senators run for reelection—whether or not it‘s been successful. And if it hasn‘t, there‘ll be a new plan.
CARLSON: Well, as a political matter, here‘s what I‘m struck by. You know, it‘s always—it‘s always tough to run for the presidency from the Congress, obviously. It hasn‘t been successful for most people who have tried it. But now it seems particularly tough because of all this. I mean, they‘re all caught up in the war.
Maybe that‘s why Giuliani is doing better than a lot of people, certainly including me, ever imagined he would. There‘s this new—and I doubt you‘ve all seen it—“USA Today”-Gallup poll, and it asks very specific questions of Republicans and Independents who lean Republican about his views on social issues. Here is one that just completely blew my mind.
“Is Giuliani- generally pro-life or pro-choice?”
Now, Giuliani is for partial-birth abortion. He‘s as pro-choice as you can get. He‘s Barbara Boxer on abortion, basically.
Sixty-four percent, Mark, had no idea what his position on abortion was.
MCKINNON: Yes, sure. Sure. And I think that‘s typical of a candidate that people don‘t know all that much about and ten to put into those candidates the values and positions that they want them to have without really realizing what they really stand for. So I think that‘s the case...
CARLSON: And yet, Mike, it actually got even more specific than that. Once these potential voters, likely voters learned his position on abortion, they were asked, well, “How does that affect your decision?”
Fifty-four percent said either—these are Republicans—either they don‘t care or it would more likely to vote for him. It was, in fact, by some readings, a net gain for Giuliani to be for legal abortion.
FELDMAN: Yes. I think...
CARLSON: What party is that?
FELDMAN: ... we all discount to some extent how much viability and electability matters. People look at Giuliani in the Republican primary and they see a guy, if he can get past the far right wing of the Republican Part, somehow get the nomination, he‘s very tough to beat in a general election. And so people are making that—they‘re making that calculation. I think Democrats, by the way, who dismiss Giuliani, who don‘t think he can get the nomination, are making a mistake.
He‘s be a very potent candidate.
CARLSON: Boy, I have to say, that will be—that will be an upending of conventional wisdom, just because living here, I don‘t—I don‘t think I know a single person that thinks he‘s going to get it.
We‘re almost out of time.
Coming up, Joe Biden chose Super Bowl week to fumble his first attempt to flatter Barack Obama. Sucked up to him bad! Can Obama pick up the fumble and gain valuable political advantage to extend the football metaphor? Something we‘ll see a lot before the Super Bowl.
Plus, before you decide which was the most outrageous element of yesterday‘s Cartoon Network bomb scare in the city of Boston, stick around to find out how long it took security agencies to overreact. You will be amazed.
We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Joe Biden got a ton of attention for his opening salvos against his competition for the Democratic nomination. Some poorly-chosen words for Barack Obama did the trick there. But a more viable candidate, John Edwards, also took off the gloves yesterday to take some swings at his competition.
Here to tell us what he learned from his exclusive talk with former Senator Edwards, Roger Simon, the chief political columnist of “The Politico.”
Roger, thanks for coming on.
ROGER SIMON, CHIEF POLITICAL COLUMNIST, “THE POLITICO”: Thank you for having me, Tucker.
CARLSON: Boy, he was much fiercer. I new Edwards in 2004. You know, he was a courtly guy. He sounds more ferocious than I‘ve heard him.
Let me put up one of the quotes from your really excellent interview, what he said about Mrs. Clinton.
“We went to war, Senator Clinton and I both voted for it, and Senator Obama was not in the Senate. I have since said I was wrong, and I take responsibility for that. I have not heard Senator Clinton say that.”
That‘s about as direct an attack on her as any of the candidates have mounted.
SIMON: And, it‘s no more Mr. Breck girl for John Edwards.
SIMON: I mean, he‘s really—he‘s really tough this time. And he says, you know, Hillary Clinton has a moral decision to make on whether she says her vote was wrong. Not a political decision, but a moral one. So that means, presumably, if she doesn‘t apologize for her vote, she is immoral.
That‘s pretty tough.
CARLSON: It‘s so interesting. Campaigns change candidate, not just change their rhetoric, but change them as people. Obviously you have covered a lot of campaigns and you know that.
How has he changed since last you covered him, John Edwards?
SIMON: Well, he‘s toughening up his talk a lot. Last time he wanted the option of getting the vice presidential slot if he lost the presidential one, so he didn‘t attack anybody. And just like this time, if you see a candidate not attacking Hillary Clinton, that means he wants to be Hillary Clinton‘s vice president.
This time John Edwards knows he is not going to be offered the vice presidency, he doesn‘t want the vice presidency, so he‘s going to go for broke.
CARLSON: The quote that relay blew my mind, you asked former Senator Edwards—you said, “Is George Bush a good man in difficult circumstances trying to do the right thing?” Is he just not up to the job, but basically his heart is in the right place?
He responded, “I don‘t believe it. I don‘t.”
In other words, he‘s not giving him the benefit of doubt, he doesn‘t think Bush is a decent guy. Is that what he is saying?
SIMON: Yes. I mean, to say that he‘s not—saying he is a good man in difficult circumstances, trying to do the right thing is not only a political convention, it‘s a social convention.
SIMON: It‘s saying, look, he is a decent human being—I‘m not saying that—but Edwards didn‘t say that. He said, “I don‘t believe it. I just don‘t believe it.”
Presumably, he thinks the president is a bad man trying to do bad things. That‘s about as tough as you can get.
CARLSON: Yes. I mean, I‘m not—you know, you sort of wonder how that would play in a general election.
It seems to me—and correct me if this is a misimpression—but he is filling the Howard Dean role in this election. He‘s got the net roots, he‘s got the online—the fervent online support that Howard Dean had in 2004.
Is that the constituency he‘s playing to?
SIMON: I think you‘re right. He‘s hired Howard Dean‘s Internet guru, who was an important part of the Dean campaign. And I think this is a clear sign that the Democrats this time are not going to be running against the Republican nominee. They are going to be running against George Bush, George Bush‘s record, and George Bush‘s war in Iraq. And that is their path to victory, they believe.
CARLSON: Why is he running? Did he give you some sense? I mean, he lost, he had to have been scarred by that. He lost twice, in the primary and in the general last time, but never stopped running.
Why, I wonder.
SIMON: Well, you know, success doesn‘t teach you much, but failure teaches you a lot. And I think he learned that he needed two things this time—both to toughen up, and also authenticity.
Democrats believe that we have had an inauthentic person in the Oval Office for eight years, a guy who wanted to be baseball commissioner and fell in with Karl Rove and was sold to the American people.
John Edwards is stressing sacrifice as his way of showing he is authentic. He‘s not doing the political expedient thing. He‘s not promising not to raise taxes. He is promising, in fact, that gasoline is going to cost more under his presidency, we‘re going to have to pay more for universal healthcare under his presidency, and that Americans are going to have to sacrifice to eradicate poverty in America in our lifetimes.
That‘s all very tough stuff. And people, when you interview them in crowds after a speech, they all say, “I want to be asked to sacrifice for my country.” And they always mention John F. Kennedy. And I think he is going for that constituency.
CARLSON: Amazing. Well, he‘s running a much more interesting campaign than he did that time, I think.
Roger Simon of “The Politico.”
Thanks a lot, Roger.
SIMON: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Coming up, what happens when people whose life‘s purposes is to be obnoxious make the news? Stick around for highlights of today‘s remarkable press conference with the perpetrators of the Cartoon Network bomb scare in Boston.
Plus, Joe Biden‘s gaffe may have been his greatest gift to Barack Obama. We‘ll look at Obama‘s crafty response in today‘s reading of “The Obameter.”
CARLSON: Time for a check of “The Obameter.”
At first, Barack Obama responded diplomatically to Joe Biden‘s ill-chosen words about Obama‘s distinguishing clean and articulate qualities. Given a few more hours to think about it, though, Senator Obama dug in a bit with a statement defending previous black presidential candidates like Al Sharpton, Shirley Chisholm, and Carol Moseley Braun, from the implication that they were somehow more filthy and less able to speak English than he is.
Here with their read of today‘s “Obameter,” Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio talk show host and author of “How the Republican Stole Religion”; Mark McKinnon, Republican strategist and co-founder of hotsoup.com; and Michael Feldman, Democratic strategist and also hotsoup.com‘s co-founder.
Mike, let me just say, you look very clean and articulate today. You really do.
FELDMAN: I take that as it‘s meant and I appreciate that.
CARLSON: As it‘s meant.
FELDMAN: I appreciate that.
CARLSON: I actually felt sorry for Joe Biden. I mean, he‘s—you know, especially on the left, the political correctness is so overwhelming, you can‘t say anything without someone jumping down your throat.
What do you think? I want to put up on the screen Obama‘s very clever
almost diabolically clever response.
He said, “I didn‘t take Senator Biden‘s comments personally”—very smart—“but obviously they are historically inaccurate. African-American candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisolm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate.”
Is it over for Biden? I mean...
FELDMAN: No, I don‘t think it‘s over for Biden. Look, we‘ve all worked around enough campaigns...
FELDMAN: ... to know that it‘s not the misstatement. It‘s how you react to the misstatement, how the campaign reacts to the misstatement. This was his first day. Not a great start, but still, there‘s plenty of time for Joe Biden to recover.
CARLSON: How was—how was Obama‘s response? I mean, this is...
FELDMAN: It was very interesting.
CARLSON: Yes, it is interesting.
FELDMAN: And I actually think, you know, we were all immediately focused on Biden, but actually Obama—there was a test for Obama there, too. He is introducing himself to the American people at large. He‘s introducing himself to the African-American community nationally for the first time.
FELDMAN: And so he can‘t ignore that audience either. They have to get to know him, too.
CARLSON: That‘s a very smart point.
FELDMAN: I thought it was—that was very well done.
CARLSON: That‘s totally right.
There‘s something about, Mark, and I don‘t want to pile on her or anything, but there‘s something about Obama that leaves people to describe him as articulate. Here is the president himself on FOX yesterday talking about Obama. I think we have got the sound bite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: How do you think the troops would feel about a President Obama?
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, I don‘t know. He hasn‘t gotten elected yet. He hasn‘t even gotten the party‘s nomination, either. He‘s an attractive guy, he‘s articulate. I‘ve been impressed with him when I‘ve seen him in person. But he‘s got a long way to go to be president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Is it surprising do you think that he‘s articulate? Why does everyone say he‘s articulate?
MCKINNON: I think what he is thoughtful...
MCKINNON: ... which is refreshing for politics. And I think he thinks before he speaks. He doesn‘t speak necessarily in sound bites. But I think he comes across as very thoughtful.
CARLSON: And he actually—honestly, he is articulate. I mean, I don‘t know. You know what I mean? I mean, what do you want?
MCKINNON: But this just shows what a human microwave this game is for Joe Biden coming out of the box. And I think it‘s interesting, actually, that Obama, you know, at first sort of defended—I wouldn‘t say defended Biden, but was pretty gracious about it.
MCKINNON: And then over time I think he—there was another constituency that he has got to deal with.
MCKINNON: And very cleverly and very artfully kind of squared that...
CARLSON: Carol Moseley Braun on line four.
Bill, this is—it will be a weird campaign, though, because there are all these things—because, you know, everybody is (INAUDIBLE) in this country, and we‘re all so completely uptight about race. We can‘t even talk about it at all without cringing.
This is going to be a very weird election, don‘t you think? There are all sorts of things you won‘t be able to say if Obama is in the race.
PRESS: Yes. Listen, I think we learned a lot about both Joe Biden and Barack Obama yesterday.
I mean, I might disagree with Mike here a little bit. I think—I think Joe Biden is one of the smartest members if not the smartest...
CARLSON: Definitely. I agree with that.
PRESS: .. when it comes to foreign policy in the United States Senate, but he is a bad, if not fatal, case of logorrhea. You know? And this isn‘t—this isn‘t the first time.
I mean, remember about a month ago the convenience store quote?
CARLSON: Do I remember?
CARLSON: I have it here in my notes. It was something like—When you‘re in the state of Delaware and you go into a doughnut shop...
PRESS: Or a 7-Eleven.
CARLSON: ... you have to have an Indian accent.
CARLSON: But I guess my response is, so what? There are a lot of...
PRESS: No. No. No.
CARLSON: ... Indian doughnut shop owners. Who cares?
PRESS: So what is—you can‘t just open mouth and insert foot when you are running for president and do it over and over and over again and survive. But having said that, Barack Obama—listen, let me tell you something—he may—as the president said, right—he may not—if people think he is just a kid, he‘s not ready for president, watching how he reacted to the madrassa stuff, watching how he is snubbing FOX News, watching his new Iraq legislation, which I think is the best and the most detailed of anybody, and watching how he handled this Biden thing, this kid‘s got—he‘s got smarts. He is very good.
CARLSON: Well, he didn‘t even respond to the madrassa stuff. His sycophants in the media responded to it.
I mean, he has a huge constituency. He...
PRESS: No, he did—he came—he came out.
CARLSON: Yes, but, I mean, he didn‘t need to. The battle had already been won.
I think actually this thing, Mike, was a blessing for Obama on a bunch of levels yesterday because it obscured the announcement of his pretty dumb Iraq announcement. No, really, that we need to get out and everything will be well when we leave. It‘s a faith-based policy and nobody said that because they were busy beating up on Joe Biden.
FELDMAN: Well, look, like we said before, there are a lot of candidates running for president in the caucuses in both houses and there are a lot of Iraq policies out there. I think actually the main difference between Obama‘s policy and some of the other Iraq policies floating out there is this date certain, is this time laid down.
And by the way, if we stay that full 18 months longer, we‘ll have been in Iraq for five years, Tucker.
FELDMAN: And I think there a lot of people that think that‘s—that‘s hardly cut and run. That‘s...
CARLSON: Oh, I‘m not suggesting it is. My only point is—look, and I think the war‘s a disaster. I‘m against the war and I‘m mad at Bush for waging it.
CARLSON: However, the idea that when we pull out the Iraqis will be -
as Obama put it, let‘s give Iraq back to the Iraqis, that‘s not a serious point, actually. That‘s an irresponsible point.
PRESS: But here‘s the point, Tucker. Everybody else is fuzzy on this, everybody. The president doesn‘t say when we‘re going to leave. Even their non-binding resolution doesn‘t say when we‘re going to leave.
Barack is saying he‘s putting a date on it. Believe me...
CARLSON: Yes, I know. And then what happens?
PRESS: I think that is significant.
CARLSON: We‘ll be right back with our clean and articulate panel.
Coming up, when is President Bush a man of the people? Well, since yesterday. Actually, Mr. Bush‘s remarkable comments about CEO pay and the gap between rich and poor under our microscope in just a minute.
They were good, by the way, I thought.
Plus, the elected Jesse “The Body” Ventura to be their governor. Will the good people of Minnesota say “You betcha” to a lefty comedy writer as their U.S. senator? The candidacy of Al Franken is upon us.
Stick around for that.
CARLSON: Welcome back. After 35 years in the U.S. Senate, you would think that Joe Biden would have polished every speck of tarnish from his silver tongue, that handlers or advisers or his favorite high school teacher would have advised him what not to say about people from ethnic minority groups. Alas, he can‘t seem to help himself. Has his runaway talkativeness already doomed his presidential run?
For answers, we turn again to Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio show host and author of “How the Republican Stole Religion,” Mark McKinnon, Republican strategist, co-founder of HotSoup.com, and Michael Feldman, Democratic strategist and also HotSoup.com‘s co-founder. Welcome again to all three of you.
Before we get to Biden, very quickly, I want to go to what appears to be breaking news out of the Scooter Libby trial. I am not there. This is what we have picked up from NBC correspondents on the scene, that apparently, according to Scooter Libby‘s testimony today, Mike, he is saying that the vice president may have discussed leaking the name of Valerie Wilson, a CIA employee, to the press. Is this significant? Is this going to effect anything, how?
FELDMAN: Sure, it‘s significant, I think—well, politically it‘s significant, certainly, because all of us are talking about something that occurred that directly, I think, led to how we went to war and how that war was sold to the American people. And so every time we are engaged in that conversation, especially given what is on the evening news every night, I think that that is politically powerful. But yes, if the vice president had a direct roll in leaking the name of a covert operative, that would be major news.
CARLSON: But it wouldn‘t be a crime. I mean, isn‘t that what we learned from the beginning?
FELDMAN: That‘s not what is on trial now. I understand that. But the fact remains that that would be a big deal.
CARLSON: Well, but it—let me just say, I think this is another example of why prosecutors ought to be tied to the Justice Department. You shouldn‘t have these freelancers, like the lunatic Fitzgerald, running around destroying people‘s lives for no good reason. I hate this trial.
On the own hand, it‘s not a crime is exactly the argument that a lot of the sleazy people around Clinton argued during impeachment. It‘s not a crime, as if it matters. The president is supposed to be held to a standard higher than a legal is he not, Mark? And so, if the vice president is colluding to leak the name of a federal employee, it‘s kind of bad, isn‘t it?
MCKINNON: Well, again, I think it‘s not clear what was leaked and when it was leaked, except we do know that the guy who originally leaked this, Richard Armitage, has been nowhere in this investigation.
CARLSON Right, so again, it‘s not illegal but—I mean, it does—I don‘t know, it doesn‘t say anything good about Dick Cheney, does it?
MCKINNON: Well, We will see what the facts are when they come out.
CARLSON: His approval rating can‘t get lower. It‘s not like, wait a second, Dick Cheney shouldn‘t get the Nobel Peace Prize—
PRESS: He‘s not running for anything. Tucker, two quick points. Number one, if Scooter Libby lied to the grand jury, that is a serious matter. The chief of staff of the vice president of the United States, that‘s a serious matter. So this trial does mean something. Secondly, I think if the vice president was directing his chief of staff to talk to reporters in a way of undermining Joe Wilson‘s credibility, and we saw the notes that he scribbled on the “New York Times” thing, that means that the vice president was using the offices of the White House to get at George Bush‘s political enemies. This is Watergate all over again.
CARLSON: No, to help sell its policy. Every administration spends a lot of its time trying to convince the public of the rightness of its cause. I mean, that‘s essentially—
PRESS: But this wasn‘t selling the policy. This was undermining and cutting the legs off legitimate critics of this administration.
MCKINNON: But those were legitimate facts to know about the situation.
PRESS: Well, the fact was that the president put the big 16 words of a lie into the State of the Union Address, when he was told not to use it.
CARLSON: All right, let me get back to contemporary politics, Mike, just quickly on this Biden thing. The reason I want to bring this up again is because I think there is a tragedy at the heart of it, and the tragedy is this, the “New York Observer” piece will be remembered for these Obama, clean and articulate comments. But there are a lot of points that Biden made in there that were really smart, critiquing the anti-war policies of the other Democratic candidates.
The bottom line is, this is, I think, by far the most impressive foreign policy mind on the Democratic side running for office, and he is going to be disqualified by his own personal eccentricity. Isn‘t he?
FELDMAN: Well, I don‘t know, and it‘s a little to early to say that, but look, Joe Biden is undoubtedly very smart. He‘s blunt spoken. I think he has tremendous appeal in the party, but this is the first presidential campaign that is going to be covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all day long, every minute. Every word spoken is going to be covered and scrutinized and around the world in a split second, and that is a very tough environment to be running for president in, if you will say the very first thing that comes to your mind. It‘s blunt spoken until it‘s fatal.
CARLSON: Well, I personally love it. I mean, as a member of press, I love it—
MCKINNON: I don‘t think he is disqualified, because I think he is very smart. I think he‘s very knowledgeable on the most important issues that we‘re facing. I happen to disagree with him. But I think he is a serious, thoughtful guy, putting out serious plans for the most serious issue we face.
PRESS: But I think he may have to settle for being a great secretary of state under—you name it, President Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. And that will drive him crazy, but that may be the best that he can get.
CARLSON: Not to be mean here, but what does it say about the Democratic electorate that here you have a couple of candidates, the front runners, Hillary and Barack Obama, who are saying basically, let‘s get out and all will be well, and by the way, President Bush is evil. And then you have, by contrast, Joe Biden saying well, actually you need to deal with the civil war going on, and the Kurds in the north, and their relationship with Turkey.
He has got an actual idea about what to do next and he is not being taken seriously, whereas the fluffer candidate, as he put them, are.
PRESS: Tucker, I agree with you, and I said on this program, I think Joe Biden has the best plan for Iraq and has from the beginning, that Iraq is going to go three separate ways anyhow. We might as well see it. Joe Biden has been saying this for a couple of years.
CARLSON: But ordinary Democrats aren‘t going to vote for him though.
Should they be in charge of choosing the president?
PRESS: I also like what he said yesterday. He said, he hasn‘t heard Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama talk about Iraq until they started to run for president and he has been on the case. He is right. The problem is he is his own worst enemy with the lose lip, foot in mouth problem.
CARLSON: Well, speaking of candidates who say things candidates don‘t normally say, Al Franken is going to be running, it looks like, and I talked to Al Franken about this at some length, and I believe it is true. He‘s going to be running against Norm Coleman in Minnesota. Is he taken seriously? Will the party get behind him? Can he raise the money?
FELDMAN: Yes, he can raise the money. The party will take him seriously and the party may get behind him. He is knowledgeable on the issues. He will certainly attract a lot of attention and as he likes to say, and it‘s interesting, he is the only New York Jew running in that race who is actually from Minnesota. This is his line, not mine. Coleman is from Brooklyn.
CARLSON: But Coleman, I think, converted, didn‘t he?
FELDMAN: I don‘t know. It‘s a great line.
MCKINNON: If he can maintain a sense of humor, he may have some shot, but the problem is that he hasn‘t over the last couple of years. And I‘ll tell you, a woman very close to me, to whom I‘ve been married for 26 years, went to see him recently, as a long-time Democratic, and she was really put off by how bitter and mean and angry he was, and he has got to find a more optimistic tone or he isn‘t going to make it.
CARLSON: I agree with that, I actually kind of like Al Franken. I mean, I like certain things about him, but when he gets into strident, Pol Pot mode, it‘s pretty unappealing.
PRESS: You know, Tucker, if you remember back to the spin room days, we used to have Al Franken on as a guest often. And sometimes he was really funny. When he was really funny, he was really great. And sometimes he would be so dour, you know.
CARLSON: When he would want to get into the arcane of the law of the sea treaty, or something like that.
PRESS: You know, be Al Franken and I think he will be great. There
are a lot of people in Minnesota who resent the fact that Norm Coleman has
Paul Wellstone‘s seat. And they‘d like to get it back and Al Franken‘s a
CARLSON: Paul Wellstone‘s seat?
PRESS: Yes, it is.
CARLSON: God, the hangover from that.
PRESS: A good hangover to have.
CARLSON: What did you think of Bush‘s speech yesterday, in which he mentioned CEO pay, a subject that I just know from doing shows on it, and our ratings, I think those resonate with Americans. They think that CEO pay is out of whack in some cases and the system is rigged and I believe they are right. And Bush basically alluded to that. He said there ought to be some connection between work and reward. It‘s a pretty radical thing for a Republican—corporatist Republican president to say.
FELDMAN: I give him credit for it. He did say it after walking off the floor of New York Stock Exchange, by the way.
MCKINNON: Which was ringing up yet another one of its record days.
FELDMAN: The bottom line is I do give him credit for it. I think President Bush realize that not everybody is experiencing or benefiting from this economy right now, and I think he has to begin speaking to people who are looking at the stock mark, and saying, that‘s great. They don‘t feel it in their paycheck. They don‘t see it when they come home. They don‘t have health insurance. They have trouble supporting their family, day in and day out, so I think it‘s important --
CARLSON: Wait I must say, I‘m old enough to remember eight years ago, that‘s how old I am. And I remember the Clinton years, there was this orgy of corporate throne sniffing. I mean, we never heard the of the Dow, the Dow Industrial, the Big Board, and the tech heavy NASDAQ. And both were doing really well, and Clinton was getting all the credit for it, and this was seen as an incredibly great thing. Now the stock market, who knows where it is, it‘s really high, but nobody cares. Why is that?
MCKINNON: Well, I think that we have seen that there are a lot of other factors that people are starting to consider, like their health care costs and it‘s not just the typical markets that we are used to. And I thought it was great for the president to recognize that yesterday, and demonstrate the connection and suggest that there should be performance benchmarks as well.
CARLSON: So is Bush the socialist before it?
PRESS: He was right about executive compensation, in my judgment, and I also salute him for saying so. He was also right when he alluded to the fact that the gap is growing between the very, very wealthy and the poor in this country. The problem is, his policies have contributed to that. That he did not being acknowledge. And that‘s why more people don‘t feel good about the economy, Tucker, because a lot of people are finding themselves, you know, their level of income and everything is going down.
CARLSON: Yes, there have been a lot of studies on this, and this a matter of not just economics, but of psychology, but that show that people perceive the economy in ways that aren‘t always accurate.
PRESS: But you know, perception is reality.
CARLSON: That‘s another point. That‘s right. Coming up, imagine being in an ambulance during yesterday‘s Cartoon Network created Boston gridlock. Still think it‘s a funny story? Point fingers in any direction and you‘ll find responsibility and outrage, and we‘ll do that next.
Plus, how will Rex Grossman‘s game management affect Chicago‘ chances? Will the Bears (INAUDIBLE) pressure Peyton Manning into mistakes. I literally have no idea, but MSNBC chief Super Bowl 41 correspondent Willie Geist knows all. So stick around for his analysis.
CARLSON: Here‘s a question, what happens to people‘s whose purpose is to defy conformity and convention attract the attention of the news media? Answer, press conferences like the one held today by the perpetrators of yesterday‘s Boston bomb scare. Here‘s a sample.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think my dreadlocks are pretty nice and they‘re going to keep growing for a little while, and maybe they‘ll reach my knees or something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m getting sort of more due to a haircut, because (INAUDIBLE) my bangs now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Very close to a mullet that man has. At the risk of sounding like a menopausal kindergarten teacher, it‘s all funny until an entire city shuts down and until you stop to consider the actual response time of security officials to yesterday‘s suspicious objects. Response time, three weeks.
Joining us now, Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio talk show host and author of “How the Republicans Stole Religion,” and Mark McKinnon, Republican strategist, co-founder of HotSoup.com, and, still more, Michael Feldman, Democratic strategist, and also HotSoup.com‘s co-found. Mr. Feldman presumably as, you know, a fan of the government—government is good, right, OK? Three weeks to discover that there are all these scary-looking boxes scattered around the city? That‘s about as lame as it gets, no?
FELDMAN: Yes, but not as lame as this gorilla marketing campaign. The Cartoon Network should have hired Mark McKinnon. They would not have had this problem. If those guys are looking for representation, Mark could probably help them.
CARLSON: Mark, will you do it?
MCKINNON: I‘m ready, you know, we can do better than terrorism with comedy.
CARLSON: Yes, we certainly can. But does this - I mean, does this say something about—not to read too deeply into a Cartoon Network bomb scare here, but shouldn‘t someone have noticed this, and apparently they were in other cities too and no one noticed.
MCKINNON: Well, I think what they noticed was that there wasn‘t a threat at all. They should have never recognized it.
CARLSON: That‘s a very, very good point. It seems to me, Bill, the lesson here is when, you know, --
MCKINNON: They discover the gorilla marking campaign.
CARLSON: That‘s so smart, I didn‘t think of it. I mean, one of the lessons here is the press comes rushing in. We do in robot—I mean, we are Lemmings, basically. And we come and decide, oh, it‘s breaking news. Let‘s give air time to these two lunatics for their press conference, and they basically give us the finger, and we sit there and take it. How pathetic are we?
PRESS: We‘re pretty pathetic, I think. And I think law enforcement in this case has been pretty pathetic too. I mean, these things were up in 10 different cities. They were up for three weeks. Finally after three weeks, somebody in Boston discovered these, giving what a listener to my show today called the Sturrow Drive salute.
CARLSON: I know what that is.
PRESS: We all know what that salute is, and then the city shuts down. I mean, at the risk of having Homeland Security knock on my door tonight, I think—first of all, I think these guys should have told the cops they were doing this ahead of time. You probably would have, alerted them. But they didn‘t. But I think the police could have done a little investigation before they shut down the city, total over-reaction.
CARLSON: Mike, I think everyone, Republican and Democrat, would agree that the physical embodiment of the values of the Democratic Party is Loretta Sanchez, congresswoman from California, one of my favorite members of the United States Congress. She‘s also, or was, a member of the Hispanic caucus. She has resigned, according to the politico, because the head of that caucus, Chairman Baca, referred to her as, quote, a whore.
And she says, this, I‘m not going to be part of the Hispanic Caucus as long as Mr. Baca illegally holds the chairmanship. I told him no. There‘s a big rift here. I said, you treat women like—she didn‘t use that word. I have no use for him.
CARLSON: This is kind of what it‘s like in the Democratic party, isn‘t it?
FELDMAN: Actually, the Democratic party has its unique qualities, but let me say, I think it‘s remarkable how little infighting there has been in the Democratic caucus since Speaker Pelosi took over. She ran a really good 100 hour program. I think the inviting in the Republican Party right now over Iraq is actually a lot more remarkable than this little spat, and I really don‘t know the details of this.
MCKINNON: I think this makes him so much more interesting.
CARLSON: I totally agree. I wanted to lead the show with it.
CARLSON: My producers are claiming this wasn‘t the most important story of the day. They were pushing Iraq.
CARLSON: Let me say that Chairman Baca denies that he said that.
PRESS: I Know Loretta Sanchez. I went down to Orange County when I was state chair of California and campaigned for her against B-1 Bob Dorthan (ph). She is a firecracker. And I tell you, I want her on my side. If I were Joe Baca, I would get on my knees and apologize and get her back.
CARLSON: Another Democratic congresswoman says actually she agrees and she says that Mr. Baca does disrespect women, and I think she‘s in the Hispanic caucus too. And then she says this. we must address the issues and resolve them as soon as possible so we can continue fighting for the rights and well-being of the Latino community, as is the mission of the caucus.
Now, let‘s step back three paces here. Does it strike anybody as a little weird that there‘s a federally funded group on the hill that fights for the rights and interests of a specific ethnic group? Isn‘t that kind of wrong? No?
CARLSON: I‘m like the last person to know?
PRESS: I want to come back to this, because you and I, we did the black caucus debate a couple weeks ago.
CARLSON: I just don‘t like caucuses. If there‘s a white caucus, I‘ll denounce it.
PRESS: Here‘s the caucus, the most diverse political body on the face of the planet is the Democratic caucus across the street. OK? Within that Democratic caucus, you have got women who get together to talk about women‘s issues, blacks get together and talk about black issues, Hispanics, it‘s nothing wrong with that. They‘re within.
CARLSON: I live in D.C., so I don‘t have a Congressman, taxation without representation, which I‘m for, for by the way. However, if my Congressman was a member of a racially or ethnically exclusive caucus—
PRESS: Eleanor Holmes Norton is a member of the black caucus.
CARLSON: She‘s a pretend congresswomen. I‘m saying real congress—
I like her, but she‘s not a real congresswoman.
MCKINNON: Joe Baca here.
FELDMAN: Phone‘s ringing.
CARLSON: I would say, why don‘t you represent me? Why don‘t you represent all Americans? Why just those with certain skin color? Am I the only one who believes Martin Luther King‘s line on this, no? I guess I am. Silence greets me.
PRESS: They do, but from time to time they just get together and talk about things that they have in common, big deal.
MCKINNON: You‘re clawing your way to the bottom Tucker.
CARLSON: You have been here 50 minutes and—
CARLSON: Miss USA Tara Conner comes clean to Matt Lauer about her partying. So was she as bad as rumors said she was? Oh, yes baby. Willie Geist joins us with the sordid, yet impressive details next.
CARLSON: If there is news or scandal in the world of beauty queens, he has got it. Joining us now, MSNBC‘s chief pageant correspondent, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I am that, aren‘t I?
CARLSON: Yes, you are.
GEIST: It‘s kind of sad, but I‘ve been reduced to that. Actually, I like it, it‘s a lot of fun. Before we get to that, Tucker, you know what time of day it is. It‘s Super Bowl trivia. Today we hit you with a true/false question. True or false Tucker, both teams will give 110 percent during Sunday‘s Super Bowl. True or False Tucker?
CARLSON: Willie, it‘s mathematically untrue, but in some deeper sense, it‘s totally true.
GEIST: So you are saying it‘s true?
CARLSON: I‘m saying it‘s true.
GEIST: That is correct. Bears linebacker said he was going to give 110 percent. One guy said 150 percent, I‘m not sure if that‘s mathematically possible—
CARLSON: Wow, that team‘s going to win.
GEIST: Yes, they‘re going to run away with it if they can do that. Well now let‘s get to the real news, which is, of course, Miss USA Tara Conner. She spoke to a national audience today for the first time since her month-long stint in rehab.
Conner appeared on NBC‘s “Today Show” to answer questions about the hard partying that almost cost her crown before she was famously rescued by Saint Donald Trump. Matt Lauer asked Conner about her reported drug use.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: There was even a report that you were tested for cocaine and you failed.
TARA CONNER, MISS USA: I was tested, I personally have never seen the results of the test. So I‘m not sure what showed up, but it is quite possible that cocaine could have showed up, because I have used cocaine before.
LAUER: So you used cocaine as Miss USA?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Wow, it‘s all true, huh. Well, Matt Lauer, you are not the only one who can land a big interview, my friend. This reporter scored an exclusive interview with Miss America yesterday. And by exclusive, I mean her third interview of the morning. I asked Lauren Nelson about the Miss USA scandal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAUREN NELSON, MISS AMERICA: There are differences in the two organizations, of course. The Miss America organization focuses on scholarships and a lot on community service, and, of course, talent. So there are differences in scoring, and differences in the things that we do in our year of service.
GEIST: So are you suggesting that you won‘t be dancing on the bar at Marquis tonight later?
NELSON: I‘m definitely telling you I won‘t be dancing on the bars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: See, there is a difference. Miss USA dances on the bar, Miss America does not dance on the bar.
CARLSON: Willie, let me just say, I love the camera work. Were you holding the camera yourself?
GEIST: I won‘t throw anyone under the bus on that one.
CARLSON: You should actually.
GEIST: In his defense, we were in a moving stretch limousine. It was a very hard assignment, I have to say. Actually Tara Conner, Miss USA, told Matt Lauer today that she will not—definitively will not pose in “Playboy.”
CARLSON: So she‘s going right to “Hustler?”
GEIST: Let‘s not overreact, Tara. Let‘s think this through before we make any bold decisions.
Well, whether you like it or not Tucker, Al Gore is on fire right now. A Norwegian parliamentarian said today he has nominated Gore for the 2007 Nobel Peace Price for his work to raise awareness about global warming. The lawmaker, who‘s name I will not attempt to pronounce, said, quote, “ a prerequisite for winning the Nobel Peace Prize is making a difference and Al Gore has made a difference.” This news comes just a week after Gore was nominated for an Academy Award for his global warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Between an Oscar and a Nobel Prize, Gore could be picking up some serious hardware this year Tucker. I know you are excited about that, and shouldn‘t he just run for president? I mean, his resume is getting pretty impressive, more impressive than it‘s ever been. And just to have the Academy Award nominee in front of your name, I think that helps your cause.
CARLSON: It‘s unbelievable. He‘s got to become a Knight of Malta next. I do hope he runs. I do. I had a great time covering him last time and I hope he does again.
GEIST: Do you think he will?
CARLSON: I don‘t think he will. No, he doesn‘t look in campaign shape to me.
GEIST: He‘s just going to focus on the red carpets of Hollywood from here on out. Well, Tucker, wet t-shirt contests and test tube tequila shots, not the only attractions in Cancun any more. Mean Antonio, the 14.5 pound baby, 14.6 pounds, born in the spring break capital on Monday. Super-Tony-O, as he is being called, has become a celebrity in Cancun, with people flocking to the nursery window to catch a glimpse of the big fella. Now Super-Tony-O‘s mother, this is not new fore her, previously gave birth to an 11.5 pound girl. That‘s a big family.
Look at the comparison right there. Super-Tony-O next to a regular-sized baby, and I have to say, Tucker, Super-Tony-O looks like he‘s about, I don‘t know, 35, full head of hair, big man. Look at him. Wow, to our female viewers, if you thought your labor was painful, I think you stop complaining, looking at that baby.
CARLSON: It‘s unbelievable. When the camera shot him from underneath, you could see raiser stubble on his chin. I don‘t think that‘s real Willie.
GEIST: Also, I didn‘t know there were actually residents of Cancun. I thought it was like bartenders and guys from Penn State. I didn‘t know people lived there.
CARLSON: Willie Geist.
GEIST: All right Tucker.
CARLSON: Thanks a lot, Willie. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Up next, “HARDBALL.” We will see you tomorrow. Have a great night.
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