Guests: Eugene Robinson, Peter Fenn, Dick Bennett, Rep. James Sensenbrenner
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the Monday edition of the show.
Rudy Giuliani appears to be headed for a presidential run. Hillary Clinton had a remarkable weekend, according to a striking new poll. And the maddening congressional debate over the debate over the debate over anti-war resolutions appears to be headed toward an end.
All that in just a minute.
We begin, though, with Nancy Pelosi of California. Speaker Pelosi has asked the White House to provide her, as well as her family, friends and staff, with full-time access to military aircraft for trips back and forth to San Francisco, or anywhere else she feels like going. That would mean no more schlepping through airports, removing your shoes, waiting in line. Instead, there will be waiters in uniform and an open bar, all at this public expense.
Deficit and global warming be damned.
Former speaker Denny Hastert enjoyed a similar perk, though he did not, his office says, use government planes to fly his family. The policy providing speakers of the House with military aircraft began like so many bad policies in the days after 9/11. That was five and a half years ago, yet as recently as last week, Pelosi‘s office was arguing that a $15,000-an-hour military jet was a necessity at all times for “security reasons.”
Really? Name one. In fact, a military jet is, if anything, statistically less safe than a commercial airliner. So let‘s be honest, security has nothing to do with it. Convenience and an unattractive sense of entitlement does. Pelosi could do a lot for her credibility, not to mention for the environment, by flying commercial like the rest of us.
Will she do it? No.
On now to what‘s shaping up to be the longest and possibly the least predictable presidential election in history. The race was joined today, sort of, by Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani, who filed federal papers announcing the likelihood he is running.
Joining us now to talk about what it means, “The Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson and Peter Fenn, Democratic strategist and contributor to “The Hill‘s Pundits Blog.”
Welcome to you both.
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: How are you doing?
EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: So, is this—Gene Robinson, I mean, is something we didn‘t know? He is—by the way, Giuliani is now legally at exactly the same place Mitt Romney and John McCain are.
CARLSON: They have not actually...
ROBINSON: It‘s a statement of candidacy.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
ROBINSON: Maybe, I think I‘m going to...
CARLSON: Right. But t this point, it pretty means...
CARLSON: You are.
This guy is at the top of the polls, far out, actually, above John McCain and Mitt Romney. And yet, I know a lot of political consultants who were saying up until Friday they didn‘t think he was going to run.
Are you surprised?
ROBINSON: I‘m not surprised seeing how he‘s—you know, if you are ahead in the polls, you‘re a politician, the polls say, you know, you got the...
CARLSON: Good point.
ROBINSON: ... best shot of your party‘s nomination for president—go for it. That said, I am not convinced that Rudy Giuliani can win the Republican nomination for president.
Now, there are people who disagree with me, but I grew up in South Carolina. I don‘t think Rudy Giuliani is going to be the best candidate in South Carolina and the southern states.
CARLSON: Right. Why?
ROBINSON: And in the Bible Belt in general.
CARLSON: Why is that?
ROBINSON: Well, because, you know, he‘s pro-abortion rights. He is pro-gay. You know, he is a New Yorker.
He‘s had his—you know, the marital issues of his own, and his private life is what would—you know, many would consider kind of—has been a mess at various times. I don‘t think that‘s going to play very well.
CARLSON: There have been some midlife crises.
Peter, I agree with Gene in the basic outlines of what he said. And yet, here‘s some mitigating facts.
One, the recent Gallup Poll—last week‘s Gallup poll—showed that even Republican primary voters—self-described—who knew a lot about Giuliani‘s position on the social issues didn‘t care.
Second, there‘s this: Giuliani is now saying that he would oppose partial-birth abortion and work to curtail Medicaid funding for abortion. He also—this is “The New York Post” speaking—appoint justices like Sam Alito and John Roberts to the Supreme Court.
Now, how does that work exactly?
FENN: It means going left. I go right.
I don‘t think it‘s terribly incredible. I think, you know, Romney has the same problem.
The thing that‘s interesting about Giuliani is that he is a rock star. His negatives are extraordinarily low for someone with high sort of negative issues, as Gene points out. And yet, the question really is, can he work this through in the long campaign?
I also do not think so. I mean, I think he peaks the day he announces and then it‘s downhill from there for him.
But, you know, he is banking on the fact that his 9/11 image is going to carry him throughout this campaign and he‘s going to be this security president. He is going to be the president that can bring our country together.
He did a great job in New York. He‘s a pragmatic politician, worked with Democrats. You know, he‘s going to pull all that. But again, you know, you‘re going to get a little bit of that from Romney.
CARLSON: Well, he‘s got a good story, there is no question about it, but there are also all these speed bumps on the way, as both of you pointed out.
Here‘s one. Donna Henderson is going to be his finance director, someone who most people probably never heard of. She‘s a Republican fund-raiser. She used to raise money for the National Rifle Association.
It struck me as ironic, since, of course, Rudy Giuliani is...
ROBINSON: Pro gun control.
CARLSON: Exactly, pro gun control. And it raised the question in my mind, if he is the Republican nominee, Gene, is he going to get the endorsement of the National Right to Life, of the NRA, of all the different conservative—socially conservative groups that all nominees on the Republican side have?
ROBINSON: Look, if you—if you assume that Rudy Giuliani is going to get the Republican nomination, you have to assume that the conservative Republican base is going to do what essentially the liberal Democratic base did in the midterm elections and kind of subsume its own...
CARLSON: That‘s right.
ROBINSON: ... aspirations, its hopes, its desires, its bedrock issues, you know, and pick somebody who can win. Do you think they‘re going to do that?
CARLSON: No, I don‘t. I don‘t.
ROBINSON: I don‘t either.
CARLSON: I think they‘re so mad at George W. Bush—the nine people in America who still are conservative and mean it—and I‘m one of them—they are so angry at Bush, I don‘t—because they feel betrayed by him. I don‘t think they‘re going to roll over for a nominee who‘s liberal.
FENN: And suppose you have a third party candidate in there that‘s a conservative candidate.
CARLSON: Well, there is space for him. We don‘t know who that is at this point. That‘s why I think Chuck Hagel—actually, there is a place for him. But I‘m always wrong.
McCain, speaking of the number two guy in the Republican race, he said this on ABC this weekend about the anti-war resolutions now pending in the Senate. We may, by the way, see a vote on that tonight, or not, but there is a vote coming soon.
He said, “I don‘t think it‘s appropriate to say that you disapprove of a mission”—mission in Iraq—“and you don‘t want to fund it and you don‘t want to go, but yet you don‘t take the action necessary to prevent it.”
In other words, if you‘re against the war in Iraq, pal, de-fund it.
Otherwise, shut up.
Pretty good point.
FENN: I think it is an interesting point. I mean, I think there should be a vote on not funding this surge. I mean, this surge that now looks like it‘s going to cost us a heck of a lot more than we thought, that it isn‘t 22,000, it‘s going to be closer to 50,000 when you put support staff in there. I mean, I think that folks should step up to the plate and have a vote on that.
Now, will it pass? No. But at least, you know, McCain is right.
I mean, if you guys are against it, you‘re spinning (ph). Don‘t go halfway. Go all the way.
FENN: I don‘t have a problem with that.
CARLSON: Gene, is there any—I mean, this is the question we ask every day, but, I mean, is there a chance that Democrats will get behind Russ Feingold and actually put to a vote the question of whether to fund the war?
ROBINSON: Not any time soon. I mean, because the Democrats perceive that that‘s not where the country is yet, and they will do fine passing some sort of resolution of disapproval, essentially a no confidence...
ROBINSON: ... a vote of no confidence. But that it‘s kind of an electric third rail to actually vote for cut off funding, because then you can be accused of not supporting the troops.
Now, if things progress, as they may, the so-called surge turns out to be a disaster, or if things in Baghdad don‘t get any better, or if the death toll continues to rise, then public opinion may catch up. And then you‘re going to have a problem.
CARLSON: That‘s a good point. Public opinion shifts.
Now, let me just very quickly mount my hobbyhorse here, because I literally...
CARLSON: No, not that I do that very often.
ROBINSON: Yes, first time.
CARLSON: I‘m going to break precedence now and do so.
ROBINSON: First time.
FENN: I think we‘re the hobbyhorses here, you and I.
CARLSON: There‘ll be no mounting.
On Friday, Hillary Clinton, in her speech before the Democratic National Committee, said, among other things, we‘ve got to end the genocide in Darfur. Many Democrats echo this sentiment.
Now, it seems—now nothing against Darfur, Sudan, or all the many genocides taking place around the world, because there are many, but how can you be against intervening in nation-building in Iraq, as most Americans, certainly almost Democrats, are, and be for—in favor of intervening in nation-building in a country you know even less about?
Huh? I mean, what the hell?
FENN: No. I think what you‘re talking about here is totally different. It is—it is getting a coalition of people together to stop what is clearly genocide. What we‘re seeing in Iraq...
CARLSON: You sound like Bush.
FENN: No—well—yes, I sound like Bush. This is a scary thought.
CARLSON: Because his argument is, if we leave, there will be genocide. So why shouldn‘t we stay in Iraq to prevent a genocide if we are so against genocide?
FENN: I think out of the weekend we‘re getting—we‘ve got a multiple civil war in Iraq. The question is whether we‘re helping prevent deaths or enhancing the likelihood of deaths there. But, you know, look, I think these are tough questions, Tucker. I think that they‘re best done multilaterally, clearly not the way we have done the war in Iraq, and that‘s why...
CARLSON: All right. I‘m sorry. I could literally talk about this all day, but we‘ve got to go to a break.
Coming up, was it the punch line about her experience with evil and bad men, was there a promise to deck any opponent who took a shot at her? Whatever Hillary Clinton did in Iowa a week ago appears to have worked like magic. An eye-popping shift in the poll numbers ahead.
Plus, Does Barack Obama have a lock on black voters? A leading lawmaker in Illinois thinks he should, and guess who‘s unhappy about that? Here‘s a hint. She‘s apparently leading in Iowa, her husband used to be president, and it‘s not Barbara Bush.
CARLSON: Before Hillary Clinton went to Iowa a week or so ago, most polls of presidential prospects had the New York senator running well behind former senator John Edwards in the state, but one visit to Iowa appears to have done the trick. A new poll puts Mrs. Clinton way ahead there, and in New Hampshire, for good measure.
We‘re joined now by the man responsible for that poll, the president of the American Research Group, Dick Bennett. And he joins us from Manchester, New Hampshire.
Mr. Bennett, thanks for coming on.
DICK BENNETT, AMERICAN RESEARCH GROUP: Well, thank you.
CARLSON: If I‘m reading this poll correctly, Hillary Clinton is crushing her nearest rivals, is that right?
BENNETT: Yes, she is. And women are helping her all along the way.
And that‘s the big story.
CARLSON: Let‘s take a look at some of the numbers specifically here. In Iowa, you say 56 percent of likely caucus-goers, female, would vote for Clinton, and only 30 percent of men would vote for Hillary Clinton. That‘s seems—that‘s a huge gender gap.
BENNETT: Well, it‘s 56 percent of women are going to vote and participate in the caucus.
BENNETT: And she gets about—she gets about 39 percent of the women, versus 30 percent for the men. That‘s a huge gender gap as well. But what‘s amazing is she‘s attracting women to come in here, in Iowa, and in New Hampshire. And it‘s—it‘s going to be very difficult to beat her if women support her in those numbers.
CARLSON: What percentage would you say of New Hampshire primary voters and Iowa caucus-goers are women?
BENNETT: It will be between 55 and 60 percent. And Democratic primaries, Democratic—the caucuses, women are more apt to participate. On the Republican side, men are slightly more apt to participate.
CARLSON: Is this a bigger split, gender split, than you are seeing with other candidates?
BENNETT: Oh yes. And she basically—she owns the women‘s vote at the moment. If she can—she can get the husbands of these women to vote for her, it‘s going to be very difficult to stop her.
CARLSON: Any indication why? I mean, apart from the fact that she is a woman, you don‘t want to believe that people are going to vote for someone just because of his or her sex. That is obviously moronic. Is there any—is there some reason why women are voting or are saying they‘re going to vote for Hillary?
BENNETT: They tell us three things. The first is that women believe it‘s time for a woman to try it. Men have basically messed things up, and that they‘re willing to vote for a woman.
With Hillary Clinton, her negatives—they‘re willing to overlook her negatives, and she has fairly high negatives, even among Democrats. About a third of Democrats really don‘t like her. They dislike her intensely.
And the third thing is, is they look back on—and these are Democrats again—they look back on the experience of the Clinton years and say things were pretty good then. And so they‘re looking at that.
It‘s sort of a confluence of events coming together are helping her along.
CARLSON: Well, how volatile are the electorates in these states, New Hampshire and Iowa? I mean, do they—do voters there, caucus-goers there change their minds frequently at the last minute?
BENNETT: They can. And basically, you know, what the front-runners have to be concerned about is making a mistake, stumbling. We saw it with Howard Dean four years ago. And so, she has to run—part of the problem is she has to run a safe campaign. But for the most part, the front-runners remain the front-runners until they stumble.
CARLSON: Who is doing second best among women in these two states on the Democratic side?
BENNETT: Second best in Iowa is John Edwards. And second best in New Hampshire is split between Edwards and Barack Obama.
CARLSON: So, Hillary‘s rise hurts—I mean, it would seem to hurt John Edwards most directly in Iowa. Has Edwards fallen in New Hampshire?
BENNETT: No, because we haven‘t had him that high to begin with. Barack Obama came New Hampshire, wowed the crowds here, and basically took over second place from Edwards. So, at the moment, in New Hampshire, Edwards hasn‘t been a factor.
Edwards is a factor in Iowa in that the people who participated in the caucus four years ago, he‘s running with those—that group of people. In other words, he‘s running even with Clinton. It‘s Hillary Clinton‘s ability to sort of flood the zone with new voters and with these women, and I don‘t think if she‘s not in the race, I don‘t think they would go out and vote.
CARLSON: Yes. And finally, that‘s—that‘s one point I want to ask you about, new voters. You point out that when you ask Iowa caucus-goers who have actually been to previous caucuses who they‘re going to vote for, the race is pretty tight.
CARLSON: But when you open it up to people who say they will go, for instance, for the first time, Hillary Clinton just takes it away.
New voters like Hillary, is that right?
BENNETT: Well, it‘s these women who have decided that they‘re going to go participate. And if she can keep that up, if she can—if she can excite that base and turn it out, it‘s going to be very difficult to stop her.
CARLSON: Dick Bennett, thanks a lot.
BENNETT: Thank you.
Coming up, John Edwards is officially sorry for voting for the Iraq invasion. Oh, and he wants to raise your taxes, too. It may be an odd sales pitch, but these are odd times. Are contrite and forthright the qualities that will win him the White House?
We‘ll tell you.
Plus, despite all the taxes we pay, Americans owe a ton of money to the IRS. Democrats have a plan to collect it harder. Is the government‘s fiscal solution as simple as that? Not likely, but well worth discussing. And we will.
CARLSON: According to some highly debatable government estimates, about $300 billion of tax money has gone uncollected by the IRS. With the country running a deficit, Democrats have a plan. They‘ll collect the money better.
To discuss this prospect, as well as the John Edwards campaign for president promise to raise taxes, we are rejoined by Eugene Robinson of “The Washington Post” and Peter Fenn, a Democratic strategist and contributor to “The Hill‘s Pundits Blog.”
Peter, this is my understanding. Sort of $300 million (ph) supposedly out there.
FENN: Billion. Billion. Billion.
CARLSON: Billion. Billion, rather. I‘m sorry. Everything‘s billion.
And the Democrats want to get their hands on it, want to stop these tax cheats by, among other things, getting a peek at your credit card records without your consent. Now, this is the same party that‘s very, very upset about—about attacks on our privacy designed to get terrorists, but totally happy to look at your credit card records in the name of collecting more taxes? How does that work?
FENN: Let‘s let the NSA take care of that and handle all our credit cards. No, I‘m not a big fan of that, Tucker. And I have to tell you, there is a certain degree of skepticism out there that I feel on this. I can remember...
CARLSON: You don‘t think there‘s $300 billion just for the taking?
FENN: Listen, I remember—I don‘t know if you do, but I remember the 1988 presidential campaign, Michael Dukakis came out, and the figure he was using at that point was $98 billion in uncollected—we‘ve got to get that $98 billion.
FENN: Well, it‘s been a few years since 1988 as far as I can tell.
CARLSON: Are you for this?
ROBINSON: No, I think this is—I mean, number one, Americans pay their taxes.
ROBINSON: I mean, the one thing you have to be concerned about is if regular people who pay their taxes feel that rich people are getting away with not paying their taxes.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
ROBINSON: So, you know, if I were the Democrats, I would be saying, we have to make sure that, you know, the wealthy pay their fair share, but, you know, I don‘t know where they get the figure. I don‘t think there‘s $300 billion out there uncollected. I don‘t think they would collect it—or would be able to collect it if there were.
And this idea of looking at people‘s credit card records, I think...
ROBINSON: ... about NSA and about privacy and this and that.
ROBINSON: So I don‘t see how I could think that was a good idea.
CARLSON: Well, good for you for being consistent. I think it‘s creepy as hell.
But this whole enthusiasm for collecting more taxes, I think most Americans, not just rich people, feel like, you know, gee, I pay a lot in taxes. I know if I feel that way.
I wonder if John Edwards‘ sort of admiral decision to say, yes, I am going to raise taxes—and again, I kind of admire his straightforwardness...
CARLSON: ... is that actually going to work politically?
FENN: Well, I‘ll tell you, what he‘s saying is, I‘ve got a healthcare plan that‘s going to insure the 46 million Americans that now currently don‘t have it.
FENN: And if this healthcare plan, at least from what I understand from the preliminary numbers, is about $120 billion a year, well, that‘s not quite what we‘re spending on Iraq, but, you k now, that‘s still serious money.
FENN: And he is saying that, you know, I think that we can change the tax policy so that we don‘t give millionaires a 6 percent tax break which they‘re getting now so they don‘t get 60 grand.
CARLSON: It‘s not just millionaires. He‘s saying I‘m going to raise them on everyone earning $200,000 or over, which is...
FENN: Right. Right.
CARLSON: Boy, that‘s your realtor, that‘s your accountant. That‘s a lot of people who aren‘t rich.
FENN: Listen, I think—I think the question here is...
FENN: The key here, Tucker, I think is coming up with a plan that‘s reasonable, that works, that doesn‘t bust the budget. And I‘m not a—I‘m not a big believer in going further into debt. I think George Bush has proved that that‘s a terrible quality.
CARLSON: But Gene, as a political matter, leaving aside the merits of it from a policy perspective, does it make sense two years almost before an election to say, vote for me, I‘m going to hike taxes?
ROBINSON: By any conventional wisdom it makes no sense, because—and it has not worked in the past. I mean, it‘s not been a popular position to say I will raise taxes.
ROBINSON: The popular position has been to say, no new taxes, and then go ahead and do it anyhow.
CARLSON: Of course.
ROBINSON: But I—you know, attacks on wealthier Americans—I mean, $200,000 in the very expensive Washington metropolitan area for a family income, that is not an outrageous amount of money. In a lot of the country, and especially in a lot of places where people don‘t have health insurance, that‘s an awful lot of money.
ROBINSON: So, you know, in keeping with John Edwards‘ message of the two Americas, of poverty, of taking care of those who need the most and have the least, you know, it makes a certain sense.
CARLSON: Interesting. I wonder—we‘re just going to take a quick break, and during that break, we‘ll be pondering, will this work for John Edwards? I suspect not.
Coming up, can Barack Obama count on all or nearly all of America‘s black voters in the 2008 elections? It is a complicated question and it has Hillary Clinton agitated. We‘ll talk about it.
Plus, the Super Bowl was reportedly a pretty good game for the first half or so, but the commercials kind of stank. At least that‘s what I hear Willie Geist will say. He‘ll be along with a thorough and essential review.
CARLSON: Time now for a Monday potpourri, the interesting dribs and drabs coming from Washington, beginning with the battle among Democrats for the so called black vote. The Politico reports today that the president of the Illinois State Senate, Emeil Jones Jr. (ph) officially urged black voters to leave behind their long-standing bond to Bill and Hillary Clinton and unite behind Barack Obama.
Here to talk about the wisdom of that call and the reported Clintonian outrage over it, the “Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson, and Peter Fenn, the famed Democratic strategist. Welcome to you both.
Eugene Robinson, this actually is a complicated and interesting question, but as a political matter, you have the Clinton camp trying really hard to lock up as many endorsements of prominent political black figures as they can. You have on the other side Barack Obama, facing these sort of weird, quasi-attacks from commentators such as these; this is Deborah Dickerson, who‘s a black author, an essayist.
She recently said that Obama, quote, isn‘t black, at least in an American racial context. Stanley Crouch (ph), another black writer, quote, when black Americans refer to Obama as one of us, I don‘t know what they are talking about. Those seem to me to give an indication of some the—I man, what does that mean? And basically—
ROBINSON: Who knows. It‘s going to be—you know, this is a teachable moment. One thing I think we‘re all going to learn is that there is no monolithic black America. There is no monolithic black viewpoint on anything, really. That said, identity is a fascinating theme of Obama‘s campaign, of Obama‘s life, of his public life, that I think America will explore, as he will, as the campaign goes on.
I think, you know, for a variety of reasons, I think, absent Obama‘s entering the race, a lot of black political figures would have supported Hillary Clinton.
ROBINSON: Obama‘s entering the race complicates that considerably for Hillary Clinton, and, you know, not one of us—I don‘t know what the criteria are that are being used.
CARLSON: Well, the idea is that—and this came out in a long piece today on the subject that I read that—that he is essentially a foreigner. His father is a foreigner. He is literally African. He‘s from Kenya.
ROBINSON: The counter-argument is—well, argument and counter argument—argument, I suppose would be: he is not the descendent of slaves, of American slaves, and thus, does not have that part of the shared history. The counter-argument is that he is an American of African descent, who has lived with race in America, as the rest of us do, and so, therefore, why should he be considered any different or any different, for example, from say an African immigrant, who comes here and experiences, you know, the color line in America?
CARLSON: So Emeil Jones, Peter, said—Emeil Jones being the head of the Illinois state Senate, powerful black lawmaker, the mentor to Barack Obama -- urged a bunch of other black lawmakers to support Barack Obama. And he said, look, you know, we have had this affections for, these ties to the Clintons for all these years, but it is time to break them, and it‘s time to be not sentimental about this, but to be reasonable and support Barack Obama.
There is this—I mean, the Clintons do feel like they have this claim on black voters. Do they?
FENN: No, no one has a claim to any voters in this election, I don‘t think. I think the question is, of course, do you want to make an argument for support purely on the basis of the fact that—and he is a true African-American, Barack Obama is—
CARLSON: Do you want to make an argument for support on the basis of race?
FENN: Yes, you‘re saying just—if I were going to make an argument, I would have made an argument for why I think Barack Obama is the strongest candidate for president, why he would make the best president, why I think he can win, and I wouldn‘t have put it in racial terms. I mean, I understand that there are going to be these kinds of discussions, but as a supporter and as a lawmaker, I think that there are other things that you can say to that group.
ROBINSON: I have to assume that, as the campaign goes on—I said a teachable moment earlier. There will be leading black political figures—
I don‘t know which ones at the moment—but who believe Hillary Clinton‘s policy prescriptions are better or more specific or more advantageous, in the long run or short run, for African-Americans, or a segment of African-Americans, than Obama‘s are, and will support Hillary Clinton. Others will feel differently.
CARLSON: Obama didn‘t mention race in his speech on Friday to the DNC. He didn‘t mention race. He didn‘t mention civil rights, not one word. He was a community organizer. He has thought a lot about this. He wrote a whole book on race. Why didn‘t he mention those things?
ROBINSON: Well, I think he would respond: why should—does he have to mention it every time he speaks? Probably not.
CARLSON: Good for him. I agree.
CARLSON: Joe Biden got into a lot of trouble last week on questions of race, by describing Barack Obama as clean and articulate. Personally, I give Biden the benefit of the doubt. I don‘t think Biden‘s a racist, for whatever that‘s worth. But he, apparently, has to convince others that he‘s not a racist, so he went on Al Sharpton‘s radio show, and sucked up to Al Sharpton so assiduously, so aggressively, so without ceasing that Sharpton turned to him and said, quote, I thought you were drowning in giving me flattery. Stop sucking up to me, says Al Sharpton to Joe Biden.
FENN: I love Joe Biden, too.
CARLSON: So do I. I love Al Sharpton.
FENN: Joe Biden has something that most senators who have been around this town for 30 years don‘t have. He speaks his mind. He speaks off the cuff. He says things often that get him into trouble, but that‘s what I love about the guy. I mean, I will tell you, he‘s not a, you know, stick your finger up to the political winds kind of guy. And the, you know what he does? He screws up and says, I screwed up. You know, I didn‘t mean. I screwed up and he calls people and apologizes, maybe apologizes a little too much.
CARLSON: But why would you attack—when you are perceived as attacking Barack Obama do you suck up to Al Sharpton? And I say this as a personal friend—
FENN: You suck up to Al Sharpton all the time.
CARLSON: I suck up to him for fun. (INAUDIBLE) Gene, what do you think of this Nancy Pelosi plane question? So she wants a plane. She is getting a plane. The White House is giving her one, a large military jet that can fly coast to coast, without being refueled, that she can bring her staff, her friends, her supporters on for safety reasons. It‘s more dangerous to fly on a military jet than it is to fly commercial. What is the justification for this?
ROBINSON: Statistically you‘re right. Let‘s take the issue, should she have a military plane? You know, as you know, it was decided after 9/11 that Denny Hastert, because he‘s in line, you know, in the presidential succession, after the vice president, should have a military plane.
CARLSON: And I‘m opposed to that, by the way.
ROBINSON: Right, but that decision was made. Therefore, if he needed a plane then, this White House could hardly argue, given what their stance on the war on terrorism, it could hardly argue that Nancy Pelosi should not have a plane. So yes, she should have a plane.
Does she need a bigger plane than Denny Hastert did? I would think not --
CARLSON: But why shouldn‘t I have a plane? I think my commentary is vital to the health, the success and, frankly, the future of this nation and its children. Were something to happen to me on Jet Blue, we would be bereft. Why shouldn‘t I have a C-190 or whatever?
FENN: As long as you share it with us, Tucker, than we‘ll be—
CARLSON: But, I mean, she is an environmentalist. How can she justify flying on a private plane?
FENN: We have Tony Blair now flying on BOAs instead of government planes.
FENN: We have Prince Charles coming over—now they have to bring about 50 people in the first class cabin. But having said that, here‘s the situation, I think, on this; first of all, I‘m not for the plane. I think that I‘m not sure there‘s security reasons anymore. And the head of the Senate, the president of the Senate, come on.
The second thing, if there is going to be a plane, I have no problem with it going straight through, not without having to refuel, which is the -- but this isn‘t a plane that goes to private functions. It isn‘t a plane that goes to political functions. It isn‘t a plane that, as John Sununu, the old man, used to take to Colorado, to go skiing with his family, when he was chief of staff in the White House. None of that stuff.
I mean, it is purely a business related thing. But I still am against it. I just don‘t think it‘s right.
CARLSON: Yes, I mean, I don‘t know, you‘d hate to think that members of Congress, Denny Hastert or, in this case, Nancy Pelosi, imagine themselves above the people they represent, us. You know, you‘d just hate to think that.
ROBINSON: You‘d hate to think that.
CARLSON: And yet you do think it, don‘t you. Now speaking of the elites and how they live differently than the rest of us, the “Washington Post,” you‘re paper Gene, has a pretty interesting editorial this morning. The first one essentially slams Hillary Clinton for not disclosing the identity of her fund-raisers. And it makes the point: “the unwillingness of her campaign to commit to listing its big bundlers, as President Bush did during both his campaigns, is appalling.
Why, all of a sudden, has everyone given up on campaign finance reform?
ROBINSON: Apparently. You know, the issue is apparently gone because now we have got a campaign, so we‘ve got to fund it, and we‘ve got to raise 100 million dollars or whatever. The editorial, you know, and I‘m not a member of the Editorial Board, but I do read them closely, and it singled out Hillary Clinton for what seems to be a perfectly valid reason, that she almost uniquely refuses to name the people who put together these bundles of like a million dollars, you know, these big chunks of money.
These people can only, themselves, give the statutory maximum, but they‘re as important—they‘re much more important than your average donor.
CARLSON: And they‘re the ones, as you know, having lived here a long time, who become ambassador to Luxembourg.
ROBINSON: Exactly, they‘re the one who come out with the rewards.
FENN: Well, I‘ll tell you a couple things here. First of all, they end up coming out it anyway. I see no reason not to put people on a finance committee list, list your finance committee. If you want to have a category of these folks, as Bush did, then be open and transparent about it. You know, when someone has a big fund-raiser at their home, that gets put in these reports.
You know, it doesn‘t take a mental giant to figure out who the people are that are raising money for these folks. But I see no reason to hide it. You know, on the other issue, I think we‘ve gotten ourselves into a problem. And John McCain is going to be interesting, because he is going to reject the precise bills that he was writing.
CARLSON: Which is outrageous.
FENN: Unless people say, look, you know, there is not enough money in this public financing thing. There should be more. We are going to give people a four for one match or something. I don‘t believe in it actually. I mean, I have kind of had it with this stuff, because I think every time we create one of these behemoth campaign financing—no, it doesn‘t work. And this won‘t work. It won‘t work for anybody in this campaign.
CARLSON: Speaking of him creating behemoths, very quickly. is Al Gore going to run?
FENN: He‘s losing weight. He‘s not a behemoth.
CARLSON: No, I didn‘t mean that in a political sense. I don‘t even notice how big he has gotten. It went right past me.
ROBINSON: My hunch is no. I have no insight.
CARLSON: Democrats are, apparently, encouraging him to do that. Why would they do that?
ROBINSON: Well, somebody‘s going to encourage him to do it. And he has been, you know, a clarion voice on global warming and some other issues.
FENN: And Iraq.
ROBINSON: And Iraq. And his movie may win an Academy Award, you know, who knows. But I don‘t think he‘s going to do it.
CARLSON: And isn‘t that enough, Peter, getting an Academy Award. Why do you want to be president?
FENN: It sounds good to me. I would love an Academy Award for something that I did, why not? I think he would be a great candidate though. I tell you , I would love to see him run.
CARLSON: I wish we had a lie detector here right now, see if you really felt that way. Eugene Robinson, Peter Fenn, thank you both very much.
ROBINSON: Good to be here.
CARLSON: Coming up, if you think the line at the DMV is a bummer, wait until you have to get your National I.D. Cards. States revolt against a federal mandate. Will the voice of resistance be heard? We‘re on that story next.
Plus what a former Central American strongman, Manuel Noriega, and the Super Bowl have in common. No, Prince does not play halftime shows for Noriega in prison, but there is a link between the two and we‘ll tell you what it is. Stay tuned.
CARLSON: Remember concerns about personal privacy? It used to be one of the foundations and great advantage of being an Americans. The Real I.D. Act of 2005 promised to put us all into one more government database, but there is new resistance to that idea. It comes from state legislatures in many states, including Maine, Georgia, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington.
Should we have national I.D. cards? Are we going to get them. Here with his answer, the Republican congressman from Wisconsin, James Sensenbrenner, who sponsored that bill. Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER ®, WISCONSIN: thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: So, the perception is that this act creates a national I.D. card and you say it doesn‘t. How does it not?
SENSENBRENNER: No, it doesn‘t. We use driver‘s license for I.D.‘s. What the Real I.D. Act means that it should be a driver‘s license that says your correct name and address—It isn‘t fake—and it stops people from going from state to state and getting a pocketful of driver‘s licenses, like the 9/11 hijackers did, and having valid driver‘s licenses from five states, Virginia, Maryland, Arizona, California and Florida.
CARLSON: Correct me if I‘m wrong though, driver‘s licenses, as of next year, 2008, when I think this comes into effect, would have data from every person who owns one go into a central federal database, if I understand this, and you would need this piece of identification in order to get into federal buildings, to fly on airplanes, to open a bank account and do other things. Is that correct?
SENSENBRENNER: The central database is already existing, so that if you get a ticket in one state, it gets reported to the state of your driver‘s license. All the Real I.D. Act does is adds that when you apply for a driver‘s license in one state, they check out to see if you have valid driver‘s licenses in other states. This is more than an anti-terrorism issue. It is a personal safety issue, because if you‘re up to one point left on your license, because you‘re a bad driver and have a lot of tickets, hopping across the state line and using your cousin‘s address, under the current system, can get you a clean driver‘s license with all the points on it.
CARLSON: Well, but wait, I mean, isn‘t—there is an appeal in being anonymous. It seems to me one of the implied promises of being an American is nobody is watching you, nobody is keeping track of your movements. You can kind of drift away and be unseen if you want to. This would make it much harder to do that.
SENSENBRENNER: OK, then don‘t get a driver‘s license.
CARLSON: But they you can‘t get on a plane or open a bank account.
SENSENBRENNER: Well, the Real I.D. Act is very sympathetic to federalism issues. If a state opts out then its citizens cannot use a state driver‘s license, which is non-compliant, for federal purposes.
SENSENBRENNER: Such as getting on a plane or into a federal courthouse.
CARLSON: But the federal government doesn‘t own the airlines. Why is the federal government telling the airlines what they can or cannot do?
SENSENBRENNER: Because the federal government does do the security screening through the Transportation Security Administration. When you get on a plane, you go through a TSA check. You know, it is a TSA official that checks your I.D. It‘s a TSA official that screens you and x-rays your luggage.
CARLSON: When the Social Security card first came out in the ‘30s, there were civil libertarians who said, you know, the federal government‘s going to keep track of you using this card. And it‘s proponents said, that will never happen. Well, it has happened. So why would we not worry about the federal government using these --
SENSENBRENNER: Tucker, you‘re morphing into chicken little.
CARLSON: I have always been chicken little when it comes to this stuff. I have always been a paranoid libertarian.
SENSENBRENNER: OK, well then let‘s look at the sky fall outside. The only purpose that the federal government requires the Social Security Card for is for Social Security and tax I.D. Purposes. Private sector organizations, such as banks an credit bureaus, can require you to use your Social Security Number in order to open up a bank account or to get credit, but if you don‘t—
CARLSON: That‘s simply not true.
SENSENBRENNER: If you don‘t want to do that.
CARLSON: That‘s not true. When I go to the White House for the Christmas party, I give my Social Security number. They‘re not checking whether I paid my FICA taxes. They are checking me as a person. They use that to run a background check on me.
SENSENBRENNER: Well, again, a Social Security Number has been used for tax I.D. purposes. And maybe they‘re checking your Social Security Number out to make sure you paid your taxes.
CARLSON: OK, thank god I have. Congressman Sensenbrenner, thank you for joining us.
SENSENBRENNER: Thank you.
CARLSON: Who knew a bunch of half naked guys washing a car would turn out to be one of the Super Bowl‘s best commercials. You will meet the teenage phenomenon who created that ad when we come back.
CARLSON: You know, a Super Bowl can change a man. Here to prove it, Willie Geist from headquarters.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: It definitely has changed another man, Tucker. As you ate guacamole and watched the Colts and Bears do battle in yesterday‘s Super Bowl, you probably said to yourself at some point, I wonder who former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega likes in the big game. Well, we heard from all the other so-called experts, but what about Noriega?
Well, sports columnist and friend of this program, Woody Paige, got the answer for his column in the “Denver Post.” Noriega‘s attorney told Woody, quote, “We talked about it.” Chicago has better special teams, more depth and the defense. Noriega prefers the Bears and if I were a betting man, I‘d go with the Bears, end quote.
So Tucker, Woody actually, who is a hilarious guy, also tried to get in touch with Castro and heard, through several different people—couldn‘t get to him directly—that he was going for the Colts. So, in the end, Castro gets the better of Noriega.
CARLSON: Well, Noriega is in prison.
GEIST: He is, and just a few miles away from the site of the Super Bowl.
CARLSON: And he‘s getting out soon, by the way.
GEIST: I was going to say, he‘s getting out in September.
GEIST: Reduced sentence. Well Tucker, I think the consensus on this year‘s Super Bowl commercials seems to be they were a little lame. There were some good ads though, including a memorable one for Chevy, that was created by a 19-year-old college freshman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, we got company.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me when it‘s over.
ANNOUNCER: Chevy HHR, join the revolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Pretty good. That ad the brainchild of Katie Crabb, a freshman at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, and now an advertising guru. She joins from Miami. Katie welcome.
KATIE CRABB, SUPER BOWL CHEVY AD WINNER: Hi.
GEIST: I have to say Katie, and this is the god‘s honest truth, I‘m not just blowing smoke, we were watching and we said, you know, the ads are a little disappointing this year, and then your ad came up, and we said, that was good. We‘ve got something now. So good work on that ad, really good.
CRABB: Thank you, thank you.
GEIST: What was it like to have 90 million people essentially watching your journalism class project? What was that like for you? I know you were at the game. You went in to a GM suite and got a chance to see your own ad on TV.
CRABB: It‘s kind of unbelievable. I still don‘t believe it. It‘s amazing.
GEIST: What was the deal with the half naked men? We‘ve seen the naked women before in bikinis, Jessica Simpson, preferably, washing the cars. Why did you flip the script and have naked men, and what made you think that was going to work?
CRABB: Mostly I thought of it because when I watch the Super Bowl, I watch it with my aunts and mom, and I‘m like—you know, I‘m so sick of seeing that, but, you know what, it would be even funnier if we put guys out there. That‘s really what I was thinking of.
GEIST: What about the old guy in the bikini drawers? That—the ad was great, but that made me turn my head a little bit. Was that your idea?
CRABB: Yes, it was a combination between me and Brian Buckley, the director. He‘s a nice old man. He really is.
GEIST: Now how soon—You are going to get an internship with a big advertising firm. This ad cost a lot of money. You‘re big right now. How soon are you moving to L.A. and getting your own place, and dropping out of school?
CRABB: Dropping out of school, I don‘t know, but I have an internship coming up in Detroit at the advertising agency. So, that will be fun.
GEIST: And did you have any fun down in Miami? Did you get to J-Lo‘s party, Paris Hilton, who did you hang out with? Who was the coolest person you saw down there?
CRABB: The coolest person I saw—I saw Vivica Fox in the Cadillac booth. That was awesome. I kind of diverted my eyes, because I didn‘t want her to think I was staring at her or anything. So, I was like OK.
GEIST: Well, Vivica A. Fox is a friend of Tucker Carlson‘s by the way. But Katie, it was a great ad, congratulations and good luck out in L.A., living on your own.
CRABB: Thank you.
GEIST: Tucker I got to say that was one of the best ads—I watched the whole game—one of the best ads of the night.
CARLSON: And if I could just put in a plug for girls from the Midwest
I‘m married to one—they really are the best.
GEIST: She‘s good.
CARLSON: Willie Geist.
GEIST: All right Tucker.
CARLSON: Thanks Willie. That does it for us. Thanks for watching.
Up next “HARDBALL” with Chris. See you tomorrow. Have a great night.
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