Guests: Hugh Hewitt, Peter Fenn, Ken Walsh, Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the show and, of course, happy Friday.
Is Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on his way out? The growing scandal surrounding the Justice Department‘s firing of eight U.S. attorneys heats up as breathtakingly stupid e-mails surface to create what appears to some to be a paper trail right to the White House. We have all the latest details on that.
Plus, the central figure in the CIA leak case speaks her piece on Capitol Hill, and the president‘s troop surge may be defying snowball-in-hell odds and actually succeeding. Now, there‘s news. We‘ll bring it to you in a minute.
First, thought, the Justice Department scandal that looks and feels, accurately or not, like potentially the end of Alberto Gonzales as the attorney general of the United States.
Here with analysis on what actually happened in this case, the incriminating e-mails, Mr. Gonzales and the near-term future of the Bush administration, we welcome host of the nationally syndicated Hugh Hewitt show and author of the forthcoming book, “A Mormon in the White House: Ten Things Every Conservative Should Know about Mitt Romney”, Hugh Hewitt. And Democratic strategist and contributor to the Hill‘s Pundits Blog, the great Peter Fenn.
Welcome to you both.
HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Thank you.
CARLSON: Hugh, I mean, let‘s just start at the very beginning and say nobody knows what exactly happened, why these eight federal prosecutors were canned.
But we do know a fair amount about how the White House has been, and the executive branch generally, has been dealing with this, because these e-mails keep coming out. Here‘s the latest from the “Washington Post” this morning. This is from Mr. Sampson, the now-famous chief of staff to the attorney general, Mr. Gonzales.
Quote, “As an operational matter we‘d like to replace 10 to 15 percent of the current U.S. attorneys—the underperforming ones. This is a rough guess; we might want to consider doing performance evaluations after Judge Gonzales comes aboard.”
Fine so far. Here‘s this sentence, though: “The vast majority of U.S. attorneys, 80-85 percent, I would guess, are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies, et cetera, et cetera.”
Now what‘s the phrase that‘s out of place there? Loyal Bushies. I don‘t think being a loyal Bushie—is that now an important criterion for being a federal prosecutor?
HEWITT: Sure. If you get to pick a federal prosecutor...
HEWITT: ... and you have 25 of them, why not pick the one that‘s not only competent but also a loyal Bushie? When Janet Reno arrived at the Department of Justice many, many years ago, she fired every United States attorney, including Jay Stevenson, one of the best in the business, who was in the middles of prosecuting the Dan Rostenkowski case. This is a non-story.
CARLSON: OK. But hold on. I understand that it‘s the president‘s prerogative who serves as a U.S. attorney.
CARLSON: And the idea is that those prosecutors will reflect his priorities. But that‘s very different from being loyal to someone personally. The problem with this White House is even if supporters will acknowledge they put a premium on personal loyalty, not loyalty to ideas, values, anything abstract but to the man, Bush, above all else.
It seems to me this is inappropriate. If this were loyal Clintonites, I‘d go completely crazy. I‘d hate that. Wouldn‘t you?
HEWITT: No. Because it‘s—you can have both. You can have competent prosecutors and people who are loyal to the president, who will do their job and at the same time—this is the key—credential themselves for future jobs in future Republican administrations.
John Roberts was a loyal Reaganite with whom I shared an office in the White House many years ago.
HEWITT: He was a loyal Reaganite. He was also superbly qualified today as the chief justice of the United States. You want these U.S. attorney jobs to be launching grounds for careers that will advance people who will be significant down the road. There‘s nothing wrong with it.
CARLSON: I want to—I‘m afraid of prosecutors anyway...
HEWITT: Oh, so am I.
CARLSON: ... as a conservative, and it just makes me nervous that one would place political loyalty over anything. I wonder, though, shouldn‘t we at least know why these guys, these eight were canned before we get exercised about it?
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, we know why some of them appear to be canned. We surely know why the fellow in Arizona was caned. I mean, we know some of them are doing...
CARLSON: Do we?
FENN: We certainly know why the one in Arizona was canned, because you know, he got two calls from a senator and a representative when he wasn‘t...
CARLSON: New Mexico?
FENN: Yes, yes.
FENN: And we also know that in Arkansas that they wanted to make sure that they had a friend of Karl Rove work with him to knock out the guy that was in there.
The problem with this is not that these are political appointees. They are always political appointees. You go to the senator from the state, the members of Congress, you say who‘s a good prosecutor, who should we put in there? When a new administration comes in, they replace usually all 93.
The problem is that this administration said that they were replacing these folks because of their ability on the job. That clearly was...
CARLSON: Well, I don‘t think they said that. And I must say, with all due respect, that may be the kind of overstatement that we‘re getting now from Howard Dean. I put up on the screen an e-mail that I personally, as a loyal Democrat, received yesterday.
FENN: As a loyal Democrat?
CARLSON: Yes. This is the e-mail they sent to mouth breathers all over the country who believe what Howard Dean says, and I‘m quoting now. “This could be George Bush‘s Watergate,” says Howard Dean. “Eight U.S. attorneys, fired because they wouldn‘t follow orders by the Bush administration.”
This is all a crock. We don‘t know if this is true.
“Fired because they refused to go on witch-hunts against Democrats or ignored Republicans‘ blatant disregard for the law. Fired so that they could be replaced by talking heads”—me, presumably—“and loyalists of the Bush administration. The purge of U.S. attorneys wasn‘t a ‘mistake‘, as the attorney general claims. It was part of a long, calculated effort by the Bush administration to silence its critics and remain above the law.”
OK, Howard Dean is insane. That‘s all made up.
FENN: I‘m shocked. I‘m shocked by such—and I assume at the end of the e-mail they asked for money, didn‘t they? Look...
CARLSON: It‘s not working.
FENN: Here‘s my point. Here‘s my point. It is never about the specific events. It usually is about the cover-up and the misrepresentation, and that‘s what‘s going on.
HEWITT: There is no cover-up. There is no misrepresentation. There are a couple of inelegant comments.
FENN: Well, Karl Rove was not involved. How did Karl Rove get involved?
HEWITT: I‘m shocked that patronage is going on.
FENN: Listen, patronage, I have no problem with it.
But, no—but I think that there is a good point that you raised, Tucker. And that is when you say loyal Bushie, that does not mean, you know, a Republican. That does not mean patronage. That means toes on the line.
CARLSON: But I want to get—I want to get to one more inelegant e-mail. I still think that, until we find out why these guys were fired and can prove that they were fired for reasons that are illegitimate, I don‘t think it‘s as bad.
HEWITT: What reason would that be, though? There are no illegitimate reasons to...
CARLSON: The reason would be if Howard Dean and other Democrats are saying that the Bush administration wanted these prosecutors to go after the Republicans‘ political enemies. If they wouldn‘t, they were fired.
If that‘s true, that‘s criminal. That‘s immoral.
HEWITT: It‘s not criminal. It might be politically stupid, but when Nixon fired Archibald Cox, he paid a political price, not a criminal price. Look, we got rid of the independent counsel law for a reason.
CARLSON: They‘re claiming that the Republican—the Republican White House was using federal prosecutors as its own kid of legal praetorian guard to go after its enemies, and that is just so wrong.
HEWITT: If there was an enemies list, I agree with you.
CARLSON: OK. But let me get—let me get, very quickly, to one of the inelegant e-mails you mentioned. This is, again, from this guy Sampson, who‘s just a moron, it sounds like, by his e-mails.
He says, “Give the senators a chance to talk over Tim.” That is the -
Tim Griffin, who is now the federal prosecutor in Little Rock. “And we can tell them we‘ll look for other candidates, ask them for recommendations, evaluate the recommendations, interview their candidates, and otherwise run out the clock. All of this should be done in,” quote, “‘good faith‘, of course.”
He‘s basically saying, “We‘re—this is in bad faith. We‘re going to pretend to be in good faith.” I mean, when I read that, I thought you know what? This is actually—that‘s not good.
HEWITT: That has been going on on judges and prosecutors since I came to town in 1983.
CARLSON: Yes, I‘m sure that‘s right.
HEWITT: They always pretend...
CARLSON: So has homicide, but I‘m against it.
HEWITT: But they always pretend to listen to prosecutors, to the senators, and then they do what they want anyway. Because the guys—they‘ve got contributors. They‘ve got talent. They‘ve got connections. That‘s—I‘m shocked. Shocked that this is going on here.
CARLSON: I think that is a fair point. That there is—that the other political pressure in this process that we‘re ignoring comes from the home state senators, Republican and Democrat. They‘re having problems with Republicans, Orrin Hatch, it says in the e-mail, and also Democrats, Senator Pryor.
But I still think to write we‘re going to act in good faith. I mean...
HEWITT: He‘s honest. The rest of this...
CARLSON: We have to take a commercial break. I‘m sorry. It‘s getting heated here.
Coming up, I can count on one hand the number of people who had faith in President Bush‘s troop surge in Iraq, weeks end (ph). Well, can the addition of boots on the ground actually be working? We‘ll speak to General Bernard Trainor next. We‘ll find out what he thinks.
From covert status to front and center, meanwhile. Former CIA operative Valerie Plame tells her story to Congress. She did it today. What did she have to say about her cover being blown? You‘ll hear her testimony. We‘ll return in a moment.
CARLSON: The U.S. invaded Iraq four years ago Monday. Our troops are still there but with a new strategy, and officials insist this time they are getting it right. But are they? We‘ll tell you.
CARLSON: President Bush‘s new man in charge of the war in Iraq, General David Petraeus, has requested a surge on top of the original surge. General Petraeus wants up to 3,000 more troops, a sixth brigade, added to the U.S. forces there.
Meanwhile, today‘s “Washington Post” reports that American military has achieved alliances, albeit uneasy ones, with Muqtada al-Sadr, the most powerful Shiite militia leader in Iraq. The violence in the very dangerous Sadr City area has been sharply lower during recent U.S. security sweeps as al-Sadr‘s forces stand down.
It sounds like progress. Is it progress? Could the surge, in fact, be working?
Joining us now, MSNBC military analyst and retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General Bernard Trainor.
General, thanks for coming on.
LT. GEN. BERNARD TRAINOR (RET.), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Hi, Tucker.
CARLSON: Are these indications that the surge is, in fact, working?
TRAINOR: Well, it‘s a little too early, Tucker. I mean, we‘re not going to get—when they talk surge, that‘s a misnomer. It‘s really a dribble. Because it‘s going to be this summer until they get all the forces out there. Particularly with the latest request for another brigade, an aviation brigade. So it‘s going to take some time.
But I have to tell you this. You know, there‘s a change in the dynamics out there, and there‘s good news and bad news. If you look at Anbar province out of the west, which is the center of all the Sunni insurgency, I guess a lot of the Sunnis have become fed up with the al Qaeda types, the foreign fighters, and have turned against them. That‘s the good news. The bad news is that they‘re still killing Americans.
You come to Baghdad, and the good news is what you‘ve indicated, that there apparently has been a stand-down on the part of al-Sadr‘s militia, the Mehdi militia, who have been such a big problem there. And exactly what that foretells, it‘s hard to say at this point. But that is good news in a certain sense.
And the bad news, on the other hand, is that the Sunnis and the Shias in Baghdad are still killing one other.
So it‘s a good news-bad news situation. But it‘s too early to tell whether this escalation that the president has undertaken is really going to take hold. We hope it will.
CARLSON: As far as I can tell, Muqtada al-Sadr is responsible for the deaths of Americans. Could it be that we are entering into some sort of alliance with him?
TRAINOR: Well, possibly. I hope so. You know, you have to accept the fact that his militia is the strongest militia. It‘s really—it‘s, besides the U.S. military, is probably the most effective military in Iraq today. And that takes everybody into—into account on all sides.
So if you can work some sort of a deal with him, I think it‘s to the good in terms of stability.
On the other hand, he obviously is a politician that wants to exercise a great deal of authority and power, and he‘s going to be opposed by others within Iraq, regardless of what we do.
So the whole thing is a power struggle right from the very start, and we don‘t know how it‘s going to play out. But it will only play out militarily in the secondary sense.
The final analysis of this settlement is going to again be a political settlement that is being struck on the basis of the unique features of that part of the world.
CARLSON: And finally, General, do you think that Sadr, the other militias, the other political and military players in Iraq expect that we‘re leaving soon, and they‘re waiting us out?
TRAINOR: Well, they don‘t know what we‘re going to do. They‘re watching what‘s happening in Congress. I think in the long run, they expect the fact that the Americans will go—leave, certainly draw down their forces, and they want to be in the best possible position to exploit that for their—for their own power base.
CARLSON: Interesting. Retired General Bernard Trainor. Thanks a lot, General. I appreciate it.
CARLSON: Well, coming up next, it may feel like America has Bush fatigue, but some conservatives feel differently. There are some urging Jeb Bush to get into the race for president. Are they serious? Are they onto something smart? Stay tuned.
Plus, the woman at the center of the CIA leak affair took center stage on Capitol Hill today. After the break, we‘ve got the most dramatic and telling moments of her testimony. Valerie Plame Wilson on the stand. Stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VALERIE PLAME WILSON, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: My name and identity were carelessly and recklessly abused by senior government officials in both the White House and the State Department. All of them understood that I worked for the CIA. And, having signed oaths to protect national security secrets, they should have been diligent in protecting me and every CIA officer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: That was former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson, testifying in Congress today about the CIA leak case that resulted in the conviction of Scooter Libby on perjury and obstruction charges.
Did her sworn testimony have any effect, political or otherwise, on the Bush administration, or has the damage already been done?
Joining us once more, host of the nationally syndicated “Hugh Hewitt Show”, Hugh Hewitt himself; and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. Welcome to you both.
I‘m not quite sure what to make of this. We were just talking in the commercial break. Hugh, if you‘re upset about her identity being leaked, and you can make a case for why it‘s upsetting. The guy who apparently did it, Richard Armitage, who used to work, of course, for Colin Powell in the State Department, has—where is he in this? Why isn‘t he in trouble? You know?
HEWITT: Maybe he‘s not named bro (ph). Two things are true. She was wronged, and Joe Wilson is still a liar. I don‘t think this has any political impact whatsoever, except one news cycle, and then it will be gone. People are bored to tears with this.
CARLSON: She got over $1 million for her book.
FENN: Yes, I was going to say, she better sell some books.
Here‘s the situation. If the shoe were on the other foot, if the Democrats had leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent, all hell would have broken loose. And they‘d: “Oh, you‘re soft on defense. You‘re undercutting the CIA.”
And you know why I know that? Because the accusation was made against my old boss, Frank Church. It was wrong. It didn‘t happen. He had nothing to do with it. But I‘ll tell you...
CARLSON: Philip Agis (ph), by the way.
FENN: Well, that‘s right. It was in Agis‘ (ph) book, which had come out of Rampart‘s (ph) article. And these were folks who were in the embassy. These weren‘t people who were employed by energy companies.
CARLSON: I think, Peter, with all due respect, to compare Philip Agis (ph), for whom this law was written, by the way.
CARLSON: Everything that happened here is a little different.
FENN: My point—but my point is that, if this had been a Democratic administration that had done this, we would be hearing never the end of it.
CARLSON: Well, here‘s—that—I think you‘re probably right. But that doesn‘t—I mean, that doesn‘t change the central facts of this. Now, the—I think the most likely explanation for why her name was leaked to the press, the White House believed she sent her husband on this fact-finding trip to Africa.
FENN: Which she categorically denied.
CARLSON: Let‘s stick with what she said. These are her words about that allegation. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you make the decision to send Ambassador Wilson to Niger?
WILSON: No, I did not recommend him. I did not suggest him. There was no nepotism involved. I didn‘t have the authority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Now, that contradicts some things we think we know about this. I mean, I—my understanding was that she did put her husband‘s name forward. Maybe this is not of any interest except to those of us who followed it closely. Can we ever get to the bottom of this? Or is it the CIA, so they pull the curtains closed?
HEWITT: I had dinner Hitchens, Christopher Hitchens, a couple nights ago, and he was very disappointed that Joe Wilson was not called in the Libby trial, because that would have been the only way to get Wilson under oath and ask the kind of questions that needed to be asked, or her. And so we‘re not going to get to the bottom of it, and I wish we‘d move on it.
But I wish one other thing. Henry Waxman should be investigating the “Los Angels Times”, which put four CIA operatives‘ names into the public record two months ago. And I hope he holds hearings on the “New York Times” blowing two covert activities to our nation‘s enemies.
Yes, she was wronged, but there have been much more serious wrongs done to the national security by people leaking...
CARLSON: I hope you‘re not holding your breath for Waxman. But it does—let‘s be completely real here. The central offense in this case—
Scooter Libby got busted on something else, tragically, in my view. But the central allegation was...
FENN: It used to be called perjury, in the Clinton days.
CARLSON: That‘s right. It wasn‘t—look, Scooter Libby was not charged with or convicted of anything having directly to do with the leaking of Valerie Plame‘s name...
FENN: Correct, correct.
CARLSON: ... which is the one real crime, as far as I‘m concerned...
HEWITT: I agree.
CARLSON: ... was alleged in this whole business. If it was so
destructive of America‘s national security, -- and Democrats have argued
from day one yes, this has really put Americans in peril, hurt our country
why the hell isn‘t Henry Waxman going against the perpetrators of this so-called crime? That‘s a good question.
FENN: No. I mean, I think you might want to have Armitage up there.
And find out what‘s going on.
CARLSON: Well, why aren‘t they doing it?
FENN: Well, maybe they will.
CARLSON: Because he‘s not seen as a Bush loyalist. That‘s why.
HEWITT: Exactly the reason.
CARLSON: He‘s not acting for Bush.
FENN: No, not at all.
CARLSON: Come on, Peter. You...
FENN: No, no. Let me just go through this again. Look, what—what the details of this case are showing, is that they were so apoplectic about Joe Wilson because all spring of that year...
HEWITT: He was lying. He was lying.
FENN: He was going around saying that uranium was not coming out of this country. He‘s a former ambassador to the country.
Now let me finish this. And what we‘ve got here, is we‘ve suddenly—oh, Rove was involved. Oops. The president says, “Anybody in my administration would be fired if they‘re involved.” Rove‘s not—he‘s not fired. The vice-president is involved. The president‘s on a plane to Africa for 10 hours with the memo from the State Department.
CARLSON: Wait. How about this? How about I concede everything you said. Everything you said is true.
CARLSON: Bush is actually evil, he‘s saying. I‘ll concede that. You still haven‘t answered my question, which is, do Democrats really care about American national security being hurt in this instance? Or are they merely leveraging this for political gain? And if the former is true, why the hell aren‘t they trying to punish the person who leaked her name?
FENN: Let‘s—let‘s forget about the politics. But let‘s talk about...
CARLSON: Answer my question.
FENN: I‘ll answer that. The key thing here is you‘ve got an administration that doesn‘t think it answers to anybody. It doesn‘t answer to the guy...
CARLSON: We‘ve already stipulated they‘re evil. So if...
HEWITT: We‘ve got Satan on the table.
FENN: In my—in my view, the notion of—of somebody like Karl Rove today, he did it with this. Karl Rove, my goodness, he said—well, he was talking about the prosecutors. “Oh, the Democrats are playing politics with this.” You know, that‘s like being accused of being ugly by a frog. I mean it‘s all politics in this town.
CARLSON: Peter—Peter, let me just, for the third time—and I will give up after this, since I‘m not a cruel man.
CARLSON: We have—we have the crime alleged. That‘s the leaking of Mrs. Wilson‘s name. We have almost certainly the perpetrator, in fact. We have his name. I can probably pull off Google his home telephone number. We know where he is. He‘s a public figure. Why isn‘t anybody doing anything about it? Simple question.
FENN: I have no problem with the idea that Armitage should be called up before this committee and we ought to go through it.
CARLSON: Why isn‘t that...
FENN: Let me just finish this.
FENN: But I think you ought to have—why should Dick Cheney not be up there? Why should Karl Rove not be up there?
CARLSON: Because they‘re not the ones who leaked Valerie‘s name.
FENN: They were leaking it.
CARLSON: Wait, guys. Guys...
HEWITT: The reason they‘re not going to do Karl is because it doesn‘t work with the story line further. Outside the story line.
FENN: No. Karl Rove—Karl Rove tried to leak it. Karl Rove was leaking it, too. No, no, absolutely. No, wait a minute.
HEWITT: The Bob Novak column came from Richard Armitage. Second sin does not matter. He had two sources.
FENN: Now the second sin, there you go. That‘s a good question.
CARLSON: Yes. I think...
FENN: My argument would be they were all out there.
CARLSON: You know what? You know what the truth is? Is that Armitage, fair or not, is seen as having been against the war in Iraq and not a Bush intimate. And that‘s what it‘s about. It‘s about hurting Bush.
Now, I‘m not defending the leaking of the—I‘m just saying, let‘s be real.
FENN: I don‘t disagree with you. I don‘t disagree with it.
HEWITT: And the bottom line, as well, I spent a year writing this book about what faces America, left, right, liberals. No one is talking about this case. This does not matter outside of this weird little city and those who live here. I know.
CARLSON: Hey, man. This little city, that‘s my home.
Coming up, America may have Bush fatigue in this weird little city, but that hasn‘t stopped some conservatives from urging the president‘s brother, Jeb, to get into the wide-open race to succeed W. Good idea or insane?
Plus, a report that Barack Obama received a Muslim education as a young child has been written off as untrue, slanderous, bigoted. What if they are true? New evidence suggests maybe they are. Details in a minute.
CARLSON: Florida Governor Jeb Bush is related to the president, but in some ways he is far more politically impressive than his more famous brother is. Jeb speaks flawless English, for one thing. He has an impressive command of the details of policy for another, and most important, he did not invade Iraq. Plus, he‘s a real conservative.
So why isn‘t Jeb Bush running for president? That is a question at least some Republicans have been asking. Here with that story is the chief White House correspondent for “U.S. News & World Report, Ken Walsh. Ken, welcome. My understanding was Republicans thought this guy is a great candidate, but his name is Bush, so he is disqualified. But some are really taking this seriously.
KEN WALSH, “US NEWS & WORLD REPORT”: They are. Jeb said he is not going to run in 2008. But as a lot of Republicans, fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, evangelical conservatives look around this field, they are just not very happy with what they are seeing, with Giuliani and McCain and Romney and Gingrich. And they‘re just pining for a guy who fills these boxes that you described, social conservative, a guy who‘s been popular in his home state, coming from a big state, as you mentioned, Tucker, articulate.
And Jeb Bush fills this bill better than just about anybody else, as far as the conservatives in the Republican party are concerned. And many of them say, if he ran, he would sort of clear the field. Nobody else is catching on really. I mean, Rudy Giuliani is doing better, but I think he‘s starting to get some erosion now. So people are looking down to Florida and thinking well, there is the guy who could do it for us. Now, Jeb hasn‘t given any signs that he is really going to do this. But a lot of people think that this is a statement on where a lot of Republicans think their race is.
They are just not happy and they‘re looking for somebody to ride in and sweep them off their feet. A lot of people think Jeb is the guy to do that.
CARLSON: It is not a crazy idea. It would take the complicity of Jeb Bush. I guess he would have to agree to it. Any indication that he would?
WALSH: At this point, no. Doro Bush, the president and Jeb‘s sister is holding a fund raiser for Mitt Romney. There‘s one person in the family who looks she is moving in that direction. Jeb has been studiously avoiding taking a position and we will have to see how that goes. But, you know, if you look at this whole notion of Bush fatigue that you mentioned earlier, Tucker, well, there is also Iraq war fatigue.
There is polarization fatigue. Everybody has got some kind of fatigue that they‘re suffering from. Maybe, in the end, Bush fatigue wouldn‘t be such a bad thing, compared to all the other problems we‘ve got.
CARLSON: Another species of fatigue. We‘re all worn out. You, of course, would cover this. Imagine how weird that would be. You would have the candidate constantly being asked to compare his own positions to those of the president, his brother.
WALSH: Right. Well, you have got this already with Hillary Clinton. Do we have Clinton fatigue? Well, we do, but Hillary Clinton is the front-runner in the Democratic party. She is going to have to justify her position. She is already having to do it on trade and a number of other issues. So, this wouldn‘t be something we haven‘t seen before. But I think that, you know, it would be bizarre, but a wonderful thing to cover, to have another Bush versus Clinton race, or something of that kind out there next year.
A lot of Republicans are hoping that this happens. Jeb hasn‘t signaled he is interested in doing it, but we have a long way to go.
CARLSON: If it did happen, I think at that point you would have to give up on this idea of representative democracy and just declare it a monarchy at that point. I know that there is tension—they always pretend there‘s not, but happen to know that there is tension, or has been, between the president and Jeb Bush. Do you think Bush, the president, would be for this?
WALSH: Well, you know, I think, in this case, as we have seen with George W and his father, the Bushes do go their own way sometimes, if you look at how Bush has handled his presidency, versus the father. And so I think it is Jeb‘s decision. I don‘t think President Bush—yes, there has been some friction there on some things, off shore drilling, Everglades protection and so on, but I think, in the end, it‘s really Jeb‘s call. And I think everybody would respect that.
CARLSON: Fascinating. Ken Walsh of “U.S. News.” Thanks a lot Ken. Well joining us once again, Hugh Hewitt, Peter Fenn? What do you think of this?
HEWITT: The Bush organization in Florida has gone almost 100 percent to Romney. The Bush fund raising team across the United States, W‘s team has gone significantly to Romney. Romney raised a million bucks in San Francisco two nights ago, a million bucks in Orange County tonight. In “A Mormon in the White House,” I go through this. There aren‘t going to be anymore people entering the race. It is too hard.
The pieces are in place. And the money is raised.
CARLSON: Because of the money?
FENN: The great irony of this is that when Ted Kennedy was running for his Senate in 1962, Eddie McCormick, who was the challenger, said to him, in a debate, if your name were Edward Moore, your candidacy would be a joke. Now, if his name were Jeb Randolph, his candidacy would probably be taking off like a rocket.
CARLSON: There‘s no question.
HEWITT: He‘s a likely vice-presidential candidate. I think a lot of people behind the scenes, that I interviewed for this thing, aid, yes, you know, Bush will balance out the evangelical side. He will bring Florida solidly in. He‘ll bring even more money and enthusiasm, but he is not going to run.
CARLSON: He is an impressive guy, I have to say, and it is tragic that his name is Bush.
HEWITT: It‘s not tragic, he will just wait.
CARLSON: How unfair. If he had won in 1994, in his first race for governor, he would have been president. And I think it would have been a better country. To Romney, you have just written a book on Romney, forthcoming. I have been fascinated to see all these different shifts on policy that Romney has undertaken lately. The latest, of course, on immigration. Romney is now an immigration hawk.
Comparing today, “The Boston Globe” has an interesting piece, going back to November of 2005, a year and a half ago, he said to “The Boston Globe” that the immigration proposals by McCain and others are quite different from amnesty. In other words, he is basically signing on or endorsing or at least making excuse for the McCain-Bush amnesty bill. And now he is totally opposed to it. I mean, how many subjects can this gay make a 180 degree turn on?
HEWITT: That‘s an unfair criticism. He did change on life. He has become pro-life. He has not changed on the border. I been talking to him for a year on this. He has been a fence conservative for a long time. He has been a gun owner for a long time. Not an NRA member until recently. A lot of that is manufactured from the left, as is the idea that the Mormon issue is going to be a bad thing. It is Jacob Weisberg at “Slate.” It‘s “The New Republic” that‘s hitting him on his religion.
I think what he did on life was result of a genuine policy discussion with senior aides, like Peter Flaerty (ph) and Jim Bop (ph), that it is legitimate and real. Besides, he‘s the only one out there who is pro-life and at least saying the right things.
FENN: Hugh, Hugh, I mean, I think you have to say that this guy, he didn‘t just go 90 degrees on a lot of issues, he went 180. To use your example on the gun thing, he supported the Brady Bill. He supported Assault Weapons Bans as governor of Massachusetts. Then he goes and joins the NRA last august as a life-time member.
HEWITT: You and I can do that tomorrow.
FENN: Well, of course, but life members. To me, it is politically clumsy. In other words, do what Giuliani is doing, do your little 180‘s, placate some folks, but for crying out loud, this looks like he has no integrity, no core.
CARLSON: Wait. Anybody here is more conservative than I am? I don‘t know anybody who‘s more conservative than I am. So let me just say this. One of the problems, as you know, as a conservative, over the past six years, has been professional conservatives and the movement has completely sold out to Bush. They have tied themselves to partisan rather than ideological positions. And they devalued their own authority and they are a joke now, in my view, many of them.
I see what is happening with Romney, the same that happened with Steve Forbes. He‘s running around, buying up all these consultants, buying up all these supporters, and that does not a grassroots campaign make.
HEWITT: You are fundamentally wrong about that. Out in the country, where he has organizations in place, there are people who are not normally participating in politics. I will go to California, which I know perhaps the best. He‘s got the Digital Coast Executives. He‘s got the Silicon Valley people, and everyone in between, because he knows, sort of, the chill spots of business. He can make them understand that when he was at Bain Capital, Bain Consulting, that really does understand the economy, really does believe in low taxes, really does believe in economic growth.
So he is a genuine free markets guy and he has become a solid conservative on those issues.
FENN: Why not run on that?
CARLSON: Answer this question then. I was going to throw up, just to be mean, the famous video, there‘s a lot of it out there, I will die for your right to commit abortion. I will perform an abortion for you, whatever, a very pro-choice guy. Now he‘s very pro-life. What exactly did specific change his mind.
FENN: Harvard came forward with a clinic—I detail this in the book
because this is the key issue. What happened? Harvard came forward with a proposition to begin assembly-line cloning of stem cells from embryos, that they could begin, sort of, brave new world research. His staff, Beth Myers and Peter Flaerty, saw that and brought it to his attention.
He did the Bain (ph) Way thing, brought in everyone from Mary Ann Glendon at Harvard Law School, Robbie George at Princeton, a lot of the priests and the people who work on the intellectual side of the right to life movement, and they persuaded him that this had to stop. This Bain way that I talk about in the book does have a profound impact on how he thinks. He is open to data. Now, in this city, where no one is ever open to rMD+IN_rMDNM_data that conflicts with what position they took last week, that‘s strange.
CARLSON: Not to me. I changed my mind, including on abortion. I
used to be pro choice until I thought about it a lot. I don‘t that he has
articulated it. We‘ve got to wait for your book. Speaking at open minds -
FENN: You‘re looking at me. I have an open mind.
CARLSON: The Fox News Channel and “The Inside Magazine,” neither of which I am seeking to defend, necessarily, but took a huge amount of crap recently for saying a report that Barack Obama went to a Muslim school. They called a Madrassa, but a Muslim school, and was raised as a Muslim when he lived in Indonesia. That is outrageous. That‘s bigotry. That‘s anti-religion, witch burning, whatever.
It turns out, according to the “L.A. Times,” it is kind of true. Not that it is significant, in and of itself, but it turns out Barack Obama was educated in Islam and identified himself as a Muslim when he was a little kid. Here is my point, why is the Obama camp—which I don‘t think is significant, by the way, who cares. But I think the Obama camp is embarrassed of this.
FENN: Actually, we were again talking about this at the break. He talks in his book about growing up in Indonesia, about going to the Muslim school. So Barack, there is no secret about that. Barack Obama says that. Now, the concern is, does he go every Friday to prayers?
FENN: Was his father a strong Muslim? The answer to that, at least from Obama and the camp, is no, wrong.
CARLSON: To be clear they say, verbatim quote, Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim. Clearly they are fudging on this. Why don‘t you be straight forward and say, you know what, his step father was Muslim. He was educated as a Muslim.
FENN: He says in the book. Look, he does, I read it. He says he went to the Muslim school in the book. There is a section in the book on that. But, here is the thing, this kid, I mean he was a kid, he was eight.
CARLSON: I am not saying it‘s bad. I am not blaming him for it. I am just saying, why not be honest?
FENN: I think they are being pretty honest. The question is now, you know, it starts off with Republican operatives going on using his middle name, Hussein.
HEWITT: The attempt to leverage that is repulsive.
CARLSON: OK, I‘m sorry, to go from this, I want to go very quickly, as we often do on this show, to marijuana. Very fast, tell me Hugh, do you think that Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, supporting legalization for medical marijuana is a problem or good for the hemp community and his presidential campaign?
HEWITT: I don‘t think it is a problem, because I don‘t think his candidacy has any viability whatsoever. He could be for unicorns flying and it wouldn‘t matter.
CARLSON: But this is part of the whole good-time candidacy. I mean, vote for Bill Richardson, party, yes.
FENN: It is the baby boomers vote he‘s looking for. Listen, 160 people in that sate who are severely injured, hurt, ready to die, for crying out loud, give them a break. But politically, not a smart move for him, obviously. I kind of admire it, actually.
CARLSON: I don‘t have a problem with it.
HEWITT: It will win the pot head vote.
CARLSON: Thank you both very much. Coming up, you can argue for all eternity what John McCain knows about the Iraq war and still find disagreement. But what does he know about basketball? That is measurable. And we will measure it. An up to the minute update of his March Madness picks, coming up.
Plus, we are fair here on this show. If we are going to make fun of Republicans final four picks, we‘ve got to go after a Democrat as well. Bill Clinton cranked up the cheese factor when he filled out his bracket.
We‘ll get the details from our favorite gossips gurus in mere moments.
We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Traffic is snarled from Washington to Boston. Airlines have canceled flights. Nails of ice are spitting from the sky. But none of that stops the inexorable march of Washington, D.C. gossip. Manning their regular Friday battle station, armed with the most salacious and ludicrous former secrets in all of America‘s politics, the first ladies of dish, authors of “The Washington Post‘s” universally read gossip column, “The Reliable Source,” Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts. Welcome ladies.
ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Welcome almost St. Patrick‘s Day.
CARLSON: Thank you. So what is going on in the world of gossip?
ROBERTS: Should we start with Chuck?
AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Yes.
ROBERTS: We like to spread the love around. But this week we have been ganging up on one person in particular, and that would be Chuck Schumer, who‘s been having one of those weeks that reminds you that you never really grow up. You never really change. You never really leave high school.
ARGETSINGER: Life is high school. On Wednesday he met with his It‘s Academic, which is an academic quiz show, high school teammate.
ROBERTS: It‘s 40th reunion on Capitol Hill.
ARGETSINGER: He was captain of the team at James Madison High School in Brooklyn. He also was valedictorian, and he got a perfect score on his SATs. All right? Just in case we didn‘t know that about him.
So then, this is the best part, he goes on to Harvard, and for his senior thesis—
ROBERTS: We wrote about his It‘s Academic reunion. Apparently it
aroused a lot of people‘s memories of the young Chuck Schumer and
ARGETSINGER: -- and the young, can‘t take a B for an answer Chuck. Because for his senior thesis he got a B. He wrote about how to make Congress more affective. Guess who gave him the B?
ROBERTS: Conservative commentator Bill Bennett, who was a law student at the time.
CARLSON: No way.
ROBERTS: Yes, I love this. He was a law student at the time, and he was teaching Schumer‘s undergraduate social studies course. So he writes a B on the paper. Chuck, he says, goes nuts, is really hot about this, argues that he should get an A on the paper. Bennett does not relent. And for the next three decades, every time they meet, Chuck says, I don‘t know if you remember. And Bennett says, Chuck, stop with the grade grubbing.
ARGETSINGER: Bennett says he would now be willing to take another look at this paper, rereview it, but I think the B is staying.
CARLSON: That is just sad. That is such a poignant story, actually, if you think about. Of all of the things we are tormented by, love lost, loved ones who pass away, a B on a paper from Bill Bennett. So what is going on in the world of Bill Clinton? What is Bill Clinton up to in his private time?
ROBERTS: Filling out brackets is what he‘s doing.
ARGETSINGER: -- talk about it are the brackets.
CARLSON: Tell me what you can say.
ROBERTS: He filled out his brackets and he went on X.M. radio. It was aired this morning. This is on James Carville‘s sports show, of course.
ARGETSINGER: And he says his final four are Florida, Ohio, Kansas and North Carolina.
ROBERTS: But when asked who he envisions winning, if, by any chance, Arkansas meets up with Georgetown, he kind of—
ARGETSINGER: He waffled. He ducked. He totally did not want to go there. He said, he is not running for anything anymore, he doesn‘t have to please anybody. But he‘s going to plead politics on that one.
CARLSON: That‘s unbelievable.
ROBERTS: What would you pick between those?
CARLSON: I don‘t know, but I can go ahead and admit that I did inhale. Take a stand, man. And finally, give me a quick summary of Patrick Fitzgerald.
ARGETSINGER: BBC, great journalist at the BBC, this week they put on their website a very thoughtful profile of Patrick Fitzgerald, the very special prosecutor, who has now departed our fair city. In the profile they quoted from Patrick Fitzgerald‘s blog, and they quoted specifically Patrick Fitzgerald on his blog, saying that he found in “Washington the corruption to be a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of travesty of two mockeries of a sham.”
OK. First things first, Patrick Fitzgerald, ladies love him, but he‘s a pretty dry guy, very private guy. He does not keep a blog. This blog that the BBC was quoting from is not really Patrick Fitzgerald‘s blog. It is just a hoax tribute parody site.
ROBERTS: And the quote?
ARGETSINGER: Does the quote sound familiar? It is actually from Woody Allan‘s movie “Banana‘s.”
CARLSON: I wish I had written that. Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, god, I wish I was that clever. Thank you both very much. See you in a week.
Coming up, Simon Cowel tells all to Anderson Cooper and “60 Minutes.” We know what you are thinking. Stay tuned for the interview‘s kinkiest highlight. You will not be disappointed. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome to the final segment of the show. There is good news. Bill Wolff, the vice president for prime time programming here at MSNBC, has stepped in to fill the breach in the absence of Willie Geist. He joins us from headquarters.
BILL WOLFF, VICE PRESIDENT OF MSNBC: There‘s a lot pressure living up to your lead-ins Tucker. You‘re so very kind. Listen, we want to get back to serious news now that you‘ve been through the D.C. gossip. So let‘s begin with “American Idol.” Judge Simon Cowell, Tucker, he is nothing if not frank. So this really a story of courage.
Cowell tells Anderson Cooper on this week‘s “60 Minutes” that a married couple in their 50s approached him in a Los Angeles restaurant and offered him 100,000 dollars to watch them have sex, and then to critique their performance. Cowell says he turned them down, but regrets that he didn‘t take the gig.
Tucker, there is a fine line between kinky and disgusting.
CARLSON: And also masochistic. I mean, can you imagine being in the sack and there‘s this annoying Brit, sitting in an easy chair across the room, barking at you.
WOLFF: Well, I‘d rather not answer that question, but I‘ll offer you these two observations: Number one, as regards to that particular area of performance, if you‘ve got to ask, you‘ll never know. And number two, if you‘ve got 100 grand, there‘s better ways to spend it.
CARLSON: Yes, I can think of an infinite number of better ways.
That‘s pretty sick, actually.
WOLFF: Well, I think it‘s fairly sick, but we escape without ever knowing how it went.
Now news of the eye-poppingly attractive, Tucker. Attention getting beauties find lots of round about ways to make the news. They adopt babies. They shave their heads and check into rehab. But Carmen Electra, she cut through the red tape. She was walking on the runway, and we are, I hope we‘re, going to see her on the runway of a fashion show in Los Angeles.
Dear lord, we don‘t have the correct video Tucker. Any way, she fell on her bottom. It was hilarious video. But here, tragically, we see her standing there and not falling. Thank you very much.
CARLSON: You know what though? I can just picture, Bill, as I look at Carmen Electra, in that revealing cut away gown, I can imagine her falling down, bouncing on her shapely bottom, bouncing back up.
WOLFF: Well, you know, it‘s interesting you should say that. Actually, they helped her up because her bottom apparently didn‘t have the sort of elasticity needed for an immediate bounce up. I was going to tell you that if she had fallen forward, she wouldn‘t have needed any help. Thank you.
Tucker, the number of different kinds of mail has apparently grown by one. We have e-mail, traditional snail mail, voice mail and now dork mail. This is video tape of a United States mail box in New York City, all painted up to look like the Star Wars drone R2D2. Apparently it‘s not the only one. R2D2 is the mailbox.
So now, if I have a light saber tooth brush, a Luke Skywalker lunch box and Hans Solo under root, you have the perfect place to send your fan mail to Mark Hammel (ph), Tucker. Can we get over Star Wars?
CARLSON: That is just so touching, so touchingly sad.
WOLFF: Seriously, it was 30 years ago, and it was a movie. Why do we have a post office box of R2D2. I like “Last Tango in Paris.” You don‘t see me calling for a “Last Tango in Paris” mailbox, do you?
CARLSON: And you know what, you‘re not going to get one.
WOLFF: Not under the current administration.
CARLSON: No, I don‘t think so.
WOLFF: Finally, Tucker, one more piece of politics for you, because I know you love politics. An update on John McCain‘s picks in the NCAA tournament. The senator was brave enough, or maybe stupid enough, to disclose his March Madness brackets. He went 9 and 3 yesterday. And so far today, I believe he is 7-2. So, He‘s up to 16 and 5 through the first 21 games. We have 11 games outstanding, a couple in progress.
We wish him the very best. He was among, like so many other people, stupid enough to pick Duke on Thursday. And sadly for those who root for Goliath over David, Tucker the Blue Devils lost to Virginia Commonwealth.
So, McCain, not bad; 16-5, I would say, is average. It‘s not bad. It‘s about what I am doing. And I don‘t know anything. So, I tip my cap to the senator.
CARLSON: Apart from Yankees fans, who roots for Goliath over David.
WOLFF: Duke fans, Notre Dame fans, North Carolina basketball fans, come on, many people.
CARLSON Spoken like a man from St. Louis.
WOLFF: That is right.
CARLSON: Bill Wolff, thanks Bill.
WOLFF: Have a great weekend.
CARLSON: You too. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Up next, “HARDBALL” with the great David Gregory. We will be back on Monday for a special on Iraq. Tune in then. Have a great weekend.
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