Guests: Tom Tancredo, Mike Allen
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to the show.
New developments today in the Alberto Gonzales controversy. The Senate has voted overwhelmingly, 94 to two to revert to pre-9/11 practice and require the attorney general to get congressional approval before appointing U.S. attorneys.
Now it doesn‘t sound like a very exciting vote but if you want to understand what this controversy is really all about, it tells you a lot.
Eight federal prosecutors were fired a few months ago by the Justice Department. Democrats are calling the dismissals a political witch hunt, and maybe they will. We‘ll find out when actual details emerge.
But the firings are not what most members of Congress members are angry about. What infuriated them were the hirings of new prosecutors without their approval. Congress wants its say. It demands it. Do what you want, but ask our permission first. That‘s the attitude of most members when it comes to this or any White House.
Nothing makes Congress madder than being treated like a slow stepchild. That‘s a lesson that somehow Bush has never learned. From day one, this president‘s problems on the Hill have stemmed not so much from his politics or ideology but from his patronizing attitude and his obsession with secrecy.
In a word, from his arrogance. It‘s not such a big deal when your approval ratings are at 80. But it‘s deadly when your approval ratings are at 35 and he‘s paying the price now.
Late this afternoon under pressure from Congress, the White House offered to provide un-sworn testimony without a transcript behind closed doors from both Karl Rove and former White House aide Harriet Miers regarding the now notorious U.S. attorney dismissals.
This offer, of course, fell far short of what Democrats in Congress say they want. Senator Chuck Schumer immediately suggested that subpoenas are a likely option later this week.
Here to tell us what they think of this breaking political news we welcome associate editor of “The Hill” magazine, newspaper author A.B. Stoddard and former Lieberman advisor and founder of the political blog “Dangerous Thoughts”, a dangerous Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein. Welcome to you both.
DAN GERSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thanks.
CARLSON: Here‘s what Chuck Schumer said right after the offer was proffered by the White House. Here is his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D) NY: There are many, many problems with this agreement and any lawyer worth his or her salt would tell you that you were not going to really find out what went on if you stick to the bounds of this agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So, A.B. why exactly would the White House agree to let Miers and Rove testify before Congress but only not under oath and without a transcript and behind closed doors. What‘s the legal reasoning there? What‘s the idea?
A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”: They don‘t want—They are asserting executive privilege. We will do this in private and we will tell you the truth but we‘ll do it in private. We won‘t be sworn under oath.
CARLSON: Trust us.
STODDARD: And it‘s just—They are just trying to have it both ways but this was decided on Sunday when the Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, no more, said we want full sworn testimony. The public demands it. I‘m tired of waiting.
And we knew this is what the White House would offer and we know the Democrats would reject it.
CARLSON: Are they going to reject it? I mean, this is going to be a constitutional fight at some point pretty soon.
GERSTEIN: I don‘t think it will get to that. I mean, this is adding insult to inquiry. You saw it in Schumer. I think the Democrats are going to find this laughable. The Bush administration may have been able to wait it out in the first term when their approval ratings were strong and he had that 9/11 halo still going on.
But now he is irrelevant, he is beyond wounded and even worse the Republicans on the Hill, he has almost no credibility left with, especially on this fiasco. And it is going to be interesting to see what is the next counteroffer, because I think the Democrats are going to reject this out of hand.
CARLSON: Yeah, this is amazing to me and it shows how weak Bush really is that this which didn‘t strike me as particularly scandalous, having seen a lot of this kind of stuff over the years, has blossomed, exploded into this really ugly scandal. Did the Bush administration expect this, do you think?
STODDARD: No. But as we‘ve talked about previously, once it started, they realized how far it would go so quickly, and they did jump on it and try to be sort of proactive about it. Because I think they felt the force of it immediately.
CARLSON: So what is the point of keeping Gonzales as A.G.?
STODDARD: I don‘t think they will. They have said things like - when Tony Snow was asked, the White House spokesman, will he survive or I don‘t know, we hope he stays.
They are not giving a really strong endorsement to Gonzales and you can tell from what‘s happening on the Republican side of the aisle in Capitol Hill that they feeling immensely frustrated about this. They don‘t want to fall into line. And they are going to want heads to roll. It‘s going to have to start with Gonzales who they are not a big fan of.
And it might have to go on from there.
CARLSON: He doesn‘t have many allies. The right doesn‘t like him. They prevented him from being nominated to the Supreme Court, I think. The left hates him on principle. I wonder, though, Dan, are we missing kind of the essential ingredient in the story which is some motive for the firings of these eight U.S. attorneys?
We don‘t actually know why they were canned, do we?
GERSTEIN: I think to a certain extent and in individual cases there‘s enough of a pattern where they were not loyal enough to the administration. And in several of the cases, they didn‘t prosecute investigations against Democrats that Republicans in their states wanted them to which is to say that they didn‘t politicize the office the way this president and this administration have done to the White House and the executive branch.
I think the most interesting thing .
CARLSON: Wait a second, we don‘t know that. The average federal prosecutor has performed on an almost infinite range of potential cases. Some of them they move on, others they don‘t. We are not certain. We don‘t know. There‘s no document that says it. No White House e-mail that has since been revealed says he is not prosecuting Democrats. Off with his head!
GERSTEIN: We have—We don‘t have fire yet but there is enough smoke.
This Kyle Sampson e-mail where he talks about loyal Bushies.
CARLSON: That guys an idiot.
GERSTEIN: Well .
STODDARD: It‘s also the cover-up. It‘s never the crime. It‘s sort of how they bungled the response to Congress and that is really - as Dan said, there is too much smoke and the response from - this one of the reasons there‘s sort of this disagreement within the Justice Department. Gonzales is upset with McNulty, etc, they are all mad at each other about how they responded to Congress.
And it‘s too late. We are off to the races, now. You‘re right, there hasn‘t been this one smoking gun e-mail, but there is enough smoke that it‘s now with the president‘s popularity in the tank and the frustration, it‘s now led to a disaster that they can‘t stop.
CARLSON: It seems to me that, I never defend prosecutors out of instinct but the more we find out about this it might become muddier rather than clearer.
“The New York Times” reports this morning reports this morning, Margaret Chiara, one of those U.S. attorneys, according to e-mails released yesterday, she, quote, pleaded for a few extra weeks on the federal payroll while she looked for a job.
That does not sound like the behavior of a victim of a political witch hunt. Does it to you?
GERSTEIN: No. And I don‘t think it‘s a universal pattern.
CARLSON: Well, there are only eight U.S. attorneys.
GERSTEIN: But there‘s enough evidence in several of the cases that there were political motivations and politicization going on. I think the most interesting facet of this story, though, is that this is a consequence of six years of no oversight and no accountability on the part of Congress looking out as a watchdog on the White House.
CARLSON: Well, it‘s also—I think you‘re right to some extent, but it‘s also not just that Congress has not been tough enough on the White House but the White House has basically given the bird to Republican on the Hill for the first six years, saying we don‘t need your oversight. Leave us alone.
GERSTEIN: Absolutely. But I think there was a codependency there that was really enabled by the Republicans on the Hill looking the other way from six years. Not challenging the White House. Not ever issuing subpoenas. No investigations.
You‘ve got to remember, when Democrats controlled Congress, they conducted oversight over the Clinton administration.
CARLSON: I guess I missed that part. I was here then. Maybe I was sleeping.
GERSTEIN: They probably didn‘t do it as much as you wanted them to but they did do oversight.
CARLSON: They sucked up pretty hard as far as I remember but unfortunately we‘re out of time.
Maybe we‘ll bring it up when we come back.
Coming up, are these the last days of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general? President Bush says no. We‘ll be joined next though by a man who is reporting that the administration is in fact already choosing he attorney general‘s successor.
Plus Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn‘t have to run for president to influence the 2008 race. The governor of California sits down with NBC News, stay tuned for Arnold on the war in Iraq and the race for if White House and Rush Limbaugh. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: The Senate acted today to restrict Alberto Gonzales‘ power to appoint U.S. attorneys. The president called Gonzales this morning, apparently to assure him that he still had a job.
In a flood of e-mails and memos released by the Justice Department yesterday, it appeared to exonerate, to some extent anyway, Gonzales from serious wrongdoing.
Still, our next guest reports exclusively that the Bush administration is actively seeking Alberto Gonzales‘ successor.
He is, of course, “The Politico‘s” Mike Allen and he is rarely wrong.
Mike, you‘ve got the White House moving pretty early this morning. Your piece came out last night, I read it around maybe 10:30 and at 7:05 this morning, Bush is on the phone, or says he was on the phone to Alberto Gonzales assuring him that he still has a job. What is the truth?
MIKE ALLEN, “THE POLITICO”: The president called him for the first time since they talked last week in Mexico and the president clearly wanted to send a signal. I am not going to push you. I don‘t want you to look like you are being pushed. I don‘t want you to feel like you are being pushed. I am going to let you make up your mind for yourself.
CARLSON: Which is a little different from saying I want you to stay on?
ALLEN: And Tony Snow was later asked today if the attorney general assured the president that that he would say for the last 21 months of the term and Tony Snow said that didn‘t come up. So you can tell this goes .
CARLSON: Since I find it such high comedy, let‘s put of Tony Snow‘s verbatim response to that question. It‘s pretty good. This is Tony Snow, White House spokesman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: None of us knows what is going to happen to us over the next 21 months. And that‘s why it‘s an impossible question to answer, will somebody stay throughout?
However, the reason I said we hope so is we hope so. And he has the confidence of the president, but I do not—it‘s a pure and simple matter. Nobody is prophetic enough to know what the next 21 months hold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So, really at this point we‘re into metaphysics. Nobody knows what the future holds!
ALLEN: You‘ve got to feel for Tony Snow.
CARLSON: Oh, I so feel for him.
ALLEN: You can see the ballet that has to done here. The president wants to be loyal to his guy. Wants his guy to get the memo himself.
CARLSON: And they are personal friends for real, right?
ALLEN: Right. Going back to the Texas governor‘s office, as you know.
ALLEN: And at the same time, they have to be prepared if, surprisingly, shockingly, there‘s somehow a vacancy in the attorney general‘s office. So they began finding out who was available, who was willing to do it, which turns out to be an issue. One of the people involved in the process told me this morning it may come down to who is willing to do it.
CARLSON: Can I just clear one thing—When you say, they went out looking for successors do you mean .
ALLEN: Republicans who have been deputized by the White House.
CARLSON: Who have been deputized. Who are acting on behalf of the White House.
ALLEN: Who have been told to get the lay of the land.
And the way they do this, they do it subtly—if I‘m a Bush official and I want you to be attorney general - I don‘t know which of those is more scary - I will come to you and say, you know, Tucker, who do you think we should look at. So I‘ll get your advice, right, and them I‘ll get somebody else to come to you and say, well, would you be willing to do it.
That‘s the sort of metaconversation that happens. So that nobody is committed, nobody is put on the spot.
Now after this story appeared and after the president spoke this morning, someone who is one of their targets said that it‘s gone radio silent. The process has absolutely stopped, and they are going to let the attorney general make the next move.
As one Republican said to me, the president understands, the attorney general is a big boy. He might say decide to say something to the effect of, look, I want to fight terrorism, I want to support the president‘s agenda. I cannot do that if I am constantly testifying, having Democrats in my drawers. My last act of loyalty is to pass the baton.
CARLSON: This is essentially - they hand you the sign, they don‘t tell you to take it, but they understand basically what the implication is.
ALLEN: And to be fair I think they are going to let the attorney general decide.
ALLEN: And he is going to decide what he wants to go through.
Now, I can tell you as Republicans look ahead, they were starting to talk about the fact today that people quite close to the president hope that he gets someone outside the family. They feel that Secretary Gates has been successful at the Pentagon.
Tony Snow, outside the family, successful. The counsel, Fred Fielding, outside, successful.
So they hope that they‘ll bring in someone - someone that will bring us credibility with Congress. So not only are they hoping to have the Gonzales problem go away, but they are hoping to get somebody who can help the president. Who will stand up there and help make the next 21 months productive.
CARLSON: Joe Lieberman.
Here is the list you‘re reporting in your piece. John Danforth, former senator from Missouri, Bill Barr, Mr. Barr, the former attorney general Fran .
ALLEN: For the father.
Fran Townsend, Michael Chertoff, Ted Olson, former assistant attorney general Larry Thompson, Chris Cox, the head of the FCC, Fred Thompson, Judge Larry Silberman.
Any of those a frontrunner at this point do you think?
ALLEN: It‘s hard to say.
A lot of people inside talk about Secretary Chertoff, although him going up would mean relitigating Katrina in front of the Senate.
CARLSON: Oh yeah.
ALLEN: Do you really want to do that?
People are definitely looking at former Attorney General Barr. The president, as you know, very fond of Larry Thompson, the former deputy attorney general now with PepsiCo, if he wanted it, he would have it. One more name I think is toward the top of the mix is the former California Congressman Chris Cox, of course now chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
CARLSON: Is there any possibility a Democrat would get this job? It would be clever.
ALLEN: It‘s a very intriguing idea. Would indeed.
CARLSON: What about Lieberman? Think that‘s too bananas?
ALLEN: They were saving him for the Pentagon, right?
Certainly they will helpful enough with his election.
CARLSON: And very quickly, how many calls have you gotten, you probably won‘t say, but how many calls did you get from the executive branch when your piece came out?
ALLEN: Not enough. We always want more.
CARLSON: I bet you do. Mike Allen from “The Politico.” Thanks a lot, Mike.
ALLEN: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: Coming up Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s most paranoid critics have feared that he might some day be allowed to be president, or run through it, anyway. Bad news for them, though. The road to the White House now goes now through California and the state house.
Stick around to hear from the governor himself. Plus the Democratic Party tastes blood in the water at the Justice Department. Up next, a leading Republican Congressman wants Gonzales gone. Tom Tancredo, one of the last true conservatives wants change. He joins us next.
CARLSON: When Democrats like Chuck Schumer call for firings or resignations in the Bush administration, it‘s par for the course politically but when our next guest makes the same sort of call it is something else entirely. Joining me now is Republican Congressman from Colorado, Tom Tancredo who is calling for Attorney General Gonzales to resign from office..
Congressman, thanks for coming on.
REP. TOM TANCREDO, ® CO: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: One of the untold stories of all of this. Everyone knows the Democrats are on fire for Gonzales and everyone else in the Bush administration but Gonzales is not so popular with conservatives. Why are you calling for his resignation?
TANCREDO: Well, I tell you. When you heap together all of the things that have happened in the last several—year and a half, anyway, on top of this - the most recent stuff about the firing of the U.S. attorneys, which I consider to be mostly political.
The real issues for me, I think are much more substantive. I think he has been derelict in his duty. I think he has not done what we should expect of a chief law enforcement officer of the land. He is not going after the people. He has refused to enforce the law especially with regard to immigration issues. There‘s a law in the books, Tucker, that says you can not have a sanctuary city.
It‘s a law. It‘s been there on the books since .
CARLSON: Just explain to our viewers .
TANCREDO: Where a local community will say to their police force, for instance, the mayor—you can‘t not report if you‘ve come in contact with an illegal alien, you can‘t report that to ICE.
CARLSON: Because it‘s a federal issue, not a local issue.
TANCREDO: But we want them to communicate with us. We want them to say to us look, this is happening.
There‘s a law in the books saying if a city or state says they are blocking this. It‘s against a federal—blocking that flow of information. They can‘t block the flow of information to ICEA about illegal aliens. Sanctuary cities say you are going to. It is a law. He has never once process cute. It‘s a law that says if a country refuses to take back one of its nationals over here, an alien in this country, legal or illegal who commits another crime, murder, rape, robbery, the law says that the Department of Justice is supposed to tell the Department of State that country A will not do this and the state is supposed to say you cannot have a visa, we will not issue a visas.
It‘s a law, there is no equivocation in the law. There is no wiggle room. They refuse to enforce it. These are the things—Iraq is a country that refuses to take back their nationals. China.
CARLSON: Who have committed crimes.
TANCREDO: Who have committed other crimes. Murder. Tennessee, a guy commits a murder, an Iraqi here, right? Convicted of manslaughter. Pretty soon he shows back up on the street and they‘re saying you‘re supposed to be deported. No, we can‘t - Iraq won‘t take back their people. China won‘t.
There‘s about 20 other countries.
CARLSON: And Gonzales is personally responsible for .
TANCREDO: You bet.
CARLSON: . not prosecuting these crimes?
TANCREDO: He is—He is supposed to say to the Department of State at that point in time, Iraq is not taking back the nationals. The State is supposed to say, OK, no more visas. He won‘t do it.
CARLSON: Have you brought this to attention of the Justice Department?
CARLSON: What did they say?
TANCREDO: First of all, I get no response from Justice. I had Condoleezza Rice in front of me in a committee and asked her about it she had Iraq has got a lot of problems, we wouldn‘t want to add to it. Those were her exact words. We wouldn‘t want to add to it.
But these are the things I am concerned about. Look at the use of resources. Instead of going after the drug dealers, right, that are bringing stuff across the border, he is using his resources to actually go after the law enforcement agents, the people on the border, the border patrolmen, Compean and Ramos.
He is prosecuting them. He uses his resources in the Department of Justice to go down to Mexico, find the drug dealer and bring him back here and give him amnesty so that he can testify against Ramos and Compean.
These are the things that I think are more substantive than the firing .
CARLSON: I couldn‘t agree with you more.
Finally, though, Gonzales is basically acting out the president‘s view on immigration. The president is a lefty on immigration. He‘s a pretty serious lefty on immigration. What makes you think that the next attorney general would be better?
TANCREDO: He may not be but I‘ll tell you this. It seems to me that every single one of these guys that takes the oath, right, they are taking the oath to uphold the Constitution, to do their job and especially the chief law enforcement officer. All I‘m asking of them, why is it so hard to enforce the law?
And I‘ll tell you what. If they were being stopped from doing that because of the president of the United States, then they have the responsibility to say, I am out of here. Because my integrity means more to me than just the service to this guy who won‘t let me enforce the law.
CARLSON: Amen. Tom Tancredo, congressman and candidate for president, thanks for joining us.
TANCREDO: It‘s a pleasure.
CARLSON: Coming up, if you want your party‘s nomination for president, you‘d better get on the phone, or better yet, show up in Sacramento and have a cigar with the most powerful governor in America.
Stick around for Arnold on the war, the presidency and his own considerable influence.
Plus, House Democrats turn to good old sleazy buy and sell politics to pass their war resolution. How much pork money does it take to purchase an end to the Iraq War? We‘ll tell you next.
CARLSON: Still to come, California moves up its primary date from June to February. Kind of a big deal, actually. How much influence will that have on presidential campaigns? A lot. But more important, who will get the governor‘s support?
We‘ll get that in just a minute. First, though, here‘s a look at your headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA: I think that the state has suffered because we were not serious players in the presidential primaries. And they are calling. They are asking us what is important for California. We‘ve never gotten these phone calls before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: That was Arnold Schwarzenegger with NBC‘s Campbell Brown, discussing the sudden primary importance of California, the primary in the 2008 election. It‘s not clear just how important the February 5th primary will be, but it is certain that Schwarzenegger wields significantly more power than he did a week ago.
Here to discuss Mr. Schwarzenegger‘s influence, among other things, the associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and former senior Lieberman advisor and founder of the political blog “Dangerous Thoughts,” Dan Gerstein. Welcome to you both.
I think the governor makes a really good point. California until now just hasn‘t gotten enough attention, really. I‘m sorry. I say this as a Californian, but I mean that‘s deranged. California runs everything. Right? I mean, of course, they run our culture. Every trend starts in California. They need more influence now?
GERSTEIN: Well, but they‘ve been completely marginalized in the presidential candidate selection process for the two parties. I mean, their having their primary so late has rendered them completely powerless. I think Schwarzenegger realized that he can‘t be king because of the constitution, but he can be king maker this way, and he wants the people to come in and kiss his ring.
CARLSON: Boy, what a shame. I seems to me, though, I mean, California, since it‘s almost literally impossible to campaign, physically campaign, the state‘s just too vast. It‘s a country. The momentum from the earlier primary states is going to make all the difference. Isn‘t it? Nobody is going to have enough money to actually put ads up in Fresno, right?
STODDARD: I don‘t think that California gains a lot of influence. No one knows exactly what the early primaries going to do, but most people think this just boosts the influence even more of the first four primary states. So, you still have to win big in Iowa. You still have to win Nevada, New Hampshire South Carolina, in order to be—everyone thinks at this point, to get the bump on February 5th.
And so it doesn‘t really mean what everybody hoped it would mean, which is to take some of the influence away from those early states. I mean, you have to spend a lot of money on television. It likely helps the big names. It‘s not clear why this is going to help the other states.
CARLSON: Well, it‘s going to end the process pretty darn fast, and it strikes me that it basically puts an end to the presidential aspirations of anybody who is not really, really well funded. Doesn‘t it?
GERSTEIN: I think it‘s a huge advantage to best financed candidates.
CARLSON: The rich get richer.
GERSTEIN: And I think Hillary Clinton, in particular, is going to benefit from this.
CARLSON: Well, how does that help America, Dan?
GERSTEIN: I think there‘s an equally plausible scenario though, that If no one catches fire in the early primary states, that the February 5th states, that someone can calculate and create a fire wall in California, and win a heck of a lot of delegates. You could potentially see a brokered convention.
CARLSON: That‘s the best possible, as far as I‘m concerned. What does Schwarzenegger want, A.B? I mean, he got up with Campbell Brown and said, you know, look, I‘m not beholden to the right, as if we hadn‘t noticed that. He is really making an effort to position himself as this centrist on the Republican side. I can‘t think of a single Republican liberal who has ever gotten beyond his own state. Can you think of like John Lindsey, you know, people, they kind of marginalize themselves by doing that. What are his goals?
STODDARD: Well, he just wants to be the king maker. He wants influence. He is the only—he is really the true comeback kid. His miraculous political transformation is very impressive. He was totally dead man walking in California, and now he‘s not. I don‘t know how much that helps people running for the Republican nomination, but he‘s a huge success story, and whatever he can do to try to attract attention for Republicans in California will help them there. In terms of being a socially liberal Republican anywhere else, I don‘t think—
CARLSON: Apparently, and I don‘t know that this is true, but I have heard, and I believe that it is true, he indicated to the McCain campaign some time ago that he would be endorsing McCain, Schwarzenegger did. And then he reneged on that, and basically he hasn‘t endorsed anybody. Will he endorse, do you think, a Republican, Dan, and will it matter?
GERSTEIN: He may endorse, but I think he will be very coy about it now, especially that California is moving up, and is going to be in play. He just maximizes his influence by sitting on the sidelines and having all these guys come in and ask him to dance.
CARLSON: Which is legal in California.
GERSTEIN: That‘s right. One point that has be taken into consideration is that a Republican may not be able to win California at this point, but if they force a Democrat in a very tight race to spend a lot of resources in California, that could help them in several other swing states. And Schwarzenegger goes a long way, because of his celebrity and his popularity, to helping a Republican compete in California. I think that‘s probably what he‘s trying to do.
CARLSON: But do you know who loses in this? The conservatives who were dumb enough, and there were enough of them back in 2003, when he was inaugurated, to think that he was one of them, that he was somehow going to move the state to the right. They are a bunch of morons. He was always liberal. Truly, I‘m not attacking him. He always was.
This is a pretty upsetting story, A.B., and it ought to be in the front page of every paper in the country. And it has to do with the Iraq funding bill that‘s coming up for a vote soon. Democrats basically have figured out that in order to get their people and some Republicans to vote for this, they have to lard it up with pork.
I want to put up on the screen—these are some of the spending provisions, some of the pet projects getting money in the Iraq funding bill. It‘s almost hard to believe, 25 million for spinach growers, 75 million for peanut storage, 500 million dollars for fire suppression for the west, 120 million for shrimp and herring fisherman, you know, people who‘ve really been effected by the war in Iraq, 15 million for rice farmers in Louisiana.
Can they do this?
STODDARD: They can, and they must. And the reason—there are actually several reasons. One, they are trying to get to 218 votes by Thursday, and so, when you provide money that is long sought, Katrina hurricane recovery funds, drought relief, help for farmers, that‘s not joke, spinach farmers, who were effected by the e. coli. When you go and you provide this money, some of which it‘s been requested before, but now some of these members have not requested it recently, and it effects their district, and they are finding, low and behold, it‘s in the package. It is going to be hard for them to walk away.
The Democratic ads will say, not only did Congressman Smith, Jones, whoever walk away from these crucial funds, but he also helped to prolong an unpopular war. But also, if you look at it in terms of the rest of the two years, for the Democrats, they‘ve committed to what they call pay as you go budget rules. And this is the last train leaving the station, I‘m serious, for politically popular bonuses. And so they have got to put this stuff in there. Because from now on, they have to pay as they go.
So, they are calling them emergencies. They said Republicans failed to fund these emergencies, these critical—funding farmers, help veterans, help children‘s health care, everything—
CARLSON: Well, it‘s vote buying. They‘re buying votes.
GERSTEIN: And you‘re shocked by this?
CARLSON: Of course I‘m not shocked by it, I live here. Here‘s what
I‘m shocked by: You have this unfolding debacle, this daily humiliation of
the United States taking place in Iraq, that‘s hurting our country and the
rest of the world for generations, in my view. We want sober, smart,
serious people to think deeply about what to do next, and instead, we have
120 million dollars for herring fisherman. \
Right, it‘s just not very serious. The Congress has pledged, we‘re going to guide the direction of the war from here on out, and instead, they are giving money to rice farmers or tying this vote to disaster aid. It‘s so small and stupid. I guess, that‘s what bothers me.
GERSTEIN: Which is no different than the debate on Iraq for the last four years.
CARLSON: Of course, you‘re right.
GERSTEIN: And Speaker Pelosi has a particularly difficult challenge, because she is trying to placate the far left of the party without looking like she‘s against the troops. They want a complete funding cut off now. And so she‘s trying to thread the needle, and it‘s very hard.
They‘ve realized that the only way to win—they want to win—is to load it up with the pork. Is that good government? No, but at this point, I would say it‘s good politics.
CARLSON: So here, this—and we‘ll talk about this all week, of course, but just to make totally clear, quickly, this legislation, which will be voted on on Thursday, would force all troops out of Iraq by next year, by 2008. And the left just wants everybody out right now, right?
CARLSON: So, who is the constituency. This is like center-left Democrats, some Republicans, can it get to 218.
STODDARD: They‘re going to get to 218. The powers that be assure everybody, and myself included today, that are going to get to 218. And they are not going to tell you how. They expect a few—look, this has to go to the Senate. It‘s going to be vetoed. And then we‘re going to go back to the drawing board.
GERSTEIN: This is a symbolic gesture.
STODDARD: They‘re going to get the votes.
CARLSON: It just strikes me—is anybody else outraged? I mean, look, you‘re the Democrats, right? Your pitch in 2006 was, you know, the Republicans are corrupt, but more than that, they‘ve gotten us into this war recklessly and they have done a very bad job managing the war. They don‘t know what they‘re doing. We do. And then you come out with this? You‘re basically saying, we don‘t know what the hell we‘re doing.
STODDARD: No, they really want to get to 218, to be able to say that they got a majority for a withdrawal plan, for a time line. And if you have to put all this other stuff in there and you have to scream at the liberals, and tell them this is the best you‘ll ever get, they still want to say that, on the House floor, they passed and approved a plan for withdrawal.
GERSTEIN: It‘s death by 1,000 deadlines. They‘re trying to incrementally ratchet up the pressure on the president.
CARLSON: But they never bother to explain how it‘s good for our country. What‘s going to happen then, at that point? What‘s going to happen?
GERSTEIN: I think it‘s also a reflection of they‘ve realized they don‘t have the power to control the war, and so they‘re trying to do what they can politically to win the Republican party.
CARLSON: Boy, I don‘t trust them. I don‘t trust the Bush people on the war and I don‘t trust them at all. you know, I want to trust somebody. Maybe I can trust you.
Coming up, Hillary Clinton gets a taste of American politics in the age of the Internet, and it‘s not as simple as posting your speeches at your website. YouTube, the 2008 campaign, and democracy in the hands of everyone, shiver.
Plus, a different kind of democracy is back in business tonight. We‘ll have our special brand of “American Idol,” and the politics of getting voted off the show, stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: One month ago, I began a conversation with all of you, and so far we haven‘t talking and that is really good. I intend to keep telling you exactly where I stand on all of the issues.
I am proud to help you and other people who are hard working like you, and I really have been impressed by how serious people are, because we all need to be part of the discussion, if we are all going be part of the solution.
I don‘t want people who already agree with me. I want honest, experienced, hard working, patriotic people, who want to be part of a team, the American team. I hope you have learned a little bit more about what I am believing and trying to do. And really helped this conversation about our country get started.
I hope to keep this conversation going until November 2008.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: It‘s hard to remember what spreading like wildfire meant before there was an Internet. Yesterday, most of the country became aware of the political ad you just saw, characterizing Hillary Clinton as an Orwellian big sister. But this ad does not appear to have been the work of any organized campaign. Rather, it seems to have been the work of one person with a computer, who doesn‘t like Hillary, or who, in any case, perceives the truth about her.
Here to talk about the implications of this story, we welcome back A.B. Stoddard and Dan Gerstein. Welcome to you both. Sorry, little editorial comment. You‘ve got admit, when you watch that, it does get right to the heart of people‘s instinctive problems with Hillary, which don‘t have to do with policy. It‘s not like Hillary some communist or something. You know what I mean, she‘s no more liberal than Barack Obama. She‘s more conservative probably, in some ways.
There‘s just something about her that feels castrating, over bearing and scary. Isn‘t there? I know we‘re on TV, but let‘s be totally honest for just one sec?
CARLSON: There‘s something about her that you just know she wants to control you. No, you may not go to the bathroom. That is the feeling. You know what I mean?
GERSTEIN: I think you are projecting your own feelings?
CARLSON: I am not. You know I‘m not. It‘s clear the feelings of the person—
GERSTEIN: I don‘t think that‘s the reaction that a lot of Democrats have when they say Hillary Clinton. I‘m sorry. Does she have a perception problem? Yes. I think this ad does tap into the feelings among some people about her, and I think that‘s why it‘s getting so much attention, far more disproportionate than it should be. Because when you say most of America, you mean most political junkies and blog readers are aware of this.
I think most average people have no idea that this is an issue.
CARLSON: Well, that kind of goes without saying, but people who are watching this show, many whom are Democrats, and they‘re Democratic primary voters, and all the ones I meet, all of them—I don‘t mean like 70 percent. I mean like 100 percent. Say no, I‘m voting for Obama, or my heart is with Obama. Again, I‘ve asked this question 1,000 times on the show, where are the Hillary Clinton voters? I guess at all the Emily‘s List fund raisers.
STODDARD: First of all, if I were working for the Obama campaign, I would be terrified of what Internet ad was coming my way in the dirty trick department, but I think that, listen, her inevitability was based on Obama not being viable, and as he increasingly becomes viable, you see in the poll numbers voters are resisting this coronation idea. And it was so interesting, a few weeks ago, George Will mentioned that—I had never read this—that Bill Clinton once said Republicans like to fall in line, and Democrats like to fall in love.
I never heard that. I thought that was so telling. There is this palpable resistance to being told that she‘s your only choice. And so, as long as she can keep Obama from becoming truly viable, she will be the choice. And she will crush him like an ant with her machine. But if he becomes really viable, she‘s in real trouble.
CARLSON: Here‘s the terrifying possibility, it seems to me, if I was running a political campaign, I would not be so terrified of a YouTube pieces attacking me coming out. I would be terrified of a YouTube ad attacking my opponent in an unacceptable away, attributed to me. So you can imagine an ad that says, don‘t vote for Hillary Clinton, she‘s too pro-Israel, she‘s a captive of the Jewish lobby, or some anti-Semitic ad like that, vote for Barack Obama. And it then it comes out, and the Barack Obama people have nothing to do with it, of course, but they have to defend it or attack it.
GERSTEIN: Right, that is the double edged sword of the Internet, is that you have these great organic things that come out of nowhere to help your candidacy, but, at the same time, you have no control over it. And it could quickly spiral out of control.
I‘ll tell you an example, in the Lieberman/Lamont campaign, this blogger put up a really ugly, black faced photo of Lieberman on a well-traveled blog site, and it got posted on Drudge, and the Lamont campaign had nothing to do with this, except that this blogger happened to be part of Ned Lamont‘s entourage. And so that they‘re ability to sort of say, even though they didn‘t sponsor it, this woman was not just a Lamont supporter, she was a volunteer. She traveled with them. And it caused a major embarrassment right before the primary.
CARLSON: Ouch, just in our 30 seconds, did you do this ad, and do you know who did? I mean, do you think this costs money to do?
STODDARD: I don‘t know. I‘m not that much of a techie, but I‘m sort of waiting for the Obama campaign to come out a little more strongly, you know, to sort of disavow and disconnect and disassociate.
CARLSON: Why would they? I think it‘s the most brilliant thing I‘ve ever seen. The lesson of this ad is a long person‘s initiative can make the difference between living under tyranny and living in freedom, the one woman with the hammer.
STODDARD: -- next nine months. I mean, it‘s really scary.
CARLSON: I don‘t know, I like it. I think it‘s creative and interesting. Thank you both very much.
Coming up, you know who goes on “Dancing With The Star?” Reasonable people, who love their families have a sense of humor about their own limits, oh, and Paul McCartney‘s ex-wife, who has millions of dollars and prosthetic leg. So does too. A full review of the show when we come back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. If you‘re like most people, you want to watch more TV than you actually do. You‘re busy. You don‘t have time. And that‘s why you watch us, because you know that we watch so you don‘t have to. And nobody watches more television than the vice president of programming for MSNBC, Bill Wolff, who joins us now.
BILL WOLFF, VICE PRESIDENT OF PROGRAMMING FOR MSNBC: That‘s a sad but true statement, Tucker, and I appreciate the shout out of my terrible, wasteful habits. I watch a lot of TV. Now you, sir, pay a lot of attention to politics,Tucker, so you know the importance of legacy.
Politicians are always concerned about their place in history. Well, you too sir have left quite a legacy, and I‘m speaking, of course, about “Dancing With The Stars.” Most of the chatter about this season‘s debut last night, “Dancing With The Stars,” centered around Heather Mills, Paul McCartney‘s ex with the prosthetic leg.
Now, Miss Mills danced divinely, so all the sickos who wanted to see an on-air mishap with her leg will have to wait another week. But the real news was the mark you left on the program, Tucker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, as you know, you‘ll be seeing all of our couples dancing one more time next Monday. It will be your second chance to see them in action and decide who deserves to join Trista Sutter (ph), Kenny Maine, and Tucker Carlson in our “Dancing With The Stars” first to go club.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLFF: Wow, add another video installation for the Tucker Carlson library in La Hoya. Any observations from a veteran like you on last night‘s first round, Tucker?
CARLSON: You know, I support it completely, in theory. Honestly, I was on the phone for the show.
WOLFF: On the phone? Did you see your shout out in front of all of America?
CARLSON: I did not see that. And I have to say, I don‘t think there‘s anything sick or goolish about wanting to see her leg fall off while she dances. I don‘t know, that‘s like the whole draw, isn‘t it.
WOLFF: You‘re sick and goolish.
CARLSON: She dances better than I do, and I have both of my legs.
WOLFF: I‘m going to leave that one alone Tucker. The question is, were you on the phone voting?
CARLSON: No, I wasn‘t.
WOLFF: That‘s you last year, Tucker. You look pretty good.
CARLSON: Oh no, that‘s not you, that‘s your dance partner.
CARLSON: Bill, turn this off, I can‘t handle it.
WOLFF: All right, enough silly celebrity game show reality TV nonsense. It‘s “American Idol” night tonight. The final 11 show there was before the audiences 3.7 billion that they attract every week. And this week, Tucker, it‘s personal. Last week the survival of 17-year-old Sanjaya Malikar and his girl hair stunned a nation. Internet reports, which are never wrong, say that young Sanjaya‘s cheerful demeanor is just a front to hid his anguish over being harassed by the judges and by TV talk show jerks, like me. At stake tonight, a top 10 finish on the show, which means a spot on the “American Idol” tour, very lucrative.
Tucker, any predictions on tonight‘s action?
CARLSON: Let me just say that my heart is with Sanjaya, not because of him, but because of his sister, who I thought was cute.
WOLFF: Well, she was, in fact, a cute and it was a sorry day when she didn‘t make it and he did, and he cried. My prediction, “COUNTDOWN,” 8:00 Eastern, MSNBC, followed by a very special “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY,” and two fantastic editions of “MSNBC INVESTIGATES.” That‘s my prediction. A word to the wise America.
CARLSON: Spoken like a true company man.
WOLFF: What are you talking about? I just like good TV. On to business headlines, Tucker. Hooters Inc., the proprietors of Hooters Restaurants, has announced that there will soon by a Hooters in Israel. Yes, the restaurant train which has seriously handedly kept the orange short shorts industry alive will open a store in the holy land, adding to their roster of more than 430 stores in 23 countries.
Tucker, just another step on the road map to peace.
CARLSON: Let me just say, Bill, having been to Israel fairly recently, that will be the best Hooters in the world.
WOLFF: Let me just say, having been to Hooters recently, that will be the best country in which there is a Hooters. It‘s disgusting. We like to export our best. Don‘t we? Go ahead, I‘m sorry.
Let‘s cut that one off before we get into big trouble. To some red meat, international politics, Tucker, also from Israel, and from “People.com.” As you know, many third-party diplomats have tried without success to establish lasting peace between Israel and it neighbors, but none of those well intentioned emissaries had the dreamy blue eyes, the box office clout, or the supermodel girlfriend of Leonardo Dicaprio.
Leo, as his friends call him, was in Israel with his girlfriend, Israeli Bar Rafaeli (ph), and dropped in on Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who was glad to see him. Leo shared his thoughts on environmental conservation. Mr. Peres spoke of his peace valley project, an Israeli/Lebanese/Palestinian economic development program. Leo also brought a good bit of the good old US with him, as two of his body guards scuffled with reports later that day. True story.
CARLSON: You know, I‘m glad to see there‘s an emissary from our country, bringing a little bit of America to the holy land. He made certain to keep his baseball cap on backwards all through the meeting with Shimon Peres.
WOLFF: That‘s exactly right. When representing the United States, it‘s appropriate and customary to turn the baseball cap backwards. If you ever watch carefully, when Condi Rice is anywhere, she turns that cap right around. Because she doesn‘t want to show here allegiance with what‘s just on front of the cap. It‘s just diplomatic, Tucker.
CARLSON: I mean, talk about living down to the stereotype. You show up in a foreign country with a pot belly, a baseball hat and five o‘clock shadow, I mean, you‘re embodying everything people say about us.
WOLFF: Doesn‘t matter if you show up with a supermodel.
CARLSON: Good point. Bill Wolff from headquarters, thank you. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. We‘ll be back tomorrow. Have a great night.
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