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'Tucker' for March 23

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Rep. Al Wynn, Hillary Rosen, Josephine Hearn, Karen Hanretty

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR:  The feud between the White House and Democratic Congress got even more contentious today.  After a week of skirmishes over the Justice Department attorney general‘s scandal, today‘s battle was even more bitter and far more significant.  The House of Representatives used an emergency war funding bill to require the withdrawal of all American combat troops from Iraq by the end of next summer, as it happens, on the very day that Republicans will meet in Minnesota for their nominating convention. 

It was a bill that both moderate and liberal Democrats initially hated, but, in the end, Nancy Pelosi tightened the hammer, caught a few breaks and bought more than a few votes with the usual pork barrel spending projects.  The final tally was 218-212, about as close as it gets, but it counts all the same. 

A couple of hours later, an obviously angry President Bush responded to the vote.  Here‘s part of what he said. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Today a narrow majority in the House of Representatives abdicated its responsibility by passing a war spending bill that has no chance of becoming law, and brings us no closer to getting our troops the resources they need to do their job.  The purpose of the emergency war spending bill I requested was to provide our troops with vital funding.  Instead, Democrats in the House, in an act of political theater, voted to substitute their judgment for that of our military commanders on the ground in Iraq. 

They set rigid restrictions that will require an army of lawyers to interpret.  They set an arbitrary date for withdrawal, without regard for conditions on the ground.  As I have made clear for weeks, I will veto it if it comes to my desk.  And because the vote in the House was so close, it is clear that my veto would be sustained. 


CARLSON:  Here to discuss what just happened, Democratic Congressman Al Wynn of Maryland.  Congressman, thanks for coming on. 

REP. AL WYNN (D), MARYLAND:  My pleasure. 

CARLSON:  You just heard the president say that Democrats in the House substituted their judgment for that of commanders on the ground in Iraq.  Did you all consult commanders on the ground in Iraq, David Petraeus, for instance, when you decided on this deadline for withdrawal? 

WYNN:  Well, a lot of commanders on the ground said something very important, and that is that this conflict is not amenable to a military solution, which is, in part, why we believe we need a time certain for withdrawal.  But the major point is this:  The public, the American people in November, elected a new direction.  They basically said, we‘re going to give Democrats in the House and the Senate an opportunity to move the country in a different direction. 

This is not a repudiation of the generals on the ground.  It‘s probably a repudiation of this administration and this Defense Department that‘s handled the war so dismally. 

CARLSON:  Right, I think much of what you said is accurate, but it‘s still not an answer to my question.  Since you are getting pretty specific, very specific about what the U.S. military ought to do—you‘re saying the U.S. military out to be out of Iraq by August 31, 2008.  I‘m kind of surprised you didn‘t ask what the U.S. military thought of that.  And you didn‘t, did you? 

WYNN:  Well, the point is—well, yes, in fact, we have heard from quite a few generals and as my point -- 

CARLSON:  What do they say?  Are they for it? 

WYNN:  Well, they have said that it is not amenable to a military solution.  But here‘s a larger point, Tucker, because we move away from a military approach doesn‘t mean that we are not going to be engaged.  We ought to be fully engaged in diplomatic initiatives.  We ought to encourage other Muslim countries, Arab countries in the region, who have a great stake in peace and stability, to get more involved. 

There have been ample indicators that we can involve the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Saudis, even the Iranians and the Syrians in serious discussions about creating a more stable Iraq and a more stable region.  So a different approach is not a defeat.  Quite the contrary, it is common sense. 

CARLSON:  Well, you say a different approach to settle the tensions in Iraq, at some point if a civil war escalates in Iraq, and there is every indication it will when we leave—I think everyone agrees with that—you‘re going to, if you want to stop it, need to have additional troops in Iraq.  I think you just suggested that we might want to put Iranian troops in Iraq. 

Do you think that would be a good idea?  And if not, how are we going to get Egypt to commit troops to Iraq?  How are we going to do that? 

WYNN:  There is some sort of troops, troops, troops mentality.  And I‘m saying, maybe we don‘t need troops.  Maybe we need negotiation.  Maybe what we need is Muslim/Arab countries saying, let‘s sit down, Sunnis, let‘s sit down Shia, let‘s sit down with the Kurds, have a table in which we discuss this issue.  It is possible that we can resolve this civil war through diplomatic means. 

It is evident, however, that we cannot solve it through U.S. military intervention. 

CARLSON:  Why exactly, after four years of this war in Iraq, would countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria, the ones you have just mentioned—they have done, essentially, nothing so far?  What makes you think that when we pull out, they will do anything useful at all, anything more than just try to grab a piece of the pie, grab some of the oil there?  Why wouldn‘t they do that? 

WYNN:  I said we should pull out militarily, but not disengage diplomatically.  We should certainly engage diplomatically.  And the real point is, they have Shia, they have Sunni.  They don‘t want this type of secretarial conflict to boil over into their countries, so their interest in resolving it in Iraq is, in fact, very great.  And I think that is why they would participate in a diplomatic initiative to try create a resolution, a political reconciliation, a fair distribution of oil revenues, all those things that the military cannot do, but that a diplomatic initiative could potentially accomplish. 

CARLSON:  Well, I guess, I‘m asking all these questions, Congressman, not to defend the war, which is very hard to defend, and I‘m against it.  But I get the sense the Democrats really have not spent any time at all thinking seriously about what will happen when American troops leave.  You say a diplomatic initiative, what does that mean?  Have groups of Democrats sat down and spent say a week locked in a room thinking about what Iraq will look like when our he troops leave?  No is the answer. 

WYNN:  We have not locked ourselves in a room, that is certainly true. 

CARLSON:  Well, it is kind of important, don‘t you think? 

WYNN:  Well, no, not locking ourselves in a room.  What‘s important is the realization that the situation is not amenable to a military solution, which gives rise to other options, including diplomacy.  And I think what we‘re saying is, there has been a failure to accomplish that, and critically, a failure to hold the Iraqis accountable. 

They are the ones that have to divide the oil revenues.  They are the ones that have to have a political reconciliation.  And they are the ones that have to disarm the militia.  And those are things that the Iraqi government and people have to accomplish.  I believe perhaps it can be accomplished through a diplomatic initiative.  It certainly is not being accomplished through more American lives being lost. 

CARLSON:  Well, let‘s take a look at what else in this bill, 500 million for emergency wildfire suppression, 283 million for milk subsidies, 120 million for the shrimp and fishing industries in Louisiana, 100 million for citrus, 74 million for peanuts.  It is pork.  If members of Congress are so serious about cleaning up the mess in Iraq, why did you have to buy their votes with pork? 

WYNN:  Well, I have to disagree, because you neglected to mention the five billion for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  You neglected to mention the money that is in there for veteran‘s health, which is distinct from the military funding. 

CARLSON:  Of course I did.  But that is what should be in there.  Why is this garbage in there?  This is an attempt to buy votes. 

WYNN:  My point is, you have cited about five percent of the funding, which is basically incidental.  They are localized emergency situations. 

CARLSON:  It is not incidental.  It is vital.  You would not have had

this bill would not have passed without this stuff. 

WYNN:  Well, they‘re incidental in the context of the entire amount of money.  But what do you have against fighting wildfires?  I think in certain parts of America this is a very big deal. 

CARLSON:  I have nothing against fighting wildfires.  Here‘s the point, and you know it as well as I do, you couldn‘t have gotten the votes unless you gave money to different members, some of them Republican, by the way.  What does that say about them?  They are not going to vote for this, unless they get 75 million dollars for peanut storage?  That person should not be in Congress. 

I mean, if you can‘t vote on principle on the Iraq war, get another job. 

WYNN:  Well, first of all, I disagree that we were out buying votes. 

I would agree that there are local emergencies that should be attended to.  There are a lot of people, particularly on the conservative side of the aisle, that believe we need to put more into domestic responding to domestic emergencies and domestic pressures.  And so, we have tried to create a balance, overwhelmingly it‘s for the troops, and we put in probably 95 percent of the money goes to the troops.  But there are some other things, like wildfires, like Hurricane Katrina and like other localized emergencies. 

CARLSON:  Peanut storage costs, yes. 

WYNN:  Well, if you are in an area that has been devastated, your agricultural crops, that might be very important.  I think the people from the regions have legitimate cases.  They made their case.  And I think the money is appropriate.  It is being spent on Americans, to help the American economy and to create American jobs.  I think that‘s a good thing.  I think that qualifies for federal spending. 

CARLSON:  I think it is certainly brave of you to defend it in this context, and I appreciate it.  Congressman Wynn, thank you for coming on.  I appreciate it. 

WYNN:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Well, a majority of American voters picked President Bush for another term as commander in chief.  But now a lot of those same voters want American troops out of Iraq.  Did they get what they wanted?  And what, in fact, did they want? 

And Arnold Schwarzenegger has just about made himself governor in chief.  How the most muscular chief executive in American history is flexing his considerable political power on anyone and everyone who wants to be president.  You‘re watching MSNBC. 


CARLSON:  Story of this day, without question, is the House passage, by 218 to 212, of Nancy Pelosi‘s Iraq war bill, which would require an end to military the American military presence in Iraq by September of 2008.  It is, or it is meant to be, a powerful message to President Bush, but it‘s probably largely a symbolic one. 

In the likely event of that bill‘s passage in the Senate, the president firmly said today that he will veto it.  Joining us now, MSNBC political analyst and Democratic strategist, Hillary Rosen, the Politico‘s Josephine Hearn and Republican strategist and former spokeswoman for Arnold Schwarzenegger, that must have been interesting, Karen Hanretty.  Welcome to you all. 

Hillary, the president said this has no chance of becoming law.  He doesn‘t veto much.  He has vetoed one thing in seven years, six-and-a-half years.  But he is going to veto this.  What was the point of wasting all this energy on passing it? 

HILLARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, you know, I think that the new Congress started today, that basically we saw the Democrats stand up to the president.  This Congress has been a complicit, with a blank check on this war, for four-and-a-half years and the Democrats said no more.  So, whether it is this bill that ends up on the president‘s desk, or whether it is another one that is maybe a little looser, but still has structures in it, something is going to happen.  The president is going to have to deal with Congress on this war. 

CARLSON:  Is this going to get to the Senate, Josie? 

JOSEPHINE HEARN, “THE POLITICO”:  Well there is a bill with a timetable for withdrawal that is in the Senate right now.  It is questionable whether it will get through.  Then they also have to get to the conference and get the conference report through, as well, which could be even tougher.  I spoke to some Democrats today, who said, I voted yes on this, but I‘m not sure I am going to go yes on the conference report. 

So they have that hurdle as well.  I think it is going to be tough. 

CARLSON:  But they got to fund.  I mean, they have to fund troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and pretty much everyone is for that, at least in theory.  So how long—is it going to be a problem if these can‘t be reconciled? 

HEARN:  Yes, it definitely will be a problem.  And what they could do is just bring up a clean funding measure and have the Republicans vote for it, and the Democrats would vote for that as well.  I think that is unlikely to do that, but that is --  

ROSEN:  And let‘s be clear, the White House has every incentive to make this an emergency funding crisis. 

CARLSON:  Of course. 

ROSEN:  They are going to say no, no, we need the money now, we need the money now, we need the money now, to try and prevent the Democrats from putting any conditions on it, and they won‘t be trusted.  No one on the Hill is going to trust the accounting and the spending right now from the White House. 

CARLSON:  Maybe, I just think if you see General Petraeus up there again, saying this is hurting our troops, I think that is politically compelling and is in the Republican‘s favor.  On the other hand, Karen, this is obviously going nowhere.  This is, you know, an impotent fist-shaking at the president, but it still is kind of significant.  I mean, the Congress has passed a bill saying you have got to be out by next summer.  What does the president do? 

KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Let‘s also not forget, this gets the Code Pink demonstrators off the evening news, who have been out there demonstrating against Nancy Pelosi in her own hometown of San Francisco.  So this gives her a little bit of reprieve from some of the angry left as well. 

CARLSON:  I think the Code Pinkers are still mad.  Well, they are always mad. 

HANRETTY:  Well, they are always mad.  But you have, who came out and endorsed this bill, and said, yes, we‘re going to give the left wing of the party the OK to go ahead and cast a vote on this.  Not every one did.  But they got enough that they were able to squeak by with a very slim majority.  But, you know, as far as Republicans are concerned, I think they need to go out there.  I think they need to brand the Democratic party as the party that really does not want to see success and victory in Iraq. 

CARLSON:  But does Bush, at some point, have to explain?  Like I was, I guess, disappointed by his statement today, which was, I thought, a pretty fair attack on this bill, which I think is an absurd bill.  And I say this as somebody who does not like the war.  It is an offensive bill.  On the other hand, shouldn‘t he get out and say, you know what, things are going better.  Here is what the horizon looks like and he didn‘t.  And people are going to lose faith even more than they have. 

HANRETTY:  People have lost a lot of faith. 

CARLSON:  I‘m talking his people. 


HANRETTY:  Because look, time and again—just look at what‘s happened in this one week news cycle, since Monday.  You have Alberto Gonzales and the president goes out there and says, well, I hope he stays.  OK, that‘s kind of a half-hearted endorsement.  And now he comes out today and says well, I‘m going to veto it, and then doesn‘t go out there and say, here are the positives that have been happening in the past month since he made his initial announcement. 

The White House continues to have a real communications gap, which continues to hurt them.  But at the same time, I do think that Republicans, and if it is not the administration, it needs to be the Republican leadership, does need to go out there, and they do need to set a contrast between themselves and the new Democratic majority, who is going to protect you against the enemy.  Or do we still have an enemy? 

ROSEN:  Karen is just a brilliant communications strategist.  But this isn‘t a communications problems.  This is actually like a facts problem on the ground, where the president has consistently had a failed strategy.  Democrats have consistently asked for turn arounds in strategy.  A majority of Republicans polled want a deadline for the end to this war in Iraq. 

CARLSON:  I do think though there‘s difference between saying—

ROSEN:  And the president has not responded with any hope, any rational thought. 

CARLSON:  He never will on that.  I‘m sorry, we got to take a quick break.  We will be right back. 

A day after declaring that he will not resign as attorney general because he needs to protect America‘s children—that‘s your children, ladies and gentlemen—Alberto Gonzales is, in fact, still drawing his check from the Justice Department.  How is the passage of time affecting his job security, if at all? 

And you‘re looking at the next governor of the United States of America.  Arnold Schwarzenegger can‘t run for president under the current rules, constitution that is.  But that doesn‘t mean he doesn‘t want to.  He‘s doing everything he can to affect the ‘08 race.  We have the latest. 

You‘re watching MSNBC. 


CARLSON:  Up until this point, reports of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales‘s demise have been greatly exaggerated, totally exaggerated actually.  He‘s still there.  Congress and the president are locked in a classic Washington stalemate over subpoenas in the U.S. attorney scandal, and Mr. Gonzales is still on the job.  So we have time to examine some more of the facts of the firings that started it all, including the now notorious ouster of Arkansas prosecutor Bud Cummins in favor of Tim Griffin, a disciple of Karl Rove.

Should it be notorious?  How big of a deal with this?  Here with their views, MSNBC political analyst and democratic strategist Hillary Rosen, the Politico‘s Josephine Hearn and Republican strategist and former spokesperson for Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, Karen Hanretty. 

I must say, Hillary, blogs are speculating that Tim Griffin has been installed as U.S. attorney in Arkansas so he can dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton.  You get to that level of craziness and paranoia, really, rational conversation is impossible.  This is one firing in the eight; I don‘t see even a hint of scandal in it. 

ROSEN:  Well, you know, the reason is because Tim Griffin is the guy who everybody suspects was Ken Star‘s leaker during the investigation of the Clintons, that he has this long history of being anti-Clinton. 

CARLSON:  Well, I have a long history of being anti-Clinton. 

ROSEN:  Yes, but you weren‘t responsible for letting secrets out. 

CARLSON:  Not for lack of trying. 

ROSEN:  Right, you might have been on by the other side of that.  So, that‘s the Tim Griffin thing.  I don‘t know that the Clinton‘s subscribe to that.  But I think the problem is that, you know, now that the White House has set up this sort of big fight over whether their senior aides tell the truth or whether they don‘t.  And all to protect a really bad process and it makes no sense. 

CARLSON:  the process is definitely obviously bad.  But, Josie, I mean, at least one of these cases, the Iglesias in New Mexico, strikes me as smelly.  I don‘t know if there is a crime at the bottom of it, but it makes me uncomfortable.  But the Tim Griffin case—Tim Griffin obviously qualified for the job.  Bud Cummins, the guy who had the job, not mad that Tim Griffin is replacing him, not attacking anybody in public. 

Do you see wrong-doing at the bottom of this?  Or is this a reflection of how weak Bush is? 

HEARN:  Well, I think the Democrats certainly do.  And I think both sides are settling in to make this into a long scandal.  My question though is, is it really doesn‘t have a moral element to it.  You notice the things that really have resonance, whether it is Hurricane Katrina or whether it is Mark Foley with the teenage pages, there is a moral element to them.  So I think it is interesting the Democrats are settling in for a long fight on this, because it is essentially about political operatives installing political operatives to investigate or not investigate the political shinanegans of the other party.  It doesn‘t have—

ROSEN:  It is about the integrity of the law enforcement system.  The fight now appears political, and I think the Tim Griffin thing is almost a distraction.  By the way, it‘s worth noting that Hillary Clinton has nothing do with this argument that they think that Tim Griffin is going to Arkansas for that reason. 

CARLSON:  But it just shows how crazy—Wait, this, it seems to me,  actually is a reflection of the competence of the Justice Department, Karen.  Tim Griffin would have replaced Bud Cummins and all would have been well if Alberto Gonzales hadn‘t gone out there and suggested that all of the fired U.S. attorneys were bad U.S. attorneys, that they had performance problems.  Why did they do that? 

HANRETTY:  Again, communications does matter.  You can have a great plan, you can execute the plan and if you don‘t communicate well, honestly, thoughtfully with the public—the administration, time and again, sets themselves up for this.  I mean, it is like they lay their own traps, and then they invite the Democrats to come in and say, here, help us trap our own leg in this bear trap, and then they scream and cry, and they say, well, you know, this is wrong.  Why are you guys attacking us? 

Well, why did you leave yourself open to it?  When does it end?  You are absolutely right that the Republicans seem interested in drawing this thing out, as opposed to, let‘s put out a new message, let‘s distract, let‘s redirect the media and everyone else in the general public in a different direction. 

CARLSON:  Actually, they have tried, and we‘ll get to that in just a minute.  They may have run out of messages.  That may be part of the problem.

What‘s the story with Mr. and Mrs. Rudy Giuliani‘s marital history.  They are probably better at it than most people, given all the practice they‘ve had.  It turns out they‘ve had more practice than the world new until today.  Does a sixth marriage between them matter to anyone? 

And Arnold Schwarzenegger has some choice words for everyone who‘s running for president, among those choice words, schvitz (ph).  What does Arnold know from schvitz and how many national candidates does he make schvitz?  You are watching MSNBC, the schvitz network. 



CARLSON:  The new Congress is bent on oversight if not destruction of the Bush administration.  And their first big target is Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.  Not only are Democrats circling the Justice Department like so many sharks, but a number of key Congressional Republicans have bailed on him as well. 

So the question is, why does President Bush insist on keeping Gonzales around?  Here to answer that question, among others, is MSNBC political analyst and Democratic strategist, Hillary Rosen, the Politico‘s Josephine Hearn, and Republican strategist and former spokeswomen for Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Karen Hanretty. 

OK, I just can‘t resist playing the tape.  We played it yesterday, but I just love it.  This is Alberto Gonzales explaining why he is not going to resign, yesterday, I believe in St. Louis.  Here he is. 


ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I‘m not going to resign.  I am going to stay focused on protecting our kids.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done around the country. 

I am committed to work with Congress to make sure that they have the information they need to determine what happened here. 


CARLSON:  Josie, which kids is he talking about, specifically?  Is the president, in fact, expending political capital in keeping him around, so you think? 

HEARN:  I think he is.  I think that he could head off some of the criticism on the Hill, in particular, if he were to get rid of him now.  I think what you might be seeing is a personal loyalty that we often see from the Bush administration.  He stayed with Harriet Miers for a long time after it became clear that that really wasn‘t going to gain the traction that it needed. 

On the other hand, there may be something in the works, and it is a Don Rumsfeld type of situation, where it looks very good right up until the end. 

CARLSON:  He doesn‘t seem particularly confident, Alberto Gonzales, judging by the way he handled this last series of events, which didn‘t have to be a scandal, in my view.  He is not particularly conservative.  What exactly is the appeal of Alberto Gonzales, apart from the fact he is from Texas. 

HANRETTY:  I will be crass and I will say it, because I am Republican, and I can.  The Republicans were never thrilled.  They were never excited and exuberant about this nomination.  And I think that there are two things that come into play: loyalty and—I mean, just to be really unpolitically correct—he was the affirmative action hire.  He was the—you know, you‘re going check off a box.  Alberto Gonzales is a very non-threatening box to check off, I think, for the White House. 

And maybe I am going too far on that.  I really do believe that is a big part of it. 


CARLSON:  I have no idea what the criteria were that were used to hire Gonzales.  I do know that David Iglesias, who apparently is a competent guy, was described by the Justice Department as a great diversity person, diversity being a euphemism, I guess, for the fact he is Hispanic, or whatever the hell that means. 

This administration, purportedly conservative, is completely addicted to affirmative action and, in that way, I thinking abandoning its own principles.  Speaking of principles, Hillary Clinton, defended -- 

ROSEN:  A woman of principles. 

CARLSON:  A woman of principles, defended by her husband relentlessly. 

Now the new line—

ROSEN:  Relentlessly, like there is something wrong? 

CARLSON:  No, there‘s not.  He is actually quite a good defender.  Bus his defense is remind of us the 1990‘s, reticent of the 1990‘s.  Here‘s what he said on a conference call with Hillary supporters, Hill-PAC—she‘s taking a ton of heat from the left, as you know, for her vote in favor of the war.  He said, quote, “it‘s just not fair to say that people who voted for the resolution wanted war.” 

She really voted for, as he put it, coercive inspections.  This is really I voted, but I did not inhale.  You know, I voted for war, but somehow I never meant for there be to a war.  Come on, just admit it. 

ROSEN:  Well, actually, the language of the resolution was giving the president authority, so it is accurate.  But I think the problem that the Clintons are face is the Obama factor. 


ROSEN:  Which is Obama actually had much the same views that she did, and said so, and gave a lot of leeway over the years to this war and people who voted for that resolution, and now is trying to have it the other way, and paint her as the war monger.  So, I think a lot of what the president is doing is trying to point out that it‘s not that she was for the war—

CARLSON:  But that is not fair.  Not only was she for the war, she was an aggressive supporter of this war up until pretty recently.  I followed this closely.  And it two years ago, she was in Baghdad.  I believe it was January of two years ago, and a series of car bombs went off, suicide bombs.  And she said, and we can pull the transcript, this is a sign we are winning, because their suicides are an indication of their desperation.  She supported this war for years.

ROSEN:  And let me make a more important point, which is that Hillary Clinton is not saying that she didn‘t vote for the war.  Hillary Clinton is saying the war has been mismanaged.  I voted to give the president authority and he has screwed it up, and now it has got to get fixed. 

CARLSON:  She wants it both ways.


HANRETTY:  Then why is Bill Clinton making up new terms for what a vote is and what the war is?


CARLSON:  I want to put up on the screen what Bill Clinton said about the thing that Hillary just alluded, to which, I think, she is right.  It‘s at the very heart of this.  Here‘s what he said about Barack Obama, her key opponent, quote, “to characterize Hillary and Obama‘s positions on the war as polar opposites is ludicrous.  This dichotomy that‘s been set up to allow him to become the raging of the anti-war crowd on the Internet is just factually inaccurate.” 

In other words, you think he is this left wing anti-war guy, net roots, but he‘s not. 

HEARN:  I think right now the Clinton campaign is risking a kind of “the lady doth protest too much” situation here, in the sense that their strategists has come out on this issue of her position on the war.  Her husband has been talking to people.  I wonder if, kind of, belaboring this debate doesn‘t ultimately hurt her, seeming defensive on her position, in the sense that, oh gosh, she really did try and have it both ways. 

So, I wonder if this defense, both by a very high-profile person, in Bill Clinton, and earlier, with the strategist coming out, is a little bit of an overkill. 

CARLSON:  Well, the sad thing is, I think she has taken a pretty responsible position on the war.  She, unlike any other candidate on the Democratic side, the other day told the “New York Times,” we‘re going to have to keep lots of combat troops there, because we have interests there, including oil, which I thought was an adult thing to say, and a bold thing to say. 

ROSEN:  I think the problem right now is that people are very focused on defining the past actions of both Hillary Clinton and Obama.  But we‘re going to have what we had on the House floor on the Senate floor in a few weeks.  And it is very clear, they are both senators.  They are both in positions to influence their colleagues.  You know, I think that is actually going to be a much more important test, in many respects, of who is really going to be fighting against this war, and let people see where it falls. 

CARLSON:  But I would just like to see why—

ROSEN:  Constantly this sort of parsing that everybody is doing to her is not going to change her.  She is who she is and proud of it. 

CARLSON:  I am not sure who she is.  I know that I thought this war was a terrible mistake after I went to Iraq in 2003.  Hillary Clinton was defending the war long, long, years after that.  I thought the ideas behind the war were ludicrous.  She has never said so.  So, I would just like to know the philosophical change she underwent. 

ROSEN:  She has said, time and time again, that the information, if the information was known then, there never would have ban vote.  This would not have happened. 

CARLSON:  I‘m just saying, I am a screaming right winger and she is more pro-war I have been, so that makes me nervous. 

Speaking of war, divorce, another form of war.  Judy Nathan Giuliani, the wife, of course, of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the front runner on the Republican side, told the “New York Post” today that she has, in fact, been married three times, not two.  She was first married at 19 in Vegas. 

HEARN:  I mean, who hasn‘t done that, right? 

CARLSON:  No, that‘s exactly right, actually. 

HEARN:  What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. 

CARLSON:  This is the greatest line though.  She said, “some people choose not to get married again.  Rudy and I believe very strongly in the institution of marriage.”  So strongly that we did it six times.  No, we are the family values candidates. 

HANRETTY:  This is the spin you would expect maybe from Bill Clinton or something like that.  This is just beyond incredulity. 

CARLSON:  It is so great.  I love it. 

ROSEN:  This is my favorite thing about straight people, as a gay person, you know, that you are for the Defense of Marriage, all of them.  Every single one of them should be defended. 

CARLSON:  I am not arguing that.  Josie, I almost feel guilty, I never

try never to talk about people‘s personal lives on this show, and I must say, I feel guilty talking.  I couldn‘t resist, mea culpa.  But does this matter?  Or do people just assume Giuliani has got this bizarro personal life and we don‘t care? 

HEARN:  I don‘t think that everybody out there knows about this yet.  There hasn‘t really been an assault on Giuliani to let everybody out there in the Heartland know that he does have this messy divorce and all of these marriages.  I don‘t think they know that yet.  That‘s why you see him up in the polls so much, is that there is a sense that he has all this terrible personal baggage, and that if anybody wants to take him out, they just have to do.  And nobody has gone about doing that yet.  And McCain and Romney see each other as more of a threat than they do him. 

ROSEN:  Also, scandal doesn‘t become him.  He is strong, he is certain, he is self-assured.  And I think that it will be hard for people to tear down the image of Rudy Giuliani, who they knew as somebody who was stalwart and steadfast, and say well, you know, really, he is just a mess, because his personal life is different.  I think that‘s going to be a hard sell.

CARLSON:  That is an interesting point.  Since you, Karen, were the actual spokeswoman for the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, I want to run a couple quotes by you.  These are, I believe, from Roger Simon at the Politico.  He just talked to Schwarzenegger, and Schwarzenegger, kind of, takes off against all the other candidates, attacking them for their platitudes, their page a day calendar quotations. 

They say fight global warming.  How?  The United States is not even in the game right now when it comes to global warming.  On immigration, we should be firm but compassionate.  But what does that really mean, asked Arnold, asking the tough questions.  He is positioning himself as a king-maker, is that what is going on? 

HANRETTY:  No.  You know, here is my little right-wing conspiracy theory about Arnold.  He wants to be a king-maker in the short term, but here is a man who is never going be able to run for president.  I don‘t believe he is going to run for U.S. Senate.  He will never be one of 100 anything.  This is a man, I think, who sees himself as—He is the single most high profile, recognizable politician in the world.  And I think he has much more rather global designs after his four years, his final four years in the governors office. 

CARLSON:  He wants to invade a country? 

HANRETTY:  No, I don‘t think he wants to invade a country.  But look, this is a man who has signed agreements with Tony Blair from Britain, with Canada, you know, with Michael Bloomberg in New York, these global warming treaties.  He will be in India, and I am quite confident that will be all about global warming.  I think he probably sees Al Gore as his main rival. 

CARLSON:  Oh, that‘s terrible.  They can have one another.  Karen Hanretty, Josie Hearn, Hillary Rosen, thank you both—all --  both—all three, very much. 

How popular is Al Gore right now?  He just picked up an endorsement for president that could swing the entire election and change American politics and history forever.  Actually, it is not an important endorsement at all and he is not even running yet.  But it is an endorsement from someone famous, and that is worth something, sort of, perhaps.  We will tell you what it is, in any case. 

And, given Mr. Gore‘s pre-existing feelings for the Clintons, the former vice-president is probably pretty annoyed today after the ozone burning move Bill and Hillary pulled last night in Washington.  Why walk when you can ride in a motorcade?  We‘ll tell you.  You‘re watching MSNBC.


CARLSON:  Not all appearances in the pages of the “Washington Post” are created equal.  Sure, you can write an op-ed or propose legislation, or get elected president.  Those are all achievements worthy of the Post‘s hallowed news print.  But you‘re still a piker until you have done something so embarrassing or outrageous or salacious or unusual that you wind up on the gossip page.  That‘s what all the cool kids read first thing in the morning here. 

And making the weekly pilgrimage to the camera in their own newsroom, we are proud to welcome the first ladies of DC Dish, authors of the “Washington Post‘s” universally read gossip page, “The Reliable Source.”  They are Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts. 

ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Hey cool kid, how are your.

CARLSON:  Is it actually true that Bill Clinton was in town?  I had that feeling. 


CARLSON:  Yes, I did. 

ARGETSINGER:  Yes, you felt the aura.  Yes, he was in town.  You know, this is the week that Hillary Rodham Clinton had a great big fund raiser at the Marriott Hotel. 

ROBERTS:  With no food by the way. 

ARGETSINGER:  It was a huge, huge fund raiser.  It raised, I believe, a record eleventy trillion dollars. 

ROBERTS:  Something like that. 

ARGETSINGER:  Anyway, that is not what we are going to talk about.  What we are going to talk about is after the fund raiser, Bill and Hillary went across the street to Lebanese Taverna, very a fine restaurant. 

ROBERTS:  In a motorcade, by the way. 

ARGETSINGER:  They took the motorcade across Connecticut Avenue to get there.  I don‘t think Al Gore was around to see.  Anyway, so this is when the fun starts.  They walk in, and they go right past Elanore Sneel (ph) and a bunch of other members of the Feminist Majority, who have been waiting 20 minutes for a table.  Hillary, very polite, chats with people for a second, but pretty much heads straight back to the private room, where they are meeting with a bunch of California assembly members. 

Bill shakes every hand of everyone he sees on the sidewalk.  He is trailing behind, he walks in, he shakes every hand at the bar, including the hands of people who did not offer their hand first.  He is shmooses with the Feminist Majority people.  He starts to say his good-bye.  He walks into the middle of the dining room, says, that reminds me of a good story.  Turns back around, more—


ARGETSINGER:  And then finally, finally makes his way all through the back of the restaurant, shaking hands on either side all the way back. 

ROBERTS:  Technically, he could run, yes?


CARLSON:  So, he looked like he was having a better time than her? 

ROBERTS:  He always looks like he is having a better time. 

CARLSON:  You‘re right. 

ROBERTS:  He can‘t help himself.  He has got to run, even when he can‘t run.  He is running all the time. 

CARLSON:  That is fantastic.  So what is Rush Limbaugh up to? 

ROBERTS:  Rush Limbaugh is being, I think, a proud grandchild, because there is a new court house, a federal court house in his hometown in Cape Gerardo (ph), Missouri that is named the Rush Limbaugh Court House.  But it is after not the conservative commentator.  It is after his grandfather—

ARGETSINGER:  Rush  Hudson Limbaugh Senior. 

ROBERTS:  -- who was practicing law at age 104 when he died in 1996.  It turns out that Rush‘s grandfather was a lawyer, his late father was a lawyer, his uncle is federal district court judge, his cousin is on the Missouri Supreme Court.  You know, a small twist of fate and he might just be another lawyer in the world.   

CARLSON:  I was confused.  So we are not going to see a Howard Stern federal building?  This is not a trick.

ROBERTS:  Are we talking the radio or Anna Nicole‘s maybe husband. 

ARGETSINGER:  Yes, there is a very notable lawyer named Howard Stern, let‘s not forget. 

CARLSON: That‘s an excellent point.  And quickly, tell me about Orin Hatch and his restaurant habits. 

ARGETSINGER:  Yes, we peeked into Orin Hatch‘s private wine locker at Morton‘s, the steak house out in Tyson‘s Corner, which was shocking to us that he had a private wine locker, because Orin Hatch is a Mormon.  He doesn‘t drink.  What is he doing with a private wine locker? 

ROBERTS:  it turns out he got one—this place opened 16 years ago and the CEO of the company said, you‘re a VIP.  We are going to give you one of these private lockers for your private collection.  And he keeps sparkling cider in it. 


ROBERTS:  Wild guy.

CARLSON:  That is kind of sweet. 

ROBERTS:  I think it is kind of sweet. 

ROBERTS:  That‘s very nice.  Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, you‘re the best, thank you. 

Al Gore may or may not run for president, but if he does, he can count on the support of one famously sex obsessed, self-reinventing, former American pop diva with a British accent.  What other candidate can claim that?  This is MSNBC.


CARLSON:  We‘ve been here 55 minutes and I will confess, we have not covered all the news today.  And so for that, we go now to a man who misses no news, ever, the vice president of MSNBC, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, VICE PRESIDENT OF MSNBC:  Tucker, under six metric tons of pancake makeup, I‘m blushing.  Tonight, sir, we will witness the peaceful transition of power that makes this republic the shining beacon of hope it has been for more than 200 years.  Yes, the reigning Miss USA, Tara Conner, will hand over her tiara to a new representative of this country.  No military coups, no juntas, no guillotines.  Not here.  Just a tearful passing of the sash. 

Miss Conner, of course, was found to have been partying hard, illegally and publicly and dabbling in adventurous sexual experimentation during her reign, in other words, living in New York City, before entering rehab in December. 

Well, she‘s out.  She‘s clean.  She‘s happy.  And today may mark the last semi-legitimate excuse we have to run this arresting video clip that has become so very famous, Tucker.  We have much to be thankful for on this day, and part of what we have to be thankful for here in the cable news business is Tara Conner.  Because not only did she give us this video, Tucker, but you will recall that the highly-rated spat between Rosie O‘Donnell and Donald Trump began over this very video. 

CARLSON:  Oh, so there is a new hook.  This is a species of breaking news, then? 

WOLFF:  No, this is breaking news.  She is going to hand over the crown to the new one tonight. It‘s going to be incredible.  are you going to watch? 

CARLSON:  Are you kidding? 

WOLFF:  Do you have any predictions? 

CARLSON:  I predict someone in a bathing suit will win. 

WOLFF:  Well, I think that‘s a fair bet.  Always put your money on Miss Missouri.  It‘s the Show Me State, Tucker.  Dateline New Jersey, it‘s a bittersweet day for fans of fictionalized organized crime, and I know I‘m one.  The HBO series “The Sopranos” shot its final scene right here in the Garden State yesterday.  The final episodes of the revolutionary and excellent TV show air later this spring after six seasons that have taken about 15 years to complete. 

Now for those viewers who aren‘t familiar with New Jersey, the depictions in the show of vast swamp lands, where bodies of mob killings could conceivably be dumped accurate.  It is not a joke.  There are all kinds of swamps literally seconds from where I‘m sitting.  And for those of you who are familiar with New Jersey and the swamps, and all that, what you looking at, huh?  Keep walking.  There‘s nothing to see here.  There you have it Tucker.  It‘s a sad day. 

CARLSON:  I like the Mafia-inflected news? 

WOLFF:  The Mafia what? 

CARLSON:  Inflected news.  It‘s news with a little mob influence. 

WOLFF:  The mob doesn‘t exist, Tucker.  It‘s all a myth.  It‘s made up by prosecutors. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.  It‘s a slur. 

WOLFF:  We have breaking political news now Tucker.  Decreasingly famous person Madonna has weighed in on the U.S. presidential race.  She says she would publicly endorse Al Gore if he entered the race.  Her much anticipated pick for president was reported by the German newspaper, “Die Zight (ph),” which loosely translated apparently means, who cares. 

She said she respects Hillary Clinton as a woman, but Mr. Gore is, quote, a great guy.  Not clear what the endorsement means for the ever-changing race for the White House, but you have got to think that Al Gore covets the powerful, middle aged, washed up pop singer with a fake English accent vote, Tucker.  

CARLSON:  I would—and as a conservative, you would expect me to attack Madonna as an empty headed faded pop star who should just shut up and sing.  But I remember her book, “Sex,” in which there is a picture of her taken naked walking on a city street in Florida. 

I don‘t know.  She‘s a bold woman. 

WOLFF:  Well, I‘ll give you that.  She also has put on a fake English accent.  And, as a fellow Midwesterner—You know, she‘s from Detroit. 

CARLSON:  I know she is.

WOLFF:  You know how they talk in Detroit? 

CARLSON:  I‘m married to one.  Yes I do. 

WOLFF:  Not like she‘s talks now, my lord. 

Finally tonight, Tucker, odd political news of sorts from Arizona, where former Governor Fyfe Symington said yesterday that a series of lights in the skies over Phoenix in 1997 were, in fact, from outer space, and that he, the sitting governor at the time, had a close encounter with an alien craft on March 13th of that year.  Now, he pooh-poohed the whole thing at the time, he says, for fear of creating public panic.  Now he says, quote, I‘m a pilot and I know just about every machine that flies.  It was bigger than anything I‘ve ever seen.  It remains a great mystery.  Other people saw it, responsible people.  I don‘t know why people would ridicule it.” 

You don‘t know why people would ridicule it? 

CARLSON:  That‘s a good point. 

WOLFF:  Really?  It‘s a UFO.  You‘re the governor.  That‘s why. 

CARLSON:  But, you know what, wouldn‘t it be sad if we found out in the end that it was true? 

WOLFF:  Well, you know, it‘s important that I should note this, if it was an alien invasion and the aliens are watching, I would like to say, I‘ve always been a big fan of outer space, aliens.  I‘ll help you when you get here. 

CARLSON:  Covering your bases, Bill Wolff.   Thank you Bill.

WOLFF:  My pleasure.

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Have a great weekend.  See you Monday.



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