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'Tucker' for March 30

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests: Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, Peter Fenn, Michael Crowley, Frank Donatelli

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  What could have been a simple misunderstanding, solved with a phone call, has evolved instead into a simmering international crisis—the tension between England and Iran heightened still further Friday with more bellicose Iranian behavior, and more tough talk and very little action from the Brits. 

The Iranian government released a letter allegedly written by female captive Faye Turney that criticizes British and American foreign policy.  Iranian TV, meanwhile, aired a tape of Royal Marine rifleman Nathan Thomas Summers apologizing to the Iranian people for the British Navy‘s actions. 



NATHAN THOMAS SUMMERS, BRITISH ROYAL MARINES:  I‘d like to apologize for entering your waters without any permission.  I know it happened back in 2004, and our government promised that it wouldn‘t happen again.  And, again, I deeply apologize for entering your waters.


CARLSON:  Joining us now from London with the latest, NBC News Ned Colt.

Ned, welcome.

How is the British government responding?

NED COLT, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it‘s—clearly, not just the British government, but the people here, are really angry about this latest step in escalating these tensions here. 

And that is the—as you were mentioning, the videotaping of a second individual, one of the 15 who was grabbed last Friday.  And there is a lot of anger here.  In that video, Nathan Thomas Summers is shown with two others who were also seized a week ago, in which he apologizes deeply for straying into Iranian waters.

But the view here is, is that this taping, like another released Wednesday, it was made under duress.  And we saw that today, as well, with concern about these letters, ostensibly written by Faye Turney, who you mentioned.  And the language in those letters is extremely stilted.  It‘s not the kind of language that someone in the Navy, whether they be in the British navy or the U.S. Navy, would probably use. 

Now, today, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett described that latest release of video as appalling, and suggests that Iraq—Iran is really not doing anything to try and resolve this stalemate. 

So, yes, the question remains, what is the next step here?  Because it just seems to be escalating, and, thankfully, hasn‘t escalated into anything more than a war of words right now. 

CARLSON:  Well, what is the next step?  I mean, what is speculation in London about what the British government might do?  And has that government had any success in convincing the international community, such as it is, to—to do something about it? 

COLT:  Well, we know that Britain has already gone to the U.N.  Security Council on this, which—which expressed grave concern about the seizure of the 15, but wouldn‘t really go any further than that. 

And, today, the E.U. expressed unconditional support for Britain.  But trying to isolate Iran further hasn‘t had the desired result yet.  There‘s no sign of a release any time soon.  And, clearly, we are at a point of diminishing returns for Iran. 

So, it has got its confessions, widely seen as coerced here.  And it‘s highly unlikely London is going to reverse itself on that issue thorny issue, that initial issue that still remains the crux of the matter, of whether that anti-smuggling team was in Iranian or Iraqi waters.

Now, just a few moments ago, on the BBC, I was watching the E.U.‘s Javier Solana, who says he is going to try and contact President Ahmadinejad about this.  But he is not taking a lot of overseas calls right now. 

So, you wonder what Iran is getting out of this, because they seem to be at a point where they are really not going to get a lot more out of it.  And, while the Brits are very upset about this, they don‘t want to see this escalate any longer. 

I think the hope is that this will slowly die down, that the Iranians have gotten what they want, that they don‘t need to do anything more.  They have got their—their—their confessions, by whatever means necessary.  Let the 15 go. 

But they‘re, again, trying to link it—the view is here—link it to the issues of nuclear power, link it to that issue of at least a half-dozen Iranians who are being held in Iraq right now, that they are trying to bring all of these things together under one umbrella. 

The Brits are saying, no, this is a single issue.  Let‘s deal with it on that basis. 

CARLSON:  NBC‘s Ned Colt in London—thanks a lot, Ned.

Well, to discuss the international and political implications of the deepening crisis between Iran and the U.K., we welcome Republican strategist and former White House political director Frank Donatelli, senior editor of “The New Republic” magazine Michael Crowley, and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.

Welcome to you all. 

Peter, I don‘t want to use this as an opportunity to bash the U.N., but they are inviting bashing.  The United Nations, with the backing of Russia, China and, most appallingly, I think, South Africa, has essentially refused to say anything bad about Iran.  They are, in effect, taking the side of Iran. 

Now, if you can‘t denounce hostage videos like that, then what is the point of having an international body like the U.N.? 

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I—I think there are two things here.

First of all, I think is important to look at this as—this video as a real problem.  I mean, we have seen this in Vietnam; we have seen it in the first Iran hostage crisis...

CARLSON:  Right. 

FENN:  ... which involved us, where everybody was blindfolded, and paraded out in front of that embassy.  So, I think you have got to condemn Iran for this.  The GPS shows, at one point, seven miles in Iraqi waters, not in Iranian waters.  So, I think that is loud and clear. 

I think the key point here is, what is the best way to get these folks back?  What is the best way to end this crisis?  And my sense of that is that you use folks like the—the—the Turkish ambassador to try to bring that together. 


CARLSON:  Well, that‘s not—look, doesn‘t this, Michael, sort of point out the limitations of international action?  We‘re always saying turn it over to the international community, whoever that might be. 

But here‘s an opportunity for the international community to take the good side in a pretty black-and-white incident, it seems to me, and they are refusing to do so. 

MICHAEL CROWLEY, SENIOR EDITOR, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Yes.  Well, is anyone shocked that the international community isn‘t able to swoop in and solve every problem?

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  I hear Democratic presidential candidates holding up the international community as the solution to what is happening in Iran.


CROWLEY:  Well, but, in another way, Tucker, I think the international community is behind all this, which is to say that I think this is a sign of Iranian—desperation is a strong word, but fear and isolation, as a result of the tightening vice of U.N. sanctions that is closing on them because of their nuclear program. 

And this looks to me like something they are doing as a way of trying to have—have—have leverage, have something that we‘re willing to negotiate with, to get a little bit of attention, to try to scare us, because I think they are feeling increasingly isolated and under the gun. 

So, in that sense, the international community actually has been making some progress.  There is a still long way to go.  We haven‘t stopped them.  We haven‘t derailed their nuclear program yet.  But I think, actually, in a way, this could be a sign that the international community is doing something right. 

CARLSON:  Well, Iran is trying to tell us something, I think, Frank.

Faye Turney, one of these marines, the woman in the group, gave, totally by chance, an interview to the BBC a couple of weeks ago about life about ship, in which she said:  I miss my parents.  But we are here to do a mission.

Didn‘t mention a single word about politics, about the geopolitical situation in any way.

By contrast, here‘s an excerpt from a letter that was released, ostensibly by her, in which she says—I‘m quoting now—“I am writing to you as a British service person who has been sent to Iraq, sacrificed, due to the intervening policies of the Bush and Blair governments.”

She—I mean, that is—it‘s ridiculous.  She didn‘t write that. 

But the Iranians did write it.  They have a vested interest in Iraq. 

That is the message I take from all this.  This is about Iraq, isn‘t it?

FRANK DONATELLI, FORMER REAGAN WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Well, for—this is clearly under duress.  So, I wouldn‘t pay any attention to that so-called confession. 

CARLSON:  But it tells us what the Iranians care about, don‘t you think? 

DONATELLI:  Well, there is no question that the Iranians feel like they are on the march in the Middle East.  They feel like America is on the ropes.  The Congress has just voted to cut off funds.

And the biggest beneficiary of American pullback in Iraq has to be Iran and the terrorists.  That‘s the first thing.

The second thing, though, is, I agree with Michael that it is very possible that Ahmadinejad is feeling the pressure of the international sanctions.  That government may be in worse shape than we imagine right now, and they did this out of desperation.   

CARLSON:  And there are even suggestions that, in fact, his government didn‘t do it, that this is the Revolutionary Guards, that, in fact—there was a column today by David Ignatius in “The Washington Post” that suggested that the government is not one government, but several governments, and that he may not even... 


CROWLEY:  You will notice he hasn‘t really been only been on TV...


CARLSON:  ... be in control.

That—that‘s right.  Yes. 

FENN:  Yes.  He is not taking credit for it right now.


FENN:  So, that—that does tell you something.

CARLSON:  But what do you do if you‘re Tony Blair?  I mean, you can‘t

you can‘t sort of...

FENN:  I think—to be honest with you, I think Tony Blair handled this absolutely right.  He was strong.  They had the GPS information.  He was tough on it. 

But, you know, I—look, I think that, as soon as we begin the process of stabilizing things in Iraq, start to come out of there, we won‘t be the boogeyman anymore.  We won‘t be the—and the same is—look, the British are pulling out. 


CARLSON:  Boy, I didn‘t know we were in the process of stabilizing things over there.  I thought it was a hopeless disaster...


CARLSON:  ... from which we are fleeing.

FENN:  One hundred and twenty-five people died yesterday in another bombing. 

CARLSON:  Right. 


CARLSON:  But I didn‘t know that the position now was that things are getting more stable there.  I thought it was just a complete debacle.  It was...

FENN:  No.  What I‘m saying, that we will stabilize things when we start to pull out and we are no longer the focus for all this.  That‘s my point. 


CROWLEY:  One quick point.  That Borat-esque forced confession was interesting, in that it was calling for a withdrawal, and, in a way, actually...

CARLSON:  Right. 

CROWLEY:  ... played into the hands of the Bush administration.  It is an argument for them to say, our enemies want us to get out of there. 

And I can see Bush saying, they don‘t want us to stay.


CARLSON:  I would say it‘s not—I reject the foreign policy of the Bush administration in practical and theoretical terms.  I think it is appalling.  I didn‘t vote for the guy as a result of it.

But I actually agree.  I mean, does anybody seriously believe that, when we leave, Iran won‘t flood the void?  Of course they will.  And that is the point of this, I think.  And I hate the war.  But, anyway.

Rudy Giuliani expresses—the express, rather, has cruised along with very little resistance, until now.  Between his Clintonian two-for-one promise, to the political baggage from his rule of Manhattan, America‘s mayor faces the first significant challenge to his run for the White House.  How is he bearing up under it? 

Plus, lots of people dislike Karl Rove.  The Congress appears to be dead set on busting him for anything.  Well, may be an evildoer who threatens the safety of the world, but can anybody really explain why he is so evil?  We will try. 

You are watching MSNBC , America‘s most impressive cable network.


CARLSON:  We had a so-called two-for-one presidency with Hillary and Bill Clinton, remember?  Will we get the same with Judy and Rudy Giuliani, if he wins the ‘08 election?  We will tell you.

We will be right back.


CARLSON:  Rudy Giuliani‘s run for president gets its considerable power from his performance on a single day, September 11, 2001. 

It is all of the other days of his tenure in New York, as well as his words in recent days, that may be the problem.  Earlier this week, Giuliani said that his wife, Judith, would have an active role in his presidency, including a seat in Cabinet meetings, if she wanted one.  And, then, today, Giuliani admitted his mistake in recommending for homeland security chief former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik, even though Giuliani knew of Kerik‘s ties to a business associated with organized crime. 

“The New York Times” reports that Giuliani did know of Kerik‘s troubling relationship when he appointed him to his post with the NYPD. 

Here to discuss these issues, as they relate to a possible Giuliani candidacy, which is, in fact, a real candidacy, Frank Donatelli, Michael Crowley, Peter Fenn.

Frank, first things first. 

Two-for-one—he tells Barbara Walters, you elect me and my wife, Judith Nathan, will be in some of meetings, if he wants. 

Today, he goes on a radio show, and says—quote—this was taken out of context, he claims—“Judith is not a political person, as she pointed out in the interview.  And Judith is a person who does not have an overriding interest in policy.”

So, who is he trying to appeal to here by saying, she‘s going to be in the Cabinet meetings, then by taking it back?

DONATELLI:  Well, it sounds like a rookie mistake to me.

I didn‘t know that his wife was that much of a policy wonk.  You know, when Mrs. Clinton was put in charge of health care, and came up with Hillary-care, the terrible health care plan that was later withdrawn, I think a lot of people sort of let it go to the extent that it did because she was the president‘s wife, and the question is, she was acting for the president and so forth and so on.

CARLSON:  Right. 

DONATELLI:  So, it is a good argument for never letting a close relative like that have major policy responsibilities. 

I just think it was a rookie mistake.  I am not quite sure what—that he meant to necessarily appeal to anyone with it. 

CARLSON:  Now, I mean, Michael, he‘s clearly thinking through everything he says.  He is running for president. 

So, when you, in an interview with Barbara Walters, which, presumably, lots of people are going to see, right?  It is not basic—everyone sees it.  Would you say that because you think you are going to get single women who vote Democrat most of the time; you can win them over?  I mean, is that what the Giuliani campaign is hoping, that they can win a lot of these independents and soft Democrats?

CROWLEY:  Well, you know, it‘s the kind of thing I want to actually see it and see his reaction.  Was he caught off guard?  Was he—you know, did he have a look like, geez, I never thought about that before?

It‘s hard to know without kind of seeing the body language of it.  But that would be one explanation.  But the fact that he is dialing it back makes me think it was not calculated, that it was kind of a gaffe, that it wasn‘t something he meant to say.

I mean, it is—it is breaking new ground by saying, you know, having her sit in, in the Cabinet meeting.  The normal boilerplate would be—even—even—even the boilerplate that would be trying to reach out to a certain kind of voter, I think, would not go so far as to say she‘s going to be there in the Cabinet, because, suddenly, you are going to have everyone scrubbing her record:  What does she think?  You know, what has she ever said about any issue?  That seems like a whole can of worms you don‘t want to open.


CARLSON:  They are not going to get too far, if they‘re looking at her record.

I am totally against bringing the personal into politics.  The personal is not political, as far as I‘m concerned.  I‘m probably the only person one who thinks that anymore.  But I believe that.

However, he has brought his wife out.  He‘s holding her up as an asset.  And, at the same time, Giuliani is refusing to say how they even met, Peter. 

FENN:  Yes. 



FENN:  They met accidentally. 

I mean, I...


CARLSON:  Well, why not describe how you meet?

FENN:  Oh, I know.


CARLSON:  That‘s like dinner-party conversation 101.


FENN:  Look, especially, Tucker, after you have to explain that, actually, she has had three husbands, not two.  I mean, you would think, gee, you could—and one of them wasn‘t six months.  It was six years that they were married.  So, you know, this is kind of a weird situation.

The other problem right now—and I think Michael is right—like, if you are doing this today, you are guaranteeing that the ratings are going to go up on your show.  They are going to want to see the body language.  They are going to want to wonder what in the heck he is talking about. 

Look, this woman was a nurse and a pharmaceutical rep, a pharmaceutical saleswoman.  Now, you know, I find it hard to believe that she should have a seat at the Cabinet table. 

CARLSON:  And now a crypto-Cabinet member.


CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  She is probably smarter than some Cabinet secretaries...



CARLSON:  Maybe not.  I don‘t know.


CARLSON:  Karl Rove, probably the least popular man among the elites in Washington, despite his turn as a hip-hop artist Wednesday night, with so many people hating the guy, there are relatively few who can enunciate why exactly they hate him.  Why do they hate him? 

And Karl Rove‘s chief patron continues to decry congressional opposition to the war in Iraq.  President Bush scolds the House and the Senate on the issue of withdrawal and a date for it.  Despite what you may think of the war, Bush may be right for once. 

This is MSNBC.


CARLSON:  The last two days Karl Rove has been better known for his bad dancing than for his politics.  I know that feeling.  But the Congress is already back on the hunt for his political head.  The Scooter Libby trial had vague Rovian implications.  The current Justice Department scandal some times appears to be a thinly shot veiled at him specificly. 

And now Congressman Henry Waxman of California wants to know if Karl Rove broke a law by using a federal agency, in this case the GSA, the Government Services Administration, to carry out pro-Republican political missions. 

Here to discuss the hunt for Karl Rove, we welcome  back Republican strategist and former Reagan White House political director, Frank Donatelli, senior editor of the “New Republic,” Michael Crowley, and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. 

Michael, you know the truth, which is Karl Rove is political.  I mean, that is what he does.  He is the president‘s political advisor.  He is hated not for specific crimes he has committed, but because he allowed a not-so on impressive candidate, George W. Bush, to beat two Democrats in races the Democrats should have won.  That is why they hate them.  I mean, let‘s be real.

CROWLEY:  Well, that is part of it, but I think it goes beyond that.  I think there‘s a sense he has stretched norms of political behavior in this administration.  The campaigns he ran were unusually brutal after September 11th


CROWLEY: -- and in the run up to the Iraq war, that he politicized national security, that he went after people in an unseemly way.  And, you know, just to take one example, when Delio (ph) left, and he revealed that the White House domestic policy apparatus was a total shell, that there were no intellectuals.  They weren‘t thinking about policy. 

It was Karl Rove. 


CROWLEY:  It was his political placing.  I think there is just a feeling that Rove doesn‘t care about the substance of government, that it is politics and—

CARLSON:  Wow, so wait, are you telling me—and I just want to make absolutely certain that I am hearing this correctly—that a political consultant cares more about politics than about the substance of policy. 

CROWLEY:  That he is an unusual, possibly unprecedentedly, strong and aggressive—

CARLSON:  OK, all of what you said is probably true.  The question now is, has he committed a crime?  We have gone from the stage where we think Karl Rove is too political.  Fine, probably right.  To the stage where he is probably a felon.  And I There is a huge difference between the two.  What crimes has Karl Rove committed?

FENN:  Let‘s go through this.  The Hatch Act is a fairly important act. 

CARLSON: Right.  The Hatch act says federal employees can‘t commit politics on federal time, federal property. 

FENN:  And you know something?  It is absolutely astounding to me that you take the GSA, the General Services Administration, which is responsible for the paper and desk and renting the offices space around the country for federal offices, and you take these employees and give them a power point presentation. 

CARLSON:  Weren‘t these political appointees?

FENN:  It doesn‘t make any difference Tucker.  They are not supposed to be involved in campaigns. 

CARLSON:  Yes it does, because these guys aren‘t the one in charge of chairs.

FENN:  They are sitting there, on government time, on a video conference call, using videos from the government.

CARLSON:  If that is true, I am against it. 

CROWLEY:  Do you see a pattern here?  It was the same thing with the Faith Based Office.  That guy David Kuo wrote that book.  It‘s the same thing.   

CARLSON:  Well, his book was a little bit different.  He said that the White House had secret contempt for evangelicals. 

CROWLEY:  But also that they were using this program to reward political allies. 

CARLSON:  Well, no kidding.  It was the whole idea to buy off black churches, duh. 


FENN:  Let me just say this.  Firing Iglesias, going right to him now and also right to the president. 

CARLSON:  But there is no crime.  I want to get right to the Democratic response to this.  This is, as we were just talking about, GSA, January 26, I believe, Scott Jennings, White House employee, works for Rove, accused of committing politics on federal time with federal employees.  Henry Waxman of California sends these questions to Rove, I believe, yesterday. 

Here is what he says, according to the “Politico,” here is one of the questions: Do you approve of the slides in Mr. Jennings‘ presentation?  Did you approve of Mr. Jennings participation in this meeting?”  Not “did you approve them happening,” do you approve it?  Is it OK with you.  Questions about your state of mind and your feelings?  I don‘t know.  I see over reach in the making.  It is not illegal to approve of something. 

DONATELLI:  I think the sputtering you just heard from my two colleagues is the two victories that the Republicans put up in 2000 and 2004 and there‘s a lot of Democrats that are still upset about that.  Karl Rove comes from a tradition, you know, James Carville, Lee Atwater in the first Bush administration, and those people normally didn‘t go into the government.  They would go to the RNC.  They would become private consultants or whatever.  And Karl Rove has decided to go into the government, so he is a big target. 

On this GSA, I‘ve got to confess, I spent some time in the White House myself, many years ago, and we had a slide presentation also that we gave to Schedule C appointees, anyone that wanted to see it, we went over and gave them a presentation.  And it seems to be pretty similar with what this presentation is.  We talk about the states that are at issue, we talk about the critical campaigns. 

CARLSON:  We‘ve got to take a quick break.  We will be right back to tell you President Bush says declaring troop withdrawal dates is a disastrous mistake.  That‘s a very unpopular position.  His credibility on the war is damaged, obviously, but none of that necessarily means he is wrong.  Doubters stay tuned.

Plus, George Clooney knows who he supports for the 2008 presidency. 

He‘s not sure he should say so outloud.  We‘ll tell you who that person is. 

We‘ll be right back. 



CARLSON:  President Bush might just be the loneliest man alive at this point.  Among his difficulty this is week alone, the Senate‘s passage of a war-spending bill that included a date-certain for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.  The president unflinchingly repeated his vow to veto that bill on arrival and he blasted Congress both for taking a recess before submitting that bill and for inserting the withdrawal clause in the first place. 

At this point, not a lot of people want to hear it from Mr. Bush.  But an a-political look at the situation on the ground in Iraq does suggest that he may have a point.  Back with us, former Reagan White House political director Frank Donatelli, senior editor of the “New Republic” Magazine, recently relaunched, looks good, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. 

OK, Peter, I think this war has made us weak. 

FENN:  You‘re coming to me. 

CARLSON:  I‘m sorry, you are in my line of vision, therefore my line of fire.  I wanted to ask you first, because we have talked about this so often, I think this war has weakened America, but I fear a pullout precipitously could weaken our country even more.  John Burns, the “New York Times correspondent who‘s been in Baghdad longer, I think, almost than almost any correspondent in the world, and I think is widely recognized as a non-partisan, very wise source of what is going on in Iraq, said this to the “Today Show” about a pull-out.  Watch this. 


JOHN BURNS, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”:  If they leave, I think from the perspective of four years and more of watching this war in Baghdad, there is no doubt that the conflict could get a great deal worse very quickly, and we would see levels of suffering and casualties among Iraqis that potentially could dwarf what we have seen to this point. 


CARLSON:  You care to argue with that? 

FENN:  Well, I think there are a lot of differing opinions about what would happen. 


FENN:  Wait, you used the word precipitous.  I would not call a year and a half precipitous. 

CARLSON:  He‘s talking about a year and a half.  Name one person who has spent a great deal of time in Iraq, who‘s a recognized authority on the subject, a military expert, who will contradict what John Burns says.  I haven‘t heard a single person. 

FENN:  Well, you have Chuck Hagel coming back, a Republican.  You have Gordon Smith, a Republican, who‘s spent time over there.  You have a lot of military.  Wait, wait, you have 1,500 active duty people, in the military, including 32 officers, who have said it is time to move out of Iraq.  So, you know, I think there are differing opinions.  Who the heck really knows precisely what‘s going to happen?  The point being, this is, as he has got it structured, this president, a war without end. 

CARLSON:  OK, I think you‘re right, he hasn‘t suggested an end to it and I am not saying that a pull-out is a bad idea.  Though I think I‘m beginning to believe it is a bad idea.  Michael, my only point is, if you are going to advocate a withdrawal next year, you have got to be honest.  Look right in the camera and say, there is going to be genocide when we leave.  Let‘s be totally real.  This is a civil war and they are going to really eat each other when we split.  Why can‘t they admit that?

CROWLEY:  Well, because it is gruesome thing to admit.  It‘s almost impossible to say outloud.  But what I would say on the other side—

CARLSON: But, it is true, isn‘t it?  Likely?

CROWLEY:  Yes, I think it‘s quite likely.  But here‘s the problem, is there a scenario in which we are able to prevent it?  So we leave our military over there, our defenses are badly weakened, should something else happen somewhere elsewhere in the world, someone else wants to comes after us.  Our people are dying.  And at what point does our sustained presence there prevent that nightmare scenario? 

In other words, I don‘t see how it ends up working.  We can just buy time and buy time, and hope that, all of a sudden, these people who hated each other to begin with, and now have been massacring each other for three years, decide, yes, we want to live in peace and harmony.  I mean, unless you‘re really going to partition the country and split them up, which may really be the best thing to do, I don‘t see how you get to a scenario where there is not horrible genocide.  So why are we just going to wait a few more years until we literally can‘t afford it? 

CARLSON:  I am put off because it‘s the same, so-called, human rights activists, who care so deeply about genocide in Darfur and cared about it in Rwanda and Bosnia and Kosovo, who now say, you know what, everything will be great.  It‘s not going to be great.  I just wish they would admit it. 

CROWLEY:  Well, I don‘t think anyone says everything will be great. 

CARLSON:  But it‘s totally faith based.  It‘s like, you know what, we are the problem, we are the irritant.  Once you pull the splinter out. 

FENN:  Who says—let me reverse the question, who says that everything would be great when we pulled out of there?   

CARLSON:  I have heard people either dodge the question—we talk about this every day on the show—either dodge the question, members of Congress included, or say, you know what, and Jack Murtha says this, we are the problem.  Once we leave, all will be well.   

DONATELLI:  Another alternative is to give the surge and General Petraeus a chance and see if it will work.  I mean, I think, by the end of the year everyone is saying we are going to know that.  So what is the rush to do it right now, outside of Democratic politics.  You know, part of Senator McCain‘s stump speech, Tucker, is this line, “presidents don‘t loose wars, political parties don‘t lose wars, nations loose wars.” 

And, unfortunately, I think too many Democrats see this in purely partisan terms.  But the fact is, if we are defeated in Iraq, Iran will be dominant, the moderate Arab states will have to make peace with Iran, and the terrorists will come after us elsewhere. 

CARLSON:  In some ways it may be better to have a Democratic president in 2008 who‘s not tied to this war, who can make decisions—right, if Hillary Clinton were president, she‘s already said—I am not endorsing Hillary.  I am not voting for her.  But she said she would leave troops there.  I mean, maybe, I don‘t know.  She‘s the only one I have seen who has an adult point of view. 

Speaking of adults, Mitt Romney, back to you Frank—Mitt Romney, the latest Fox News poll has Mitt Romney at six percent.  Giuliani, by contrast, at 36 percent. He‘s running even, Mitt Romney is, with Newt Gingrich.  But that has no prevented him from picking his vice-president already.  He yesterday mentioned the names of three southerners for that job, Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, and a great a guy, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Jeb Bush, the outgoing governor of Florida. 

Is it traditional for a candidate at six percent to pick his vice-president? 

DONATELLI:  No, of course not.  It is not traditional.  And, As a matter of fact, he was speaking in South Carolina, so he mentioned, happened to mention three southerners.  I assume when he goes to the west, he will mention three westerners.  He goes to the Midwest—

CARLSON:  Well, if you are the former governor of Massachusetts, presumably you probably want somebody who‘s not from Massachusetts on your ticket. 

DONATELLI:  And then maybe next month he will announce his cabinet.  I would advise him to stick to the issue at hand, which is to try to get the Republican nomination. 

CARLSON:  Do you think that‘s good advice, Michael? 

CROWLEY:  Well yes, it is not looking so easy.  I mean, I think on this show a month or two ago we were talking about how Mitt was doing great.  Now his campaign is a disaster.  No one‘s talking about him.  I mean, I wonder if this is a way for people to take him seriously.  Oh yes, that guy might actually be president.  He is talking about vice-presidential candidates. 

Because he‘s mired in the bottom of the polls.  People on the left and right are mad at him.  And I think that his campaign has fallen apart at an amazing pace. 

CARLSON:  Well, he announced later that he wanted Air Force One to become an Airbus rather than a Boeing. 


CARLSON:  Peter, George Clooney may be the most self-aware Hollywood liberal, and good for him.  He is for Barack Obama, but he says he doesn‘t want us to let us know that, because once we find out, we may hold it against Barack Obama.  I‘m actually not attacking George Clooney.  He‘s got a very good point.  With that point in mind, Hillary Clinton‘s fund raiser last week in Los Angeles, Barbara Streisand led the questioning. 

Now I wonder how un-self aware one would have to be to have, of all people, Barbara Streisand, the living embodiment of dumb Hollywood, lead the questioning. 

FENN:  Well, I wouldn‘t call it dumb Hollywood.  I think she‘s been around quite a long time.

CARLSON:  Do you know the difference between Iraq and Iran?  She didn‘t. 

FENN:  Look, as I understand it, that fund raiser raised 2.4 million dollars.  So it wasn‘t too shabby.  But it isn‘t about the money, right? 

CARLSON:  Money comes in though.  So you‘ve got Paula Abdul, Ted Danson, Barbara Streisand. 

FENN:  They are all lining up. 

CARLSON:  Is there some cost or are Democrats just writing off those parts of the country that disapprove of Barbara Streisand? 

FENN:  Look when stars endorse or don‘t endorse candidates, I don‘t think it affects folk‘s vote very much. 

CARLSON:  You don‘t?

FENN:  No, I really don‘t.  And I think everybody understands the influence of Hollywood and the movies.  It has been around a long time.  Ronald Reagan sure understood it. 

DONATELLI:  You have to talk about the Republicans in Hollywood, with Olivia Dehavelin (ph) and Walter Pigeon (ph), I think, leading the charge. 

CARLSON:  I‘m not familiar.  I know that Bo Derek was a Republican sometime in the mid 1990‘s for about 20 minutes.  Robert Stack from “Unsolved Mysteries,” I believe, was a secret right-winger. 

DONATELLI:  I think Drew Carey.

CARLSON:  He is, I‘ve talked to him about it.  That‘s exactly right.  It‘s not a huge group.  Did you see, working as you do, Michael, for a policy, really deep think magazine, “The New Republic,” the plan Michael Bloomberg is batting around to award grants to families in New York City, using I think exclusively private money, some of it his own, to send their kids to school. 

The idea is that if you actually do what you are supposed to do as parent, we will give you money.  Is this going to work?  Is it morally offensive to pay people to do what they ought to be doing? 

CROWLEY:  I suspect that‘s what you think. 

CARLSON:  I am not sure.  Actually, I‘m not sure.   

CROWLEY:  Look, you know, I think we talked once about whether you should let—give emergency room care to immigrants.  And the question was, you know, they are not supposed to get it—to illegal immigrants.  It is the same thing. 

If people are—but you are saving money in the long run, so it is worth doing it.  It is the same thing.  If people are not doing what they are supposed to do, you can sit around and complain that you shouldn‘t reward bad behavior. 

CARLSON:  Right.

CROWLEY:  But at some point I think there is just a cost-effective decision you make that says there will be big savings to society if we do this.  And you don‘t want to get into a pattern of dependency or encouraging bad behavior.  But I think it is worth a try at seeing whether it saves a lot.

CARLSON:  I‘m not even criticizing it, because I don‘t know what to think when the richest society in the world can‘t alleviate poverty in the lower 2 percent—the lowest 2 percent.  I mean, clearly it has something to do with—we have not attacked that problem. 

FENN:  Well, there is another way to do it, of course, and that is to give people books, to give them computers, to give them programs for their computers, to do things which help improve their education rather than financial. 

I mean, I—don‘t we all remember the neighbor kid who got the dollar every time he got an A and the parents—at least my parents, would go, or they are not—we are not paying for that.  We are not giving you money for your grades, you get your grades because you should... 


CARLSON:  And what happened to that kid? 

FENN:  I got poor. 


FENN:  I don‘t know.  He is probably president of Exxon now. 


CARLSON:  Exactly right.  He founded Google.  That is exactly right. 

Frank, as a conservative, do you buy this? 

DONATELLI:  I am conflicted on it.  But two points, number one, it is private money.  The second thing is this does have some resemblance to the concept that Milton Friedman came up with many years ago, the negative income tax, which says, rather than give services and computers, you give cash to people and hope that they can do the right thing. 

I don‘t know if it is going to work.  It is private money.  I think it is probably worth a try. 

CARLSON:  It strikes me, and I don‘t want to be too cynical about it, I think Bloomberg is running for president and I think he would spend a billion dollars in that race.  I am not sure that he would be elected.  But this strikes me as a kind of Manhattan Institute-esque sort of interesting policy idea that he is putting together as a predicate for his run. 

CROWLEY:  Yes.  That seems plausible.  I mean, there was a lot of talk that he was serious about running kind of in the end of last year.  And my sense was that that was talking off and people were saying it wasn‘t going to happen. 

So I don‘t know whether he is or not.  But look, I don‘t think we spend enough time talking on shows like this about social policy and how to.

CARLSON:  I agree.

CROWLEY:  . lift people out of poverty.  To the extent that, you know, we are doing that right now, that alone is a small victory. 


CARLSON:  Yes.  Get married, actually, is the number one most thing you can do, like actually get married before you have children.  But no one wants to say that because that would be judgmental and mean.  But that is true.  And everybody who looks at it knows it is true, including you, right? 

CROWLEY:  Yes, sure. 

CARLSON:  Yes, yes, sure, see? 


CARLSON:  It is very—then why do none of the presidential candidates on either side mention it?  They talk about poverty. 

FENN:  No, we talked about this before.

CARLSON:  . and the intractable problems of the underclass.  They never mentioned marriage. 

FENN:  I think we talked about this before.  And I totally agree with you. 

CARLSON:  I know, because it hacks (ph) me up, every time it makes me mad. 

DONATELLI:  And this is a recognition that personal behavior matters.  It is not a question of discrimination.  It is not a question necessarily of opportunity.  But personal behavior, doing.

CARLSON:  And I think.

DONATELLI:  Making the right choices. 

CARLSON:  . liberals understand that.  actually think things are changing. 

FENN:  And Barack Obama did talk about it when he spoke Tuesday night, he was very strong on it. 

CARLSON:  Gentlemen, thank you all very much. 

Yes, Karl Rove was a dancing fool.  Brian Williams was a comic genius.  And President Bush even got some laughs at this week‘s biggest Washington dinner party.  But you are not an insider until you hear the dish that did not make the news, and we have that for you.

And if you are watching this and you have a pulse, that means will you be moved by the pictures of a U.S. soldier‘s return home from Iraq.  If you want to see something great, stay with us.  You are watching MSNBC.


CARLSON:  Actor turned Senator turned actor Fred Thompson is considering a run for the White House in ‘08.  You know him from “Law & Order,” “The Hunt for Red October,” even “Matlock.” What about his early flicks?  Would they actually hurt his chances of becoming president?  We will get the scoop from a “Reliable Source.”


CARLSON:  If you paid your cable bill this month, you already know about Washington‘s big correspondents dinner Wednesday night and all of the highlights of it.  From M.C. Rove to the President Bush‘s successful turn as Shecky Greene. 

But this is Friday, and on Friday we don‘t truck in that sort of widely-known gossip.  On Fridays we get down to the dirty, the stuff that happened in the sink in the ladies room, misbehavior unfit for live broadcast.  The reputation-destroying, career-enhancing stuff and vice versa.  On Fridays we welcome the ladies of The Washington Post universally-read gossip column “The Reliable Source.”  They Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts. 

Ladies, welcome. 


AMY ARGETSINGER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Hi.  What he did say happened in the ladies room? 


CARLSON:  The cherry blossoms are getting me going. 

ROBERTS:  Exactly. 

CARLSON:  So you have been digging up dirt on presidential candidates, what have you found?. 

ARGETSINGER:  We have.  This is the time in the cycle—in the election cycle when all of the major publications put teams to work really digging into various candidates just to see if there is anything untoward in their backgrounds.  And Roxanne and I happily have been assigned to Fred Thompson‘s early movie career.  And we are finding some stuff in there that could be pretty damaging. 

ROBERTS:  Pretty damning, I think damning.  Well, here is the deal, the deal is, is that he is just—has said he is just thinking about it, and already he has surpassed poor Mitt Romney in the polls.  So you know, it is like, well, he can be president because he is like that “Law & Order” guy. 

ARGETSINGER:  Yes, you have seen that character. 

ROBERTS:  Yes, we have seen all of these characters.

ARGETSINGER:  Cabinet secretaries, admirals, what-not. 

ROBERTS:  So—but, but.

ARGETSINGER:  That is not the full Fred Dalton Thompson. 

ROBERTS:  No, no.  The full monty on Fred is he plays Sir Trenton, the dishonest thoroughbred in “Racing Stripes.” He was a casino owner in “Evel Knievel.” In “Baby‘s Day Out” he plays this inept FBI agent who loses the kidnapped child.  In “Born Yesterday” he is a corrupt senator.  And my favorite, in “Curly Sue”.

ARGETSINGER:  What did he play in “Curly Sue”?

ROBERTS:  He played, you know, sort of  a work-the-edges lawyer to make things happen. 

ARGETSINGER:  We are also very concerned about his role in “Aces: Iron Eagle III.” Did I get that title right?

ROBERTS:  Yes, you did.  Because he supplied some airplanes to some questionable types where—we are not sure who exactly but basically it is a Peruvian jungle village, Nazi drug lords.  OK? 

ARGETSINGER:  It has been a lot of research into the Netflix. 

CARLSON:  Sounds bad.

ARGETSINGER:  Yes, yes.  Here is the other thing.  Sometimes is he “Fred Thompson,” sometimes he is “Fred Dalton Thompson.” A lot of waffling there.

CARLSON:  I have noticed that.  I have noticed that.

ROBERTS:  You think we can trust this guy?

CARLSON:  I think there—“Baby‘s Day Out” actually does make me a little bit uncomfortable, much as I love Fred Thompson.  Now you were at the dinner on Wednesday night and you saw Karl Rove.  What is the latest on that performance? 

ARGETSINGER:  Well, here is the thing.  I was there, you were there, Karl Rove gets up to improv.

ROBERTS:  I wasn‘t there, by the way. 

ARGETSINGER:  Comedians pull him up there, it was hilarious at the time.  Then the video clips started floating and everyone I know who wasn‘t there is looking at the video clips saying, why is everyone laughing?  What the heck is this about? 

ROBERTS:  Well, I mean, from a high concept standpoint, Karl Rove rapping is just funny, just those same words in a sentence... 

ARGETSINGER:  Yes.  But everyone I know who wasn‘t there looked at this and said, man, this is really lame.  And I don‘t know, I‘m thinking it is one of those things, you had to be there.  It can‘t possibly.

ROBERTS:  And you had to be drunk. 



ARGETSINGER:  The hour-long pre-dinner cocktail party possibly helped one‘s enjoyment of Karl Rove‘s rapping.  Possibly.

CARLSON:  I think like most performances, alcohol improved it.  And also, he—I saw you at the dinner.  Amy, you saw it.  Karl Rove was so unhappy to be on stage that if you take that part out, when he first got pulled up on stage, he looked like he was about to die.  And then he got in touch with his inner rapper finally. 

ARGETSINGER:  Yes.  Exactly.  That is what you missed, the drama of, you know, this man getting pulled out, oh, who is it?  Oh, my God, it is Karl Rove, oh my God, he does not seem happy about this.  He is trying to be comfortable, he is not.  That was really the delicious part about it.


ROBERTS:  It is a high concept thing.  Yes.

CARLSON:  Yes.  It was high concept.  I am on the side of anyone who humiliates himself on stage, though, having been there.  Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, you are the best.  Thank you very much. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger proved last night he can still make the ladies faint, or maybe the ladies just fell asleep during his speech, either way, they were dropping like flies for “The Governator.”  Willie Geist explains the bizarre scene when we come back next.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Joining us now from New York City, his ancestral home, Willie Geist. 


I have been giving this a lot of thought over the last 48 hours and you are a better dancer than Karl Rove.  I have been looking at tapes side-by-side.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Willie.

GEIST:  You are a better dancer than Karl Rove.  It is not saying much, but in your case, it is something. 

CARLSON:  I appreciate that. 

GEIST:  Something for you to sink your teeth into.

CARLSON:  Let me say, you are too. 

GEIST:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  And you are a better rapper too.

GEIST:  Oh, I am a good rapper.  You watch, you watch.  Tucker, we will get to meaningless celebrity news in a moment, don‘t you worry.  But first we want to show everyone what is far and away the best story of the week.  Elisa Hahn of NBC affiliate KING TV in Seattle reports on a soldier‘s surprise homecoming.  Now if you don‘t get choked up for this, you should probably dial back your medication.. 


ELISA HAHN, KING REPORTER (voice over):  For the last seven months, Bill Hawes has been in Iraq, an eternity for his family, especially his 6-year-old son, who had no idea his dad was coming home and was surprising him in class.

ENSIGN BILL HAWES, U.S. NAVY:  I missed you, too, kiddo.

JOHN HAWES, SAILOR‘S SON:  I missed you, too, daddy.

HAHN:  All year, the Sedro-Woolley 6-year-old had written letters to his dad, and his kindergarten class at Central Elementary joined in, sending the sailor care packages.  A tearful John got to introduce his father to all his pen pals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What‘s his name?

J. HAWES:  Bill.


B. HAWES:  Oh, it‘s great to be home.  Seven months over there, it‘s nice to see my kids and all again.  See my wife.

JULIE HAWES, SAILOR‘S WIFE:  I am so ecstatic because my husband‘s home.  I‘m so proud of him.

HAHN:  The Hawes family was happy to share their joy with the whole class, who all took part in the welcome home party.  The sweetest homecoming for a sailor who had been gone too long, and for a little boy who dreamed of this day with his dad.


GEIST:  Now, Tucker, don‘t worry, I haven‘t gone soft on you.  I‘m still cynical and sarcastic.  But I could not.

CARLSON:  It is pretty heavy, Will.

GEIST:  . pass up showing that, it is just an incredible story of the day, of the week, it is amazing. 

CARLSON:  It is unimaginable.  Anybody who has kids, I think, has trouble imagining being away that long. 

GEIST:  I think, and it really illustrates why we talk about war in abstract terms, that is why it is terrible, because there are dads and moms and kids who will not have that moment.  And that is just—it is nice to see one—a good one, you know?

Well, let‘s make a very, very rocky transition from an emotional reunion.

CARLSON:  Yes, back to.



GEIST:  From an emotional reunion to a businesslike break-up.  I hope Kevin Federline saved the receipts for those Lamborghinis, Tucker, because they might be going back to the dealership.  Reports say K-Fed and Britney Spears reached a divorce settlement yesterday that leaves him with a paltry $1 million. 

Now earlier reports suggest that Federline was looking as much as $50 million worth of Britney‘s fortune.  But her lawyers and their airtight pre-nup made sure that didn‘t happen. 

The couple will share custody of their two children.  It‘s insulting, obviously, Tucker, and actually it cuts into the mythology of K-Fed a little bit, because the reason he was such a hero is because he slipped this by everybody, he was going to get a big piece of the pie.  A million bucks, what is he going to do with a million bucks?  That does not even cover one self-thrown birthday party in L.A.  You know?


CARLSON:  Come on.

GEIST:  It is terrible. 

CARLSON:  So don‘t think he is—he is no longer living the dream, Willie?

GEIST:  No, it is over.  The dream is over.  He had the dream for a little while, but it is not—it didn‘t reach completion, I guess.  I‘m very sad about this.

CARLSON:  Taking money from women, I disapprove. 

GEIST:  He got jobbed.  Well, Tucker, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger got a chance to slip back into his old action hero role during a speech at a high school in California last night, check this out, Schwarzenegger is speaking.  A student is standing behind him on stage, faints and collapsed.  “The Governator” sprung into action and helped her up off the floor.  You see it there, showing he has still got it. 

Schwarzenegger eventually helps the woman off stage, the young girl, and he strolls back to the middle of the stage and jokes with students, saying, you know, loosen up your knees a little better, do some push-ups to stay alert, this is ridiculous. 

Now just as he is saying that and he wins the audience back, another girl hits the deck, this time to his to right.  Watch the little surprise.  Whoops, down she goes.  The stunned governor then walks over to help escort her off the stage.  Schwarzenegger resumed his speech by saying he had made a lot of them, but he never had made anyone faint before, Tucker.  I mean, that is—it looks like a Jimmy Swaggart sermon.  People just falling left and right.

CARLSON:  It really does.

GEIST:  I have been healed, Governor!  I have been healed!

CARLSON:  Slain in the spirit by Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

GEIST:  You know, he was talking about Cesar Chavez.  And I think that is a lesson that you don‘t talk to high school kids about that.

CARLSON:  Was he really? 

GEIST:  . it kind of makes them pass out at some point.

CARLSON:  Was he—he was sucking up to the memory of Cesar Chavez? 

I mean.

GEIST:  Actually, he was presenting a portrait of Cesar Chavez, even better for you, right?

CARLSON:  You can‘t make that up.  I will resist temptation to lecture, yes.

GEIST:  I think it was a heroic set up, though, he had them faint so he could look like the hero.  He is positioning himself for a run of some kind, I don‘t know what. 

Tucker, one more thing, I would remiss if I didn‘t mention today “Blades of Glory” opens and you would be doing yourself a great disservice if you didn‘t go see this movie. “Blades of Glory,” Will Ferrell, Jon Heder from “Napoleon Dynamite.” If you miss this one, I think you will hate yourself forever.  I highly recommend you go and see it.

CARLSON:  I literally wouldn‘t even consider missing it.  I am leaving the studio right now to go see it.  I hope you do too.


GEIST:  . Tucker, have a good weekend.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Willie, you too.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS.” Have a great weekend and see you Monday.



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