Guests: David Dreier, Richard Wolffe, Peter Fenn, Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Careful what you wish for, Nancy Pelosi.
The speaker of the House has decided to raise her profile, most recently by impersonating the secretary of state during a freelance trip to Syria. The result? Pelosi has become a pinata for her political enemies.
The latest to pick up the stick and gleefully take their swings include Vice President Dick Cheney and “The Wall Street Journal.” Cheney scolded Mrs. Pelosi on “The Rush Limbaugh Show” for her trip, saying, among other things, that, as a member of Congress, she should not be negotiating in any way with foreign leaders, particularly the leader of Syria.
“The Journal,” meanwhile, suggested today that Mrs. Pelosi might be guilty of a felony for her conversation with President Bashar al-Assad.
Has Pelosi gone too far? Or do Democrats on Capitol Hill have the right to conduct their very own foreign policy?
Joining us to discuss it, as well as the behavior of those British sailors released by Iran, Rudy Giuliani‘s new campaign message in the South, and a call for Dick Cheney to run for president, we welcome “Newsweek” senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.
Welcome to you both.
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good to be with you.
RICHARD WOLFFE, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “NEWSWEEK”: Thanks,
CARLSON: John Kerry, facing irrelevance in American life, jumped in almost immediately to defend his old pal Nancy Pelosi, Peter.
Here‘s what he said—quote—“It is terrific that she went to Syria,” said John Kerry. “We,” meaning Congress, “are a separate branch in the U.S. Congress. And the administration needs to remember that. She‘s not there to make policy. She‘s there to fact-find and explore policies to have a better sense of what our choices and options are.”
Well, if that were true, I would be totally for it. I think it‘s great when members, speakers even, travel the world. More Americans should leave to find out what the world is like. I am totally for that. I defended Nancy Pelosi.
She wasn‘t there to fact-find. She was there to make policy.
Tom Lantos, congressman from California, who traveled with her—quote—“This trip was only the beginning of our constructive dialogue with Syria. And we hold to build on it.”
She is setting up her own foreign policy. And that is wrong.
FENN: Well, first of all, Tucker, I don‘t think that is at all what she is doing. And I think the evidence clearly shows that.
But, if that is what she was doing, was that what Frank Wolf was doing when he was there two weeks ago? Was that what Darrell Issa was doing? Republicans and Democrats have gone to Syria, have had dialogues. This is as old as this republic.
CARLSON: Announcing a new peace plan with Israel, that is as old the republic?
FENN: That there should be negotiations and the peace process should continue, you know, find something wrong with that? I don‘t find anything wrong with that.
Look, I think this was exactly what James Baker and the Iraq Study Group recommended.
FENN: I think, if you look at this, you will see that, finally, we have a Congress that says, you know, maybe we should be negotiating and talking to our adversaries.
CARLSON: Yes. But is that the role, though? I mean, look, again, I defended Nancy Pelosi from the White House, to the extent it matters, when she first went, again, on the grounds that, you know, find out more about the world. Good for you. Come up with an informed opinion on things.
But is it the place of a leader in Congress, constitutionally, even, to be setting up a parallel foreign policy?
WOLFFE: Well, foreign policy doesn‘t just get set up by people going to visit. I mean, there‘s a whole series of things that she cannot do as speaker of the House.
WOLFFE: But she has a position. She has got to be prepared for this kind of flak. Look, there is a difference between talking and setting policy. That is what she was doing.
CARLSON: Well, no, no. She said she was bringing a message from the Israeli prime minister, Olmert.
WOLFFE: Do you really think the Syrians need Nancy Pelosi to deliver a message?
CARLSON: Are you kidding? I think the Syrians don‘t—they take her as seriously as I do, which is not very. They see this as a propaganda effort. But she takes herself very seriously.
WOLFFE: No, no, no. Actually...
CARLSON: Very seriously.
WOLFFE: No, there is a serious message there.
What the Syrians are looking for is how American politics are changing. Is there going to be a different attitude? Are the Democrats going to—are foreshadowing a change with a new presidency? Those are important things she‘s getting into, and the Syrians are wanting to explore.
Are they trying to scope out Israel‘s position through Nancy Pelosi?
CARLSON: No, of course not.
WOLFFE: So, what is this about?
CARLSON: Here is what it is about. It is about the fact that the U.S. government ought to speak with one voice when it comes to foreign policy.
When Jimmy Carter went—always—the Clinton people hated Jimmy Carter more than they hated Newt Gingrich, as you probably remember, because he was always running around, purporting to speak on behalf of the government, or seeming as if he did.
And Clinton‘s point was, hey, man, I am the commander in chief. I am charge of representing the State Department‘s view.
WOLFFE: But it‘s always happened. It‘s always happened.
CARLSON: And it‘s always wrong.
FENN: Look—look, she‘s—she expressed that—no policy differences with the—with this government. She didn‘t negotiate any treaties. She didn‘t put anything on the table.
She did carry one message from Israel, though. And that was that the Syrians should stop backing Hezbollah and Hamas, that—that—that terrorism in the region was looked upon very unfavorably, both by Israel and the United States.
FENN: And if anybody thinks she was some kind of pushover in this...
CARLSON: Peter, that is not true. That is not true.
FENN: What do you mean that is not true?
CARLSON: That is not the only message she brought to Assad.
CARLSON: The Israeli government issued a statement, saying, look, you are misrepresenting our views. She went over—that is what they said.
CARLSON: Were they lying?
FENN: No, that is an overstatement, I think, Tucker. Look, the—look...
CARLSON: Well, what was the statement? I guess I must have...
FENN: Well, there is a statement that—first of all, the spokesperson for Olmert made a statement supporting her.
FENN: Then, afterwards, there was a statement that said, we still consider them to be the axis of evil, part of the axis of evil. So, OK. Fine.
WOLFFE: Look, let‘s be clear, by the way, Olmert is in a terribly weak position.
CARLSON: Yes, he is, well deserved.
WOLFFE: For Nancy Pelosi to go out there and start making statements that sound like Olmert had weakened his position is bad for Olmert.
WOLFFE: There‘s domestic politics in the region, too.
CARLSON: No doubt. No doubt.
WOLFFE: So, she has waded into that mine field. She‘s obviously got people who are out to get her. The administration is loving all of this. They set...
CARLSON: She is over her head, though.
WOLFFE: Well, look, any time you have people going out there who are inexperienced, these kinds of things can happen.
But let me just say, this administration is not exactly bathed in glory with its foreign policy. The president went to a G8 Summit...
CARLSON: Their foreign policy is a disaster, I agree.
WOLFFE: Right. He went to a G8 Summit last summer and was giving backrubs to the German chancellor. So...
CARLSON: Look, I am not defending Bush‘s foreign policy. I think it has been the great stain on America for the past six years. But that‘s not the point.
CARLSON: The point is, should the speaker of either party be conducting it solo?
Let me ask you about the country you are from, which is Great Britain.
It is an island...
WOLFFE: I admit it.
CARLSON: North and east of here.
FENN: A little island.
CARLSON: Fifteen British sailors and marines taken hostage by Iran surrendered immediately, without a fight. No planes or ships of the British military came to their rescue. And they immediately started collaborating with their captors.
CARLSON: Here‘s Jack Jacobs.
WOLFFE: Not that that is a loaded term or anything.
CARLSON: No, it‘s actually—it‘s actually—I mean that they are essentially quislings.
Here is what Jack Jacobs said, Medal of Honor winner, MSNBC military analyst—quote—“Once their release had been arranged, the British captives gleefully accepted small mementos of their internment and new ill-fitting suits that made the men look like mini-versions of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As if that were not enough, they participated in one last comedy before leaving, amiable chatting with Ahmadinejad, the architect of their incarceration, hearty handshakes all the way around. Thanks for the hospitality. What a pleasant little excursion. Sorry for troubling you. Once they were released, they were effusive in their praise of the Iranians.”
I mean, it is the most embarrassing thing I think I have ever witnessed.
WOLFFE: Well, that is saying something.
WOLFFE: Look, I have a lot of respect for Jack Jacobs, but I think he has gone totally overboard, every pun intended here.
This is—British policy here, when you are a hostage...
WOLFFE: ... is to actually say whatever it takes to get out in one piece.
CARLSON: To attack...
CARLSON: ... country and suck up to your captors?
WOLFFE: No, there is a reason for doing that, because everybody knows that these forced confessions are not real, that they are media stunts, as the sailors said today on TV.
So, look, you can play the pride game. You can say that they shouldn‘t have done this or that. None of us were in that situation.
The criticism would be a lot more if they did not come out alive or they were stuck there on a show trial. They got out in one piece. And that is important.
CARLSON: Yes, it‘s—I‘m not—yes, it is—of course it is important. That is not the policy of the U.S. government, as you know. When an American is captured, you are—that is totally verboten. You can be court-martialed for doing what they did.
Don‘t you think it‘s significant, the propaganda value, though, gained by Iran from the video of these people saying, we were spying on Iran?
WOLFFE: No, I don‘t think so. I think that they‘re—look, the British made a mistake, in that they did not have air cover to support these sailors in the open seas. The time to stop this was before they got captured.
But, when it comes to propaganda, no, I think the Iranians massively overplayed their hand. They—they looked extreme. Why do you think they released them? If this was going so fabulously well, they could have carried on, trotting them out for the media forever.
CARLSON: Because I think there‘s a power struggle going on in Iran...
FENN: I mean, I think they did overplay their hand, especially the way they treated the hostages.
If they had treated them normally, then they would have come out of this with: OK, we released these guys. We are not sure, 1.7 miles in or out, what was going on.
But, with this, they—I think they looked foolish.
CARLSON: Boy, I thought the British were tougher than that. I didn‘t realize...
FENN: You thought they were tough?
CARLSON: I did. I did, stout island people. I didn‘t realize that, immediately, when you get captured: Oh, I‘m so sorry.
FENN: It is the Falkland Islands.
WOLFFE: I will thumb-wrestle you any day.
CARLSON: You would probably win.
Dick Cheney‘s approval ratings hover around the legal drinking age these days, and he appears not to care what voters think of him. But that did not prevent one call from one corner of conservative America for Cheney to run for president. And you had thought you had heard it all.
And, if you thought you had seen it all, stay tuned to watch Bill O‘Reilly‘s head almost explode on television—the argument, the spontaneous combustion, and Geraldo Rivera in the role of foil.
You are watching MSNBC, the most impressive name in news.
CARLSON: Rudy Giuliani says, if he was elected president, he would not try to make abortion illegal. Will conservatives still support him in the morning? We will ask one of his staunch supporters, California Congressman David Dreier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE SITUATION ROOM”)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1989)
RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: There must be public funding for abortions for poor women. We cannot deny any woman the right to make her own decision about abortion because she lacks resources.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN REPORTER: Is that also your—going—going to be your position as president?
GIULIANI: Probably. I mean, I have to reexamine all those issues and exactly what was at stake then. It is a long time ago. But, generally, that‘s my—my view. Abortion is wrong. Abortion shouldn‘t happen.
Personally, you should counsel people to that extent. When I was mayor, adoptions went up. Abortions went down.
BASH: So, you...
GIULIANI: But, ultimately, it‘s a—it‘s a—it‘s a constitutional right. And, therefore, if it‘s a constitutional right, ultimately, even you do it on a state-by-state basis, you have to make sure that people are protected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Gerald Ford was the last pro-choice presidential nominee.
That was 1976, 30 years ago. Rudy Giuliani is trying become the next.
In South Carolina, never a bastion of lifestyle liberalism, Giuliani again spoke of his support of publicly-funded abortions. You have got to credit him for sticking to his opinion, but this position seems close to unviable in the upcoming Republican primaries, whose voters represent the more conservative end of the party.
Here to discuss Mr. Giuliani‘s unique platform is the Republican Congressman from California and a confirmed Giuliani supporter David Dreier.
Congressman, thanks for coming on.
REP. DAVID DREIER ®, CALIFORNIA: Good to be with you, Tucker.
CARLSON: What exactly...
DREIER: Happy Easter, by the way,.
CARLSON: Happy Easter. Thank you.
CARLSON: When Mr. Giuliani says abortion is a constitutional right, and, therefore, you have to make sure that people are protected by paying for abortions for women who can‘t afford it, that what he thinks it means to protect the right, paying for them?
DREIER: Well, that is your interpretation of it. I will tell you, the fact of the matter is...
CARLSON: That is what he just said.
DREIER: ... he said that he hates abortion.
No. No, he didn‘t say by guaranteeing that women can have it paid for. The fact is—let me just say that this issue is one that has really been blown out of proportion. He made that speech in 1989. And, yesterday, in that interview he talked about this issue. He is pro-choice.
And he does not—has not backed away from being pro-choice. When he talked of public funding of abortion, he did so in 1989, when he was running for mayor. And, yesterday, he talked about public funding. He did not say federal taxpayer funding of abortion, Tucker. And I think that, as you and I discussed privately, that is an important distinction that does need to be made.
And, so, I mean, Rudy Giuliani hates abortion. He is a supporter of the ban...
CARLSON: Let me stop you there, Congressman. Why does he hate abortion?
DREIER: Because he does not believe that abortion should be the first choice. It was reduced by 16 percent under his mayorship of New York City, the numbers of abortions...
CARLSON: OK. But I am a little—with—with all due respect, as a matter of logic, I am a little bit confused by that. If it is not killing, what is wrong with it? Why is he against it?
DREIER: Well, what he said is that he believes that he would counsel them against abortion, but he...
DREIER: ... does not want to undermine a woman‘s right to choose.
Now, when he talked about that constitutional right, he was talking about the existence of Roe v. Wade. And I think that the important thing that we need to underscore again is that he understands federalism. He was the mayor of New York City. And, yes, as he said in that speech in 1989, he did support the notion of local funding of abortion.
But he recognizes that the Hyde amendment is the law of the land, which restricts federal funding of abortion, except for the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.
CARLSON: OK. OK.
DREIER: And he—by recognizing the Hyde amendment, he does not seek to change the Hyde amendment.
CARLSON: OK. So, are there any limits...
DREIER: And he will support the court...
CARLSON: Right. I understand. Are there any limits that you know of on abortion that Rudy Giuliani would support, any at all? What are they?
He has talked about the fact that parental consent, he believes, is important.
DREIER: The Supreme Court, in the Pennsylvania decision, Tucker, upheld the 24-hour cooling-off period and the parental consent issue.
And that is a states-rights issue, and he believes that states should be in a position to do that, which I think is the true conservative position here. If you want somebody who is going to be president...
CARLSON: It‘s conservative to force people who find abortion abhorrent to pay for it with their tax dollars? What the hell is conservative about that?
DREIER: Let me just tell you. Let me just say that I do not believe that Rudy Giuliani—by virtue of his recognizing the Hyde amendment and not seeking to alter the Hyde amendment, that restricts federal taxpayer funding of abortion.
CARLSON: OK. OK.
But, look, here‘s the bottom-line point. Plenty of people are pro-choice. I think that there are a number of Republicans running for president who are pro-choice, but won‘t admit it. Everyone knows people who are pro-choice. I am not attacking him for being pro-choice.
But asking people, taxpayers, to pay for it at the state or federal level—state level, fine—agreeing with that as a matter of principle, that is a whole step beyond being pro-choice, it seems to me. And I just have trouble believing that South Carolina or New Hampshire or Iowa conservatives are going to go for that.
You really think they will?
DREIER: Well, Tucker, I will tell you, this election is about leadership. And Rudy Giuliani has clearly demonstrated his leadership through September 11 and with his passion to prosecute the global war on terror.
And we got this report of a 4.4 percent unemployment rate today. He very much wants to keep tax cuts into place, unlike the Democrats in the Congress, that will keep the economy growing. That is why he is running for president of the United States.
He is not running to deal with this issue of abortion. And, again, he recognizes...
DREIER: ... that the Hyde amendment is the law of the land, and he will not seek to alter it.
And, so, by virtue of that, the states will have the right to do what they choose on this issue when it comes to restrictions.
Congressman David Dreier from California—thanks a lot, Congressman.
I appreciate it.
DREIER: Happy Easter.
And, by the way—by the way, let me just say one thing very quickly.
DREIER: I don‘t know how you and Willie have gotten into this Sanjaya thing. I saw that clip. And I will tell you, my respect for you...
CARLSON: I—you know what? I support Sanjaya. And...
DREIER: ... has really gone down.
CARLSON: I know.
DREIER: I understand that. I agree with that.
CARLSON: We‘re out on a limb here.
DREIER: By the way, ask Willie—ask Willie how tall he is. I met that guy at the correspondents dinner. He is about 6‘5“, I think.
CARLSON: Willie? He was wearing stilts. He‘s a big man.
DREIER: Oh, he was? OK. OK.
CARLSON: David Dreier, thanks very much, Congressman.
DREIER: Thoughts are with our men and women in—overseas right now, as this Easter approaches.
CARLSON: Amen. Thanks.
CARLSON: Conservatives find themselves without a candidate they love among the Republican field. Enter Fred Thompson? The senator-turned-actor inches toward a run for president. We have details of his latest moves.
And another possible late entry into the presidential fray, Newt Gingrich, he apologizes to Spanish-speaking Americans in Spanish—must-see bilingual contrition just ahead.
This is MSNBC, America‘s most impressive news network.
CARLSON: Rudy Giuliani‘s liberal social positions, generally unfounded suspicion of John McCain‘s true political gyroscope and the back and forth nature of Mitt Romney‘s record have left many conservatives without a presidential candidate to embrace. Enter former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson.
Today‘s Politico reports that Thompson has, in fact, begun to construct a campaign apparatus that indicates his entry into the 2008 race is incrementally more likely. Is Fred Thompson the answer to conservative‘s problems?
Here to tell us, “Newsweek‘s” senior White House correspondent, Richard Wolffe, and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. Welcome to you both. Richard, is this real? As a practical matter, is it too late?
WOLFFE: No it is not too late at all. You can raise a lot of money. He‘s got name recognition. He can do it online. But I think this is more about the state of the party than it is the about the state of Fred Thompson. People are dissatisfied. They are searching for anyone. It doesn‘t matter who it is. Is it Fred Thompson or Tommy Thompson. I mean, it doesn‘t matter who right now.
Obviously there is that dissatisfaction with the top-tier. But Fred Thompson‘s going to face a lot of questions about his experience, foreign policy, never mind his personal life. So, it‘s not plain sailing for him or anybody else.
CARLSON: I bet you though, if Fred Thompson were to be get in—the key question about Fred Thompson appears to be does he want it enough? Is he willing to leave this kind of happy well paid life that he has now for the very unhappy life of campaign politics? That‘s the question. But were he to get in, I bet the Republicans would go really easy on Fred Thompson.
FENN: I think they would, Tucker. I mean, I think right now you have three fatally flawed candidates. They are in trouble out there. They are beating up on each other. I think a lot of Republicans are saying, you know, if we have a chance to win this election, after Bush, Fred Thompson is the kind of guy that can do it for us. The top front-runners now aren‘t.
I think that with the Internet raising funds, he will do fine. He is already number three the polls. He‘s in double digits just by throwing his name out there. “Law and Order” doesn‘t hurt. But he also has a personality and a style which I think people are looking for. He is loose. He‘s open. He‘s funny. He‘s irreverent.
CARLSON: He looks the part.
FENN: He looks like a president.
CARLSON: He does. He looks like genetic experiment designed to produce the perfect presidential candidate.
FENN: He played a president on TV, what the heck.
CARLSON: Richard, you have covered a lot of campaigns. I know you were around Wes Clark on his ill-fated attempt to get the nomination. It was pathetic. It was only partly his fault. It was the fact that he didn‘t have any experience running and he wasn‘t, in the end, savvy enough about campaigns to pull it off. Is there any indication that Fred Thompson is up to the actual task of slogging through Iowa and New Hampshire?
WOLFFE: The rap on him in Tennessee is that he didn‘t enjoy campaigning, that they had to put him in the red pick-up truck. You can‘t take a red pick-up truck around this whole country. So you, you‘ve really got to look like you want to be there and enjoy it. That was not just Wes Clark‘s problem. That was John Kerry‘s problem. Did any of these people really enjoy campaigning? So far signs point to no.
CARLSON: I just want to go out on these numbers. It‘s just interesting. This is the latest “USA Today”/Gallup poll at the end of last month: Rudy 31 percent; McCain 22 percent; Thompson 12 percent. Twelve percent, a guy who‘s not even—It just shows you.
FENN: It is amazing. It really is amazing. I mean, I think he could take that red pick-up truck across Iowa, to be honest with you. I think a lot of people would pay attention to it.
CARLSON: You can just imagine that people we haven‘t even thought of are sitting in their rec rooms right now, thinking, what the hell, I should run. I am thinking that actually, if this cable thing doesn‘t work out.
FENN: Come on.
CARLSON: How does President Cheney sound to you? Unlikely. Stay tuned to hear from a plea from conservatives for Dick Cheney to save the 2008 day. Strange but true.
And Newt Gingrich offers his own strange but true apology for implying that Spanish is the language of the ghetto. His first reaction was to apply the historical definition of ghetto. His latest reaction, an apology in Spanish. This is MSNBC.
CARLSON: rMD+IN_rMDNM_Last weekend, Newt Gingrich argued for English as the official language of the United States, and in the process of doing that called an unnamed other language, presumably Spanish, the language of living in the ghetto. After explaining that ghetto originally referred to areas where Jews lived in Eastern Europe, implying that Yiddish or Hebrew were in fact languages he was talking about, Mr. Gingrich offered an explicit apology. Here it is.
We wish we had it. Let‘s roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH ®, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: (SPANISH)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: (SPANISH) Here with their reaction to that apology, along with the rest of our Friday potpourri, “Newsweek‘s” senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.
Richard, you have to give Gingrich credit.
WOLFFE: Do you?
CARLSON: Yes you do. For doing something that he is not good at, for teaching himself Spanish, which he‘s to some limited extent, and, I suppose, for apologizing, though I don‘t think he had anything to apologize for. But the bottom line he is running for president or would not be apologizing. Don‘t you think?
WOLFFE: All I can say is “por favor.” I think we‘ve missed the joke here. This was actually from “The Ally G Show.” This was a spoof and it‘s just gone straight over your head.
I do remember in 2000 there was a certain Texas governor who would go out there saying (SPANISH) And everyone said the guy can speak Spanish. He‘s going to be great. I think times have changed. Maybe the standard of Spanish is raised.
CARLSON: The irony within the irony here—here Gingrich is saying English—and he‘s totally right—is the language that binds us together as a culture and multi-lingual cultures tend to be fractious. And he goes out of his way to learn the second language and to attempt to speak it. What do you make of this??
FENN: Not only does he apologize in Spanish, and he has it on his website in Spanish, and he has a biography of himself on his website in Spanish. So there is a little irony to all of that. But as someone said, unfortunately, his Spanish is ghetto Spanish. I mean, my Spanish professor in college accused me of sounding like Tonto when I spoke. I admire him trying.
CARLSON: It is interesting that the organized Hispanic groups, or groups that are purported to speak for the Hispanic population of the country, called him a racist and hater and they get totally wound up about this point, which is a shame. Because the point is, I think, important on. Why shouldn‘t English be the language of our government? The overwhelming majority of people want it. I know Harry Reid called that idea racist. But most people are in favor of it. What‘s the argument against it?
FENN: I think English is the language of our government. It‘s the language of our country.
CARLSON: In effect it is, but it‘s not the official language.
FENN: Here is the question. You go abroad, you see things translated all over the place, all over this country, most of the time in English.
CARLSON: Is it racist?
FENN: If it means that you don‘t have bilingual education to help people learn English.
CARLSON: No, the official language of government.
FENN: It depends how it is translated. If you can‘t take documents and have them in Spanish or French or other languages—the trouble with this is, Tucker, I don‘t think there is a problem. I don‘t think we have a big problem here. Immigrants come in this country. They learn our language. They assimilate into the country. Some keep their old languages.
CARLSON: They do in my neighborhood and your neighborhood, but there are huge parts of this country where, in fact, they don‘t. And I am from one of those parts of the country, and I can promise you that it is true.
FENN: But the point is, if you are going to survive and your kids are going to survive and your grandkids are going to survive in the country, you do it by learning English. Most people understand that.
CARLSON: The sad truth is many don‘t and it hurts them.
FENN: That is why you need bilingual education programs that can help them learn English.
CARLSON: You speak a species of English. And
CARLSON: Cowardly, I think, was the actual term.
CARLSON: Why can‘t a politician get up in public and say, I like immigration. I am pro immigration. I like foreigners, people who don‘t speak our language. I speak many languages. But English is the thing that holds our society together and it ought to be the official language of government. Why is that such a controversial thing to say?
WOLFFE: I don‘t think it is terribly controversial, but it is a statement of the obvious. I mean, most Latinos, the first thing they want to do is learn English. They see it as a step up, a way ahead. And that‘s what they want their kids to learn. It is a very crucial way, most importantly, to raise wages.
I mean, they know an English speaking person here gets better wages than a Spanish speaker. So why do it? The answer is, because it‘s polarizing, because it‘s singling out a certain a group. But it‘s a statement of the obvious.
CARLSON: Polarizing, I mean, people disagree with it. Speaking people somewhat disagree with, Dick Cheney. The “New York Sun” came out today with an editorial. I want to put part of it up on the screen here. This is their case for Cheney as a presidential candidate: “He has virtues as a candidate in his own right. He‘s got foreign policy experience, by virtue of having served as defense secretary, economic policy experience, having served as leading tax cutter in Congress. The vice president‘s stature would put him instantly in the first rank of contenders on the Republican side.”
Peter, I know this is something you pray for every single night.
FENN: I was just going to put my hands up, please, lord.
CARLSON: Isn‘t this the problem, that there‘s no vice-president in the race? That‘s why the field is so weak.
FENN: Well, since 1952 we haven‘t had a presumed nominee. I think it would be just delightful for the country if we would have the vice-president engage in this. I hope he decides to run. I think I‘ll call Rush Limbaugh right now and see if we can get him in.
CARLSON: Here is an interesting poll. This is from CNN. The question asked to voters, to people who responded: Is Cheney qualified? Not do you like him, and not many people do. Is he qualified? This is a guy who‘s been essentially running the government for 30 years. Thirty two percent say yes. Only 32 percent think that he is qualified. He‘s like the most qualified person in human history. I am not saying he is the best. That‘s bad.
WOLFFE: That is not a great number. You would not want to contribute to that kind of campaign. Look, his health is a problem. It is interesting you said that he is not running. Well it is by design. President Bush wanted someone who wouldn‘t—
CARLSON: Why is that?
WOLFFE: Because he didn‘t want to be challenged. He didn‘t want to think. The last year, two years he would have this guy on the other side of the White House, plotting against him, speaking out.
CARLSON: Do you really think that‘s what it was about.
WOLFFE: I know that‘s what it was about?
CARLSON: I agree with that. I totally agree with that. So it was Bush, essentially, not being able to handle—I am sort of (INAUDIBLE) -- but emotionally handle a rival.
WOLFFE: Thinking that it would undermine him. But interesting, look at what it does to the party. Yes, it helps Bush, in a sense, because he doesn‘t have any challenge to himself in the White House. But for the party, essentially, it leaves this open race, this open fight, which is turning very, very nasty.
CARLSON: And not enough people say that. All these Republicans who revere Bush ought to hold him accountable for destroying their party, which he has done, in my view. Can I just ask you about something that happened in Florida?
FENN: Can I make one quick line, and thank goodness, he has done such a great job on foreign and defense policy, which is why he was put on the ticket. OK, go ahead.
CARLSON: In Florida, I am just going to let that go right by. Because part of me agrees with you and I don‘t want to concede it. The state of Florida, new Republican Governor of Florida Charlie Crist has said we‘re going to restore voting rights to most felons, except those convicted of murder or sex crimes or violent offenders. And the idea is this is some sort of move of good will.
It is Easter time. And it is an important civil rights gesture. They‘re not restoring gun rights though. So, in other words, the state of Florida now trusts ex felons, former felons, to choose the government, but not to go duck hunting. Why not restore—if they are totally full members of society, why can‘t they have a gun?
FENN: Wait a second. Is your argument here that we should give ex-felons a gun?
CARLSON: If you‘re going to let them vote. If you‘re going to let people decide who runs the country, you ought to let them hunt and have a gun. If you don‘t trust them, don‘t let them vote.
FENN: I am just glad to see that we have a Republican governor in a
state where they tried to suppress the vote by—African-American vote by
well this is factual, 2000. Come on. They told folks that if they were convicted of felonies, and if you are a felon, you can‘t come in here and vote. And they were not felons at all. But the point is, Florida is one of the last states.
CARLSON: Why didn‘t they vote? These are human beings with free will you‘re talking about. If someone says to you, Peter, you‘re a felon. You can‘t vote. You say actually, assuming you are not a felon, I‘m not a felon and I can vote and I think I will.
FENN: Not yet anyway.
CARLSON: So what the hell is that? What kind of people are these who are told you are a felon when they‘re not felons and they don‘t vote.
FENN: Well somebody comes to you with piece of paper and you are intimidated. But, anyway, that‘s—
CARLSON: But it just seems to me—
FENN: But your—look, your point, I think, on this is, I know you like your right to keep and bear arms.
CARLSON: There is nothing.
FENN: Now my sense is.
FENN: . take one step at a time.
CARLSON: Now wait a second, wait a second, which is a more important right? The right to choose the direction of the country or the right to, you know, shoot birds? I mean, seriously.
FENN: But—presuming that they would be shooting birds. Yes—no, listen, I mean, I think that if someone can prove that they have done their time, that they are not dangerous to society, then they ought to go out...
CARLSON: . they shouldn‘t be out on the streets in the first place.
So what is the answer to that?
WOLFFE: I—look, you obviously—you are an advocate of intellectual consistency. That is a good thing. Rehabilitation is important. If you believe in rehabilitation of prisoners or not, have they served their time, are they full citizens or not? You know, I think it is intellectually coherent to say yes, they should have full...
CARLSON: I actually tend to agree with that. I just am always amazed by the incredibly low standards that people who advocate on behalf of voting rights have. Let‘s get the mentally ill homeless voting, you know, let‘s chronic alcoholics on disability voting. If you really care about voting and care about the franchise and its importance, then you understand informed voting is what you are kind of rooting for, isn‘t it?
WOLFFE: Yes, but you can‘t—obviously, as a libertarian, you would say, look, you can‘t say who is informed and who isn‘t. So people could have the right.
CARLSON: I am not saying you should prevent people just because they are dumb. I‘m not saying that at all. I‘m just saying you shouldn‘t encourage people who clearly don‘t know what they are voting for to vote. That is not—I don‘t think that is a responsible thing to do as a citizen, is it?
FENN: I am not clear this is an encouragement, it is just lifting the
I mean, people are going to do whatever they want. Look, will most of these people end up voting? My guess is probably not. And these aren‘t.
CARLSON: Yes. Well, they be organized by the Democratic Party.
FENN: I mean, they are not members of the PTA usually.
CARLSON: . there is no doubt—come on. They will be—there will be a special outreach to cat burglars in Florida.
CARLSON: You know that is true. You know that is true. Have you robbed a liquor store? You can vote.
FENN: It doesn‘t usually work out very well, does it?
CARLSON: No, but it.
WOLFFE: I wouldn‘t recommend that on your campaign, by the way.
CARLSON: My nascent campaign. But you know, just be honest...
FENN: You should have—all the gun people wouldn‘t (ph) vote.
CARLSON: Just—last word on the show. Be honest with me, you know for a fact the Democratic Party is thinking about this as an electoral opportunity in Florida.
FENN: It is the Republican governor...
CARLSON: It is, oh absolutely. The Republicans are doing this, but the Democrats see—and absolutely.
FENN: Listen, I will tell you.
CARLSON: They see it as a good thing.
FENN: I will tell you, if the Democratic Party thinks that by getting the felon vote they are going to win a lot of elections, they have got another thing coming.
CARLSON: Well, they have been arguing for this for years.
FENN: Well, they.
WOLFFE: The Charlie Crist campaigned with McCain, not Bush, just before the election.
CARLSON: That was.
WOLFFE: Now you have got to wonder about his judgment.
CARLSON: It is.
CARLSON: That is a good point. Thank you both very much.
Dick Cheney is nothing if not secretive. But he let a well-kept secret slip and we will tell about it in about two minutes.
And a mug shot this incriminating should surely spawn a follow-up report. Good news America, it did. MSNBC chief mug shot correspondent Willie Geist will be here with the latest news of America‘s least wanted, that is on MSNBC, America‘s most impressive news network.
CARLSON: Fifty-one Easter eggs are on display at the White House. They represent the 50 states plus Washington, D.C. Nothing controversial about that, right? Wrong. Why are people from Wyoming so “egg-cited” about the display? We will get the scoop from a “Reliable Source” next.
CARLSON: Legislation and debate screech to a halt this week as Congress took its Easter recess. Did the scandalous behavior, dicey propositioning, unfortunate missteps of D.C. denizens cease along with the actual business in the city? What do you think? Seriously. Here with our weekly dose of the most excellent dish in Washington, we welcome the ladies of The Washington Post universally-read gossip column, “The Reliable Source.” Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts.
Welcome to you both.
ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE RELIABLE SOURCE,” THE WASHINGTON POST: You have way too much fun with the introductions, don‘t you?
CARLSON: I do actually. With heartfelt relish. Dick Cheney, what secret has he let out of the bag?
AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE RELIABLE SOURCE,” THE WASHINGTON POST: I tell you, you know, if we had asked him, he wouldn‘t have told us, but it just kind of came out. He gave an interview to ABC Radio a couple of days ago in which the topic of his daughter, Mary Cheney‘s pregnancy, came up.
Of course, Mary Cheney is his openly-day daughter whose announcement that she was pregnant back in December caused.
ROBERTS: A flurry.
ARGETSINGER: A flurry of excitement. It is a big news story. Anyway, the baby is due in about a month and Dick Cheney, without being specifically asked, happened to say, we are very excited about the new grandson.
So now we know it is a boy.
ROBERTS: It is a boy.
ROBERTS: It is a boy.
CARLSON: And you found like Dick Cheney when he is.
ROBERTS: Yes. I hope he doesn‘t take him shooting, though.
CARLSON: No, I think his daughters, wise as they are, will keep the kid away from the guns. So what is this about the White House Easter Egg Roll and sort of all of the White House pomp and circumstance around usually is controversy-free, but not this year, you say.
ARGETSINGER: You have got a big controversy coming out the White House this year.
ROBERTS: The short story, every state sends in a beautifully-decorated egg by a local artist to be on display at the visitor‘s center.
ARGETSINGER: And these are stupendously elaborate things. Some of them look like Faberge Eggs. Now New York State‘s egg has the Statue of Liberty bursting out of the top.
ROBERTS: Gold, it is gold.
ARGETSINGER: Some of them, you know, they have carved little holes into the side and etched tiny little drawings on the inside. I mean, it is insane stuff. But.
ROBERTS: But, but Wyoming ended up problematic this year because the state doesn‘t have his own egg lobby. So the coordinator for this program went to the International Egg Art Guild and found an artist from Wyoming who.
ARGETSINGER: A qualified egg artist from Wyoming.
ROBERTS: Qualified. Who ended up canceling at the very last minute. And the son—the college-aged son of somebody who works for the Egg Board pinch-hit at the last minute and did a picture of an egg skiing down a mountain.
ARGETSINGER: And it is terrible. I mean, it looks like it was done by a 9-year-old.
ROBERTS: That is so mean.
ARGETSINGER: No, Roxanne is so nice. And it is done by a college student from Illinois. He is not even from Wyoming. So everyone in Wyoming is furious about this. You know, why do we not have a legitimate Wyoming egg done by a qualified Wyoming egg artist?
CARLSON: Yes. I think they have.
CARLSON: Yes, especially since the vice-president is from Wyoming. You would think he could pull a few strings and have an actual artist do it.
ROBERTS: We said, why don‘t you call up Dick Cheney?
ARGETSINGER: You would think he would be able to make some connections.
ROBERTS: And the woman said, it never would have occurred to her to call the vice president.
CARLSON: Yes. Better get a drunk college student with a crayon to do it, looks like what they did.
And what about Jack Abramoff. You know, he is in prison now.
ROBERTS: Oh, I love this so much.
CARLSON: So you never hear much more about him. Give us the update?
ROBERTS: Well, he is in prison now. So he is wearing jumpsuits. But he sued his former tailor. This ongoing saga of the suits. We told you a little bit about this. A year ago he was wearing terrible suits and his tailor went public and said, those are not the beautiful suits I made for him.
Jack originally had big suits because he was a big guy. Then he lost weight and he got skinny suits and wanted his big suits back but he hadn‘t paid for them. Those big suits, when he went to the slammer, were eventually sold to a local reporter here. And.
ARGETSINGER: Who just happens to be the same size as big Jack Abramoff.
ROBERTS: Big Jack, very big. And now Jack is suing the tailor, claiming that those are his suits.
ARGETSINGER: That he paid for them.
ROBERTS: And that he wants the money from the sale of those suits.
ARGETSINGER: You know, we need some tort reform to do something about this...
CARLSON: I totally agree with that.
CARLSON: So basically, from jail.
ARGETSINGER: What else do you do when you are behind bars?
CARLSON: . he is suing over the proceeds from his suit.
ARGETSINGER: Yes, well, we talked to Abramoff‘s lawyer about this.
ROBERTS: Yes. And this is the best part, he said—Jack‘s lawyer, now remember, Jack is in prison for tax evasion, fraud and bribing public officials. And the lawyer said, Jack really feels like he got taken advantage by this guy.
CARLSON: God. You would think he would have his hands full just fending off advances in the shower. But he is filing lawsuits. He is active guy. Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, thank you both very much.
ROBERTS: You are so bad.
CARLSON: I‘m sorry. I couldn‘t resist. Thank you.
Bill O‘Reilly‘s head almost blew off last night in a TV tirade for the ages. So who or what led to this collection of teeth-gnashing facial expressions? If you haven‘t heard, here is a hint, think Al Capone‘s vault. Willie Geist joins us next with a full explanation. You are watching MSNBC, the most impressive name in news.
CARLSON: Welcome back. We have some breaking political news. Monica Goodling, the counsel and White House liaison to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said in a letter that she will resign effective tomorrow, Saturday. She has been on an extended leave of absence. She is the Gonzales aide whose lawyers have already told Congress that she will plead the Fifth Amendment if called to testify in the firing of those U.S. attorneys.
And with that, we go now to a man who always qualifies as breaking news, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC PRODUCER: Yes, this is definitely breaking news. I hope you didn‘t miss this. We know our right-thinking viewers were watching “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann at 8:00 Eastern time last night, that means they probably missed the spectacle of Bill O‘Reilly and Geraldo Rivera competing to see who could yell louder, point more forcefully and grimace more convincingly.
The topic was the story of an illegal immigrant who has been charged in Virginia with killing two teenagers while he was driving drunk. Gentlemen, fight.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE FROM “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”)
BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”: He doesn‘t have a right to be in this country!
GERALDO RIVERA, HOST, “GERALDO AT LARGE”: What—but that has nothing to do with the fact that he was a drunk!
O‘REILLY: Yes, it does! He should have been deported! He should have been deported!
O‘REILLY: And this mayor and the police chief didn‘t deport him!
RIVERA: Listen, do you know how many people we have in jail? How many of them are illegal aliens? Illegal aliens commit crimes at a lower rate than citizens do. They do.
O‘REILLY: This guy shouldn‘t have been here.
RIVERA: Cool your jets. It has nothing to do with illegal aliens.
It has to do with drunk driving.
O‘REILLY: It doesn‘t.
RIVERA: Don‘t obscure a tragedy to make a cheap political point.
O‘REILLY: If I‘m the father...
RIVERA: It‘s a cheap political point!
O‘REILLY: No, it isn‘t.
RIVERA: And you know it!
O‘REILLY: This is justice.
RIVERA: This has nothing to do with that poor old lady mayor.
O‘REILLY: And you want anarchy.
RIVERA: Has nothing to do with that mayor.
O‘REILLY: No. You want anarchy.
RIVERA: No. What I want...
O‘REILLY: You want open-border anarchy. That‘s what you want.
RIVERA: What I—what I want is fairness. We have lured these people...
O‘REILLY: Fairness? Bull!
RIVERA: We have lured these people...
O‘REILLY: This is the law.
RIVERA: We have lured these people to this country...
O‘REILLY: Oh, yes.
RIVERA: ... with a promise of jobs in a country with basically full domestic employment.
O‘REILLY: All right.
RIVERA: We have, for decades, lured them here.
O‘REILLY: This family...
RIVERA: And now we‘re starting a mob scene. You‘re going to have...
O‘REILLY: This family lured no one.
RIVERA: Do you want your viewers to go knocking on people‘s door, door to door?
O‘REILLY: Oh, bull. That‘s bull.
RIVERA: Are you an illegal? I want to take you outside and do something to you.
O‘REILLY: I want the law enforced.
RIVERA: History has seen what happens when you single out people like that.
O‘REILLY: I want the law enforced.
O‘REILLY: And you don‘t.
GEIST: Whoa. You want anarchy, Tucker! You want anarchy! How good is that. You know what that reminds me of, the scene in “A Few Good Men,” doesn‘t it? You can‘t handle the truth!
CARLSON: You can‘t handle the truth!
GEIST: Did you order the code (INAUDIBLE)! I did!
CARLSON: Geraldo‘s moustache looked like it was going to take flight, like turn into a butterfly and fly away. And O‘Reilly‘s vein, that vein in his forehead looked like coronary time to me.
GEIST: It almost looked like they meant it for a second. But they went on like that for about two more minutes before they snapped out of character and got back to the important business of self-promotion.
O‘REILLY: All right. How much time do we have? We have one minute.
What are you doing on your show this weekend?
RIVERA: Thank you very much for asking, Bill. You know, seriously, I think that one of the wonderful things about our network is that we are fair and balanced, that impassioned commentators...
O‘REILLY: Yes. People can decide whether you‘re right or I‘m right.
RIVERA: Right. And they can.
O‘REILLY: And they will decide that I‘m right.
GEIST: So in the end it is all good, Tucker, right?
CARLSON: I just—I‘m so glad I brought the air sickness bag to the set.
GEIST: Now the question, Tucker.
CARLSON: I mean, that is—come on.
GEIST: Of—wait, of the confrontations this week, which was more sincere? O‘Reilly/Geraldo or this, Trump/McMahon? Who meant it more? It is hard to tell, isn‘t it?
CARLSON: It is kind of hard to tell. Though at least with O‘Reilly and Geraldo you didn‘t have to see Donald Trump‘s butt in the air.
GEIST: Yes. That is a good call. That is a good call.
CARLSON: That is pretty unappealing.
GEIST: I can‘t believe you want anarchy, though, Tucker. It is terrible, it is terrible thing.
We want to update you now, an important story we first brought you yesterday, a judge in Ohio has ordered a psychiatric violation of the volunteer firefighter who was arrested on Tuesday while wearing a woman‘s wig and a bikini, seen here. He was charged with drunk driving, public indecency, and disorderly conduct. The 46-year-old man pleaded not guilty on all counts.
But the arresting officer did an outstanding job of keeping it together as he described the incident.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OFFICER SCOTT MILLER, MASON CITY, OHIO, POLICE DEPT.: When he stepped out of the vehicle, I saw he had a female bikini on and he had two water balloons, simulating female breasts.
When you somebody wearing a blonde wig, dark glasses in a female bikini, it obviously sets off some red flags.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Willie, can I ask you this question?
CARLSON: What is a female bikini as distinct from what, a male bikini? I mean, you know what I mean?
GEIST: That is an excellent point. That is an excellent point.
GEIST: I‘m not sure the guy needs a mental examination, but he should consider a one-piece. There comes a time in every woman‘s life when you have to ‘fess up.
CARLSON: Or a “tankini” anyway.
GEIST: . and come to terms with it. Yes. It is just not working for him there.
Tucker, speaking of great mug shots. Here is a story for you. No, the Easter Bunny you are about to see was not suffocated in a plastic bag as it may appear. But it was used to smuggle drugs. A police search of a Connecticut man‘s car showed that the hollowed-out bunny was holding 16 bags of marijuana.
Now here is the good part. The driver was arrested and booked wearing a DARE T-shirt. DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. It is a program that teaches children to stay away from drugs and from the bunnies who peddle them.
Now, Tucker, you get—it is not a good idea, but you give the guy credit for holiday-appropriate drug smuggling. He puts drugs in the Easter Bunny, Halloween it may be in a jack-o-lantern.
CARLSON: I was just about to say, that is why Halloween is always a dope-peddler‘s favorite holiday. Willie Geist.
GEIST: All right, Tucker.
CARLSON: Thanks, Willie.
GEIST: See you.
CARLSON: That does it for us. “HARDBALL” is next. We will see you Monday. Have a great Easter.
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