Guests: James Gilmore, Bill Press, Bay Buchanan
DAVID SHUSTER: Welcome to the show. I‘m David Shuster in for Tucker Carlson. This has been another difficult day for U.S. troops in Iraq. There were more deadly attacks on U.S. soldiers. The casualty count has now reached above 3,400. Three U.S. soldiers, ambushed a week ago, remain unaccounted for, despite a massive search. And now stories are coming out, including one on the front page of today‘s New York Times, that hundreds of false leads are pouring in from Iraqi civilians in an apparent effort to thwart the rescue.
In just a moment, we are going to talk about the fresh Iraqi views of the U.S. occupation and the plans by the Iraqi parliament to go on recess with a staunch defender of the war who is also a Republican presidential candidate.
We will also look tonight at the latest revelations hanging over Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the political fallout in Congress and the insistence by President Bush that Gonzales is not going anywhere.
And there is a lot to examine today in the world of campaign politics.
But first, joining us here in Washington is former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, Republican presidential candidate. He is a strong supporter of the war and the Bush troop escalation.
Governor, thanks for joining us.
JAMES GILMORE ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, David.
SHUSTER: I want to start with some of the news. Just a brief news summary of what happened today in Iraq. The massive search continued today south of Baghdad for the three missing U.S. soldiers who were kidnapped. In northern Iraq today insurgents carried out a series of suicide bombings and killings of Iraqi police.
In Baghdad, 30 more bodies have been found on the streets, bearing signs of torture, mutilation and the return of sectarian dead squads. ABC News is reporting that two of their journalists today in Baghdad were killed. A cameraman and an audio engineer were returning from an assignment when their car was ambushed and the men were shot to death.
Meanwhile, a British foreign policy think tank says Iraq is on the brink of collapse and that the escalation is not working. What is your reaction to the news?
GILMORE: Well, you know, I am sorry that we got ourselves into a situation where we are trying to control the streets in Baghdad and trying to control the streets in Iraq. And I don‘t think the president ever thought that that was going to be the case.
But as a presidential candidate now you have to really look after the interests of the United States and the interests of the American people. And we have to ask ourselves, what can we do?
And frankly, if we just simply followed the Democrats‘ plans and just pull out on a particular timetable, we are going to end up with a really chaotic situation there. And that is going to be not in the interests of the United States.
SHUSTER: What about this issue, the Iraqi parliament taking a two-month recess. If—why should our troops keep working this summer if the Iraqi parliament is not going to meet?
GILMORE: Well, there is no doubt about that. But I would like to be sure that the overall big picture is being served, and that is whether they are meeting every day. And I think they should meet every day, of course.
But I think that what we really have to look at is the administration of that country and whether or not the police are in...
SHUSTER: But you yourself have said.
GILMORE: . being trained.
SHUSTER: . that political reconciliation is significant and crucial to this, right?
GILMORE: I do. I think.
SHUSTER: Well, then how can there be political reconciliation if the parliament is not meeting?
GILMORE: Well, first of all, the parliament is a piece of it to be sure. I‘m not making excuses for parliament. I think they ought to meet. I think they ought to be there all of the time working for this goal.
But, the key is—right now is less to worry about what they are doing right now than it is to worry about the interests of the United States. We are where we are. A person who is running for president of the United States has to play the cards he has been dealt, not the ones he wishes he had.
And the fact is that we have a very dangerous situation. And, David, I want to go beyond Iraq, I think that is looking at only one piece of the big picture. We are talking about Israel and Palestine. We have talked about Iran‘s nuclear weapon program. Pakistan and Afghanistan. Even the potentiality of the Turks becoming a little nervous about this.
So I think there is a big picture to look at and our president has to be willing to look at the big picture.
SHUSTER: And a lot of people, a lot of the other presidential candidates, have said that in fact Israel is weakened. Our policy towards Iran is weakened by having so many troops bogged down in Iraq.
GILMORE: I think that we are in a very dangerous time. We have not afforded ourselves the attention to this since the end of World War II. And there has been a growing and bubbling resentment that has been going on a long time.
We became so fixated with the fall of the Soviet Union, we let this go. Now the people are so angry they are turning to these radicals like the al Qaeda people and religious fundamentalists. And it is very dangerous to the interests of the United States.
SHUSTER: But just.
GILMORE: And I would urge that the people of the United States have got to continue to be involved in this Middle East problem or we are going to end up with a major war.
SHUSTER: But just to clarify, on this issue of the Iraqi parliament taking two months off, if in fact they do not meet, you as a presidential candidate, what would you say we should do at that point?
GILMORE: Well, as a presidential candidate, you climb up in the bully pulpit and you send a strong message over there that the American people are not going to understand why people would take a summer recess when you are in the middle of a war.
SHUSTER: But then why not send that message that we are going to pull the troops out for two months if the Iraqi parliament is not going to meet for two months?
GILMORE: That is not the same thing. The fact is that we are not there to make them happy, we are there because of American national interests. And it is our American national interests that are at stake here in the Middle East and their potential for a complete collapse.
And the same people, David, who would demand that we get out are going to be demanding we go back, just like they did in the Kosovo—in the Balkan situation. This is a big, complicated matter. It requires a president that has experience in dealing with foreign policy issues. I have that experience and that is why I am really focused on this issue.
SHUSTER: You also have experience as a prosecutor. You were the attorney general of Virginia. Do you believe that Alberto Gonzales—the U.S. attorney general, do you believe that he should resign?
GILMORE: This is what I think. I think a president is entitled to the attorney general he wants. This is really not so much about Alberto Gonzales, quite frankly, this is about the president and the kind of policies that he wants to do and how he wants to handle things. And he is entitled to do it.
Let me say to your viewers, however, when I became the attorney general, I didn‘t fire people. I brought people in and I said, here is what about you do. You need to be loyal to the elected official and do your jobs as professionals.
And that is what I did and I had good success. And even people I inherited from my Democratic predecessor worked loyally and faithfully for the people of Virginia while I was attorney general.
SHUSTER: But separate from the issue then of whether or not he should resign, do you believe Alberto Gonzales when he says he cannot remember conversations with President Bush and Karl Rove about the firings of these federal prosecutors?
GILMORE: No. I think he is serving the interests of the president that appointed him. I think that is what he is doing.
SHUSTER: But do you find him credible or not?
GILMORE: No, I don‘t think he is particularly credible. But I think that he, nonetheless, is the attorney general because that—the president has in there, in order to further the policies of this president. And I think you have to focus on that.
SHUSTER: Former attorney general and governor of Virginia, Jim Gilmore, is running a pretty good presidential campaign. We thank you for coming in.
When we come back, we will get some reaction to what you just heard from the governor. How uncomfortable is it for Republicans backing the Bush administration? And can the GOP maintain a hold on the White House by doing it?
Also, has Hillary Clinton really undergone an extreme makeover or is one of our next guests just trying to sell books? Maybe both. That is ahead. This is TUCKER on MSNBC.
SHUSTER: A majority of Republican lawmakers still support the war in Iraq, but many of their constituents do not. Is it time for them to jump ship or should they still stick to their guns?
SHUSTER: Are Republican presidential candidates who support the president‘s unpopular war wise to stick to that position during the campaign, or is it time to jump ship? Here to give their takes on that and more are Republican political adviser, former United States treasurer, and the author of the new book “The Extreme Makeover of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” Bay Buchanan.
We will talk in-depth about Senator Clinton in just a moment. Also joining us, nationally-syndicated radio host, keen political analyst, and author of “How the Republicans Stole Christmas,” Bill Press.
BILL PRESS, POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, David.
SHUSTER: Bill and Bay, let‘s start with what we just saw, Governor Gilmore, he could not commit on the issue of the Iraqi parliament taking a two-month recess. Bill, how big of a problem is that for supporters of the war right now?
PRESS: I think it is a big problem. I mean, our men and women are over there dying every day, putting their lives on the line, and we are supposedly there to help prop up the Iraqi government and they go off on vacation for two months?
I mean, what the hell are they thinking? Plus, I would have to point out that this week they voted to set a timetable for getting all American troops out of Iraq. I mean, we have a timetable in this country, and the president vetoes the bill and says this sends the wrong message to the enemy and to the Iraqi people.
And the Iraqi parliament wants its own timetable. I—you know, I wonder whether we are on the same page anymore with the Maliki government.
SHUSTER: Bay, what is wrong with a Republican standing up and saying, you know what, they‘ve got two months to get the Iraqi constitution and the oil revenue-sharing together, otherwise we are getting out of there, and if they are not going to meet, we are going to get out of there even sooner?
BAY BUCHANAN, ADVISER TO REP. TOM TANCREDO (R-CO): Well, you know, if they could get things worked out—what bothers me about this is we say we are going to get out if they don‘t do what they are supposed to do.
But if they can‘t do what they are supposed to do. And I assume that is the problem over there, that they are not being able to pull this together, that is when they need our help to make certain it happens.
The key here is the president has said he is going to turn everything over to the Iraqi people to take charge. I don‘t know how you take a two-month break in the middle of a civil war. This is very interesting to me.
If they do something like that, that is going to further undermine the confidence the people in this country have that there can be any success over there.
SHUSTER: But shouldn‘t there be a penalty then from Republicans and Democrats if they do take this two-month recess? And why is it so difficult to spell out what that penalty ought to be?
BUCHANAN: Well, we don‘t want to be punishing—this is not school children here. We have got to do what is in the interests of this country. And we have a commitment to that country to give them a real good opportunity to take charge and move ahead.
If they fail to do that, then we have got to get out of there because that is their job and not ours to do. And this vacation certainly is not going to help us convince the American people that we have got to give them a little more time. I will tell you that.
PRESS: You know, the other thing, David, I think we are hearing—and we just heard it from Governor Gilmore, and we have heard it from others, a new rationale, and they keep inventing new reasons why we are in Iraq.
And they no longer, of course, talk about WMD, right? That was a long time ago. They don‘t even talk about planting democracy anymore. Now we talk about the whole region will be totally—unrest in the entire region if the United States pulls out.
There is unrest in the entire region now because we are there. This is just the old domino theory that is coming back.
BUCHANAN: No, but in fairness, the Democrats.
BUCHANAN: They want to keep saying pull out in this three months, pull out now, cut off the funds. Where is their conversation, debate about exactly what is going to happen if we pull out radically?
We should have.
SHUSTER: But, Bay, the conversation right now at the White House is that what is going wrong is we don‘t have the right bureaucracy. Somehow we need a war czar to fix things. Do you believe that a war czar is the answer to our problems?
BUCHANAN: No, no, no, no. Bureaucracy is not the answer. What we need is decisive action. We know what is going on over there, we turn it over to the generals. The generals get back to us. Say, we gave it a try, it is going to work, it is not going to work, and that is the bottom line.
But the key here is we are coming out one way or the other, it is just a matter of time.
SHUSTER: I want to change topics. Let‘s go to Alberto Gonzales, there was the governor there, he can‘t say that Alberto Gonzales should resign, unlike other Republicans. Isn‘t that a problem for him?
BUCHANAN: For Gilmore or Gonzales?
SHUSTER: It doesn‘t take a “profile in courage” to say that Alberto Gonzales should resign.
BUCHANAN: I mean, I couldn‘t agree more. You know, I like—and I think I share this sentiment with millions of others, Republicans, I like our leaders bold and decisive. I don‘t agree with them all the time. But I like them tell me, listen, this is why I am running for president, this is what will I do. And then I can make my decision. But this constant waffling and redefining different issues is nonsense.
PRESS: The truth of it is, the Department of Justice can no longer function with Alberto Gonzales at the head of it. Whether he did something illegal or not, I mean, we are beyond I think even looking at the facts. It is—he is just—his ability to function, to govern, to lead the department is gone.
And I think the president either has to say, Alberto, step down, or fire him.
SHUSTER: By the way, I want to clarify for our viewers that Bay Buchanan is advising the Tom Tancredo presidential campaign. I want to ask you about one thing that is on Tancredo‘s Web site. He says on his Web site: “Any man who says he is an American, but something else also isn‘t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag.”
So my question is, if somebody identifies themselves as an African-American, an Italian-American, are they not American?
BUCHANAN: Well, what he is saying there is it is—we must move to complete assimilation. We must identify ourselves as an American with heritage from Africa or heritage from Ireland, wherever else you want to talk about, maintain your own culture but also become one with this country or we cannot keep it together.
SHUSTER: But back to the question, if someone identifies himself as an Asian-American or an African-American, why—is there a problem with that? I mean, yes or no? Does he have a problem or not?
BUCHANAN: I think he has no problem as long as they recognize that it is an adjective for the noun, the noun being the “American.” That is what they truly are. And all they are doing is telling you is that I have a certain heritage I am proud of. But the most important thing is, I am here, I belong here, and these are my ties.
SHUSTER: Bay Buchanan and Bill Press, we are going to talk more on the other side of this break. Bill, I know you are itching to get into this. And coming up, we will talk about an intriguing new book about Hillary Clinton written by Bay Buchanan. And yes, there is some controversy with the book. And we will talk about it with Bay when we come back.
And Rudy Giuliani takes a shot across the pro-choice bow from a leading American pro-lifer. Is this a sign of things soon to come or can Giuliani be the Republican nominee with the traditionally Democratic slate of social stances? You are watching TUCKER on MSNBC.
SHUSTER: Well, have you ever wanted to grill an author about their controversial book on live television? Get the charcoal and lighting fluid because with us again, Republican political adviser Bay Buchanan. Bay has just written a book titled, “The Extreme Makeover of Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
And helping us make some sense of Bay‘s latest writings, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, author, and all-around political guru, Bill Press. And we will get to the book about Hillary in just a sec.
But to follow-up on immigration, the point about how somebody identifies himself, Bill, how significant is the immigration bill that is in fact moving forward in Congress right now?
PRESS: Well, the identification, I mean, I think somebody can be an Irish-American and an American at the same time. I don‘t see a problem with it. But this immigration bill, I think, look, I‘m a little nervous about it because for the first time I find myself agreeing with George Bush on something.
And so I think, wait a minute, what is wrong with this picture? But here‘s what I find politically interesting about this immigration bill, is in the long term I think helping Latinos reintegrate will help the Republican Party in terms of Latino voters, but in the short term, this is a real problem in the Republican primary in 2008.
And the one I see a particular problem for is John McCain. Look at what John McCain‘s campaign is. He is full-bore for the war, which is going to hurt him in the general, if he gets that far. And he is full-bore for the immigration bill which is going to hurt him in the primary.
So why is John McCain kind of double suicide here? I don‘t get it.
SHUSTER: Bay, what is the official Tancredo reaction to this immigration bill that is making its way?
BUCHANAN: Oh, it is a complete sell-out. You know, it is quite clear that it is—he is selling out America.
BUCHANAN: It is amnesty. You know, in Washington now we are not allowed to use the correct term, but it is amnesty. And what we are looking at is something, 35 million new workers coming in here, taking jobs that Americans surely have.
This—people in this country are so outraged. I have been on talk radio this morning, they are just screaming, the lights are up on those talk radio shows. This is a complete betrayal of the American people.
They have made it very clear they don‘t want amnesty and these senators have decided to defy the best interests of Americans for their own selfish corporate...
SHUSTER: All right. You have gotten your free shot. Now let‘s look at Hillary Clinton and your book. It‘s called “Extreme Makeover of Hillary Rodham Clinton.” Footnote—endnote number 74 defines the classic symptoms of clinical narcissism. Why was that in the book?
BUCHANAN: I‘ll tell you why, an interesting thing happened as I started to study Hillary. I had no recollection—or no realization that she was as insecure as she is. And so I took her book, and I read her book, her autobiography.
And it was alarming. At one point I said, my gosh, I think this is some insecurity here. And I read more and more and I reread the book and I established without question and I put it all and document it in the book incident after incident that she talks about which is a clear indication, symptoms of severe insecurity.
So then I thought to myself, you know, I wonder if there is something more to this? And I started reading the Internet and et cetera. I came across the American Psychiatrist‘s Bible, and they have some different things in there about insecurity.
I did not make any conclusions whatsoever, all I say is a footnote, I said, interesting discussion, it led me here, read...
SHUSTER: But the larger point of your book is that character is a crucial part of leadership and that Hillary is entirely devoid of any character.
BUCHANAN: Oh, it is amazing.
SHUSTER: You really believe that?
BUCHANAN: Oh, there is no question. And if the media did their homework and were willing to really study this woman, they would understand that and they would not allow her to move ahead as she is.
This extreme makeover is very real.
SHUSTER: Well, give me one clear example.
PRESS: May I get in here at some point?
SHUSTER: Go ahead, Bill—well, hold on a sec.
BUCHANAN: One clear example is that she—I‘ll give you two quick ones. Takes no responsibility ever for her own actions, none whatsoever. And two, she lies at a drop of the hat. She lies more often than she changed her hair during the daggone White House years.
There is no question about it, it is all documented.
PRESS: Look, I think this is the politics at first. I have not read the book and from what I have heard I‘m not going to read the book, this is the politics of personal destruction. I mean, there are a lot of adjectives one can use for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Let me tell you something, insecure is not one of them. I mean, that is a joke, Bay.
BUCHANAN: You should read the book and you will see it clearly.
PRESS: And you know what, Laura Ingraham wrote a book about Hillary Clinton. Dick Morris wrote a book about Hillary Clinton. Your book, my friend, is going to join a stack of books that underestimate the strength of this woman.
I have not endorsed her for president, I‘m not endorsing anybody. But she is a strong woman. She is a good senator.
BUCHANAN: I don‘t underestimate her.
PRESS: And I hope more Republicans like you just try to attack her personally and write her off because when she is in the White House, she is going to be laughing at you.
BUCHANAN: You know, there are two aspects to the book. First is the enormous mask of who she really is and also what she believes. The book addresses both aspects of it.
Let me give you a simple example of this line. She went on national television after 9/11 and made up a story about where Chelsea was that day. Put Chelsea in clearly near harm‘s way, said she was out jogging close to the towers, heard the planes hit.
Do you know what Chelsea wrote just a month later? That she was in an apartment by herself. Friends called, told her to turn the television on. Why would a woman.
SHUSTER: Bay, we could sing chapter and verse about what the president said just this week. What is the fear? Is the fear that Hillary Rodham Clinton is somehow going to take us into a war with no justification and get 3,000 U.S. troops killed? Is that the fear with Hillary Clinton?
BUCHANAN: The fear is this, that if—the reason for the extreme makeover is because the American people—the American voters understood who she was and what she stood for, they would never elect her. And that‘s why the Clintonites have had this extreme makeover.
PRESS: Bay, Bay, if there is any woman who has been scrutinized by the media in this country more than any other women alive, it is Hillary Rodham Clinton. What are you talking about?
We know what she did in the White House. We know what she did as first lady of Arkansas. We know what she has done in the United States Senate for the last seven years. We know who Hillary Rodham Clinton is.
BUCHANAN: And we are not supposed to talk about the character.
PRESS: And not take any responsibility for her actions.
BUCHANAN: She has never.
PRESS: . she has said.
BUCHANAN: She doesn‘t even take responsibility for her vote for the war.
PRESS: Wait a minute. Let me finish. Let me finish. Let me finish. She has said for that vote—which I totally disagree with, she said, it was my vote, I voted that way, I take it responsibility for it. She said it over and over and over again. What do you want?
BUCHANAN: And why did she say—no, no. You know what she says.
PRESS: You were in a hole when you were writing that book.
SHUSTER: We are going to continue this conversation on the other side of this break. I covered Hillary Clinton when I was in Arkansas as a reporter for two years. And I will tell you one thing which I think your book is right on. And that is the Clintons initially, at least with Whitewater and some of these scandals, did a lousy job with crisis management that if they would have put it all out there at the beginning, that would have been—that would cleared things up.
But that is very different from suggesting that somebody is completely devoid of any character. But in any case, we are going to continue this conversation.
PRESS: And I would say the current administration is not so good on crisis management either.
SHUSTER: Just ahead, September 11th changed the world in many ways, did it change the way Republicans choose their presidential nominees? And is Rudy Giuliani proof of that?
And who plays Alberto Gonzales in “Alberto Gonzales: The Movie”? And how does the picture end? We‘ve got big hints about both questions and dramatic testimony this week. And we‘ll venture our best guess when we return. This is MSNBC.
SHUSTER: Still to come, reports say multibillionaire Michael Bloomberg would spend a billion of his own dollars in a 2008 presidential run. Does that mean he is ready to toss his hat in the ring? We‘ll get into that in just a moment.
But first, here is a look at your headlines.
VERA GIBBONS, CNBC ANCHOR: I‘m Vera Gibbons, this is your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks charging to fresh new highs on flurry of deal making. The Dow closing up almost 80 points to 13,556. Another record.
The S&P 500 at a seven high, up 10 points shy of a record close. And the NASDAQ gaining 19. Microsoft leading the deals of the day. The software giant is buying online advertiser aQuantive in an all-cash deal worth $6 billion. aQuantive share soaring more than 70 percent on that news. Microsoft shares were lower.
Trump Entertainment says it‘s getting a lot of interest from potential buyers. The company gave no specifics, but analysts believe private equity firms are possible buyers. Trump shares rising over 20 percent today.
And the White House promising to move quickly to find a replacement for World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz. Wolfowitz stepped down yesterday amid controversy of averaging a high-paying State Department job for his girlfriend.
That is it from CNBC, America‘s business channel and back to David Shuster in for Tucker Carlson.
SHUSTER: Given the war in Iraq and the various scandals surrounding the Bush administration, any Republican with plans to succeed Mr. Bush faces a tricky political path. But a window into the GOP field‘s general strategy opened at this week‘s South Carolina debate. The scene, the well-founded American anxiety about terrorism and the topic, the torture of enemy combatants in U.S. custody.
And General Petraeus widely portrayed and accepts as the military‘s brightest star issued a directive condemning torture as neither useful nor necessary. And former POW John McCain has consistently and passionately opposed the practice.
But the other leading GOP candidates took the opposite track on the question. At Thursday‘s debate Rudy Giuliani responded to a hypothetical situation in which people in custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have knowledge of an imminent terror attack by saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would use the people doing the interrogation to use every method they can think of. Shouldn‘t be tortured, but I would say every method they can think of. And I would support them in doing that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Joining us again to discuss this, a Republican political advisor and former United States treasurer Bay Buchanan. Also joining us, national syndicated radio host, keen political analyst and author, Bill Press.
Bay, what is the Republican object session with torturing people?
BAY BUCHANAN, “THE EXTREME MAKEOVER OF HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON”: We are certainly not obsessed but I couldn‘t even make certain what Giuliani was saying there.
SHUSTER: He said he would support water boarding. He said he would support any measure possible.
BUCHANAN: And they say that‘s torture. It was not clear. He said without torture, but anything. I think the bottom line is, the premise of the question was two cities are burning, they are aflame because of attacks and we have some captured terrorists who might know something, we don‘t have a lot of time, we think a third city is going to be blown. And so what do you do?
I couldn‘t agree more and I do agree, it‘s my candidate, Jack Bauer is who we need here. We have to do everything we can to save this nation and preserve - to keep those people safe out there that are now.
SHUSTER: So you go against General Petraeus .
BUCHANAN: Absolutely. You do everything you have to. And if the general says we don‘t have to use torture, you don‘t use it. But if there is somebody there interrogating saying I can get the answer using torture, use the torture.
BILL PRESS, “HOW THE REPUBLICANS STOLE RELIGION”: I think it‘s significant that the only person on that stage who has been tortured by the enemy is John McCain. John McCain is the one who says I know it is immoral, I know that our great nation should not be doing it and more important, I know it doesn‘t work. Because he said I was willing to say anything if they started to torture me. I would tell any lie whatsoever that is what we are seeing in Guantanamo.
Look, we signed an international treaty not to torture, I think it‘s important that Americans live up to it. What I don‘t get about Rudy Giuliani, however, is, this is to me the greatest high wire act we‘ve seen in our day in American politics.
Because he is saying OK, I am for torture, I‘m for whatever it takes. I‘m also pro-gay rights, I‘m pro choice, I‘m pro gun control, and as James Dobson told us yesterday, I am against the religious right and I am running for the Republican nomination for president.
BUCHANAN: . sanctuary cities .
SHUSTER: As you saw it, politically it does benefit people who support the position that Rudy just took. He was the one who got -everyone on that stage who said, yeah, I support doing whatever it take. Wild applause. John McCain gave perhaps one of the most compelling explanations of this entire campaign, nothing.
BUCHANAN: It‘s he is responding emotionally to this or intellectually, I should say, to this problem. When this country is under attack, we expect the president of the United States to take whatever bold action is necessary. You don‘t torture just because you are mad, you torture because if the fellas doing are saying I can get an answer for you. We may be able to stop the next bomb.
SHUSTER: How do you determine that answer? You have these generals saying
BUCHANAN: Do we have time to discuss it? We have 24 hours before another city is blown up. Do you say, fellows, get me some information and get it for me now.
PRESS: The idea you are going to grab him and torture him and get the information is ludicrous, Bay. I want to come back to Giuliani‘s strategy. I mean I‘m not saying it is going to work, but it is a real roll of the dice for Giuliani. And if it does work, he will reinvent the Republican Party.
SHUSTER: Speaking of Giuliani, there is some news with Rudy Giuliani. And that is he has got James Dobson, who is the former founder of the Family Research Council has said that he is not going to vote for Giuliani under any circumstances. He talks about his social positions. He even says in his statement, talking about when he left his wife, he lived with friends for a while and he married his mistress. He said unlike other presidential candidates Giuliani appears not have remorse for cheating on his wife.
That hurts Giuliani, doesn‘t it?
BUCHANAN: Well, clearly, it‘s character again. A character issue. And there are Republicans in this country do care about character. We want to see somebody who is stand up person. We know people make mistakes but Giuliani has shown himself to be not a fit for our party. James Dobson speaks for millions and millions of Republicans. If he wins the primary he will not win the general election because we will not be voting for him.
SHUSTER: Explain why Rudy Giuliani is leading in all these polls in states that have so many evangelical voters?
BUCHANAN: I‘ll tell you why. I saw a poll the other day, about 30 days ago, I think it was “Time” magazine. Seventy percent of the people do not know where Giuliani stands, all they just know he is a 9/11 hero, that makes him popular a popular person. Of the other 30 percent, 15 percent thought he was pro family, pro life, pro Second Amendment, they thought he was one of us, if you like. A very solid Republican, a type that would fit in this the base and he is not. And the more information when he does the debates he hurts himself every single time.
PRESS: I think Bay is right on that issue. That Rudy is riding still on the 9/11 reputation. And that is really still today all most people know him by. They have not started to really scrutinized either his personal lifestyle or his position on the issues. And I think you are right that Dobson‘s comments are going to hurt. I think particularly with Jerry Falwell gone Dobson becomes more and more the leader of the religious right. He has got that radio show, he has got his magazine, he has got a tremendous following.
BUCHANAN: An amazing following.
PRESS: And he said for Rudy the jig is up. And Rudy haven‘t responded.
And has chosen not to respond. And I think it is a real problem for him.
BUCHANAN: Why is everyone looking over shoulder for someone else like a Thompson? Because they are not happy.
SHUSTER: The next topic we want to talk about is Bill, I heard a lot of Democrats express grave concerns about somebody like Michael Bloomberg get into the race as a Republican but might be well be a Democrat because of his pro-choice position, social views and what not. And he has a billion dollars that he would reportedly spend.
The Bloomberg spokesperson sort of knocked down this story that was in the “Washington Times” but isn‘t this a problem for Democrats, for people who consider themselves centrists if Michael Bloomberg gets into the race and he has somebody like Chuck Hagel who is already being talked about as being his running mate?
PRESS: I am intrigued by the Michael Bloomberg possibility. I think everybody is. We have never seen a candidate be able to write a check for $1 billion, with a b. Now look, Ross Perot got 17 percent of the vote and he is certifiably nuts. He ought to be committed.
And for Bloomberg to be on there, who I think has been a pretty good mayor of New York and has all that money, he would definitely get on the ballot in all 50 states easily and he could buy al the time that he wants. He could, I think, hurt the Republican Party and especially the Democratic Party. He would pull a lot of votes.
SHUSTER: I actually think he would hurt the Democratic Party more.
BUCHANAN: The reason being, because it looks like it is a Democratic year. You have an unpopular president, unpopular war, and the Democrats should be able to put this together. All of the sudden this unknown factor hits with $1 billion. His whole issue. He has got a billion. Otherwise he would make no factor at all. That $1 billion impresses both of us.
PRESS: We don‘t know really what he stands for.
SHUSTER: Printing money.
BUCHANAN: With a billion dollars he could reinvent himself and do exactly what he wants with that kind of money.
SHUSTER: It would also be a great story if in fact Michael Bloomberg got in. Because the news organization that is perhaps one of the most powerful and growing right now is Bloomberg News with their terminals and wires and all that kind of thing.
Full disclosure, I have a fiancee who works at Bloomberg. In any case, there are some people concerned with how does somebody who has got $1 billion who has made it all off Bloomberg News what would that news organization do if suddenly Michael Bloomberg is running for president.
BUCHANAN: They would be objective? Come on now. I thought the news was always objective.
PRESS: He would get glowing reports from the Bloomberg White House. Let me tell you, my prediction is that we see the field of candidates today both on the Democrat and on the Republican side. I think Thompson is a tease and I think Newt is a tease and I think Al Gore is a tease and Bloomberg is nothing more than a tease.
SHUSTER: Why yesterday after Congress agrees on a sort of immigration strategy, why is Fred Thompson out there sending a press release about this legislation with details about what he would do? Why would he care if he wasn‘t running for president?
BUCHANAN: He is getting in, I am absolutely certain.
PRESS: If one of them does it will be Thompson. I just don‘t think he will be cause I don‘t think has the fire in his belly. I think Fred would love to be the next actor in the White House. I think he would love to be sitting there. But we know Fred Thompson. We‘ve seen him around Washington. He‘s not the one, I don‘t believe, to go out and really fight for this, take it away from these 10 candidates. Raise all the money that he‘s got to do. He wants to be a anointed. And nobody is going to anoint him.
BUCHANAN: And I think there is reason to look at Al Gore. Look what Obama did with very short order. Expose the enormous soft underbelly of the Clinton machine. He almost tied on .
SHUSTER: Let the record reflect that Bay Buchanan has criticized Hillary Clinton yet again. But go ahead.
BUCHANAN: The key here, look politically, sure, he is not doing well now, she‘s got the mean machine working on them, chewing him up. But what did he do initially? He‘s got no resume, he gets in the race and he closes the gap quickly without a resume. It is a message .
PRESS: Who is this?
SHUSTER: You are talking about Obama?
BUCHANAN: I am saying Obama did it to Hillary in no short order. That shows an enormous desire of Democrats to starting looking elsewhere. It was a message to Al Gore that look it, this girl can be beat.
SHUSTER: But Bay, when you look at the poll numbers, Democrats are far more satisfied with their field than Republicans?
BUCHANAN: Why did all those people go quickly over to Obama like this?
PRESS: Wait a minute. Can we get - can we put a fact on the table here?
Hillary Clinton in the last poll I saw, all of them .
BUCHANAN: The last poll. About a month ago.
PRESS: she is at least 15 or 20 points - a month ago is history.
BUCHANAN: It is history but it shows .
PRESS: Twenty to 15 points a day. Would you admit it that you are wrong about Hillary Clinton? Everything you said so far has been wrong about Hillary Clinton.
BUCHANAN: No it‘s not. You haven‘t read the book.
PRESS: Barack Obama, yeah he looked like, everybody was saying - we in the media were really excited. He is going to knock Hillary down and didn‘t do it. John Edwards hasn‘t done it.
SHUSTER: Let‘s go back to the very first person we talked about on this program. Somebody like Jim Gilmore, the governor from Virginia, a lot of support from evangelicals but he is still not registering in the polls. Is there hope for a Republican like a Mike Huckabee, a Jim Gilmore among Republicans?
BUCHANAN: Or Tom Tancredo? This is the second tier. I‘ll tell you what they have to do. They‘ve got an issue in this campaign that is very hard to overcome. First of all, the three top have been delegated by the press to be the most likely so everybody is looking at them. And so many of the Republican base wants to beat Hillary and so they are looking for somebody to beat Hillary rather than somebody who represents themselves. That is why I think it is very difficult, but we‘ve got a straw poll coming up. If one of them can break loose in that straw poll, show themselves to be strong, not winning ...
SHUSTER: Bay Buchanan, the author of the book “The Extreme Makeover of Hillary (Rodham) Clinton.”
PRESS: You sound like a broken record here. Let me tell you - It‘s not going to be Tom Tancredo.
SHUSTER: And radio talk show host Bill Press. Thank you both very much. As we talk about the presidential field of ‘08 and maybe Al Gore, it is hard not to talk about a guy so many Democrats want to see in the race, Al Gore. A unique perspective on Al Gore is coming up on the other side of this break.
And Prince Harry isn‘t going to Iraq. That is not all he is not doing. MSNBC‘s chief royal nonsense correspondent Willie R. Geist has the salacious details. This is MSNBC, the place for Willie Geist.
SHUSTER: Several years ago when I reported for the cable news organization that shall not be named, I met a radio talk show host also who was also at that organization, and he was funny, witty, steeped in the news and a good guy. So it‘s my pleasure to welcome from Cleveland Chuck Booms. He is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and comedian. Chuck, great to see you.
CHUCK BOOMS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: David, great to see you. What can I say? It is about time. You are doing a great job.
SHUSTER: Thanks, Chuck. I want to ask you about something we were just talking about with Bill and Bay, the Republican candidates, they had their debate the other night. I was noticing in the very first republican debate, Tommy Thompson had a gaffe, he said that he made a mistake because he had a problem with his hearing aid. How did you feel that Tommy Thompson did in this second go around?
BOOMS: Well, that wasn‘t Tommy‘s only problem. I‘ve got to ask you, David, who is doing the make-up for Tommy Thompson? You know, I‘m watching the debate and I called a friend and I said I thought I knew all of the Republican candidates and then lo behold, it is Ray Bolger, now the governor, former governor of Wisconsin. I was expecting a house to come twisting out of the wind or something. I mean how much rouge do you need? Do you think that they were they applying it? Wasn‘t there somebody going, enough with the rouge!
SHUSTER: Maybe he as just spending a lot of time in the sun.
The video we have on the screen, it looks like he might have just come back from Aspen and gone skiing. He‘s got the raccoon sort of eyes and a lot of the red.
BOOMS: He had two bad debates. I am afraid the third one will come down to a pair of depends and we don‘t want to go there.
SHUSTER: We are not going to go there. Let‘s move on then.
Al Gore, there was a sort of a bizarre article that is out in “Time” magazine. They give a lot of attention to Al Gore, and the basic thesis is, well, he is not going to run for president. Which sort of makes you wonder why they did such a bang-up job of giving him so much space. But in any case, your impressions about Al Gore should he decide to get in this race.
BOOMS: I am not running either and I am hoping to be on the cover of “Time” next month. Look, the guy just cannot get on enough covers of things, and be on enough things, his “Inconvenient Truth” thing. I did a live “Politically Incorrect” with Bill Maher after the vice presidential debate a few years back when he was running for president and he was another one that had trouble with the rouge. But I always wanted to sit down and ask the former vice-president, does he realize at some point number one, you can‘t grab your wife and have that—is that what I‘m hearing in the background.
SHUSTER: Yeah, Chuck, we are doing the old cable trick of putting the Al Gore kiss on a continuous loop. So I think we‘re on about the fifth replay.
BOOMS: The “Inconvenient Truth” is Al, is people remember that making you the creepiest dinner guest that won‘t leave. People are afraid you‘re going to grab their wife and give you one of those, whatever.
Also, I just want to say, David, somebody needs to tell him that if he was around four million years ago he would have been the guy yelling at the Geico cavemen put the fire out, you are going to melt the ice sheet over the Grand Canyon.
SHUSTER: Chuck, I‘ve got to ask you also about something else that‘s kind of creepy.
SHUSTER: Alberto Gonzales‘ late-night hospital visit with Andy Card. It came out this week that in 2004 they wanted to take advantage of John Ashcroft after he just had gall bladder surgery. What did you think of that thing?
BOOMS: That is kind, isn‘t it? I guess Lucca Brazi (ph) wasn‘t there to bring the fish.
I was telling your lovely producer Jameson (ph) that it conjures up that visual of the second “Fugitive” movie, doesn‘t it, where Tommy Lee Jones does the fake coffee thing down the hallway. You want it black, didn‘t you? Right.
Really what he is doing is setting up Robert Downey Jr. so he will try to kill Wesley Snipes. Had we known Wesley Snipes was that far behind on taxes he may have actually let him kill them. But at any rate, it is a creepy “Godfather” “Fugitive” thing.
And look, you feel bad for Gonzales. I feel bad. It just came out before I came on, he is not even tall enough to ride the roller coasters at Six Flags.
SHUSTER: Chuck, before I let you go, I have got to ask you about these humpback whales we keep seeing. Apparently they are stranded in Sacramento, the U.S. Coast Guard is trying to frighten them somehow into leaving. What do you make of the whales?
BOOMS: At first when Jamison said there are two humpback whales loose in Sacramento I thought, now I knew Rosie was quitting. But Behar? Is she going too? But I said, look, if you want to scare them, show them a two-minute video of downtown Sacramento and they will go swimming the over way. Five minutes later they‘ll be back under the Golden Gate Bridge.
SHUSTER: Chuck Booms, you‘re the best and thanks so much for joining us from Cleveland. We appreciate it. Great to see you as always.
BOOMS: My pleasure, David, good to see you.
SHUSTER: First Prince Harry was kept off the front lines in Iraq and now he is being kept off the front of the line at London‘s nightclubs. What is a young royal to do? Willie Geist joins us next to explain why Harry‘s partying days may be over. You‘re watching MSNBC.
SHUSTER: Now for our favorite part of the show, and I am speaking personally here. Because I don‘t know how anyone else feels about Willie Geist. But Willie, I have to say that I was going to offer five bucks to anybody that could come up with something that rhymes with ossobuco. So let‘s see how you do.
GEIST: Buttafucco, how do you like that?
SHUSTER: Perfect. Perfect.
GEIST: Let me just say, by the way, David. You come in for one day and you bring in your own comedian. I am telling the jokes around here, my friend. OK?
GEIST: I don‘t know who you think you are.
You mentioned Buttafucco so let‘s get right to it. I have been saying it for years, reality TV just brings folks together. It is good for the country. If not for the prospect of a reality show Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafucco might not be have been able to put that whole statutory rape, attempted murder thing behind them to enjoy dinner together this week.
Last night our friends at the “Insider” broadcast pictures of the romantic rendezvous that was set up by a TV producer to generate interest in a possible reality TV show. Wouldn‘t that be fun?
Joey and he Amy‘s last date came about 15 years ago in the back of his auto body shop on Long Island. Since then they have both been in prison and been divorced. But why focus on the past when the future looks so bright for these young kids.
I am struck as I look at that kiss, you just mentioned and showed on a loop Tipper and Al Gore kissing. It is that kind of sort of staged, forced, awkward kiss for the cameras that is not really going to convince people that this relationship is real.
SHUSTER: And Willie, not to be too blunt but it does look like something has been enhanced, shall we say, for Amy.
GEIST: You might be right. She had a book deal. So she got a little cash and we know where it went now.
This is obviously too good to be true. It‘s kind of like when Israel and Palestine sign a cease-fire. It is going to last about a week and then the guns start blazing again. It is going to get ugly again soon, I promise.
Well, David, Prince Harry thought he had achieved the best case scenario the other day. He got the credit for wanting to go to war, for having the guts to do it, but then his government just wouldn‘t allow him to do it, dog-gone-it. so now he can soak up a warrior‘s glory while partying with supermodels in the nightclubs of London, right.
Not so fast. Harry‘s advisors, also known as party poopers, have instructed him to stay away from the bar scene while the soldiers in his squadron are fighting in Iraq. I guess that wouldn‘t look so good.
So Harry can‘t fight or party. Now he is going to have to do charity work or something lame like that. So you see, David, this whole thing backfired on him. Right? He clearly had this grand plan when he looked like the good guy, no I‘m going to war, nothing can stop me, oh, you stop me, and now he gets the glory, hangs out in the clubs with the girls and drinking champagne. But it‘s not working out.
SHUSTER: I don‘t mean to be a cynic in this sort of funny segment but what does it say about the British armed forces that they can‘t protect Harry. Last I checked, these guys sort of all look the same when they‘re wearing their combat fatigues.
GEIST: Yeah. It doesn‘t say much for the operation over there, does it? But apparently he was going to have a target on his back. But you are right. They are sort of in uniforms and it might be hard to pick him out.
SHUSTER: Coalition of the willing.
GEIST: Exactly. I am just sorry that whole plan backfired for him.
Looked so good on paper.
Well, Dave, here‘s a serious political story. The state of Massachusetts now considering legislation that would make it the second state in the country to ban discrimination on the basis of height or weight. Most states have laws that outlaw discrimination based on race, religion, age or gender but only Michigan has made it illegal to discriminate against fat people and short people.
And as you can see this story gives us the opportunity roll out the file video of overweight people without heads.
We don‘t have a file video of short people per se but we can tell you that the proposed Massachusetts law would probably protect people like Herve Villechaize and former 5‘3” NBA player Mugsy Bogues. He is the one on the right in this picture.
The bill doesn‘t define short but you would have to think Mugsy would qualify there. Now of course, if we were living in Michigan, David, I would be under arrest for making those wisecracks right there. And if this passes in Massachusetts it will happen there too.
SHUSTER: I‘ve never understood. Why is it we can‘t show the faces of people who are either short or fat?
GEIST: Because it is unfair and it is discriminatory. There is a congressman, by the way, in Massachusetts who is sort of outraged by this and says why don‘t we go for it and just outlaw discrimination against people who don‘t like cashews while we‘re at it. Just keep going down the list.
So we‘ll keep you posted and see what happens .
SHUSTER: All right.
GEIST: Finally, Tucker, excuse me, David.
Frankly, it doesn‘t do anybody a whole lot of good now but a doctor at the University of Maryland‘s trauma center says Abraham Lincoln could have survived the attack by John Wilkes Booth if they had today‘s medicine in 1865. They did not unfortunately. Nevertheless Dr. Thomas Scalea (ph) says this is not necessarily a fatal injury. He didn‘t have to die.
The doctor says Lincoln probably could have returned to office because the frontal lobes that control cognitive were not damaged by the bullet. If only Lincoln had been shot in the head 140 years later. Everything would have been OK.
This sort of strikes me as saying like if the British had F-16s and Tomahawk cruise missiles in 1776 they would have won the war. You know what I mean? I‘m not sure what the point is?
SHUSTER: What is the good of going back and say only if Lincoln has been around 140 years later.
GEIST: If cavemen had microwaves everything would have moved along faster.
SHUSTER: All right. That does it for us. Willie Geist, thanks as always.
HARDBALL is up next with Chris Matthews. Tucker will be back next Monday.
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