Guests: Ed Royce, A.B. Stoddard, Bill Press, George McGovern
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: On a day when congressional Democrats appear to have dropped their demand for a withdrawal date from Iraq and backed away from a no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Capitol Hill debate continues on the immigration legislation sponsored by the Senate and endorsed by President Bush last week.
Objections to that bill range from complaints about its treatment of immigrant families to its granting of amnesty to millions of illegal aliens to the creation of a permanent servant class in this country. Still the immigration bill has its defenders in Congress.
The division is for once, not along party lines. Two Republican congressmen from border states, Ed Royce of California, and Jeff Flake of Arizona have clashed over immigration policy for weeks, but always in the privacy of the halls of Congress. Mr. Royce opposes the bill and Mr. Flake supports it. Our plan was to have a debate between the two of them on the set here. Unfortunately Mr. Flake moments ago flaked out, didn‘t come. So we have—we are proud to have Republican Congressman from California, Ed Royce, joining us.
Mr. Royce, thanks for coming on.
REP. ED ROYCE ®, CALIFORNIA: Tucker, good to be with you.
CARLSON: So I am—I have said it a million times. I am on your side on this question. But I am going to—because Mr. Flake is not here, going to take his side and ask you the question that people with his position always ask, what are you going to do with the 12 million illegal aliens in the country?
We can‘t round up and deport 12 million or 20 million or millions of people. What do you do with them?
ROYCE: Tucker, if you think about what we could do with attrition. Let‘s say for a minute we had the political will to enforce the laws already on the books. And one of the laws is employer verification. If that were enforced, then a lot of people would go back to their home country because the employers would be verifying that the worker was not in fact legally able to work in the United States.
So in point of fact, we do have a method to solve that. And we certainly have a method, if we wanted to deploy it.
CARLSON: Then why don‘t we do it? I mean, the conventional understanding is because business gives a lot of money to politicians, mostly Republicans. And they don‘t want it. And that‘s why we don‘t do it.
ROYCE: And I think part of it is the last three administrations have failed to do it. Because in 1986, Congress passed an amnesty and with it was that requirement of employer verification. It has never been seriously enforced. I think last year we had three cases that went to court.
So part of the answer is to enforce that, the second part is to enforce the exit visa program in which when people overstay their visas, they are actually asked to leave. That isn‘t currently done. And third is to finish that border fence that is already on the books that we passed last year.
CARLSON: Yes. So three cases. So instead the Bush administration is suing the New York City Fire Department because it‘s not diverse enough. Right. So that tells you a lot about its priorities as far I‘m concerned.
Wondering though, this is kind of the basic question on the demand side. Everybody you know, everyone I know anyway hires or has hired an illegal alien to do domestic work. I mean, anybody who makes over $75,000 a year in America probably has hired an illegal alien. So that tells you something about the need or at least the perceived need for cheap non-citizen labor.
ROYCE: Or is the need really for more labor, but perhaps, it should be skilled rather than low-skilled labor? Because the difficulty...
CARLSON: Yes, but someone has got to mow the lawn, do you know what I mean? I mean, rich people want servants.
ROYCE: But the reality is that once those jobs were done with people who had some job skills, who had some hope of frankly, rising up through the social ladder. What is being done here is basically a permanent underclass, bringing in people without the education and without the skills. They will cost the taxpayer an enormous sum of money, $2.4 billion going forward, according to the Heritage Foundation.
And if we factor in that cost, factor that in on to the taxpayers‘ back, you can begin to understand why we would be better off bringing in legally people with skills rather than having this amnesty and bringing in a massive new guest worker program for low-skilled workers.
CARLSON: Here is what I don‘t get. The Republican base, people who actually vote Republican in primaries, are pretty overwhelmingly against granting amnesty to illegal aliens. And yet a lot of Republicans have backed—and of course the president himself have backed this bill.
Randy Pullen, who is the head of the Arizona Republican Party, gave a press conference yesterday. And he said this, we have people coming in every day, tearing up their registration cards, throwing them on the floor, coming in and changing the registration from Republican to independent.
In order to illustrate his point, how Republicans feel about this, he brought out a white paper with a giant fist in the middle of it with a middle finger extended. Underneath it said, “here is my middle finger.” This is the message from the Republican base to the Republican Party. What are they thinking?
ROYCE: Well, I‘m not sure what they are thinking. Because when we go out and talk to our constituents and when we answer the phone, the calls are running 1,000 to one against this bill. My suspicion is that the feelings of the American electorate are going to be translated in the next few weeks into a change of position from some of the senators and certainly some of the House members.
I would not be surprised if House Republicans didn‘t rally and defeat this bill with the help of a few Democrats who I expect will cross over because of the pressure from their districts and vote with the House Republicans.
CARLSON: Then I heard—of course, I hope that is true. But I heard a pretty smart Republican say yesterday, immigration doesn‘t help Republicans. You saw in the last elections, J.D. Hayworth of Arizona ran an entire—very smart guy, capable guy, popular guy, lost running a campaign almost solely focused on illegal immigration.
ROYCE: Well, I don‘t think that‘s true because I know J.D. well and the factors that came into play in that particular district were not about immigration in terms of J.D.‘s election. In fact, the four ballot initiatives that were passed in Arizona on that same ballot against illegal immigration passed by upwards in one case, 77 percent, 72, 75 percent of the vote.
So in fact, the electorate in Arizona is anti-illegal immigrant. They are concerned about this importation of massive poverty. Remember, the state also picks up a lot of the welfare costs here. And so I think that is a misreading of that election.
CARLSON: Well, what about the argument that you often hear Republican strategists make that, look, you know, this is going to be an overwhelmingly Hispanic country fairly soon, that‘s not bad, its‘ just real. It‘s going to happen. Some states are already majority Hispanic. And if you are perceived as anti-Hispanic, you are forever doomed to minority party status.
ROYCE: But, Tucker, this doesn‘t have anything to do with being anti-Hispanic. The majority of the Hispanics, I believe, in my district, certainly the people who come to my town meetings. They tell me, look we went through the legal process, we came here legally. They see illegal immigration as not necessarily a Hispanic problem, it‘s a worldwide problem.
There are a billion people according to the Gallup organization, who want to get into the United States illegally. So this is a worldwide problem. Most Hispanics understand that. And I think you hear from a small cadre of vociferous maybe leaders or self-appointed leaders, but I think Hispanics feel the same way all other Americans feel, at least in California, and that is we have to get a handle on this through enforcement.
Remember, the Border Patrol, their association opposes this legislation. They want to see the border fence built. They want to see the tools given to law enforcement to enforce the law, and I think our citizens feel the same way, Hispanic or otherwise.
CARLSON: Well, good for you for making that point. How patronizing it is to assume that just because you are Hispanic, you are for illegal immigration? I mean, that‘s, I think, an outrageous thing to imply and many do.
Mr. Royce, thanks for joining us.
ROYCE: Tucker, thank you very much.
CARLSON: Appreciate it, thanks.
John Edwards is man of the people if by people you mean incredibly rich people. His latest lucrative venture in the name of education doesn‘t quite square with feeling America‘s pain. It‘s amazing, actually, and we have got details.
And there is no denying Rudy Giuliani‘s national impact on November—on September 11th, 2001. However, a former member of his inner circle denies some of the mythology built up around “America‘s Mayor.” Will Giuliani suffer for it? Or don‘t we care about details? We‘ll find out. This is MSNBC.
CARLSON: John Edwards gets far less attention than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and that‘s a shame for a bunch of reasons but mostly because he matters. Edwards is running first, ahead of Clinton and Obama, in the key state of Iowa.
Though he has based his campaign on his identification with the poor, Edwards lives in a 28,000-square foot house. He earned half a million dollars from a hedge fund. He got a $400 haircut. And now this.
News that Edwards gave a series of speeches on college campuses, including a 2006 talk at the University of California at Davis, for which he received $55,000 to talk about the great moral issue of, you guessed it, poverty. Edwards wasn‘t a candidate when he gave the talk. And he is not the only candidate to get rich speaking.
Rudy Giuliani has made millions the same way, but a populist candidate, a self-portrayed champion of the downtrodden who takes 55 grand for a speech to college kids at a public university about poverty, that‘s not just a story, it‘s an episode of “The Simpsons.”
Here to talk about it, associate editor of The Hill, A.B. Stoddard. And author of “How the Republicans Stole Religion” and nationally-syndicated radio show host, Bill Press.
BILL PRESS, “HOW THE REPUBLICANS STOLE RELIGION”: Tucker.
CARLSON: ... I want to put on the screen a quote from Mr. Edwards—former Senator Edwards I found on beliefnet.com, an interview he did with David Kuo, and he said this: “I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish, short-term needs. I think Jesus would be appalled actually.”
Well, actually, I wonder, since Jesus is on John Edwards‘ side, what Jesus thinks of John Edwards making $285,000 last year giving a speech on poverty at universities. That‘s repulsive. He‘s going to make 55 grand for a speech on poverty? He doesn‘t need the money. Why is he doing that?
PRESS: I think it‘s outrageous. I think it‘s outrageous that Rudy Giuliani gets $100,000 a speech and John Edwards only gets $55,000.
CARLSON: Oh, wait a second...
PRESS: I think we need some equity in public speaking..
CARLSON: Wait a minute, hold on.
PRESS: And John Edwards is worth every bit as much as Rudy Giuliani.
CARLSON: But—OK. You might be absolutely right. John Edwards is actually a great speaker, and I agree with you there. He is a great speaker. However, this is a guy whose campaign platform contains all this talk about alleviating poverty, sympathy for the average college student working two jobs to make it through to pay off student loans, et cetera. And he is soaking a public university for $55,000 when he is already worth millions. Why the hell is he doing that? What is the possible justification for that?
PRESS: He is not running for president. He is out there making as much money he can.
PRESS: First of all, I‘ve got to tell you, University of California-Davis, what the hell were they thinking paying $55,000 for anybody to be giving a speech on that campus.
A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: Yes, it is...
PRESS: The university has got a lot of blame here. But I must say, as—I have made this point before on this show. If you are rich, you can still be an advocate of the poor. Teddy Kennedy is, John Edwards is. There is nothing wrong with that.
But if I were rich and planning on running for president on the issue of poverty, I think I would have thought twice before I gave a speech for $55,000 on that issue.
CARLSON: OK. But maybe you can do that. Here is what you can‘t do. You can‘t invest $16 million in a hedge fund, Fortress Investments. You can‘t take half a million dollars from that same hedge fund if that hedge fund hides the majority of its hedge and private equity funds in an offshore tax-dodging account in the Cayman Islands.
You can‘t do that. And he did. That is the most—that is beyond hypocritical. It is nauseating. Can he continue to run for president, seriously, having done that?
STODDARD: Well, we both know that he will continue to run for president.
CARLSON: I guess you are right.
CARLSON: Ever the realist...
STODDARD: The Fortress story is really unfortunate. I mean, he apparently won—I mean, excuse me, earned $500,000, it was only few days of work a month or something, he was barely there. And I don‘t know why he keeps doing this. I think it is really strange.
If you look at his solicitation letter, he actually doesn‘t rail against the man. I mean, he talks about poverty but he doesn‘t beat up on the rich which I thought was sort of interesting, but none of this helps him.
The $400 haircut, as I said, you know, if you are going to spend (INAUDIBLE) like a normal person who spends too much money on something, maybe a bottle of wine, but the haircut thing, for a guy who already has the best hair in the lineup, I thought was really unfortunate
The hedge fund thing, these are really—these are very embarrassing stories for him and I think ones that are easily avoided by someone who has run before and has a really sophisticated staff. And these are things that none of them should be on the table.
CARLSON: It‘s beyond even staff work though. I mean, I agree with that. The $400 haircut is a staff problem. But this goes to the very core, not only of this campaign, but of who he is. He has run against offshore tax shelters for years. And I‘m actually—think against them too, and I‘m not any kind of liberal.
Here he goes, invests $16 million in a company that makes famous use of these offshore tax shelters. That is like actually right up against immoral it seems to me.
PRESS: No, I don‘t think it‘s immoral to invest your money. But, look, Tucker, do you know what I think the bottom line is...
CARLSON: ... around U.S. taxes in a foreign country, do you think that‘s moral?
PRESS: I don‘t think it is immoral. But I think it may be...
CARLSON: Then what is immoral then? If that is not immoral, getting around paying U.S. taxes—John Edwards claims it‘s immoral, he said that this—he is going to end this if he is elected.
STODDARD: I think there are two John Edwards, just like there is two Americas.
PRESS: No, no, no. I‘m not advocating it. I just would not put it on the side—as someone who wrote a book about religion, it would not be one of my moral issues. But I think it gets back to judgment and what I find over and over again, tripping up John Edwards is the judgment factor.
The haircut was a judgment factor. The speech I believe was a judgment issue. I think the hedge fund is a judgment issue. But on the other hand, if you look at—and I knew you are going to go here next, probably, you look at the polls, the latest poll in Iowa, he is number one.
So I think when you‘re out there talking to voters he comes across as genuine. He comes across as sincere. And he is scoring with voters in Iowa where it counts.
CARLSON: And we are out of time. But let me just read the numbers in Iowa. Des Moines Register poll: Edwards 29, Obama 23, Hillary Clinton 21, Richardson 10.
PRESS: There you go.
CARLSON: You know what, he is a brilliant communicator. I just think he can‘t sustain a campaign with internal contradictions this ugly, that is my view, we‘ll see.
Rudy Giuliani still rates high in national polls, but some of the people who know him best are less enthusiastic about his run for president. We‘ve got the latest assessment of the leading Republican from a former member of his inner circle.
Plus, President Bush can‘t win for losing in national polls. But he keeps winning battles with Congress. For all the tough talk and the campaign promises, Democrats on the Hill have submitted to presidential will on the war in Iraq. Thank you, sir, may I have another. They have bent over again. We‘ll tell you more in a minute. This is MSNBC.
CARLSON: Rudy Giuliani has occupied the proverbial penthouse in national polling for the Republican presidential nomination since he entered the race. He has done that on the power of a single image, his leadership on 9/11.
His image at this point is gold across the country. But one former Giuliani insider recalls a slightly different picture. Jerry Hauer headed up the city‘s Office of Emergency Management while Giuliani was still in office. And he is speaking out again after Giuliani put the blame on him for deciding to put that city‘s command center in the ill-fated World Trade Center.
Hauer says, quote: “That‘s Rudy‘s own reality that he lives in.” As competing histories come to light about Rudy‘s tenure as mayor, could his greatest strength become his greatest weakness? Joining us once again, the editor—the associate editor of The Hill, A.B. Stoddard.
You would be a good editor, I think.
CARLSON: And nationally-syndicated radio show host, Bill Press.
STODDARD: A quick promotion.
PRESS: He just promoted you, that‘s right.
CARLSON: This is—OK. So you have—on the one hand, A.B., you have one former employee saying, my memory doesn‘t square exactly with Rudy‘s memory and I disagree...
STODDARD: No. It‘s more than that, actually, because he is protested by firefighters and their families wherefores he goes.
CARLSON: He is, that‘s right.
STODDARD: He has to sneak in the back door of every event.
CARLSON: This is the very core though. If you did a national poll, it would be interesting to see one, what does Rudy Giuliani—does Rudy Giuliani have foreign policy experience? I think 80 percent of people would say, of course, he ran the State Department, you know, (INAUDIBLE) the CIA?
This attack essentially on his—on the preparedness of New York before 9/11, his tenure as mayor under fire, potentially devastating. I don‘t know if this one, but things like it.
STODDARD: I think so. I think for Rudy Giuliani, after what he has just gone through with the debates which he ended up sort of stabilizing himself a bit, but for a pro-abortion rights, pro-gun control, pro-gay rights Republican to be wading through here running on 9/11, he can‘t have his emergency preparedness management creds attacked, he just can‘t.
CARLSON: I think that is exactly right.
STODDARD: And I think the fact that—as I mentioned before, that he is protested in New York by New York firefighters and their families wherever he goes is going to be one of these things that just—it is going to bleed throughout the summer and the fall. It will affect him and it will dog him in the long marathon that is this campaign.
CARLSON: (INAUDIBLE) I think you may be right. Now here is one of the things Mr. Hauer said this morning to The New York Times. He said, a couple of years ago, in 2001, he decided to endorse a Democrat for mayor, not Bloomberg, who was Giuliani‘s choice.
He said—Hauer was a close friend of Giuliani‘s at one point, said he got a call from Giuliani. He said this, quote: “Giuliani was shouting, if you do this, you‘re done, I‘m going to end your career,” or something along those lines.
Giuliani is tough character. Is there any Democrat who can stand up to that?
PRESS: Yes. Hillary Rodham Clinton. He was afraid to run...
CARLSON: You think she is tougher than Rudy Giuliani?
PRESS: She ran—he was afraid to run against her, may I remind you.
CARLSON: I think he had prostate cancer. I think that was...
PRESS: He was afraid to run against her. But on this issue, I‘ve got to agree with A.B. This gets to the core of his one issue he has got left, which is security. And on two counts, Hauer and others, the firefighters are saying he really was not as good on 9/11. He is not Mr. 9/11 as he pretends to be.
One was the communications that they tried to get him to get those radios fixed years before 9/11 and he never did. And two, was putting that emergency center inside the World Trade Center.
So he is in trouble on his signature issue. I think there are a thousand—million, a million people in New York waiting in the high weeds for Rudy Giuliani to become the nominee and then they are going to stab him in the back.
CARLSON: But here is what I don‘t get about the Giuliani campaign from day one. I‘ve never understand this. They have run from the very beginning on the idea that he was this commanding presence on 9/11. OK. That was one day.
He has no foreign policy experience of any kind that I‘m aware of. The thing you run on if you are Giuliani is transforming New York. That‘s a legitimate claim. He actually made that city so much better than it was. He is responsible for that. I think that that‘s true. Why don‘t they run on that?
STODDARD: This is actually why I though he did well in the first debate except for his little abortion moment. I really think he did well because he did not make gratuitous 9/11 references that entire evening. He talked about cleaning up crime, welfare, raising the level of adoptions apparently, but lowering taxes throughout New York City...
CARLSON: He was an incredible mayor.
STODDARD: ... the entire time. And I do think that that—I think those are really good bona fides for him and I think he should talk about that more.
CARLSON: Absolutely. Rather than saying, I was there on 9/11 -- I‘m not taking away his performance which as a performance was remarkable...
STODDARD: No. Running New York and cleaning up New York City...
CARLSON: That is something to be really proud of. Why don‘t they talk about that more?
PRESS: It‘s a leadership issue and it would be a good issue for him. But very quickly, I still think we are looking at the greatest high wire act we‘ve seen in our political lifetime, which is Rudy Giuliani, who says, I am pro-choice, I‘m pro-gay rights, I‘m pro-gun control, and the religious right hates me and yet I should be your candidate because I can win.
Now if he pulls that off, that will be a miracle.
CARLSON: ... seem to be agreeing with him.
STODDARD: Let me say, you know, I was—just the other—since the second debate, asked a bunch of Democrats, talking to them about this, and he emerges as the person that they are truly the most afraid of beating Hillary still.
CARLSON: Of course. Well...
CARLSON: ... what are they going to run against him on?
STODDARD: And he has had a rough couple of weeks.
CARLSON: No, and on that question of gun control, if I can just make one point, from my cold, dead hands.
CARLSON: OK. That‘s how I feel about it.
President Bush stared down Congress on the Iraq War. Congress appears to have blinked. Will the deal on war funding be a win for Mr. Bush or will it be the rope with which he hangs the Republican Party politically?
Plus, Michael Moore is back with his fair and balanced view of American health care. Do you have to hate America to like Michael Moore? Just a question, next on MSNBC.
CARLSON: The numbing news from Iraq continued today. More violence killed and injured dozens of Iraqis and the fate of those three missing U.S. soldiers remains unclear. The news at home about Iraq though changed today. The “Seattle Post Intelligencer” reported that the Bush administration is quietly escalating the number of U.S. combat forces in that country to a number that could reach 200,000 by the end of this year.
The Pentagon denies that report. A senior military official calls that story fuzzy math. True or not, the story coincides with the political surrender of Congressional Democrats. They appear ready to make a deal on war funding that will not include a withdrawal date. The deal will include benchmarks, which by the way the president could wave if he so chooses. In other words, President Bush can still do whatever he wants, pretty much, in Iraq.
Back to tell us what it means, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard and nationally syndicated radio show host Bill Press. Bill, some of us predicted this a long time ago that Democrats would have to cave, but this looks like they caved. They surrendered.
PRESS: That‘s what happened when you don‘t have enough votes.
CARLSON: They have the majority. What else do they need? Do you know what I mean?
PRESS: You need to override a veto. You know damn well what they need. They don‘t have enough votes. But, I must say, I think they are making a mistake. I think they are caving in.
STODDARD: I don‘t.
PRESS: Right? My personal advice would be to keep going. They are right to have a timeline in it, to keep going. Let the president veto it and make him responsible for cutting off --
CARLSON: What happens when we run out of money for the military?
PRESS: Then George Bush is responsible.
CARLSON: You really think so?
PRESS: I think that they have—I hate to say it—lost their backbone too early.
CARLSON: Boy, you‘re from the kamikaze caucus. Didn‘t they oversell it though?
PRESS: I bet—I would be willing to bet that most of the American people agree with me.
CARLSON: Certainly most Democratic primary voters I am positive agree with you.
PRESS: Most American people.
CARLSON: OK, but I‘m wondering if the Democrats didn‘t sort of oversell their entire mission. You know, they swept both houses on the idea they were going to get us out of Iraq and now they‘re not.
STODDARD: They knew all long, even if they took the Congress, you don‘t get a veto-proof majority. It‘s nearly impossible. They got 169 Democrats and two Republicans recently on a vote for withdrawal. That still doesn‘t come close to overriding a veto.
Now, what happened in the last few weeks by pumping this timeline for withdrawal and hanging in with these heated talks with the White House and all this ratcheting up of the rhetoric just to come back to a clean bill to fund the war is this: they got the Republicans. So as Republicans said, we oppose telegraphing to the enemy our timeline for withdrawal. What they did was they told the Democrats, through this process—they did that very thing. They told the Democrats we‘re going to defect in earnest and leave the Bush reservation in September.
And now all the Democrats have to do is spend June and July on their domestic accomplishments. And they know in September, they‘ve got the Republicans.
STODDARD: Because they‘re going to a bipartisan majority against the president if things don‘t turn around in Iraq.
PRESS: If that‘s the way it works out, then good. But here‘s my problem is they‘ve said no blank check, no blank check, no blank check, and they are giving him a blank check.
CARLSON: Here‘s a blank check. They are not only doing that. They are also trying to insert the minimum wage increase into this legislation. How—let‘s say for a second that Democrats really did take the war in Iraq seriously and their own rhetoric seriously, and this war is pointless; we have lost. Every day just prolongs the agony of the parents of those killed, et cetera. You know the rhetoric. It‘s pretty disrespectful to throw in some minimum wage—some stupid little minimum wage increase into this solemn bill having to do with war funding. What are they doing?
PRESS: Well, I don‘t think so, Tucker. Look, every appropriations bill, every single one that comes out of the Congress always has other stuff attached to it. It‘s the way the process works. To hike the minimum wage for the first time in 10 years, god knows these people deserve it. George Bush has said he is going to sign it. It‘s their opportunity to get it. They know he can‘t veto this one. So, they are taking advantage of an opportunity. I have no problem with that part at all. I think it‘s a good move.
CARLSON: I guess, maybe, I find it embarrassing. I know it is the way it works. But the more you know about it, the more horrifying it becomes. A.B., “The Assault on Reason,” Al Gore‘s new book, is out today, attacking the Bush administration. I wonder, Walter Mondale never wrote a book about Ronald Reagan once he was beaten by Reagan. Nixon never wrote a book about Kennedy. Does it seem a little bit unseemly for Gore to be wining in a book about how bad Bush is, considering he was beaten by him?
STODDARD: It‘s really interesting, I mean, if this book was meant as a way to launch a campaign and come back, you could see why he is writing a really political book. The thing is, it‘s so angry. I have not read it. But from the reviews of it, it‘s so angry. It does seem a little bit over the top. So you wonder, if he is not running for president, then what is he doing. He‘s certainly going to pick up the rage vote, if he is --
CARLSON: This is part of the healing process. Let me just read one sentence from it, Bill, and we can assess that. There‘s a chapter online that you can read. Here‘s part of that chapter: “This administration has turned the fundamental presumption of our democracy on its head. And in the end, it‘s assault on core Democratic principles has left us less free and less secure.”
Now look, I didn‘t vote for Bush last time either because I was mad about Iraq, but I don‘t think Bush has turned the fundamental presumption of our democracy on its head. That‘s like crazy talk.
PRESS: Well, I would say one of the fundamental parts of our democracy is that you don‘t have a president with no limits on his power. George Bush and Dick Cheney operate as if there are no limits on their power, certainly since 9/11.
CARLSON: But they do have limits on their power.
PRESS: But they act is there shouldn‘t.
CARLSON: They‘re arrogant. I agree.
PRESS: He said he didn‘t even have to go to the courts to wiretap all of our phones. He has these signing statements that says I will sign the bill, but I am not bound to carry out the law.
CARLSON: He is less popular than venereal disease right now. There are limits on his power by definition. They‘re all kinds of things he can‘t do. Look at it every day, he is written off as a lame duck by “Time Magazine.”
PRESS: He and Cheney believe in the imperial presidency. But back to Gore. Look, you know what Al Gore has done? He has been speaking out on the issues. I think Al Gore, frankly, makes more sense than anybody out there, on the war and on global warming. He‘s been doing it for the last four or five years. This book is just a continuation of that. And good for Al Gore.
CARLSON: But you don‘t see a peril in his zealotry? You don‘t see when the entire left of the Democratic party is inflamed—I mean they‘re ready to—they want to set someone on fire. They‘re so mad; they‘re so intemperate, you don‘t see them hurting themselves, as the Republicans did during 1990s with their obsession on Clinton? You don‘t see that at all, a mirror image?
PRESS: I hear no talk about impeachment, no serious talk.
CARLSON: You‘ve got to be kidding. A member of Congress wrote a book about it.
PRESS: No serious talk about impeachment. Did Al Gore mention impeachment? No, Al Gore is saying there are things that are wrong that we have to be angry about and correct. And that is a powerful message.
CARLSON: “The fundamental presumption of our democracy has been turned on this head by this administration.” I think, you know, give that man a Xanax.
PRESS: Someone else recently said the worst president in our history on foreign policy.
CARLSON: And who said that, Jimmy Carter, Mr. hostage crisis. You‘ve got to be kidding.
PRESS: He was right too.
CARLSON: Talking about the pot calling the kettle. OK, John McCain—I‘m at lunch with a Republican, a Republican politician. He said, yes, John McCain, boy, he‘s a psycho. He‘s got such a terrible temper. This is the line on McCain. His enemies have said this since day one. The guy is just a really, really angry man. He‘s addressed it in public, McCain has. Is his temper extraordinary by the standards of Congress? You cover Congress.
STODDARD: You know, I just think it‘s different when you look at members of Congress who like to scream at each other on the House floor and try to beat each other behind closed door. I think when you look at the lineup for president, and you look at someone like Mitt Romney, who everyone is warming to, not so much on substance but on style. They‘re saying things like, he seems like he would be cool under fire when he had to make a tough decision. I think that Giuliani is going to have a few problems barker at voters and town halls, and getting—he apparently has a real temper problem.
I think for John McCain, it‘s not good to have this dragged up all the time that he is too hot. He becomes too testy. He‘s impatient. He can‘t control his rage. It‘s not what you want when you talk about the president. I think it‘s fine when you‘re in Congress. I really do. They legislate and they fight with each other. But I think for John McCain, stories about him losing control is not what he needs right now.
CARLSON: Boy, this doesn‘t register with me. Obviously I‘m not your average voter, I guess. But I‘m really bothered by McCain‘s support for stupid campaign finance reform and this ludicrous immigration bill. That offends me. But the fact he used the F word with Senator Cornyn, good for him. Who cares? Why is this a big deal?
PRESS: Here‘s why I think it‘s a big deal, Tucker, because you‘ve got two things in one week. You have the Cornyn thing. Now you‘ve got the Romney thing, using his little varmint gun to get the Guatemalans off his lawn.
CARLSON: That was a great line.
PRESS: I think it‘s a little too early for John McCain to be cracking like this in this campaign. I mean, you want a president who‘s going to be cool under fire, can take the criticism. What did George Bush do when Jimmy Carter criticized him. He just said, you know, well a lot of people criticize me, just sort of laughed it off.
McCain, we have always known that McCain has a really flash temper. If he shows it too early on too insignificant thing, I think it‘s a problem.
CARLSON: Very quickly, the “Sicko,” the new movie by Michael Moore. Michael Moore really the spiritual head of the Democratic party.
PRESS: He‘s probably not even a Democrat. How do you know he‘s a Democrat?
CARLSON: Michael Moore, do you think he ought to be drummed out of the Democratic party.
CARLSON: They defend him. They always defend this guy.
PRESS: No, he‘s a film maker. That‘s why I say that, not because he‘s a Democrat. I don‘t know what party he belongs to.
CARLSON: He‘s not a film maker.
PRESS: He‘s a documentary maker.
CARLSON: No, he‘s not. He‘s an active partisan—
PRESS: Oh, Tucker.
CARLSON: Who is working on behalf of Canada. Listen to him.
PRESS: He got the biggest prize at Canne for his documentary film, not because he is a Democratic. This film “Sicko”—I haven‘t seen it. It was praised by Fox News as being a very mature film on the issue of health care.
CARLSON: No, I think that‘s a really good point. So, you don‘t find it at all offensive that he would take victims of 9/11, people were apparently sickened by the aftermath of 9/11, by the things they breathed, bring them to Cuba, thereby scoring a propaganda coup for the Castro government for health care.
PRESS: Let me tell you something: I‘ve been to Cuba. Cuba has an excellent health care system. And it‘s much more accessible to people who don‘t have any money than ours is.
CARLSON: We have something to learn from Cuba is what you are saying?
PRESS: In some ways, absolutely.
CARLSON: Should we put AIDS patients in concentration camps, as they have?
PRESS: Tucker, don‘t go there.
CARLSON: That was part of their health care system, taking gay people and AIDS patients and putting them behind—
PRESS: No, that was part of Castro‘s dictatorial power, which are absurd and which are ridiculous, but that‘s not their health care system.
CARLSON: We‘re going to be right back. You what, I feel like that‘s one argument I could win. But we‘re out of time.
STODDARD: You know what—OK.
CARLSON: A word from our sponsor. Poverty is a problem in America and around the world, but what did four U.S. Congressmen prove by living on food stamps for a few days? We‘ll find out in a moment.
And, on the day the Reverend Jerry Falwell was laid to rest, Paris Hilton may have found religion. A surreal coincidence or another sign of the impending apocalypse. There‘s one man to answer that question. He is, of course, Willie Geist. He joins us in a moment.
CARLSON: Getting ready for the big Memorial Day barbecue? Millions of Americans are loading up on food for the holiday weekend and others are not. What would you do if you could only spend 21 dollars a week on food. That‘s what the average recipient of federal food stamps gets in government assistance, 21 dollars a week for food. Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts Jim McGovern is the co-chair of the House hunger caucus. As part of the Congressional Food Stamp Challenge, he has spent the last week living on just three dollars a day. He joins us now. Mr. McGovern, thanks for coming on.
REP. GEORGE MCGOVERN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Happy to be with you.
CARLSON: So are you hungry.
MCGOVERN: Not today, I had a good breakfast.
CARLSON: What did you eat for the last week?
MCGOVERN: Well, for the last week it was 21 dollars a week, three dollars a day, a dollar a meal. I ate a lot of lentils. I hate some fatty hamburger. I ate beans and pasta, and, you know, basically not what I am used to.
CARLSON: You are co-chairman of the House hunger caucus. If you look at the federal statistics on the question of hunger, the poorer you are, the more likely you are to be obese. The richer you are, the more likely you are to not be obese. Is hunger the problem?
MCGOVERN: No, hunger is a problem. And, believe it or not, obesity is actually related to poverty and to the fact that people are food insecure. You know, what I learned when I was on this food stamp budget for a week is that you can‘t make healthy choices. You know, when I normally go to the supermarket, I try to buy the leanest hamburger, because of a cholesterol problem. But I had to buy the fattiest hamburger because that was the cheaper. You know, organic foods, fresh vegetables; those things are much more expensive than canned vegetables that are filled with sodium. So, a lot of times when people are on these fixed budgets, they buy things to fill them up, but things that are not necessarily healthy for them.
CARLSON: OK, but the two ideas are mutually exclusive. We can‘t have a hunger problem and also an obesity problem striking the same population? Shouldn‘t we be spending our time—obesity kills over 100,000 people in the United States every year, as you know. Starvation kills virtually nobody. Shouldn‘t we be targeting over eating?
MCGOVERN: First of all, it‘s all related to the same thing and that is that people do not have enough to be able to make healthy choices and put food on the table. Let me just say this, there are 35 million Americans in this country who are hungry or food insecure. We‘re the richest country on the planet. And that‘s something that we should be ashamed of.
CARLSON: What does that mean, food insecure? Does that mean they are at risk of being hungry.
MCGOVERN: That means that people go without. That means that people can‘t afford to put food three meals on the table each day.
CARLSON: Then why are they overweight?
MCGOVERN: Well, first of all, not everybody who is on food stamps is overweight. But what I‘m simply saying to you is that a lot of times the issue of obesity is related to poverty because people do not have the money to make healthy choices. If you have three dollars a day and all you can do is buy things that fill you up, there‘s a problem there.
CARLSON: I get that. I just don‘t understand the other part. I don‘t understand where the hungry people fit into this. The hungry and the fat people, are they the same people?
MCGOVERN: No, they‘re not. And believe me, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has documented quite clearly that we have 35 million Americans who are hungry or food insecure. And that is something that everybody in this country should be ashamed of, especially those in the United States Congress.
CARLSON: I don‘t even understand it, so I can‘t be ashamed of it exactly. I still don‘t understand.
MCGOVERN: Well, you know what, I think you could walk in my shoes, and walk through my district and talk to some of the people that I talk to who don‘t have enough to eat and who can‘t feed their families. It‘s pretty evident and it‘s sad and it‘s something we need to do something about.
CARLSON: Is there a malnutrition problem in this country?
MCGOVERN: In some case there are. Go to emergency rooms at our hospitals across the country. They will tell you about the patients that they see.
CARLSON: How many people die of malnutrition in this country every year, Congressman?
MCGOVERN: Well, it may not necessarily be dying of malnutrition, but you may die of other things that are related to a lack of an adequate diet, not eating on a regular basis. Pregnant women who don‘t eat regularly end up giving birth to babies with health problems. You have senior citizens who show up in emergency rooms because they can‘t afford their prescription drugs and their food and they end up having all kinds of other health ailments. But look, the average food stamp benefit is three dollars per person. The minimum food stamp benefit is 10 dollars a month and that hasn‘t changed since the 1970s. There‘s something wrong with that.
CARLSON: Congressman, I appreciate your coming on. Thanks a lot. Hillary Clinton is racking up endorsements from the adult entertainment community. Last week it was porn star Jenna Jameson. Toady, another big name member of that industry stepped out for Hillary. Pornography analyst Willie Geist will fill us in on details when we come back. You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: With all this talk of nutrition and hunger, we are joined now by a man who‘s not just empty calories, he‘s the real thing, the protein sandwich himself, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And you can live on me for 21 dollars a week. It‘s amazing Tucker. You should try it. Get on the program. Tucker, our old friend Paris Hilton due in a Los Angeles jail just two weeks from today. The clock is ticking. Now we already know she is going to get the celebrity treatment in the aptly named special needs unit, so cruel, but it turns out she is going even further to protect herself.
A reports says Paris will have a special panic alarm that connects her to the guards 24 hours a day, that in case anybody gives her trouble in the slammer. On top of that, Paris apparently will have of 24-hour connection to God as well. She was photographed leaving her home yesterday carrying a copy of the Bible. It was strategically placed in her arms. The front cover was clearly visible to the gathered losers of the paparazzi.
You know, Tucker, you know God is even looking down on this. You know, he‘s an understanding being. We know that. But even he is saying, you know what, I have limits, no. Paris, no. It was one thing when Mike Tyson turned to me when he went to prison. That‘s were I draw the line. Paris, you‘re not welcome here.
CARLSON: I thought in the celebrity career continuum, you weren‘t supposed to find God until after rehab. Is she doing it out of order?
GEIST: Yes, she‘s not so quick, Paris Hilton. She‘s batting out of order.
CARLSON: She is not following the rules.
GEIST: You‘ve got to see this picture. Unfortunately we couldn‘t show it to you. She has the book prominently displayed across her arms so that everybody can see “The Bible.” See, I found god. It‘s too good to be true. It‘s excellent. It is probably not even the bible.
CARLSON: I‘m sure it‘s not.
GEIST: Well, somewhere along the line, Tucker, we lost Danny Glover. Perhaps it was one too many “Lethal Weapon” sequels, perhaps it was “Operation Dumbo Drop.” I can‘t say for sure. But something drove him into the arms of Hugo Chavez. The United States hating Venezuelan president has announced that he will use nearly 20 million dollars of state money to finance Glover‘s next project, a movie about the Haitian revolution.
Chavez says he wants to remind his people about the revolutionary spirit of Latin America. Now nothing, Tucker, says career desperation like turning to a hated South American dictator for moving financing. That is pretty low.
CARLSON: I can‘t get over the idea that Chavez is pointing to Haiti as an example of a successful revolution. If that‘s what you get when you have a revolution, Haiti, boy, give me an authoritarian regime.
GEIST: Yes, that is what they are all shooting for with these revolutions. But I mean, Hollywood, obviously, the most evil place on Earth, and they wouldn‘t even fund your movie. You had to go to South America to get Chavez. I mean, things are bad for you Mr. Glover.
CARLSON: Without question. You need the bible. Maybe he should start carrying the bible around like Paris Hilton.
GEIST: Exactly, it‘s a lesson from Paris. Well, Tucker, here is a weird story for you. A German man helped to raise an interesting question last night. Can you be charged with driving while intoxicated if what you are driving is a wheelchair? You see some drinks and some breathalyzer tests here to represent that story. We will have to get Susan Filen‘s opinion on that one.
The 31 year old was pulled over by police when he was seen swerving into the middle of the street in his wheelchair. He was tested and found to have a blood alcohol level nearly 10 times the legal limit. Police did not charge the man with a crime. One officer said, quote, it is not like we can impound his wheelchair. Which is actually an excellent point. I don‘t know, Tucker, in this country, we have had bicycle—driving while bicycling, driving while riding a horse—we‘ve had that—tractors. We have seen all kinds of stories.
CARLSON: Ride-on mowers.
GEIST: Literally, ride-on mower story. So why not a wheel chair? Maybe Germany does things a little differently.
CARLSON: No, the Americans With Disability Act say, yes, you have to treat them all equal now.
GEIST: Exactly, so I think we should lock him up for life. That‘s just my two cents. Ten times the legal limit; that is impressive. That is pretty good. Well, Tucker, finally, momentum continues to grow for Hillary Clinton‘s presidential campaign in the adult entertainment industry. Last week, the first lady of porn, Jenna Jameson, said she supports Senator Clinton. Today, the infamous D.C. Madame told our friends at the “D.C. Examiner” that she would like to help escort Hillary to the White House in 2008.
Deborah Jean Palfrey said of Hillary, quote, I thinks she is great. She is bright and articulate. That‘s racist, isn‘t it. At this rate, Tucker, we‘re just days away from the highly coveted and seemingly inevitable Ron Jeremy endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Now Tucker, this is really growing steam here for Senator Clinton.
CARLSON: It‘s unbelievable. Hugh Hefner‘s daughter came out for her too, I noticed.
GEIST: You‘re in D.C., how important is that porn vote?
CARLSON: Oh, it‘s absolutely huge. No one will admit it though.
GEIST: Deborah Palfrey, you know, she‘s got some leverage. She might be able to help her really.
CARLSON: Everybody pretends it doesn‘t matter, but it does. Willie Geist, thanks Willie. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. “HARDBALL” is next. See you tomorrow. Have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.