Guests: Ed Schultz, Stephanie Cutter, Jill Zuckerman, Mike Viqueira, Willie Geist
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Democratic presidential hopefuls gathered in New Hampshire Sunday night to slug it out before a national TV audience. Welcome to the show.
The second Democratic debate featured a scuffle between Barack Obama and John Edwards, no major missteps from Senator Hillary Clinton, and a noticeably weak performance from perhaps the most qualified Democrat of them all, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico.
While all the Democrats expressed contempt for President Bush and the war in Iraq, only Barack Obama was able to boast that he has been against the war from day one. Hillary Clinton meanwhile risked alienating the most fervent Bush haters by acknowledging that in fact America is safer than it was before 9/11.
Well, it wouldn‘t be politics if we didn‘t ask the only question everybody asks after a presidential debate, who won, who lost? Joining us with the answer to that question, the most listened-to liberal talk show host in the United States of America, host of the nationally syndicated “Ed Schultz Show,” Ed Schultz himself.
ED SCHULTZ, HOST, “THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW”: Tucker, thank you for waking me up from that debate. It‘s good to be on with you.
CARLSON: Well, here is the moment—Ed, I actually found it quite compelling. I watched the re-air at 3:00 in the morning and it sucked me right in. Here was the moment when I knew I was hooked, I‘m going to follow this race until the end, when Hillary Clinton was asked, you didn‘t bother to read the National Intelligence Estimate, and she said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I feel like I was totally briefed. I knew all of the arguments that were being made by everyone from all directions. And if George Bush had allowed the inspectors to finish the job they started, we would have known that Saddam Hussein did not have WMD, and we would not have gone and invaded Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Now we know for a fact that Mrs. Clinton did not take time out of her busy schedule to actually read the intelligence pertaining to the vote she cast in favor of the war. But we learned this from this weekend‘s New York Times Magazine: “According to Senate aides, because Clinton was not yet on the Armed Services Committee, she didn‘t have anyone working for her with the security clearances required to read the entire National Intelligence Estimate and other highly classified reports pertaining to Iraq.”
In other words, she either had to read them herself or she was not able to get the information about what was in them. And she chose not to read them. I can‘t imagine anything more damning about any candidate. How can she survive this?
SCHULTZ: Well, I thought she answered it about as best as she possibly could. Apparently not reading material in Washington is kind of going around. I mean, Tucker, you can go back to the August 6th Presidential Daily Briefing in 2001. President Bush may have read it, but it certainly didn‘t register.
So there has been a lot of mistakes made. I thought Hillary answered that question about as good as she possibly could. She feels like she was completely briefed on it as best she could. There are a lot of politicians in Washington that didn‘t fully read the Patriot Act. So this obviously is a disease in Washington, not being able to read or not taking the time do the things they have got to do.
CARLSON: I don‘t think there is any question you‘re right. I‘m not sure anybody read the entire Patriot Act. And there are indeed many lazy people here who wing it. There is no doubt about it. I‘m just surprised that Hillary Clinton among them.
Hillary Clinton is running for president on the premise that she is competent, that she is brainy, she is really smart. You often hear people say, you know, her intelligence is uncontested. We know she is really smart. How do we know that exactly?
Here is a woman who failed the D.C. bar exam, who literally didn‘t bother to read the intelligence that was—should have determined the most important vote of her life. Why do we think she‘s a genius again?
SCHULTZ: Well, I think that she‘s a quick study on a lot of things. I think she‘s a brilliant person. I thought she handled herself extremely well last night. But I am not really convinced that she “won the debate.”
The American people are going to have to make a determination whether they think this is a big issue or not. The big issue, as I see it, Tucker, is the fact that the first debate after the war vote, there really was no breakout winner in the debate last night.
Everybody got a few jabs in and made some critical points, but I don‘t think that it was a real breakout moment for anybody. And I thought it might have been considering the fact that it was the first debate for the Democrats, post war vote on the funding.
CARLSON: Yes, you would think that. And two candidates I‘ve been looking to to excite me and to do a great job, both of them really capable, impressive people, I think, both, have not done well.
The first is Bill Richardson who flubbed a question about Darfur. It was such an easy question. Wolf Blitzer said to him, look, you are Mr. Humanitarian guy, you hate genocide, you‘re for intervening in Darfur as a result of your passions in favor of human rights, aren‘t you worried about what might happen in Iraq were we to pull out?
He didn‘t have an answer for that. Why?
SCHULTZ: No. This is—it has not been a good appearance as of late for Bill Richardson. He didn‘t do a very impressive job with your friend Tim Russert on “MEET THE PRESS.”
CARLSON: No, he didn‘t.
SCHULTZ: And I thought last night was not a very good performance either. I think what Richardson has to do is stop telling everybody what his resume is and tell us what you would do if you were the Democratic candidate and if you were elected president of the United States.
We know he was a governor. We know he has got ample experience. But we need to hear where Richardson stands. You know, on illegal immigration, Tucker, every time the guy talks, I think I am getting a different answer as a news consumer.
And I think that he—it was not a good moment for Bill Richardson last night.
CARLSON: Yes. It‘s a shame, because he is such an appealing guy in so many ways. And the same goes from Barack Obama. I think a lot of us are looking—a lot of us who aren‘t Democrats are looking to Barack Obama to save us, frankly, from Hillary Clinton.
And yet he gave an answer last night that I thought revealed a lot of about his style, and none of it good. He was asked, they were all were asked, are you for making English the national language? And all of them with the exception of poor Mike Gravel said, no, we are not in favor of it.
Then Obama went on to say this. That‘s precisely the kind of question that was designed to divide us. The question itself was out of bounds. What the hell was that?
SCHULTZ: Well, I think actually the Democratic base would go along with Barack Obama on that. Why is it that all of a sudden in a debate that English being the official language becomes a big priority to the American people?
There has been no outcry from Americans there. I think that was kind of a trick question. I thought Obama handled that about as well as he possibly could and he really went after it.
CARLSON: Leaving aside whether or not English ought to be the national language, which I think is an interesting conversation and I also believe an important one, I‘m wondering about Obama‘s personal style. Do you detect a kind of sanctimony in his response as a holier than thou tone to the way he speaks sometimes?
SCHULTZ: Well, I think he misrepresented John Edwards‘ position last night on the war when he said that he was basically slow to the party as far as the war position. He says he is four-and-a-half years late. Not the truth.
I think that that was wrong. John Edwards has not voted for any funding for the war after the war authorization vote of October of 2002. We can go back to the infamous $87 billion “I voted before it before I voted against it moment” for the Kerry camp, and the Democrats and where they are when it comes to supporting the troops.
John Edwards has been very clear, he has been a very concise voice on this, easy to understand on his position on the war, and that‘s why he is gaining. That‘s why I think he is gaining. Now it‘s not scientific, but on our Web site, wegoted.com, he clearly was the winner amongst our listeners in the debate last night.
CARLSON: I think you‘re absolutely right. I think you make an entirely fair point. And he is the only guy with the cahones, the honesty to stand up and say, I made a mistake in voting for the war, and good for him, I agree.
SCHULTZ: Exactly. And Hillary has not done that. Hillary has not done that. She has wordsmithed it a few times but not directly the way Edwards has.
CARLSON: Yes. I don‘t see the strategy behind that. But she is sticking to it. Ed Schultz, thanks a lot, Ed, I appreciate it.
SCHULTZ: Tucker, I‘ve got to get one more quick thing in.
SCHULTZ: The guy who got shafted last night was Chris Dodd, 41 minutes into the debate, we finally know that Chris Dodd is on the debate panel. I thought that his complaint today is well-warranted. The debate was not run in a fair manner at all.
CARLSON: I agree with that.
SCHULTZ: It was a focus on the top three, and I thought it was poorly handled from that regard.
CARLSON: Well, I mean, and of course, as always, I‘m taking the side of Dennis Kucinich who, like most vegans, got the shaft I thought, unfortunately. Ed Schultz, thanks for joining us.
SCHULTZ: You bet, Tucker.
CARLSON: See you, Ed.
Federal authorities uncover a plot to bomb a pipeline feeding a major New York airport, so why did The New York Times bury that story on page 30.
Plus, the man—the family of the man infected with TB says he is not reckless and would not have traveled around the world if he had known he was a danger to others. And yet he did know, and he‘s an ambulance-chaser. Should he be held liable for his own actions? That‘s coming up.
CARLSON: The Democratic presidential candidates debated in New Hampshire Sunday night and notably Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton were center stage literally as well as figuratively.
The headline-grabbing conflict featured Obama and Edwards on the Iraq War as Mrs. Clinton flew above the fray—or tried to. So who won and did the Democrats as a group help their party‘s ‘08 cause or did they hurt it? Here to tell us, Jill Zuckerman of The Chicago Tribune, and Stephanie Cutter, Democratic strategist and former communications director for the Kerry campaign.
Welcome to you both. Stephanie, I thought this was one of the most revealing moments of the debate last night. John Edwards, asked about the war on terror, where are we? Are we safer, et cetera? Here is part of what he said. This said a lot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What this global war on terror bumper sticker—a political slogan, that is all it is, that is all it has ever been, was intended to do was for George Bush to use it to justify everything he does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So, he went on to say that the real problems—he was asked about the JFK terror plot, and he essentially said, you know, the real problem are problems that we created, Abu Ghraib, the torture we committed.
The implication was—it‘s hard to believe he meant this, but certainly you were left with the impression he doesn‘t really believe we face a threat from Islamic extremism and that the threats we face are of our own doing. Is that a wise thing to say?
STEPHANIE CUTTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don‘t think that‘s what he said, Tucker. I think that he is saying what many of us are saying, is that we do face a threat from terrorists all over the world, but because of the actions of this administration, we face a greater threat. And I think that the president‘s own intelligence experts have confirmed that.
CARLSON: Hmm, I wonder why it would not just be smarter though to stand—isn‘t there room for a Democrat, Jill, to stand up and say, you know what, I hate the war in Iraq, I don‘t care for this president. He screwed it all up.
On the other hand, there are all these crazies, all these crazy Muslims, frankly, who are following this demented form of Islam, who aim to do us harm and I‘m the tough guy and I‘m going to stop them in their tracks, like a left-wing Rudy Giuliani or a more left-wing Giuliani.
JILL ZUCKERMAN, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, I think Senator Clinton was trying to fill that role when she rebuked Senator Edwards and said, hey, I‘m from New York, we know what the threat is, we‘ve been through it.
CARLSON: That‘s right. That‘s a good point.
ZUCKERMAN: I think that she does look back to that point to then talk about the future, even if he is trying toe blame everything on the Bush administration in terms of what has happened since and not look at the genesis of how it got started.
CARLSON: That‘s a wise—I think that‘s a wise place for her to be. Did you buy her explanation, Stephanie—and this is hobbyhorse for me, so you‘ll excuse me as I climb aboard once again, her explanation for why she didn‘t bother to read the National Intelligence Estimate?
We learn in The New York Times...
CUTTER: That she had been briefed by...
CARLSON: But we learn in The Times that in fact because she wasn‘t on the Armed Services Committee, she had no staff with security clearances necessary to actually read that information and brief her on it.
So she couldn‘t really have known what was in the NIE. She cast the wrong vote, obviously in hindsight. Shouldn‘t she just apologize and say, I blew it, I had a long lunch, I‘m lazy, I had a momentary lapse of consciousness or something?
CUTTER: I think that there are probably a lot of senators that didn‘t read the NIE.
CARLSON: Yes. There are a lot of senators.
CUTTER: And I think that that‘s because they thought that they could trust George Bush and George Tenet and Secretary Rumsfeld and everybody else who were traveling the country telling us about the grave threat we faced from Saddam Hussein, his weapons of mass destruction and his links to al Qaeda.
All of that has been proven wrong. I think that...
CARLSON: But isn‘t it kind of hard to make that argument when they had at their disposal, for them to read information that contradicted George W. Bush? They had it, they just didn‘t bother to read it. It‘s sort of hard to make the argument, isn‘t it?
CUTTER: But if you remember that the information that contradicted George Bush was in tiny little footnotes in the summary pages and in the back of the document. I mean, I remember talking about this in 2004.
And all of the warnings about there being dissent in the intelligence community on these facts were tiny little footnotes that you had to weave through. The fact is that it was irresponsible for the president of the United States, and the vice president of the United States to make these conclusions that weren‘t based on fact.
And why shouldn‘t we trust the president of the United States when he is telling us our reasons for going to war?
CARLSON: Oh, I don‘t know. I mean, of course, I agree with you that it was irresponsible for them to take us to war. On the other hand, the opposition party exists to do that, to read the footnotes. Isn‘t that kind of why they‘re there?
ZUCKERMAN: Senator Bob Graham did and he talks about reading the National Intelligence Estimate and feeling concern that Saddam Hussein did not really have weapons of mass destruction in deciding to vote against the authorization to go to war. And who knows what would have happened if more senators had actually gone and read the 90 pages that were there.
CARLSON: Yes. I mean, a pox on all their houses, by the way, I‘m not just picking on Hillary. I mean, John McCain didn‘t read it either and he definitely should have read it. However, where are the Democrats—I mean, why isn‘t Barack Obama—benefited from this? Let me ask you, on a political level.
CUTTER: On the fact that he was against the war?
CARLSON: Yes! He was against it. Hillary has really, I think, been revealed as kind of a phony, a profound phony on this one subject and she is not being punished by Democratic primary voters, at least in the polls so far, why?
CUTTER: Well, I think that it has worked to Barack‘s advantage. I think the line of the debate last night is that he was right on this war four-and-a-half years ago, that he used against Senator Edwards. You know, is it something that he could use a little more aggressively? Maybe.
In terms of Senator Clinton, she voted for the war based on information that was presented to her from intelligence experts, from the president of the United States, and the vice president, and George Tenet, who did many briefings on the Hill. I mean, if you can‘t trust the head of the CIA, who can you trust?
She has said that it was a mistake to trust George Bush. And I think that in the end, that‘s where most Americans are. They trusted George Bush. They know that it was wrong...
CARLSON: Yes, I agree. But I must...
CUTTER: This is where the American people are. And I think most people are look forward. And at the end of the day, when they go to the polls, they are looking for to a president, and they are going to be looking forward about how they are going to lead this country.
CARLSON: I guess the message about her leadership I take from all of this is Hillary Clinton is someone who is gullible, who does what she is told, who trusts people she should not trust in the first place and then blames them for it. I don‘t know! I...
CUTTER: So you could never trust George Bush? You can‘t trust your own president?
CARLSON: I don‘t know! Not if you‘re Hillary Clinton and you exist—you are the counterbalance to him. Like, your job is to call B.S. on him.
CUTTER: But you are looking at this too simplistically, because it is right after 9/11...
CARLSON: No, you‘re right! I agree with that. I guess I‘m just surprised that she didn‘t read it. I‘m being told that we are out of time. But we‘re going to come back to this, I promise.
A terror plot is busted in New York City, front page news, right? Maybe in other cities, but not in The New York Times. Why was that story buried?
Plus, Hillary Clinton is the senator from New York. She was also the first lady of Arkansas, but she is not from either one of those states. You know where she is from? If you said, no, I don‘t know where she is from, you‘re not alone. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Federal authorities arrested three men and publicly identified another on Saturday in New York and charged them with conspiring to blow up the fuel lines to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Reportedly the plot was in its planning stages and authorities noted that the public never was in danger, but the very existence of the plot and the fact that one of the suspects worked at JFK Airport were enough to spark terrorism anxiety, at least in some quarters.
So how did the biggest paper in New York City treat this story? Well, The New York Times put the bust in the metro section of Sunday‘s paper. Are important corners of the national media denying the importance of the terror threat to this country? Here to tell us, we welcome once again Jill Zuckerman of The Chicago Tribune; and Stephanie Cutter, Democratic strategist and former communications director for the Kerry campaign. Her motto, we did all we could.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Jill, so I get my Sunday Times, obviously I read the wedding section first because I‘m shallow. But then I turn to the A section and there‘s a big piece on brick-making in India, and then below the fold there‘s a piece on violin craftsmanship, there‘s a piece attacking the Bush administration‘s terrorism policy, and then a little box said, if you are interested in reading about the terror plot to blow up the biggest international airport in the region, turn to page A30. What the hell is that?
ZUCKERMAN: I was shocked when I saw that story on the front page of The Washington Post, but had to look inside The New York Times...
CARLSON: At the very end of the inset!
ZUCKERMAN: And, look, Tucker, I don‘t think this is liberal or conservative. This journalism and it‘s not always pretty. I don‘t think it was a great decision but I can tell you I think I know what happened.
They plan these Sunday papers weeks in advance. They decide, we‘re going to to get this long story that somebody has worked six months on on the front page of the Sunday paper.
And they make all those decisions during the week. And then when news happens, they become—they frequently—editors are occasionally inflexible and don‘t want to mess up their beautiful work.
CARLSON: I have been in those budget meetings. I have witnessed this myself at a newspaper. However, I suspect there is something—and that may have been the case at The Time, what happened.
But there is something larger going on here, Stephanie. Every liberal I know—and since I live in Washington, I know a lot of liberals, every—to a person, very quick to discount this and the Fort Dix story as oh, it‘s nothing.
There really is this feeling on the left, and I‘m not imagining it, that if you are seen to be hyping the terror threat, you are playing into George W. Bush‘s evil aims. Bush is leveraging terror for his political gain, therefore we have to respond by kind of downplaying the terror threat.
CUTTER: Well, do you think that George Bush has used terror for his politic gain?
CARLSON: Of course he has. George Bush has used terror to help himself politically since 9/11. He was reelected because of the terror threat. There is no question about that. And I resent it. It doesn‘t mean there‘s not a terror threat though.
CUTTER: No, I agree.
CARLSON: Democrats find themselves in a position of kind of pretending there isn‘t.
CUTTER: Well, look, I don‘t know any liberals or Democrats that you‘re talking about that don‘t believe that Fort Dix or the JFK plot were legitimate terrorist threats. I do think that there‘s probably a hesitancy across the country, regardless of what party you are in, to believe what is coming out of the White House in terms of terror threats.
Because let‘s remember, remember the coded system that we had. It was really curious that we always got the red alerts the day after a big Democratic event, step on our news. I think it was the day the convention started, the day the V.P. pick, the day before the first presidential debate.
You know, those things don‘t happen without a reason. So there is a little bit of hesitancy to trust this White House.
CARLSON: But don‘t you think there is also—there is a kind of political correctness going on. There is this hesitancy among liberals to admit the obvious, which is the one thing that all these people who hate us have in common is, they all share this kind of twisted form of the specific world religion, Islam.
And I don‘t think I have ever heard a leading Democrat get up and describe the people who hate us as Islamic extremists. Maybe I‘ve missed that.
CUTTER: Yes, you know, I don‘t know. But I do know...
CARLSON: You don‘t know what I‘m talking about at all, a tiny bit?
CUTTER: No, I don‘t. Because...
CARLSON: Muslims a big voting bloc in the Democratic Party? You know what I mean?
CUTTER: Oh yes, especially in Michigan. Why would Democrats on Capitol Hill being trying to implement the 9/11 recommendations if they didn‘t believe that there was a real terror threat on this country?
CARLSON: Oh, I‘m not saying—no, I think...
CUTTER: Why would we overfund Homeland Security?
CARLSON: ... no look, I think they believe—well, a lot of it is pork. I mean, this first responders nonsense, it‘s, you know, for the Poughkeepsie, New York, Police Department...
CUTTER: They don‘t need two-way communications systems...
CARLSON: Most of them don‘t. I‘m not sure that Montana faces or Alaska face huge terror threats.
CUTTER: No, I agree with that. But I think that maybe there‘s a generalization here.
CARLSON: I‘m generalizing grandly. But I‘m on to something. I‘m not making this up.
ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don‘t know, Tucker, that people are saying, oh, that didn‘t happen or that‘s not real. I think there is a—where there is a legitimate disagreement, it‘s between mixing up the war in Iraq and with this fight against terrorists. And I think a lot of Democrats feel like the president has mixed them and intertwined them in a way that has been unfair and not real, and now maybe it is now that al Qaeda seems to have...
CARLSON: And I think that‘s true, too. In fact, al Qaeda is in Iraq now. But it‘s interesting, and we‘ll get to this later in the show, but The New York Times Magazine, the left-wing New York Times, explains in pretty irrefutable detail how Hillary Clinton was the Democrat leading the charge on the connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. It‘s actually quite devastating and we‘ll get to it in just a minute.
But first, if you thought the White House was alone in their belief that al Qaeda had connection with Saddam, as I just said, you would be wrong, because Hillary Clinton through there was a connection too. She agreed with Dick Cheney. She sold his program. Is she ashamed today?
Plus, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt is offering a million bucks to anyone who can provide proof of an affair with a high-ranking government officials, maybe he ought to check with the alleged D.C. madam. You‘re watching MSNBC, the most impressive name in news.
CARLSON: It‘s been nearly two years since federal investigators found 90 grand in cash, wrapped in tinfoil, in New Orleans Congressman William Jefferson‘s freezer. Despite a wider investigation into Mr. Jefferson‘s activity outside the law, voters reelected him last year to office. Well today, William Jefferson was indicted on 16 counts of racketeering, soliciting bribes and money laundering.
Here with details is MSNBC Congressional correspondent Mike Viqueira. Mike, what is going on?
MIKE VIQUEIRA, MSNBC CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tucker, you remember when FBI agents raided Bill Jefferson‘s Rayburn office not too long ago. I guess it was last summer or close to the election. And Republicans and Democrats alike cried foul, said this was off limits to the executive branch, an over-bearing executive branch coming up here and intimidating the legislature. Even Denny Hastert got on board that.
Well, it turns out that corruption was one of the things that cost the Republicans the election after all. But today it is a Democratic who faces this 94 page, 16 count indictment. You mentioned some of the charges, racketeering, soliciting bribes, money laundering, 11 different bribe schemes.
Justice Department officials held a briefing at the Justice Department about an hour ago. They say that he solicited a bribe over here in the Congressional dining room in the House of Representatives. He asked for 100,000 dollars in cash in that now infamous incident. It was all videotaped by law enforcement officials. An informant was in on it, was meeting with Jefferson.
Ninety thousand of which, officials describe today, found in his freezer, wrapped in aluminum foil, and put in different containers around the freezer, as if he was trying to hide something, which presumably he was. It all had to do with business dealings in telecommunications in Africa. Several countries were named, including Nigeria, Ghana and Batswana.
All told, Tucker, it appears that, according to these officials, these Justice Department officials, Representative Jefferson received about 400,000 dollars in cash and bribes and solicited a whole lot more than that, close to a million dollars. Justice officials were asked why it took them such a long time. It‘s, after all, a two-year investigation here, a little better than two years, by Justice Department officials.
They say, by any standard in an investigation like this, that was a short amount of time. Tucker?
CARLSON: Mike Viqueira on the Hill, amazing. Amazing! Thanks Mike.
VIQUEIRA: All right.
CARLSON: Well, back with their best advice to Congressman Jefferson, we welcome Jill Zuckerman of the “Chicago Tribune” and Stephanie Cutter, the famed Democratic strategist. Welcome back.
ZUCKERMAN: Do you think the money was in tupperware or just wrapped in foil?
CARLSON: Apparently like hashish, it was just wrapped in tinfoil. That is—Now, this is William Jefferson—first of all, how long until he claims this is part of a racist conspiracy? It‘s probably already happened. But give me a time. Would you say by the end of the day, end of the week?
ZUCKERMAN: I don‘t know, Tucker. Listening to Mike‘s report, that‘s a hard indictment to argue with.
CARLSON: Kind of hard, and the truth is, William Jefferson—Bill Jefferson is a very courtly guy, I have to say. I had him on one time to be mean to him during Katrina, when he was desperately trying to get to his house, probably to remove evidence, and he hijacked like a humvee, a helicopter, all this National Guard equipment.
We brought him on just so I could barbecue the guy, and he was just such a friendly, polite guy. It was kind of hard to dislike him. I have to say that. I‘m a sucker for that.
ZUCKERMAN: Speaker Pelosi has to feel pretty good right now about taking him off of Ways and Means, because she took a lot of flak from the Congressional Black Caucus and from Congressman Jefferson when she did that.
CARLSON: His website right now, as of this morning, said that he is, quote, an active and senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and its subcommittee on trade. So that‘s just a total crock?
ZUCKERMAN: Maybe they haven‘t updated that website in many, many months. But she kicked him off to show, during 2006, when the Democrats were running on a platform of cleaning up Washington, she didn‘t want to tolerate even a hint of impropriety, and said, you‘re off Ways and Means.
CARLSON: Yes, well, they tolerated some hints of impropriety in the meantime, I would say. But he is still a member of the Democratic caucus. How do they deal with that, if you are Nancy Pelosi, and you‘re presiding over the single most ethical Congress in the history of Democracy?
CUTTER: Well, I think her move to take him off Ways and Means is a good first step, and as strong as that indictment sounded, let‘s remember, you‘re not guilty until you have a fair trial.
CARLSON: That‘s absolutely true. Actually, I think you‘re guilty at the point they find 90 grand wrapped in tinfoil in the freezer. I mean, you‘re guilty of something, anyway.
ZUCKERMAN: In the case of Tom Delay, when he was a member of the leadership, and he was indicted, he was forced to step down from his leadership position. In this case with Jefferson, he is simply a member of Congress. And I don‘t think there are any rules that require him to do anything. He is not a member of leadership, so he‘s not stepping down from any post.
Most likely—I‘m guessing he‘s not going to try to retire from Congress to fight this. He will probably keep his job.
CARLSON: Of course he is. Are you kidding? It‘s a paying job. Now, I‘m not going to try to find a political angle in the Andrew Speaker TB story. On the other hand, you can‘t help noticing the guy is an ambulance chaser. He is, I‘m sure, an active Democratic fund raiser like most of them.
He is a trial lawyer. He is a personal injury lawyer. If you have a phone, you‘ve got a lawyer. If you have TB, you‘ve got bad judgment if you get on an airplane. Would it not be just, in a deep, almost theological sense, for every member of every flight that Andrew Speaker flew on to and from Europe to sue him for reckless endangerment?
CARLSON: Yes, then answer is yes, Stephanie Cutter.
CUTTER: I mean, if I was on the flight, sure. I‘d do it.
ZUCKERMAN: I would not wanted to have been on that flight—on any of those flights with him. But can they sue him if they don‘t contract TB?
CUTTER: They still can.
CARLSON: Pain and suffering, are you kidding? My coffee from Mcdonalds was too hot. What do you make of the fact that his father in law, A, is an infectious disease expert, who studies drug resistant TB; he had nothing to do with this. And B, he knew that his son-in-law was infected, and didn‘t prevent from getting on those airplanes. He is still employed by the federal government? Talk about job security. How does that work?
ZUCKERMAN: The father in law was on television saying, look, he was not infectious. He wasn‘t coughing. His test were coming back negative, whatever test they had. I don‘t know. I‘m not an infectious—
CARLSON: Don‘t you think—is the irony alert going off in the background.
ZUCKERMAN: This is going to be an unbelievable movie some day.
CARLSON: It‘s unbelievable. Speaking of unbelievable movies, Larry Flyntt has put an ad in the paper offering a million dollars to anybody who can provide incontrovertible evidence of an affair between a high government official and presumably a civilian, trolling for sex gossip.
Now, post-Clinton—and I was here for that. I remember that. I remember the moral outrage of many of Clinton‘s defenders. This is his private life. There‘s the ad right there, one million bucks. Why aren‘t Democrats out there as defenders of the private sphere and a man‘s right to have a weird personal life. Why are not they out there attacking Larry Flyntt.
ZUCKERMAN: Why Democrats? Why not Republicans?
ZUCKERMAN: Why aren‘t all lawmakers.
CARLSON: Because Republicans kind of—I think Republicans ought to be. I mean, I am completely offended, completely—as a small government guy, I am completely offended by this, but Republicans have a weird—I mean, they persecuted Clinton for essentially his private life, so they don‘t really have much of a platform for this.
But you would think Democrats, to uphold the principle that the private life ought to remain private, would be disowning Larry Flyntt as a major Democratic supporter.
CUTTER: I think everyone is just yawning.
CUTTER: I think so.
ZUCKERMAN: I had to go back and look for it today.
CARLSON: What is it with the porn industry getting involved in politics all of a sudden. I mean, you saw Hugh Hefner‘s daughter.
CARLSON: Yes, right, like you‘re not fully aware of the porn industry‘s entry into American politics? No?
ZUCKERMAN: They certainly care about lawmakers who support the first amendment.
CARLSON: I guess they do.
ZUCKERMAN: It‘s part of their industry.
CARLSON: Boy, they are voting Democrat. They are all Hillary people, I noticed. Jenna Jameson, rabid Hillary person. She‘s a porn star. I know you‘re looking confused.
Hillary Clinton, speaking of, refuses to admit making a mistake in voting for war in Iraq. It turns out she believed al Qaeda had a connection to Saddam Hussein. Will she admit that was a mistake? She ought to.
And more importantly, Paris Hilton; she‘s taking responsibility for her actions now, showing Hillary a thing or two. It is day one of Hilton‘s 23 day jail sentence. We‘ll check in with celebrity crime correspondent Willie Geist for details of her hot 24 hours behind bars. You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: An article in this weekend‘s “New York Times Magazine” previewed a new biography of Hillary Clinton called “Her Way.” It‘s written by Jeff Girth and Don Vanetta (ph). The book includes a series of damning assertions about Mrs. Clinton, who continues to nuance her original position on the Iraq war, for which she voted. One of those assertions is that Hillary Clinton believed the false claim by the Bush administration that there was a significant operational link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
Her presidential aspirations have survived unscathed up to know. In fact, almost nobody has noticed. Why is that?
Back to tell us, Jill Zuckerman of the “Chicago Tribune,” and Stephanie Cutter, Democratic strategist, and former communications director for the Kerry campaign. All right, I don‘t think I‘m beating up on Hillary or being unfair to poor Mrs. Clinton.
ZUCKERMAN: You don‘t?
CARLSON: Well, of course, I am beating up on Hillary Clinton. But it‘s not just me. I think this actually matters, unlike making fun of her hair style. This is the “New York Times.” Unlike nearly all of her fellow Democrats, Hillary Clinton even went so far as to argue that Saddam Hussein gave assistance to al Qaeda members. Boy, you know, I‘m as conservative as anyone. I never thought that.
Why is she not famous in Democratic circles as the person who carried Dick Cheney‘s water when it mattered?
ZUCKERMAN: Well, I just think there‘s still so much confusion about what the facts are of what was going on in Iraq all those years. There‘s so much that has been cloaked in secrecy. There‘s been so much misinformation put out by various people for their own purposes that I think it‘s hard to get to the bottom of what is what.
And certainly her husband‘s administration spent a lot of time looking at Saddam Hussein and worrying about al Qaeda, and it‘s conceivable that some of those concerns carried over.
CARLSON: Well here is—to quote her husband, since you brought that up, a very famous quote, but one that nevertheless people forget: Bill Clinton in 1998, quote, “mark my words. He, Saddam Hussein, will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them. He will use them.”
Interesting. Here‘s something, Stephanie, that sticks in my craw. Hillary Clinton has said a number of times pretty recently that she voted not to have Bush invade Iraq. She didn‘t vote for war. She voted for more time. She essentially voted for diplomacy, which is untrue, obviously, as anyone who was there knows.
This piece and this book claim—or point out that she voted against the Levin Amendment. And the Levin Amendment, a kind of esoteric amendment, would have forced the president to further diplomacy, to try more diplomatic efforts with Iraq before invading Iraq. And she voted against that. Why would she do that?
CUTTER: As I understand it, the Levin Amendment ceded all of our authority to the U.N. And I don‘t think that was a plausible position at that point. I think the thing that we‘re not discussing, which I think is a very important piece of why Senator Clinton did what she did, is that these arguments were being laid out in the summer and early fall of 2002, which is just a year after September 11th.
And she is a senator from New York. She saw that tragedy up close. She had to clean up that city and unify that city and bring people together, and help those families through it. That creates a certain impression on a lawmaker, in terms of how they lead, the decisions they make.
So if you have an administration laying out an argument that Saddam Hussein is aiding al Qaeda and working with them, or developing relationships with them, and you have a secretary of state going to the U.N., convincing the world that Saddam Hussein has a link with al Qaeda, then, you know, that leaves a certain impression.
CARLSON: I don‘t think there‘s any question. You‘re right. You‘ve got to put it in context. However, as the “New York Times” points out, quote, “Clinton‘s linking of Iraq‘s leader, Saddam Hussein, and al Qaeda was unsupported by the conclusions of the National Intelligence Estimate and other secret intelligence reports that were available to senators before the vote, but that Mrs. Clinton did not avail herself of.”
She would not have come to that conclusion had she bothered to do her homework, which she didn‘t. But here‘s my point. It‘s not that she voted for the war. A lot of people did and most of them regret it. I think Bush wouldn‘t invade again if he had the chance to take it all back. You know what I mean? Everyone knows it‘s a mistake now.
ZUCKERMAN: But would he ever admit that?
CARLSON: Exactly. He would not admit. And that‘s why people don‘t like Bush, because he never admits his mistakes. Why is Hillary Clinton the same? Why can‘t she just say, you know what? I made a terrible mistake. Why can‘t she do what John Edwards is doing?
CUTTER: She has that it‘s a mistake to trust the president. I think that‘s a mistake. A mistake is a mistake is a mistake.
CARLSON: Why not just say—look, you‘re an expert on language. You are a communications director. You know a lot about how this works. Why can‘t she just be unequivocal as John Edwards. John Edwards puts the conversation to rest. It‘s over. Edwards comes out. He‘s like, you know what? I blew it, and I‘m just so sorry. I‘m going to devote the rest of my life to making it right. Why doesn‘t she say that?
CUTTER: Well, you know, I think she has made a decision that she‘s done all she can to demonstrate why she voted for it, demonstrate how she‘s not going to—she would not do it again, knowing what she knows now. I think that ultimately this is not going to be an issue that voters care about.
ZUCKERMAN: I think she believes she‘s going to be the Democratic nominee for president. She is going to have to run in a general election against a Republican, and she doesn‘t want to say that the most important vote of her Senate career was a mistake. She wants to say she used her best judgment at the time, and it didn‘t turn out the way—
CUTTER: I think that‘s probably the truth.
CARLSON: It is the truth, and it‘s also the truth that she is likely to be the Democratic nominee and then the president. She is likely to become president of the United States. This is the moment before you hit the tree. OK, this is a slow motion car crash. I‘m asking you, Stephanie, in our last words on this show today, who could stop her, and where is that person?
CUTTER: Well, it could be Barack Obama or it could be John Edwards. Barack Obama needs to figure out what his next move is. I think last night‘s debate performance, he did about 100 percent better than last time. We‘ll see what happens next. John Edwards clearly made a move last night. Whether or not it‘s going to help him outside of Iowa, we have to see. But she is still the front runner.
CARLSON: I know she is.
CARLSON: Say a prayer, that‘s my request to you.
ZUCKERMAN: It won‘t be Mike Gravel.
CARLSON: It will not be Mike Gravel, and that‘s OK. Mike Gravel has his place. The White House is probably not the right place. Jill, Stephanie, thank you both.
Why do people go to minor league baseball games? The drama. You‘re looking at it. Where else are you going to see a grown man dressed in polyester sliding pants throwing a tantrum like a two year old? Willie Geist has the play by play of one of the most remarkable outbursts in the history of televised sports. We‘ve got it all. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: In case you got up late this morning and missed him on the MSNBC morning show for three full hours today, we have a recap. Here he is again, live in person in headquarters, the great Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And I‘ll be sleep walking through this entire segment as a result, Tucker. Thank you very much. You know how they asked at the debate last night, Tucker, do we feel safer than we were before 9/11; is the country better off? I didn‘t feel that way until today, because Paris Hilton is now behind bars.
There she was last night, Tucker, walking the red carpet at the MTV Movie Wards, the cultural icon and role model to young women that she is. She posed for the cameras, spoke to reporters as a free woman. And then just like that, she left us. Paris skipped out of the show, went home briefly, and then hauled herself off to jail.
Her first night in the Century Regional Detention Facility outside Los Angeles passed without incident as far as we know. Her mug shot turned out nicely, I think. Helps to have a hair and makeup team prepping you for your first night in the slammer.
Before Paris turned herself in, an MTV red carpet reporter lauded her for her courage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome, how are you?
PARIS HILTON, “THE SIMPLE LIFE”: I‘m doing OK. I‘m obviously a little scared right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it‘s a couple of days before you‘re headed to jail, and you‘re here at the movie awards. Thank you for coming, by the way.
HILTON: Of course.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it‘s pretty courageous of you to face this crowd. But how are you feeling?
HILTON: I‘m scared but I‘m being strong and I‘m ready to face my sentence. And I hope this can be an example to other young people in the decisions they make, and use it as something positive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Tucker, wherever did she find the courage to face the cast of “Talladega Nights?” I don‘t know where she finds it. She‘s an amazing woman.
CARLSON: I don‘t normally judge people for being dumb. I have good friends who are dumb. God doesn‘t care if you‘re dumb. It‘s not a moral category, intelligence.
CARLSON: But I don‘t think I‘ve ever seen two dumber people together in one place. That was too dumb. You know what I mean? There is a level of dumbness that is offensive. And I think we just saw it.
GEIST: It‘s totally offensive. Apparently Paris is now in her own jail cell, didn‘t get a cell mate to start off with. So they‘re going to see how she does there. Complete isolation. It‘s kind of a letdown for some of us. But we‘re rooting for you, Paris. Be strong; 22 more days.
Well, if you‘re still waiting to watch your Tivo of last night‘s “Sopranos,” turn down your volume now, because we‘re about to ruin it for you. Ready? If you haven‘t been watching for the last several years, do yourself a favor and tune in for the last episode. Just get caught up online or something.
Last night‘s second-to-last episode ever saw the spectacular murder of Tony Soprano‘s brother-in-law and the near-murder of Tony‘s right hand man. The boys from Jersey are in an all-out war with their rival New York family. The walls closing around Tony very quickly, Tucker.
The big question what happens to Tony in the last episode. He bid his family adieu. He sent them off into safety. He‘s a man on an island. The question is, what happens to Tony in that final episode? It‘s going to be fun to watch.
CARLSON: My guess, you see some really sick edipal scene where his son, A.J., kills him.
GEIST: Yes, the A.J. story line will come back around. Tucker, you and I talked about this earlier today. I want to throw this out in case there are any mobsters of members of La Cosa Nostra (ph) in the audience watching. When they go and do a hit on someone on the show, they always drop the gun at the murder scene and walk away. Why is that? Please email us.
Email us if you‘re in the mob and we‘ll keep you anonymous. You have our word.
Finally, Tucker, if you haven‘t seen this footage, the Braves‘ minor league manager losing his mind during a game the other night, you‘re in for a treat. Forty five-year-old, yes, 45-year-old Philip Wellman (ph), manager of the double A Mississippi Braves—he took exception to an umpire‘s call, got himself thrown out and then put on a show, one of the most spectacular displays of insanity we‘re bound to see for generations.
Here he sneaks up behind the mound, bites the rosin bag like it‘s a grenade and throws it at the umpire in protest of a call. Yes, Tucker, this grown man, 45-year-old, the manager, meaning the leader of the team. These kids are 18, 19, 20 years old, looking up to this guy.
Apparently he‘s teaching them this is how you resolve conflict. Just throw that base into the outfield big guy. There you guy. Quite a show, Tucker. We‘ve seen good ones in the Major Leagues, but nothing like this. You can get away with a lot more in the minors and be applauded for it.
CARLSON: Plus for the average ticket price of like seven dollars, that‘s worth it.
GEIST: Worth the price of admission.
CARLSON: Willie Geist from headquarters. Thanks a lot, Willie. Well, that is it for us. “HARDBALL” is next. We‘re back tomorrow. Have a great night.
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