Guests: Dennis Kucinich, Peter Fenn, Richard Wolffe, Ryan Lizza
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Good afternoon and welcome to the show. Today, the central question of the season, maybe of the era, what is the least bad solution to the war in Iraq? The Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised the anti-war activists in the Democratic Party that Congress will, in fact, impose a withdrawal date from Iraq.
News broke of a new attack, this one on the Golden Mosque of Samarra. The first bombing of that mosque last February set off a cycle of extraordinary sectarian violence. This morning‘s bomb damaged two of the shrine‘s minarets. That led White House press secretary Tony Snow to remark that, quote, “somebody is using the holy site as a venue to blow up democracy.”
Which leads to the central problem: With 3,500 American servicemen already dead, thousands more injured in Iraq, with mounting evidence that Iran is already involved in the fighting there, with other parts of the region, including Gaza and Lebanon and Afghanistan embroiled in mounting violence, is there any good way to get out? Or will a departure from Iraq lead inevitably to further disaster for them and for us?
Joining us now with his answers, presidential hopeful and Democratic congressman from Ohio, Dennis Kucinich.
Congressman, thanks for coming on.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: Thanks very much, Tucker. Always great to be on your show, and I look forward to our discussion.
CARLSON: Well, I do too, and the answer to the following question:
Given everything you have been reading about Iraq in the past couple of weeks, do you really believe that if U.S. service personnel and all U.S. contractors were removed from that country, all of our bases closed—and you‘ve called for all of that—that the situation would not disintegrate almost instantly into total chaos, leading to much more bloodshed? It wouldn‘t, wouldn‘t it?
KUCINICH: No, actually, my belief, Tucker, is that the occupation is fueling the insurgency, and the U.S. presence is really a catalyst for a lot of the conflict that‘s going on.
What I would suggest is that the U.S. needs to leave Iraq the sooner the better, but we can only do so with an international peacekeeping and security force replacing our troops.
We have the money right now. It is in the pipeline, not only to bring the troops home, but to set in motion the very plan that I‘ve been recommending for years now, embodied in HR1234.
CARLSON: OK. Now, Congressman, I think you are an honest man, and I don‘t mean to give you a hard time or single you out, but let‘s be real here for a second. You don‘t know really believe—I don‘t know any serious person who believes that the conflict between Kurds, Sunni and Shiites in Iraq have been caused by the U.S. presence there. You think the bombing of this shrine, the Shiite holy place in Iraq, is a result of our presence there? Come on.
KUCINICH: Tucker, there is really no question that the occupation is what is fueling the insurgency.
CARLSON: You don‘t think there was any conflict, you don‘t think there was profound conflict between Sunni and Shiite factions and Kurdish factions in Iraq or the region before we arrived? I know you don‘t believe that.
KUCINICH: Of course, we know that there has been strong differences, that at times have been internecine. And that violence is part and parcel of that.
However, the level of violence certainly did not occur until after the United States decided that we were going to be invading and occupying Iraq. So...
CARLSON: There‘s no doubt. No, you are absolutely right.
CARLSON: There‘s no question that you are right in that, obviously. Do you really believe that once we leave, it won‘t get worse? And if you think it won‘t get worse, why won‘t it get worse?
KUCINICH: But I think you have to...
KUCINICH: First of all, if anyone wants to accept the possibility that the occupation is fueling the insurgency, then you have to say, OK, it‘s time for the U.S. to leave, but we cannot leave without creating an international peacekeeping and security force.
Tucker, what I‘ve talked about is, that means an initiative with Syria and with Iran. And when we create this, with the help of the parties in the region, that‘s when we can be assured that as we leave, Iraq will not disintegrate into the scenario that you‘ve talked about.
CARLSON: So we pass the buck to other countries. What specifically are those countries, why in the world would they want their soldiers killed?
KUCINICH: Well, no one would want to do anything right now to bail the United States out. I mean, we are actually trapped there, and frankly there are some people who feel very comfortable watching the casualties mount of U.S. troops...
KUCINICH: ... and watching the lifeblood of our nation drain, not only with our dear soldiers, but also with our tax dollars.
But I also think that there are those who are concerned about instability in the region. Iran must be concerned about further instability in Iraq. All countries in the region have to be.
I have talked to—Tucker, I‘ve talked to dozens of ambassadors representing regional countries who have indicated their concern about the continued occupation by the U.S. troops.
CARLSON: Of course. There is no question that that is true. I just want specifics now. Because you‘re speaking not just for yourself, but I think for almost everybody running for president on the Democratic side. Many—maybe they are copying you—but have similar ideas about what to do next, get other people to assume the burdens. So I want to be very specific here. Who is going to send soldiers into Iraq to keep the peace? What specific country is going to do that? And why?
KUCINICH: What I would say is we have to go to every country in the region.
CARLSON: So you don‘t know who.
KUCINICH: Well, yes, every country in the region. I mean, you know, you want 22 countries. And what you do is you go and you ask those countries to contribute a stability force.
We‘re not talking about an aggressive force. We‘re talking about stabilization, until Iraq can run its own affairs.
Let me tell you what I‘m concerned about. When, you know, Senator Clinton said things that would make you believe that we would be in Iraq for a long time.
KUCINICH: If she has her way. And Senator Clinton and Obama have voted to fund the war up until the last vote. I think that we have got to be very concerned about a long-term U.S. commitment that will only result in more casualties, more cost to the taxpayers, more civilian deaths...
KUCINICH: ... and not a resolution of the conflict. I want to get out, and I want to get out now.
CARLSON: Hold it—I agree—I absolutely agree with you, that your opponents on the Democratic side have been fibbing at best about their plans. They would, certainly Mrs. Clinton would keep U.S. troops, many of them, thousands of them, in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
Here‘s my concern, Congressman. Everyone wants to leave Iraq, the Bush administration included. It doesn‘t strike me that Democrats have thought through the consequences of that.
I asked you specifically, who is going to replace our soldiers? We all agree we need some sort of outside stabilizer in Iraq to keep genocide from breaking out, and you don‘t have an answer and nobody else does either.
KUCINICH: No, I said all of the...
CARLSON: Shouldn‘t you have thought this through more?
KUCINICH: It starts with this—it starts with us going to all of the Muslim nations; it starts with us opening up a diplomatic initiative with Syria and Iran to get their help, because they are affected also by the instability. It means that at least half of the security and peacekeeping force has to come from nations in the region. It means that we, as those forces moved in, we can leave. We have to leave. We have to leave.
CARLSON: OK, but which forces are you—see, this is the sticking point. And again, I am not singling you out. It‘s every candidate on the Democratic side says the same thing, and I have not heard one candidate say, you know what, Jordan would be willing to give 15,000 troops, or Saudi Arabia 35,000. I haven‘t heard anything along those lines, and don‘t you think we need to get to that level of specificity before we call for an American withdrawal?
KUCINICH: Well, you‘re absolutely right that you want to get specific about it. I have talked to ambassadors from countries, including Jordan and Saudi Arabia, who all have expressed concern about long-term U.S. occupation. And it is my belief that after talking to ambassadors who represent a wide variety of countries in the area, including Egypt, that it‘s possible if the U.S. takes the initiative, says we are leaving, that we can put together a peacekeeping and security force—through the U.N., I might add.
We have to establish international law, not the United States maintaining the occupation.
KUCINICH: And I think the specificity of it depends on the United States showing the initiative and going out to all the nations. It‘s not just some and not all. We need to reach out to the community of nations in the Middle East to get their help in stabilizing that country, but we have to leave, Tucker. We‘ve got to get out of there.
CARLSON: Look, I agree with you completely that we have screwed it up badly. I‘m just less certain than you are that the rest of the world would do a better job, but...
KUCINICH: Only if the U.S. leaves can (inaudible) stabilize Iraq.
CARLSON: I hope you‘re right. All right. Dennis Kucinich, running for president, congressman from Ohio. Congressman, thanks very much.
KUCINICH: Thank you.
CARLSON: So what does Fred Thompson think about the war in Iraq? He‘s running close to the top of many polls of Republican voters, but what do we really know about him? You will know more in a minute.
Barack Obama says he was always against the war in Iraq and he stands by his guns, but what about the other issues? Issues like global warming, U.S. dependence on foreign oil? We will tell you. You are watching MSNBC, the most impressive name in news.
CARLSON: Fred Thompson still hasn‘t announced his candidacy for ‘08, but he says he wants to do some things that only a president can do. What are those things? Details next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED THOMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I never planned on spending a career in Washington. I often say after eight years in Washington, I long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood.
JAY LENO, HOST OF “THE TONIGHT SHOW”: Would you like the job of president of the United States?
THOMPSON: I have never craved the job of president, but I want to do some things that only a president can do, so the answer is, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Well you know, the truth, it‘s not news until it happens on late-night television. So we can now report that former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson wants to be your next president, though he‘s never craved it. President Thompson—Thompson‘s rise in recent polls derives from his image as a real conservative and a Washington outsider.
Now, comes closer inspection of Thompson‘s record courtesy of rival campaigns. The results, well, here are two facts. For one, Thompson once wrote that abortion should not be criminalized, and for another, he once lobbied on behalf of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the anti-American former president of Haiti, since deposed.
Will Fred Thompson pass inspection, will voters still like him when they know a lot more about him? Joining us now, “Newsweek‘s” senior White House correspondent, Richard Wolffe, and Democratic strategist, Peter Fenn.
Richard, I was amazed to learn that Thompson, whom I like, I think he‘s an impressive guy, once lobbied for Aristide. Now, we have here his Justice Department papers where he is registering as a foreign lobbyist to lobby on behalf of the deposed president of Haiti. They are dated October 10, 1991.
I want to read you a quote from former president Aristide one month later. He‘s talking about necklacing, which is the practice of putting a gasoline-filled tire over someone‘s head and lighting it in order to execute him.
Quote, this is Aristide, “It‘s beautiful. It looks sharp, it‘s fashionable, it smells good, and wherever you go, you want to smell it.”
This was widely-reported at the time. Aristide, not exactly Pol Pot, but a man who was such a bad guy, even the Clinton administration didn‘t like him. Why in the world would Fred Thompson be lobbying for Aristide? It‘s amazing to me.
RICHARD WOLFFE, NEWSWEEK: Well, he obviously never craved the job of lobbyist, but he just wanted to get the paycheck at the end of the day. Look, Aristide clearly way off the charts: corrupt, criminal, and actually Communist, or faintly Communist.
CARLSON: Yes, that‘s right.
WOLFFE: So, unsavory on so many dimensions for a leading Republican candidate for president. And this is part of the scrutiny he is going to face. This is what political reporters will be digging into as this guy emerges as a serious candidate. Maybe it‘s not enough to unhinge his presidential ambitions for the Republican primary, but it‘s certainly going to be there if he wins the nomination.
CARLSON: Well, I would guess also, apparently records of Thompson. Let me just say I want Thompson to be the real thing, I want—you know, it would nice to have a real Republican in the race. But records indicate that on December 11th—that was just two months almost—or three months after Aristide said this, he apparently Thompson, called then-White House Chief of Staff John Sununu to talk about the Haiti embargo. So, apparently he actively lobbied on his behalf.
Is this ancient history to people? Will anybody care except me?
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think some people care, Tucker, but I won‘t tell you unless someone can show that he had some relationship other than being a lawyer and a law firm and a lobbyist 15 years ago. I think it‘s going to be a tough one to make stick on him. But I think he should answer the question. You know, did you believe in this guy? What kind of relationship did you have with him? Did you go to Haiti and visit with him? Who else was on this account? You know, you‘re the registered lobbyist, your name is on the paper.
CARLSON: Right, and also the obvious question, how about Robert Mugabe, how about Fidel Castro, did you lobby on their behalf too? Sorry, now I‘m being mean.
WOLFFE: No, but in any normal cycle, the question about an obscure foreign leader would be fine, everyone say, oh it‘s not important. But we‘re coming out of 2006 where the issue of corruption was almost as high as Iraq. So, you know, lobbyists running for president, that sounds a lot worse than—than a TV actor running for president.
CARLSON: This guy, Aristide defined himself as an anti-American. He was against the great Satan America. So I think that is significant. Here‘s the most interesting thing I saw in the polls. OK, so here are the latest Quinnipiac numbers. Rudy Giuliani, among Republicans, 27 percent. John McCain, 15 percent, McCain‘s old friend, Fred Thompson, also 15 percent. The two are tied. Now what‘s‘s interesting to me is where that support comes from. Chris Cillizza at the “Washington Post,” points this out. When you break down that pole, the strongest subgroups supporting Thompson are self-described “religious voters.” Thirty-two percent of them for Thompson, that‘s compared to 12 for Giuliani, McCain 11. The evangelicals like Thompson. Given that, if we find anything in his record that suggests that he is not sympathetic with the evangelical cause, that is a big problem. Is it not?
WOLFFE: That is a big problem. Look, his strength is that he uses sort of Bush tactics when it comes to abortion. Speaks the language of the movement but, as some of these records have some, doesn‘t sign up for things like constitutional amendment. When you are taking that tack and you are trying to appeal to a group that believes in the politics of purity, you have got a problem. Especially coming out of the Bush years where evangelicals are frankly, disappointed that Bush hasn‘t done enough. So, his big problem is getting these people to the polls. It is one thing for you know to show up in certain breakdown of small sample call, but getting them to vote on primary day is going to be tough.
CARLSON: So this guy, Thompson has 100 percent pro-life voting record according to the anti-abortion group‘s that keep track of that.
CARLSON: However, he is also on record 1996 Christian Coalition asked him in a survey, should abortion be criminalized? He wrote, this apparently in his own hand, “I do not believe abortion should be criminalized. This battle will be won in the hearts and souls of the American people. That is, in effect, a pro-choice position. Its not reflected in his voting record, again, to be fair, but that is essentially what Hillary Clinton says. Safe, rare, legal.
FENN: He thinks that pre-Roe V. Wade was alright. Leaving it to the states was alright. The trouble with this, Tucker, is that the other guys like Giuliani and Romney, have serious problems on the abortion issue as well. So, and I do think, I agree with Richard, I think that the conservatives are looking for somebody else. They‘re finding him right now in Fred Thompson. The polls is another one that has him second with Rudy continuing to drop.
FENN: And, the question now will become, once the power gets turned up on that microscope and people start looking more closely at Fred Thompson, not “The Law and Order,” you know, the last 10 minutes of the program and not just—the ex-Senator from long ago, but what is it that he really stands for and believes? And if he can convince people that he is the true conservative in this race, which Mitt Romney is trying to do with his ads after he flip-flopped ...
CARLSON: Yes, and Romney‘s doing a pretty good job, I think.
FENN: On his ads, yes.
CARLSON: No, there‘s no doubt about it and he‘s ...
That is exactly the group that is being fought over right now.
CARLSON: Romney and Thompson, and I think in some ways, the race is between them, but what do I know?
Hillary Clinton certainly knows how to raise money but she also knows how to spend it. Especially the government‘s money and billions of it. Does she know anything about fiscal responsibility? Plus, Hillary leads Barak Obama two to one with female voters. Can he gain their support? This is MSNBC.
CARLSON: Time again to take a look at our Obameter, that‘s the measure of Barack Obama‘s run for president. Well, like almost every other politician lately, Senator Obama is shoring up his green Obama fides. For a long time, Obama supported a controversial plan to promote the use of coal to power trucks and cars. That is not typically considered a green position. Well, yesterday Obama quietly reversed course in an email to environmental advocacy groups. If you will remember, he fumbled the question at the first Democratic debate about his own personal greening at home. Whatever the hell that is. How big of a problem will his environmental record be in his campaign? To answer, we welcome back “Newsweek‘s” Senior White House Correspondent, Rich Wolffe and Democratic Strategist and Contributor to the “Hills” pundits blog, Peter Fenn.
Now, Peter, come on. So Obama is for the use of—potentially the use of coal technology for internal combustion engines and now under the pressure of the environmental wing from his party, he is against it. Its either a good idea or its not. Does this mean he did not think it through in the first place? Does this mean that there us some breaking news? What does this mean?
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, Tucker, I would say welcome to the big leagues. You know, it is no longer Illinois. It is no longer just you ...
CARLSON: So its a cynical last minute conversion.
FENN: No, no, no, no ...
CARLSON: This is the authenticity camp.
PENN: I think the question is that what he did was clearly—it changes his position on this issue. He has a caveat on there that if he can reduce greenhouse gases by 20 percent then he could support it. I don‘t know the technology of this from Adam, so I am wrong guy to ask about that, but the politics of this is very clear.
The environmentalist are apoplectic over this. They‘re advertising on it. They are spending money on it. They are all over the place on it. The Democrats—and I‘m going to be blunt here, they have been very nervous about it. They lost West Virginia in 2000. I wonder why? One of the issues was, you know, the perception of Gore as too much of an environmentalist. Pennsylvania it‘s key. Ohio it‘s important. There are clearly swing states here where this ...
CARLSON: I know, but bad policy flows from decisions like this. I mean leaving aside the fact that this is a guy who is running against cynicism and this seems like a pretty cynical move. Part of the whole idea is to, for very important reasons, reduce our dependence upon foreign oil. We have a ton of coal in this country. If you could use clean coal technology, just because the environmentalists don‘t like the sound of it, shouldn‘t you?
RICHARD WOLFFE, “NEWSWEEK”: It sounds great but if you are worried about greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions then it is not a great idea right now. The technology is not there because yes you can use coal, but it increases carbon emissions. If you look at the actual record, Obama has been talking about having this caveat, yes I am for coal to liquid but only if the technology is there to reduce green house gasses.
WOLFFE: He has been talking about that for awhile so I don‘t think this is actually what it seems to be, a reversal that just slipped out here.
WOLFFE: This is a complex technology.
CARLSON: Yes it is.
WOLFFE: And his end goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 is an ambitious one.
CARLSON: Well, at some point ...
WOLFFE: There is no way you could do that with coal right now.
CARLSON: But, there is a basic tension here between two national imperatives, reduce carbon emissions and reduce funding for terror. You reduce funding for terror by reducing the need for petroleum.
WOLFFE: Absolutely. And this is a tension not just here, but everywhere where people say we‘ve got to cut green house gasses, we want to do it. We want to do it in a short time frame but the technology is not ready. So, yes there is a terrorism side of it, the energy independence, this is where Bush is trying to tread this line. We can beat the terrorists and be greener, too. But the marketplace isn‘t ready.
CARLSON: Yes, its not.
Peter, very quick. Can I ask you a quick question? I don‘t know the answer to this and I want your honest assessment in 45 seconds. Obama with the proposal yesterday, not doing well among poorly educated Democratic women. Hillary Clinton is. If you adjust for college education, he‘s doing much, much better. Well educated Democratic women like him. Poorly educated Democratic women like Hillary. Why is that?
FENN: I tell you, I think there is a feeling about Hillary and about president Clinton that boy, we miss them, we‘d like to have them back.
CARLSON: Among people who didn‘t go to college.
FENN: Well, and I also think, look, I think that the question now becomes what happens when people really begin to focus? What happens when folks really learn more about Obama? You know they know ...
CARLSON: So you are suggesting that the more you know, the more you like Obama and dislike Hillary.
FENN: I honestly think look, if I were a strategist for Hillary, I say these numbers are not going to hold. Now we can do very well, but these numbers are not going to hold. He‘s going to come up ...
CARLSON: It is a bad turn for Hillary then because basically ...
FENN: Well, I still think she can win it alright but I think, you know, look, I‘ve been in situations like this in many campaigns and what you don‘t want to do is get all caught up in the moment. You want to look ahead.
CARLSON: I know.
But the trend is not her friend.
FENN: That is absolutely ...
CARLSON: It seems obvious that the more closely you read the daily newspaper, the more you prefer Obama, I mean unless I am missing something.
FENN: Well they are pretty even. Yes.
CARLSON: They are not that even, actually. If your—among college educated women if you ask the question, who is more honest, Obama wins. Takes it and just kills her.
FENN: But I was saying, yes, OK.
CARLSON: Hillary Clinton doesn‘t seem to think money matters when it comes to running a campaign. And that is what she says anyway. If that is the case, why is she still running around from a fund raiser to fund raiser raking in millions? Have you ever wondered what exactly they are working on in top secret Pentagon laboratories? Two words: gay and bomb. No kidding! The Pentagon‘s secret gay bomb idea, next.
CARLSON: Until Americans actually cast their ballots the fall after this coming, there are really only two ways to measure the race for the presidential nominations, polls and money. Well, Hillary Clinton continues to lead in the polls, but the fund raising picture may not be quite so sunny.
Barack Obama out-raised her in the first quarter and whispers are that he will do it again this quarter, which ends on Friday. Mrs. Clinton‘s response yesterday, another Obama win in the dollar collecting game would mean absolutely nothing.
So what does Obama‘s financial prowess mean and how worried should Hillary Clinton really be? Here to tell us, we welcome back “Newsweek‘s” senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe, and Democratic strategist and contributor to “The Hill‘s” pundits blog, Peter Fenn.
It does not bother her at all. She was asked—Hillary Clinton was asked by Lynn Sweet, our friend from the “Chicago Sun Times,” how she feels about that. And she said it means nothing.
Come on, Peter, this is Hillary Clinton. The whole rationale—there she is: “It would mean nothing to my campaign, nothing at all. When I ran in 2000, I was out-raised two to on. We‘re going to do really. I hope other Democrats do well, because that shows the appetite for change. But for me, all I care about is that we‘re going to have the resources to run a winning campaign. And we will.”
Come on, Hillary Clinton‘s whole rationale is she is the establishment. She‘s going to win. It‘s inevitable.
FENN: I hope that. If she is running as the inevitable candidate—
FENN: Look, here‘s the question—everybody said going into 2004, how can you tell who is going to win this? Even our buddy James Carville said, you know, I think the person who has the most money in December of 2004 will get that nomination. Who had the most money in September by far? Howard Dean, Ho-Do; 45 million dollars he had raised.
Well, that is going to look like chicken feed for the top of these guys, because they‘re going to have 45 million dollars by the end of this first six month period. Here is my point: she will have plenty of money. She will have plenty of money. Obama will have plenty of money. Even some of the guys down below will probably do all right.
I mean, Richardson has done pretty well. You know, you‘re—But look, my basic point, Tucker, is if she fell off the radar screen—if she did terribly with fund-raisers, then folks would go wow, there is something going on? She‘s got 26 events scheduled in the next 30 days.
CARLSON: I couldn‘t disagree more. I think at the upper levels—at the lower levels it‘s do you have enough to keep running. Obviously that holds. But at the upper levels, it is not enough to place, you have to win. And more over, the number people who contributed to Barack Obama, over 100,000, many of them small contributors, in the first quarter, I think almost doubled, maybe doubled, the number who contributed to Hillary Clinton. That is significant. You can‘t tell me that is not a kind of poll in itself.
WOLFFE: And from what I hear that number has increased significantly. You look at the mood—I talk to fund raisers on both sides. But you never really know what to believe about fund raisers when they tell you things. But the Hillary fund raisers are being whipped into the ground by the campaign. This is not a pleasurable experience. So maybe Hillary doesn‘t care about the numbers, but her people certainly do.
The thing about the whole money race—yes, it‘s a phony war. It is not really real. But it matters in the buzz. And the buzz inside Washington for several weeks has been Obama has kind of lost momentum. His polls aren‘t moving. This money thing changes the narrative. That is a very important moment in this early phase.
CARLSON: I couldn‘t agree more. Do think the fact that Steven Spielberg has decided thrown in with Hillary Clinton—with Hillary Clinton. Do you think that changes everything? Is he the voice of the people here?
FENN: And David Geffen has gone with Barack. But look, my point on this to you guys is this: if Barack blew her away in fund raising, there would be a big story. If it‘s a little bit more and she‘s raised plenty, who cares. There is a point, which is important I think, which is you see the grass roots stuff coming out. In other words, you saw it in the first quarter. You saw it on Internet.
And that is exactly what you had with Howard Dean. The Howard Dean Internet fund raising is also going to Obama. I‘m not comparing—
CARLSON: OK, but there is no equivalent to Hillary Clinton from the 2004 race. People who do not live here may not understand the degree to which she totally dominates the Democratic establishment. Every Democratic party robot in the world has signed on to—it‘s just true, and you know it‘s true—has signed onto the Hillary Clinton campaign. With all of those people, all of those resources, eight years in the White House, she can‘t beat some guy who has been in the Senate for 20 minutes. Wow, why? What is the answer?
WOLFFE: Listen, the Howard Dean comparison is really false. I mean, Obama‘s problem is not the Internet or support or raising money. Howard Dean‘s problem was that he spent all of that money. He raised 45 million and he spent 44.5 million.
FENN: This is a very important part of this whole—this thing we‘ve talked about on this show before, which is how you spend your money, where it‘s going. Look, Richard, my only point with this is we can go crazy and over emphasize the money issue.
CARLSON: I agree, but—
FENN: I think the key is having enough to do what you need to do.
Look, let me put it this way, I think this is all Iowa and New Hampshire. I honest to god do. If she gets blown out of Iowa, it does not make any difference how much money she has.
WOLFFE: People want to vote for a winner, and that‘s—
CARLSON: But also, don‘t you think—news today that Hillary Clinton has added more earmarks—used earmarks more often in federal spending than any other Democrat, except one. So she is a huge spender of public money. Isn‘t this moment we are in essentially an anti-Washington moment, a throw the bums out moment? Does it help for Hillary to be so obviously in the same league as, say, Ted Stevens and other pork barrel spenders—famous pork barrel spenders like that?
WOLFFE: No, it does not. But I think it is a fairly obscure issue at a time of war and everything else that is going on. I mean, John McCain made a big play out of it in 2000, when there wasn‘t much else going on. Can you take pork barrel spending as a message? I don‘t think the Obama folks are actually interested in it. Maybe John Edwards will take a shot at it. But then he‘s got his own hedge fund problem.
CARLSON: Poor John Edwards. We don‘t even speak his name on this program typically, because it makes us sad to see a candidate pass like that.
FENN: Give him a pass.
CARLSON: That‘s exactly right.
WOLFFE: He will appreciate your sympathy.
CARLSON: John Edwards could call for invading Poland and we would just sort of nod and smile politely. That‘s just John. You know what I mean? That‘s is how un-dangerous he is in real life.
Isn‘t the problem though—the more macro problem—for Hillary being seen as part of the corrupt establishment. It‘s like, do we want this whole drama again? Do we want another Clinton in the White House?
FENN: You‘re right. I mean, right now we have over 70 percent of the people in this country who say that we are seriously off on the wrong track. This is a change election. She‘s got to talk about change. She‘s got to figure out a way to make change work for her, along with competence. And Obama is, right now, the change candidate. There is no question in my mind.
You know, how this shakes out in six months, where these folks go—but this is where American people are coming from. And I think on the earmark thing, look, this is about New York. And Schumer and she do this together and they deliver. I think this system stinks. I don‘t like the system. I did not like earmarks. I think that we‘ve got to move away from that.
CARLSON: Well, as if Hillary Clinton didn‘t have enough problems, we learn now from an organization, which I believe is a left-wing organization, but it‘s irrelevant really, devoted to unearthing government secrets using the Freedom of Information Act, that during the 1990‘s, during the Clinton administration, indeed, the Pentagon worked on developing the so-called gay bomb.
Now, they never did it, but this was talked about anyway, a bomb that would put into the air chemicals that rearrange a person‘s hormones in such a way to make them attracted to members of the same sex. The idea that the opposing armies would become so inflamed with homosexual lust, they would be unable to fight, because they would be busy committing sodomy with one another. Or something. Here‘s the question—
WOLFFE: Well, I just wish Terry Folo (ph) was here.
CARLSON: What was the Clinton administration doing?
WOLFFE: It was clearly triangulating the whole don‘t ask, don‘t tell thing.
FENN: If you want to get political with this, they stopped that thing. It obviously went nowhere. Let me tell you something funny: when I read that, I thought, you know, they tried to go after Fidel Castro. The CIA had some ideas, exploding cigars, a talcum powder which would get rid of his beard, and he would therefore lose his manliness, an exploding conch shell when he went diving, that would kill him under water.
I mean, I do not know who comes up with these crazy, wacky ideas.
Even more important, who spends money on them? But this is—
CARLSON: Hillary Clinton in West Hollywood and Dupont Circle, and raising a lot of money from the gay community, for reasons that I don‘t understand—I don‘t understand why they‘re not supporting Obama as a group. But shouldn‘t she have to answer for this? Here is your husband‘s administration. You‘re running on his legacy. What about the gay bomb? What about the gay bomb. Who is going to be brave enough to ask about the gay bomb is my question? That‘s my question. I am. That‘s right.
FENN: You just laid a golden egg with that one. I mean, I think no way. No one knew about this, as far as I can tell.
CARLSON: They didn‘t know what their own government is doing? Is that what you‘re saying?
FENN: Whoever it was in the Pentagon just nixed the damn thing, because they thought it was as ridiculous as we do, obviously, on this show. I think it is kind of fun to --
CARLSON: Whenever I hear critics of the press write off the media as lap dogs to those in power, I scoff and defend the press. But if nobody has the cuevos to stand up to Senator Clinton and say, Mrs. Clinton, what about the gay bomb, then I‘m going to have to agree that those criticisms are true. Thank you both very much, Richard Wolffe, Peter Fenn.
On paper, he is arguably the best of those vying to be our next president, but does it translate when you actually meet Bill Richardson in person? We‘ll find out from someone who recently spent some quality time with him.
And it was only a matter time before we started hearing rumors of Kevin Federline and ex-number one, Shar Jackson. She‘s having another baby, this after the two took a brake and Kevin married Britney Spears and had two kids with here. Are the rumors true? Is he an American hero? More on that with senior rumor analyst Willie Geist, next.
CARLSON: If electoral politics really were a meritocracy, the three horse race among Clinton, Obama and Edwards for the nomination on the Democratic side might well be a one horse race, and that horse would be Bill Richardson. Former secretary of energy, ambassador to the U.N., international negotiator, governor of New Mexico, generally jolly guy. Richardson‘s executive and foreign policy experience trump everyone in the race for president, just about.
But he is nowhere close to the front of the pack and he doesn‘t appear to be moving up. Why? Here to explain is a man who recently spent a lot of time with Gov. Richardson, White House correspondent for the “New Republic,” Ryan Lizza. Ryan, thanks for coming on.
RYAN LIZZA, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”: Thanks for having me.
CARLSON: So what—This is kind of the macro question about Bill Richardson: why?
LIZZA: Well, I think it‘s two things. One, I do not think it is just the resume problem, which I will get to. I mean, all the oxygen is being sucked up by Obama and Hillary and Edwards, because they are sort of the rock stars of the race. That‘s his first problem.
The second problem is when we all get bored of the rock stars, we‘re eventually going to look at these second tier candidates, which was my purpose behind doing this piece. What‘s with Richardson?
CARLSON: And that‘s the hope of his campaign.
LIZZA: Yes, exactly, he has got this great resume. I was asking the same question you had: why isn‘t he doing better? And I think it‘s the—after spending some time with him and interviewing him and really looking at his record, you realize that being a resume candidate means nothing.
If there is a difference between someone on paper and in person, that is going to come out in the campaign. The analogy I have is Wesley Clark in 2004, when every Democrat was like look at this guy‘s resume. He‘s a general. That‘s what we need right now, a military guy. The second you saw him on the trail, he was a disaster. He just wasn‘t a good—
CARLSON: It was one of the worst run presidential—campaigns of any kind I‘ve ever seen.
LIZZA: I don‘t mean it as a personal criticism of Clark. He is a wonderful guy, very smart guy. But he was not a good candidate.
CARLSON: He was the worst.
LIZZA: And there are some similarities there with Richardson.
CARLSON: But with Richardson you would think, for one, he‘s run many times. He‘s in office now. Unlike Wes Clark, who had never run for anything, come out of the hierarchical system of the military. But he is a very popular governor of New Mexico and he is this man who oozes charisma. It is hard not to like the guy in person.
LIZZA: I think it is the difference between being basically a local politician and getting into a presidential race and playing at a totally different level. New Mexico is a very small states. It is all about bringing home bacon and dealing with local issues, real pot hole politics. It is not an ideological position.
CARLSON: It has a reputation as being a very corrupt state, very corrupt.
LIZZA: Yes, that is right. But it is a state for a good politician -
a good local politician. That is what Richardson is. He comes off as a very personable guy, very funny. And, you know, we always accuse these guys of not being candid enough, and in Richardson‘s case sometimes he is a little too candid and it gets him in trouble.
CARLSON: You‘ve got a great piece on this in the “New Republic.” you describe going to a baseball game with him, watching him eat—there‘s a whole litany of things he was eating. I mean, I kind of like the guy for his appetite.
But then there is this: there are two women sitting in front of us. They are both young and attractive, probably in their 20s. The governor rotates his large frame sideways and shimmies out of his row. The two women smile up at him. As he passes, Richardson reaches down and places his fingertips on the head of one woman, tickling her scalp as he opens and closes her hands. Then, as he reaches for the next scalp, his hand aborts his mission as he realizes this probably wasn‘t such a good idea after all.
He is a toucher.
LIZZA: He is a toucher. That is one of those moments where you‘re with a politician and he does something, and you sort of do a double take, and think, you know, I‘ve never seen a politician do that. That‘s a little strange. Then you realize—you explore Richardson‘s record a little bit, and he has this issue that‘s come up over the years. He just likes to hug people. He puts friends and aides in head locks. He likes to stick his wet finger in his assistants‘ ears. He is a toucher. I truly believe that is what it is.
CARLSON: It is kind of hard not to like that.
LIZZA: And I think it is, in some ways, fairly innocent. But the reason I put that in the top of the story was, I think it gets at a certain lack of discipline that the guy has. And that spills over into him as a candidate and to his ideology being a little bit in flux.
CARLSON: That is such—
LIZZA: That‘s what I think the issue is, not the whisper campaign stuff.
CARLSON: No. I am not suggesting it‘s about him being a womanizer. It‘s just there‘s something untamed about the guy. And I‘ve noticed in my conversations with him—and I‘ve had many—he doesn‘t seem prepared sometimes. And he just ate it on “Meet The Press” two weeks ago. Does he recognize that they didn‘t do well on that show?
LIZZA: He does. I think they—I e-mailed with some of the folks on the campaign about that, and they were trying to defend him. But they said, it‘s Russert. It‘s tough. You just get credit for showing up. I thought it was a pretty disastrous appearance.
CARLSON: You don‘t get credit for showing up.
LIZZA: Right, and the underlying issues that Russert brought up are all still there, no matter if he answered them well or not. And you‘re right, he did not look prepared and that is his problem.
CARLSON: Ryan Lizza, the piece is in the “New Republic,” absolutely work reading.
LIZZA: Thanks for having me.
CARLSON: I‘m happy to plug your magazine.
LIZZA: Thank you.
CARLSON: Today was day two of the 54 million dollar lost pants trial. Did the man who brought the suit against his dry cleaner get life in prison, as he deserves? Was he taken outside by an angry mob? Our dry cleaning litigation expert Willie Geist is here with the recap of that day in court. You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: Welcome back. I do not know about you, but after 54 minutes of the rest of the show, I get this weird, almost unquenchable hankering for Willie Geist. Luckily he is on the scene. Willie?
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: That‘s kind of scary, Tucker, and a little bit creepy, actually. It‘s heart felt.
Speaking of 54, let‘s get to the 54 million dollar pants lawsuit. We want to update everybody on that trial of the century, you know, the one where Roy Pearson, a DC area judge suing a dry cleaner for 54 million dollars because he says they lost his pants. There were tears from Pearson in the courtroom yesterday.
Well today, in a dramatic moment worthy of John Grisham novel, the pants in question were unveiled. Or were they? Pearson denies that the pants shown by the defense in court today are the ones he dropped off at the dry cleaner on that fateful day. He told the court that the store‘s sign that reads “satisfaction guaranteed” is not open to interpretation.
He was not satisfied, so he wants his 54 million dollars. Now, Tucker, the judge today—there was a little exchange. The judge said to Mr. Pearson, your position is that satisfaction guaranteed means they have to satisfy whatever you demand with no limitations, absolutely unconditionally? Pearson replied, that is correct.
So, I guess if you lose your pants you get 54 million dollars by his argument.
CARLSON: Just in case you don‘t quite hate Judge Pearson enough, I read today that the people he is suing, this Korean couple, come to the country in the 1990‘s. When they lived in Korea, they worked making charcoal. So they left abject poverty in Korea to come here, work 18 hours a day. They finally achieved their dream of owning a couple dry cleaners. And this creep comes along and shakes them down. He ought to be in prison.
GEIST: And they‘ve said they‘re going to go back to Korea now because they are so disillusioned by the United States. There you have it. The case goes on though, unfortunately.
Well, there was a story reported earlier today, Tucker, that said Kevin Federline had already knocked up his ex-girlfriend Shar Jackson again, just a few months after divorcing Britney Spears. K-Fed and Jackson already have two children together. But reps for both Federline and Jackson say the story is absolutely untrue.
Federline dumped Jackson for Britney Spears three years ago. But they reportedly got back together after he and Britney divorced late last year. Federline, as you know, also has two kids with Britney Spears.
Tucker, you know, I‘ve been a Kevin Federline defender for a long time, for the same reason I defend Paris Hilton. It‘s just too easy to hate them. So, I guess I‘m on his side, somehow.
CARLSON: Well, as you also pointed out, I think several years ago, on this show, Kevin Federline—and this is a verbatim quote—is living the dream.
GEIST: He is living the dream. His fertility is a little alarming though, I have to say.
CARLSON: It is actually kind of impressive. He is strong like bull.
GEIST: He is, populating the world with little backup dancers.
Well, Tijuana, Mexico, Tucker, ranks just ahead of Baghdad on the list of places where you would least want to caught after dark. And this news probably won‘t make you feel a whole lot more secure if you‘re planning a family vacation to the Mexican border town. The police force in Tijuana was stripped of its firearms earlier this year after it was suspected of being in cahoots with drug traffickers.
Instead of guns, as you can see, they‘ve now been issued, yes, slingshots. I‘m not kidding. Who says we need a border wall, Tucker? These guys have it all under control. Doesn‘t that make you feel better?
CARLSON: I grew up just a few miles from Tijuana, Willie, and I will say, as far as I know, the police in Tijuana are now the only people who do not have gun in the entire city.
GEIST: That‘s a great point. If you‘ve ever been there, and I know you have, you walk through a metal detector in any bar, store or restaurant you go to. It‘s a nice place.
A little more disturbing international news to share with you, Tucker. There is just something wrong about what you are going to see in this video. These are Chinese school children, or Chinese drones. We can‘t really tell from this angle. They are performing the dances that will soon become mandatory in Chinese schools.
Forced dancing is the government‘s plan to rid the country of childhood obesity. I‘m not sure what to say, Tucker, but I am scared, very scared.
CARLSON: They will never overtake us with moves like that.
GEIST: No. You know, it is not a whole lot worse than Barney though, if you have ever watched that show. Maybe we‘re OK.
CARLSON: No, it‘s less sinister. There‘s no hidden agenda in this dance.
GEIST: That‘s right. Quickly now, Tucker, the U.S. government wants to tell you what to think about the Albanian watch scandal. In case you missed it, President Bush‘s watch disappeared while he was being mobbed by admirers on Albania on Sunday. The White House says he took the watch off himself and put it in his pocket during the melee.
While speaking today in the Oval Office, Bush called the theory that he was mugged, quote, ludicrous. As you can see here, the president even showed that he was wearing the watch. That picture is from today. He said that is the same watch he was wearing in Albania. And if you believe that, I have a war I would like to sell you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Too late, Willie. It‘s already been sold.
CARLSON: Willie Geist from headquarters, thanks. And for more of Willie Geist, check out ZeitGeist@Tucker.MSNBC.com. It is worth the trip. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.
We‘re back tomorrow. Have a great night.
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