Guests: Lanny Davis, Lynn Sweet, Peter Fenn, John Cox
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the show.
Apparently, he just couldn‘t resist. You would think Bill Clinton would be the last person on earth to criticize another man‘s presidential pardons, but in fact, he was one of the first. Asked by a radio show host recently what he thought of President Bush‘s commutation of Scooter Libby‘s sentence, Clinton said it was a bad thing, another example of an administration that does whatever it wants.
Hypocrisy, you say? Wait, said the former president, “The facts were different. There are guidelines for what happens when someone is convicted.” Right.
In a minute, we‘ll talk to an old friend of the Clintons about what exactly that means.
Then, John Edwards‘ hair is back in the news, and that is not good news if you‘re trying to run a serious presidential campaign. But can the Edwards‘ campaign still be considered serious?
And speaking of campaigns, we know Rudy Giuliani topped the Republican field in money raised during the second quarter, but who came in second, and does it matter?
Plus, we‘ll talk to the single most conservative candidate running for president who you may never have heard of.
But first, here to discuss whether Bill Clinton has the right to call the kettle black, we welcome former Clinton White House Special Counsel Lanny Davis.
Lanny! This guy has a self-control problem of epic proportions. I think it‘s completely fair, obviously, for the former president to criticize the current president, and there are many things to criticize, but to go after Bush for commuting Scooter Libby‘s sentence, when you are internationally famous for pardons of people who really didn‘t deserve it, including a lot of perjurers, is pretty outrageous.
LANNY DAVIS, FMR. CLINTON SPECIAL COUNSEL: Well, the last time I remember, myself included, Bill Clinton was criticized for, at least, I didn‘t like the pardon of Mark Rich (ph). He took the criticism, and I don‘t know why he‘s not allowed to criticize what is certainly criticizeable, which is commuting somebody before they serve any prison term whatsoever, which is pretty unusual.
So, his criticism of George Bush is not unlike the criticism he got over his pardons.
TUCKER: OK, but it was so much beyond that. Now here is the list of the almost 400, 396 pardons that President Clinton issued over eight years in office. There are, in addition to 72 drug dealers, not marijuana, mostly cocaine, LSD, meth, there are 33 perjurers on this list, 33 people who gave false statements, who lied to federal officers, who went to jail for lying. Thirty-three he pardoned and he has the cajones to criticize one commutation for a convicted perjurer? I mean, come on, that‘s too far.
DAVIS: First of all, you have to be completely accurate here. Ninety-five percent of that list went through the Justice Department and came over to the White House through the Justice Department making recommendations. President Bush, as did President Clinton in the closing days, did not go through the Justice Department. So ...
TUCKER: Mark Rich went through the Justice Department?
DAVIS: No, I just ...
TUCKER: Oh, OK.
DAVIS: ...put that him there, but most of the ones that you just cited did. Secondly, the pardon power was absolute. Abraham Lincoln, lots of presidents pardon people.
DAVIS: We don‘t understand why, but we gave the president the pardon power. I don‘t criticize President Bush for exercising the commutation power, it was unusual because this man hadn‘t served any prison time, that‘s been an unusual case.
My criticism, and with all due respect to you, is the criticism of perjury and Grand Jury perjury in particular, by Republicans, has been deafeningly silent. We have people talking about the prosecutor making a mistake in prosecuting Mr. Libby and not getting outraged over obstruction of justice and perjury before a Grand Jury ...
TUCKER: Over the fact that Libby lied?
DAVIS: Over the fact that he lied and didn‘t testify in his own defense. So, he ends up being convicted and the very Republicans who were so outraged ...
DAVIS: ...over a false statement in a civil deposition by President Clinton that he admitted, where the case was thrown out on summary judgment, versus being convicted by a jury—a federal Grand Jury, the Republican double standard here is really ...
TUCKER: OK, I think there‘s something to what you say. In fairness, there have been a number of conservatives who are bothered by the fact that Scooter Libby lied, and I‘m one of them, for that matter. I‘m glad his sentence was commuted.
But I want to just go back to Bill Clinton here, who is re-entering the national scene because his wife is trying to become president, basically on his coat tails. His pardons were egregious, they were appalling. And I—let‘s just leave Mark Rich out of it, the one that gets all the publicity. He pardoned Mel Reynolds (ph), a child molester, basically, and a former Chicago Congressman. Susan Rosenberg (ph), who was some left-wing activist who was in an armed robbery that killed two cops. Linda Sue Evans (ph) who tried to stage a bombing of the U.S. Capitol to protest the Grenada (ph) invasion.
Anti-America—people who attacked this country, in addition to people who have committed voter fraud, helped with prison breaks, white collar criminals, income tax evaders, gun runners, all of them got pardoned and Clinton has the stones to criticize or even talk about this. What‘s wrong with the guy? You know him, tell me, what‘s wrong with him?
DAVIS: Well, you‘re—there‘s nothing wrong with him because George Bush‘s ones pardons, you could have done the same thing with Gerald Ford‘s pardons, Richard Nixon, and every other president of the United States ...
TUCKER: Actually, you couldn‘t—I don‘t think you can name—someone ...
DAVIS: I don‘t ...
TUCKER: ...who was comparable to Linda Sue Evans, someone who planned to bomb the Capitol building, because she was mad about our foreign policy. Nobody—I‘ve never heard of any president pardoning someone like that.
DAVIS: Give me—give me the next program to run through all the pardons that President Bush to ask you why I know this ...
TUCKER: How about George W. Bush? Have you read his pardons?
DAVIS: No, I haven‘t, but I know ...
TUCKER: The—I mean, I personally think that he maybe could pardon more people. He‘s pardoned 113 people, and they‘ve all been for crimes that are negligible. Clinton pardoned people for serious -- 72 drug dealers?
DAVIS: And do you know that President Bush, one, didn‘t pardon anyone who had committed serious crimes?
TUCKER: I‘m sure he did. I haven‘t looked at the list, I‘m not here to defend the first President Bush, or the current President Bush.
DAVIS: So ...
TUCKER: I‘m merely saying that ...
DAVIS: Let‘s see if this thing goes hand-in-hand (ph).
TUCKER: Bill Clinton must have something wrong with him to go after President Bush on this one thing, because this is one of Clinton‘s original sins.
DAVIS: I didn‘t find anything unusual about President Clinton criticizing this commutation any more than .
DAVIS: ... I found unusual about Republicans criticizing president, or you criticizing President Clinton. The fact is, we give the president the pardon power to exercise it and people will criticize it.
My question is, and you seem to ...
TUCKER: No, this is wrong! No but this is because President Clinton abused his power to pardon people. He abused it. You said so at the time, in fact on my show, on another network at the time, you conceded, that this was a problem. This is the equivalent of Ted Haggard getting up and criticizing the gay pride march. It is not acceptable to be that much of a hypocrite in American life. That‘s all I‘m saying.
DAVIS: I never used the expression “abused power” because he has the power to pardon.
TUCKER: OK. Let me disagree with that.
DAVIS: I disagreed with one of his pardons, but I disagree with what President Bush has done with “Scooter” Libby. But I do think he has the right to do it.
My question for President Bush is, you commuted the sentence looking as if you were splitting the difference between no pardon and a pardon. And you said, the adverse consequences to Mr. Libby will be long lasting.
DAVIS: Now we discover, yesterday, Tony Snow and then President Bush himself said, well, I haven‘t ruled out a pardon.
So are we now defining the word, long lasting as less than 18 months?
TUCKER: Well, we don‘t know what he‘s going to do.
DAVIS: But why would he use the expression long lasting if he intends to possibly pardon him within 18 months?
TUCKER: Look. I have no idea whether he‘s going to pardon “Scooter” Libby. I don‘t even know if I think he should.
DAVIS: But he said, long lasting.
TUCKER: My only point is, “Scooter” Libby, was one of the best regarded lawyer in Washington—you are a lawyer in Washington, I‘m sure you know “Scooter” Libby. And you know that before he entered government service, he was famous for his rectitude and his skill as a lawyer. He was a well known lawyer. Everybody said, he‘s a great lawyer. Now he is, in some sense, disgraced. That is long lasting, that‘s life long, that‘s just true.
DAVIS: He said that the practice of law would be long lasting adverse consequences, if he pardons him, he means less than 18 months as long lasting.
I think President Bush has retreated, somebody pushed him there when he said his adverse consequences are going to be long lasting I am going to commute—it sounded to me like he was going to say, not pardon. But I do have some sympathy for “Scooter” Libby, in this respect. He lied before the grand jury and he was convicted, he could have lied on the witness stand and he didn‘t, why? Because he was protecting Vice President Cheney. This has been about Vice President Cheny from day one.
TUCKER: He didn‘t ...
DAVIS: We know that ...
TUCKER: I‘m sorry, can I just interject, we‘re out of time. He said, in public, under oath, that he first heard the name of Valerie Plame from Vice President Dick Cheney. So I‘m not exactly sure how he‘s protecting Dick Cheney.
DAVIS: The case was made over and over again that Dick Cheney instructed him to leak to a reporter classified information and we know that Dick Cheney has never been willing to answer questions about his role in this enterprise. I feel sorry for “Scooter” Libby in the sense that Cheney put him out there, yet Cheney won‘t take the heat. And maybe this commutation is about ...
TUCKER: If he‘s protecting Dick Cheney, he didn‘t do a very good job.
Well Dick Cheny is less popular than Satan.
DAVIS: By not taking the stand to defend himself, he did a good job.
TUCKER: OK. Lanny Davis, thank you .
TUCKER: Very much.
Getting an expensive hair cut is not a crime, but John Edwards is guilty of it. He‘s a repeat offender. He spends at least $400 a pop for his Hollywood hair stylist. Sometimes even four figures, we‘ve got the details. Yes, they are hair-raising.
Plus, fundraising numbers are in. Which Republican can afford to spend the most money on haircuts? We‘ll break down second quarter numbers. You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for politics.
TUCKER: “Scooter” Libby pays his quarter-million-dollar fine from his perjury and obstruction conviction, now all that‘s left is serving probation. A lot of Democrats are up in arms over the president commuting his sentence but they are not the only ones. Some Republicans are miffed, too. Details in a minute.
TUCKER: Liberals were furious when President Bush commuted “Scooter” Libby‘s prison sentence. But not all conservatives were pleased either.
The conservative editorial page of the “Washington Times,” went after the president this morning, for in effect, subverting the rule of law by allowing Libby to avoid even a day in prison. Can Bush catch a break from anyone? Joining us now, from the “Chicago Sun Times,” is Lynn Sweet and Democratic Strategist, Peter Fenn. Welcome to you both.
Peter, here‘s what I think this Clinton outburst on the radio with David Epson, on his radio show in Iowa reveals about Clinton, his wife and the problem they may face running for president.
This guy has literally no self-control. As I said a minute ago, many legitimate criticisms to President Bush. President Clinton is not the right vessel for a criticism of a commutation. He just isn‘t. And if he can‘t control himself to not say this, we‘re in for a year and a half of Clinton screwing up his wife‘s campaign. I‘m serious!
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I think he didn‘t screw up his wife‘s campaign. They had a good few days there in Iowa.
TUCKER: They may have.
FENN: But, you know, his idea, which I thought was quite interesting today, was, listen, we‘re going to get attacked in this anyway. What the heck, I‘m going to come out and come out strong in this.
The other thing you have to realize, one of the things I said to folks the other day, once that hit, I would have, whether I was Edwards or Richardson or Obama or Clinton, I would have put an ad up right there in Iowa. I would have put an ad up on Libby and whacked the White House, whacked Cheney, whacked Bush on the thing.
TUCKER: But Clinton? I mean, look, I actually—I don‘t spend a lot of time brooding about the Clinton years, I‘m past it. But I did today. And I looked at the 400 odd ...
LYNN SWEET, “CHICAGO SUN TIMES”: And what did you come up with, Tucker?
TUCKER: It was disgusting. It really was. Not everything Bill Clinton did was bad.
But the people he pardoned, it‘s a disgrace. Actually it is bad. And I think it‘s universally recognized as such. People have a lot of trouble defending his behavior when it came to pardons and commutations.
Do you want to remind people of that if you‘re Bill Clinton?
SWEET: My guess is, is that no matter if they did the call on the show that Epson was a substitute host on.
SWEET: Interesting. They did cover some of the stuff that was obvious. Maybe the calculation is, that once this commutation happened, Tucker, this was going to be in the public. People are obviously going to compare and contrast anyway. So at least, let him get his piece out, let it come from himself. Because he understands when you go to Iowa and you say, yesterday wasn‘t too bad. That‘s part of the whole thought of trying to break the idea that there‘s something wrong with having a Clinton - another Clinton in the White House. If you‘re saying yesterday wasn‘t so bad, then he can‘t run away from ...
TUCKER: You may be right. I suspect it was not a calculation. I suspect it was a split-second decision as so many of his are. Made just on the spot. Bill Clinton unable to keep his gums motionless.
SWEET: Oh, no, no. I see what you mean on that point. But I don‘t think it‘s a lack of self—I don‘t know. I‘m not saying it was a strategy to call and talk about it. But whatever is the—I‘ve just become the unlicensed political psychologist.
TUCKER: That‘s OK.
SWEET: So I cannot ...
TUCKER: Diagnose away.
SWEET: Right. So Dr. Sweet here can‘t tell you exactly what motivated the him, former president to say what he did when. But I‘m saying he is aware probably, that when you‘re in the arena of trying to sell Senator Clinton for president and you‘re saying that her first lady experience is relevant, you cannot run away from this. So this is ...
TUCKER: Oh, I totally. You can run away from this, and I think you ought to. And I also think that no one will admit it, maybe you will, Peter.
But the Clinton people have got to be a little concerned. Here you have a compulsive talker with a past and a pathological need for attention. Who is going to be running alongside his wife in an effort to boost her campaign. But you are always running the risk that he‘s going to overshadow it and hurt her by the things he says. I know they‘ve got to be worried about that.
FENN: Look, I think there‘s a balancing act. I will admit to you. I think there‘s a serious balancing act here. I think there is the overshadowing question. I think there is the business of, you know, he flew into there from Europe, he‘s sitting on the stage, he‘s there and she‘s talking, you know, paying attention to her.
Better, you know, he comes and does his introduction than the next one, gets off the stage probably.
SWEET: I was there when he was on the stage, Peter. I didn‘t—it looked very natural.
FENN: There was some report I read that someone was picking on him for ...
SWEET: Somebody was picking on him because they were on the back of some stage that hang around on a flatbed and it was perfectly natural.
TUCKER: You don‘t ...
FENN: But your point is correct, which is, that this is about or should be about, Hillary. This is about Hillary‘s competence, this is about her performance in the debates, which everyone has said, conservatives, liberals, has been superb so far.
This is not going to be about whether Bill has slips of the tongue.
TUCKER: No, but it has to be. Because here‘s the point. They‘re not running on the fact she was first lady. They‘re running on the fact she lived in the White House, the implication was that she helped run the government.
So the second you use that to run on, you have to examine the record of eight years and also ...
FENN: And you‘re right. But the whole point of this campaign, right now, and the material that they‘re putting out there is to introduce Hillary as something other than the first lady.
Someone with a career of her own, someone with eight years in the Senate, someone who has clear ideas about the future. So the whole point of the campaign is to try to take down that, you know, wife.
TUCKER: But I don‘t think you can have it both ways.
SWEET: Hold on.
TUCKER: If you‘re going to say, that she was a co-president, she‘s the most experienced person ever to run for president. Other nonsense like that. Then you have to say what exactly was her position in the Mark Ridge (ph) pardon?
SWEET: But you can‘t discount it. Then you can‘t discount the eight years, they‘re trying to institutionalize the first lady as an entity that is different than other first ladies. That‘s not news.
But she is running, and this is what Dick Gephardt said today, when he endorsed her, ready from day one.
TUCKER: Oh, please.
SWEET: And you‘re going to hear more of it, this day one strategy.
TUCKER: OK. I just, I know that‘s their strategy, I‘m not oh, pleasing you, I just ...
TUCKER: I know. But come on! You know, take credit for all eight years then if you are going to take credit.
Pardon me. How much did you pay for that haircut? The real question is, how many times did that guy cut your hair? The answer put John Edwards in a difficult spot.
Plus, Democratic leaders have decided to stop talking about impeaching President Bush, but apparently some of their constituents weren‘t listening to those instructions. They‘re still talking about it. Is impeachment back on the table?
This is MSNBC. We return in moments.
TUCKER: Boy, that is just unbelievable.
He has taken more heat about his hair than anyone this side of Donald Trump. From Rush Limbaugh calling him the Breck Girl to the flap over his $400 haircut. John Edwards continues to get scalped for his grooming habits. Now Edwards‘ stylist tells the “Washington Post,” he charged over $1,200 for the latest haircut because he had to fly to Atlanta for the trim.
Can Edwards still run as a populist when he‘s spending that much on his personal grooming? Back again, we welcome the “Chicago Sun Time‘s” Lynn Sweet and Democratic Strategist, Peter Fenn.
Look, I mean, I don‘t get involved in other men‘s grooming habits, typically.
SWEET: Who cuts your hair?
TUCKER: I get my hair cut, honestly, for free.
SWEET: How much? For free?
TUCKER: Yes. Because my wife‘s hair stylist, who is very excellent, comes to our house and cuts it for free.
TUCKER: Todd, from Georgetown, is a wonderful guy.
But anyway, the point is, I‘m not—if I paid $400 for a haircut, I would—you know, that‘s fine. I‘m not a populist and I‘m not running for president on behalf of the working man. I just think this is both a metaphor and a symptom of what is wrong with the campaign, a campaign that is run on a sort of phony promise.
SWEET: Here‘s the problem with what happened. It‘s not that he paid $400 for a haircut because people make choices with what to do with income, and I think you could respect that.
TUCKER: No, I can.
SWEET: Hold on. Here‘s what‘s wrong. Here is what‘s wrong. What‘s wrong is for a wealthy man to have the campaign pay for a personal expense like a haircut.
You don‘t have to use a campaign fund, and that‘s how he got in trouble, because it was out there. That‘s the core issue here. I don‘t think ...
SWEET: It is. It is. I think—well, let‘s say that after work today you decide to go out and have two drinks and you pay $10, $15. I don‘t drink, I think that‘s a waste of money. OK.
TUCKER: I‘m not running to control your life. John Edwards wants to control my life.
SWEET: See, I think I‘m bringing up a more grave problem. Here is a multi-millionaire who has the money to build this zillion dollar home, that‘s bigger than, you know, half the Capitol and he wants to stick his campaign fund for the price of a haircut.
TUCKER: Rich people are cheap, that‘s a good point.
SWEET: Instead of paying for it himself. And I think is as damning as the point you are making.
TUCKER: It totally is. It totally is. But this is all just conjecture. Let‘s go right to the source. Joseph Torrenueva, he‘s the hair stylist in question who spoke to the “Washington Post.” We wanted to get him today and every day, for that matter ...
TUCKER: But he was not available. But here is what he said, quote, “What I did was, there was too much hair on top, always falling down, and it made him look too youthful. I took the top down and balanced everything out. He couldn‘t see it, but then we went into the bathroom. He looked in the mirror and said, “I love this”. He has nice hair. I try to make the man handsome, strong, more mature and these are the things, as an expert, that‘s what we do.”
TUCKER: OK. Now let‘s just be honest, Peter.
FENN: First of all, Tucker.
TUCKER: It‘s over for John Edwards.
FENN: I‘m jealous of your hair and I‘m jealous of John Edwards‘ hair. That‘s all I can say.
And I don‘t think anybody, even Cecile, who I love dearly, a wonderful makeup artist, who said you know, Peter, you‘ve got to get rid of that comb over thing.
So and Cecile has taken care of that. But not much I can do with my frigging hair, first of all. So, Dr. Peter here ...
TUCKER: We are admitting our own shortcomings.
FENN: But, look, here‘s the situation. You know, even in the YouTube thing, the poor guy—it was way too long, they couldn‘t control it. He was trying to figure out how the hell to keep it out of his eyes. And one of the things that happened, obviously, was that he had a great hair stylist, who he really loved him. You want some guy to cut your hair and you want to fly him to wherever. It comes out of your frigging pocket, doesn‘t come out of the campaign. They have said that that was a mistake.
TUCKER: But I really think it‘s bigger than that. He‘s running on this idea that there are two Americas. There are people who don‘t understand ...
FENN: I understand that. I understand that.
TUCKER: ... the concerns of the working man. Anybody who flies his hair stylist in, as I‘m sure a lot of rich people do, maybe a lot of things but he is not as entitled as the average person ...
FENN: You are going on a debate ...
SWEET: Yes ...
FENN: ... you know, this is a big deal.
I agree with this ...
SWEET: Mitigating, not extenuating. Mitigating.
TUCKER: OK. Mitigating.
FENN: Look, and one of the things that happens in this town, and all over the place, is you get up to a level, everybody recognizes you, everybody‘s fawning all over you. You know, suddenly you‘re Joe or Joan cool and, you know, you believe that you have to have all this stuff.
SWEET: No, look. This is the issue. It‘s doesn‘t—it‘s not good. It‘s not good in the political terms, because this is the type of easy thing that could be a problem for him, because people get expensive haircuts.
We just explain it, two words—three words, expensive haircuts. It‘s an issue that he will have to dilute by saying that he‘s a crusader for poverty. But I don‘t recall that he ever took a vow of poverty for himself. It‘s a harder sell, and this haircut story is not good publicity. I‘m not trying to pretend that.
But it doesn‘t—the reason it‘s bad, I think, is more important that he was trying to stick an expense that is a rich person‘s expense ...
TUCKER: Yes, a guy who makes ...
FENN: He wants to talk about health care. He wants to talk about the two Americas. He wants to talk about NAFTA. He wants to talk about the Iraq war.
SWEET: And he can do all of that, too.
FENN: And it‘s very tough to do when people are asking you about your darned haircut.
TUCKER: It‘s a shame, too because John Edwards is saying really interesting and really radical things. So radical that I think if people listened to what John Edwards was saying, they‘d be concerned.
SWEET: Maybe this will give him a second chance.
TUCKER: Maybe it will. I think his views deserve an airing and then he can be laughed off the stage at that point.
SWEET: A herring, did you say?
TUCKER: A herring, exactly.
Democratic presidential candidates raised a record amount of money for the second quarter. How do the Republicans stack up against them?
Plus, Dennis Kucinich has been calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney since inauguration day, 2001, but it was falling on deaf ears. People are starting to listen now, though. We‘ll tell you who they are. You are watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: It‘s interesting what Barack Obama‘s remarkable fund-raising totals can do to the rest of the field of presidential hopefuls. Rudy Giuliani led all the Republicans, bringing in a respectable 17 million dollars in the second quarter, but his numbers were blown away by Obama‘s 32.5 million. In fact, the Democrats as a whole have raised almost 45 million dollars more than the Republicans have raised this year.
But until the general election gets underway, it‘s worth keeping an eye on the Republican money race. Mitt Romney is keeping pace, though reportedly he‘s pumped in 6.5 million of his own dollars into his coffers, just to stay ahead of Giuliani. John McCain, meanwhile, came in third, with just over 11 million dollars raised and about two million on hand.
What does it all mean and is the gulf for the Democrats a sign Republicans are keeping their wallets closed or is the party in deep trouble for 2008? We welcome back the “Chicago Sun Times‘” Lynn Sweet and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.
Lynn, it‘s a basic axiom in American politics, especially national elections, Republicans have an easier time raising money because they have Wall Street. They have the business community. The business community is either not funding the Republicans in the way they have, probably at the same time they are funding Democrats. This a big, big change.
SWEET: The cover of “Forbes” is Hillary Clinton on the new issue that‘s out right now, saying Wall Street‘s friend. That there is so much Democratic money out there shows how deep whoever the Republican nominee, whoever the Democratic nominee is going to be, how much trouble the Republicans are in even heading into the 2008 election. It‘s an astounding amount of money disparity, because, as you point out, that usually never happens.
And the way that this money is being raised, small donations—Obama does much better with small donations right now than his competitor. But there is plenty of small money out there. It‘s not just relying on the rich people, who make the maximum donations. Though most of the money still is raised in the bigger chunks, it just shows that there is something going on out there that energizes the Democratic base.
CARLSON: I think this is a longer-term trend that has been unnoticed by a lot of people. I will never forget that in 2000 exit polls showed that Al Gore won the over 100,000 dollar income bracket. Rich people are liberal. Rich people vote Democratic. There‘s this hangover from the 1930‘s that the Democratic party is the working man‘s party. No, it‘s the party of Silicon Valley. It‘s the party of rich people. It‘s the party of the party of the poor and of the rich.
I‘m not attacking the rich, I‘m merely saying they‘re liberal. I live in an affluent neighborhood. Everybody votes Democratic where I live. They all drive Volvos. That‘s true.
FENN: But, no, you‘re absolutely right. There are a couple of things that have happened here.
CARLSON: So we can tell the truth about this.
FENN: Well—no, what was interesting to all of us in the late 1990‘s and in 2000 was that we were so upset as Democrats that we were getting our clocks cleaned by small donors, that the Republican National Committee and the Republican Senate and House Campaign Committees were absolutely sucking up all these small donors. They had great lists. They were mining them. They had a direct mail machine that was—
Where did it come from? It came from hard conservatives who were upset in the 1970‘s and 1980‘s.
SWEET: But also people that were part of the apparatus. With the Internet systems you have now, you can have an organized way of going after people—
SWEET: -- that aren‘t part of the organized mailing list industry that you get to make the solicitations.
FENN: John Kerry got to 200 million dollars in the last campaign. People are how in the hell did that happen. Well, you know, it happened because people went on to their computers.
Now, if you look at this, with the party in power, the president is able to raise money, but the party comittees are—the Democrats are doing much better than the Republicans. The question though on a lot of this, I think, Tucker, is how do you spend it? These guys are making a lot of money. And the great story about McCain is he blew through 22 of 24 million dollars and has nothing to show for it, not one advertisement that has been aired.
CARLSON: That is actually a misconception. When you wake up on Sunday morning lying in a pool of your own sweat, so hung over you can barely breathe—
SWEET: Where is he going with this?
CARLSON: You‘ve got something to show for it. You had a great time.
And I think the McCain campaign has had a god time. But answer this for me, Lynn. If you‘re running for president and you‘re Barack Obama; and you‘re running not merely as a Democrat, but you‘re running against cynicism; you‘re running to really reinvigorate the American political system, can you at the same time be the party of big money? I mean, this is a guy who‘s really increased the importance of money in national politics.
SWEET: Well, he‘s raised the ante, but it‘s a lot of money not raised by big chunks. Now, again, most of the money—I don‘t want to leave a misimpression to people out there. The front runners in—all the Republican-Democratic front runners still get a lot of their money in chunks over 1,000 dollars. So the importance of people who are wealthy who can bundle, meaning work into their network, is incredibly important. That‘s why each of the major candidates have fund raisers where they have host committees and they have people that bundle these contributions together.
So this is a game of addition, not subtraction. So you have a march of - I would say march of dimes, but it‘s a march of dollars that‘s going on in addition to the role of big money. So you‘re not taking away the role of big money.
FENN: I mean, 258,000 donors, six months from a first-term senator.
That is clearly unprecedented.
SWEET: But it‘s also because you have the way to do this now. This is the first election that‘s a total Internet social network operation.
CARLSON: But, yes, the Internet makes it much easier, there‘s no overhead.
CARLSON: But hold on. I want to ask you, the party is totally enraged, it‘s inflamed, it‘s turgid with hate, the Democratic party right now. I know it‘s a vulgar image, but it‘s true. Hold on, the measure of this is the impeachment movement, and yes, there is one. That‘s right. And Democratic leaders have decided, you know what, if we push impeachment, people will know just how crazy we are. But there is now an impeachment center that has open in Los Angeles.
FENN: Headquarters, I think.
CARLSON: Seventy nine municipalities and townships in this country, 79 places, have passed impeachment propositions, ordinances calling for the impeachment of the president. Why can‘t Democrats admit, look, we‘re for impeachment. Why not just be honest, the grass roots are for impeachment, possibly execution. Why not just say so?
FENN: Why not have your cake and eat it too, here, Tucker? I can say that especially Vice President Cheney should be impeached. I think the guy has taken us off the deep end. But, you know, it‘s easy for me to say. Here you‘ve got a group of people that are exciting the base, that are providing that kind of—actually, the folks that are exciting the base are Bush and Cheney, but that being aside.
You have a group of people who are so angry at this administration and what it has done and they want to win that election so badly that they‘re going to be out front. And it will keep this thing going. And nothing is going to happen over there. We all know that. No ones going to have articles of impeachment.
CARLSON: Is there a chance do you think, honestly, that they will, in the end, storm the Bastille and execute people? Because that‘s really the feeling you get.
SWEET: That‘s the role of outside agitator.
CARLSON: You have just literally this day flown back from Iowa, which is a small state in the center of the country where a lot of political activity takes place every four years. You were with Barack Obama. There was this report that his life was threatened possibly—
SWEET: No, not even close.
CARLSON: Not even close, that was my instinct. A guy was arrested with an eight-inch knife in Obama‘s vicinity. This story has been—
SWEET: Can I tell you what happened?
CARLSON: Tell me.
SWEET: OK, this is a man who sells buttons, and he didn‘t know where to go next, because, unlike the reporters that get email a schedule, the vendors don‘t. It was just a guy who thought he could figure out where to go now. He looked. He was hanging around and loitering. This was in the parking lot of a Fairfield Inn that we were at in Tomuo (ph). He was in the parking lot. He was wearing a white undershirt. There‘s some pictures of this, if you go to Politico.com and Atlantic.com, if you want to see.
He had an unlawful possession of a knife over eight inches.
CARLSON: That‘s it?
FENN: In his car.
SWEET: But no one was threatened. There was no incident.
CARLSON: The knife was not on his person.
SWEET: It was in the search of the car.
CARLSON: You‘re not allowed to have a knife in your car now.
SWEET: Iowa laws restrict the length of a knife you can have.
CARLSON: What country is this again? So you‘re looming around a Fairfield Inn. They don‘t like the way you look. They search your car and you have a knife over eight inches and they throw you in jail?
SWEET: Hold on now, look at.
CARLSON: We‘re almost out of time.
SWEET: Obama is under Secret Service protection. His wife and his daughters are there. It was a prudent measure, if someone was loitering, that you check them out.
FENN: They don‘t talk about it, but we know because he‘s the first candidate to get Secret Service protection that there were threats. And a lot of people worry about it.
CARLSON: I‘m sure there were.
FENN: On this one, you err on the side of caution.
CARLSON: You don‘t harass people because they have a knife in their car. You shouldn‘t be arrested for that. That‘s my view. I‘m standing up for people with knives in their cars. Thank you both for joining us.
Conservative Republicans are still searching for their ideal candidate. Could he already be in the crowded field?
Plus, crowds treat Bill Clinton more like a rock star on the campaign trail, almost a celebrity of sorts. Or wait, is he being confused with someone else? Our chief celebrity Willie Geist will set that story straight in just a moment. This is MSNBC.
CARLSON: Is there a true conservative in the 2008 race for president? Everybody on the Republican side, from Tommy Thompson to Duncan Hunter to Ron Paul has claimed that crown. What about John Cox? He‘s a businessman from Chicago who‘s running for president. In fact, he was the first Republican to declare for president. Now he says he is the only real conservative among the many running.
If you haven‘t heard of him, he is here to try and change that. John Cox joins us from the campaign trail in Peoria, Illinois. Mr. Cox, thanks for coming on.
JOHN COX ®, 2008 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Thanks for having me, Tucker. Great to be with you.
CARLSON: Let me ask you the obvious question. I have just read a lot about you. I know your positions. You really are conservative, I think, in a non-threatening, Reagan like way. You don‘t look frightening to me. You seem sane. Why aren‘t you beating Tom Tancredo or Ron Paul or Duncan Hunter?
COX: Well, you‘re going to have to ask the media that, I suppose. But when I talk to conservative grass-roots political activists, which is what I am—I‘ve been a member of the Club for Growth since it started—they believe that we need a good conservative. You know, we‘re conservatives, Tucker, because we believe that conservative solutions solve problems. We don‘t agree with big government.
We‘re kind of horrified by what‘s happened with the Bush administration and with the Republican Congress. They went off the deep end. They spent tons of money. They increased the size of government. They issued a lot of debt that your children and mine are going to have to pay for. And I think conservative Republicans want a true conservative in the White House. We‘re tired of being told one thing while people are out on the campaign trail. And then they go to Washington and they do something entirely different.
CARLSON: I agree with every word that is coming out of your mouth. And as I‘m reading about you, I‘m thinking this guy sounds too good to be true. There must be something really eccentric about him that he isn‘t getting more notice. I couldn‘t really find much. This is the only really eccentric thing I read about you, and it‘s in this kind of brilliant profile of you by Matt Labash in the “Weekly Standard.”
And it has you during one for the debates in California. You‘re not invited to the debate. You‘re shut out by the press. So you stage a one-man debate where you basically respond to the questions—your wife hits the mute button on the TV as the other candidates respond, and you respond into a camera and then post it on Youtube. That‘s a little odd.
COX: No, it not. What I wanted to demonstrate is that I could answer the questions as well as anybody at the debate. I think I could. I think Matt will tell you that I pretty much answered the questions.
COX: I think it was the wrong thing to shut me out of that debate. I think the American people deserve to hear the alternatives.
CARLSON: Why did they?
COX: Why did she shut me out?
CARLSON: Yes. It‘s not just our network that sponsored the debate, it‘s every network which has sponsored a debate has shut you out. I wonder why. There‘s got to be a reason.
COX: I‘m not part of the Washington echo chamber, Tucker. I‘m not a career politician. I‘m not a big-name celebrity. I‘m not on “Law and Order.” I‘m not a career politician who‘s been in the limelight all the time and I don‘t have a big name Washington consultant backing my campaign. I‘m just a Republican activist. I was president of the Cook County Republican Party.
Now, I‘ve got to tell you, Chicago doesn‘t have that many Republicans. But you‘ve got to be a real committed Republican to do that. I‘m a political activist, Tucker, who wants a real Republican in office in 2008, a real conservative who‘s going to get something done, who‘s going to give us a new tax system, who‘s going to do something about the wild spending. Social Security reform has to get addressed at some point in time.
I think the fact that we were bogged down so much in Iraq is absolutely horrifying to a lot of conservatives who want that to be the central front in the war on terror. But we‘re horrified that four years after we got there, the Iraqis are pumping less oil than they were in 2003. And it‘s sucking the oxygen out of every other important issue that we believe ought to be addressed in Washington.
CARLSON: John Cox, I keep waiting for you to say something crazy or out of left field, but you don‘t. Everything you say makes complete sense to me and I hope you are taken seriously by a lot of people. And I hope you are in the debates. And I appreciate you coming on today. Thank you very much.
COX: I appreciate the opportunity.
CARLSON: Thanks. Well, they were celebrating a different kind of Fourth of July revolution at the National Hot-Dog Eating Contest yesterday. A young upstart threatens the mighty Kobayashi empire. Competitive eating correspondent Willie Geist helps us choke down the details in just a moment. Stay tuned. You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: Welcome back. If you are like most Americans, you are going to wake up tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. and flip on MSNBC to see what Joe Scarborough has to say. But Joe Scarborough is not going to be there tomorrow. In his place, hosting the MSNBC morning show tomorrow morning will be our own Willie Geist. We are proud and grateful to have him here now.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. Does that mean I have to be up at 6:00 a.m. too? How does that work? I‘ve never hosted before. I understand we were able to book you as a guest too, Tucker. More incentive.
CARLSON: Are you kidding? I‘m going to come on right at the end and read news of the week.
GEIST: Perfect, a little role reversal. Tucker, I‘m going to go out on a limb and say you just got John Cox elected.
CARLSON: I like him.
GEIST: I know. I never heard of him before that.
CARLSON: We are here to inform, Willie. We‘re a television show.
GEIST: I‘m ready to vote for him. Let‘s do it. Tucker, I know you are a big fireworks guy, so you know there are the Macy‘s Fourth of July fireworks in New York City. Then there‘s the slightly more impromptu way they put on pyrotechnics display in parts of Florida. Here‘s one.
A Tampa man intentionally ignited a tent that was holding an arsenal of fireworks to achieve this spectacular show last night. Pretty sure this one wasn‘t set to the William Tell Overture. The man was arrested and charged with arson. But I don‘t know, a pretty good show, might have been worth it. Not bad.
CARLSON: That is better than what we had on the National Mall last night by a bit.
GEIST: Look at that, amazing.
CARLSON: The burning tent adds a lot.
GEIST: Exactly, you don‘t get that at the Macy‘s Day Parade.
CARLSON: Right, because the whole point of fireworks is to a make artillery barrages, right? It has to be like war. That looks like war.
GEIST: Exactly. That‘s the real deal. The other big story yesterday, of course, the National Hot Dog Eating Competition. Those of us who have been following the Competitive Eating Circuit closely in recent months had already faced the sad reality that the Kobayashi empire was in its last days.
A young upstart named Joey Jaws Chestnut from here in the USA ushered out the Kobayashi era with a resounding victory at yesterday‘s Nathan‘s Hot Dog Eating competition. Chestnut broke his own world record by eating an astonishing 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes. That‘s one every 11 seconds. Tikiru Kobayashi, who had complained of a jaw injury in the weeks leading up to the event, surrendered the crown he had held since 2001 when he won his first of six consecutive hot dog eating titles.
He set a personal best of 63 hot dogs eaten yesterday. But it just was not enough to beat that young American. Now before we turn the page on this chapter in sports history, let‘s step back and appreciate the Kobayashi dynasty for a moment. His six straight hot dog titles put him only behind the great Celtics teams of the 1950s and 1960s and John Wooden‘s legendary UCLA teams on the list of the most dominant athletic runs of our time. Pretty impressive, isn‘t it, Tucker?
CARLSON: He is really the iron man of competitive eating, isn‘t he?
GEIST: He is. And like a great champion, he declared I‘ll be back in 2008 to start a run of another six titles. So the line has been drawn in the sand Joey Jaws Chestnut.
CARLSON: He is like Rocky.
GEIST: He‘s coming for you. Tucker, let me ask you this: how many times have you gone to a cemetery to visit the grave of a loved one and thought to yourself, you know what would really jazz this place up? A swimming pool and some fine dining? An Indonesian real estate company is hoping to put the fun back in funeral by turning cemeteries into luxury resorts. One cemetery has already been outfitted with a five-star Italian restaurants and an Olympic sized swimming pool, all in the hopes of taking the edge off a long day of death.
The cemetery‘s director said ghoulishly, quote, the prospects for the future of our company are excellent. I guess they are when your business is death, Tucker.
CARLSON: The fun back in funeral. Did you write that?
GEIST: I‘m sorry. I‘m really sorry about that.
CARLSON: That‘s pretty good.
GEIST: I apologize. I‘m a little loopy today after the holiday. I think they should go for it, put the full 18-hole course right over the grave sites. Why not, as long as you‘re disrespecting the diseased, just go all the way with it.
CARLSON: No, it‘s got to be miniature golf, complete with plaster of Paris windmills.
GEIST: Class it up. They‘ll do it that way in Indonesia if you‘re not careful. Finally, Tucker, aside from their mutual love of the ladies, Bill Clinton and former “Price is Right” host Bob Barker don‘t have a whole heck of a lot in common. So you can imagine President Clinton‘s surprise yesterday when he was walking the Fourth of July parade route in Clearlake, Iowa with Hillary and he heard the screams Bob Barker, Bob Barker shouted in his direction.
Yes, a pair of woman mistook the former president for game show icon Bob Barker. That story was recounted in the “New York Times” today. Can you fault the women for making that mistake? Let‘s take a look. I don‘t know, that is pretty close right there. The same hair, sort of distinguished-looking. I guess, the only question there is which of those two men would you less—be less likely to leave alone with your sister.
CARLSON: You know what Clinton said when they called him Bob Barker?
Be sure to spay and neuter your pets.
GEIST: He did. We miss Bob Barker by the way. So sad to see him go.
CARLSON: We very much miss Bob Barker. Willie Geist from headquarters. And again, tomorrow morning, 6:00 a.m., Willie Geist in the host seat, MSNBC‘s morning programming. I will be there too briefly on the telephone. I can‘t wait. Don‘t miss it. Thanks for tuning in. We will see you tomorrow. In the meantime, have a great night.
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