Guests: Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, Peter Fenn, Tucker Eskew, Dennis Kucinich
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to the show. Osama bin Laden apparently has reappeared on videotape. American officials are still working to confirm this tape is in fact authentic and the speaker is indeed bin Laden.
Though the figure assumed to be bin Laden does not utter any overt specific threat of attack against the West he does echo familiar themes of is quasi-political terror campaign. The tape is nearly 30 minutes long and it‘s rambling. Among the messages delivered on it, that Americans should embrace Islam, that President Bush‘s refusal to admit mistakes in Iraq is similar to Soviet leaders‘ failures in Afghanistan. That Bush ought to do more to fight global warming, the Democratic Party has failed to end the Iraq War because corporations control the U.S. foreign policy. Just like they did in Vietnam. That the weakness of democratic government has been exposed by our failures.
Bin Laden says he‘s been reading American left wing academic professor Noam Chomsky and it shows. Here with the latest information about the U.S. government‘s understand of this tape is NBC‘s chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski.
Jim, thanks for coming on. Does this tape mention President Bush?
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It does, as a matter of fact. It mentions Bush, Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, former secretary of defense, former secretary of state Colin Powell, essentially labeling them as neoconservative war mongers who get the U.S. unnecessarily into the war in Iraq.
This, what some calling it a diatribe from Osama bin Laden is aimed primarily at the war in Iraq. He points out that look, a year ago the American people voted, according to Osama bin Laden in this transcript, to end the war in Iraq by putting the Democrats in charge of both the Senate and House and Congress. But, he says, the Democrats have not really been able to deliver on that demand from the American public because they are prisoners of the American political system, which relies heavily on the money from corporate America. They almost sound, in some cases, like political talking points.
CARLSON: Yeah. I mean that‘s such—true or untrue, it‘s a pretty sophisticated analysis of American politics for a guy who is supposed to be on dialysis living in a cave in Waziristan. Where does it tell us about where he is?
MIKLASZEWSKI: Well, it really doesn‘t reveal his whereabouts. U.S. officials will still tell you he‘s probably somewhere along that border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although there are some who believe that he may be hidden somewhere in one of the larger cities of Pakistan somewhere. But I have to tell you that, although the analysis is not complete, U.S. intelligence officials say they are proceeding on the presumption after looking at this with the naked eye and listening to it with the naked ear, I guess, that they are presuming that this is bin Laden and this tape is authentic and he appears live and well.
The best reference point in terms of timing is that he makes specific
reference to the inauguration—or he makes specific reference to the new
French president, who was inaugurated in May, and the new British prime minister, Gordon Brown, who was installed in power in June. So they think he was alive and well at least as of that time frame.
CARLSON: Remarkable and depressing. Thanks, Mik, I appreciate it.
CARLSON: The bin Laden tape is of course both a security development and a political development. Which party or politician can best handle the terror threat? Democratic hopeful John Edwards, whose campaign has been mostly about economics in America, today revealed his plan to defeat terrorism. Here‘s part of his speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As president, I will launch a comprehensive new counterterrorism policy that will be defined by two principles—strength and cooperation. The centerpiece of this policy will be a new multilateral organization called the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Treaty Organization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: John Edwards plans to fight terrorists with a treaty organization. Joining me now to assess that proposal, Tucker Eskew, former spokesman for President Bush and senior advisor to One Vote ‘08 and the legendary Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. Welcome to you both.
TUCKER ESKEW, FORMER BUSH SPOKESMAN: Thanks, Tucker.
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: Peter, it‘s - look, you have got to give John Edwards credit for being specific. One of the reasons he is not going to get the Democratic nomination, in my view, is because he‘s been a lot more specific than anybody else running for that nomination. So it‘s both good and bad.
But stand back and tell me what you think of the idea of a treaty organization designed to defeat terror. We need a new multinational bureaucracy to fight terror.
FENN: Well, I‘m not sure he‘s calling for any bureaucracy but he‘s calling for a heck of a lot more cooperation amongst countries. I think everybody can agree with that goal, Tucker. And I think one of the interesting things about this approach is, if you don‘t join the organization, there‘s something wrong with you. What are you saying to the world that you don‘t want to be part of an organization to control terrorism?
CARLSON: Here‘s a news flash—not every country cares what the rest of the world thinks about it. You think Fidel Castro cares, do you think Kim Jong-Il cares?
FENN: Right. But until something happens in their country. But I found his speech actually to be, as you say, very specific. I think this actually is going to help him with Democrats. I think it was a very strong speech, and a lot of specific things about what individuals can do. I thought, look, here we are, we have had a 25 percent increase in terrorism, according to Bush‘s own State Department, and he‘s coming through with some solid proposals. I thought it was a good move.
CARLSON: I mean, Tucker, it doesn‘t seem that different in impulse anyway from creating a Department of Homeland Security. Nine-eleven happens and Bush‘s really first move is—even before announcing the invasion of Afghanistan, as I remember, is to create a new federal bureaucracy, which is done—you tell me what it‘s done. It has not accomplished anything, has it?
ESKEW: It actually took a while before the department came together. We had an office of homeland security for quite a while after 9/11.
ESKEW: But I think that‘s immaterial. I think you actually have touched on the key point, which is that there are actually some good points. I know Peter doesn‘t want to hear this. This country has got to have a consensus on fighting terrorism. It‘s essential to our future. So I would like to take a moment and say there‘s a lot in there that all Americans can agree with. And I salute the senator from moving from the man who said the war on terror is a bumper sticker to a guy who delivered a lot of substance.
I don‘t agree with all of it. I think it‘s wrapped in a lot anti-Bush rhetoric that‘s over the top and plays to the jury that he‘s facing now in the Democratic primary, but underneath that the element of consensus, advancing democracy, fighting poverty.
FENN: I disagree .
ESKEW: Peter doesn‘t want to hear that.
CARLSON: Hold on. As far as I can tell, not everyone agrees on what terrorism is. My terrorism may be your nationalist movement and the idea terrorism is by definition a very politically loaded term. Tucker, you think you will get countries with different interests agreeing on what terrorism is?
ESKEW: No, we work with the countries we can work with. Last week we were working with Germany and played a role in overturning that terrorist plot there. We worked bilaterally with the British. I thought one of the ridiculous ideas in the Edwards‘ speech is for international teams of intelligence professionals. It reminded me of the “Superfriends” cartoons back in the ‘70s when Batman and Wonder Woman teamed up. It‘s ridiculous.
But we can, of course, work country by country. We don‘t want Moldova to intervene with our relationship with the British on fighting terror .
CARLSON: We are going to take a quick break right here. We will be back.
We‘re going to speak now to someone who has just come back from abroad. Dennis Kucinich. He has just returned from a trip to the Mid-East that included a stop in Syria and a meeting with President Assad there. Wish you could be a fly in the wall for that meeting? No need. We are getting details from Mr. Kucinich himself in his first interview back on U.S. soil.
Plus Michelle Obama has informed America that her husband is both snory and stinky. Now that we know this, can we vote for him for president? That‘s the question.
You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for politics.
CARLSON: Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has always done things differently. Instead of making the rounds at the Labor Day barbecues in New Hampshire or Iowa, the Democratic presidential candidate spent the week in the Middle East where he met separately with the presidents of Syria and Lebanon. Why did Kucinich opt for Damascus over Des Moines? Here to tell us in his first interview since he returned last night, Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. Congressman, thanks for coming on.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tucker, how are you?
CARLSON: I‘m great. And one thing, I disapprove of many things you‘ve said but one thing I admire is your constant attempt to call attention to the fact there a lot of Christians living in Syria and Lebanon, a lot of Arab Christians and their plight is important and you have done a lot to call attention to that. So thank you for doing that. I‘m wondering if you brought that up during your conversations with the president of Syria, did you mention that the Syrian government treats Christians like second class citizens?
KUCINICH: I‘m having trouble hearing you on this. But I think I know what you asked. In my discussions with the president of Syria, we talked about everything. And I think it‘s important to know that in my discussions with the president of Syria and with the president of Lebanon, there‘s a great deal of interest in peace and stability in the region. And I think the United States must do more to show a new direction, and the direction I have been talking about, Tucker, which is strength through peace, direct engagement, open dialogue, diplomacy, adherence to international law.
Leaders in the region I believe are ready for that approach, and we had some meaningful discussions as to the approach that might be taken towards peace in the region, which, frankly, is central to everything that the United States is involved in.
CARLSON: Congressman, from the transcript of remarks, I believe they are accurate, that you made in Syria. You‘re quoted as attacking the United States over the Iraq War, which, of course, caused all these refugees to pour into Syria. Were you uncomfortable attacking in the presence of one of its sworn enemies?
KUCINICH: Well, the fact of the matter is that Syria has taken in over 1.5 million Iraqi refugees. And they did it without qualification. They have been providing health services, feeding people, taking care of people who were literally fleeing for their lives.
Now my wife and I actually went into the areas where great masses of refugees were living on the outskirts of Damascus. I have never seen anything like it in my life. This teeming mass of humanity. People crying out for help, having only the clothes on their back. And it was meaningful, I think, that the president of Syria was willing to provide that refuge for the people fleeing the war in Iraq.
CARLSON: But, I wonder, congressman, if you recognized your presence there would be used for propaganda purposes by the government of Syria. The government of Syria is bad, can we agree on that? It sponsors terror. It sponsors the problems we have seen in Lebanon for the past 20 years. It‘s a sworn enemy of Israel and the United States. Syria is not a good government. Can we agree on that?
KUCINICH: I don‘t embrace any nation‘s foreign policy wholesale. But I do want to see for myself, I didn‘t—the president of Iraq did not ask me to go see the refugees. I asked to see the refugees. I asked about the refugee situation. And I also, Tucker, if I may, I also asked the president of Iran about a wide range of issues that related to the Baker-Hamilton report, where Baker-Hamilton recommended that Syria and Iran be engaged as a means of resolving difficulties in the region.
CARLSON: That‘s great, congressman. To have more credibility, it strikes me it‘s important for you to knowledge that Syria has been behind the destabilization of Lebanon, for instance, and that it has sponsored terror. And you have not acknowledged that? Will you?
KUCINICH: Listen, it‘s not a secret Syria has soldiers in Lebanon for a long, long time and Lebanon, in order to gain its own sense of independence from that control, finally, was able to get the Syrian army to leave Lebanon. That was mandatory for the autonomy of Syria and for Syria‘s sovereignty. At the same time the president of Syria recognizes that he‘s got to have stability in all of the nation‘s on his border and, as a matter of fact, the doctrine I‘m talking about, Tucker, strength through peace, is a means of stabilizing the Middle East and of addressing the issues relating to the Palestinians and the Israelis, Iraq, Iran.
CARLSON: Did you talk to Israelis, congressman? I know you say the Syrians desperately want peace with Israel. Have you talked to the Israelis about that? Have you been to Israel to talk to them about that recently?
KUCINICH: Listen, the last trip I made, I went to Israel to talk exactly about that. I hope to meet with the Israeli ambassador soon to talk about a follow-up visit to Israel. I feel that America must take an even-handed approach in the region and the only way you do that, strength through peace, is direct involvement, is talking to people. Is not drawing a caricature of other countries. I mean, Israel suffered greatly. There‘s an existential threat that‘s deeply perceived. Israel wants peace. The Palestinian‘s rights have to be regarded in order to achieve that. Their economic social rights. I have been to Palestine. I have been to Israel. I have been to Syria. I have been to Lebanon. I think anyone who wants to be president of the United States must be familiar with the region and must be ready to talk, how do you get to peace?
And so strength through peace is the approach that I have been talking about and it really turns on its head, Tucker, that neoconservative doctrine that‘s led to a disaster.
CARLSON: Peace through strength? You mean the idea that won the Cold War?
I think it‘s worked pretty well.
KUCINICH: That what?
CARLSON: Peace through strength, the idea that won the Cold War, I think worked pretty well.
KUCINICH: Actually, when you look at where we are today, first strike took us into Iraq. And first strike has proven to be a major disaster. You cannot—No nation can any longer act as though it‘s a nation above nations. In order to achieve real security—and I would not hesitate to defend this country—but in order to achieve real security, we have to come together with people, some of whom we may not like, in order to find a common ground so that we can work towards peace. That‘s why I went there.
CARLSON: All right, congressman, we are out of time. But I appreciate you‘re coming on. I do. Thanks.
KUCINICH: Thank you very much, Tucker.
CARLSON: Michelle Obama is quoted in a magazine calling her husband both “snory” and “stinky.” Will voters find that appealing? Apparently they will.
And speaking of candidates‘ spouse, Bill Clinton. You‘ll never hear him say a single bad word about Hillary. Only compliments. The question is, how over the top can those compliments be before they become amusing rather than credible? We will tell you in a minute.
CARLSON: Welcome bark. On yesterday‘s show we discussed a quote from Michelle Obama that appears in the new issue of “Glamour” magazine. The way Mrs. Obama‘s account was worded in an excerpt released by “Glamoure” it sounded like she and her husband didn‘t always sleep in the same bed. Mrs. Obama was quoted about saying about her daughters quote “they come in my bed and dad is not always there because he‘s too snory and stinky.”
Well, prodded by the Obama campaign, “Glamour” has now corrected that quote and they‘ve done that by adding a single new word. The revised version reads this way, “My hope and my gut is that I‘m just mommy. We have this ritual in the morning. They come in my bad and if” that‘s the added word, “if dad isn‘t there because he‘s too snory and stinky, they don‘t want to get into bed with him but we cuddle up and we talk about everything from what is period to the big topic of when we get a dog, what kind?”
Here to discuss the meaning of the word “if” and the role of Mrs. Obama in her husband‘s campaign, we welcome deputy assistant to President Bush Tucker Eskew and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.
Peter, I feel embarrassed even having this conversation about the sleeping habits of Senator and Mrs. Obama since it‘s of course none of my business. But they made it my business and everyone‘s business by putting it out in the public. And I will say if he‘s been too snory and stinky, it sounds to me like she‘s booting him out because he snores. Now he would hardly be the only American man to be kicked out of bed for snoring. But still.
FENN: I don‘t even want to go there, Tucker, on the snoring front.
CARLSON: Yes, I don‘t either.
FENN: I can tell you. There is a category, I think, of too much information. I think it probably hit it with us. As much as people do want to know about their candidates for president of the United States, there is a level to which I think it did say—gets ridiculous. Look, I think it‘s wonderful that Michelle Obama, who is a brilliant woman, Princeton undergrad, Harvard Law School. She‘s a real force. And she holds her husband‘s feet to the fire.
I mean, he wants to tell her how great he is in the Senate and she tells him, according to Oprah, he needs to get traps for ants because they have a little ant problem in the house. Well, that‘s kind of delightful.
But I think at some point, we get it. We get the message. He‘s a regular guy.
CARLSON: I don‘t find it delightful. I find it really embarrassing. When the Edwards came out, Mrs. Edwards came out and said she announced she was sick, she said, look, I could go home to be with my family but I believe so much in my husband‘s quest for the presidency, that I‘m not going to. You will never hear Elizabeth Edwards say anything critical about her husband and you will never hear anything Bill Clinton anything critical about his wife. And we shouldn‘t. If their spouses aren‘t fully on board, why should we be?
FEEN: I don‘t think it‘s a question of being fully on board. I am sure Michelle Obama is more than on board. But as we say, too much information. Don‘t need to know that. Is not terribly helpful. I mean, I cannot see a lot of the candidates, as you say, don‘t think you can get Bill Clinton talking about his wife‘s snoring.
CARLSON: Don‘t think so. You have opened it up, but I‘m going to close that door.
Tucker, you‘ve worked in a lot of campaigns for many, many years. I think you must be older than you look, looking at your bio. Clearly, this doesn‘t happen by accident. Michelle Obama has been sort of gently, in some cases not so gently and others ragging on her husband for many months now, this is by design. What is the purpose?
ESKEW: First I would say it is too much information. And I would file it, you mentioned Bill Clinton earlier, boxers and briefs. It‘s just one of those thing that‘s crosses the line. I‘d say in the long run, she will be an asset. She strikes me, as Peter said, she‘s very bright. I think she‘s charming. If she carried their sort of personal spousal dialogue a little farther into the public square than we would all like, I think so and knowing how smart she is, she will probably come to that conclusion herself.
CARLSON: I‘m sure she is smart. Every time I heard her talk she seems smart and impressive and I think she‘s totally appealing. On the other hand, I love when people talk about Michelle Obama, they say she‘s brilliant. She went to Ivy League school. Bush went to Harvard and Yale. Yale and Harvard. Harvard Business School. Nobody ever since says he‘s brilliant. He went to Harvard. You know what I mean?
ESKEW: He doesn‘t say he‘s brilliant. There you go.
FENN: And he said, listen, you can graduate at the bottom of your class too and do OK.
ESKEW: He ran against two Democrats who had similar grades and claimed they were so smart but I think he‘s doing all right.
CARLSON: Actually, I‘m definitely not hear to defend the president‘s brilliance or depth. But his grades and IQ are both higher than those of John Kerry. That tells you something about measurements, I guess.
We will be right back. Coming up, whether you agree with politics or not, one thing you have to admire about Bill Clinton, he‘s his wife‘s biggest booster as we just said. But has he taken that a little far? We will tell what you he said.
Also, now that he‘s off Jay Leno‘s couch and deep into Iowa‘s heartland, is Fred Thompson living up to the unbelievable hype or has he been something of a flop? You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: Fred Thompson made us sweat a few months before he finally announced his candidacy on “The Tonight Show” in Burbank the other night. Was it worth the wait? Some people who watched the first day of his campaign in Iowa yesterday are saying no, bitingly. An editorial in the “Des Moines Register” called Thompson‘s announcement speech, quote, underwhelming.
Is that an early indication of how difficult it might be for the apparent Republican savior to live up to the awesome hype surrounding his candidacy?
Joining us again, former deputy assistant to President Bush, Tucker Eskew, and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. Tucker, I have to say I want to like very much Fred Thompson, because I am so unimpressed by some of the other candidates. It‘s good for the country to have a vigorous campaign and I want him to be the guy to carry it out. Very underwhelming, lame, actually, is my view of his early campaigning. What‘s going on?
ESKEW: Tough start, really tough start. He got some good reviews early on for some of his Internet activity. We know going back to his first Senate election that when he does some unconventional things, they work for him. Set piece speeches, that just sets him up to be compared to the person a lot of people want him to be, Ronald Reagan.
Ronald Reagan spent 30 years toiling in the vineyards of the conservative movement. He wasn‘t just one with that moment. He was a tested communicator from those days, not just his acting days. Fred Thompson doesn‘t have that. He has the acting credentials. He‘s a good man. I, like you, want to see him do well. I want our party to have a vigorous campaign with successful candidates.
I would like for him to be one. And this is not a good way to start, losing staff the way he has, the dribble, dribble every day of losing a staffer or two. You have to be able to manage a big organization if you want to run the country. You have to be able to communicate with people successfully if you want to lead. He has a tough test in the weeks ahead. I think he can do it, but he‘s not there yet.
CARLSON: It seems to me, Peter—you know, when you‘re in Kindergarten, they say you don‘t increase yourself by tearing down others, but that‘s obviously a lie. You do help yourself by tearing down others in politics. That‘s the whole point. Why doesn‘t he get out there—Fred Thompson get out there, and attack Giuliani as a liberal or Mitt Romney as a flip flopper?
FENN: That may come down the road, Tucker. But right now he needs to get out and prove to people that he is a solid, serious candidate. And he‘s traveling across Iowa for a couple of days now to supposedly build that support, but if he gets the same reaction that he got from David Yepsen, another reporter for the “Des Moines Register,” he is going to be in deep trouble.
I think this is going to be a short-lived campaign. Everybody says when—John Zogby says he has 48 hours. Well, he has a lot more than 48 hours. But he has about a month on this. If people continue to write bad stories about his performance and say he‘s not the Ronald Reagan, he doesn‘t have the conservative vote locked down, you know, he‘s not charismatic, he‘s giving speeches which are boring, you‘re going to have a heck of a time. And he has to appear in these debates.
CARLSON: At this point, I think, from the point of view of the press, people want to write bad stories. They are annoyed. They want to puncture the balloon and I think they will. We introduced you, Tucker, as a member of an organization that—Project One Vote 08 that battles global poverty and disease. You‘re a Republican. What is a Republican doing in an organization like that?
ESKEW: I got involved in that when President Bush made it a center piece of his administration. It is difficult in these partisan times for some Democrats to acknowledge President Bush led a quadrupling of our funds into Africa, a really unprecedented effort to fight global poverty, AIDS and disease. But this isn‘t about the past. It is about the future. Our next president, Democrat or Republican, needs to carry this issue into the presidency.
We need to lead the world. Americans believe we have a special role in leading the world, but with 30,000 children under the age five dying every day—every day, Tucker, of these diseases, many of them preventable. Malaria can be prevented. We did it in this country. We are trying to help others do it. We have initiatives under way. We have to maintain that momentum.
CARLSON: Why not, since liberals are always talking about how we need the consensus of the world—everyone has to agree with us. Why don‘t you use your moral authority to shame western Europe into spending some of the money it has been able to save the last 40 years, since we have defended them. They have not had to spend money on their armed services. Why aren‘t they pouring money into Africa the way we are?
ESKEW: Well, I think they see some of the same challenge and they fund some of it. I think they fund more of it through their government. Americans tend to fund more of it through private and charitable effort. But government definitely has a role. Listen, too many liberals would say we just need it spend more. Some conservatives would say all we need is accountability and reform.
The truth is somewhere in between those two. One Vote 08 is bringing together people from both parties and working to reach the candidates and have our next president, whoever it is, put these on the top of the agenda. Each candidate would, of course, approach it differently. But there is a broad area around which we would should agree. And I believe Americans can.
We are a compassionate people and we see our moral obligation. We believe that there‘s protection for ourselves in fighting these diseases, SARS, AIDS and others. And we see a national security connection, because unstable societies are not good for American security.
CARLSON: No, they are not. That‘s a completely fair point. Peter, Democrats read the last election as a referendum, I think correctly, on Iraq. They expected their leaders to do something about that war. David Petraeus is coming, the commander of American forces, coming to D.C. Monday. He is going to, I think, say we ought to keep American troops there. And I think Democrats are going to nod in bovine agreement and go along with it. What the hell is wrong with your party?
FENN: I think there‘s going to be a lot of questioning about that. Let me just first say that I totally agree with Tucker on the importance of going after these problems like AIDS and Tuberculosis, which is now coming back. I think this is an important part of an agreement with—you have Bill Frist and Tom Daschle heading up this group. I think the key now, rubber will hit the road, will funding be there? Will we be able to bring other countries into this?
So I just want to make that comment.
On the Iraq situation, Tucker, I think right now you have a solid 70 people in the House in that out of Iraq caucus. You‘ve got a lot of frustration, I think, on the political side, which is 80 percent of this ball game in Iraq. and which the National Intelligence Estimate have said is not going well. I think what you‘re going to see now is a questioning of where we are going. One brigade out by January is not what John Warner and some other Republicans and whole host of Democrats want.
There has to be a plan—
CARLSON: But the Democrats—let‘s be honest, you know as well as I, the leadership, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, have decided thank you, sir, may I have another? They are going to bend over and take it, just like the always do. What is wrong with them? Don‘t they have any core beliefs?
FENN: When you have a president that‘s vetoing—
CARLSON: You threaten to veto now? How many times has he used a veto?
FENN: When you need 60 votes in the Senate to get a filibuster and we have been able to get 56 on some of these vote, it is in a deadline. But I‘m one of those people that believe we should push on this. I think that if you don‘t push, that you‘re going to get this mealy moused up out of this administration. We‘re going to be there in two years and three years and four years. And nothing is going to get done until we have an election.
CARLSON: Osama bin Laden makes at least one good point, and that is the Democrats will roll over. Speaking of Democrats, Tucker, I am not going to vote for Hillary Clinton most likely, but she still sends me e-mails, her campaign does. Got one the other day from her husband. Here‘s what it said—it was too great. Me and I think 15 million other people, most of them single women with masters degrees, but I was on the list. It said this, quote, “I‘ve met some of the greatest people of our time from every walk of life. But of all the people I have ever shared a table with, I still learn the most when I sit down to a meal with Hillary.”
I said a minute ago that I love the fact that Bill Clinton‘s on his wife‘s side. I honestly do. I think it‘s charming and I think it‘s right. It‘s what husbands ought to do. However, she‘s the smartest person he‘s ever eaten with? Come on! That‘s too much.
ESKEW: Way too much. I think this is a small example of what Democrats that I talk to fear, which is a concern that people are going to be reminded that we have seen this movie before. The sort of crowing Clintonism that either Democrats will tune into before their primaries are over, or the American people very well might afterwards, should she get the nomination.
I think Bill Clinton is prone to overstatement and we saw a bunch of it in that e-mail.
CARLSON: Yes, that is sort of a good macro point.
FENN: Look, I‘m not worried about this at all. I think you‘re making a mountain out of a mole hill here.
CARLSON: Come on.
FENN: It‘s—look, the one thing a lot of people are encouraging the Clintons to do, Hillary especially, is get out from behind the podium and the microphone and sit down in the diners, sit down in people‘s living rooms, meet them face to face. If you‘re going to win in Iowa, that‘s the way you‘re going to do it.
CARLSON: You‘re right. And I think she‘s pretty good on a retail level. Hillary Clinton is more charming than she seems. However, it doesn‘t change the fact that her husband is this world historic figure who polarizes like no other. If you nominate this woman, we‘re going to have 1998 all over again. Do you want that?
FENN: We‘re going to impeach Hillary?
CARLSON: I‘m not talking about impeachment. I‘m just talking about the bitterness and division that follows the Clintons wherever they go.
FENN: What was divisive about that? Are fund-raising appeals over the top? Of course they are. That‘s why they raise money. That doesn‘t bother me a bit.
CARLSON: Mike Bloomberg, Tucker, is making noises once again on his website that suggests that he‘s going to jump in this race. He‘s famously rich. He‘s a billionaire many times over. He said he doesn‘t want to leave any of that money behind for his children. He wants to spend every time. Is he going to get in?
ESKEW: I would suggest that the mayor might want to put it into the One Campaign for Africa. You know, let‘s go back to something else. The mayor is certainly to be taken seriously with that kind of checkbook. He‘s been elected in this major city that has launched other successful or near successful candidates for the presidency.
I, unlike some others, see the mayor as someone who would peal votes from the Democratic party. I don‘t necessarily welcome that. I don‘t think our election—we need a replay of a spoiler. I don‘t see the mayor ever able to get to 50 percent plus one vote. I believe we are in the party system. I would like to see him work within that.
He‘s run as a Republican. He‘s acted and legislative and voted, whatever, as a Democrat. I think he would take votes from the Democratic party.
CARLSON: I agree with that completely. Peter, in the 30 seconds we have left, tell me honestly, he could run—I don‘t think he will, but he might. He would be a threat to Democrats. Everybody knows that. Are you familiar with any efforts on the part of Democrats to go to Mayor Bloomberg and say, please, Mike, don‘t do this?
FENN: No, I‘m not. None at all. I take him at his word that he‘s not running. Of course, when you put up these things in Facebook and MySpace, you got to watch out. But I think he‘s a very powerful figure. You have an electorate now that is angry, that is turning against both parties. If somebody like that gets in, could he be dangerous in this kind of election cycle? Absolutely.
FENN: There‘s your 30 seconds.
CARLSON: Thank you both very much. Tucker Eskew, Peter Fenn, I appreciate it.
If America‘s resentment of its federal government wasn‘t strong enough, one of your elected officials, and a pretty rich one, just won the Lottery again, literally. Stay tuned to learn which politician to resent the most.
And disregard renegade prosecutor Mike Nifong. He tried to put three innocent men behind bars for the better part of their lives. For that gross conduct, Nifong is sitting in the big house at this very hour, gloating, ahead.
CARLSON: Some weeks our next two guests have to dig deep to find some dirt in Washington, but not lately. From Jim Sensenbrenner winning his third Lottery jackpot to Congressman William Jefferson‘s allegedly frozen jackpot, to Senator Larry Craig‘s on again/off again resignation, the joint is jumping. Joining us now, Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts, the ladies of the “Washington Post‘s” universally read gossip column, the Reliable Source. Welcome.
ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Are you wearing white shoes?
It‘s after Labor Day.
CARLSON: It is after Labor Day, good point. Third Lottery in a row.
Is someone investigating? This is like a Mafia thing.
AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: He seems to know how to play the numbers, Jim Sensenbrenner does. This is the third time that the congressman, who is a millionaire in his own right --
ROBERTS: Eleven or 12 million.
ARGETSINGER: He just last week won 1,000 dollars in the Wisconsin Lottery. This following his win of 1,000 dollars last year in the Wisconsin Lottery. This following his winning a quarter of a million dollars in the D.C. Lottery ten years ago. Lucky guy.
ROBERTS: Persistence pays off, though.
CARLSON: Let me back up three steps. Why is a Congressman playing Lotto? Did he buy malt liquor when he bought his tickets?
ARGETSINGER: He spends about 10 dollars a week on Lottery tickets.
ROBERTS: It‘s fine. He‘s got the money.
ARGETSINGER: He‘s a millionaire. He can afford it.
CARLSON: Aren‘t you supposed to be embarrassed—you play Lotto, you‘re basically saying, I think I could win. He did win.
CARLSON: You don‘t admit that.
ROBERTS: Shush, shush! It‘s the American way. Plus—plus, he didn‘t win on the first time. He won sending in tickets that didn‘t win. You can collect up your non-winning tickets and then submit those and there‘s a Lottery.
ARGETSINGER: That‘s how he won the quarter million?
ROBERTS: No, that‘s how he won the 1,000.
CARLSON: That‘s like mailing in the rebate on your iPod. Nobody does that.
ARGETSINGER: He does that. That‘s called not taking no for an answer.
CARLSON: I always liked Sensenbrenner. I see him so differently. We‘re going to have to him have him on and talk about this. What is Laura Bush up to? We haven‘t heard from her in a while.
ROBERTS: Pinched nerve.
ARGETSINGER: She‘s hurting for real. She announced last week she had a pinched nerve in her arm, and that was why she would not be accompanying the president on his trip to Australia—
ROBERTS: -- because doctors would say it would exacerbate the trip. The White House didn‘t disclose this, because it was the first time her public schedule had been affected by it.
ARGETSINGER: Then, when it turned out the trip to Australia was preceded by a super-secret last-minute trip to Iraq, people began to speculate; ah, is that what the pinched nerve was all about, trying to keep the first lady out of a war zone? No, our colleagues talked to her earlier this week. She says she really, really does have a pinched nerve and, in fact, she is going to have surgery.
ROBERTS: But because she doesn‘t go on the trip to Australia, Condi was with the president at an official dinner that the Howards threw for him. and they were all at a photo op, and he was by himself, and he turned to her and said, well, she can be my date.
CARLSON: Outstanding. I‘m just hearing from my producer that she‘s having surgery tomorrow.
ARGETSINGER: She is.
CARLSON: It is absolutely real.
ARGETSINGER: Absolutely real. Have you heard then the breaking gossip news in Washington? The happy, happy news, wedding bells on Capitol Hill? Have you heard this?
ARGETSINGER: Connie Mack and Marry Bono announced their engagement. today.
CARLSON: Really? Connie Mack, the former senator from Florida—
ARGETSINGER: No, Congressman from Florida.
CARLSON: Connie Mack—yes.
ARGETSINGER: He‘s getting married to Marry Bono, the congresswoman from Palm Springs, California, and the widow, of course, of Sonny Bono. They just announced their engagement. They have been dating a couple of years. They are widely considered to be among the best-looking elected representatives in Washington.
CARLSON: Not among. Frankly, they are the only. But, that‘s OK.
ROBERTS: Especially for a Republican, right?
CARLSON: Yes, I think that‘s true. God, I‘m glad they found each other. Thank you for the update. I‘m not home, but you make me feel like I was. Thank you.
ROBERTS: You‘re welcome.
CARLSON: Have a gossipy weekend.
CARLSON: Who can forget this image of President Bush tugging on a locked door in China. Today the president committed another version of that wrong way gaffe. Willie Geist will be here to show us. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. What better way to kick off the weekend than a shot of Willie Geist, neat. Here he is.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Tucker, that Sensenbrenner story is unbelievable. Don‘t they say the odds of winning the Lottery are less than getting struck by lightning? What are the odds of winning it three times?
CARLSON: It depends whether it‘s a Mafia-inspired money laundering deal. Right, I mean, I think Whitey Bulger (ph) in Boston used to do that. Grab someone at gun point, you just won the Lotto, kid.
GEIST: Exactly. I think Sensenbrenner might be involved in that.
That‘s incredible. Need to call him for some stock tips. Guy is good.
Tucker, I have the video you have been waiting a year and a half for. Here it is, the Mike Nifong perp walk. The disgraced former prosecutor reported to jail in Durham, North Carolina today to serve 24 hours sentence for contempt of court. While serving as district attorney, Nifong, of course, pursued a phony rape case brought by a stripper against a group of lacrosse players at Duke University.
Nifong has been disbarred for ethics violations committed during the case, which was thrown out by a North Carolina State D.A. Here‘s an image that will make those lacrosse players happy just for a moment. Yes, it‘s not Nick Nolte‘s mug shot, but it will do. Three of the players are suing the city of Durham for a reported 10 million dollars each.
Tucker, did you send Nifong a care package in prison?
CARLSON: No, I couldn‘t. They are hip to the whole file thing now.
I have not bothered sending a cake. It‘s great that Nifong went away. What about all of the journalists and para-journalists and talking heads, Wendy Murphy, who for a year called those guys rapists when it was obvious they weren‘t? Are they going to prison too, please?
GEIST: Or how about administrators of Duke University?
CARLSON: That‘s exactly right, President Richard Broadhead.
CARLSON: I hate—actually I don‘t hate—I like to bring up Paris Hilton‘s name. She went to jail for 23 days. Nifong goes to jail for 24 hours. Hmm?
CARLSON: Or how about Martha Stewart, who is kind of faintly annoying. She went to jail for six months or something. I know. It‘s not fair.
CARLSON: Yes, it‘s not good. Tucker, by this time tomorrow, we‘ll have a new world air guitar champion. Representatives from 17 countries are competing in Finland for the right to be called the best in the world. The great American hope right here, William Ocean. I want you to watch the move he‘s about to pull off, right about here. He calls it the flip. Yes, he lands on two full beer cans and sprays the crowd.
He‘s really one of the great artists of our time, Tucker. I have to say, I had the privilege of being in the room that night when Ocean captured the title there in New York. I threw my NBC weight around and scored the first post game locker room interview with Ocean. He looked me in the eye—crowd surfing there—and guaranteed he would come home from Finland with the world title.
With moves like these, do you doubt that for a second? We will find out tomorrow when the world champion is crowned, Tucker. I was there. I was in the midst of it. I was covering it for NBC. I think Jim Miklaszewski (ph) had the night off or something, so they asked me to do it. This guy, as entertainers go, he‘s really, really high on the list. We wish him all the best.
CARLSON: I bet the press section was just packed.
GEIST: It was. Mostly strange web sites I noticed.
CARLSON: All bloggers and you.
GEIST: Yes, a little bit. He sort of takes the gymnastic approach. There‘s not a lot of air guitaring. And he actually has groupies called wave riders who come in chanting his name. He‘s pretty amazing. So good luck to you, William Ocean.
Tucker, you ever had one of those days you just as soon put behind you? President Bush had one of those in Australia today. It started when the president was having one of those photo op press conference with the president of South Korea, you know the kind where you just smile and talk about how well you‘re getting along. The president of South Korea started pestering President Bush in front of the cameras about bringing a formal end to that old Korean War.
Finally, Bush got a little testy when an interpreter followed up on the issue one time too many.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you could be a little bit clearer in your message, I think that would be very much appreciated.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can‘t make it any more clear, Mr. President. We look forward to the day when we end the Korean War. That will happen when Kim Jong-il verifiably gets rid of his weapons program and his weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Guy is still talking about the Korean War? Who knew. Things had to get better for President Bush from there, right? No. While delivering a speech in Sydney later to world leaders at the APEC summit, Bush said this—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Mr. Prime minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit. I appreciate—APEC summit. You can invite me to the OPEC summit next year. The APEC summit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: APEC, OPEC; he‘s off by a letter. Give him a break. So it ended there and the president had a great day after. No, wait. As he was leaving the stage following the speech, he walked off to the wrong side. See how everyone else was going the other way here. President Bush walked over to no man‘s land. Australian Prime Minister John Howard politely signalled to President Bush and guided him to the exit.
Tucker, President Bush just looking forward to the weekend after today.
CARLSON: The poor guy.
GEIST: Yes, a tough go of it all day.
CARLSON: It‘s terrible when you play to type. I mean, if you‘re Gerald Ford, don‘t trip. If you‘re—
GEIST: Exactly. He‘s living down to it, man.
CARLSON: Really bad. Willie Geist, thank you. For more Willie, check out Zeit Geist, his video blog at ZEITGEIST.MSNBC.com. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Up next, “HARDBALL: with Chris. Have a great weekend. See you Monday.
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