Guest: Laura Ingraham, Dick Armey, Eugene Robinson, Mitch Landrieu
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: America is riveted by the appearance of an apparently crazy 60-year-old before a ponytail judge in Sin City. You can’t make it up.
An apparently crazy world leader bent on the destruction on the West wants to visit Ground Zero in New York.
And the former Republican governor of the People’s Republic of Massachusetts boasts of his opposition to gay marriage. The news is once again surreality TV. I can pronounce it. We have more of that for you this hour.
A bit later we will catch you up on the latest from Vegas where O.J. Simpson was released on $125,000 bail this morning. He left the big house this afternoon and went straight to where anybody would go after getting out of jail, the Palms Hotel and Casino. What should happen and what will happen next are rarely the same in O.J.’s world. We’ll get the answer to both questions.
Meanwhile, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened the annihilation of Israel and hopes to see the rest of the West destroyed as well but he’s coming to the UN in New York next week and he wants to visit the sacred ground of our fallen World Trade Center towers in New York City. Should we pay for security while he’s here?
And Mitt Romney’s position on just about everything shifted. A new ad boasting opposition to gay civil union. How does that position compare to his history on the same subject? Stay tuned, and we will tell you.
We begin our confused, turbulent, unsettled, unsatisfied country. What we are worried and what should we be worried about and what should we do about it?
Well, to answer all of those questions, we are joined by the author of “Power to the People” which we just learned will debut at number one in the “The New York Times” best-seller list. Laura Ingraham joins us. Laura, welcome.
LAURA INGRAHAM, “POWER TO THE PEOPLE”: Hey, Tucker. Good to see you.
CARLSON: I will try not to mispronounce a single word in this conversation. I’m off to a bad start.
INGRAHAM: You’re sounding like me today.
CARLSON: How did you get to be number one on the “Times” best seller list on a country moving so quickly and dramatically to the left. You’re a conservative. How did you do that?
INGRAHAM: Here’s what I’m sensing, Tucker. I know you have seen this across the country in your travels. People are disconnected from the political system. The Congress, the ratings today they have gotten, 11 percent in—I guess the Reuters/Zogby poll, Rasmussen, whatever, but it’s the lowest they have ever gotten 11 percent approval. President Bush, an anemic 29 percent.
So I think on the left and on the right, Tucker, people are not getting what they want from politicians and they are looking for some encouragement and from some guidance. That’s what I tried to do in “Power to the People.” It’s a powerful book. Not the typical trash and smash the left. Although some of that is in there. It is mostly a guidepath, a guideway to changing this culture and trying to take it back.
CARLSON: And it’s a personal book in some ways.
INGRAHAM: It is.
CARLSON: It has got some moving portions about your illness, your recent bout with cancer and overcoming it. It’s a nice book. I read almost all of it actually last night.
INGRAHAM: Thank you.
CARLSON: You will agree the country is moving left by almost every measure. Every time I see a poll on a policy question, do you want universal health care, overwhelmingly yes. That was not the case in say, 1994. People’s opinion has changed.
INGRAHAM: Well, I think conservatism succeeded on numerous grounds. And so I think Republicans and conservatives are looking for issues that are going to resonate with the American people. But again, I think the candidate that campaigns successfully and authentically on the idea of returning more power to the people, giving the people the power and not Washington, I think that is the candidate that will win it. It could be a Democrat. It could be a Republican.
I don’t buy into this notion that the country is swinging to the left. I think America is the center right country. I think it is going to continue to be a center right country. Tucker, the South has gone Republican since 1980 overwhelmingly, not because of economic issues but because of social issues and I think that is going to continue. The Democrats still have an uphill battle in the South. So every election cycle we hear that the country is going to abandon the social issues. I don’t really buy it.
CARLSON: So who is going to lead the Republican Party? All of the candidates seem—in some cases—almost pathetic. Who are you backing? Who is not pathetic among the Republicans right now?
INGRAHAM: I think it’s shaking out, I’m not backing anyone, to answer that question. It’s between Romney and—I think it’s between Romney and Thompson for the traditional conservative vote and it’s between McCain and Giuliani for more of the moderate Republican votes. And whoever wins both of those, a little mini contest, I think they will go up against each other for the nomination. I’m not sensing a groundswell for anyone out there. Although, I do think the elite media might be missing boat a little bit on Fred Thompson. I have seen him stumble in some recent appearances. I agree, he’s not exactly what he a lot of people thought he might be.
However, the polls are not bearing that out. Rasmussen has him above Giuliani in its most recent poll. So something is going on in the public that might not be caught by the elites in the media. I would try to go back to what the people think and common sense of the American people. I try to do that in “Power to the People.”
CARLSON: Wait a second, though. Fred Thompson, everyone wants him—
I want him to be in impressive.
CARLSON: I had high hopes for Fred Thompson.
CARLSON: But it was on your show, George Will had a column last week about a colloquy Thompson had with you on your show about which he could not explain—did not appear to understand legislation he helped write. McCain/Feingold, the campaign finance legislation.
INGRAHAM: That was stunning to me. I have to say. I did not know how to react. I asked him about his specific votes. He did not seem to really want to get into it. As George Will pointed out, he did not really answer the question on campaign finance, why he supported it, does he regret his vote and all of the things that came out of that.
But I have to tell you, what we think, Tucker, and what George Will thinks, might not be what the country thinks. There might be something that is a little bit slower, a little bit more deliberate and maybe not perfect but maybe real about Thompson might resonate. I’m jus saying it might resonate. I’m always trying to look beyond the conventional wisdom of Washington and to figure out what is going on in the regular people’s mind out there. The workaday people.
CARLSON: You may be absolutely right. And finally if Giuliani is
nominated by the Republicans, it’s not the same party, is it? The party is
by definition completely different than it was .
CARLSON: Right, 20 years ago?
INGRAHAM: Sure. I think it will be an interesting challenge to see Giuliani against Hillary. We’ve had a social conservative candidate for as long as I have been interested in politics. And it will be the first time that will not have happened. And whether social conservatives are going to register people to vote and rally behind Giuliani remains to be seen. They might. Because the antichrist Hillary will be in the wings and they certainly do not want to face life under another President Clinton.
I think it’s all up for grabs. I don’t think anyone is emerging. I think these people who are racing to declare anyone the true front runner at this point, I don’t see it. Although I am partial to Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo because they make it interesting.
CARLSON: You have spoken the magic words, the words that touch my heart. “Power to the People” is the book. The best-selling nonfiction book in the United States. Laura Ingraham, thanks, Laura.
INGRAHAM: Tucker, thank you so much.
CARLSON: Senate majority leader Harry Reid changes course on Iraq and decides not to compromise on war legislation with the Republicans. Are anti-war activists the reason?
Plus, Barack Obama has a Hillary Clinton problem. Namely he cannot catch her in the polls. Does Obama have a Jesse Jackson problem now too? This is MSNBC, the place for politics.
CARLSON: After Democrats took control of Congress, the anti-war wing in the party thought its day had finally come. Yet time and time again the Democrats have been stymied the war moves on. Will the frustrated left stay home in 2008?
Joining us now, “The Washington Post’s” Eugene Robinson and chairman of freedomworks.org and former House majority leader Dick Armey. Welcome to you both.
Congressman, I must say feel so sorry for the anti-war wing of the Democratic Party. I don’t agree with most things but you can understand their frustration. Here’s Tom Matzzie of moveon.org quoted in the “Washington Post,” rather, in the “Politico” today. Here’s what he said six months ago what he would do to the base of the Republican Party.
He said, “We’re going to smash their heads against their base and flush them down the toilet.”
That’s what the anti-war wing is going to do to the Republican Party six months ago upon taking power in Washington.
DICK ARMEY, FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, it’s pretty hard to understand the—I look at it differently. Both parties struggle in their own base, Democrats struggle against the anti-war wing, now the liberal left and the fact is the Democrat office holders understand with America at large, we do not want to claim ownership of this war. Let it be the president’s war. We will be resistant to it, we will try to encourage it, but we are not going to take such a legislative strategy in the House and Senate that it becomes our war and they are correct in their thinking.
Their base is too impatient, their base is too assertive and they’re going to get them in trouble. The trick in politics is to find a way to make your base content with your effort without alienating the larger spectrum of voters.
CARLSON: In this case the goal, Gene, is simple and straightforward, end the war. Here’s Tom Andrews. I think one of the more sincere, honest anti-war activist. Not a lunatic. Former congressman from Maine. I had him on the show a lot. I like him. Don’t agree but I like him. He says this, “People are feeling like we invested all this time and money in changing the political equation,” i.e., getting Democrats elected, “and where has it led us.” I think it’s a totally fair question.
EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: It is a fair question. I think step back for a second. If you could choose the position of the Democratic Party right now or the position of the Republican Party right now in general, I think you would rather be the Democrats, right, because in all of the polls and generic polls they are doing better than the Republicans. They can gain more in Congress in 2008. They can take the presidency. So they are not doing that badly.
They are squeezed by the anti-war base. And I think what they have failed to do is—is demonstrate that effort in a coherent way. They have not gotten a line together in kind of a position together, that allows them to oppose the war to the extent that they can given that they don’t have 60 votes in the Senate. There’s a very limited amount they can do.
CARLSON: I noticed that Hillary Clinton, who has got to be considered kind of the de facto leader of her party, since everyone assumes she will be the nominee, maybe the president, is taking in real life a far more hawkish position than a lot of Democratic leaders from Congress. She’s not calling for a withdrawal of all troops from Iraq. Let’s say she gets the nomination, congressman, is the party going to follow her or will she be at odds do you think, with Harry Reid, who, I think, is far more strident against the war than she is.
ARMEY: She will be as her husband as president was at odds with his base on trade issues, for example.
If you’re going to appeal to a broad enough spectrum of the voters to be elected to presidency, you are going to have some discontent among your right (ph). But the fact of the matter is Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the candidates for president have to understand the margin of their majority is one in districts and states where there is probably a greater affinity for the president’s position on Iraq than the militant left base of a Democrat Party.
And they have to understand, we can make these folks over here who are so angry and strident happy but we will lose our majority. And they have to balance that out. It’s a tough position to be in, if you’re in leadership. But we had the same thing when we took the majority. We were hardly sworn in when we had elements of our right side that were discontent. We hadn’t made the changes they expected thoroughly enough, fast enough.
CARLSON: That’s right. That’s how I felt. I will concede. The stakes seem a little higher now, though. Gene, do you think, is it possible that changing facts on the ground ever could win over some of the anti-war left in thinking maybe we shouldn’t pull out right away?
ROBINSON: It doesn’t seem that way. General Petraeus came, testified
I think did a very effective job of communicating his assessment of the war, his feeling that more time was needed and the latest poll you see indicate that changed nothing. That changed nobody’s mind about the war.
So I think it’s a real—I think the anti-war segment gets stronger and stronger and encompasses more and more of those people in those marginal districts. As we march through the year with 130,000 troops. If we have 130,000 troops left in Iraq on Election Day, I think it’s a real problem for Republicans.
CARLSON: Wouldn’t it be a shame if things were improving in measurable ways and nobody noticed? The momentum moved in the further direction that it didn’t happen.
ARMEY: Let me make this point. The war in Iraq is like any other great government misadventure. It’s always easier to understand how you should not have gotten there in the first place.
CARLSON: Needless to say.
ARMEY: Than to figure how do we get out of this without being more destructive? That’s the problem he is dealing with that his base is not appreciating on his part.
CARLSON: Right. As Ron Paul points out time and time again, this is big government at work here. The perfect distillation of big government.
All right. We need to take a quick break. Some Republican presidential candidates decided to skip debates including one hosted by talk show host Tavis Smiley and another by Spanish language network Univision. Are Republicans giving up on the black and Latino vote?
Plus, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to visit Ground Zero while he’s in New York next week at the UN. The New York Police Department says no. Will he go anyway? This is MSNBC.
CARLSON: Everybody recognizes the Republican Party has a problem. The question is—what is that problem? Is it corruption, too much spending? The war in Iraq? Former congressman and vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp believes it is racism or the appearance of it, as he put it to “The Washington Post”, quote, “We sound like we don’t want immigration, we sound like we don’t want black people to vote for us, what are we going to do, meet in the country club in the suburbs one day? If we’re going to be competitive with people of color, we have to ask them for their votes.”
Is Kemp onto something? Joining us once again, “Washington Post’s” Eugene Robinson and chairman of freedomworks.org and former House majority leader Dick Armey. Welcome to you both.
Interesting this quote from Jack Kemp. Kemp’s been saying this kind of thing for a long time. Newt Gingrich joined in and said roughly the same thing. The question, and there’s no doubt they are right to some extent, you don’t get people’s vote unless you ask for it. I’m always struck by the reaction black conservatives get within their community and it’s hostile, very, very hostile.
So my question is, are communities of color open to the conservative message or too tainted in their minds?
ROBINSON: If you want to look at social issues, for example, you can construct an argument that African American communities are very conservative socially. Church-going, kind of traditional values in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of receptivity to some of the messages of the Republican Party.
There is a perception of the Republican Party it is either hostile or indifferent. And that is borne out when the Republican candidates decide essentially en masse not to participate in a debate sponsored by African Americans .
ROBINSON: I assume the same kind of thing goes on in the Latino vote.
And I think it’s a real mistake.
CARLSON: Tavis Smiley, who is the moderator of that debate, says this, “When you reject every black invitation and every brown invitation you receive, is that a scheduling issue or is it a pattern? I don’t believe anyone should be elected president if they think along the way that they can ignore people of color. That’s not the America we live in.”
I don’t know. The guy does have a vested interest in promoting this debate. And this is not the first time he’s made charges like this. However, is there a root point here that’s worth paying attention to?
ARMEY: I think there are a lot—I studied on this a lot when I was majority leader. One of the things that I will offer to you as an explanation because I - I’ve found in my own experience, you know, you go home and you campaign and you put in appearances and speak to Rotaries and so forth in your own district.
The fact of the matter in gerrymandering is such that an awful lot of Republican people sit in congressional districts with virtually no minority people in their district because of the gerrymandering.
CARLSON: That’s a good point.
ARMEY: And I discovered in my place in Texas, if I wanted to be in front of a Hispanic or a black audience of any size whatsoever, I had to believe my district for that purpose.
But the fact of the matter is, what you need to do when you receive an invitation is accept that invitation in good faith and go present your arguments. I think a lot of the problem with candidates is they are too insecure to face an audience that they are afraid might have people who disagree with them. And it was a problem that I discovered in my own experience, which my good fortune was I had to campaign across the country in front of a lot of audiences but most people in office spend most of their time in front of audiences that are comprised of people who came there because they liked them.
CARLSON: Well that’s .
ARMEY: And that leads you to be inexperienced and insecure.
CARLSON: That’s the price you pay.
ROBINSON: And there’s one other thing that I think the candidates are missing out on and they give up. The potential danger for them. They show up at that debate in Morgan State. They are not going to get a whole lot of black votes in this election. But not showing up, I think, says something to suburban potential—white, potential Republican voters who do not think of themselves as racist .
ROBINSON: . who want to vote for a party that is inclusive, that is not a racist party. And when they look at the party acting like this, might have second thoughts.
CARLSON: Here’s the dynamic. OK. So the Republican candidate gets up there and he’s asked, are you for affirmative action? He says no. He’s essentially called a racist for that, which is an outrage.
CARLSON: He’s against open borders so he’s anti-Hispanic. Those charges are so unfair, I think a lot of people don’t want to deal with them.
ROBINSON: Number one, how will he know it’s not happen if he’s not there? Number two, that may not map. There could be an argument, there could be a debate and the candidate could defend his or her position.
CARLSON: I do that for a living. You don’t need to convince me. I completely agree. You should always be around people who disagree with and you should look them square in the face and make your case and not be afraid. I completely agree. I just think discourse itself is a little bit polluted when on those two specific issues it goes right to motive. You’re against affirmative action, and therefore, you don’t like black people. That’s so unfair and unreasonable. It’s like it’s a conversation ender, not a conversation starter.
ARMEY: I am going to invoke Armey’s axiom and maybe just add to it a little bit, you cannot call her ugly all year or ignore her and expect her to go to the prom. You have to in fact go into the community, visit with people and risk the possibility they will find you far more acceptable than you thought they would or you thought they would.
People are generous with people who will do a very simple thing, the most important single ingredient in all of politics and governance is a word called “respect.” And you go in and sit down and show that you respect people and ask for the same. Most people will give it.
CARLSON: If you can’t stand up to Tavis Smiley, if you’re afraid of Tavis Smiley, how are you going to fare against al Qaeda? I think they should speak. Barack Obama is running a respectable second to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. When is he finally going to act like a candidate that wants to win and will win? Is it panic time for the Obama campaign. And if it’s not, why not?
And O.J. rides again. Literally. This time it was from the courthouse to the casino in a European sports sedan. Where does O.J. go from here and is he closer or further away to hard time.
Stay tuned for the latest on that.
CARLSON: Jena, Louisiana is a town of 3,000 people in the very rural middle of that state. Tomorrow, thousands of protesters from all around the country are expected at the town’s courthouse. They are going to come to protest the prosecution of six black kids from the local high school. The Jena Six, as they are now known, beat up a white student during a period of hostility that began last year when a black student asked permission to sit beneath a tree that had been, for lack of a better term, white turf.
White students responded by hanging nooses from the tree. They were suspended briefly from school and things got violent from that. After the beating of a white schoolmate, the Jena Six were originally charged with attempted murder. The charges were reduced. Tomorrow’s rally will protest inequality between blacks and whites in Jena and by implications in America.
Here to talk about the story, we welcome the “Washington Post’s” Eugene Robinson and the chairman of FreedomWorks.org and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. Now this has become a political story. This is one of those stories that has been percolating down, you know, beneath cable news for a couple of weeks now. Barack Obama issued a statement saying, you know, this is troublesome. This is troubling to me.
Jesse Jackson yesterday, in an interview, said that Barack Obama was, quote, acting white, in that he wasn’t paying enough attention to the story. He later issued a statement that reaffirmed his support of Jesse Jackson. But he did not deny that he said that. A, it’s kind of an outrageous thing to say, as a slur, as if it’s bad to be white. B, what did Barack Obama have to do with this? Why is he getting attacked?
ROBINSON: I think, first of all, Reverend Jackson did not quite say, I’m sorry I said that. But he acts as if he’s sorry he said that. Acts as if he didn’t quite mean it to come out that way. But the point I think was that Obama seems to have kind of missed something that was really welling up in African-American communities around the country, on black-oriented radio stations everywhere, including here in Washington. The attention was being focused on the case of the Jena Six.
And if you look at the facts, it looks like a fairly bad case of discrimination. You know, there also seems to be a kind of frustration, a search for a way to refocus attention on issues of race in America, which have not really been addressed in a very substantial way by the candidates. And Obama’s statement, as you said, was forthright. He said he was very concerned about this. This looks bad. We should get to the bottom of this.
Interestingly, if you look at Hillary Clinton’s statement about it, and John Edwards’ statement about it, there’s a bit more punch. There’s a bit more emotion. That’s not Obama’s style. Obama is who he is. I also wonder if there isn’t a generational issue—
CARLSON: Of course there is.
ROBINSON: -- of style and substance. Obama is an African-American candidate who does not come, you know, from the experience of having participated as a leader in the civil rights movement, as previous black candidates have.
CARLSON: I just think if you’re Barack Obama, do you really want Jesse Jackson’s endorsement and all of the problems that it will bring you? Here’s somebody who has a history of saying outrageous, bigoted things, whose enabled by guilty white television producers, in my view, into coming on television. Any other person who behaved this way would be drummed out of respectful society. And poor Barack Obama, who I think at his core is a pretty reasonable guy, has got to do business with him. I guess he has to. Does he have to?
ARMEY: I think you have to. Jesse Jackson is still a very influential person with a large segment of the population, a large segment of the population that Barack Obama needs to count on for a vote. But I’m distressed over this. I would hope that someplace along the line we could get to the place where these are seen as discipline cases. That we start judging matters in terms of what was the act that was done, who did it? Is it in compliance with the rules of civility, the rules of the institution? If it’s the school or law of the land, and punish people for wrong doing.
And getting wrapped in a lot of the question of the thought process behind things like hate crimes and so forth and the facts. Sooner or later, this country, I think, has to get to the point where, one, they can take misdeeds and deal with them assertively, firmly, and—what should I say—in a manner that is corrective. And, two, you have to get past politicians who seize on every opportunity in the world to show up and run to the sound of the dialogue and make a case.
Because what happens is, here’s a community trying to deal with its pain. I think Mary Landrieu said it very well. Let’s let this community pull itself together and get past this.
CARLSON: We are going to talk to her brother in just a minute on that subject.
ROBINSON: I think sometimes there are though. We should not pretend that there aren’t instances of racism, discrimination.
CARLSON: Of course, there are.
ROBINSON: And the facts in this case look pretty bad. They really do. Al Sharpton actually said it quite eloquently today. I was listening to him on the air, saying, look, punish the black kids. Punish the white kids. Just handle it as an internal school matter, handle it as a matter of prosecution or whatever.
CARLSON: And violence—
ROBINSON: But don’t show two standards of justice for black and white.
CARLSON: I agree. Especially for the kids, because there was a black kid who was beaten up. And the guy who beat him didn’t get in trouble. The point is, violence is the worst thing and punish that. I’m for that completely. Barack Obama, every day we check the numbers. Every day the lead between him and Hillary Clinton remains static or the distance grows. Should he be panicking at this point?
ARMEY: I think he has a fundamental problem. Hillary is a more able person. She’s got a higher stature, because she’s done more. She’s been more present. She has got more of a program. It might not be a program I approve of, but she’s laid something on the table that is really, quite frankly, substantive. Barack Obama, I still believe, is running for the position of sociologist in chief. He would be a perfect candidate for president of the faculty Senate.
But he’s not saying a whole lot that has much of an appeal to the American voter at large, and the things I’m concerned about. At some point, he’s either got to get substantive and start laying something on the table. This is what I would accomplish on behalf of the American people, as Hillary has done, or he will not be competitive.
CARLSON: Gene, give me your 45-second prediction for how well the Mitt Romney anti-gay marriage ad will work in the Republican primaries. Is this issue tapped out?
ROBINSON: I think it’s tapped out. What more can you say? The courts have kind of ruled on gay marriage. I don’t see the point of kind of bashing gay marriage except to establish his own bone fides as somebody who is against gay marriage, as opposed to somebody who is for it, which he apparently used to be.
CARLSON: Who said, no one will do more for equality of gays and lesbians than I will.
ARMEY: He will end up hurting himself on this.
CARLSON: I agree.
ARMEY: Because he will never be trusted by the people who have a heartfelt attitude on this subject.
ARMEY: And he will alienate a lot of people that say, we have more important things you ought to be talking about.
CARLSON: Be who you are. What we were saying a minute ago. Dick Armey, Gene Robinson, thanks very much.
And now to O.J. Thirteen years after we watched his white Bronco screaming along the highways of southern California at 30 miles an hour, O.J. Simpson was back on the road today. His every move followed by news cameras, after being released from jail on 125,000 dollars bond. Simpson is facing felony charges that range from kidnapping to assault to armed robbery. For the very latest, we go now to NBC’s Michael Okwu, who is live in Las Vegas. Michael, what’s going on?
MICHAEL OKWU, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Tucker, we know that O.J. Simpson has boarded a plane that is bound for Ft. Lauderdale. It is not quite airborne. They eventually will take him to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in route to Miami, which is where, of course, Mr. Simpson lives. Now Simpson was released on 125,000 dollar bond today. He agreed to hand over his passport. He agreed not to leave the country.
The judge told him that he should not contact directly or indirectly any of the witnesses or potential witnesses, either by slow mail or e-mail or by pigeon, in the words of the judge. Simpson was handcuffed and he was shackled at the waist. He was wearing one of those prison-issued blue outfits. He, essentially, when the judge asked him if he understood the charges that were filed against him, of course, ten felonies and one misdemeanor, Simpson pretty much said in a low, hoarse voice, yes, sir.
What followed, perhaps, was pretty surreal, Tucker. You probably watched it yourself. He left the detention center here, got into a vehicle and the media pursued him on a very slow pursuit on the streets of Las Vegas. He was on his way to retrieve some of his belongings at the hotel that he was staying in before he was arrested and it was quite reminiscent, of course, of that now infamous Ford Bronco chase.
Simpson is expected back here in court on October 22nd, when he will formally be arraigned. Tucker?
CARLSON: We will be following it, needless to say. Michael Okwu in Las Vegas, thanks a lot. I appreciate it.
Some are calling it the most important civil rights demonstration in decades. Tens of thousands expected to hit the streets in Jena, Louisiana tomorrow. Up next, Louisiana’s lieutenant governor Mitch Landrieu talks about the racially charged case that is dividing the tiny town and to some extent the country.
And remember the Washington dry cleaners who were sued for millions over a pair of missing trousers. They found the pants. Have they lost their shirts? A man who knows too much about pant suits, Willie Geist, explains ahead. You’re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: Tensions are high tonight in and around Jena, Louisiana, where a massive civil rights protest is expected tomorrow. At the heart of the protest is the claim that the justice system in Louisiana and in America generally is racially biased. Mitch Landrieu is the lieutenant governor of the state of Louisiana, and with Governor Kathleen Blanco traveling, he is now the highest ranking official currently in the state. He joins us now to talk about tomorrow’s protest and the story behind it.
Mr. Landrieu, may I call you governor, since you are now are in fact acting governor?
LT GOV. MITCH LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: You can call me Mitch. That will be fine.
CARLSON: Is this an example of racial bias?
LANDRIEU: You know what’s interesting, I heard Eugene on your previous segment and he is right. Race and racism is America’s sore that we haven’t really addressed probably since the death of Robert Kennedy. We haven’t had a national discussion about it. Certainly there has not been much discussion in the presidential race. That can be the only thing that explains how something in a small town of 2,800 people in the deep south could explode into a national policy issue dealing with a sentencing along racial lines, when’s no sentencing has occurred yet.
So I think we are really putting our head in the sand if we don’t think we have a serious problem in the country. And I think it is something we should all having a frank discussion about sooner rather than late.
CARLSON: But what exactly is the problem? Is the problem the justice system is biased against black people or is the problem that demagogues take advantage of tragedies like this for their own gain?
LANDRIEU: Well, both may be the problem. The point is that obviously
there’s a high enough sensitivity about certain kinds of words, certain
kinds of actions that will cause us to distrust each other and to not be
certain people are being treated fairly and to not be able to look at the
facts. I think Eugene made the point also—and maybe the Congressman did
that if you can actually get down to just the facts of the case, not being surrounded by other stuff, it could be a little more easy.
Racial tensions are high. It is fair to say we expect a lot of people. My greatest wish is that everyone will feel welcome, and they conduct themselves in a peaceful way. I saw Reverend Sharpton earlier today. I want to thank him for calling for peace and calm and for everybody to have a celebration in the spirit of Dr. King, which I think will be good.
Secondly, I’m concerned about what is going to happen to this town when everybody else leaves and go away and does whatever they will do tomorrow. The people of Jena, black and white families, are going to be left to heal themselves. Racial reconciliation is something we have to focus a lot of attention on.
CARLSON: I don’t think people coming tomorrow have racial reconciliation on the brain, from what I can tell. But what do you think of the fact, apparently the fact, that the six black kids who beat up the white kids were charged with attempted murder? Is that too strong of a charge in your view?
LANDRIEU: I thought so. But I will say this, I have read as many articles about this and listened to as much national TV. Generally, the national press has only gotten it half right. Most people do not know all of the facts. The time lines have been squeezed together. The only way to really get all of the facts out is to have an open and honest discussion about it. The nooses were hung in September. I happen to agree that the principal did the right thing by expelling those young men and the school board and the superintendent did the wrong thing by reversing that decision. I don’t think that was the appropriate decision.
Also, on the other end, this wasn’t a school yard fight. It was an assault. We had six teenagers that beat up another teenager and beat him so tough that he was unconscious and he had some severe damage. That is another issue. I do think though aggravated second degree murder charges and that were probably too extreme as well. Once you get past those two facts, the rest of it becomes very difficult, and it depends, as lawyers look at this case, and fair judges and fair juries look at it, about what the appropriate resolution will be, based on what these young men’s prior history were with the juvenile justice system, et cetera, et cetera.
All of those things are very complicated to get to in 30-second sound bite, all when people are marching, all when people are yelling, again, across the aisles at each other, and there’s no calm and peace to what the resolution should be.
CARLSON: The national press is definitely—the “New York Times” this morning made it seem like the kid who got beaten up by the six other kids was kind of scratched and he probably deserved it anyway and it was not a big deal and it was blown out of proportion by the racist crackers who run the justice system down there. That’s—You think he was badly beaten?
LANDRIEU: I think that the evidence at the trial that was held was that it was more severe than that. Again, you can’t—you are never going to know what the true facts of the case are, unless the rules of evidence are applied to it, all of the witnesses are brought in and that you have a fair and actual hearing. I’m quite certain that most of the people have not gotten all of the facts right.
Having said that, that has to do with a case in particular. It does not have to do with the larger issue that I think the march is about, that, according to Reverend Sharpton and Reverend Jackson and other people, have to do with sentencing disparity according to race in the country.
LANDRIEU: Jena is being used as a symbol for that. I can comfortably say that the people in Jena, both African-American and white—and I have been there and spoken with them—do not recognize themselves as they are being portrayed in the national media. Last Friday was the homecoming and African-Americans and whites sat in the stands and watched African-American boys play on the same football team together. That’s not to say that they don’t have racial tension. But I can say this comfortably, this not as much about Jena as it is about racism or race relations or disparities in all of America.
We said this about Katrina as well. Katrina and Rita were not just about New Orleans. It was an American tragedy that required an American response. And it was a reflection of what goes on in Chicago, what goes on in New York, what goes on in Boston, and what goes on all over the country. I think it’s to the country’s benefit to pay attention to the issue. People are very emotional about it. The issue of reconciliation is critically important and I think we should get to it fairly quickly.
CARLSON: Good luck tomorrow. Mitch Landrieu, today the acting governor of Louisiana. Thanks a lot, I appreciate it.
LANDRIEU: All right.
CARLSON: Just when you’re about to take the latest O.J. Simpson trial seriously, a guy shows up at a press conference today and cheers every answer from O.J.’s lawyer. Who was the man in the “I Love Famous People” hat? Willie Geist knows the answer and will tell us in a minute.
CARLSON: Welcome back. If you’re like most underemployed people like me, you’ve been watching a lot of O.J. coverage all day and you may have some questions about who those people are. Here with answers, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I do have the answers, Tucker. You know how so many people made their careers by participating in the O.J. case on television on otherwise? Well, it’s my time now. I’m making a career for myself. And it all starts right now, Tucker. The lawyers involved in the latest O.J. case are doing their best to maintain some level of decorum and to avoid turning the whole thing into a circus.
The problem is, there are clowns getting out of cars and men swallowing swords all around them. Yale Galanter, the attorney for O.J. Simpson, held a press conference in Las Vegas today after Simpson was granted bale. Galanter had some help answering reporters’ questions from an enthusiastic man wearing an O.J. ‘07 t-shirt and hat that reads, “I Love Famous People.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YALE GALANTER, O.J.’S ATTORNEY: We expect Mr. Simpson to be processed and released—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!
GALANTER: --fairly quickly. Other than that, we do expect Mr.
Simpson to go back to Florida in the next few days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
GALANTER: My only focus up to this point in time has been securing Mr. Simpson’s release—
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice work, dude. Up high.
GALANTER: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here. Don’t leave me hanging.
GALANTER: Thank you. Thank you, thank you. I appreciate that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, buddy! Nice work.
GALANTER: And that’s been our focus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- innocent or not guilty?
GALANTER: I’m not sure there’s a difference in the eyes of the law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He’s both dude. He is innocent and not guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: All right, so we have seen that guy a few times before. We will get back to that in a second. Who is he, Tucker? The character is called Jake Bird. He’s an actor, Tony Barbree (ph). He works with Jimmy Kimmel a lot on that show and he was also a co-star in a movie called “Windy City Heat,” which if you have not seen it, it is literally one of the funniest things you will ever witness. It’s basically a 90-minute practical joke against one of their friends.
So he is an actor. We have seen him before. It’s not his first try. Listen now, you will remember back in June, for a wailing cry when a court spokes person announced that Paris Hilton had been sent back to jail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He ruled that he was remanding Miss Hilton to the sheriff’s custody to serve the remainder of her sentence at the Century Regional Detention --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shut up!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: So not his first work, Tucker, but some of his best for sure.
CARLSON: I love famous people.
CARLSON: That’s America 2007. That’s just perfect.
GEIST: He’s really good. He’s a comedy writer. So these are well thought out stuff. Hats off to you, Jake Bird.
Now, adding to the surrealism, also, you might have noticed a strange, blond-haired woman hanging around the court today. I saw her walking around and said, god, that looks a little bit like Marcia Clark. It was Marcia Clark. She’s doing legal analysis for Entertainment Tonight. I think we have a shot of what she looked like in 1995 and now, 12 years later. A very different woman, Marcia Clark, but looking OK.
CARLSON: Yes, that’s impressive. Now that “Love Boat” has gone off the air and people like Marcia Clark have no natural home, I guess Entertainment Tonight is where you wind up.
GEIST: Yes. She’s an upgrade from ‘95. One other thing I noticed, the judge, Joe Bonaventure. Look at him there. He walked in. He’s sort of burly, the goatee, a ponytail. He admonished O.J. Simpson not to talk to anyone in the next few weeks, including carrier pigeons. He does not want any contact whatsoever. He made a short hearing because apparently he had to get back to his job as a bouncer at the Sapphire Strip Club right after the hearing there. Back to that.
One other note, other legal news. That family that was sued by a low life customer for 54 million dollars announced today that it sold the second of its three dry cleaning stores because of financial losses caused by the man’s lawsuit. Roy Pearson, the family court judge in Washington, D.C., sued the Chung family first for 67 million dollars and then for 54 million dollars because he said the Chungs lost a pair of his pants.
An attorney for the Chungs says it wasn’t just the cost of the case but the cost of lost business that has now forced them to close a second store. Tucker, we don’t advocate violence usually on this show. But if you see Mr. Pearson out on the street, I don’t know, give him a little elbow.
CARLSON: I can’t say that, because I can’t handle the e-mail I will get. But let me just say, I agree. Willie Geist, thanks Willie. That’s it for us. Thanks for watching. We’re back tomorrow. Hope to see you then. In the meantime, have a great night.
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