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'Tucker' for Oct. 31

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guests: Richard Wolffe, Adam Smith, Tom Andrews, Steve Paikin

DAVID SHUSTER, GUEST HOST:  Out of this world the Democrats debate, Hillary gets slam and Dennis Kucinich talk about UFOs.

Hello everybody, I‘m David Shuster in for Tucker Carlson. Happy Halloween.

What a debate it was last night. The Democrats chasing Hillary Clinton were determined to draw blood, and they did.


SEN. JOHN EDWARDS  (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think that if people want the status quo, Senator Clinton is your candidate.

SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You said, yes, you thought it made sense to do it.

HILLARY CLINTON, No, I didn‘t, Chris.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Part of the reason that Republicans I think are obsessed with you, Hillary, because that‘s—a fight they‘re very comfortable having.


SHUSTER:  As aggressive as Obama was last night, and he did follow through on his pledge to be more direct the debate was nothing compared to this memo the Obama released about Clinton today. Why is Obama afraid to challenge Clinton this aggressively face to face? Does he thinks this goes too far? We‘ll talk about it with an Obama spokesman.

On the Republican side Rudy Giuliani now has a hell of a fight going with Democrat Joe Biden over this—

SEN. JOE BIDEN  (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Rudy Giuliani, there‘s only three things he mentions in a sentence, a noun, a verb, and 9/11. I mean, there‘s nothing else.


SHUSTER:  Giuliani‘s response was brutal. We will explain.

And later did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi really call President Bush a criminal? 

Tonight even Canadians are paying attention to what‘s happening in the rough and tumble political world here in this country. Yes, that was a guy protesting the war last night. Our friends to the north are saying in between the hockey games will surprise you.

But we begin with last night‘s Democratic debate. The sharpest exchange of the night and perhaps of this entire campaign came over Iran.  Last month Hillary Clinton supported Senate resolution that declared Iran‘s Revolution Guard Corps a terror organization.


EDWARDS:  In fact, she voted to give George Bush the first step in moving militarily on Iran, and he‘s taken it.

CLINTON:  I prefer vigorous diplomacy. I happen to think economic sanctions are part of vigorous diplomacy.

DODD:  I believe that this issue is going to come back to haunt us.

What you didn‘t learn back in ‘02 you should have learned by now.

BIDEN:  This was bad policy. The president had the ability to do everything that that amendment, that resolution called for, without talking to it.

CLINTON:  We‘re not, in my view, rushing to war. We should not be doing that. But we shouldn‘t be doing nothing.

EDWARDS:  So the way to do that is to vote yes on a resolution that looks like it was written, literally, by the neocons. I mean, has anyone read this thing? It literally gave Bush and Cheney exactly what they wanted.


SHUSTER:  One Democrat last night who did not challenge Clinton‘s Iran vote was Barack Obama. Perhaps because Obama missed the Senate vote, himself. But as you heard a moment ago Obama did challenge Hillary Clinton‘s elect-ability. He also targeted Clinton for her refusal to endorse the release of her White House records being kept under seal.


OBAMA:  Not releasing, I think, these records at the same time, Hillary, that you are making the claim that this is the basis for your experience, I think is a problem.


SHUSTER:  Congressman Adam Smith is Washington State chair of the Obama campaign. 

And, Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REP. ADAM SMITH, CHAIR, WASH. STATE OBAMA CAMPAIGN:  Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

SHUSTER:  Congressman, what‘s the issue with the White House records?  Do you believe that, in fact, all these records should be released?  And, if so, are you prepared, and should Senator Obama be prepared, to release all of the records that you guys have?

SMITH:  Oh, certainly. I think we should have open records when it comes to matters in public policy that members in Congress or people in the White House have been involved in, unless there is national security implications. And Senator Clinton has not claimed that as the case here.

I think it‘s very important to build a public record. If you have these sorts of discussions on issues, things that are matters of public policy, I think it should be released to people.

SHUSTER:  So, in other words, if Barack Obama has discussed any public policy with his wife during the course of the campaign, whether it‘s an internal memo or discussion how to respond to something I should have access to that, right?

Discuss with his wife, I mean it‘s a little bit different when you‘re talking about Hillary Clinton who wasn‘t just the president‘s wife. For instance, a lot of the documents have to do with her healthcare proposal.  We Democrats made a lot of hay in the last couple of years over President Bush‘s energy policy. How they had all these meetings, all these discussions.

SHUSTER:  But Michelle Obama has view on policy, doesn‘t she? It‘s fair to conclude that she and Barack Obama have discussed policy, right?

Sure. You can see the difference between a first lady who is assigned to run the healthcare policy of the president of the United States, that actually affects all of us, and conversation between husband and wife. This is a different situation when you‘re talking about something that comes directly out of the White House. In that case, I think those records should be open.

No, I don‘t think every conversation that an elected official has with his spouse should be public. They‘re two entirely different things.

SHUSTER:  Congressman, what is it that you and Barack Obama believe that Senator Clinton is hiding?

SMITH:  I don‘t think it‘s a matter that she‘s hiding anything. It‘s just matter of whether or not we‘re going to have an open process. Whether or not we‘re going to allow the public access to these records so they can talk about it. Not a matter that we believe she‘s hiding anything. It‘s a just a matter of strong support for as open as possible approach to public policy.

SHUSTER:  You must understand that it‘s wise politics no to allow the open-ended look at her records just couple of months before the Iowa caucuses, right?  You don‘t blame her for that? 

SMITH:  Well, I mean, I think it should have happened a lot sooner.  The fact that she‘s running for president is, as we all know, historical anomaly. But these records, in general, should be out there and should be available really shouldn‘t have anything to do with whether or not there‘s an election coming up. We went through the exact same thing with President Bush when he was up for re-election in 2004 on countless different records on many different issues. I think the public, and I think Senator Obama strongly agrees, should have access to. You shouldn‘t be afraid that have sort of openness and that sort of dialogue.

SHUSTER:  Congressman, last night the very first words out of Senator Obama‘s mouth, when he was given an opportunity to challenge Hillary Clinton well, first of all I think some of this stuff gets over hyped, and he was talking about the difference between.

But today Obama campaign has released memo. I want to read part of it to you.

SMITH:  Sure.

SHUSTER:  It says, “Senator Clinton has clearly decided based on political calculation that her campaign strategy is to tell the American people as little as possible, avoid the difficult issues, and try to blur as many differences as possible.”

Do you believe that Senator Clinton is trying to tell the American people as little as possible?

SMITH:  I think at this point she‘s the clear front runner. Anything that upsets that status is a threat to her front-runner status. So, yes, if you listen to the debate last night on many, many issues, Senator Clinton did not want to cut too fine a point. Didn‘t want to take a strong stand on a particular issue because I think she knows she‘s ahead, anything that generates controversy can possibly jeopardize that.

I think—I mean, you watched the debate last night. Do you think that there was sometimes when she definitely hedged did not take clear position?


SHUSTER:  What I think doesn‘t really matter.

SMITH:  It matters.

SHUSTER:  But what think was really clear is that, why won‘t Barack Obama say that himself?  Why won‘t he get up on camera say she is trying to offer the American people as little as possible, why go around the edges?

SMITH:  I‘m looking at you a little bit surprised there were clips last night from the debate where he said precisely that. Where he said your secrecy on this matter, your willing unwillingness to release this information, and there was a number of different back and forths, from a lot of the candidates, that pointed out you did not give a straight answer to that question and I think should you have. I don‘t think it‘s accurate to say that Senator Obama was at all reluctant to make this point in person with Senator Clinton right there.

SHUSTER:  Congressman, I think there is a difference—there is a difference between saying that Hillary Clinton wants to say as little as possible, and senator Obama saying we shouldn‘t have secrets.  But in any case—

Sure I know, but I‘m talking about—


SHUSTER:  wise strategy in Iowa with Democrats, as you know, don‘t like candidates to go negative. I think that‘s what we‘re seeing here. In any case, Congressman Smith, Washington State co-chair of the Obama campaign. Thanks for coming in we appreciate it.

SMITH:  Thanks for the chance.

SHUSTER:  Up next, last night was indeed the roughest debate Hillary Clinton has faced so far this campaign. She got caught waffling over policy towards illegal aliens. Is that a major problem for her, or minor one?

And later Dennis Kucinich claimed last night that 14 percent of us have seen a UFO.  Is he right, that our government is hiding something?  You‘re watching MSNBC.


SHUSTER:  Welcome back. Last night‘s presidential debate certainly underscored Hillary Clinton‘s status as the Democratic front runner. But in the midst of all the attacks she faced, Clinton create opening for her Democratic rivals? 

Tom Andrews is the national director of Win Without War and Richard Wolffe is “Newsweek‘s” senior White House correspondent. And thank you both for coming in.

I want to get your reaction to issue that exploded today. That is Hillary Clinton‘s apparent waffle last night on issue of illegal immigration. At the debate Clinton first seemed to endorsed a controversial driver‘s license plan, then she seemed to oppose it. Watch.


CLINTON:  What Governor Spitzer is trying to do is fill the vacuum. I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognized why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want to make sure what I heard. Do you, the New York senator, Hillary Clinton, support the New York governor‘s plan to give illegal immigrants a driver‘s license.

CLINTON:  This is where everything plays gotcha.

DODD:  You said yes, you thought it made sense to do it. 

CLINTON:  No, I didn‘t, Chris.

EDWARDS:  Unless I missed something Hillary Clinton said two different things in the course of just about two minutes, just a few minutes ago.


SHUSTER:  Richard, campaign memos were flying over this today. Is this a big issue or not for Hillary Clinton?

RICHARD WOLFFE, “NEWSWEEK”:  It is a huge issue. It‘s a huge issue not so much because of the policy, frankly, for Democrats whether it comes to immigration just not the same motivating factor that it is for Republicans.

However, it seemed to encapsulate the trend of the hold debate, and frankly, the narrative that has been out there but not seized on, for most of this campaign, which is about truthfulness, about being clear. Answering questions and being Clintonian, is Hillary just too Clintonian. That‘s what this answer, or non-answer really brought to light.

SHUSTER:  Tom, anybody who covered Clintons dating back to their days in Arkansas knows that they are notoriously difficult to pin down. And as Richard just said, it seems like Hillary Clinton underscored that again last night.

ANDREWS:  I think so. And there is a real danger here for her. First of all she appears to be running as candidate who already has won the primary and is in the general. People in Iowa and New Hampshire don‘t like it.

I tell you something else they don‘t like. They don‘t like politicians who come off as saying what you think they want to hear; or trying to have both ways on an issue. They want people to be clear and direct.

Not so much in this particular issue but I think it is the accumulation of it. You saw several examples last night on Social Security, on the Kyl-Leiberman support, that Iran Amendment, this particular issue.  You add all those up and it does not give you the kind of impression that you want, particularly for Iowa voters, particularly for New Hampshire voters.

They‘re very sensitive to that authenticity question and thinking you‘re going to tell them not what you really believe, but what you think you want to hear that what you think is going to get you elected.

SHUSTER:  Today, there was Hillary Clinton getting the endorsement of federation known as AFSME, the American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees.  They gave her some boxing gloves to sort of—I guess, to go with the video element and the impression of the Clinton campaign wants to create that there she was, essentially, having to box and getting beat up on last night.

Built it sounds like this is something beyond just whether she‘s getting beaten up. That these issues really did come out last night as far as her sort of slipperiness.

ANDREWS:  I think so. It‘s real danger for her. Of course, it‘s a plus whenever you get endorsement, like she has from AFSME. But listen, as we‘ve seen with other campaigns in the past, other Democratic presidential campaigns. The endorsement, the formal endorsement, of a labor union does not mean that the rank and file are going to be enthusiastic. They‘re going to get up, they‘re going to volunteer, they‘re going to put the time and energy it takes to get you elected.

She has to have that passion. Whoever wins the nomination has to have that passion. You don‘t get that if you‘re going to look like you are trying to have an issue both ways, because you want to appear as if you want to get elected.

WOLFFE:  ASFME was the big union endorsement for one Howard Dean, four years ago. And I‘m not sure that that‘s the right image they want to portray right now. Having said that, I fully expect the Clinton campaign to be taping ads, right now, if they haven‘t already about how Hillary is a straight talker, honest, direct, always tells you the truth. They have got to address this honesty question head on. They‘ve got to do it quickly. I bet you they‘re taping those ads.

SHUSTER:  On the issue that Tom mentioned of having it both ways, in our last segment we talked with Adam Smith, an Obama supporter. And I was trying to get at the idea that I think Barack Obama‘s pursuing a smart strategy. He was not the strongest in hitting Hillary Clinton last night. A little more sort of indirect. And to me while he does that in his campaign, sends out these very harsh e-mails and memos, Obama is playing to the voters in Iowa, the Democrats who don‘t like it when people go too negative.  Am I wrong?

WOLFFE:  I‘m not sure how much is the smart strategy and how much he‘s just incapable of frankly doing the tough stuff. It‘s not his style. He‘s really not a good TV debater. He‘s not a good TV interviewer—interviewee, rather.

And so, look, that‘s a problem for him. I think Democrats have picked that up. They‘re worried how he would be in a general election debate.  Whereas, Hillary they know she can land the punches and take the punches.  The question here is, does it play better in Iowa? I suspect actually being not very good debater, not a very good attack dog probably helps them in Iowa.

SHUSTER:  But does it also help, Tom, does it help John Edwards?  If he was the one who was able to clearly define, if you want to keep the war going, vote for Hillary. If you want to change in policy, vote for me.

ANDREWS:  First of all, Obama, of course, had the pressure on him. It was all those press accounts in advance, “The New York Times” stories how he really has to draw the distinction. He got that first question about the war, about his allegation that Hillary Clinton is more Republican on national defense issues.

Now you would think that he would be sitting there like David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez, of the Red Sox, ready for that fastball to come to first pitch. He got that first pitch, it was a low- to high fastball, he was very weak, he flubbed it. He says, well, there‘s been a lot of hype here. He started talking about global warming. He didn‘t answer the question directly.

It‘s one thing to be nasty. It‘s another thing to be very clear, definitive, and draw the distinctions out for people to see very clearly.  He didn‘t do that. I think John Edwards did that. I thought he was very, very clear. Very specific. He scored points where I think people were expecting Senator Obama to score those points, in drawing those distinctions.

Tom Andrews and Richard Wolffe are staying with us. But up next, Rudy Giuliani‘s campaign so angry over a one-liner last night by Joe Biden that Giuliani‘s campaign is going nuclear, I‘ll explain.

Plus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Bush are back at it again. This time Pelosi is calling the president‘s approach criminal. Madam Speaker the last time Dennis Kucinich checked, you were the one who didn‘t want impeachment hearings. Back after this. You‘re watching MSNBC.



SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Rudy Giuliani probably the most under qualified man since George bush to seek the presidency is here talking about any of the people here. Rudy Giuliani, I mean, think about it, Rudy Giuliani there‘s only three things he mentions in a sentence a noun, a verb, 9/11. I mean, there‘s nothing else.


SHUSTER:  That was Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at last night‘s debate. Rudy Giuliani‘s Republican presidential campaign has now issued a statement. Quote, Rudy rarely reads prepared speeches and when he does he isn‘t prone to ripping off text from others.  Senator Biden certainly falls into the bucket of those on stage tonight who have never had executive experience and have never run anything.  Senator Biden has never run anything but his mouth.”

Tom Andrews is national director of Win Without War, and Richard Wolffe is “Newsweek‘s” senior White House correspondent.

Tom, what‘s the benefit for these two guys to fight each other in this way?

ANDREWS:  Well, certainly from Joe Biden‘s point of view taking on the Republican leader in that race is only upside.  Of course, he got the best line of the entire debate in there.  And to show your stuff, to show you‘re metal and say you‘re going to go right after the Republican is one way to show that you‘re the guy that the Democrats want in the ring for the general election.

SHUSTER:  And, Richard, to show that Biden is happy to keep this going, his  campaign then issued a statement in response to Rudy‘s campaign that says, “We are well aware that former Mayor Giuliani will attempt to drag this race into the mud, where Republicans like to wage their campaigns.

WOLFFE:  Look, he wins this hands down.  He wins it because he used humor.  That Giuliani press release so angry, so intemperate.  It was like one of those e-mails you really should press delete on before you sent it.  And then rewrite it. This whole thing about how he‘s never run anything but his mouth, very personal, whereas Biden took him—turned Giuliani into a joke. It‘s very hard to respond to that with anything other than humor that‘s what they should have done.

SHUSTER:  Tom, are there Democrats, then, that are watching this are seeing how easy they can provoke Rudy Giuliani and are thinking—especially, if you‘re thinking your guy going to be candidate or gal, Hillary Clinton—this is something to keep in mind in the general election.

ANDREWS:  Well, I think so for lot of reasons. One, so you can make sure that you‘re standing out as the one who is going to do the slugging.  But secondly, this is very important for Democrats to very clearly show the Republicans who they are in this primary season. Because, of course, they‘re all playing to their base.

Rudy Giuliani supports the president 100 percent on Iraq, on Iran, on this terrorism, all of these policies that have been complete disaster.  That the American people want fundamental change from. And while he‘s in the primary going after these conservative base voters, he‘s going to keep talking how much he likes George W. Bush. But degree to which Democrats can pin that on him, and clearly identify him as such now, it will be that much harder for Rudy Giuliani to shake that in the general election.

SHUSTER:  And, Richard, is there a danger of Democrats are seeing or viewing Rudy Giuliani as one-trick pony because of 9/11 and based on comments by Joe Biden is there any danger that Republicans may also find comments like Biden‘s somewhat funny also begin to sort of think, well maybe Giuliani really is just 9/11?

WOLFFE:  Right, that is certainly giving them the talking points there. Remember, by the way the Republicans were not shy about attacking Hillary Clinton in the last debate. In fact that was their biggest applause line all the way through. Was it any coincidence that the Democrats picked up that attack and used it very effectively in this debate?  I don‘t think so. So, yeah, if you are one of those people chasing Rudy Giuliani wouldn‘t you want to go after the stuff, too, in the same way Biden has? Why not?

SHUSTER:  One of the more remarkable things about Giuliani‘s campaign now, as far as foreign policy, is the number of advisors, neoconservatives like John Podhoretz, who have advocated bombing Iran, some of the people who are advising Vice President Cheney, the sort of neocons in Washington, who are very aggressive. The Giuliani campaign has now said, well, we‘re just listening to a variety of points of view. Is that a workable defense?

ANDREWS:  It‘s not a workable defense. Podhoretz example is a good one. This guy is really scary. He spent, he says, 45 minutes in the White House meeting with the president, comes out they say what was your message?  I told the president that I pray every day that he‘s going to launch a military strike on Iran. And this is one of Giuliani‘s—you know, one of his principles, who is advising him on foreign policy. That Mayor Giuliani likes to associate with. That‘s really scary stuff. He‘s going to have to own this in the general election if he becomes the nominee.

SHUSTER:  Richard, a lot of talk about what sort of mainstream Republicans like about Rudy Giuliani. You spent a lot of time in the White House, you‘ve been talking with the president. What‘s your impression about how President Bush views Rudy Giuliani as opposed to some of the other candidates?

WOLFFE:  Well, inside the White House their view of Giuliani is shaped by two words, “Bernie” and “Kerik”.  They were burnt by the experience, very badly burned and they have not forgotten it. They think it raises serious questions about his judgment and the way he selects people around him. I think that‘s very hard for anyone inside the White House to shake off.

SHUSTER:  Just remind our viewers, Bernie Kerik was appointed, was going to be named national security advisor; he was a close friend—

WOLFFE:  Homeland Security.

SHUSTER:  Homeland Security.  He‘s a close friend of Giuliani and of course, his nomination had to be pulled when it looked like he was going to get indicted.  He eventually was charged.

ANDREWS:  That‘s the danger for Rudy Giuliani. He‘s making bed around 9/11, well he‘s going to have to sleep in that bed. And there‘s lots of vulnerability to his performance as mayor.  That being one of them, there were several others.  And he‘s going to have to take own responsibility for that.  And he‘s setting it all up by making it all about 9/11. 

SHUSTER:  Tom and Richard, I know you‘ve been talking for the last several hours about hour next segment. And, just ahead, Dennis Kucinich brought the house down last night with his claim to have seen a UFO.  Did one of our panel members see one recently as well?

What are they seeing up in Canada when they look our way of electing a president.  We will talk with one of Canada‘s best political journalists about us, them, and oh, yeah, hockey.



SHUSTER:  Well, Dennis Kucinich last night created quite a stir, I think we now have better understanding of him and his candidacy.  He was asked about a comment from Shirley MacLaine several years ago whether or not he‘d seen a UFO.  Apparently Kucinich said that he did.  So Tim Russert followed up with this exchange, watch. 


TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Shirley MacLaine writes in her new book that you cited a UFO over her home in Washington State, that you found the encounter extremely moving, that it was a triangular craft, silent and hovering, that you felt a connection to your heart and heard directions in your mind.  Now, did you see a UFO? 

DENNIS KUCINICH (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I did.  And the rest account—it was an unidentified flying object, OK.  It‘s unidentified.  I saw something. 

Now, to answer your question.  I am moving my—I‘m also going to move my campaign office to Roswell, New Mexico and another one in Exeter, New Hampshire, OK.  And also you have to keep in mind that Jimmy Carter saw a UFO and also that more people in this country have seen UFOs than I think approve of George Bush‘s presidency. 

RUSSERT:  Actually—

KUCINICH:  Wait, we‘re just getting started here. 

RUSSERT:  We have 14 percent of Americans say they have seen UFOs. 

I‘m going to move past that.

KUCINICH:  What was percentage? 

RUSSERT:  Fourteen.

KUCINICH:  What was that percentage? 

RUSSERT:  Fourteen.   

KUCINICH:  Thank you.


SHUSTER:  Wow.  Tom Andrews is national director of Win Without War.  And Richard Wolffe is “Newsweek‘s” senior White House correspondent.  That was pretty fun last night.  Richard, the staff was asking me to ask you about whether it‘s true you really believe in UFOs yourself. 

WOLFFE:  Well, I have smelled roses from time to time.  They have never brought out anything unidentified.  It‘s funny that he kept coming back to the 14 percent, because the number didn‘t get higher any time Tim Russert said it.  Maybe he was hoping to add it up.  Anyway, look, he obviously wanted to be beamed up right there.  The campaign in the spin room afterwards was not happy. 

You know, if you are going to go out there admitting to this kind of thing then you‘ve got to be Dennis Kucinich and be happy in your own skin. 

SHUSTER:  Apparently in the spin room, Tom, I read somewhere that Kucinich said that was 25 years ago.  Of course, as Richard said, he wasn‘t happy.  But, on the other hand, that was Dennis Kucinich throwing Jimmy Carter under the bus on UFOs. 

ANDREWS:  Well, you can expect him to be not very happy.  First of all, he sat there for what, 20, 25 minutes before he got asked a question.  We‘ve got a two hour debate to talk about the health care crisis.  We‘ve got the mortgage crisis, the education crisis.  We‘re in two wars.  We may be going into a third.  With all due respect, NBC decides to throw in UFOs in a with-hour debate about the nation‘s future?  Of course he was upset. 

I think the line about more people have seen UFOs than actually approve of George Bush was a good line. 

SHUSTER:  To be fair, Bill Richardson kept it going last night with Chris Matthews when he started talking about Roswell and how the federal government hasn‘t done a very good job of declassifying documents.  This thing took on life of its own.  Let‘s move on—

ANDREWS:  It took off?

SHUSTER:  Exactly, bad pun. 

Let‘s move on to more Washington galaxy types of issues.  Michael Mukasey, who is the president‘s nominee for attorney general, he got stuck in his testimony a couple weeks over the issue of water boarding, and couldn‘t say whether water boarding was torture.  Yesterday he issued a statement and says, “water boarding seems over the line and, on personal basis, repugnant to me.” 

But he could not offer an opinion as to the legality because he said he wasn‘t briefed and he does not want to suggest that CIA officers may be in personal legal jeopardy.  The problem that I have with that is that CIA officers are not going to be in personal legal jeopardy with people who have no standing anyway because they‘re being water boarded some place outside of this country.  Right?  

ANDREWS:  Here‘s the problem—I mean, OK, he‘s concerned about these people, these U.S. officials being in this legal jeopardy.  What about the actual physical jeopardy that our soldiers are going to be in.  You listen to Senator McCain talk about his experience as someone who was tortured as a prisoner.  This is exactly what happens when you get caught as a prisoner of war, as an American, when your government is doing the very same things to others. 

We prosecuted Japanese officers for doing this to our POWs in World War Ii.  This is an abhorrent act.  For an attorney general, first of all, to not know what it is, and then to say maybe it‘s legal, maybe it isn‘t.  We need some clarity on an issue that is so important to this country about who we stand for, number one, what we‘re all about.  Secondly, about the jeopardy, not the legal jeopardy of U.S. officials, but the jeopardy of our kids in harm‘s way. 

And I think the attorney general should be the people‘s attorney general and not just the president‘s attorney general.  That‘s what I was hoping we were going to get when Mr. Gonzales stepped aside.  But obviously that‘s not where we‘re going to get with this nominee. 

SHUSTER:  Now it seems, Richard, that this puts somebody like John McCain something of a bind, because clearly now Republicans have the votes to get this guy confirmed, and get enough Democrats.  But again, it puts somebody like John McCain, who is running for president, in somewhat of an awkward position where McCain now is going to be asked, OK, this guy who is going to be attorney general, he doesn‘t know whether it‘s legal or not.  What‘s your vote going to be? 

WOLFFE:  Yes, and obviously because of his personal history he can speak with moral clarity, which the administration has, frankly, lacked when it comes to this.  I think there is a political problem for McCain for sure in trying to say he‘s the tough national security candidate, proving his credentials with Republican voters, but also staying true to his own values and life story. 

What strikes me about Mukasey and what the White House is doing here is that actually Mukasey is being personal attorney here to CIA interrogators.  It‘s about the legal jeopardy for individuals, and really they ought to be able to say, A, not just that it‘s personally repugnant, but it‘s not actually legal, and deal with the legal questions beyond that.  Either this is acceptable or not, and then you have the legal framework for these individuals, who may or may not have wittingly or unwittingly committed a crime. 

So that‘s a different issue from the moral issue about is this the right thing for Americans to be doing, is it legal.  They have to be able to speak clearly about that because moral clarity was one of this president‘s hallmarks. 

ANDREWS:  Because we‘re talking about the chief law enforcement officer of the United States.  I agree with you completely.  The thing about Senator McCain is, look, he was able to advance to the degree he did in his first go around for president because of the Straight Talk Express.  He was willing to speak it clearly and put it right on the line.  If he cannot put it on the line on this issue, in this vote, I think that foundation he‘s trying to build for himself, in terms of credibility and straight forwardness, I think that collapses. 

SHUSTER:  The other issue that has created quite a buzz in Washington, in addition to the debate and Mukasey, is this whole fight again between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Bush.  The president, yesterday‘s aid we‘re near the end of the term, and there really isn‘t much to show for it, blaming the Democrats.  The Democrats say, look, we‘ve been very busy with oversight of your administration, trying to end the war.  And Nancy Pelosi said we called billions spent in no bid contracts to Halliburton a waste of money.  We call that criminal. 

Is that sort of language going too far, when the House Speaker uses the word criminal in the same sort of breath talking about President Bush?  Richard? 

WOLFFE:  I don‘t think so.  I think she was really talking about the waste of money rather than making it personal.  There is this talk about can they—is there some sort of smear tactic, is this specifically designed language.  I actually think that when they looked at what was popular, what got them elected to take back Congress in 2006, the question of contracts was overwhelmingly popular, not just with Democrats and independents but Republicans too.  It‘s long past time that they went back to that agenda and started investigating this stuff. 

How they talk about it is a political question for them.  But there‘s stuff to investigate there and Blackwater was one element of the contractual agreements and arrangements this administration has done.  But some of the pure money side of this is quite surprising. 

SHUSTER:  The other aspect of 2006 was sort of the whiff of scandal.  It does seem, Tom, like the Democrats are trying to pursue again the U.S.  attorney scandal and they want to bring criminal contempt citations in Congress against the White House chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and the former White House Counsel, Harriet Miers, who have both essentially stiffed Congress, as far as providing any information.  Is that wise strategy for the Democrats? 

ANDREWS:  I think it is, because, first of all, you‘re exactly right.  Back in 2006, the reason that people were so angry, that is Democrats and Republicans about the Congress, was they refused to do their job.  They are co-equal branch of government.  They have a Constitutional responsibility for providing a check and balance on the administration, and to hold them accountable.  They didn‘t do that. 

Of course, this administration, more than any in American history, is known for its stone-walling, its refusal to lay forward, even to Congress, a co-equal branch of government, the facts.  We saw it with the Energy Task Force way early in the administration.  We saw it with the 9/11 Commission.  We saw it with the Iraq Study Group.  Continually refusing to give up this information. 

In this case, they clearly crossed line by having Josh Bolten, the former chief of staff, and have Harriet Miers, his attorney, refuse to even come and testify before Congress.  Now that‘s a criminal contempt, and there‘s a criminal contempt motion that will be on the floor next week. 

SHUSTER:  The flip side though is I think it‘s a lot easier for the country to follow a sex scandal, like the Foley scandal, than it is whether or not the Bush administration is providing the right sort of information to Congress.  But in any case we‘ll see what happens.  Tom Andrews, who is the national direct of Win Without War, thank you very much, and Richard Wolffe, “Newsweek” senior White House correspondent, thank you as well.  We appreciate it. 

Coming up, it was a wild night in Philadelphia at the Democratic debate, almost as wild as when the Philadelphia Flyers take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.  But hockey isn‘t the only thing our Canadian friends can talk about.  They also have intriguing perspective on our politics.  That‘s next. 

Later, our own Bill Wolff wants to know what‘s wrong with giant poster of Victoria Secret models hanging in a store window in Arizona. 


SHUSTER:  Canadians, of course, are different from us.  Their crime rates are lower.  Their life expectancy is longer.  And their health care system is unusual, at least by American standards.  Nonetheless our neighbors to the north can be quite astute when it comes to American presidential elections.  In a moment, we‘ll talk with Canada‘s best political analyst about the views up there about what‘s going on down here. 

But first, it‘s helpful to understand the Canadian psyche.  One of the most popular Youtube videos in Canada comes from a hockey game.  Two years ago, the Edmonton Oilers were about to start a crucial playoff game against the American Anaheim Mighty Ducks—actually I think it was the Sharks, but we‘ll check that—and the Canadian fans seized on their national anthem for inspiration. 




SHUSTER:  Wow, that place was rocking.  The Oilers won that game.  They did beat Anaheim.  They won the series.  Joining us now from Toronto, Canada, Steve Paikin.  He has been covering politics in Canada for more than 20 years.  He‘s the host of “The Agenda” on TV Ontario and his latest book is “New Game, How Hockey Saved Itself.”  Steve, great to see you.  Thanks for joining us. 

STEVE PAIKIN, “THE NEW GAME” AUTHOR:  That was a beautiful piece of tape.  Can I hear that again. 

SHUSTER:  Steve, give us your sense—the gloves came off, as we like to say—perhaps that is hockey reference—regarding last night‘s Democratic debate.  What‘s the general sense in Canada about our American election this time around? 

PAIKIN:  Well you got to remember Canada is in a way like a big blue state.  I think I remember poll being published a few years ago when it was George Bush against John Kerry, and up in Canada, had those two candidates run for prime minister, for example, Kerry would have got 85 percent of the votes and Bush would have got 15.  So you start with that under pinning. 

That‘s a good start if you want to get a sense of the Canadian psyche of American politics right now. 

SHUSTER:  Steve, you have moderated debates before in Canada.  Have you ever had a candidate admit during one of the debates or have you ever asked whether or not they believe in UFOs? 

PAIKIN:  Never had one admit it, and must confess I have never asked it. 

SHUSTER:  What are the big issues in Canada, as far as Canadian/U.S.  relations and what are the things that Canadians will be looking for as far as this American presidential election? 

PAIKIN:  Well, obviously this is a very complicated question, believe it or not.  Despite the fact that Canadians see themselves sort of more aligned with the Democratic rather than Republican party.  Republican presidents tend to get along with Canadian governments and tend to have positions that favor what Canadians like more than Democrats do.  We‘ve seen in the past that a lot of the Democratic senators, for example, in border states are far more protectionist, as it relates to issues around trade.  Whereas presidents like Ronald Reagan signed North American Free Trade Agreements with Canada, with the Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney at the time.  So, it‘s a more complicated question than perhaps at first blush.

SHUSTER:  Steve, the Republican presidential candidates have been quite critical of Canada‘s health care system, calling it a socialized mess, saying that there are long waits, lousy treatment.  What‘s the truth in Canada about the health care system? 

PAIKIN:  I think the truth is, you probably couldn‘t find one middle class Canadian anywhere who would trade our system for yours.  I think that‘s the truth.  You can toss around all sorts of metaphors about socialized medicine, this and that.  The reality is, we do not have in this country 50 million Canadians without health insurance.  We do not have in this country people who have to sell their homes or go into ridiculous debt in order to pay for operations for life-saving procedures. 

I think overwhelmingly the Canadian health care system obviously has its problems.  But it is considered I think one of the—it‘s almost considered a national value now.  Something that is about as cherished as anything in the country. 

SHUSTER:  Steve, we didn‘t invite you on to come stick it to us.  But in any case, let‘s talk about your book, a terrific book.  You‘ve written books about politic before.  Now you‘ve written about hockey.  Tell us about the amazing story of the resurgence of hockey in Canada and why the resurgence of how hockey saved itself.  Why is that so important to Canada‘s self identity. 

PAIKIN:  Well, you‘ve got to remember that Canadians, when they are two or three years old, they put their first pair of skates on.  So this is something that‘s in our blood.  You Americans might pick up a football or a baseball at that age.  We‘re putting on skates and we‘re skating in the back yard pond, that kind of thing.  It‘s in us from the beginning. 

I think the other reason that Canadians love hockey so much is that, remember, we‘re a country one-tenth the size of you.  We‘re a country that has about the same population as the state of California.  So there aren‘t a lot of things in this world that Canadians are without dispute the best at, or better than Americans at.  And one thing we‘re definitely better than you at is hockey.  We like that. 

SHUSTER:  One thing Americans are much better at, Steve, is these presidential elections.  We spend a lot more money.  Does that just sort of baffle you and your fellow colleagues in Canada, the amount of money that Americans are going to spend on television advertising, the length of the campaigns?  What do you make about it all? 

PAIKIN:  It‘s astonishing.  We have very strict rules in this country about how much candidates are allowed to spend.  In fact, for federal elections in this country, unions and corporations are not allowed to give, only individuals.  It‘s a very, very strict system up here.  So when we start seeing numbers in the hundreds of millions, if not more, being spent on federal elections in the United States, I think there‘s head scratching that goes on up here. 

SHUSTER:  Steve Paikin, who is the host of “The Agenda” on TV Ontario.  I think he‘s called Stevie by his dad. And he‘s also the author of a terrific new book called “New Game: How Hockey Saved Itself,” a great read whether you‘re a fan of politics or a sportsman.  Steve, thanks for coming in.  We really appreciate it. 

PAIKIN:  It‘s my pleasure.  I think your dad calls me that, too. 

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Steve. 

As if doing live television is hard enough, it got a lot harder for a Sacramento anchor team when their co-workers decided to have some fun at their expense. 


SHUSTER:  Now it‘s the segment you‘ve all been waiting for, the pride of St. Louis and the St. Louis blues, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, the hockey reference are flying fast and furious, David.  Listen, if you‘re going to have a Canadian on the show, please inform the management we have quotas in those areas, my friend.  Now, according to sources, my friend, this is Halloween.  So we begin with the costume that has proven unacceptable to Gilbert, Arizona.  The women in this Victoria Secret billboard on the side of a mall are dressed as lingerie models, the costumes consisting of their underpants and such. 

Some of the locals, David, are restless, and not in a good way.  Enraged citizens have sent letters of protest to the town council and the local paper.  Among the descriptions of these costumes, shocking and soft core porn.  The mall is now working with Victoria‘s Secret on a solution.  In related news, David, some of the locals did not complain. 

SHUSTER:  Bill, I was wondering, what‘s the exact address of that mall in Arizona? 

WOLFF:  I don‘t know.  But there‘s one on the Upper West Side too I could point out to you next time you‘re in town.  It is the one night of the year, David, that pumpkins are the stars, before they are ground up and used for dessert across America.  This is the biggest carved pumpkin you are likely to see this evening.  It originally weighed more than 1,600 pounds, and its sunny design is the work of Hugh McMahon also known as the Van Gogh of the gourd, though McMahon, by all accounts, still has both ears and isn‘t penniless and forlorn. 

Anyway, it‘s on display in New York‘s Chelsea Market through this evening.  If that neighborhood is anything like the one I grew up in, teen ruffians will steal it in the middle of the night, break it into nasty chunks and hurl it at cars, David.  That‘s what happened to pumpkins in my neighborhood. 

SHUSTER:  Bill, I‘m wondering if Bud Selig will investigate how that pumpkin got to be as big as it is. 

WOLFF:  Pumpkin obesity is a growing problem this time of year.  Our legislators need to handle that.  Now, the annual winners of the best costumes ever are the anchors of “The Today Show.”  That isn‘t bragging.  That isn‘t shilling.  That‘s just the way it is.  Check this out.  This year‘s theme is the Munsters.  That‘s Meredith Vieira as the Yvonne de Carlo role of Lily, Al Roker, grandpa.  That‘s Hoda Kotb doing fine work as cousin Marylin.  That‘s Natalie Morales as Eddie Munster, in one of the great transformations in human history.  Matt Lauer stars, of course, as Herman.  And the pet dragon played deftly by the multi-talented Tiki Barber.  Anne Curry, on her way to the south pole, appeared via crystal ball, David. 

Now, here on cable, we had slightly more limited goals for Halloween. 

I showed up as a civilized human being. 

SHUSTER:  I love the Natalie costume.  Where do they find those little dolls that she was carrying around to go with Herman Munster?  Is that just like locked up in—I don‘t know—somewhere at 30 Rockefeller in some closet somewhere? 

WOLFF:  It‘s on a need to know basis, David.  It‘s part of the management training.  I can‘t reveal it.  I must say, that did not look like Natalie, except in a very good way.  Finally it‘s got bit of dust on it because it happened last week, but I can‘t get enough of TV news anchor folks getting the bejeezus (ph) scared out of them by costume intruders. 

Dateline Sacramento, California. 





WOLFF:  The greatest thing ever.  So good.  Well, we try to keep it a little cooler here at MSNBC.  But in Sacramento, no holds barred.  Have all the fun you wants, kid.  Come out on the set and scare everybody all to living hell.  It‘s unbelievable. 

SHUSTER:  I want to do that.  I want to hide right back there and when Tucker takes on the set tomorrow I want to pop up with some crazy costume.

WOLFF:  Brief note, David.  Today is the 40th birthday of Samuel J.

Wolff, my brother.  Happy birthday, Sammie.

SHUSTER:  Happy birthday, brother Sam.  Bill, thank you as always.  Thanks everybody for watching.  Tucker will be back tomorrow night.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.



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