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'The Situation with Tucker Carlson' for June 17

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guest: Jay Severin, Rachel Maddow, Charlie Gasparino, Max Kellerman, Willie Geist


TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Guilty of corporate greed.  But will the sentence fit the crime? 

Toying with porn.  What parents should know about this game. 

Can drunk drivers continue to steer clear of the law?  Good guys turn the tables on the bad guys. 

Plus, Katie and Tom rock the cynics, but does this affair ring true? 

KATIE HOLMES, ACTRESS:  I‘m so happy. 


CARLSON:  Welcome to our Friday night SITUATION spectacular.  Time to unveil the freshest stack of stories available.  They include sort of a grim line-up tonight.  Sex offenders being sent off to New Mexico, and pornography on your portable PlayStation. 

But first, I‘m joined by two people who cancelled big plans to be here.  The leading talk show host and radio in all of New England, Jay Severin, and the leading lady of Air America radio, Rachel Maddow. 



CARLSON:  First situation, the problem festering, U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Today saw Donald Rumsfeld‘s editorial in “USA Today” in which the defense secretary defended the prison‘s operation and noted the changing nature of the rules of war. 

Today also saw the Pentagon award a $30 million contract to a subsidiary of Halliburton to build a new, relatively luxurious jail at Gitmo.  The job is part of a larger contract that could be worth up to $500 million through 2010. 

This is like confirming every worst nightmare for the paranoid left, you know, Halliburton involved.  But before they jump on, if I could just make one point...



CARLSON:  Not you, I was just saying, people who believe that Halliburton was behind the Kennedy assassination ought to know that this new facility has both air-conditioning and a dental facility.  In other words, they are making Gitmo much nicer.  They‘re the good guys in this story.  Will they get credit?  No.

MADDOW:  Guess what?  When you hold people indefinitely for their whole lives, occasionally you have to extract their teeth.  I don‘t think this is cause for...

CARLSON:  Oh, come on.

MADDOW:  I don‘t think this is cause for celebration.  I mean, every prison in the United States has a dental facility.  You have to by law.  It‘s not like this means that it‘s some sort of glamorous Club Fed facility. 

I mean, the situation here is that they‘re brushing off all of the criticism of Guantanamo.  And they‘re saying, “Listen.  We‘re going to do whatever we want.  We don‘t believe that we‘re bound by the rules of law.  We‘re the United States.  Come and take a shot at us if you want to.”  It‘s just pure arrogance. 

SEVERIN:  I just disagree with what thing Rachel said:  We shouldn‘t extract their teeth.  We should knock them out.  Secondly, building a prison...


SEVERIN:  No, but you‘ve converted me.  Building a prison, I‘ve decided this week that that is torture.  It‘s Nazism, in fact.  We don‘t need to build fences.  Can‘t we just trust? 

CARLSON:  No, we can‘t.  We can‘t just trust. 

And you‘re going to hear—this is my prediction.  And I know I‘m right in this case—you‘re going to hear endless whining about Halliburton‘s all a great conspiracy.  Halliburton‘s why we went to war.  Halliburton‘s why we‘re staying in Gitmo.  It‘s all a way to not confront the real issues here about the war in Iraq and the war on terror. 

MADDOW:  No, I‘ll tell you what a line of attack is going to be on Halliburton.  Halliburton has been wasting tons of our money.  All the Halliburton audits are disaster.  Halliburton as a contractor is a nightmare for the United States‘ taxpayer. 

SEVERIN:  Rachel‘s right.  Rachel‘s right.  Let‘s let Amnesty International build this, or ACLU. 

CARLSON:  Even if that‘s true, and it may be true that they‘re wasting millions of tax dollars, they‘re hardly unique among government contractors.  They all do, which is why I‘m a small government conservative.  You should think about it. 

MADDOW:  All right.

CARLSON:  Next situation, the man accused of being the worst child molester in history.  Police say Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller may have abused thousands of children.  Upon his arrest, they found more than 36,000 names, mostly of boys, and a horrifying volume of child porn in his bedroom. 

Meanwhile, a Florida official says he has a plan for all convicted sex offenders.  Marion County Commissioner Randy Harris wants to send them to prisons in Mexico because the jails there are tougher, and it would be cheaper.

It should be noted that this guy, Schwartzmiller was arrested at least seven times, convicted on a number of them.  First convicted in 1970.  His last jail term, three years for molesting three boys, basically no punishment at all.  I can see why people want to send guys like that to Mexico.  It would solve the problem. 

SEVERIN:  Well, firstly, this record is more shocking than I thought.  About the only thing left for this guy now is to run for Congress.  If he rejects that, then I think sending him to Mexico—we have a word in law for that‘s called reciprocity, where they send us their worst, we send them our worst back.  It‘s fine.  We trade criminals for criminals.  I have no problem with it. 

MADDOW:  This is a guy who everybody in America rightly will hate with all of their heart and soul.  And what we‘ll decide about it is that prison is too good for him.  And if he was up for the death penalty, we would say execution is too good for him.  Let‘s torture him. 

SEVERIN:  You‘re coming around. 

MADDOW:  I mean, this is what—this is the way we react to these things.  And you end up, when you follow those impulses, which are absolutely natural, and everybody has them, but when you follow them as a society, you end up as a place that cuts off hands for stealing. 

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  I mean, I‘m not for cutting off hands but I‘m more for cutting off hands than I am for molesting children, if that‘s what it takes to stop it.  I think that‘s fair.  And I will say, the one thing Mexico does well is punish prisoners.  They do.  They‘re good at that.

SEVERIN:  It‘s rendition.  It‘s a form of rendition, and why not for them?

MADDOW:  Do you love the Constitution more than you hate this guy? 

That‘s what you have to decide. 

SEVERIN:  They‘re not mutually exclusive.


CARLSON:  ... prohibits that.

But next situation, a huge highway bill currently before the U.S.  Senate would tie federal funding for the state‘s roads to the states agreeing for stiffer penalties for certain categories of drunk drivers, including repeat offenders, drivers with extremely high blood alcohol levels, and those driving drunk with suspended licenses. 

Now, you know, running the risk of defending drunk driving—which I am not doing.  I‘m not for drunk driving—however, the states ought to decide.  Different states have different penalties for drunk driving because they‘re states and they get to do that.  If people of one state want to be lighter on drunk drivers, they‘re wrong.  That‘s their business. 

MADDOW:  That‘s where I‘m coming from, as well.  I think the idea is that, yes, nobody is in favor of drunk driving.  Nobody‘s going to say that drunk driving is something that we ought to be softer on in this country.  Everybody is in favor of making it go away as much as we can. 

But the question is, how do we do it?  The question is, what‘s the right criminal approach to it?  Do the states get to decide this, or does the federal government?  And that‘s a small-c conservative thing that I actually think that you and I could agree on. 

SEVERIN:  I‘m with you guys, too.  I mean, the states get to decide this.  It‘s silly.  The federal government says to you, “Lower or raise the speed limit or we don‘t give you back your tax money, you know, to build highways.”  And I think that‘s onerous.  In this case, though, this is why we‘ll always need Guantanamo Bay.  People who get drunk and get in cars are domestic terrorists.  They‘re trying to kill you and me and our families, so as hard as you can be, the better. 


CARLSON:  You will see no opposition to this, though, because Mothers Against Drunk Driving, while they do admiral things, is exercising a kind of moral blackmail.  If you‘re against this, then you‘re for drunk driving, and you‘re for killing people on the roads. 

MADDOW:  And it‘s the same thing with the child molestation stuff.  They will make the penalties anything they want for that.  Anything where you can say, “You can‘t conceivably be for this,” you‘d end up not having...


CARLSON:  Yes, I guess I‘m—that‘s where I personally draw the line.  I‘m for moral blackmail when it comes to, you know, putting away child molesters. 

Next situation, speaking of moral blackmail, it involves pornography on your portable PlayStation.  Sony‘s worried.  It says it cannot legally stop porn producers from selling sexually explicit discs to be played on its handheld PSP.  It‘s a hot item this season with the under-18 set.  Some fear the PSP will allow kids to watch porn while pretending to play games, say, in class. 

I mean, you know, I don‘t think Sony ought to worry about this.  The fact is, kids can watch porn much more easily for free on the Internet.  Porn is everywhere.  If we‘re interested in keeping sexually explicit images away from our kids, we‘re doing a really bad job. 

SEVERIN:  Corn?  I don‘t understand what all this is—corn on the Internet?  What‘s all the fuss about? 

MADDOW:  Jay, you ignorant slut.

SEVERIN:  Oh, porn.  Porn, never mind.  And why do we have to wait so long?  July 1st?  We have the technology?  Let‘s get it today. 

MADDOW:  The porn industry is the most resilient entrepreneurial industry in the country. 

SEVERIN:  Talk about supply.

MADDOW:  The headline is going to be, “Maddow of Air America comes out in favor of porn.”  But that‘s not what I‘m saying.  All I have to say is that they can make porn show up everywhere.  I mean, it‘s going to be on tissues and cereal at some point, and your watches and your cell phones.  At this point, nobody can stop the porn industry.  They‘re the most powerful industry in terms of entrepreneurship in the country. 

CARLSON:  They‘re efficient.  They ought to be running the DMV.

SEVERIN:  There‘s certainly demand.

CARLSON:  If government ran porn, it would be very unappealing.

Next situation is wrong on a number of levels.  A few incredibly bored employees at some online site are conducting a poll of, quote, “the hottest U.S. senators,” if you can imagine.  The nominees include Rick Santorum, Joe Biden, and—prepare yourself -- 87-year-old Robert Byrd of West Virginia. 

One notable omission, newly-elected Illinois Democrat Barack Obama, who in the state-by-state survey was voted the most popular senator in America.   According to the site, he is, quote, “so hot he‘d wipe the floor with any of the others.”

Maybe so.  I feel sorry for Barack Obama, who seems like a thoroughly decent guy based on my one conversation with him.  But the hype is so profound with this guy.  He better hurry up and do something really impressive to live up to it.  There‘s a burden on this man‘s shoulders. 

MADDOW:  Yes, he does.  He carries a big burden with him.  But you know?  I mean, you‘ve got to think his father in Kenya would be very proud of him being the hottest U.S. senator.  I mean, he does bring in this kind of Jesus thing with him to the Senate, which is—there‘s no way he can live up to it, unfortunately, I think for him.

SEVERIN:  Is this good racism?  Because...


MADDOW:  What?

SEVERIN:  No, is this good—is there such a thing as good racism?  If Barack were white, would there be as much fuss about him?  Of course not.

MADDOW:  What are you talking about?  Barack Obama compared to Robert Byrd?  Barack Obama...


SEVERIN:  No, no, I was talking about...


MADDOW:  What are you talking about?

SEVERIN:  Look, I think we ought to have other categories.  Funkiest, Senator Barack.  Chunkiest senator.  A tie, the judges have a tie between Teddy Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.

MADDOW:  OK, Barbara Boxer is more funky that Barack Obama.  Just because he‘s black does not make him funky.


MADDOW:  He‘s just attractive.

CARLSON:  I saw Barbara Boxer with my own eyes wearing high-heeled sneakers.  I think that qualifies.

MADDOW:  That is the funk.

CARLSON:  I‘m not sure anybody...


SEVERIN:  Can I have a write-in, too?  Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, only in 1985.

CARLSON:  Yes, I second that.

Coming up on the SITUATION, million-dollar toga parties, a $6,000 shower curtain, and other conspicuously lavish displays of newly-acquired wealth.  Vulgar?  Yes.  Maybe even illegal.  But should former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski spend the rest of his life in prison for that?

Also, time for all you skeptics to eat crow.  Tom will soon be cruising down the aisle with Katie.  Hopefully, that will be easier for him than answering this question.


QUESTION:  And when did you get the ring?




CARLSON:  Welcome back. 

Nobody is above the law, of course, including two former Tyco executives who were found guilty today of stealing more than $600 million from their company in corporate bonuses and loans, using much of that money for lavish parties and fancy art.  Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz are now facing up to 30 years behind bars. 

With us to talk about the verdict and corporate greed in general, “Newsweek” business writer Charlie Gasparino. 

Charlie, thanks a lot. 


CARLSON:  Good.  That‘s perfect for us.  I mean, I looked up today—the FBI keeps statistics on this.  And the average sentence for a violent crime in this country is a little over five years.  These guys are going to do more than five years, and it seems excessive to me, considering what they did didn‘t actually physically injured anybody.

What do you think? 

GASPARINO:  Right, you know, they didn‘t kill anybody, but they did cost a lot of people a lot of money apparently.  And you know, listen, the problem with corporate crime is that right now if—everybody‘s a shareholder.  Grandma Millie has her, you know, pension fund in shares of Tyco and Enron. 

So you can‘t really go easy on these guys.  I think there is a good case to be made that, you know, the punishment must fit the crime.  I mean, you shouldn‘t be putting people, you know, in jail for 10 years for doing something that really doesn‘t affect—you know, he hasn‘t really hurt anybody physically.  Let‘s face it. 

CARLSON:  Well, these guys, it seems to me, could never have gotten a fair trial, given all the publicity about Kozlowski‘s $6,000 shower curtain and his toga parties, et cetera. 

GASPARINO:  Wonderful parties.

CARLSON:  Well, I mean, look, if he wants to blow six grand on a shower curtain, and he‘s vulgar enough to do that, or silly enough to do that, that‘s his problem. 

GASPARINO:  Right.  Well, I think you‘re wrong about that.  I mean, I think this—the first case was like a zoo.  I mean, they showed that toga party like, you know, 20,000 times.  They spent like three days on that. 

This time, this is the second trial.  Remember, they retried him after there was that hung jury with the woman that apparently was giving the sign that she was on the side. 

This was different.  They really did focus purely on the financial aspects.  They had some very good witnesses against Kozlowski.  I think, you know, when you look at this trial, it looks like they did their job. 

CARLSON:  Well, the Manhattan district attorney, of course, Robert Morgenthau, has been there for a long time.  Up for reelection this fall.

GASPARINO:  Leslie Crocker Snyder, right? 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.  And you‘ve read a lot about prosecutors.  I mean, do you think there is a political element to this?  There must have been some pressure on him to see this case through to the victory.

GASPARINO:  Yes, I mean, listen, right now, there‘s tremendous—listen, up until recently, there‘s been tremendous political pressure on bringing essentially corporate crooks to trial.  And you basically had guys like Eliot Spitzer that were kind of leading the way. 

Eliot, as you know, the New York attorney general, has made a name for himself being the leading corporate crime fighter.  I think that is changing right now.  I think the fact that Eliot lost a major case last week, a guy named Ted Sihpol, I think, you know, the fact that, you know, you‘re seeing Kozlowski tried twice here, and you have change in the regulatory mood in Washington, I think that‘s going to change right now.

CARLSON:  What about the board at Tyco?  They seem to allow some this, anyway.  They claim they didn‘t know about some of it.  But some of it they had to know about, and they allowed it to take place.  Are they going to get hauled into court? 

GASPARINO:  Right.  I mean, this is one of the great questions out there in corporate America.  I mean, boards are generally not held accountable like they should.  I mean, you have a guy named Bill Purcell, who was the head of Morgan Stanley until very recently.  He presided over this company‘s stock going from $100 to $50, roughly thereabouts. 

Yet, the board is not being held accountable for it.  And that‘s one of the big questions.  Sarbanes-Oxley, the anti-corruption law, was designed to address that.  It really hasn‘t worked, though.

CARLSON:  Then what‘s the point of having a board? 

GASPARINO:  Well, that‘s great.  It‘s a good point.  I mean, these boards are the reason why corporate executives got paid so much money.  I think, until someone actually goes after board members—why doesn‘t Eliot Spitzer go after a board member or two?  When that happens, then these boards will be held accountable and then you‘ll see some change. 

CARLSON:  Don‘t you think it‘s morally wrong, or at least wrong, for a prosecutor to bring a case against an individual, send them to prison, to send a message to society at-large? 

GASPARINO:  Well, yes, it‘s wrong if there‘s no case.  But, I mean, listen, a lot of times there‘s been cases, even the Ted Sihpol case.  This was a mutual fund late-trading case.  I‘m not going to bore your listeners and your viewers about what that‘s all about. 

But I mean, if you looked at some of his activities, you know, these weren‘t the best things to do.  They may not have been technically illegal, but these weren‘t, like, practices you want to be telling people to do. 

I think, listen, I think the record has been pretty good so far.  There‘ve been very few, you know, oversteps on, you know, who they brought to court on these things.  You know, let‘s face it.  Do you think Ken Lay should be tried? 

CARLSON:  Actually, honestly, I don‘t know.  I can tell you this:  Ken Lay has never made me afraid to go outside. 

GASPARINO:  Right, but he may be—he may make you afraid to invest.  And by the way, everybody has to invest now.  I mean, that‘s the problem here.  Middle America now invests to save for retirement.  And if you have people that are cooking the books, you‘re going to have a real societal problem. 

CARLSON:  Charlie Gasparino, you are excellent.  You should be a panelist on this show.  Are you free Tuesday? 

GASPARINO:  I‘m free.  Call me anytime. 

CARLSON:  We‘ll see you then then. 

GASPARINO:  Free and easy.

CARLSON:  Charlie Gasparino, “Newsweek” magazine.  Thanks. 

Still ahead on THE SITUATION, what‘s wrong with a little loan-sharking or bookmaking among friends?  A crackdown on old goodfellas leads to a friendly but fiery situation with “The Outsider.” 

Plus, Jeb Bush isn‘t done with the Terri Schiavo case.  “Op-Ed, Op-Ed” is next. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Time now for “Op-ed, Op-ed.”  Not to brag or anything, but we‘ve read just about every editorial page in America so you don‘t have to.  We‘ve chosen three of the best to which Jay, Rachel and I will offer our 20-second retorts, ready? 



CARLSON:  First up, following this week‘s findings of the Terri Schiavo autopsy, John Grogan says in “The Philadelphia Inquirer,” her husband, Michael, is a man wronged.  Quote, “The world owes Michael Schiavo an apology.  President Bush owes him one.  Congress owes him one.  Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the president‘s brother, owes him one.”

To which I say, “Please.”  Nobody owes him an apology.  People had honest disagreements with his choice.  He didn‘t own his wife.  She‘s not a piece of property.  He doesn‘t have the right to make decisions about whether she lives or dies unquestioned.  We get to question his decision.  We couldn‘t influence it in the end, but we can certainly question it.

SEVERIN:  I disagree with you.  I think he‘s owed an apology.  This is a busy-body nation.  This is what big government hath wrought, the notion that everybody else knows better how your life should be run, how you live or die than do you.  This is what takes—it comes by sitting and watching “Judge Joe” in the middle of the day and making judgments.  The assumption that he was not inclined to do the best thing for his wife is a grotesque misjudgment. 

MADDOW:  I think that I agree with you, which is a little unsettling, but then that‘s where I am on this.  I do think Schiavo is owed an apology. 

And I think that the autopsy showed that people went from wishful thinking and questioning his decision to really inappropriate jumping to conclusions.  And we had, you know, Tom DeLay saying, “She talks! She laughs!”  All these sorts of things were absolutely not based in fact.  And he was demonized because of it.  There was a victim in this case. 

CARLSON:  He still doesn‘t own her.  I‘d just like to make point.

SEVERIN:  But he became a murderer.  At first it was, “There‘s something fishy here,” and now it‘s like assumptions, to talk as if he‘s a murderer. 


CARLSON:  According to some people.  But I don‘t think that was a mainstream view.  I will say, I believe today it was announced that he got a book deal.  He‘s going to be writing a book about the life of his wife.  Not passing judgment, merely reporting what is apparently news. 

Congress is considering a bill that would send parents to jail for at least three years if they learn of drug activity near their children and fail to report it to the authorities within 24 hours. 

In today‘s “Baltimore Sun,” Gene Healey wonders if criminalization is out of control.  Quote:  “Decrying over-criminalization does not mean being soft on crime.  Just the opposite.  Being tough on crime requires making intelligent distinctions between conduct that truly threatens the public and conduct better handled by fines.”

This is such a smart op-ed.  That‘s such a smart point.  It‘s hard to believe this is real legislation, apparently sponsored by Congressman Sensenbrenner, who‘s a smart guy.  It‘s hard to believe they would sponsor something like this, the idea that you‘re going to send a parent to jail if he doesn‘t turn in people who are dealing drugs around his kids, even in the neighborhood. 

Two problems.  One, it‘s not going to help kids if their parents are in jail.  And two, the idea that you should be more loyal to the federal government than your own neighbors, you rat out your own neighbors, is a creepy totalitarian notion that I just reject. 

SEVERIN:  If we ever enforce all the laws already on our books, we are all at any given moment criminals right now, more of us than others, including me.  But the thing with this is it‘s James Sensenbrenner, it‘s the Republicans for whom I vote.  And they do three things in a row that I say, “Yes, you go, boy.”  And then they do the fourth thing and I recoil and say, “You‘re a fascist! That‘s nuts.”  And this is one of those, “You‘re a fascist!  That‘s nuts.”

MADDOW:  We‘ve had a lot of different things we‘ve talked about tonight that have been all related to criminal justice.  And I think the theme between them is that everybody likes to be able to say, “We‘re cracking down bad things.  We want bad things to go away, so we‘re cracking down on them.”

But there are two consequences of that that we don‘t pay attention to, are that you end up putting people in prison for doing bad things, which arguably is an expensive way of making bad people worse.  And you also end up with a society like you‘re saying where everything is illegal and where you‘re expected to rat on people.  This isn‘t the society we want. 

CARLSON:  Well, it depends what bad things you‘re talking about.  I don‘t think smoking pot recreationally is the same as molesting children.  I mean, it‘s a matter of, you know, getting a hierarchy of badness.


MADDOW:  And so putting somebody in prison for smoking pot is an inappropriate response, because you‘re going to make that person a bad person by putting them in prison. 

CARLSON:  There‘s the understatement of the year. 

About one of the biggest races of this off-year election is the Virginia gubernatorial campaign where Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore is battling what some call a major handicap, his Appalachian twang, his accent.  That struck a nerve in the heartland where Robert Haught writes in “The Oklahoman” this. 

Quote:  “The implication of the accent as it hits the ear of supposedly sophisticated suburbanites is that it belongs to a country hick.”

We‘ll let you judge for yourself.  Here he is, Mr. Kilgore speaking. 


JERRY KILGORE ®, VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE:  While we were pushing for ethics reform in state government, my opponent was presiding over a government wracked by corruption and did nothing. 


CARLSON:  Well, he definitely sounds like he‘s got an Appalachian twang.  I think it‘s true that if you talk like someone from Appalachia, you probably are.  Not many people from San Francisco talk like West Virginians. 

If you talk like a hick, you probably are one.  The question is, is that a bad thing in politics?  And the answer is no.  It‘s probably a good thing.  When Bill Clinton wanted to sound sincere, he put on his, you know, “I‘m just a moon-shiner” voice.  You know what I mean?  It helps. 

SEVERIN:  I think you‘re right.  It didn‘t hurt Jimmy Carter.  I mean, swimming pools, movie stars, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jed Clampett.

CARLSON:  Right.

SEVERIN:  You know, it‘s not going to hurt you that much necessarily.  I mean, look, Thurston Howell III on “Gilligan‘s Island” sounded rather odd to some people.  George Herbert Walker Bush sounded a little differently odd, but that‘s what we are.  We‘re all a little differently odd, and it ain‘t a problem. 

MADDOW:  I think that to say as a generality that accents hurt people is wrong.  I mean, George W. Bush, born in Connecticut, went to Yale, went to Harvard Business School.  And when he talks to business audiences, he sounds like I do.  But when he talks to blue-collar audiences, he sounds like Hud. 

I mean, people do this because it helps them in some contexts and hurts them in others.  And I will say that accents can be faked. 

CARLSON:  Damn straight!

MADDOW:  That‘s right. 

CARLSON:  Rachel, Jay...

SEVERIN:  You know, I always wondered about that.  Are they fake? 

CARLSON:  Thank you.  We‘ll see you in just a minute.

Coming up on THE SITUATION, Natalee Holloway remains missing in Aruba.  And authorities there have another suspect.  But is it time for American law enforcement to get more aggressive? 

Plus, a baseball team gets kicked out of its little league for being too good.  That‘s just awful, unless you‘re “The Outsider,” in which case it‘s a debate.  Stay tuned.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  It is time, once again, to meet “The Outsider,” a man from outside the world of cable news who‘s agreed to become a permanent devil‘s advocate willing on occasion even to defend the indefensible. 

Joining us, ESPN radio talk show host and the bravest man in cable, Max Kellerman. 

MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO HOST:  I‘ll play devil‘s advocate every day if you give me that cool music and the cowboy silhouette. 

CARLSON:  You‘re going to need to be.  You‘re going to need to live up to that description to handle this next story. 


CARLSON:  Prepare yourself. 

Well, they like their justice stern in Texas.  And on the surface, it appears to have gotten sterner.  Governor Rick Perry signed into law today a new life-without-parole sentencing option for juries to consider in capital murder cases.  The law it replaced enables juries to sentence convicts to death or life in prison with possibility of parole after 40 years.  Perry says the bill will keep convicted killers behind bars forever. 

It sounds like it will, but the reason—one of the reasons this is good idea, it will prevent people from being executed.  I‘m against the death penalty.  And this will actually give juries an opportunity not to sentence people to death. 

One of the reasons they sentence people to death is they don‘t want them on the streets again.  But they know if they sentence them to life, they‘re going to get out. 

KELLERMAN:  Tucker Carlson, you continually surprise me.  I‘m also against the death penalty.  And that is an excellent argument which I did not anticipate. 

CARLSON:  Ha!  Ha!

KELLERMAN:  Let me just say this.  Have you ever seen “The Shawshank Redemption”? 

CARLSON:  Yes, I have. 

KELLERMAN:  Let Morgan Freeman go.  Let him go.  It‘s 40 years later.  He‘s not the same guy anymore.  You have to got to—you have to give people some kind of hope, otherwise it‘s just punitive, right?  Like, we‘d like to think that it‘s there to rehabilitate and that eventually, after 40 years, you‘re not the same stupid kid who committed that murder. 


KELLERMAN:  You would have Morgan Freeman with his little bird—oh no, that was the other guy with the little bird—in jail forever? 

CARLSON:  No, I actually like Morgan Freeman. 

KELLERMAN:  He needs to walk that white, sand beach and meet Tim Robbins. 

CARLSON:  But I believe he escaped from prison in that film.

KELLERMAN:  No, that was Tim Robbins.


CARLSON:  Well, without getting into the filmography at all...

KELLERMAN:  They paroled Morgan Freeman.

CARLSON:  I will say prison serves the purpose of rehabilitation we hope.  It‘s immediate purpose is to keep people from committing more crimes. 


CARLSON:  Right?  So that‘s the overriding interest of societies, to

keep these people from doing what they did.  By not killing them, you get

the state out of the death business—which I remind you is a good thing -

·         and you preserve the deterrent quality of the sentence. 

KELLERMAN:  If the argument is that the only way in Texas to get rid of the death penalty is life without parole, I concede the argument. 

CARLSON:  Ah!  Phew.  One for my team. 

Next up, in America, we like our organized crime figures fictional.  Who doesn‘t like Uncle Junior from “The Sopranos”?  Yesterday in New York, a pack of real mobsters, old but goodfellas who were busted for allegedly running a $10 million a year gambling and loan-sharking operation, seven of the grandfatherly grandfathers were in their 70s.  At least one of them was half-blind from diabetes, I read. 

They were hobbled over, chained together on the way to court.  I say pick on someone your own age, the prosecutors who did this.  This is an outrage.  In time when we‘ve got terrorists running around, people doing all sorts of horrible things to children, they‘re busting a bunch of elderly mafia guys.  The world is better with elderly Italian mobsters in it.  They make America more colorful.  And now they‘re being taken off the streets?  It‘s an outrage.

KELLERMAN:  This is a typical Tucker Carlson approach to the argument, which is not necessarily that what‘s going on is bad, but that the resources are being diverted from something more important. 

Let‘s assume, for a second, that we have enough resources to both fight terrorists and combat the mafia.  These are not—I know they seem like old, colorful guys, but they‘re murderers.  I mean, if it‘s true what‘s being alleged, Saboteur Scutaro (ph) is the enforcer who was too frail to stand up in court.  Let me tell you something.  Scutaro (ph) would come here and mop the floor with everybody in this room, all the camera guys included. 


These are not—and what also bothers me...

CARLSON:  I think of him more as a Morgan Freeman figure who should be free.


But look, here is my point.  These guys were running a loan-sharking ring, OK?


CARLSON:  If you borrow money from a Bonanno family, it‘s hard to think of you as a victim, OK?  You are so dumb, you get what you deserve. 

KELLERMAN:  Some people are desperate.  Look, also, this is what else bothers me.  It seems to be that if you are an old, colorful guy, you don‘t go to jail.  But if you‘re a young person of color in Texas and you commit a murder, you ain‘t getting out of jail.  Doesn‘t that bother you a little bit? 

CARLSON:  That is a rhetorical formulation worthy of Jesse Jackson, meaning it means nothing.  OK, the point is...

KELLERMAN:  Address the point!

CARLSON:  Look, the point is that there are worst people in the world to bust.  America is better off with the idea of guys like—what, I can‘t even pronounce their names.  But Sopranos-like figures running around, eating at Rio‘s in New York, and living these cool, interesting lives.  Leave them alone.  Let them retire.

KELLERMAN:  Look, in the boxing world, believe it or not, I‘ve run into some mob guys.  I know them personally.  These guys—some of them—are stone-cold killers.  And if people knew what they were really doing, would want them locked up. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t want to know what they‘re really doing. 

All right, next story, final story, going, going, gone.  In Columbus, Ohio, a youth baseball team was tossed out of a recreational league because they were too good.  The Columbus Stars, a team of 11- and 12-year-olds, defeated every opponent by scores like 24-0 and 18-0.  Some of their competitors were too scared to play them at all.  The Stars appealed to the league commissioner and struck out.  That‘s the old ball game. 

Actually, that‘s the new ball game.  So the point is, if you succeed, if you are good, if you try too hard, you‘re punished?  What kind of sick, sick message is this sending children? 

KELLERMAN:  It would be a sick message, if, in fact, they were being punished.  But what they‘re being is promoted.  They‘re being promoted to a higher league.  See, I know the bow-tie thing and the whole thing, you may not follow sports very closely.  But as a baseball fan...

CARLSON:  But I know fairness quite well.  And this is unfair. 

KELLERMAN:  OK, yes, yes, you do.  Fairness, OK?  If you‘re in single-A and you hit .500, you‘re going to be double-A the following season, or maybe even that season you get the promotion.  These kids were winning like 18-0 every game clearly don‘t belong in this league.  It‘s not fair to the other team.  It‘s not fair to them.  They belong in a higher league. 

CARLSON:  How is it not fair to the other teams?  These kids worked harder and they are better.  They have done what was asked of them, which is to exceed. 


CARLSON:  And to excel. 

KELLERMAN:  Yes.  And they have demonstrated that so thoroughly that it is no longer a contest.  Put them against people where it‘s competitive. 

CARLSON:  Well, I hope you‘ll concede this point, that the team that whined about their team being too good, and refused to play them because they might lose, they should be expelled immediately from this little league, and their parents ought to have their pictures in the paper.  They should have to walk the walk of shame every morning. 

KELLERMAN:  I can‘t concede that point, because we have three arguments, and I‘ve already conceded one.  You win a split decision.  I‘m not going to do it. 

CARLSON:  Well, you should do it. 

Max Kellerman, you‘re a brave man and a good man.

KELLERMAN:  Thank you, sir.

CARLSON:  We appreciate it.  Thanks. 

Coming up, do movies stink more than they used to?  Or have people conveniently forgotten how bad a lot of them already were?  A new poll sparks dissent. 

Plus, who needs movies anyway with videos like this one?  Bad guys, good guys, crime drama, elderly mafia figures.  Stick around for a real Hollywood ending on our “Cutting Room Floor.”


CARLSON:  Welcome back to THE SITUATION.

Time to unveil our final stack of fresh stories.  We say hello again to Jay Severin and Rachel Maddow. 

MADDOW:  Hey, Tucker. 

SEVERIN:  Hello.

CARLSON:  Our first situation is the search for Natalee Holloway.  It‘s been 18 days since she disappeared on Aruba, an island that‘s slightly larger than Washington, D.C.  Four men are now in custody and yet there is no sign of Natalee.  Now, her mother is demanding answers. 


BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, MOTHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY:  Where is my daughter?  Get the answers.  Where is she?  They know what.  They know who.  They know where.  They know when.  They know how.  And they know why.  And so I want them.  I want the answers. 


CARLSON:  So is it time for U.S. law enforcement to get a lot more aggressive about this case?  You know, in 1904, Teddy Roosevelt sent war ships to Morocco because an American citizen, supposed American citizen—it turns he was not even American—was kidnapped by a gang of bandits in Morocco.  And Teddy Roosevelt had no problem sending the American Navy. 

The message?  Really clear.  Fool with an American and die.  I‘d sort of like to see the U.S. government get a lot more aggressive about finding this girl.

SEVERIN:  I love that, in theory and philosophy.  The question is, a matter of practicality, the resources of the FBI and of law enforcement in general right now in a time of terror.  I mean, I apologize for being bloodless on this, but my question would be, what are the rules?  What are the rules of engagement for the FBI?  Do we go after every person who goes missing like this?  And if this is a special occasion, what makes this exceptional?  Is that what we‘re going to use the resources that we have? 

CARLSON:  That‘s a fair question. 


SEVERIN:  Is it practical?  How many thousands of people go missing? 

And how many FBI agents are we going to send to how many islands? 

MADDOW:  Do we only go after the ones who get this much media attention? 

SEVERIN:  And by the way...

MADDOW:  And then you have to make that...


SEVERIN:  And as someone said, if you go missing, you better be an attractive young woman and white, because then you get the media attention. 

MADDOW:  And then if that‘s the thing that emotionally brings us as a country to putting that sort of resources out there.  On the other hand, it is bad that it‘s been this long and we still have absolutely no idea what‘s going on there. 

And the legitimate question can be raised as to whether the authorities there, and the Dutch authorities, are doing enough or whether they‘re capable of doing this investigation.  I think that we should offer some sort of limited help.  I don‘t think we should send a battleship, though. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I respect your argument.  I just think there‘s symbolic value in saying, “Fool with an American, and we‘re just going to go so far over the top in an extreme way”... 


MADDOW:  We‘ll do a bumper sticker campaign, like a “Don‘t Mess with Texas” thing?

CARLSON:  I was thinking more like a MOAB. 

SEVERIN:  Exactly. 

CARLSON:  Next situation, Janet Reno, smoking mad.  And not for the first time.  The former Clinton attorney general says Thursday the government‘s decision to reduce penalties it is seeking from the tobacco industry smells of politics. 

Quote, “This is an important case.  It should be pursued without concern for political motivations,” Reno said.  “It appears that politics has crept in.  And it‘s wrong.  It‘s a wrong thing to have happen.”

We‘re still paying, or the tobacco industry is still going to be paying, $10 billion in this ridiculous settlement.  They‘re being penalized for selling a legal product.  They shouldn‘t be paying anything to anybody.  They didn‘t do anything wrong.  Everybody who smokes a cigarette knows it can kill and you will if you keep up it.  It‘s not clear at all why they‘re liable for anything, and this is offensive that the Bush administration‘s even signed on to this stupid... 


MADDOW:  But you can fight out the case.  You can say the case never should have been brought.  But you know what?  The case was brought. 

Ashcroft tried to drop it in 2001.  There was a huge outcry.  And he wasn‘t able to.  It‘s an adversarial situation.  The government is suing the tobaccos companies.  They government had given evidence that said we need over $100 billion in order for to you make this right.

And then, in closing arguments, out of the blue, over the objections of the lawyers in the case, a Bush friend, Skull and Bones guy who he went to Yale with, intervenes and says, “No, we‘re cutting it down to $10 billion,” out of the blue.  It‘s just a political influence thing.  This is a scandal. 

CARLSON:  I hope... 

SEVERIN:  The only explanation I think this begs is how this left-wing, nanny, do-gooder Amazon became attorney general of the United States of America.

MADDOW:  I thought you meant me (UNINTELLIGIBLE) co-panelist.

SEVERIN:  It‘s a lesson I‘d rather forget, a piece of history I‘d rather forget. 

CARLSON:  But the idea is that this will not be a success until the tobacco companies are driven out of business and tens of thousands of people are put out of work. 

MADDOW:  That is not the story here.  The story here is, is there political influence over the attorneys involved in litigation at the Justice Department to give a Bush political donor a break in a case where they shouldn‘t legally be getting a break. 

CARLSON:  It‘s immaterial, because the whole thing is wrong. 

MADDOW:  No, you‘re just not addressing the scandal part of it and you‘re going with the part that you like. 

CARLSON:  No.  The scandal I see.

Well, you could call the situation in Queens, New York, a case of picture imperfect.  At least, that‘s what the parents of one sixth-grader think.  They were so unhappy with their daughter‘s picture in her elementary school yearbook, they‘re demanding the school take back all 200 books and replace the picture. 

Here is the picture they like.  They wouldn‘t give up the picture, so we got to pull it off the “New York Post.”  Here‘s the picture they called, quote, “horrible.” 

Now, this is like the ultimate nightmare for a kid.  You go to your parents and you say, “Mom, I think this is an ugly picture of me.”  And your mom says, “It‘s not ugly, it‘s disgusting!  It‘s going to follow you for the rest of your life.  It‘s worse than ugly!”  This poor girl is going to be in therapy. 

MADDOW:  If you ever make a success, my favorite argument in this was, they‘ll come back to you and blackmail you with this.  I mean, this is such a mess.  And I like the supposedly bad picture better. 

CARLSON:  I agree with you.


SEVERIN:  Remember who the claim here is that her formative years have been marred by this bad picture.  It is true that her formative years have obviously been marred—by having maniacs for parents. 

CARLSON:  By being on page one of the “New York Post.” 

SEVERIN:  Yes, there‘s the marring, right there.

MADDOW:  If your parents can‘t tell you that your yearbook photo doesn‘t level to the rise of affecting your self-esteem, then your parents aren‘t doing their jobs. 

CARLSON:  This is like the psychiatrist full employment act.


CARLSON:  Next situation, it is simply not true that they don‘t make movies like they used to.  They do.  They have got scripts, cameras, actors, crooked agents, grunt teamsters, are all still part of the deal.  But A.P.-AOL poll out today suggests almost half of us think they don‘t make movies as well as they used to and movies are getting worse.  That may explain the current box office slump.

I don‘t have a lot to say about this other than I first saw “Star Wars” 28 years ago.  It was great.  I saw the next “Star Wars” the other day, it was just—I literally started snoring in the middle of it.  It scared my kids.  It was that bad. 

MADDOW:  You know, I think that movies have always stunk.  I just think that we only remember the really old ones that are good.  Like, there were a lot of bad things that came out in the same year that “Casablanca” came out.  You know, but there was also—I mean, all the rat pack movies sucked.  “Gladiator” sucked.  There have always been movies that weren‘t bad.

SEVERIN:  As you were saying the industry.



SEVERIN:  I don‘t like going to movies anymore because it‘s participatory.  I don‘t want anyone talking, yelling, screaming in various languages and poking me with things, which is OK, though, frankly.  I should recuse myself, because most of the movies I like to watch you look at it in hotels.  You don‘t have to actually go outside. 

MADDOW:  They should put a 1-800 number under you. 

CARLSON:  I want to thank you for sharing, Jay. 

Do you like any movies, Rachel? 

MADDOW:  Yes, I mentioned “Hud” earlier.  I love the “Hud.” 

SEVERIN:  Any in this century?

MADDOW:  “Hud” is the best lesbian fashion movie ever made. 


MADDOW:  It totally set the standard for lesbians for the rest of the century.

SEVERIN:  I think that went over my head. 

MADDOW:  I know.  You guys need me here everyday.

CARLSON:  I‘m renting it tonight. 

Well, speaking of movies, next situation, as if the Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes courtship needed more publicity. 


CRUISE:  Yes, I proposed to Kate last night. 



CARLSON:  Ah, the romance.  Cruise announced the engagement, of course, at a press conference in, of all places, Paris.  He says he asked her on the Eiffel Tower.  The two were traveling through Europe promoting their new movies “War of the Worlds” for Tom, “Batman” for Katie. 

Still, polls in “People” magazine and “US Weekly” claim that more than 60 percent of respondents believe the romance—buckle your seatbelts—isn‘t real.  It‘s a sham.  To which I ask, who is the 40 percent? 


SEVERIN:  You know, I here have to break some news here.  I have also learned that, to complete the ambience of the Parisian venue where he proposed...

CARLSON:  That‘s such a cliche.  It‘s just painful.

SEVERIN:  ... Tom also adopted the prevailing view among French men and he insisted on being the one who gets pregnant. 

MADDOW:  You‘re so bad. 

You know, my show on Air America is on at 5:00 in the morning, and so I actually had to break this story, because that‘s about when it came over the U.S. wires.  It was the single lowest point in my entire time on the air.  I had to kind of break in and say, “So I have got to tell you that Tom Cruise got engaged at the Eiffel Tower.  I‘m going commercial.”  It was so exhausting. 

CARLSON:  I feel bad for him.  It‘s like a game of celebrity chicken.  You know, he starts out, “Yes, I‘m in love with this girl.”  Everyone says, “We don‘t believe you.”  And then he winds up having to get engaged to her.  He probably going to have to get married to her.  You know, she could get pregnant.  I mean, what do her parents think?  That‘s what I...

SEVERIN:  We‘re seeing evolution here.  The shotgun marriage has been replaced by the marriage of convenience, which has now been replaced by the ATM marriage.  I personally wish the party of the first part and the party of the second part all the best. 


CARLSON:  Wait, wait, this is—this may almost be grotesque to suggest it.  But what if we all are completely wrong, we‘re cynical, nasty, this is totally real, and it works out, and they have this happy, fruitful marriage? 

MADDOW:  I will apologize on national television and be happy to do it when I‘m 80. 

SEVERIN:  And I‘ll be expecting something generous from the Easter Bunny. 


CARLSON:  OK, good.  Thank you both very much.  Happy Friday.  Have a great weekend.

When THE SITUATION continues, news on how Michael Jackson plans to celebrate his acquittal.  Jackson turned down our offer to moonwalk on the “Cutting Room Floor.”  So instead, we‘ll tell you, with Willie Geist next.


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Time now to sweep up the “Cutting Room Floor.”  Producer Willie Geist has gathered all the stories we couldn‘t pack in and is bringing them to us. 

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  Tucker, a good first week.  An excellent first week.  Thanks for coming in.  I don‘t know if anybody told you, this was actually an audition.  We are going to bring different people...

CARLSON:  Do I have the job? 

GEIST:  No, not yet. Next week, THE SITUATION with Dolph Lundgren. 

It‘s going to be a lot of fun. 

CARLSON:  Thanks. 

GEIST:  He doesn‘t get enough credit for his comedic brilliance.  Go get them.

CARLSON:  Yes, he does.  Thanks, Willie.

Michael Jackson‘s fans are almost as weird as he is.  You probably knew that.  Remember the woman releasing the doves as each acquittal was read off?  Well, now the Jackson family is rewarding those supporters with an invitation-only party at a casino near the Neverland Ranch.  That‘s tomorrow night.  Reports say the Jacksons will reunite for a performance at the thank you bash. 

GEIST:  Michael Jackson apparently just denied this story, but I don‘t

buy it.  He‘s keeping the paparazzi away.  But if it‘s true, a casino

night.  So let me get this straight.  You live outside the courthouse for

four months, and the reward is you get to play Caribbean Stud Poker with

Tito and LaToya.  Thanks.  No thanks

CARLSON:  Actually, that‘s not a bad reward, honestly.

GEIST:  It‘s a terrible reward.

CARLSON:  Keno with the Jacksons.

GEIST:  Except the woman who released the doves.  She deserves whatever she gets. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that. 

All right, time now for some gratuitous surveillance video.  Our first stop is in Pinefresh (ph), Florida, where this jewelry story owner took on a gun-wielding robber and won.  Watch the owner slam the crook over the jewelry case and put him on his back.  The owner and his nephew wrestled with the robber until police arrived to haul him away.  Nice work, men.

And despite a yeoman‘s effort, this Texas convenience store worker couldn‘t stop a customer who didn‘t want to pay for his 20-pack of beer.  The cashier tackled the feet once, and he backed off when he saw a knife, and the bad guy got away to drink another day.

GEIST:  Wow.  Number one, the first guy has more guts than I would have in my life.  He had a gun in his face.  He went after the guy.  Number two, the second guy, how about the pride in the convenience store?  I mean, he put it all on the line for a 20-pack of Tequiza, and I have to tip my cap to that guy.  Get him off the late-night shift, make him a day-side manager. 

CARLSON:  There‘s a guy we could use in the war on terror.

GEIST:  Absolutely.

CARLSON:  One tough guy.

Well, if your monthly cell phone bill is outrageous—and it probably is—maybe you ought to blame Spain for sinking the USS Maine in 1898.  It turns out the current 3 percent tax was instated 107 years ago to help fund the Spanish-American War.  If paying for a century-old war irks you, you‘ll be glad to know there‘s a bill in the House to eliminate the tax. 

You know, Willie, I‘ve just got to ask you a quick question.  There weren‘t cell phones in 1898. 

GEIST:  There weren‘t? 

CARLSON:  That‘s what I heard.

GEIST:  Oh.  I had no idea.  I love Teddy Roosevelt.  I love the Rough Riders.  I love Puerto Rico.  Thanks, guys, for that.  I got married in Puerto Rico.  But that war lasted 113 days.  So if you prorate that over 107 years, we‘re really getting screwed on this one. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I would say. 

GEIST:  It‘s unjust. 

CARLSON:  The war is over. 

Eggheads rejoice.  A new study conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University shows that people with big brains are actually smarter than people with small brains.  It sounds pretty obvious to those of us with healthy-sized brains, but the study marks the first biological link between brain volume and intelligence.  Researches say brain size can help predict what kind of job someone will have or if that person will go to college. 

GEIST:  I‘m relieved to hear about this, because I don‘t know if you know this.  I have the largest head in the northern hemisphere.  There have been studies done.  Seven and seven-eighths going around, so I‘m relieved.  I‘m going to go to med school now.  I‘m out of here.

CARLSON:  It is grotesque, actually.  They were laughing about it in the make-up room.

And now for tonight‘s greatest story ever told.  A Fargo, North Dakota, woman was sick of listening to her husband snoring, so she stabbed him in the arm with a pen a couple of times.  When that didn‘t do the trick, she hit him over the head with a three-pound barbell.  Problem solved.  Her new problem?  She‘s with charged with misdemeanor assault. 

GEIST:  There‘s got to be something else going on in this marriage.  The appropriate response to snoring is not smashing you over the head with a dumbbell.  What happens when he doesn‘t take out the trash?  He takes one in the head with a 2-by-4?  There is something else going on here we don‘t know about. 

CARLSON:  You would be a good marriage counselor, Willie. 

GEIST:  I thank you kindly. 

CARLSON:  Willie Geist, happy weekend. 

GEIST:  Same to you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  That‘s THE SITUATION.  Thanks for watching.  I‘m Tucker Carlson.  SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY‘s next.


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