Guests: Catherine Crier, John Culberson, Rosa Brooks, Dr. Marc Siegel
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”: That‘s all the time we have for tonight on “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.” Thanks for being with us. THE SITUATION with Tucker Carlson starts right now.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Thanks, Joe. I‘m mesmerized by that video. I can barely read the script. But thanks.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
CARLSON: We‘ve got a lot to cover tonight including worries of a possible bird flu outbreak in this country. A former Marine who once worked at the White House now accused of being a spy. Plus, news about Tom Cruise that rocked the very foundation of Hollywood.
But first, Republican rumblings about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. A growing number of conservatives are expressing concern and in some cases outrage over the president‘s pick to succeed Justice Sandra Day O‘Connor.
My next guest knows Miers personally and is defending her. Catherine Crier is the host of Court TV‘s “Catherine Crier Live.” She‘s also the author of “Contempt: How the right is Wronging American Justice.” She joins us now live from New York.
Catherine, thank a lot for coming on.
CATHERINE CRIER, AUTHOR, “CONTEMPT”: Hey, Tucker, but quick qualification. I‘m here to comment on Harriet. I don‘t know that I would put myself in a defender or necessarily detractor category.
CARLSON: Excellent. OK, good. Tell us from what you know about her—from what you know of her, why do you think the president chose her?
CRIER: Political. And I truly mean this. I knew Harriet for years, particularly during the ‘80s when I was on the bench there. She was president of the Dallas bar.
This is a very intelligent woman. This is a woman of tremendous integrity. At least during that time period known as being very apolitical.
I‘ve heard some of the complaints that she didn‘t have strong stands on things. She took strong stands but things that would please a lot of people. More women and minorities in the bar association. Plenty of pro bono work. More help for the poor. This kind of thing.
But in terms of legal writings or political stands that would tell us something about the issues before the Supreme Court, that was never known to be something in Harriet‘s forte.
CARLSON: You just wrote a book on conservatives and the law. So presumably you can recognize a right winger when you see one. Is she one?
CRIER: I basically was complaining about an ultra-right agenda, not just traditional conservatives.
Well, I think the issues—I wish people would talk more than the abortion or gay rights issue in this country. There‘s a lot more to talk about.
But certainly Nathan Hecht, her longtime companion, a Supreme Court justice in Texas, is very, very conservative. And he‘s come out and been very outspoken in her favor, talking about how she went from pro-choice to born again, to very anti-abortion.
And he‘s trying to, I think, signal the right that she‘s in the right place on this issue. But that doesn‘t tell you at all what she would do as a judge once those duties settled upon her shoulders.
CARLSON: No, it actually—and I think some people are losing sight of the fact that it actually means very little. Most people when asked say they‘re against abortion. Great. It doesn‘t tell you anything about how she feels about Roe v. Wade. Do you have any sense how she feels about Roe v. Wade?
CRIER: I really don‘t. And we‘ve had—one comment from a woman who worked for her during the city council campaign when she explained to her why she had made the conversion and change.
But this doesn‘t say what as a judge, once she, as you said, reviewing prior rulings, understanding case precedents, trying to determine whether or not modifications could be made, or overturning of the case, doesn‘t tell us anything about what she would do.
And I‘m a bit disconcerted, not about Harriet, but that the president would—would turn to what seems to be a very overt political choice to try to basically appease the right and the left without necessarily regard for the position he‘s filling.
CARLSON: Well, he has done neither, of course. He‘s infuriated the right, and the left is by definition nonplused by everything he does.
What do you think of her qualifications, though? A lot has been made of the fact that she‘s never been on the bench, unlike you, for example. Do you think she‘s qualified to be a Supreme Court justice?
CRIER: Well, our first chief justice, the most famous justice in the United States, studied law for about four months before he then served for 30 years and made enormous precedent.
CARLSON: Is she intellectually impressive enough? When you talk to Harriet Miers, something I‘ve never done, do come away thinking, “Boy, that woman has just got an electric intelligence”?
CRIER: Those aren‘t the kinds of conversations I ever had with her now heard her have. The conversations were administrative, organizational, running the bar association. What sort of endeavors and missions should the bar be engaged in.
I understand she was a very good corporate litigation attorney, representing big business. But that—that leaves me in a vacuum after knowing her for 10 years. Certainly, I think leaves most people who have known her a bit in a vacuum. I actually have gotten on the phone and called people from the far left and the far right. And they really admire her.
CARLSON: Yes. I‘ve heard the same thing.
CRIER: They think she would go in and try to do the right thing. She is smart.
CARLSON: Let me ask the same question a different way then.
CARLSON: When you first learned that Harriet Miers was the president‘s pick for this seat, what was your initial gut reaction to it? Let‘s be honest.
CRIER: Where did that come from?
CARLSON: Yes, OK. So it‘s not—I mean, the picture you seem to be painting—correct me if I‘m wrong—is a very decent person. This is a capable person. This is not an incredibly memorable legal mind.
CRIER: This is a very smart person who has never been put in a situation where a judge or called upon to decide great constitutional questions or even argue them that I‘m aware of. Doesn‘t mean she doesn‘t have the capability. It‘s just never been called upon in public display.
CARLSON: All right. Maybe now. Well, Catherine Crier of court TV author of “Contempt,” sure to be climbing up the list again. Catherine Crier, thanks.
Let‘s welcome our good friend from Air America Radio, Rachel Maddow.
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO HOST: Hi, Tucker.
CARLSON: I read the most interesting thing today I‘ve read in a long time. And I never pull out documents...
MADDOW: Was it on my blog?
CARLSON: It wasn‘t on your blog. Now, I was busy. It‘s a—believe it or not, it‘s a United Press International, UPI, story from July of 1981.
MADDOW: OK. I was 8.
CARLSON: Yes. It describes the reaction from the right, from conservatives, particularly from evangelicals, to President Reagan‘s announcement that he was going to nominate another woman, Sandra Day O‘Connor, to the Supreme Court.
CARLSON: They were outraged. Many leaders of the conservative religious right blasted President Reagan‘s choice of Mrs. O‘Connor, because they contend she‘s in favor of abortion. Jerry Falwell was against it. Right?
Here‘s what the White House did in 1981. They sent background messages to these religious leaders saying, “Actually, Sandra Day O‘Connor is one of us.”
Ed Meese told this preacher, quote, “Sandra Day O‘Connor thinks abortion is abhorrent. She‘s not in favor of it. She agrees with the president on abortion. She‘s very conservative,” da da da da da da da.
CARLSON: All off the record.
They made it to the UPI wire copy but yes, exactly right. And in the end we have Roe v. Wade to this day. Partly because of Sandra Day O‘Connor, who in fact supported the legal right to abortion in the end.
MADDOW: Well, it‘s interesting, because you and I, obviously, have totally opposite positions on abortion. Most of our politics are totally opposite.
But regardless of politics. You and I are both insulted by the idea that we‘re just supposed to be enthusiastic about this woman being on the Supreme Court and support her nomination because Bush says so, because we get these private assurances.
We‘re not allowed to get anything on the record. She‘s not going to answer any questions. None of her papers get released. Just get in line. Bush says she‘s going to be fine. Get in line.
CARLSON: But this—but you‘ve heard over the past two days a lot of conservatives and some evangelicals, James Dobson, for instance, the head of the Christian Coalition, come out and say that they‘re satisfied because they have heard from the White House credibly that she opposes abortion.
CARLSON: But that‘s not the question. The question is not whether you oppose abortion. The question is how you feel about legal abortion as enshrined in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision. Should it be overturned or is it the law of the land and settled? That‘s the question.
MADDOW: There is a legitimate debate about whether you can ask a judge how will you rule?
MADDOW: Because you‘re not hearing the case right there. You‘re just answering a question. You don‘t want to prejudge the case. I understand that.
But why is it that we‘re not allowed to know anything that she‘s ever written? Presumably the issue of abortion rights, privacy, choice, has come up when she‘s been six years in the White House to this point.
CARLSON: Right. But it‘s not clear—she spent most of those years as staff secretary, who‘s basically the person in charge of managing paper flow. It‘s an important job. It‘s not clear we‘d know her opinions from seeing that paper.
Here‘s, I think, something that‘s going to happen.
CARLSON: She will not go all the way forward.
MADDOW: Really? You don‘t think?
CARLSON: I don‘t believe that. I think she will, in the end, withdraw her nomination. This is just completely a guess, but I think she‘s going to get a reception on Capitol Hill that is hostile from some conservatives, and I just don‘t see her being seated. I mean, it‘s a wild guess at this point.
MADDOW: That‘s optimistic about how far conservatives are willing to go to oppose Bush. I think that you‘re right that conservatives should oppose Bush on spending and on some of the social conservative issues that you‘re raising here.
But I don‘t—I think that some of the right will be disloyal on this and will be willing to do that. But most of the Republican Party is too spineless to do it and Democrats‘ opposition won‘t be enough to stop her.
CARLSON: Let me bring up one very quick thing about Harriet Miers.
You saw this column today in “The New York Times” by Maureen Dowd...
CARLSON: ... in which she points out that Harriet Miers is known as Harry and she likes to clear brush. Right? And the implication, I thought, behind all this is maybe Harriet Miers is gay.
We checked all these left-wing blog sites, and lo and behold, Daily Kos and all these other liberal blogs are saying out loud she‘s gay. What do you make of the fact? Are you hearing this, A, and B, what do you make of the fact of liberals criticizing her for potentially being a lesbian? But why are they bringing this up in the first place?
MADDOW: Well, people would be criticizing her for being a lesbian. People would be criticizing her for being closeted and for the Bush administration for being anti-gay rights and supporting closet gay people.
I don‘t necessarily think she‘s gay. I don‘t know. There‘s a lot of people who are said to be gay in Republican circles and I don‘t know if they are until they say so.
I think that closeted people are sad sacks and they ought to be judged for being closeted. I don‘t know or not whether she is. It is—I mean, Roberts was not married until he was in his 40‘s. Miers, she‘s now 60, was not married.
Some of these questions, it‘s like, well, this is unusual for this demographic and so maybe it means that there‘s a question about their sexuality. But for me, the question is if they‘re living a lie, if they‘re closeted, yes, that makes them a reprehensible person.
CARLSON: I just think that‘s going too far. I‘m obviously not endorsing her nomination. I have strong reservations about it. I don‘t think she‘s going to make it to the court but I think her personal life, totally outrageous.
MADDOW: I also think, though, that Maureen Dowd‘s column was about the fact that Bush surrounds himself with sycophants, with people who are just yes men and yes women, in particular. And she thinks that Harriet Miers is a yes woman, and that‘s true.
CARLSON: Here‘s a—here‘s a news flash, though. All politicians do that.
MADDOW: But you know, Bush needed to find somebody who was going to tell him to pay attention to the other side of the debate on weapons in Iraq and he didn‘t. And he promoted Condoleezza Rice and that‘s...
CARLSON: Here‘s a story that we just have to get in, because it is breaking news.
There‘s a report tonight from ABC News that there was in fact a spy in the Bush White House.
CARLSON: A former Marine, a Filipino man who was now apparently been arrested, was arrested September 10 by the FBI in New Jersey for passing some sort of classified information to a political party in the Philippines.
I just don‘t think this is going to hurt the Bush White House for a couple of reasons. One, he was hired during the Clinton years. Two, on the front page of the ABC web site, there‘s a picture of him standing with Al Gore. And three it doesn‘t appear to have hurt national security in any way.
MADDOW: Well, it appears to have hurt the Philippines‘ national security. I mean, American documents that are considered to be sensitive in terms of American national security are now being published all over the Philippines because allegedly the stuff that this guy took from FBI computer files.
MADDOW: And the thing that‘s embarrassing about this, is that it was while he was—yes, it looks like he was hired in ‘99. We know that he worked for Gore and for Cheney. He says he also worked for Condoleezza rice and for Clinton.
And what he did was not exactly cloak and dagger.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
MADDOW: He used his Hotmail and his Yahoo account to attach classified documents and e-mail them to the deposed president of the Philippines. It‘s not the kind of thing you should have gotten away with.
CARLSON: It is pretty unbelievable. I completely—I completely agree with that. And also we should point out for the sake of accuracy, he was also the regional coordinator for Toys for Tots in the Philadelphia area a couple of years ago.
MADDOW: That is an outrage. I always was suspicious about Toys for Tots.
CARLSON: Talk about add insult to injury. You can defile the U.S. government, but Toys for Tots, that‘s just wrong.
Rachel Maddow, thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Still to come, reports that the bird flu could kill a billion people worldwide and turn major cities into ghost towns. That‘s what they‘re saying. But is this talk about a possible pandemic premature. One doctor gives us his opinion.
And later, should the government use your money to arm citizens so they can arrest illegal immigrants at the border? One congressman says absolutely right. They ought to do it now.
That‘s next on THE SITUATION.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Coming up, life in the fast lane is only a few dollars away. And what government agency would first a teen that helped rescue 400 people after Hurricane Katrina? A FEMA, of course. We‘ll tell you what‘s behind that absurd decision, now.
CARLSON: Welcome back. The growing problem of drug trafficking and illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border has declared two governors to declare states of emergency in New Mexico and Arizona. A Texas congressman wants the federal government to pay armed citizens to patrol the borders and make arrests.
Congressman John Culberson said he‘s fired up with the wide open borders. He joins us now from Washington, D.C., Congressman.
Thank you for coming on.
REP. JOHN CULBERSON, TEXAS: Good to be with you.
CARLSON: Sketch out quickly your idea. We give citizens guns and allow them to make arrests, is that an accurate characterization?
CULBERSON: No. I would actually place citizens under the direct supervision of local and state law enforcement as they are today. Right now, Tucker, your home and my home is being watched by neighbors. We have neighborhood watch programs all across America. Citizens are already involved in law enforcement.
And 9/11 deputized every one of us but not everyone can serve in the military or the FBI or the Army. So this bill, this legislation, gives every American a chance to serve.
But in fact, I‘m taking the bill a little different direction. Tomorrow or Friday I‘ll be refiling the bill with Congressman Sylvester Reyes of Texas, Congressman Henry Quayer (ph), we will give local sheriffs on the border the money, the authority and the power to work along side the border patrol, to protect our border and enforce the law, because we have widespread lawlessness on the Texas border.
CARLSON: We certainly do. But isn‘t this sort of a way to address a critical problem on the cheap? Why not hire real cops with real guns?
GEORGE: You‘re absolutely right. In fact, that‘s what we‘re going to be doing. Tomorrow or Friday I‘ll be refiling the bill with the help of a broad coalition of Democrats and Republicans to allow the local sheriffs, the deputy—the sheriffs on the border to hire additional deputy sheriffs, to bring in reserve deputies, to use citizen volunteers under the direct supervision of the sheriffs.
Because sheriffs can train and put boots on the ground. We can have trained sheriffs, uniformed sheriffs on the ground in 60 to 90 days after this bill becomes law.
We have to get boots on the ground and build the beds. Because the problem is we‘ve got criminals, terrorists, drug runners, human smugglers crossing the border in large numbers. We‘ve got to get control of it.
CARLSON: Any American who lives or grows up on the border—I grew up on the border—knows exactly the problem. If not the scope of it but has some sense of what a terrible problem this is in the country.
Here‘s what I‘m confused by, Congressman. You‘re a Republican. You‘re articulating feelings that a lot of Americans have, a lot of Republicans have. You‘ve got a Republican president. Why can‘t you get him to allocate, say, just about as much as he‘s going to be spending to rebuild the gulf region? Let‘s just say $100 million -- $100 billion?
CULBERSON: It‘s difficult to say. The Congress passed legislation that required the administration to hire up to 10,000 new border control agents. We couldn‘t get them to do it. They only hired a couple hundred.
CARLSON: Why? I don‘t—I‘m honestly confused. This is not a rhetorical question. Why when the people are demanding this—this will be a huge issue, I think, in 2006 and 2008, why isn‘t the White House responding? What is in the way?
CULBERSON: It‘s the responsibility of the Congress and the White House. And the Congress is going to act. The House in particular, Tucker, is about to pass legislation in the next 30 to 45 days, and our bill is going to be a part of that, allowing the local sheriffs on the border to ramp up their hiring and use deputy sheriffs to protect the border.
We‘re going to take care of it in the House. Congress is going to pass legislation to enforce immigration laws, protect the border. Because we understand we will never win the war on terror until we protect the borders.
And right now, you‘ve had a 10-fold increase in the number of people from countries with known al Qaeda connections crossing into the—over the southern border. The terrorists know it‘s more difficult to get in through the airports. And it‘s easy to walk across the border.
And our concern that we will never win the war on terror until we protect the borders. I‘m afraid there will be a terrible terrorist attack on the United States carried out by people who just walked into the U.S. And we just can‘t allow that to happen.
CARLSON: Of course. In addition to countless other problems caused by illegal immigration. I think almost everybody I know feels exactly the same way. And until the government does something about it, people are going to be upset. I think it‘s going to have a huge effect on American politics over the next 10 years and I wish you luck, Congressman. I hope you get what you want.
CULBERSON: Thank you very much.
Up next, you often hear it said, but this year at least it‘s actually true. The rich really are getting richer. A lot richer. Is it good for America?
Plus, those who doubted the romance between Tom Cruise an
Katie Holmes, they thought it was nothing more than a publicity stunt. Check this out. Tomkat is about to have its first litter. Details when we come back.
CARLSON: The job of devil‘s advocate takes a special kind of man. A man who is beholden to no one and who stands for the contrary position and if he stands alone, he often does. And please welcome from Las Vegas, Max Kellerman.
MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO: I‘m beholden to the devil apparently. To whom I had to sell my soul in order to come up with arguments to defend these topics today, Tucker.
CARLSON: I love putting you in that position, Max.
All right. First up, another wrong-headed—very wrong-headed decision from the folks who brought you the response or lack of one to Hurricane Katrina. FEMA has cut loose the Phoenix Fire Department‘s urban search and rescue team because it brought along armed police officers for protection on hurricane relief missions.
Phoenix team rescued more than 400 Katrina survivors. But who cares, says FEMA. Rules are rules. And its conduct code prohibits urban search and rescue teams from having guns.
OK. I‘ve been making this same point every single night I‘ve been at MSNBC, but I‘ll make it again. This is at heart a liberal administration. This is, part of the executive branch, FEMA, right? And they have a policy against firearms. Why? Not because it makes sense but because guns are bad, guns are mean.
Nuclear—you know, you can‘t hug a child with nuclear arms. It‘s an instinctively liberal approach to the world. Guns are bad. For their own sake, right? So even when you need them you‘re not allowed to use them, because they‘re just mean.
KELLERMAN: I‘ve been hearing a lot of what you‘ve been saying about Bush‘s Supreme Court nominees recently. And things like this. And I agree with you. If the entire government is Republican, why try to make friends with the Democrats? Why not just do what you want to do?
So in principle, I agree with you. But the rules are there for a reason. Ostensibly because if you go into an urban rescue environment, and people are there with guns, things can get out of control.
CARLSON: No, things already are out of control in a lot of places. That‘s why you need guns. Look, there is a long history, going back a long time, but even in recent days, we‘ve seen rescuers getting shot at, going into places that are dangerous.
CARLSON: Where there is no authority. And because there is no authority there is chaos. And because there is chaos it is dangerous and people get shot. So you have to be armed, and there‘s nothing wrong with protecting yourself in this circumstance or any other, period.
KELLERMAN: Usually when you sell your soul to the devil you get something in return. And I‘m not giving my soul because he promised me he‘d give me a good argument for this one and he did not. Clearly. Pass.
Of course they should have guns, Tucker. Of course they should have guns. They‘re endangering themselves. And they should not be imperiled if they don‘t have to be.
CARLSON: Well, see if you can defend this one. It‘s a novel approach to beating rush hour traffic.
Communities around this country are creating highway hot lanes which allow solo drivers to buy their way into carpool lanes. The fee varies depending on how heavy the traffic is but in Orange County, California, it ranges from as much as $7.75 for as little as $1.10 if you drive in the middle of the night.
Now, this is kind of your classic capitalist solution to a problem. So you think I‘d be for it, as an advocate, generally of capitalism, but I‘m totally against it because the problem is manmade. It‘s made by government.
KELLERMAN: Let me anticipate this, Tucker. You don‘t like carpool lanes because they save gas.
CARLSON: No. I‘m against carpool lanes because they prevent people from getting home to have dinner with their wife and kids. And anything that does that is immoral as far as I‘m concerned.
Carpool lanes are supposed to make this moral point about the environment. Great. That‘s great. Save that moral point for the op-ed page.
The fact is they slow people down. People who don‘t want to drive to work with strangers, that is. And that‘s most Americans. Most people want to drive to work alone, and it‘s their right. Pull the ridiculous carpool lanes.
KELLERMAN: Actually—actually, that‘s illogical. It should speed things up. Right? Because you‘re getting more people into one car, even if it‘s not you, and therefore, it‘s fewer cars on the road as a whole.
CARLSON: Ah yes. But here is where human nature intervenes to destroy the theory. Right? And the human nature is people want to choose with whom they drive to work. And most of the time people want to go alone. So they wind up not being able to use the carpool lanes. A couple of sanctimonious carpoolers are in the carpool lanes, but most of the time no one is in them.
KELLERMAN: Yes, but actually, what we‘re really discussing here is paying a fee and now you can go alone.
CARLSON: We already pay a fee. We pay for the highways with our gas taxes, which are outrageous. Everybody pays for the highway. Everybody ought to be able to use every lane.
KELLERMAN: By the way, you pay for a highway when you pay the toll to get on the highway in the first place.
KELLERMAN: But Tucker, you pay for an airline ticket. If you pay more, you get to go first class. I mean, that‘s how we live.
CARLSON: Yes, but the distinction is the airlines are private. The highways are not. They‘re public. They‘re paid for by everybody.
KELLERMAN: The airlines are kind of private. Kind of private.
CARLSON: The highways, they have created this aristocracy of carpool lanes and it‘s just wrong. I‘m against it.
KELLERMAN: Let me ask you something, when you don‘t have anyone else in the car, you don‘t go in the carpool lane?
CARLSON: No I put in the blowup doll in the passenger seat and cruise on by.
KELLERMAN: I don‘t even do that, because I figure, “How could they say anything?” I say there was a kid in the back seat. The camera didn‘t—you know. I don‘t know.
CARLSON: All right. And to no one‘s surprise it looks like the rich are, in fact, getting richer.
According to the IRS, the share of income going to the very richest Americans—that‘s the top tenth of one percent—grew significantly in 2003. While the share going to the other 99 percent of Americans fell.
OK. I may surprise you on this, too. I don‘t think this is a good development. I don‘t think the government ought to step in and regulate how much people are paid. I don‘t. That‘s wrong.
However, this is an ominous sign for society. Because societies where there is great income inequality, where some people are very rich and most people aren‘t, are unstable societies. They have more crime. They have more disorder. They are volatile places to live. And that is happening in this country.
The average CEO of a large corporation last year was paid about $10 million. That‘s just too much. And I think corporate boards—in some cases it‘s too much. Corporate boards need to take control and say, you know, this is wrong. We‘re going to limit your compensation to something sensible. And give the rest to the rest of us as shareholders. Period.
KELLERMAN: They‘re going to make you turn in your Republican card, Tucker. They‘re going to...
CARLSON: This is a Republican—I mean, whatever, Republican, Democrat, it‘s just the truth. And you know it‘s the truth. It‘s not good for society for us to become like Mexico, where a very small number of people are very rich and everyone else isn‘t. It makes everyone else envious and it makes the society unstable.
KELLERMAN: Yes, I do know it‘s the truth. Don‘t I? And yet I will argue the other side.
Look, supply side. Right? Don‘t you want to free up capital at the very top? Doesn‘t that create jobs? You complain about the CEO‘s salary. And the tax burden since the 1950‘s has shifted incredibly from corporations to individual taxpayers.
But as a result, what do you have? Sure, the standard of living, top compared to bottom, has widened. But the overall standard of living because of improvements in technology and because of the jobs that the corporate tax burden being shifted onto the individual has created, overall, has lifted up people from poverty into at least working class status.
CARLSON: That is undeniably true. What you said is verifiably true. Everybody has a color television and microwave now. Absolutely true. But it is the relative terms that matter in this case. It was very little crime during the Great Depression. Why? Because everyone was poor. Poverty does not cause crime. Income inequality causes crime. Envy causes crime.
KELLERMAN: But is crime the index by which you judge a society? The lower the crime rate, the better the culture? The crime rate in Nazi Germany was probably nothing, right?
CARLSON: Of course not. And there is no crime in Saudi Arabia. But a measure—a measure of instability. My view.
Max Kellerman, live from Las Vegas tonight. Preparing for a fight as always. Max, thanks.
KELLERMAN: Thank you, Tucker.
Still to come, the dark side of faith. Is too much religion a dangerous thing? Are agnostics, in fact, better people? We‘ll talk to one academic who says so when THE SITUATION returns.
CARLSON: Welcome back.
Is too much religion a dangerous thing? Well in the current issue of the Journal of Religion in Society evolutionary scientist Gregory Paul (ph) correlates the level of religion in society with such issues as homicide, teen pregnancy and abortion. Paul found that the most religious democracies showed substantially higher degrees of social dysfunction.
Rosa Brooks is a law professor at the University of Virginia and recently wrote a column in the L.A. Times in which she had basically agreed with Mr. Paul‘s findings. She joins us now from Washington, Rosa Brooks thanks for coming on.
ROSA BROOKS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA LAW SCHOOL: Hi, Tucker.
CARLSON; This—it seems to me to defy common sense. Just let me just give you one obvious, the most obvious example. The societies that I am aware of with the highest level of religiosity just pick two, Iran and Saudi Arabia, have in fact the lowest level of dysfunctions, like the ones Mr. Paul mentions abortion, homicide, teen pregnancy, STDs, they have virtually none.
BROOKS: Do we know that actually? They‘re a very closed society. It‘s very hard to get any data from them. I think one of the reasons that Mr. Paul obviously chose to look at democracies was that you‘re comparing relatively similar societies and not factoring in other things.
CARLSON: Well, that‘s—I think you make a fair point. We don‘t have accurate figures from Saudi Arabia and we never will. But I think we can all agree it‘s very likely there‘s less abortion and teen pregnancy and syphilis in Saudi Arabia than there is in the United States.
BROOKS: Right. Well, you know, let me start by making a huge disclaimer. The study is about correlation.
BROOKS: It‘s not about causation. It doesn‘t tell us anything really about whether religion or lack of religion causes all of these problems. All it tells us that just what you said that it seemed as though at least within the democracies that he looked at for the information for which he could get data there was a strong correlation between higher levels of religiosity and higher levels of social dysfunction.
CARLSON: But you use his findings and I think you‘ve qualified them...
CARLSON: ...fairly accurately and well but as a jumping off point for a larger point here‘s what you say. You say arguably Paul‘s study invites us to conclude that the most serious threat humanity faces today is religious extremism.
And I was just thinking about the last 100 years. All the people who were killed in the 20th Century the vast majority were killed by aggressively secular regimes, fascist and communist regimes. It wasn‘t religious people.
CARLSON: You know when I think that these have in common though, Tucker, and first of all give religion a chance. Religion‘s got a lot more millennia behind it of slaughter and mayhem that you can lay at its door than secular ideologies.
That said, I completely agree with you that the major 20th Century crimes many of them had to do with absolutist secular ideologies. I think what these things have in common though is that element of absolutism that once you‘re out there and you‘re saying “I‘m right. You‘re wrong. I know because I know. Shut up. If you disagree, just get out of the way. I‘m going to steamroll right over you.” That‘s when you‘re getting problems.
CARLSON: So, essentially they‘re all a kind of religion.
BROOKS: Yes, I do think so. I think that communism in some of its forms during the 20th Century was a kind of religion. I think that Nazism was a kind of religion to its more fanatical adherence, absolutely, sort of a total world view that couldn‘t be challenged by evidence...
BROOKS: ...by logic.
CARLSON: No, actually I think that‘s a smart point. Here‘s where it falls down though on a personal level. For all the talk one hears about the threats from the religious right, all the evangelicals I know are peaceful, kind of gentle people whose lives seem to have meaning. Even if you can‘t swallow entirely everything they believe, they‘re not aggressive, violent people at all.
BROOKS: Well, I don‘t think you can conclude anything whatsoever from a study like this about individuals. I‘m an agnostic and I am a very nice person. I would not dream of driving in the high occupancy vehicle lane, Tucker, unless I had a whole lot of people in my car.
That said, you know, there are terrifically hypocritical religious people. There are terrifically nice atheists. There are terrifically mean-spirit atheists and there are terrifically wonderful religious people.
This doesn‘t tell us anything on an individual level, no question about it. I think that the problems all lie on a societal level when you have a whole society that‘s really making all kinds of policy decisions about what do you do about poverty? What do you do about teen pregnancy rates? What do you do about your foreign policy?
When you start making that kind of decision based on a sort of absolutist, irrational, non-evidence based set of beliefs, then you‘re in really big trouble and I do think that American society is heading right that way.
CARLSON: Well, here‘s an interesting measure, suicide rates. Now if you commit suicide that is, of course, the ultimate statement of hopelessness. Now we got the figures for, the most recent figures we could get on suicide rates internationally. It will not surprise you. Maybe it will.
But the United States comes in 21st and the first 20 are all even more secular than we are. Hungary is number one, then Japan, Finland, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, France, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Poland, Luxembourg, Denmark. You get the point. These are societies in which God does not have a prominent place and the people are offing themselves just like flies basically.
BROOKS: They‘re bored. Maybe social dysfunction is more interesting.
CARLSON: You know I hadn‘t thought of that, Rosa, but you‘ve not for the first time stopped me completely in my tracks. Rosa Brooks of the University of Virginia thanks a lot for coming on.
BROOKS: A pleasure, Tucker.
CARLSON: Stay tuned. Still plenty more ahead on THE SITUATION.
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CARLSON (voice-over): An international crisis, can we deal with one of the biggest threats now facing the world?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The range of deaths could be anything between 5 and 150 million.
CARLSON: Caught on tape, wait until you see what happens when bad guys and the law collide head on.
And, Tom tends to Katy‘s biological needs.
TOM CRUISE: What is the theory and the science behind that?
CARLSON: It‘s all ahead on THE SITUATION.
CRUISE: I‘m excited.
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CARLSON: Welcome back.
The World Health Organization says it‘s just a matter of time before the world is hit with an influenza pandemic that could potentially kill millions and millions of people.
Avian flu or bird flu has been sweeping through Asian poultry since 2003. Health officials worry it could soon spread to humans and cause a repeat of the 1918 pandemic that killed maybe 50 million people worldwide. Will this ultimately be a false alarm? Is bird flu just another SARS or West Nile Virus?
My next guest thinks there‘s a good chance it will be. He is Dr. Marc Siegel and his book is called “False Alarm, the Truth About the Epidemic of Fear.” Dr. Siegel, thanks for coming on.
DR. MARC SIEGEL, AUTHOR, “FALSE ALARM, THE TRUTH ABOUT THE EPIDEMIC FEAR”: Hi, Tucker.
CARLSON: So, why is it bad to be afraid of something this scary?
SIEGEL: Well, it‘s bad because we act as though it‘s in the offing and it‘s not necessarily in the offing. Now this is something we should be concerned about and proper preparation should be done but this requires a mutation before it can affect us and it hasn‘t mutated. It has affected a lot of birds and a lot of chickens and some wild birds but it hasn‘t changed into a form that‘s transmittable between humans. That‘s the key thing.
CARLSON: Now, the New York Times tomorrow morning has a story that says that scientists have proved apparently that the 1918 strain that killed those tens of millions of people came originally from birds and the implication, of course, is the same thing could happen to the bird flu now sweeping Asia. Why is that not likely to happen?
SIEGEL: Well, actually that information that‘s in Nature and Science, these two big journals...
SIEGEL: ...shows us that we can track this bird flu and be ahead of it, so that‘s actually reasons not to be alarmed, not to be alarmed. Now, both of those are bird flues but we knew that before. Avian flues come along all the time. We don‘t have any information to believe that this particular one is about to mutate. Yes, an Avian flu can turn into a human pandemic. It occurs about three times every century. We don‘t know that this is the one.
CARLSON: So, what should the administration be doing right now about this, what should government be doing?
SIEGEL: Well, I think government is wise to be prepared but I‘ll tell you the single most important thing they can do, they can upgrade the way we make vaccines. We‘re still making vaccines using chicken egg medium. We have genetic technology available to us that we could be using so that if something like this happened, we could make a vaccine in a hurry.
So, instead of scaring everybody, causing a lot of fear, which by the way is a worse bug than the flu, the fear can cause a lot more panic and death than the actual bug can. We should be busy making an upgraded type of vaccine. If we prepare properly, people would be less afraid.
CARLSON: Wait, how does fear kill people?
SIEGEL: Well, if a bad bug comes along, people react in a panic. Historically, the plagues have killed a lot more with people trying to run away or people trying to avoid it than they actually have from the bug. That was true in 1918 and it would be true now.
But we‘re about five steps away from that. The bug hasn‘t mutated. Even if it did, we have public health we didn‘t have in 1918. We have vaccines we didn‘t have in 1918. That was during a World War.
Also, India was the actual reservoir for that bug and people were very poor then and, granted, India is also still a third world country but there‘s a lot more public health available than there was then.
CARLSON: So, you make the point in your book, which is a great book I have to say, that there are things we ought to be afraid of. What are they?
SIEGEL: Well, obesity is one, heart disease, cancer, diabetes. You know we get these things from worrying, so if we worry too much about the bird flu we could end up with heart disease. That‘s the key fact.
Obviously, I think nuclear weapons are something to take very seriously but I don‘t think the bird flu is in a current form yet where it‘s something we have to panic over.
We got to learn to differentiate between preparation and panic. There‘s no reason we can‘t study this in the laboratory. I say study it in the laboratory not the press conference.
CARLSON: All right, Dr. Marc Siegel, thanks, appreciate it.
SIEGEL: Thank you.
CARLSON: Coming up on THE SITUATION, a police chase comes to a spectacular end. The whole thing is caught on tape. The most incredible video you will see tonight, we‘ve got it on the Cutting Room Floor coming up.
CARLSON: Welcome back, time for our voice mail segment. Every night we pass out our number. Every night you call. Some of you apparently after a few drinks. Let‘s see what we have on tap. Incidentally, I never listen to these ahead of time—first up.
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FRED, PONTIAC, MICHIGAN: I‘m from Pontiac, Michigan. Just watched your show regarding Cheney maybe being right on why we‘re being attacked by the terrorists. For somebody who sounds pretty intelligent, that‘s just a ridiculous statement for you to make. The reason why I‘m thinking why we‘re over in Iraq when we shouldn‘t be is because of the money, there‘s no oil wells over in Afghanistan.
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CARLSON: And you‘re accusing me of making a silly point. How has invading Iraq helped the oil supply in the United States? Has it lowered gas prices, no. Are we taking any oil out of Iraq, no. That had nothing to do with it. I‘ve never defended the war in Iraq and I never would on this show but it had nothing to do with oil.
And Cheney, despite the fact I disagree with him on Iraq, made a really smart point, which is we were attacked again and again from the early ‘80s until 9/11. We did very little about it and it incited terrorists. I think that‘s right—next up.
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BRAD, ARIZONA: Hi, Tucker, this is Brad from Arizona. I‘m a teacher and you‘re right. The merit pay of teachers is great in theory but difficult in practice. Max is correct that almost all current merit pay programs are tied to standardized testing.
The problem with that is obvious. Would you prefer to pay a heart surgeon by the job she does during surgery or by the fact that her patient has to return again a year later because he can‘t lay off the Big Macs for example?
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CARLSON: Yes, I think you make a pretty good point, Brad. I mean the problem in teaching of course is as variable as the kids. If you‘re teaching kids who, you know, don‘t want to learn, aren‘t capable of learning or whatever, for whatever reason aren‘t going to achieve a lot, you know, it‘s hard to measure your ability as a teacher.
So, yes, absolutely but the idea, we ought to reward good teachers and punish bad teachers and if a teacher is crummy you ought to fire him, an idea vehemently opposed by the Stalinist teacher‘s union to control public education in this country that‘s a really, really good idea and we ought to figure out a way to do it.
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TOMMY, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK: Hey, Tucker, this is Tommy calling from Brooklyn, New York and I wanted to tell you that when you said that it‘s not a moral wrong to be fat I have to disagree with that because you‘re forgetting the seven deadly sins, one of which is sloth and the other of which is gluttony, gluttony and sloth, those two together make people fat.
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CARLSON: No, gluttony and sloth, it‘s clever, I have to say. No, gluttony is the act of worshipping food essentially. Obesity is the condition of being fat. So, your concerns about obesity are aesthetic. It‘s unattractive. You don‘t like it. It‘s un-cool. It‘s not hip. It‘s not svelt. You don‘t want to date someone who is fat. That‘s fine. That‘s all true but it‘s not a moral category, right?
Being fat is a physical condition and I think in this and many other cases we confuse the two and it‘s just shallow and dumb and also it‘s mean. Stop being mean to fat people. There are a lot of nice fat people, right, and they just take so much abuse in this society and I hate them and I‘m sorry someone‘s got to stick up for them and, you know, I‘ll defend fat people. I like them—next up.
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CHAD, MULBERRY, INDIANA: Chad Rogers (ph) of Mulberry, Indiana. Yes, Tucker, this has to do with the Mr. Billboard trying to find the love of his life. I was wondering if maybe you could ask him that when he has found the love of his life if I could use his Internet service to find the second most beautiful, greedy, money hungry, self centered, Anna Nicole Smith wannabe in Los Angeles for myself. Thank you.
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CARLSON: So, Chad, you‘re saying you want sloppy seconds from billboard man? Come on, Chad, buck up. Get some standards buddy. Find your own girlfriend. Go to bars on your own. You don‘t want to steal his. OK.
Let me know what you‘re thinking. You can call 1-877-TCARLSON. That‘s 877-822-7576.
Still ahead, look at that, that is pathetic, boy that‘s an embarrassing picture, hard to believe I sat for that, ugh, but I did. Still ahead on THE SITUATION, an unassailable celebrity magazine that would “US Weekly” says Nick and Jessica are finished and done. What are the implications for western civilization? We‘ll explore it on the Cutting Room Floor.
CARLSON: The long national nightmare is over. Willie Geist has arrived with our Cutting Room Floor stories -- Willie.
GEIST: Tucker, how are you man? We have so much celebrity news, I feel like Pat O‘Brien, so we better get right to it.
CARLSON: Do you really feel like Pat O‘Brien?
GEIST: No, no, no, not that way.
GEIST: Just the news.
CARLSON: Well, we‘re still working out the nuts and bolts of this story but it appears that Tom Cruise and Katy Holmes have conceived a human child or claim they have anyway. A spokeswoman for Cruise confirmed a People magazine report the couple is expecting. He said, and we quote, “Tom and Katy are very excited.” The 43-year-old Cruise and the 27-year-old Holmes have been engaged since June but no wedding date has yet been set.
GEIST: Who knows this could be true? It worked for the Virgin Mary didn‘t it? No, you know what, this is a true, true storybook romance, two kids meet through their publicist, profess their love for each other on Oprah and then she fulfills her contractual obligation to have a child. It‘s really sweet. I think it‘s terrific.
CARLSON: I think this is a publicity stunt that got so completely out of control it‘s like a game of chicken.
CARLSON: America dared him to make good on it and the next thing you know he gets her pregnant.
GEIST: This is getting way out of hand.
CARLSON: Well on any other day news of a Nick and Jessica split would be our lead story, of course, but Tom and Katy‘s baby kicked the newlyweds right off the front page. US Weekly, which it‘s important to point out is never wrong, is reporting that Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson are splitting up after three years of marriage. The couple denying the story, however. A spokesman for Simpson said, “Nick and Jessica have not separated. Rumors to the contrary simply not true.”
GEIST: You know, Tucker, I trust as you know US Weekly implicitly.
CARLSON: Yes, I know you do.
GEIST: And I don‘t plan to turn my back on them now but I will point out this is the 14th time they‘ve said Nick and Jessica are divorced.
CARLSON: Yes, I know.
GEIST: So at some point we have to start to question it.
CARLSON: They fly off the newsstands when they say it though don‘t they?
GEIST: I think we should let the dust settle a little bit first here.
CARLSON: Poor Nick and Jessica. They probably have a really nice marriage. That‘s the sad part.
GEIST: They‘re terrific.
CARLSON: Well it‘s time to bring back some good old gratuitous surveillance video. It‘s been a while. This is of the police car camera variety. A high speed chase in Fort Hall, Idaho ended when this van slammed into a police cruiser at 70 miles an hour. Look at that. The driver was fleeing an arrest warrant and led police on a chase that reached speeds of 100 miles an hour before ending in this spectacular crash. No cops were hurt. The driver has been hospitalized. Needless to say, he‘s in trouble.
GEIST: He‘s in a lot of trouble. When are these guys going to learn on the high speed chases you never get away.
CARLSON: No, you never do.
GEIST: Do these people ever get away? I mean I‘m watching you on the news. There are news helicopters, police helicopters following you. It‘s a dead end.
CARLSON: I think some of them do get away.
GEIST: No, they don‘t.
CARLSON: I don‘t know. There‘s got to be a little kernel of hope.
GEIST: I‘m watching you on the news. I know where you‘re going.
CARLSON: Good point.
Not usually one for earthly material possessions, Pope Benedict XVI got himself a slick new ride today. BMW hooked up His Holiness with a brand new black X5 sport utility vehicle. It remains to be seen exactly what the pope will do with the car but it‘s a nice gesture nevertheless.
GEIST: What in the heavens is the pope going to do with a BMW SUV? In case he and the cardinals want to skip away to Tuscany for the weekend or something? I mean what is he going to do with this car?
CARLSON: I‘m kind of glad he has it though. I like him more knowing he does.
GEIST: Interested to see what he does with it.
CARLSON: Well, you have to admire the utter lack of shame of this next guy. Corbin Hanson (ph) is asking the Danish government to cover the cost of his prostitutes because he has a disability. Hanson says his disability prevents him from leaving the house to visit brothels so he has to pay more to have hookers visit his home. In Denmark, the government compensates disabled people for extra costs incurred as a result of their disabilities.
GEIST: If someone has the gall to ask for federal funding for his hookers, you must provide it. This level of audacity has to be rewarded in my view.
CARLSON: But in Denmark it‘s like a human right.
CARLSON: I mean I think it‘s in their constitution.
GEIST: Right, it‘s not illegal there. It‘s fine.
CARLSON: No, of course not.
GEIST: Give him his hookers.
CARLSON: He‘ll get the money I predict and we will break that news again on the Cutting Room Floor.
GEIST: We will certainly update you.
CARLSON: Willie Geist.
That‘s THE SITUATION for tonight. Thanks for watching.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.