Guests: Marc Lefkowitz, Max Kellerman, John Dickerson, Mark Silva, Lanny Davis, Rachel Maddow
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Thanks to you at home for sticking with THE SITUATION. We appreciate it very much.
We‘re live tonight in Washington with breaking news in the CIA leak investigation. Just yesterday, federal agents interviewed the neighbor of Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson to find out whether he knew about her work at the CIA before her identity was leaked in 2003.
That interview appeared to be part of final push by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to wrap up his two-year investigation into who leaked Plame‘s identity, possibly with indictments coming tomorrow. That‘s what we‘re hearing. We‘ll keep you updated throughout the show.
But first, joining me now for an exclusive interview, the neighbor who was questioned by the investigators, Marc Lefkowitz.
Marc, thanks a lot for coming on.
MARC LEFKOWITZ, QUESTIONED BY PROSECUTOR IN CIA LEAK CASE: You‘re welcome.
CARLSON: So last night, the FBI shows up at your house? Or how did you find out the FBI wanted to talk to you?
LEFKOWITZ: The FBI came up to my house and talked to my house man and asked him questions. And he said, no, he couldn‘t talk, and came inside, and got me.
CARLSON: So what did they say when they talked to you?
LEFKOWITZ: I went outside. And they asked me if I knew what Valerie did, and I said no. I said, you know, we‘ve had dinner with them. And as far as I knew, she was a consultant, and she was a mother of two. And that was it.
CARLSON: So that was their question. Did you know what Valerie Plame did before—of course, she became famous with Bob Novak‘s column.
CARLSON: Did they ask you any other questions?
LEFKOWITZ: You know, how well did I know them, whatever. And I just said, “You know, we had dinner a couple of times,” and that was the end of it. “I see her outside playing with her children. And, as far as I knew, she was a mother of two, and a consultant, and Joe was a consultant, also.”
CARLSON: How many agents were there?
LEFKOWITZ: Two agents, a man and woman.
CARLSON: Did you get any sense of what they were honing in on, just that one question?
LEFKOWITZ: Yes, I mean, I figured they wanted to know if anybody in the neighborhood knew that she was CIA before it leaked from the government. That was my assumption. I never asked them.
I was going to a black-tie affair, and I just, you know, ended it.
CARLSON: Did they talk to other neighbors in your neighborhood?
LEFKOWITZ: They said they were going to. I understand they talked to neighbors on both sides of Valerie and Joe.
CARLSON: Did other neighbors know that she was a CIA officer before this, do you know?
LEFKOWITZ: Nobody knew.
LEFKOWITZ: Nobody knew.
CARLSON: Now, when you had dinner with the Wilsons, did you talk about her work at all?
LEFKOWITZ: No, we really didn‘t. We talked more about...
CARLSON: What did you think when you found out?
LEFKOWITZ: ... we talked more about politics and things. When I found out—I still look at her today, and I can‘t figure it out. I mean, you know, I don‘t see her as being an undercover agent.
CARLSON: Do you see her in the neighborhood? Or is she and her husband...
LEFKOWITZ: Oh, no. Absolutely, no, no, we see them all the time. They‘re outside. Valerie is out playing with her children. I mean, a normal person.
CARLSON: So there haven‘t been news cameras in your neighborhood?
CARLSON: Reporters camped out?
LEFKOWITZ: There really haven‘t, not at all. I mean, Joe would be picked up and go do news shows, or whatever, but there was a reporter at my house today from the “Washington Post.” That‘s about it.
CARLSON: The reason this is significant, as I‘m sure you‘ve guessed, it that it gets to the core question in this case, who leaked her name and why?
And we‘ve been hearing for the last couple of weeks that the indictments that are likely coming down tomorrow probably won‘t be focused on that question, but on things like perjury, obstruction of justice, crimes that may have taken place after the investigation began. But this gives us the sense that prosecutors are focusing in, again, on the core issue.
What‘s your feeling on this case, by the way, since you do know the Wilsons?
LEFKOWITZ: I don‘t think anybody really knew. I feel that, you know, there was a leak from the government or from somewhere, but Valerie was just a normal person, living a normal life.
CARLSON: Now, you said you‘ve lived—you told me off-air that you‘ve lived in that house for 24 years, the entire time that the Wilsons have lived there.
CARLSON: One of the criteria in the law that was being looked into, the 1982 Intelligence Identity Protection Act, stipulates that, in order for someone to be undercover, he or she has to be posted abroad within the last five years. Do you know that Mrs. Wilson, Valerie Plame, was posted abroad within the last five years?
LEFKOWITZ: I do not know. I have no—I mean, you see them coming and going sometimes. Sometimes you don‘t see them for a couple of weeks. I don‘t know.
CARLSON: All right. And, finally, Marc, did the FBI, the agents you spoke to, give you any sense they were coming back to talk to you?
LEFKOWITZ: No, they did not.
CARLSON: All right. Well, I hope they don‘t, for your sake.
LEFKOWITZ: Thank you.
CARLSON: No one like FBI agents showing up unannounced.
Marc Lefkowitz of Washington, D.C., thanks.
LEFKOWITZ: Thank you.
CARLSON: Well, for more on what‘s happening at this hour in the investigation, let‘s go now to “Slate‘s” chief political correspondent, a man more plugged in than most appliances, John Dickerson.
John, now, you wrote a really interesting piece about Scooter Libby, who is I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, in “Slate.” And you make the point, which I don‘t think maybe people watching this who don‘t live in Washington or haven‘t lived here may understand, and that is, he‘s not Karl Rove. This is, the idea that he may be indicted, is a little weird.
JOHN DICKERSON, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE.COM: That‘s right. He‘s sort of the opposite of Karl Rove, if you think of the Bush administration as having two halves.
You have the Rove half, which is political, brash from Texas. Libby is the other half, with Cheney, in the undisclosed location, quiet, doesn‘t talk much, is a policy wonk.
He‘s not a political hack. He doesn‘t even like to be around politicians much, the way Karl would. And so, if you think of the two central figures of this case, they‘re sort of at polar opposites, although they ultimately were involved in the same effort to discredit Wilson and what he was bringing forward.
CARLSON: Is Scooter Libby a guy who is BlackBerrying reporters all the time?
DICKERSON: No, no. Karl Rove is that kind of person. Karl Rove is working his own angles, always talking to reporters, trying to shape the story.
Scooter prefers a sort of more rarified class of reporter, to the extent that he talks to them at all. He‘s much more of an intellectual. You know, he‘s written a novel. He‘s been to Ivy League, both undergraduate and law school.
He considers himself a much bigger thinker, and so likes to hang around, to the extent he does, the press with the bigger thinkers, but doesn‘t deal with the day-to-day stuff.
CARLSON: What is your theory about this piece we read this morning in the “New York Times,” that Scooter Libby is possibly going to be indicted? And we should be honest with our viewers. That is the rumor right now in Washington, D.C., is that, tomorrow morning, or at some point tomorrow, we will learn that Scooter Libby has been indicted.
I personally hope that‘s not true. And we should stipulate that is not a fact. But that‘s what we are hearing.
But the “Times” piece this morning indicates that Scooter Libby had somehow mis-testified, or testified incorrectly, or falsely to the grand jury about a conversation he had with Dick Cheney, didn‘t mention it. It strikes me as a pretty reckless thing to do. Does this seem in character?
DICKERSON: Well, it‘s totally out of character for those of us who‘ve tried to interview and talk to Scooter Libby, because getting him to say anything, in some instances, when he‘s on his guard, which he certainly would have been in this instance...
DICKERSON: When he‘s on his guard, you can barely get him to admit his name, which, you know, is the subject of some controversy.
CARLSON: Well, literally, at one point. I mean, there was a question about what the I. stands for. What does it stand for?
DICKERSON: Well, it depends. It stands for Irving. Some people say it stands for Irv. We may finally find out.
CARLSON: And a note, just to say, on that, I was looking at the “Politics of Truth,” Joe Wilson‘s kind of epic semi-autobiography—very rambling, very large, very sort of strange book, but interesting—and about the entries for Scooter Libby.
And he identifies in the first one, Scooter Libby, as Lawrence Libby. Doesn‘t even get his name right. I mean, this is a guy who was not a prominent figure at this point.
DICKERSON: Yes. And he was a kind of—very behind the scenes, but meticulous. And so the notion that—you could see in the pell-mell of the period where they were first learning about Joe Wilson, maybe him slipping up, but when he‘s dealing with a grand jury and a special counsel, the notion that he would have multiple sets of stories and not have it all straight is just very out of character.
CARLSON: What do you make of what‘s going to happen tomorrow? You‘ve been hearing every rumor there is.
DICKERSON: Well, yes. And, in fact, we‘ve been so wrong about so many rumors, I‘m so—I‘m pretty gun shy. But the rumors are basically what we‘ve heard, about the two, about Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, but the focus seems to have been in recent days more on Scooter Libby. And that that really seems to be what people are talking about right now.
CARLSON: And the focus, of course, at least in the newspapers, the newspaper accounts, and in the rumors, has been on these almost peripheral charges, or after the alleged crime charges.
Doesn‘t this—the interview we just did with Mr. Lefkowitz, who was interviewed about the original leak, apparently, make you think that maybe that might be part of the original - the question of who leaked Valerie Plame‘s name might be part of one of the indictments?
DICKERSON: It does. And it also seems—and I know nothing about how this stuff happens—but it seems a little last-minute to be rushing around to the neighbors here at the 11th hour. It may not be the 11th hour, though, you know? I mean, we may—all the speculation may be so wrong that we may not have indictments for a while, and this isn‘t the last minute. But...
CARLSON: Well, speaking of, the “New York Times,” in tomorrow‘s edition—we have it here—October 26th, “Leak Counsel is said to Press on Rove‘s Role.” And essentially the point this piece makes is the one that you just made, they are running around at the last-minute looking at questions you think would have been looked at time and again over the past two years about Karl Rove‘s role.
What are people saying about the likelihood of Rove being in trouble? And what is the White House saying about Rove? They must have some line on this.
DICKERSON: Well, their line is, basically, he‘s still engaged, he‘s still BlackBerrying all the time, which, those of us who‘ve had to deal with him know to be the case, and that they‘re focusing—trying to focus on their daily business, but that they‘ve got this massive thing out there that they can‘t control, which is the potential loss of their key player.
So they‘re just waiting for something to happen. It‘s awfully distracting to have this enormous problem out there that they can‘t do anything about.
CARLSON: What do you expect is going to happen, if there are indictments tomorrow? How will the White House announce it?
DICKERSON: Well, I would suspect that it will just—if there are indictments, that they—that it will be announced that whoever is indicted will step down and it will be—Scott will have a very bad briefing. And then I‘m not sure what they‘ll do about the president.
CARLSON: Are you going to the briefing tomorrow?
DICKERSON: Well, we‘ll see. If this is what the topic is, I should think it would be the place to be.
CARLSON: John Dickerson, I hope this is the place to be for you all week. Thanks for joining us.
DICKERSON: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: I appreciate it.
Still to come, masters of spin. Will the same administration that sold the war in Iraq be able to save its image if top aides are indicted tomorrow?
Plus, a man who managed scandals for President Bill Clinton offers his advice on damage control. That‘s next, when we come back.
CARLSON: Welcome back.
Very soon, probably tomorrow but possibly tonight, we could know if any White House officials will be indicted following the CIA leak investigation. How damaging will the news be to Republicans? And will Democrats win back control of Congress when the president‘s top aides go down?
It may all depend on how effectively each side spins the story. And here to talk about the strategy on either side, Mark Silva. He‘s the White House correspondent for the “Chicago Tribune.”
MARK SILVA, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “CHICAGO TRIBUNE”: Good evening, Tucker.
CARLSON: So what are you Republicans—I just John Dickerson this.
You wrote a really interesting piece about it the day before yesterday.
What are Republicans likely to say if this indictment happens?
SILVA: Well, there‘s two tracks for Republicans. One will be to minimize whatever the charges might be.
SILVA: And if the charges are something short of the initial crime, which was the identification of a CIA agent, in other words, obstruction of justice, perjury, making false statements, they‘ll try to minimize those and say, “Look, this isn‘t really a crime. It‘s a technicality. It‘s something short of a crime.”
SILVA: On the other hand...
CARLSON: Do you think they will do that? I mean, that was kind of road-tested this weekend. You saw a number of people, a number of Republicans, including some Republican senators, kind of try that out on the Sunday shows. They were hit pretty hard.
SILVA: Well, the other tactic is attacking the prosecutor, which they‘ve done in the Tom DeLay case in Texas.
CARLSON: Right, very effectively.
SILVA: That‘s not going—well, effectively there, perhaps, but that‘s not going to work too well with Patrick Fitzgerald. This guy is a serious, tough-minded, hard-nosed, disciplined investigator. And I don‘t think he‘s going to withstand a lot of that kind of attack.
CARLSON: No. And plus, the White House, for the past two years, has been saying nice things about the guy.
SILVA: Exactly, a “dignified investigation.”
CARLSON: So what do you think? I mean, so I guess it‘s got to be the former, if it can‘t be the latter.
SILVA: I think they go back to the charges themselves. And in fact, we don‘t know what the charges. This has been a lot of speculation. But if the charges are something short of the crime that everyone‘s been talking about for the last two years, I think that‘s the bait.
CARLSON: So how can you argue one without the other? I mean, is it possible to argue that these guys, if they are, in fact, charged, shouldn‘t have been charged, without simultaneous arguing, or at least implying, that the prosecutor himself is overzealous or overstepping his bounds?
SILVA: Well, you might not argue that they shouldn‘t have been charged, but you‘ll argue that what became of the charges is really nothing that rises to the seriousness that the Democrats would like you to believe it rises to.
CARLSON: So speaking of the Democrats, I mean, I know they still exist in theory...
CARLSON: ... because I‘ve heard that, I know they live here. Haven‘t heard word one.
SILVA: Well, to the extent that the Democrats or any Democrats are thinking seriously about this, which really lends them a lot of credence, credit...
SILVA: ... they will be saying, look, this goes back to an original situation in which the premise of the president‘s war against Iraq was being challenged by a critic of the war, Joe Wilson, the ambassador.
And the exposure of his wife and the attempt to discredit and perhaps punish him for the act of it leads back to the administration‘s larger motivation of misleading the American public, as the Democrats would have it.
In other words, you‘ve got to take this back to a national security question. This is an administration which took us to war wrongly, and made a case for it wrongly, and has done everything it can to uphold that case. And so that, in the big picture, that‘s what the Democrats want to do.
CARLSON: So, in other words, this—they‘re trying to tie this to a larger tableau kind of thing?
SILVA: Sure. Sure.
CARLSON: This is not just about who leaked Valerie Plame‘s name.
This is about the deception that got us to war in Iraq.
SILVA: Well, sure. Just as much as the Republicans will attempt to minimize it, the Democrats will attempt to maximize it. And they‘ll say, “Look, the big picture here is that you got lied to, you were led into war wrongly, and this was just one of the pieces of the puzzle that took you there, and these are the people who helped do it.”
CARLSON: So, from my perspective, someone who no longer lives in Washington but watches kind of closely, it looks bad for the midterm elections, which are just a little over a year from right now. You‘ve got all of these factors, the war in Iraq, gas prices, this...
CARLSON: ... Tom DeLay. I mean, there are a lot of problems facing Republicans. Is the White House worried about the midterm elections?
SILVA: Well, the one guy who would be worried about the midterm elections, Karl Rove...
SILVA: ... is the one guy who spent a lot of time in the last several months worrying about other things. And perhaps, you know, when the sun comes up Wednesday, or Friday, or whenever this sun comes up, Karl Rove will be clear and free to think about big picture things like that.
CARLSON: Well, that is the question—I mean, I should have put—that should have been number one on the list, actually. As someone who watches the White House for a living, you, what do you—the fact that Karl Rove has clearly been occupied, if not preoccupied, by this investigation, understandably, do you think that is the cause of, say, the Miers nomination, something so obviously unwise politically?
SILVA: No. I think the Miers nomination goes back to other factors, which is that this president‘s popularity has sunk, the war has become increasingly unpopular.
The president probably would have liked to go for a more controversial nomination, somebody really who would have won the respect of a lot of conservative Republicans, but he didn‘t necessarily have the capital to push it. So he went for the easy pick, which was Miers. And the easy pick turned out to be a problematic pick.
CARLSON: Very much the hard pick. Very much. But the bold gesture always gets rewarded in the end.
Mark Silva, really one of the great White House correspondents in Washington. Thank you.
SILVA: Thank you very much.
CARLSON: Up next, scandal management 101. The former special counsel to President Bill Clinton offers his advice on how to survive a scandal in the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time, never. These allegations are false.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Boy, I remember where I was when I first heard those words. I thought at the time, “That‘s a crock,” and I was right. That was, of course, President Bill Clinton making a memorable statement during his scandal-ridden years at the White House.
My next guest learned quite a bit about scandal management in his 14 months as special counsel to President Clinton. Lanny Davis wrote about his experiences in a book called “Truth to Tell: Tell it Early, Tell it All, Tell it Yourself.” And he joins us now live from Portland, Oregon.
Lanny, it‘s wonderful to be on the set with you again.
LANNY DAVIS, FMR. SPECIAL COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: Tucker...
CARLSON: Very different circumstances.
DAVIS: ... can we get another tape than the one you keep playing?
CARLSON: I‘m sorry.
DAVIS: I‘m getting tired of that tape.
CARLSON: Yes, you know, even I am getting tired of it, and I enjoyed it at the time. You were—one of the reasons I so wanted to talk to you tonight—you were one of the very few spokesmen, really, explainers for the Clinton White House during those years who managed to retain the respect of people who dealt with you. You didn‘t alienate people.
DAVIS: Thank you.
CARLSON: And you always seemed believable, even when you had a pretty tough line to present to the public. Tell me what the White House should say tomorrow if they‘re indicted.
DAVIS: Well, the most important thing is to set the record straight about attacking a wife when you‘re disagreeing with a husband.
I think they made a political misjudgment. Whatever case they had against Ambassador Wilson and what he did or didn‘t say about Iraq buying uranium ore, they should have gone after him. The minute somebody in the White House said, “You know, I have a good idea. Let‘s attack him by attacking the wife at the CIA that sent him on the trip,” which turned out not to be true, that was a massive political misjudgment and actually endangered her life.
I think President...
CARLSON: But wait, wait a second. Even if all of that‘s true—and I think it‘s open to question—wouldn‘t it be sort of odd for the White House tomorrow, if Scooter Libby or Karl Rove or someone else is indicted, to come out and say that?
Because after all, they have known for many months that these officials were implicated in this leak and they didn‘t do anything about it. So if they come out tomorrow and say, “You know what? What they did is totally wrong.” Don‘t they kind of hurt themselves by doing that?
DAVIS: Well, I think that‘s the reason why I‘ve understood that they haven‘t done it to date. But I think once the indictments are handed down and the charges are clear, the political misjudgment of attacking Mrs. Plame when they were risking her life, I think, is something that ought to be conceded at the highest level of the White House, without acknowledging the guilt or even culpability of the people accused by the special prosecutor, which is one piece of advice I give to the Democrats.
We‘ve got to hold our fire and not rush to judgment, not do what the Republicans did to Bill Clinton that, based on accusations or even indictments, you immediately jumped to conclusions about guilt. We‘ve got to get out of the way here and let the facts speak, and not get into the politics of...
CARLSON: You‘re too late for that. The presumption of guilt already exists and has been expressed.
But I‘m interested more, in going back to the Clinton years, in how the White House responded. This was a White House—fair or not, and it has its partisans who defend it—but the fact is, never conceded anything, nothing.
I will concede nothing. The president will nothing wrong. That was the line, for months, and months, and months, in fact for years, on a number of different scandal fronts. And you know, in the end, it worked pretty well. Why shouldn‘t the White House do that?
DAVIS: Are you talking about President Bush or President Clinton?
CARLSON: I am talking about President Clinton‘s strategy during the 1990s, and noting how effective it was, and asking you, why shouldn‘t the Bush administration take that same tact, because it works?
DAVIS: Well, first of all, I think there were occasions where President Clinton was willing to concede that mistakes were made. I remember one occasion involving a coffee that was held where the regulator of the banks showed up while bankers were there.
And I think President Clinton, in a nationally televised press conference, said, “You know, in retrospect, I don‘t think we should have had that event.” I think this particular White House needs to do more of that. And that‘s why I said, on this occasion, I think they would gain some credibility if they admitted that they should not have attacked the wife in order to go after the husband.
CARLSON: What about attacking the prosecutor? That, of course, was the crux, the very center of the Clinton response...
DAVIS: Well, that was...
CARLSON: ... to, you know, all of the scandals, attacking all of the independent prosecutors. Should the White House attack Patrick Fitzgerald?
DAVIS: Well, I have to admit the big difference is that we did have an easy target in a prosecutor that most people felt had gone over the top in expanding his jurisdiction to investigate, which was essentially a private relationship issue.
DAVIS: And the American people, I think, immediately saw that Ken Starr had gone over the top...
DAVIS: ... on the Monica Lewinsky investigation.
CARLSON: That‘s where you are wrong. The American people did not immediately see that. They were told that by you and people you worked with and convinced of it over time.
I mean, you succeeded, fairly or not, in convincing people that he was a religious zealot, and was, you know, had sexual hang-ups, and was into this for prurient reasons. But that‘s because they were told that.
Why shouldn‘t the Bush administration make the same case? All prosecutors are zealots. That‘s the truth; you know it, and I know it. They‘re all zealots on some level. So why not just say that and attack the guy?
DAVIS: We had some facts on our side, the appointment of Ken Starr, the circumstances of the appointment, his political background, his ideological bent, the people that he was associated with. We had a lot of facts.
With Mr. Fitzgerald, you have absolutely a clear record of being nonpolitical, highly professional, and I think this White House—
President Bush said it was a dignified investigation. The Starr investigation was filled with leaks of grand jury information. As you know, this special prosecutor has not done that. I think that they...
CARLSON: Well, we‘re not sure.
DAVIS: ... will have a really hard time attacking Mr. Fitzgerald.
CARLSON: Well, just for the record, we‘re not sure at this point where all of these stories are coming from in the “Washington Post” and the “New York Times.” They possibly are coming from his office. I think they look like they are.
Finally, do you think it was smart of the Bush administration to, as you just reminded us, compliment Patrick Fitzgerald for his dignified investigation? Was that tactically or strategically a good move?
DAVIS: I think it was a justified statement. This is a very, very distinguished prosecutor that has not had any political associations.
Remember, Ken Starr, before he was appointed independent counsel, had contributed to the Paula Jones brief. He had a record of involvement with conservative causes.
This prosecutor does not have that involvement. So the facts are the facts. I think President Bush and, lately, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison actually said that we shouldn‘t get too serious about “technical” perjury. Amazing to hear Senator Hutchison say that, when the entire Republican leadership was so up in arms about what they called perjury about a private relationship and...
DAVIS: ... in a civil case, which was thrown out.
CARLSON: And, as you just reminded us, by your description of the perjury...
DAVIS: Amazing double standards.
CARLSON: ... as technical, the entirety Democratic establishment was basically saying what Kay Bailey Hutchison is saying today. All things in Washington are cyclical.
DAVIS: No doubt.
CARLSON: I expect in another eight years you and I will be on opposite sides of this once again. But for now, Lanny David, thank you.
DAVIS: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Up next, I challenge you to tell me which group of people is offended by piggy banks. Give up? Well, someone is upset. And the “Outsider,” Max Kellerman, has to stick up for them. Don‘t miss that. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back.
We are in Washington tonight waiting for the bomb to drop, not literally but figuratively. The CIA leak case expected to come to fruition any moment now, literally any moment, possibly on this show. Probably by tomorrow we‘ll know a lot more about who‘s deeply in trouble.
Well, much to talk about tonight, to analyze and dissect. So we bring in now Air America‘s Rachel Maddow.
Rachel, thanks a lot.
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO HOST: Hi, Tucker. Good to see you.
CARLSON: Nice to see you.
The “Washington Post” just posted a story on its web site, which is literally still warm from the printer here in my hands, “Bush Aides Brace for Charges.” There‘s not a whole lot we didn‘t know, but it reconfirms one thing we learned tonight, and that is Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is, apparently, looking into charging people on the original crime, that is the 1982 Intelligence Identity Protection Act.
MADDOW: Wait, doesn‘t that mean that I get your car? Didn‘t you tell me you‘d give me your car...
CARLSON: I‘m not sure. You know, we‘re going to have to check the tape on that, but, before I give away my beloved and quite old car, let me just say, if that is true, I will be impressed...
MADDOW: All right.
CARLSON: ... not because I think that it‘s obvious anyone broke that law, but that is a serious crime. That‘s a crime at the heart of all this. It‘s a question over the violation of that crime that started this investigation in the first place.
And I think that‘s a perfectly valid reason to charge someone, believing that he violated that law. So I will have much more respect for Patrick Fitzgerald if, in fact, he can prove that someone broke that law.
MADDOW: And I will have a new minivan, which is neither here nor there, but...
CARLSON: First of all, just for the record, I‘ve never owned a minivan. I don‘t plan on owning a minivan. That‘s the lowest thing you could say.
MADDOW: Well, we‘ll see if that—we‘ll see how that comes to fruition.
But the issue—I mean, if it is a charge on the original crime, as you‘ve been describing it, the idea of disclosing the identity of the CIA agent—in this case, the CIA officer—that brings us back to the very basic issue at hand, which is the war.
I mean, this is the fact that there was a critic who exposed one of the lies that led to the war. And they kind of lost their minds in trying to respond to him, in trying to smear him in response to his criticism. And they were sloppy about the way they did it.
You‘ve always said that you felt like it probably wasn‘t a deliberate lie, that the Bush administration told to get us to war, because why would anybody do that? They‘d know they would get caught. Maybe it was just hubris. Maybe they didn‘t think they‘d get caught and so they got sloppy.
CARLSON: Well, I don‘t think, in this case—I mean, let‘s be completely honest about it. And I say this as a profound critic of the war, both on this show and in many pieces I‘ve written.
But I don‘t think the stories about Valerie Plame‘s identity are evidence the White House was trying to hurt her husband, necessarily. Congress found in its investigation—let‘s just always remember the facts here. Congress found that the fact Joe Wilson‘s wife worked at CIA was a key reason he was sent to Niger in the first place.
Now, I say this all the time. This is worth remembering that. They had a reason, a real reason, a legitimate reason, to bring up his wife‘s job. It was significant.
MADDOW: But the reason and the procedure by which he was sent to Niger doesn‘t affect what he actually found there, which is that...
CARLSON: We don‘t know what he found there. Hold on. Slow down.
MADDOW: ... Saddam Hussein didn‘t try to buy yellowcake in Niger.
CARLSON: That is absolutely not only unproved, but I believe untrue. We have never seen his report. Apparently, it was an oral report. And people who have access to the information he brought back dispute that.
And, in fact, some of them, who I have talked to who‘ve seen it, seen a characterization of his report, suggest that, in fact, he didn‘t come back from Niger saying those reports were wrong. We don‘t know what was in the report.
MADDOW: The response to Joe Wilson, though—and the thing that gave rise to this whole investigation—is what happened after he published that piece in the “New York Times.” And that piece in the “New York Times” says, “Saddam Hussein wasn‘t looking for yellowcake in Niger, and that‘s what I found in my report.”
That was what occasioned the big smear campaign against Joe Wilson that brought us to this point. And so, it was the claim that one of the things that brought us to war wasn‘t actually true. Their response to that, their attempt to undo a critic of the war, that turned out to be right, and they were wrong...
MADDOW: ... has brought us to this point. And it does bring us back to the basics of what this case is about, which is about the war.
CARLSON: No. It‘s about whether a specific crime was committed. I do think there were many things that were wrong that got us to war.
But let‘s move on now to Harriet Miers, another big story of the day. It now appears that supporters of President Bush are on the offensive against her. She, of course, his pick to the Supreme Court. BetterJustice.org, a conservative grassroots organization, has funded a 30-second TV spot that‘s going to air nationwide tomorrow.
Here‘s some of that ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, BETTERJUSTICE.ORG AD)
ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Even the best leaders make mistakes. Conservatives support President Bush, but not Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers.
Judge Robert Bork says, “I don‘t think she‘s qualified,” and calls Miers‘ nomination a “disaster on every level.” And Rush Limbaugh says, “I am totally behind the president, but I disagree with this nomination.”
America deserves better. Go to BetterJustice.com. Urge President Bush to withdraw the nomination of Harriet Miers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Meanwhile, a coalition of conservatives has launched a web site, WithdrawMiers.org. I should point out, Rachel, in case you missed it, in that first spot, this show was quoted. Robert Bork, Judge Robert Bork, said that on this program. Proud to be a part of that ad.
Here‘s why this is so heartening to me, in addition to the fact I, too, am strongly opposed to Harriet Miers‘ nomination to the Supreme Court, this shows that conservatives still have principle. It is unimaginable—and, in fact, it was unimaginable during the Clinton years—liberals doing something like this.
You never saw during the Clinton years liberals stand up, take out ads attacking the president, because they, after all, were Democrats, and so was he. And even if they were far more left-wing than he was—Clinton was not all that left-wing in the end—they didn‘t want to attack him because they were partisan.
And I think it says something very good about the state of conservatism. It‘s still an ideas-based movement. And these are people who are being true to their ideas.
MADDOW: But, Tucker, what does it say about the state of the conservative movement that the big figure heads, the big purists that they need to be quoting here, are Robert Bork and Rush Limbaugh? I mean, Rush Limbaugh, not exactly the guy who you want to be the figurehead for this whole ideological movement.
CARLSON: You know, I don‘t know. I think Rush Limbaugh is a smart guy. And, in this case, he‘s articulating something that‘s true. And that‘s the point.
MADDOW: He is against Miers. And that may be the position that you agree with here, but, again, I‘m not sure that you want him or Robert Bork to be seen as the image of purity in this case. I mean, Robert Bork is a kook.
CARLSON: First of all, that‘s name-calling.
MADDOW: True. I can back it.
CARLSON: And I don‘t think Robert Bork is a kook. I don‘t think Robert Bork is a kook.
But leaving aside who specifically is involved in this—and, for one thing, there‘s a long roster of people, some of whom I‘m sure you even know and are friends with...
CARLSON: ... who are supporting these ads.
The point is, these are people who, against their own self-interest, are taking a stand on principle. And there‘s something admirable about that. They get nothing from the White House.
The White House hates them—I can promise you that—despises them for doing this, thinks they‘re traitors. They‘re not going to the White House Christmas party this year. And they‘re doing it anyway, because they actually believe in something. Amen. Good for them.
MADDOW: In terms of pure political strategy, I agree with you that people who are on the ideological pure edges of their parties need to be pushing the parties. That‘s why—I mean, I‘m on the left of the Democratic Party and push on the Democrats as much as I can from the left-hand side.
So strategically, I‘, with you. I do think, though, that Bork and Limbaugh are not great figureheads for this approach.
I also think that the conservatives really need to get one element out there and one point of this that they have not advanced. And that is, are they against Harriet Miers because she‘s not qualified, or are they against Harriet Miers because she‘s not right-wing enough?
CARLSON: I think, at this point—I think, at this point, it‘s the latter. I think these ads make the case that, you know, this is a woman who flunked a question on constitutional law in her take-home homework assignment to Congress just last week. That‘s a bad sign.
But, Rachel, if I could just end by asking something of you, and that is that you would continue to push your party, the Democratic Party, as far leftward as you can. You‘d be doing America a service by doing that.
So please do, Rachel Maddow.
MADDOW: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: I‘ll be on the floor at HQ, going to be here tomorrow in Washington. Thanks.
CARLSON: Still ahead on THE SITUATION, why do reporters insist on standing or attempting to stand in the middle of hurricanes? And why is it so entertaining when they do? We‘ll discuss that, when THE SITUATION continues.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Benjamin Disraeli once—and this is so we can quote Benjamin Disraeli, by the way—he once said, “my idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me.” With all due respect to the former British prime minister, my idea of an agreeable person is a person who disagrees with me, but does it well. And nobody does it better than the Outsider. Please welcome ESPN and HBO boxing host, Max Kellerman, live from Las Vegas tonight—Max.
MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO: I can‘t live up to this billing every night, Tucker. What introductions I get on this show.
CARLSON: Benjamin Disraeli. I mean, you don‘t find that in cable. I mean, this is high-toned.
KELLERMAN: Yes, it is, high-brow.
CARLSON: Prepare yourself. And speaking of Great Britain, first up, what is wrong with piggy banks? That‘s our question for the night. Quite a lot, if you believe some British banks.
Halifax and Natwest Banks say the age-old symbol of savings could be offensive to Muslims, who consider the pig an impure animal. They are banning the piggy bank from their ads. Critics, including one in four Muslim MPs in British parliament called it a PC maneuver gone completely mad.
And they are, of course, completely right. You know what, rather than
this is one of those kind of prima facie ridiculous stories. I could get all long-winded and huffy and red in the face—this is an outrage! -- which is of course how I feel, but why even do that? Every single person watching this show right now agrees with me. Why don‘t you, instead, tell us why this is a good idea.
KELLERMAN: Well, I don‘t have to tell you why it‘s a good idea to disagree with you. First of all, I am Jewish. You know how long has this been going on in Great Britain, that they have had pigs at banks? An outrage! And why is it for the Muslims that they‘re doing it? What about the Jews?
CARLSON: Good point.
KELLERMAN: I can argue that you should ban piggy banks for other reasons, Tucker. For instance, really, what do you do? You put the money in, and it just stays there? It doesn‘t accumulate interest. What kind of lesson is this to teach children? Piggy banks are bad for a variety of reasons, I could argue, and I guess I am arguing, and one of them may be that they are offensive to Muslims.
CARLSON: See, I just think, first of all, in Islam, I don‘t believe you are allowed to lend with interest. But it seems to me this is the kind of incremental giving up cultural ground that results in a society that is unable to defend itself against its enemy—and in this case, its enemy is radical Islam, not ordinary Muslims, but radicals who seek to take over British society and American society, for that matter, and remake it in their own Sharia-based image. And so every time you see something like this, you got to put your foot down and say, no, you don‘t like the piggy banks, buddy, go back to Syria. Tough luck if you don‘t like it.
KELLERMAN: Religious literalists have always been a problem in this world. I mean, from the Inquisition, you go through look at all these examples in history. Wherever you find religious literalism, it‘s a bad thing.
And you know, to talk about PC gone amok—it reminds me, you could say something like pigs, not eating pork in the Islamic and Jewish religions is actually conspiracy against Christian middle American pig farmers.
KELLERMAN: Right? Because, of course, you can argue, if we are so politically—if we are so sensitive to political correctness, you wind up in a state of inertia because you can‘t do anything.
CARLSON: Well, only certain groups get the benefit of that sensitivity, but that‘s another conversation.
Next up, according to the classic commercials, when you say Budweiser, you have said it all. And things would probably be better for Budweiser if that‘s all they said. A recent radio ad was meant to be a comic take on discount airline pilots, commending them for, quote, “putting the fly in fly by night.” One carrier, AirTran Airways, not amused at all. It is considering dropping Budweiser from its flights. Anheuser-Busch has apologized and pulled the offending ad.
Hey, I am for this, I am for what AirTran did. First of all, I like AirTran. They have excellent flights to the west coast of Florida, very cheap. And it‘s a pretty safe airline, it looks like to me. But I like the idea of people standing up for themselves. Those Budweiser ads are incredibly funny, very clever, I love them. I think that ad in question was a great ad. But I think that people have a right to say, wait a second, you insult me, I am not buying your products anymore. AirTran is like Israel. Israel knows who its enemies are, to its great credit. It says, look, you hate us, we hate you back. We are not going to attempt to win you over. I like that (INAUDIBLE) AirTran.
KELLERMAN: Well, you compliment Israel, you warm the cackles of a Jewish‘s man‘s heart there, Tucker.
CARLSON: Well, it‘s true.
KELLERMAN: Look, you get what you pay for. You know what I mean? That‘s just something that‘s ingrained—you get what you pay for. If you are paying less, you expect less service, but—a lower level of service. But really, this is—this goes beyond just the product defending itself. In this case, the airline defending itself. AirTran, JetBlue, especially, Song (ph), all these kind of discount carriers pride themselves on being cool, you know, they are not—they are not mainstream. They are kind of subculture. They‘re—and to get all in a huff about being made fun of, especially in a very funny ad, is the opposite of cool. Just, real men of genius—this is what the ad said. This is hilarious. “Sure, we are concerned for our lives, says the announcer, just not as concerned as saving nine bucks on a round trip to Ft. Myers.” I mean, come on, that‘s funny. And if you sue or make some radical move after that, you will be perceived as unfunny.
CARLSON: You‘re right. Actually, you know what, that‘s such a great argument, I concede, I roll over, paws in the air, scratch my stomach, you win.
KELLERMAN: I salute you, Tucker Carlson.
CARLSON: Max Kellerman, I salute you back. Coming up, I had a difference of opinion with Spike Lee on HBO Friday night, and you, the viewers, have taken sides in that dispute. We‘ll see what you‘re saying when we check THE SITUATION voicemail. That‘s next.
CARLSON: Welcome back. You‘ve been calling us a lot. Collect in some cases, but that‘s all right. We welcome your calls, all of them. We‘re received many. Here are a couple. First up, SITUATION voicemail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT: Hey, Tucker. It‘s Pat from Puyallup again, but watching all these storms and so on, why do they keep showing us the reporters standing in the rain and the wind getting knocked all around? We get it. It‘s windy out. Wouldn‘t it be wiser just to show us a picture of the rain and the wind? I don‘t know. What‘s your thought?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Well, I think you‘ve answered your own question. You were watching. What‘s more interesting, watching the wind, which incidentally is invisible, I think almost by definition, or watching some guy in a slicker with a microphone getting batted around in the wind? Obviously, the latter. I‘m totally for it. I‘ve been there.
All right. Next up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK: Hey, TC! This is Nick from Fisher, Minnesota. I just wanted to mention something. I watched you on “Bill Maher” on Friday night on HBO, and I was really disappointed that you didn‘t stick it to Spike Lee and his very conspiracy theory views on the flood. I was wondering why you didn‘t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Check the tape, Nick. I stuck it to him again and again and again. Yes, I pointed out that the federal government did not, in fact, blow up the levees in New Orleans. In fact, it was sort of—that conversation kind of dominated the show. Yes, absolutely. I told him in no uncertain terms, as I told Chuck D and anyone else who thinks the government blew up the levees are welcome on our show to get a public correction from me.
Let me know what you‘re thinking. You can call 1-877-TCARLSON.
That‘s 1-877-822-7576. You can also send your questions via our Web site. E-mail me, firstname.lastname@example.org. And I will respond. I say I‘ll respond every day, but I was in L.A. last week and then Amtrak, believe it or not, was late today, so I haven‘t had a chance to respond, but I will tomorrow. You can log on to tucker.msnbc.com for the answers.
Still ahead on THE SITUATION, so what did your grandmother do over the weekend? If she wasn‘t jumping out of an airplane, we don‘t want to hear about it. This lady lands on “The Cutting Room Floor,” next.
CARLSON: Time once again for “The Cutting Room Floor.” Willie Geist is back at MSNBC World Headquarters in an undisclosed state with truly important news of the day. Willie, what do you have?
WILLIE GEIST, THE SITUATION: That‘s right, Tucker. Enough of this jibber-jabber about CIA leaks. I have panty thieves and skydiving grandmothers. So let‘s get right to it.
CARLSON: I knew you‘d come through for us, as you always do, Willie.
Well, Eileen Berg turned 92 years old on Sunday, and she spent her birthday just the way you would expect a woman her age to—she jumped out of an airplane. Looks like she‘s having a pretty good time there. Believe it or not, this is the first time Berg has ever gone skydiving. At 92, though, she falls eight years short of the world record for the oldest person ever to hop out of an airplane with a parachute.
GEIST: You know, Tucker, this is a nice story, but let‘s not give her too much credit. I don‘t want to call her courageous. She‘s 92. Not that much to lose, really. You know what I mean?
GEIST: The chute doesn‘t open, she had a good life. You know what I mean? It‘s courageous if I go skydiving.
CARLSON: It‘s really when young people, with their life before them?
GEIST: Exactly. It‘s a nice story, but let‘s not go overboard.
CARLSON: Actually, that‘s not a bad point.
I didn‘t go to law school, but I can say with a fair degree of confidence it‘s a poor legal strategy to show up drunk for your DUI hearing.
CARLSON: Sadly, the Arkansas man who pulled that move yesterday did go to law school, and he‘s a lawyer. The man was representing himself on an appeal of his second DUI conviction when the judge noticed he looked a bit tipsy. He was arrested and ordered to be held without bail, which, frankly, Willie, is pretty harsh. No bail?
GEIST: That is harsh. You know what, though, Tucker, this guy is a prolific boozer. There is no evidence on the public record of him ever being sober. He‘s been arrested twice drunk, and when he showed up for his hearing, he was drunk. And by the way, when did it become illegal to be drunk in court? Let the guy make his case. You know what I mean?
CARLSON: I completely agree with that. I mean, there is no, you know, drunk while being a defendant. This man is going to wake up with a pretty significant hangover tomorrow morning.
GEIST: Yeah, I think so. This is a tough judge, apparently.
Well, if you‘re a panty thief in the state of Massachusetts, we know many of you watching this program are, you may want to lay low for a while. Local police are stepping up their efforts to catch a panty-snatching syndicate that‘s stolen $22,000 worth of merchandise from Victoria‘s Secret over the last month. Cops are getting help from Internet agents who pose as perspective underwear buyers at online auction sites.
GEIST: You know what, Tucker, I don‘t get it. Why do you go to all the trouble of going to Victoria‘s Secret with the cameras and the security tags? You can just steal panties from your neighbors. It‘s a lot easier, in my experience...
CARLSON: Willie, because one is shoplifting and the other is a sex crime.
GEIST: Oh, that‘s right. No, these guys must be adrenaline junkies to go through all that for this. You know what I mean?
CARLSON: It seems a long way to go for underwear when last time I checked, not that expensive. Even the funky kind.
GEIST: It‘s a rush, I think. And also, $22,000 worth of underwear?
That‘s some serious undergarments.
CARLSON: It‘s a lot of underwear.
CARLSON: Willie Geist, thank you.
GEIST: All right, Tucker, see you tomorrow.
CARLSON: See you tomorrow.
That‘s THE SITUATION for tonight. Thanks for watching. We‘ll be here in Washington all week as the CIA leak investigation continues to heat up. We are convinced there is going to be news any moment, certainly by tomorrow. Tune in 11:00 Eastern, 8:00 Pacific. See you tomorrow night.
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