Guests: Mike Allen, Dee Myers, Peter Ford, Max Kellerman, Ian Urbino
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”: THE SITUATION with Tucker Carlson starts right now. Tucker, what‘s THE SITUATION tonight?
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Thanks.
Thanks to you at home for sticking with our Friday night SITUATION.
We appreciate it, as always.
Tonight, we‘ll talk with a reporter in Paris about the ongoing Muslim riots there. But first, a contentious situation for President Bush in Argentina today. Ten thousand protestors chanting, “Get out, Bush” greeted the president upon his arrival to the Americas summit.
Bush was to be in several joint sessions with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has stated he would use the summit as a stage to denounce what he calls the U.S. as a capitalist, imperialist model of democracy.
Meanwhile, here at home, Bush‘s poll numbers are dropping, prompting rumors of a possible shakeup in the White House senior staff. Earlier today, the president was asked about the future of his top aide, Karl Rove, and here was Mr. Bush‘s response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The investigation on
Karl, as you know, is not complete, and therefore, I will not comment upon
about him and/or the investigation. And I understand the anxiety and angst by the press corps to talk about this. On the other hand, it is a serious investigation and we take it seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Joining me now to discuss Bush‘s problems at home and abroad, a man who has covered politics for the “New York Times,” “The Washington Post” and now “TIME” magazine. That is White House correspondent Mike Allen—Mike.
MIKE ALLEN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “TIME” MAGAZINE: Hey, Tucker.
CARLSON: These—let‘s just start with the numbers. Bad: 39 percent approval rating, the president has according to the new “Washington Post” poll. Is the White House responding to this on background? I mean, do they see this as a real problem or no?
ALLEN: Well, the president responded by getting out of town. You saw what happened there. Didn‘t particularly help him.
And by the way, if my boss gave me the sort of endorsement that you saw the president give Mr. Rove there, I think I‘d start sending out my resume. Not exactly a warm embrace in that clip we just saw.
CARLSON: No. Not at all.
ALLEN: Tucker, yes, I was paging through this ABC/”Washington Post” poll that‘s out today, and it was like, “Thank you, sir. May I have another?” There was not one number in there for the president. Amazingly, for the first time, he‘s—the president is below 50 percent in “Do you think the president is honest and trustworthy?” and “Do you think he‘s a good leader?” That‘s the whole Bush brand, as you know, Tucker. That‘s what was sold in the—in the campaign.
Another alarming number that‘s a little bit misleading, but you ask Republicans, Republicans, if they strongly support the president. Now that doesn‘t take into account all sort of support, but strongly support. In January, it was 71; now it‘s 49.
CARLSON: Bad. Harriet Miers hangover, I think.
I thought the only decent number I saw in there was the Samuel Alito number. The question asked, you know, “How do you feel about this president‘s nominee to the Supreme Court?” And about half of people asked -- a lot of people had no idea who he was and didn‘t know enough to answer, but of those who did, about half said they thought, yes, he should be appointed to the Supreme Court. That seems pretty good.
Does the White House feel like he‘s actually going to make it?
ALLEN: Absolutely, Tucker. In fact, they‘re enthusiastic enough that a few Republicans on the Hill told me that he may get few more votes than now Chief Justice Roberts did.
And I‘ve got to say that that‘s an honest answer in the poll. This is exactly the sort of nominee that all the critics said the president should have put forth. And so I love listening people now harp on Judge Alito, saying he‘s too far to the right or whatever. Of course. This is exactly what they could have expected when they were criticizing Ms. Miers.
But this was a strong pick. You‘ve got the right back together. As one person said to me, everybody who jumped ship is back in the boat.
CARLSON: So you—I guess you‘re saying that all those mouthy conservative intellectuals, all those people considered so obnoxious and sexist and elitist by the White House were right in the end. Good for them.
You said that the president didn‘t strike a particularly warm tone when talking about Karl Rove. But what about Scooter Libby, who seems to have been kind of left to hang, you know, the White House telling its own staff not to talk to the guy.
Are they planning to pardon him? Or what is the end game of Scooter Libby, who‘s facing a very serious trial here?
ALLEN: Wow. Yes, you‘ve asked one of the most intriguing power games in Washington. Will Scooter Libby get a pardon?
And Tucker, my initial instinct was, no way. The president is someone who looks at staff as being there to protect him, not vice versa. And I couldn‘t imagine that.
Tucker, as I asked around, people who know the president better than I do, there‘s a school of thought that that is entirely possible. Probably toward the end of the administration, maybe after, if Mr. Libby were to be convicted, maybe even after he‘s served some time.
Two points. One is there is a history of presidents pardoning people who committed—they‘re convicted of crimes in the line of duty, supporting them.
And second, if Scooter Libby were to plead guilty to some certain charge, do something to avoid a trial that might have involved efforts to get testimony from the vice president, might have basically put the war on trial, the president would regard that as an act of loyalty, according to people who work with him, have worked with him. And would be—might reward that.
So among Republicans, people who know the president well, there‘s a school of thought, that could well happen.
CARLSON: Boy, that‘s an awfully big risk for Scooter Libby to take, though, to plead to something in the hope that he‘s ultimately going to be pardoned after languishing in some prison for awhile.
Is the White House worried at all that he‘s going to crumble under pressure from Pat Fitzgerald and spill the beans to get out from under the prison sentence?
ALLEN: I don‘t know the answer to that. And I will point out that a lot of White House people will say, when you ask them about a pardon, they say “That‘s getting ahead of ourselves.”
They still believe that he‘s going to be found innocent. They still believe—and he‘s got two fantastic criminal lawyers now. They still believe that there will be enough smoke thrown up as far as what was said and when, that he may not be convicted.
And you ask Scott McClellan on camera, and he will not rule in or out the possibility of a pardon.
CARLSON: Really? That‘s interesting. Poor Scott McClellan. All right. Mike Allen, joining us tonight from Washington, thanks.
ALLEN: Happy weekend, Tucker.
CARLSON: Thanks. You, too.
Well, it‘s not just President Bush who‘s feeling the heat. White House press secretary Scott McClellan, who looked pretty uncomfortable standing before reporters in recent weeks, is being blasted by some of those same reporters for lacking credibility.
At what point does a spokesman become unable to speak for his boss? For a perspective, we go to Washington where we‘re joined by former press secretary to President Clinton, Dee Dee Myers.
Dee Dee, thanks.
DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: Hey, Tucker.
CARLSON: Hey, I want to read you an exchange you‘re already, I‘m sure, fully aware of. But just in case our viewers are not, this was October 7, 2003. Scott McClellan, White House press secretary, asked about this investigation in the CIA Leak, specifically about Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, were they involved?
He said, quote, “They‘re good individuals. They‘re important members of our White House team. And that‘s why I spoke to them so I could come back to you and say they were not involved.”
They were involved. And there‘s no disputing that now. They concede they were involved. Where does this leave Scott McClellan?
MYERS: Well, in a very difficult position. And obviously, one of the interesting questions is what exactly did they tell Scott?
You know, my heart goes to him. Having stood in that room and faced a very hostile press corps on more than one occasion, I know what it feels like. And I think that, you know, that he was told things that led him to believe that what he said was true. I don‘t think anyone told him to go out there and lie, but I don‘t think anybody stopped him from reaching a conclusion that maybe overreached a little bit. And that‘s a very tough position for him to be in.
CARLSON: So what‘s the process?
MYERS: I don‘t think the administration cares much about his credibility, to tell you the truth.
CARLSON: I agree.
MYERS: His job is just to go out there and take it.
CARLSON: I agree with that. Tell us about the process. When you‘re a White House press secretary and you know you‘re going to get asked about something like this, do you just go out in the White House and talk to the relevant players in the story? Do you talk to the president? Where do you get the information?
MYERS: It depends very much on what the question of the day is, and it actually ends up being quite an entrepreneurial job. You as the press secretary have to protect the president‘s interests and the White House‘s interests more broadly. And a lot of people inside the White House, as you learned, sometimes with painful experience, have competing agendas, have differing points of view, have priorities they‘re trying to protect.
And so as you sort of weed your way and thread your way through various issues and various positions, you know, you have to both sort out what are the relevant facts and what are the positions of the individual players who are talking to me about these facts?
There‘s definitely a learning curve. I know I made plenty of mistakes in my tenure. But one of the things that you learn is to be very careful and to protect yourself down the road a little bit, which is to say you‘ve got to think ahead and think where is the story going to go? What are all the possible outcomes? And how do I protect the president from unexpected twists and turns in the road?
And again, that is one of the things I think all press secretaries learn somehow along the road. And I think it‘s important to keep in mind that when Scott went out there in the summer of 2003, he was pretty new to the top job.
CARLSON: Yes, he was.
MYERS: Yes. And again, my—I made more than my share of mistakes behind that podium, as they say, and I really feel bad for him. I don‘t think anybody is protecting his interests very much, not that that‘s a high priority at the White House, by the way.
CARLSON: It never is. I‘ve noticed that. Or in politics in general. Politicians just use their staffs and throw them away. It‘s disgusting, actually.
But at some point, he‘s going to leave, probably sooner rather than later and try to get a job in the real world. And if his credibility is in tatters, that‘s going to be kind of difficulties. These are concerns for human beings. Shouldn‘t he get out and say, “Look, I said something that was untrue and I regret it”? Why doesn‘t he say that?
MYERS: He‘s very loyal. I mean, I don‘t know. I‘ve not talked to him about this, and I‘m sure he wouldn‘t tell me, though he‘s never been anything but kind and gracious to me, as part of this little club of people who have had that job.
But I do think there‘s a way for him to both retain his loyalty to the president and somehow, I think, move forward with his life in a way that‘s productive. But I think this has got to be a very painful chapter for him.
CARLSON: Is there any precedent for that? Has a White House press secretary you know of ever come out onto the podium and just said, “Look, you know, I thought I knew something. I was misled, or I was wrong. I completely blew it, you know, and I beg your pardon”?
MYERS: You know, I don‘t know of anything specific. But I bet—I bet there‘s been some version of that, where there‘s been, you know, an acknowledgment, either implicit or explicit, or mistakes.
Gosh knows—I mean, there‘s no way that—every press secretary faces an enormous amount of information. Events move really fast. You‘re responsible for a tremendous amount of information, and again, a tremendous amount on competing agendas. Not everybody grease in the White House.
And so I think the press is willing to forgive certain kinds of mistakes, but where it gets difficult is when the press secretary makes a mistake and reporters go and report it, now the reporter has made a mistake and the reporters are embarrassed.
MYERS: And they fear that their credibility has been damaged. And so that gets—the further the reporters get down the road of damaging their own credibility, the harder it becomes for them to forgive the press secretary.
I think in this case, the press reported what the White House said. I don‘t think any reporter‘s credibility were damaged by reporting that Scott McClellan said that Scooter Libby and Karl Rove weren‘t involved...
MYERS: ... in the Plame leak case. I think that helps him a little bit. But I think every day he goes out there and faces a he hostile press corps who want to know, “Do you really know? Are people telling you the truth? Are we being set up, either intentionally or unintentionally, by you?”
And that is a difficult situation for any spokesman, whether it‘s in government or the private sector or wherever, to face on a daily basis. And I‘ve got to believe by the end of the day he‘s pretty tired.
CARLSON: You also feel—I‘ve always felt, watching press secretaries, going back to you and Joe Lockhart and Michael Curry and Jake Seward. Basically, whoever was serving in the last 12 years. You always feel like there‘s pressure, also, from the White House not to sympathize too much with the press, that the White House is kind of seen as this trader who is kind of emotionally sympathetic to the media.
MYERS: There‘s no question almost press secretaries talk about the sense of serving two masters.
On the one hand you want to protect the president‘s interests, and you represent his interests to the press. And the press is a proxy for the American people.
But you‘re also protecting—not protecting so much as representing the press‘ interests inside the White House and saying, “Look, we said this a week ago. We can‘t turn around and do that. It‘s in our long-term best interests to do it this way.”
And sometimes that does make you a target of skepticism, and I think particularly in this White House. You know, the Clinton White House had a tough relationship with the press in many ways, but I think nothing compared to sort of—the sort of fundamental hostility that the president and people around him in this White House feel for the press. It‘s just a much more adversarial—it‘s always adversarial, but this is a particularly adversarial setup.
CARLSON: It‘s pretty bad.
MYERS: And that makes it even harder for Scott.
CARLSON: Poor guy. He needs to go into corporate communications as soon as possible as far as I‘m concerned. Dee Dee Myers, thanks a lot for joining us.
MYERS: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: Still to come, nine straight dies of rioting in Paris. Is the uprising tearing France apart? It looks that way. We‘ll talk to reporters on the scene and get the very latest on that.
Plus, are conservatives getting what they hoped for in Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito? We‘ll mull it over with MSNBC‘s Monica Crowley next.
CARLSON: If you love chocolate, you‘re going to hate what the EPA did to a chocolate factory in Chicago.
Plus, a smoking ban on sidewalks? Isn‘t it time to give smokers a break? A little bit? THE SITUATION ignites that debate, next.
CARLSON: Welcome back.
Paris has been besieged by riots for the ninth night in a row. Angry mobs from mainly poor Muslim immigrant neighborhoods have clashed with police and destroyed more than 1,000 cars.
Peter Ford is the chief European correspondent for the “Christian Science Monitor.” He joins us now by phone from Paris.
Peter Ford, thanks for joining us.
PETER FORD, CHIEF EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT, “CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR”:
CARLSON: So why? The obvious question is why is this happening? Why are these people rioting?
FORD: Well, the immediate cause is the death of two teenagers last week who were hiding from police in an electrical transformer and died from electrocution, which sparked off a lot of violence and outrage from young people who thought the police had deliberately chased them into there.
But beneath that, there‘s just a lot of frustration that‘s been bubbling for years in these housing projects, which are more accurately described as ghettos, where immigrant descendant families don‘t face much of a future.
CARLSON: Now, the interior minister of France described these riots as, quote, “not spontaneous and well organized.” Do you think that‘s true? And if it is true, who‘s organizing them?
FORD: They are pretty spontaneous. There are criminal groups in these areas which might want to take advantage of the violence, but it seems to me from my trip to the suburbs, that nobody is really controlling these kids. They are just angry and they‘re venting their anger on anything, whether it be—basically, it‘s their own neighborhoods they‘re trashing there. They‘re not going to any rich neighborhoods and doing the same violence.
HANNITY: Accounts paint this as a riot or a series of riots by mainly Muslim immigrants and children of immigrants in a most Catholic country. Is there in any way a religious element to this, do you think?
FORD: No. I think it‘s a socioeconomic problem. It‘s very poor kids who are discriminated against because they are black or brown. They find it much harder to get jobs.
It‘s not a religious question, but a religious element has been injected into it, because the other night, the police fired a tear gas grenade that landed just inside the door of a mosque on one of the holiest nights of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Muslim calendar. And that has given a religious flavor to it, but I don‘t think the roots lie in Islam, now.
HANNITY: Why did they fire a tear gas canister into a mosque?
FORD: Because they were—they were fighting with youths who were outside the mosque burning cars. And riot police had come to the scene to back up police and fire brigades who were trying to deal with the trouble. They were met with a hail of stones and Molotov cocktails. And they starting using stun grenades, water cannons, and tear gas grenades. And a tear gas grenade landed inside the mosque.
CARLSON: Is there any significance to burning cars? Is that a symbol for anything? Why are they burning cars?
FORD: They‘re burning cars because they are easy targets, and no one is guarding them. Burning cars has become a bit of a national habit in some of the poor neighborhoods of France. Every New Year‘s Eve in Strasburg, several hundred cars are burned, several thousands burned every year.
What those cars, when they are set on fire do is attract the police, attract the fire brigade and thus a target for the kids who want to throw stones at them.
CARLSON: Now I know that there was a French government minister who
called the rioters scum or the French equivalent of the word “scum.” And
that was considered controversial. Are these riots going to have an effect
some effect on French politics?
FORD: Yes. They will definitely have an effect on French politics. Whether or not they‘ll lead the government to take any serious and new action to try and resolve the underlying problems in the suburbs is less clear.
FORD: But already, the prime minister and the interior minister who used that word scum, using these riots as in their political battle. Both of them are candidates for the French presidential race in 2007.
CARLSON: Peter Ford of “Christian Science Monitor,” in Paris tonight.
FORD: You‘re welcome.
Still to come, are smokers the lepers of the new millennium? We‘ll tell you about one state‘s effort to kick cigarette smokers off the streets. THE SITUATION lights up, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The way your earn credibility with the American people is to set a clear agenda that everybody can understand, an agenda that relates to their lives and get the job done. And the agenda that I‘m working on now is one that is important to the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Welcome back.
That was President Bush, of course, answering a question earlier today about whether Americans can trust him after the CIA leak investigation revealed that top aides may have lied and the justification for war may have. Here to talk about the state of affairs in the Bush administration is political analyst and the company host of coast to coast is Monica Crowley. The president‘s approval rating is at 39 percent. I think things have got to get better before they get worse. How bad is 39 percent?
MONICA CROWLEY, HOST, “CONNECTED COAST TO COAST”: Pretty bad. Tucker, when you look historically, really the lowest ranking for a president was Nixon at the height of Watergate.
CROWLEY: He was in the mid 30‘s, yes. And that‘s where you are talking about holding on to your base.
CARLSON: That‘s the worst it ever got for Nixon, was in the mid-30‘s?
CROWLEY: In the mid-30s, right, at the height of Watergate, right before he resigned the presidency.
Bill Clinton, at the height of all of his scandals, particularly the impeachment process, he never sunk before—below 40 percent.
So to have President Bush at 39 is very, very bad.
And this is rough patch. I mean, this is—look, president over the last couple of months has had to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, high gas prices, the Harriet Miers debacle and now the CIA leak investigation, which resulted in the indictment of the vice president‘s chief of staff.
So over the last couple of months, he has had one punch after another. The good news here, Tucker, is that there‘s three years left of his presidency, so there‘s plenty of time for him to rebound.
CARLSON: Right. Nothing bad goes on forever, as we learned during Clinton. You thought you couldn‘t—“this guy can‘t be president,” but in the end, if you‘re president, you‘re president.
CROWLEY: Right. And these things do move in cycles. When you‘re president for eight years, of course you‘re going to hit some skids.
CARLSON: This is a pretty bad skit, though, and it raises the question—and a lot of concerns have been raised on this lately—why exactly keep Karl Rove on staff?
He‘s very unpopular, fairly or unfairly. He seemed to be at the center of this leak investigation and to have done something wrong. Why doesn‘t the president just say, “You know what?” on television, “I like Karl Rove. He‘s a great man. He‘s done a lot for this country and is a personal friend of mine. But we‘re not going to have him on staff any more. He‘s going to advise me, but he‘s just not going to be about the White House.
CROWLEY: When you talk about presidents, loyalty is a great thing until it becomes a bad thing. Witness once again Watergate.
I think this president expects loyalty. He gives it back in kind. But he‘s also somebody who knows when to cut somebody loose, when they become a political liability.
CROWLEY: Trent Lott. Trent Lott was almost cut loose after immediately after those comments...
CROWLEY: ... about Robert Byrd (sic).
So I think in this case, should Rove prove to be a significant liability, he will be cut loose. But the bigger problem here, Tucker, is this: when you get rid of personnel, that can help at the margins. But that‘s sort of like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
This president in order to get back on track, he‘s got to rally his base, which I think he‘s starting to do with the nomination of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court. And he also has to reassure the country.
And by that, I mean, he‘s got to go back to his original domestic agenda, start talking about Social Security reform again. Don‘t let that go by the wayside. Start talking again about tax reform and making the tax cuts permanent, things that got him elected in the first place.
CARLSON: But what about what is really the suppurating wound here, which is really, in my view, the cause of all these problems, and that is Iraq. These poll numbers on Iraq are really, really interesting. This from ABC/”Washington Post” poll.
Two-thirds disapprove of the way Bush is handling Iraq; six in 10 believe the U.S. was wrong to invade in the first place; 73 percent say the casualty rate is unacceptable; 55 percent say the administration deliberately lied in taking the country to war.
These are—I mean, that‘s horrible. That‘s unsustainable, actually. You need political support to wage a war. Doesn‘t Bush at some point very soon have to change his stay the course policy?
He has to talk about a couple of things here. First of all the point that you just made about American domestic support for foreign intervention. Maybe talk about what the enemy is talking about with regard to that. You know, talk about the war in Vietnam. Talk about the lessons learned from there.
That the North Vietnamese said during the Vietnam War that that war was not going to won in the jungles of Vietnam but in the streets of New York, and San Francisco, and Boston and Washington. Meaning...
CARLSON: And they were right, by the way.
CROWLEY: They were. But every American enemy has learned that lesson, including al Qaeda. And they were just writing about it a couple of weeks ago.
So look, the president has to go to the American people, not just on an intermittent basis, but time and again, and say, “Look, I understand your frustrations. I know where we‘re sacrificing here in terms of people and treasure. However, this is something that‘s worthwhile doing, and we are making progress.”
And lay out the progress. Talk about the elections. Talk about the constitution. Talk about all of the things that we‘re doing in Iraq, and not just Iraq, Tucker, but the broader war on terror.
CARLSON: But he‘s done that. I mean, he‘s done a pretty good job of saying, you know, we have captured these people. We have—we‘ve thwarted 10 terror attacks on the United States. We‘ve, you know, got the phone system up and running in Tikrit or whatever. He‘s talked about that a lot.
But don‘t you think at some point very soon, he needs to say there is an end game? This is not open ended.
And when Condoleezza Rice gets out and says, you know, “This could be another 10 years,” it scares the hell out of people?
Shouldn‘t the president say, “This is coming to an end, like, pretty soon”?
CROWLEY: Yes, but that would be misleading the American people, because it‘s not going to come to an end any time soon. Maybe he needs to set it in some historical perspective where we still have troops on the ground in Germany and Japan 60 years after the end of World War II.
I‘m not going to say we‘re going to be on the ground 60 years later after Iraq. But, you know, these things take time. Democracy is not the McDonald‘s drive-through. You don‘t get democracy in five minutes or less, or it‘s free.
CARLSON: Well, they haven‘t had democracy in Iraq in 3,000 years. So there‘s no...
CROWLEY: Ever, ever, ever.
CROWLEY: So we‘re literally starting from scratch in a region of the world that is surrounded by terrorist states. The president has got to talk there ad tough to the American people. And say, “Look, I know this is difficult and may take a bit longer than expected, but we are doing the right thing and we are on the right side of history.
CARLSON: Boy, I think it may be too late for that. But we‘ll see.
Maybe he‘ll do it.
Finally and quickly, Alito, Judge Alito, San Alito of Newark. Is he going to make it?
CROWLEY: Great, grit pick. Should have been the first time around, instead of Harriet Miers, but yes, he‘s going to make it.
CARLSON: All right, Monica Crowley. With that happy prediction, thank you.
CROWLEY: Great to see you, Tucker. Thanks.
CARLSON: Stay tuned. There‘s still plenty more ahead on THE
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON (voice-over): The feds and the chocolate factory, how the sweet smell of success can sometimes run afoul of the law.
JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: I don‘t care.
CARLSON: What‘s really behind Al Sharpton‘s sudden bout of happy feet?
And meet the new top dog on the block. What is it that‘s got everyone asking how much is that doggy in the window?
Plus, who is the lucky recipient of this week‘s coveted human and nonhuman SITUATION achievement award?
It‘s all ahead on THE SITUATION.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Mark Twain once said, “I‘m not one of those who, in expressing opinions, confine themselves to the facts.” Joining me now, a man who might agree with that. He is the Outsider, ESPN radio and HBO boxing host Max Kellerman, joining us from Las Vegas tonight.
MAX KELLERMAN, ESPN RADIO: I might have agreed with it had I slept since the last time I talked to you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Let me just offer up my apologies, Max, because if you stay up all night in Vegas, it can‘t be good.
KELLERMAN: No. When you come out—stumble outside and the sun is out, it‘s not a good feeling.
CARLSON: It‘s both immoral and expensive, and I‘m not going to push you fro details.
KELLERMAN: Thank you.
CARLSON: First up, nowhere to hide for smokers in Washington state. An outdoor smoking ban under consideration there would create smoke-free zones within 25 feet of building entrances and exits, windows or ventilation intakes. The initiative would prohibit smoking in and near bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, mini casinos, most hotel rooms, and almost all other businesses.
OK, here is the problem with this, Max. For one, it is completely unreasonable. Smoking outside doesn‘t hurt anyone. It‘s merely an aesthetic problem—eew, I don‘t like the fact that you smoke, therefore you shouldn‘t be allowed to, which I object to on principle very strongly. We have to create space for people to do things we don‘t necessarily like.
But the real problem is, you are pushing people to smoke indoors, in their cars and their home, right? Where secondhand smoke could hurt other people. Smoking outside is the safest place to smoke.
KELLERMAN: Well, those are their private places. These are public spaces. Look, as libertarians, I think if you are an independent thinker and you‘re an intelligent, informed person in this world, it‘s hard not to be a libertarian, right?
So how do we define ourselves? As libertarians. You consider yourself one; I do also.
CARLSON: Yes, sort of.
KELLERMAN: Basically, if you are on the right on social issues, you consider yourself right-wing. If you‘re against Roe v. Wade, you‘re on the right, and if you‘re for it, you‘re on the left. That is almost what it boils down to.
KELLERMAN: I‘m for it, right, so I‘m considered on the left. But this comes—and you are against it, you are considered on the right. But it comes down to the same thing over and over when you and I have this discussion, the right to swing your fist ends at my nose. And in the case of smoking, I‘ll say for the 100th time, it literally ends at my nose. If I can smell it and I don‘t like it, you can‘t do it.
CARLSON: Well, I hope you want to regulate breath and body odor and perfume and anything else that a single percentage of the population might find icky, bad, and all of a sudden, you‘re not allowed to do it. Again, we‘ve got a story coming up that makes the same point: You can‘t allow a tiny minority of people who are offended on aesthetic grounds to control the behavior of everyone else.
KELLERMAN: But it‘s not aesthetic, Tucker. You keep saying that it‘s aesthetic or moral. Esthetically, I have no problem with it. I think it actually looks pretty cool. Morally, it‘s not a moral issue for me. I simply don‘t like the smell. And there are a lot of people like me. I wish that smokers could smoke their lungs out, smoke to their heart‘s content, and I didn‘t have to smell it, but since I do, it offends me.
CARLSON: Well, I hope you are going to start regulating car exhaust and airplane emissions, and, boy—speaking of smelly, you know, this is a smelly show tonight, because it may be time for the EPA to wake up and smell the coffee, or in this case, the chocolate. A chocolate factory in Chicago, Illinois has been cited by the agency for clean air violations after someone complained about the smell of chocolate coming from a cocoa bean processing plant. The Blumer (ph) chocolate company says it is now installing new filtering equipment to solve the problem, hence a more expensive Halloween for the rest of us next year, Max.
But this is the most perverse thing I think I‘ve ever, ever heard. Chocolate is polluting the environment because of its smell? I mean, why not go after florists? Do you know what I mean? Chocolate is one of the greatest smells in the world.
KELLERMAN: I agree. But this is the exact same argument. Look, the EPA did this because twice this factory failed inspections in September. They failed the inspections. That‘s all there is to it, and I don‘t care if it‘s chocolate or pine or lemon scent. If it‘s too much in the air—you know, the tyranny—this country really protects the minority from the tyranny of the majority, and you consistently come down on the side of saying, well, we can‘t let the minority tyrannize the majority.
KELLERMAN: I agree. Btu even if 99 percent of the people said chocolate smells good, fine, it still smells like chocolate, and if too much of it is in the air, you have to protect those who don‘t like the smell.
CARLSON: No, you don‘t. If you are so neurotic, so crazy that the smell of chocolate offends you, you shouldn‘t have control over my life or the life of the Blumer (ph) chocolate factory, or lives of smokers who want to have a butt on the sidewalk.
KELLERMAN: So in other words, if you live in a neighborhood that smells like chocolate or lemons or pine or something really disgusting, but you happened to like the smell, it‘s OK?
CARLSON: No, my point is there‘s got to be some reasonable standard...
KELLERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) if the smell is good, in other words?
CARLSON: Just because something offends you doesn‘t mean other people ought not to be allowed to do it. If it hurts you, OK. But if you just don‘t like it, if I don‘t like your shirt, I shouldn‘t be allowed to complain to the bureau of shirts until that kind of shirt is made illegal, if you see what I‘m saying.
KELLERMAN: You are again confusing two very important senses here. Aesthetically, yes, in terms of what you are seeing, OK, but olfactory sense? No, you can‘t offend people‘s—maybe it‘s because I have a big nose, I don‘t know, Tucker, I don‘t know what it is, but for some reason, that offends me more.
CARLSON: Max Kellerman, in Las Vegas—I‘m not even going to ask you why you‘re there, how long you‘ve been there, how much you‘ve lost, but we can‘t wait to have you back.
KELLERMAN: Please don‘t, and thank you.
Still ahead, why can‘t Starbucks just call their coffee sizes small, medium and large like the rest of the world? If that annoys you too, you‘re going to love our next guest‘s list of life‘s little annoyances and what you can do about them. Stay tuned.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Is there anything in the world more annoying than Starbucks‘ pretentious coffee sizes? Tall, grande and vente—apparently translate to small, medium and large in Starbucks‘ obnoxious yuppy speak, which is one of life‘s many little annoyances. My next guest has compiled a laundry list of such irritations. Ian Urbino is the reporter for “The New York Times.” He‘s the author of the book, “Life‘s Little Annoyances.” He joins me now from Washington. Ian Urbino, thanks for coming on.
IAN URBINO, NEW YORK TIMES: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: So now that we have licked famine and pestilence, we are still beset by these very annoying things. What are the most annoying things in your view?
URBINO: Starbucks is certainly up there, junk mail and spam are close behind it. And people that double-park in parking lots and take up two spaces. Those are certainly my highest pet peeves.
CARLSON: You are getting me irritated already. What do you know about the first one, Starbucks? Any fight back against Starbucks?
URBINO: Well, people, you know, just saying small, medium or large. That is what people seem to respond in refusing to adopt their pretentious lingo.
CARLSON: So it‘s like your little act of civil disobedience. You go in and you don‘t say vente, you say large.
URBINO: That‘s right. The weapon of the week.
CARLSON: That is excellent. Now, what about junk mail?
URBINO: You know, each frustration has a story of someone who did something, and for junk mail, there was a guy in New York who spent a year as a science teacher refining his tactic, which was basically to use the business reply prepaid envelopes to send things back. And he would weigh them down with as much material in the envelope as he could so as to put the bill on the advertiser.
CARLSON: Is this the guy that put sheet metal inside the BREs?
URBINO: That‘s right. That‘s right.
CARLSON: Now, that kind of raises the question that I kept coming back to as I was reading this book, which is excellent, by the way, the book is. But some of these people sound not only irritated, but maybe a trifle insane. I am talking specifically about a man named Merlin Kline (ph), OK, who is annoyed that people in his neighborhood aren‘t picking up after their dogs. So he creates these little flags out of toothpicks and fluorescent tape and plants them in dog bombs around his neighborhood, or the woman who goes around and spray-paints the dog bombs with gold spray paint. They are crazy, aren‘t they?
URBINO: Yeah, I mean, there were a lot of people in the book who would probably, you know, should probably be institutionalized. But I guess that was one of the points of the book, was to see the sort of full range of the ways that people chose to respond to these frustrations. And some of them are off the chart, and not things you or I would probably do, but they are bizarrely cathartic nonetheless, and funny often.
CARLSON: Now, you are a “New York Times” reporter and not a licensed therapist, I assume, but is it your impression that these help? That people feel better after they plant little fluorescent flags in the dog excrement?
URBINO: It‘s, you know, the kicking of the Coke machine when it keeps your quarter. You know, it doesn‘t make any sense to do it. You‘re not going to get your quarter back, most likely, but for some weird reason, it feels good. So at least when you talk with these folks, it does seem to provide a bit of a venting for their frustration. I don‘t think it really changes the problem.
CARLSON: Now, can you give me an example of something you have done to kind of get over something that annoys you?
URBINO: I mean, the example I gave in the book is in the introduction, and it‘s really what got me off on the topic, and that is when I was living in Brooklyn, when I first got a job with “The Times,” I was living with three roommates. And after work each day I came home basically looking for one thing to end the day, and that was my pint of Ben & Jerry‘s ice cream. And invariably, I would get home and the pint would be—would have been raided. It would be half gone.
And it got really tedious, but at the same time, I didn‘t really know how to deal with it, because I didn‘t want to point fingers at people, and I had no idea who was doing it.
But to make a long story short, I left notes saying, you know, whoever is raiding the ice cream, cut it out, and nothing worked. But eventually, I thought sabotage was probably the way to go. So since it was cookies and cream, I one night decided to eat half the pint and coat the top with salt, and put it back in the freezer.
CARLSON: Good for you. Better than LSD, but still pretty bad.
URBINO: It worked—that‘s right. I mean, it‘s just within the realm of the law, and so I couldn‘t get sued for it, but the person would get the point across. And it worked fine, you know. I found out who the culprit was.
CARLSON: Fighting back. Good for you. I just—I hope that someday someone will come up with a solution to tolls. If you could figure that out, I would be grateful to you for life. But in the meantime, Ian Urbino‘s “Life‘s Little Annoyances,” an excellent book. Thanks a lot for joining us.
URBINO: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: This book is also available in audio book form. It‘s read by actor Stanley Tucci, and well worth whatever it cost.
Coming up on THE SITUATION, in an effort to stop you from changing the channel, we are showing you adorable puppies. There is actually something very unusual about these guys. We promise more cute dogs ahead on THE SITUATION, so of course, stay tuned. .
CARLSON: Welcome back. Time for our voicemail segment. The voicemail seem to get more pungent as the week goes on. It‘s Friday, so let‘s see.
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PETER: Tucker Carlson, this is Peter White (ph) from Bullhead City, Arizona. How could you be such a jerk? People were dying down there in New Orleans. They were dying—d-y-i-n-g! It‘s nothing to laugh about. And Brown didn‘t even care. That‘s our government, that didn‘t even care!
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CARLSON: I can spell, Peter. I was there. Unlike you, I suppose, and I know people were dying, absolutely. My point was not that Michael Brown did a good job. I was glad when he was canned as the head of FEMA, and his voicemails—or e-mails were appalling. My only point was, I always feel sorry for people whose private communications become open to public scrutiny. I feel bad. I don‘t care who it is. I just think it‘s something that‘s private, and it‘s almost like looking in someone‘s underwear drawer, reading someone‘s dream journal. You don‘t—I feel bad about it. But I don‘t like Michael Brown. I‘m not defending him.
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RANDILEE: RandiLee, Nashville, Tennessee. I got arrested last month. I‘m 64. They arrested me at the airport, and took me to jail and I missed my plane. And I just went to court, and the cop didn‘t show up, and she also (EXPLETIVE DELETED), and I got annoyed. Anyway, there are other people that that happened to, and thanks for talking about that, Carlson.
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CARLSON: All right, RandiLee, you have quite a colorful life for 64. I‘m impressed. I‘d love to know what you got arrested for, but your point, that there is too much touching by security guards in this country, yes, I completely agree with you. We‘re going to follow that story, the breast groping that goes on every day at airports. We‘re on it.
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JAYSON B.: Tucker, Jayson B. again. Look, I know this is kind of weird, and please don‘t tell them I said that. I was watching tonight‘s show, and I think I need you to put in a good word for me with Flavia. That‘s all. Just a good word. Put in a good word. I don‘t want to come on too strong after your approach the other night. But she just really impressed me tonight, as always, but something, I don‘t know, her smile. Thanks, man.
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CARLSON: Jayson B., you‘re the guy who proposed marriage on this show to poor Vanessa McDonald over here the other night, and now you, fickle guy that you are, pursuing Flavia. Let me give you a piece of advice, Jayson. Stick with Vanessa. You can‘t handle Flavia, I can just tell.
Let me know what you‘re thinking. 1-877-TCARLSON is the number. That‘s 1-877-822-7576. You can also send me your questions via our Web site. The e-mail address, tucker@MSNBC.com. I respond every day. My producers make me. For our responses, you can log on to tucker.msnbc.com.
Still ahead on THE SITUATION, Mikey the hopped up chimp stole the show on local TV yesterday. But was his whacked-out performance enough for him to make our nonhuman of the week? You‘ll find out when we visit “The Cutting Room Floor,” next.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Time for “The Cutting Room Floor.” It‘s good every night, but Friday is really the crescendo of “The Cutting Room Floor,” and here to prove that, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, THE SITUATION: I like to think so. Jayson B. is starting to get a little pathetic on the phone calls.
CARLSON: Yeah, he is.
GEIST: We‘re running out of female staffers.
CARLSON: I know, we are. He‘s going to be hitting on you next, Willie. That‘s my production.
GEIST: Well, I hope not. And RandiLee from Nashville? I love her, except what was she getting arrested for?
CARLSON: I know, that was my first question.
GEIST: She was outraged. Meanwhile she was probably on a bank robbing spree or something, you know?
CARLSON: Well, there aren‘t many things the Reverend Al Sharpton can‘t do, but it appears salsa dancing might be on that short list. Sharpton is appearing at a new campaign spot for New York City mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer. I‘ll let you judge Al‘s moves for yourself. Here they are.
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CARLSON: Wow. I wouldn‘t vote for Ferrer if my life depended on it, but that‘s like...
GEIST: Spectacular. That‘s so good.
CARLSON: ... the greatest political ad I have ever seen.
GEIST: Now, I do have to do something here. Due to equal time laws, I‘m going to have to get 15 seconds of the meringue for Mayor Bloomberg out of you. No?
CARLSON: I‘m not a Bloomberg supporter either. Actually, I like (INAUDIBLE).
CARLSON: Can‘t do it.
GEIST: All right. We‘re in trouble, then. (INAUDIBLE) FCC.
CARLSON: As a parent, what do you do when one of your kids wants a beagle and the other one wants a pug? You can buy two dogs, or you can just get a puggle. Puggles are the new must-have hybrid breed this season. They are half-pug, half-beagle. They‘re pretty cute. Puggles already account for half of all mixed breed sales in this country. That‘s amazing.
GEIST: What does it say about us now that even our dogs have to be trendy? You know what I mean, your dog (INAUDIBLE) -- this is the cool must-have dog this season?
CARLSON: But it‘s a melting pot dog. I mean, it is kind of a new millennium dog in that way.
GEIST: Yeah, give me an old classic. German shepherd, golden retriever. I don‘t need the dog of the moment, quite frankly.
CARLSON: Yeah, rottweiler, pit bull.
GEIST: Although they are pretty cute. Look at that.
CARLSON: Yeah, they are pretty cute. I‘ll stick with a spaniel.
Well, being a member of the player‘s club at Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut has its privileges, as many of you probably know. Free room upgrade, great tickets to the cabaret theater, and now free flu and pneumonia shots. The casino offers all its visitors shots for a fee, but for the high rollers, vaccinations on the house. Critics who clearly don‘t appreciate the beauty of flu shots at casinos say Mohegan Sun is just trying to reel in senior citizens.
GEIST: And they are absolutely right.
GEIST: That‘s the most transparent marketing ploy I‘ve ever seen in my life, because you know what, a sick person is not gambling.
CARLSON: Can you get insured in the buffet line?
GEIST: Absolutely. You‘ve got to keep your suckers healthy. You know what I mean? I‘m actually surprised they don‘t offer universal health care.
CARLSON: They will. Along with (INAUDIBLE).
CARLSON: Well, it‘s Friday. That means it‘s time to meet our human and nonhuman of the week. Our human gets the award just because we‘re scared of what she‘ll do if she doesn‘t. It‘s Gail O‘Toole of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. She is the woman, you may remember, who punished her ex-boyfriend for breaking up with her by supergluing his genitals to his leg while he was sleeping. The man is suing O‘Toole for 30 grand. O‘Toole‘s lawyer says, improbably, the act was just part of the couple‘s routine sexual activity.
GEIST: That‘s my favorite part of that story.
CARLSON: My favorite.
GEIST: You know, there ought to be a law, Tucker, against gluing a man‘s privates to his leg. That‘s just not right.
CARLSON: You know, I‘ll bet you—she should get life, obviously. I mean, that‘s so outrageous.
CARLSON: Seriously, if he had done that to her...
GEIST: How would he do that to her?
CARLSON: You know, if he had, you know, applied glue to her private parts, we would all be saying, execute the guy.
CARLSON: You know what I mean?
GEIST: She should get the death penalty.
CARLSON: I bet Gloria Steinem will defend her. An outrage.
Well, all right, our nonhuman of the week is Mickey the chimp. Mickey made a manic appearance on our Baltimore affiliate, WBAL, yesterday, that will go down as one of the great moments in animal TV history. As the host tried to keep her poise during a pet segment, Mickey jumped up and down on the desk, leapt into her lap and tore the scripts out of her hand. Mickey the chemically imbalanced chimp, our nonhuman of the week.
GEIST: Still going with Mickey, huh, not Mikey, his name?
CARLSON: I don‘t know.
GEIST: Now, before you laugh too hard at that, the anchorwoman there...
CARLSON: It‘s Mikey?
GEIST: It‘s Mikey, which I‘ve told you for two days now, but don‘t worry about it. Before you laugh too hard at that woman, you‘re next, my friend. Mikey the chimp live in this studio...
CARLSON: Mickey, here?
GEIST: No, Mikey. Next Tuesday—Mickey couldn‘t make it, so we had to go with Mikey—he‘s going to be here live in the studio, jumping on your desk and falling into your lap.
CARLSON: You can‘t scare me, Willie.
GEIST: And we‘re told that wasn‘t an episode. He‘s always like that.
CARLSON: Is that really true?
CARLSON: Just another reason to stay tuned next week. Willie Geist, thank you.
GEIST: All right, Tucker.
CARLSON: That‘s SITUATION for tonight. Thank you for watching. Up next, “COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH.” Have a great weekend. See you Monday.
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