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Should the Government Legalize Marijuana?

Aired May 15, 2001 - 22:30   ET


BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: I'm hungry.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Bill Press has taken his, what we call it, medicine.

PRESS: So what's the big deal about a runaway train? We are a runaway train every night. We're the SPIN ROOM, and I'm Bill Press.

CARLSON: And I'm Tucker Carlson. The conductor is gone: We're in charge.

PRESS: That's scary.

CARLSON: That is really scary. But you know, Bill, it won't prevent us from delivering the news. That's are sacred charge, and we do it now. We go to tonight's headlines. Here's the "Top Spin."

Planning on popping by George W. Bush's house to say "Hello"? Think again.

PRESS: Why learn English when you can have your own personal translator on call?

CARLSON: A tale of two Jesses: One makes his film debut in Cannes, the other gets yanked off the screen.

PRESS: You can't drink while driving in New York, soon you may not be able to talk.

CARLSON: What's the one thing in New York City that isn't working as well as it used to?

And there you have it, Bill, and I'll leave it to you to explain our top story tonight.

PRESS: I was just going to say, "Why don't you tell us what's working in New York?"

CARLSON: I don't know, I think it is you're turn, Bill.

PRESS: All right, Tucker is right. I hate to be the one to bring you the news. There is one thing not working in New York, and friends, I want to tell you, we would not know this unless the mayor wanted us to know it. Please remember that as I tell you the story. The mayor, you know, has been in a big fight with his wife, getting a messy divorce, and his wife has been calling his girlfriend, Rudy's girlfriend, his paramour.

Rudy denies that she's his paramour, and to prove it, he had his lawyer announce to the world she can't be his paramour, she can't be his sex partner because the drugs that he's been taking for his cancer have left him impotent. So impotent, his lawyers says, that not even Viagra would help Rudy Giuliani.

Now, folks, I don't know about you, but I have a couple of things to say about this: No. 1, I think it's pretty weird any man who would brag about his impotence in order to win sympathy, and No. 2, this is far, far more about Rudy's sex life than I ever want to know, and No. 3, my advice to Rudy is shut up.

CARLSON: No, Bill, this is a highly sophisticated,

PRESS: Shut up.

CARLSON: No, Bill, this is actually a transparent and yet sophisticated appeal to soccer moms. Actually, I think Rudy Giuliani whose wife...


PRESS: I fail to get the connection.

CARLSON: There is one. Dick Morris would know the answer to this. We ought to get him on the show. His wife, Donna Hanover, did not even admit to voting for him in 1997. So we knew there were marital problems, but he has this lawyer -- Raoul Felder, the divorce lawyer, who gets out -- likens his present wife to a pig and then comes out says: Look, the mayor is not ashamed of this. He's secure in his own self.

First of all, we knew he was secure in his own self, whatever that means, and second, mistake No. 1 -- and he ought to be ashamed of this.

PRESS: I just can't believe that he had his lawyer announce this purposefully. You know, it's pretty weird.

CARLSON: Yeah, there's something about politics. I think Bob Dole got into the Viagra business, too. There's something that makes people want to talk about themselves in that way.

OK, and speaking of politics, the White House tour guides in Washington are complaining that fewer tourists are allowed in on tours of the people's house. One told "The New York Times" the other day, that last year, he took in up to 50 bus loads of tourists a week. This year, he gets one in if he's lucky. The White House is denying it has put a chokehold on the number of tourists visiting. It says it simply wants to discourage the commercialization of the White House, and that also things are also running much more on time now.

During the Clinton years, you could show up a minute before the bell rang. Now, you have to show up pretty early in the morning to get a tour of the White House.

PRESS: Yep, during the Clinton years, they would let visitors in until 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Now, all the visitors have to be out by 12:30. I think it's because...

CARLSON: There's important work going on.

PRESS: No, I think it that they don't want too much noise while W. is taking his afternoon nap. I think that's what it is.

Back to New York state, this one we're proud to talk about: The governor of New York state, George Pataki, wants New York to be the first state in the nation to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

Get that phone. The governor was asked, "Is this going to be tough to enforce?" And he said no way, and here's why: Governor Pataki by cell phone.


GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: People know it's illegal to just casually use a hand-held phone and drive. They're not going to do it. For the people who do violate it, it's easy to see right through the window when they have it up to their ear. So enforcement will not be that difficult.


PRESS: I say, good for George Pataki, and I'm surprised it took this long.

CARLSON: I'm not surprised in New York state, but this -- George Pataki has failed when I think of the free-time test. The free time is administered when politicians start talking about banning cell phones while driving. When you're talking about that, you have too much free time. This is not a pressing issue, and Pataki ought to settle and run for president or something more constructive.

PRESS: I've watched you drive on your cellphone, Tucker. It is a pressing issue.

CARLSON: Yes, I do. And I'm proud of it. And speaking of pressing issues and time bombs left by former president -- we're speaking of executive order 13166 -- you may not have heard of it, but you may notice it soon. This was left -- this was left by departing President Bill Clinton in between taking the silverware and this would require the federal government to provide translators for all people who don't speak English when they go to receive government services. The Clinton administration portrayed this as an extension of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Republican members of Congress aren't buying it.

Congressman Earnest Istook of Oklahoma is saying this would require all homeless shelters, even those run by private agencies, to require -- to hire translators. It would also require all roads to come equipped with symbols, rather than road signs written in English. Another horrifying legacy of the Clinton years.

PRESS: Oh, I don't know, Tucker. I just -- I think it's important that all Americans learn to speak English clearly, like our president. Very important. All right, here's another...

CARLSON: I don't think symbolic road signs are going to help.

PRESS: Here's another favorite of ours, Jesse Ventura, the colorful governor of Minnesota. While, you know, his latest extracurricular job: The XFL bombed. Jesse is out of that job. He says he refuses to talk about it anymore, but his critics haven't stopped talking about it. State Representative Matt Entenza said the other day, quote, "I think the spectacular collapse of the worst TV show in network history shows that the governor should have been spending more time helping to run our state government."

CARLSON: That's right. His act...

PRESS: Ouch.

CARLSON: His act as governor is wearing as thin as the XFL. Unfortunately, Jesse Venture can not be pre-empted. But maybe now -- he's been as bad a governor as he was an announcer. He'll go back selling action figures of himself.

PRESS: But I did think we were the worst show on network television.

CARLSON: Well, it depends if you ask "Esquire."


But I think more people dislike him than us. And in other Jesse news, Jesse Jackson -- you remember him -- the disgraced civil rights leader: He's gone to Cannes for the film festival. It turns out that somebody has done a documentary on Jesse Jackson. When asked what you are doing in Cannes when the oppressed peoples of the world are crying out for your help, at least your rallies, he said he was going to Cannes to, quote "support African filmmakers."

And there for the Shameless Spin of the Year.

PRESS: But you know what, Tucker...

CARLSON: African filmmakers.

PRESS: I don't think Jesse's going to -- his documentary -- I don't think it's going to win in Cannes. But it's important to keep hope alive.

CARLSON: Yeah, that's the name of the documentary. And we have one announcement...

PRESS: Yes, let's make it. Here we go, the big news from the state of Massachusetts, we congratulate, Tucker,... CARLSON: We congratulate Governor Jane Swift, who has given birth to twin girls, and if we can suggest names: Libby and Amy. Or even Susan or Kate.

PRESS: Those are the names of our...

CARLSON: Whoa, right off the tongue. Take our advice, Governor Swift. We'll be back in just a moment with a terrific guest, the communication director of NORML, the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws.

PRESS: He's conservative and he's Republican and he supports legalization of pot. You won't believe it.

CARLSON: We're coming right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back and, of course, stay tuned, it's Tuesday night. That means it's -- our tailspin tonight is THE SPIN ROOM crime blotter. Tonight, we will bring you, as always, the cutting edge in crime, America's first RUI arrest. Stay tuned.

PRESS: It is pretty exciting. We always like to read a favorite e-mail right at this time. Unfortunately, tonight, I think that some of our viewers have started partying too early. This e-mail comes from John in Maryland who just says:

"Regarding your guest tonight, ummm...ummm...what was the question again?"

No, John, no, we are not encouraging this.

CARLSON: No, we are not.

PRESS: We are not.

CARLSON: And we will ask our guest if he's encouraging it. Our guest tonight is Nick Thimmesch, communications director of NORML, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.


CARLSON: And a long time Republican, you worked on Bush/Quayle and on Dole/Kemp and then, were communications director, press secretary for Steve Largent.

PRESS: And before that, for Bruce Hershenson (ph) in California, when I first met Nick.

CARLSON: Amazing. Not just Republicans, but conservative Republicans.

THIMMESCH: Pretty much, only conservative Republicans.

CARLSON: Well, it's especially nice to have you. Tell us, Nick, the Supreme Court decision yesterday. A bunch of pro-decriminalization groups for medical marijuana held press conferences in which they had people who smoke marijuana as medicine, get up and say, basically, this cured all my illness, they had people rising out of wheelchairs. It was almost like faith healing. Do you think that proponents are over-selling it as a medicine?

THIMMESCH: No. I think they need to make it clear to the American people that they need this medicine in their journey to heal themselves, and I think they're trying to send a message as well to Congress that they should adjust the laws, change the laws, and take it off the Schedule I rating that it's at now.

PRESS: I have to redo this e-mail from Patrick, who says:

"A pot-smoking Republican? I guess hell froze over."

But I do want to ask you; you worked in the White House. Can I ask you, did you ever smoke dope in the White House?

THIMMESCH: Not physically.


CARLSON: Wait. If we can just digress here, if you don't smoke physically, what other way -- I mean, if you can just give us some tips...

THIMMESCH: Well, it may have remained in my system when I was there, but I certainly never would have breached security there in doing that.

PRESS: OK, all right, I'm proud of you. I did ask that same question of Patty Davis once on radio in Los Angeles.

THIMMESCH: Her answer was?

PRESS: She did smoke pot when her father was in the White House. I just was wondering if you guys ever smoked it together.

We have never had as many e-mails on any topic as we've had on the Supreme Court decision yesterday. I want to ask you about a couple of them. Here's one from Andy, who just says:

"Our Supreme Court is very out of touch with the American people. I don't know if it's because they are so old, or just have a different state of mind."

Why did the Supreme Court go 8-0 against medical marijuana, do you think?

THIMMESCH: I think in a lot of ways that the way that the case was presented may have given them no alternative, but to do that, and that's understandable. But actually...

PRESS: You mean, because it was so narrow? THIMMESCH: Yes. But actually, it's up to Congress to change the law in the first place, and then the Supreme Court won't have to do rulings like this.

PRESS: Do you think there's any chance that this Congress would say, on this issue, of people who need it for their health and a doctor says they could, that they could get it from a clinic. Will Congress ever allow that?

THIMMESCH: You said something about hell freezing over, before. I think right now, that's the case. Barney Frank has introduced a marijuana bill, as he usually does. And there are other members who might consider that. Whether it would come before this Congress or not, I doubt it.

CARLSON: I'm just trying to understand the opposition to this. I mean, if there's no question that smoking pot is good for some illnesses, if it's an effective medicine, why are, if the science is sound, then why are people against it?

THIMMESCH: Well, it's probably from 20 years of "just say no," boogey man, anti-drug mantra that's been out there that does not want to recognize that there are beneficial factors to marijuana.

PRESS: Here's another e-mail from a registered nurse who says she's convinced that the reason that nobody, that the drive toward medical marijuana has stalled is because the major pharmaceutical companies are lobbying against it. They don't want it to be legalized for obvious reasons. Is that a factor in this?

THIMMESCH: I don't see any conspiracy there.

PRESS: No conspiracy.

CARLSON: That's the spirit, Nick Thimmesch, batting down the conspiracy. Well, tell us this, when you saw yesterday that both the president and the vice president took drug tests in the White House, you know, one was reminded of the '80s when everybody seemed to be getting drug tests. How prevalent is this now? I mean how many private sector employees, what percentage have to take drug tests?

THIMMESCH: Well, I don't know the exact percentage, but I can tell you that drug testing has had a huge impact in the employment market. Many people have to go for drug tests for the most nominal of jobs. I think it's absurd. I can understand drug testing perhaps for jobs where people's lives are at stake, but if you're selling stocks for AT&T I don't see any reason why you should have to take a drug test.

CARLSON: And how would you beat it? How would you beat a drug test?

THIMMESCH: There's lots of ways.

CARLSON: Like what? THIMMESCH: Well, there're masking agents that you can injest. There's everything from false urine, I mean, now even your own urine. People sell their own urine to disguise drug tests. I'm not in favor of that.

PRESS: You mean I could, I'm sorry, I could buy somebody else's urine and use it?



THIMMESCH: And hope they don't come back and tell you you're pregnant, too.

PRESS: That's why you've got to be careful who's urine you buy. You work for the NORML foundation. You gave us this little card, which is a card where people, if they are arrested, this tells them what to do?


PRESS: What is the goal in terms of what should be the sane policy about marijuana in this country according to the NORML foundation?

THIMMESCH: Well, I would say responsible adults can responsibly use marijuana, and that includes not, you know, not exposing children to it, not doing it while you're driving, not doing it out in the public all the time. It's the same to me as consumption of alcohol. It can be done responsibly or it could be done irresponsibly.

PRESS: Now, how successful are you at converting Republicans to your point of view?

THIMMESCH: I'm still trying, Bill.

PRESS: You feel like a voice in the wilderness?

THIMMESCH: So far, but we are working on it.

CARLSON: Well, just in the few seconds we have left, give us the names of 3 Republicans you think are pretty close to coming out to being pro-dope.

THIMMESCH: Well, I don't want to use the word "pro-dope" but at least compassionate conservatives, there's Ron Paul of Texas, you know, actually a Libertarian, and there may be a couple other lingering Republicans who are willing to look at this issue, which is all we are asking.

PRESS: I'll tell you, when you're ready to "out" them, we want you back on THE SPIN ROOM, because we're going to make this a crusade. At least I will, I will, to convert all these Republicans, our private crusade. Nick Thimmesch, thank you for coming in.

THIMMESCH: You bet. Thank you.

CARLSON: And when we come back, we will explore other facets of crime and intoxication in our amazing, appalling, shocking "Tail Spin" tonight.

PRESS: Plus we've got an exciting couple of "Spins of the Day," and yes, the crusade begins right here on THE SPIN ROOM.


PRESS: Welcome back to the demented SPIN ROOM. Bill and Tucker. here.

CARLSON: Oh, yes, it's time for tonight's "Crime Blotter." Tuesday night "Crime Blotter."

There it is! A Berryville, Arkansas man has been found not guilty of driving under the influence. Jeffrey Baldridge was arrested when his horse ran into a car on a highway near his home. The judge has found that it's not possible to convict a man of DUI when he's riding a horse, though the judge found the horse at fault for running into the car. That's the beauty of riding while drunk, because you can't blame the car when you're driving while drunk.

PRESS: They also cited the horse rider for not having any liability insurance.


PRESS: I mean, this is crazy. I'm telling you. But this is crazy, too. Here's a new, and a very serious kind of crime. In Miami, there was a famous lobbyist who was in the hospital. His name is Rick Sisser. Well, while he was in the hospital, a TV reporter ran in to ask him some questions about some land deals he's been involved in. He was so upset to see the reporter that his blood pressure gushed up like a geyser, they said, and Mr. Sisser is now suing reporter Gilda Unru (ph) for emotional distress. I'm telling you, it happens to me every time I see a reporter, Tucker.

CARLSON: Yeah, I've had heart palpitations.

PRESS: Lawsuit. Lawsuit.

CARLSON: Yes, it's a medical problem. And police in Fresno, California decided to round up 3,200 fugitives by sending out letters saying they had free money to give away, that the state lottery was handing out checks for $1,500 apiece. The fugitives showed up in a preappointed place, went into private rooms to collect their checks, and were promptly arrested. It was a huge sting operation, and it was also an IQ test, which every one of the fugitives failed.

The lottery giving away free money. If you believe that, you deserve to go to jail.

PRESS: I was just going to say, if somebody called me up and said, "I've got a check for $1,500, it's free, we've got a lot of extra money and we're giving it away," I might show up! I might actually show up.

CARLSON: That's poignant. That's touching.

PRESS: All right, Tucker, I want you to know. Libby and Amy did not pass the test, either. The girls' names are Sarah and Laura. I'm sure if she had had the TV on she would have checked.

CARLSON: Those are awfully nice.

PRESS: They're still nice names.

CARLSON: Time for our "Spins of the Day."

PRESS: It's time for our "Spins of the Day," and I go first.

Well, my "Spin of the Day" goes back to the drug wars. We are heavy on drugs tonight. You know, it is no wonder the drug war is a bust. It's no wonder the kids don't believe anything that drug officials tell them, because we know these drug officials sometimes exaggerate, and sometimes, they even lie to make a point.

Nobody does that more than former Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey. Here's what he said yesterday on NBC news. Quote -- "Smoking a joint is no more effective than downing two glasses of vodka on dealing with pain. You're drunk and you're still in pain."

You know, that just is simply not true, and I would invite general McCaffrey to go out to Arizona maybe, to go out to California maybe, talk to some senior citizens who have cancer and are just getting all the relief they can today from smoking a joint, and tell them they're like a bunch of old drunks. I dare you.

CARLSON: How about speak to somebody who's just on two shots of vodka, and I ask them if they're feeling any pain. I think it's quite (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

OK, and now for my "Spin of the Day." You often hear people in favor of campaign finance reform say there's too much money in politics, the American people are sick of it. The system is awash in money, and this is somehow terrible.

Well, "Human Events" magazine decided to do a little comparison research and discovered this: In the last election cycle, 1999 and 2000, each party raised $243 million in soft money. Both parties together in total fund raising raised a total of $1.2 billion.

Sounds like a lot. Compared to what? Well, compared to this. Listen: In the same period, Americans spent $1.69 million on snack nuts; baseball salaries went from 1.9 billion; Coors beer, $2 billion spent on that; 3.1 billion spent on "The New York Times"; 3.75 billion on tortilla chips; 5.7 billion on bottled water; 8 billion on Mercedes Benz; and $11 billion spent on pornography during that same period, as again, compared to 1.2 billion on politics. Not a lot.

PRESS: The problem I have with this story is that it presumes there's a distinction between politics and porn. CARLSON: Well, it's a distinction we attempt to blur on our show. Hence, our Rudy Giuliani story. We would like to say hello to our friends at the University of Tennessee at Martin, who we know are watching, big SPIN ROOM fans. Thanks a lot.

PRESS: And we would also like to congratulate our friends to the north. Today is Canada census day, congratulations.

CARLSON: Count every Canadian! That's our advice.


PRESS: And we will be back with a lot of sports from our friends at the "SPORTS TONIGHT."

CARLSON: Tons of sports.


PRESS: So, you're bringing the brownies tomorrow night?

CARLSON: I certainly am, the Alice B. Toklas brownies. We'll have them here on THE SPIN ROOM. I bet they don't have those on "SPORTS TONIGHT."

PRESS: I bet they do.

CARLSON: You bet they do? We'll find out.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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