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CNN CROSSFIRE

Interview With Robert Wexler; Interview With J.D. Hayworth

Aired January 10, 2002 - 19:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Tonight, investigating Enron. Does the Bush administration have anything to fear?

And, political correctness on the warpath. Should the Washington Redskins change their name?

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, CROSSFIRE. On the left, Bill Press. On the right, Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE, Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida and in Phoenix, Arizona, Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth.

And later, D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz and in Atlanta, sports radio talk show host Steak Shapiro.

CARLSON: Good evening, and welcome to CROSSFIRE. Enron, the biggest bankruptcy in American history. And now a political scandal? We'll see. For now, the Justice Department has launched an investigation into the company. Among the questions authorities hope to answer, did the company cook its books? Did it defraud investors and shaft employees? Were key documents destroyed, as Enron's accounting firm now alleges?

Democrats have questions of their own: Did Enron buy influence with the Bush administration? Did the White House know about its fraudulent business practices? What was said when Enron CEO Ken Lay met with at least two Bush cabinet officials? In short, is Enron a Republican Whitewater? That's our debate tonight. Buckle your seat belt -- Bill Press.

BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: I'm ready. Congressman J.D. Hayworth.

REP. J.D. HAYWORTH (R), ARIZONA: Bill.

PRESS: I hate to be the one to bring you the bad news, but we know that Ken Lay is one of the president's -- the chairman of Enron -- is one of President Bush's closest friends. We also know he's President Bush's biggest campaign contributor. Over $2 million, he and the company to the president's various campaigns for governor and president over the years. So isn't clear, congressman, that any investigation of Enron, necessarily has to go right to the Bush White House, indeed, right to the Oval Office?

HAYWORTH: Well, of course, that's what you very much hope for, Bill. But let me walk you through this for a second, I know it's difficult for you, after eight years of ethical difficulties that you had to sidestep and ignore, it's tough to know that we finally have a president who knows what the meaning of is -- is who has come in to try to change the tone in Washington. You want to remain tone-deaf. The fact is Enron has given thousands of dollars politically to thousands of candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, thousands to Tom Daschle the lead recipients in the House this year are Sheila Jackson Lee and Ken Benson, both Texas Democrats.

In fact, let me ask my friend Bob Wexler. Bob, have you received a donation from Enron?

REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: Not that I'm aware of, J.D.

HAYWORTH: Well, see that's the problem, you did receive one in 1997. And we are not saying that the scandal leads to your door.

PRESS: All right. I tell you what, you guys --

HAYWORTH: But I received a donation, as well. So I know want to do a fishing expedition, and I know you guys are really desperate now. Daschle's attack last week, didn't work so now let's try to turn up the heat.

PRESS: All right, Congressman, let me suggest why it's more than a little fishing expedition. This may take a little time, and I'm sorry that it does, but it's your problem, not mine.

Here are some of the links between Enron and the Bush White House, starting out, of course, with the president, I'm not going to repeat that. We just talked about that. There's also the fact that Dick Cheney, when he was putting the energy task force together, met with Ken Lay, the only energy executive he met with personally. And Dick Cheney staff met six times with Enron executives. Lindsey -- Lawrence Lindsey who is Bush's chief economic adviser is a former Enron consultant; Scooter Libby, who is Dick Cheney's chief of staff is a major -- was a major Enron stockholder; Thomas White, secretary of the army, appointed by President Bush is a former Enron executive for over 10 years; Carl Rove, chief political adviser at the White House was a major Enron stockholder, met with Ken Lay while he still owned Enron stock in the White House; and Mark Racicot, of course, your new Republican national chair was, until a couple weeks ago, Enron's former lobbyist in Washington.

I didn't even mention Robert Zoellick who is the U.S. trade ambassador who was on Enron's advisory committee . Congressman, how do we know, was -- is Bush the house that Enron built or is Enron the house that Bush built? They're that close.

HAYWORTH: Wow -- gee, Bill, that's clever, did you sit up this afternoon thinking of that whole notion? Listen, the fact is...

PRESS: Oh, no. Their they are, congressman.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYWORTH: ... that you can -- let me answer the question. Let me answer the question.

PRESS: I'd like to you.

HAYWORTH: Thank you. Can I have an opportunity now please?

PRESS: Go.

HAYWORTH: Fine. Thank you very much. Bill, let me walk you through this. Thousands of dollars of contributions to Clinton and Gore, the late Congressman Leland, the late Ron Brown.

PRESS: Why don't you deal with my question? You're not answering my question.

HAYWORTH: Here's the answer. What does it prove? Where is the criminal negligence? Where is all the ethically challenged behavior? You have nothing.

CARLSON: That's right J.D. Hayworth, and let me expand on that Congressman Wexler, I want to let you in on two kind of remarkable, maybe disturbing facts. Both presidents Kennedy and Lincoln had personal secretaries with the same last name. Both men when they were assassinated were wearing Brooks Brothers suits, both of them. What does that mean? I'll tell you it didn't mean anything, it's a coincidence. And so are all the ludicrous elements of this conspiracy theory that Bill Press laid out.

I want your evidence for how this administration is responsible for, in any way, for the fall of Enron or for wrong doing. Lay it out for me.

WEXLER: Tucker, this is where we start. First of all, what I'm not going to do is engage in character association that the Republicans have mastered for eight years, but what is appropriate.

CARLSON: The Republicans? You listen to Bill Press a moment ago?

WEXLER: What is appropriate, is to ask has there been public policy ramifications to this incredible cozy relationship, between the Enron corporation and the Bush White House from the top man on down. This incestuous relationship, which resulted in what: six meetings by the Enron corporation with the White House as it's developing its energy policy, at the same time that this same Enron corporation is apparently cooking its books, fraudulently cooking up numbers. You know, without any interest to they're shareholders, without any interest to the public. Tucker, I dealt with the Enron corporation in South Florida.

(LAUGHTER)

WEXLER: When they come in and they try to build electric power plants. They hire the best people.

CARLSON: I'm sure they do. But here's where your conspiracy theory blows up. You said, what was the result of this relationship? I'll tell you what the result is, Enron blew up, it collapsed, it is now bankrupt. So if it was in so tight with this administration, has so many powerful friends they didn't do much for them, did they?

WEXLER: That's one result. That's one result, Tucker. The other result is that they have affected energy policy. In the state of Texas, then Governor Bush, deregulated the energy industry. Who was behind it in great part? The Enron corporation, who and what is behind their six meetings at the White House? Are they the ones lobbying for the special energy treatment in the Bush energy plan? And you know what the other result is, how about all the Enron people? The people who worked at that corporation that weren't able to sell their stock, but the top executives.

CARLSON: They must be pretty upset with you, I'd imagine, taking their pain and making political hay out of it.

(LAUGHTER)

Taking their tragedy and leveraging it for political advantages.

WEXLER: There's no leveraging.

CARLSON: It's gruesome. It's like ambulance chasing.

WEXLER: Why is it Tucker, that the people that work at Enron didn't have an opportunity to sell their stocks, but the people at the top did? And at the same time while they're doing it, they're meeting with the Bush White House?

PRESS: All right --

CARLSON: Why do you think?

PRESS: So Congressman Hayworth, now let's see today, it is announced, actually yesterday it was announced, just late yesterday afternoon, that the Department of Justice is going to do a criminal investigation of Enron. Goody, goody, and then we find out today, that Attorney General Ashcroft has to recuse himself, because he got about $57,000 from Ken Lay and Enron. We also find out...

HAYWORTH: And what a breath of fresh...

PRESS: ... that the. I would like to finish --

HAYWORTH: OK.

PRESS: I would like to finish my question. Then we find out that the attorney general's chief of staff has to recuse himself, because he's too close. Then we find out that the entire Houston office of the attorney general's office, everybody there has to recuse themselves, because they are too close to Enron. Wouldn't you have to agree that the Department of Justice has too many conflicts of interest? It can't do this, and this is the time when John Ashcroft has to appoint a special counsel to investigate Enron?

HAYWORTH: First of all, we've got a mighty big Justice Department, but even eclipsing that isn't it a breath of fresh air to have an attorney general who understands when there could be appearances of a conflict of interest, and recuses himself? This is so different from the Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno, and all the slime we saw over the years and the side stepping of investigations of Chinese money and all the things that went on, and all the explanations that you guys had.

Here's what we have, a president who has changed the tone in Washington. Who understands...

PRESS: Oh, come on.

HAYWORTH: ... just how serious this is for the American people.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS: Come on.

HAYWORTH: And who has asked the justice department to get involved in...

PRESS: Come on.

(CROSSTALK)

HAYWORTH: ... the case. And you guys can't stand it, because you're two months away from an election. You've been unable to finally undermine the president during wartime. You're doing your (UNINTELLIGIBLE) best, but it won't work.

PRESS: The problem is that you guys are just so busy attacking Clinton that's all you ever do. You're just blind to the problem in your own backyard.

HAYWORTH: Again, where's the criminal violation? Where's the criminal violation?

PRESS: No, wait.

HAYWORTH: That's right, we are inventing political issues, Bill. That's exactly what you're doing tonight. You're trying hard. I'll give you an A for effort, an F for intent.

PRESS: Please. We are at the beginning of an investigation, and the point is there are so many ties between Enron and this administration that that investigation can never be completed, can never go forward unless it goes right into the Bush White House, and you can't deny it.

HAYWORTH: You know, this is great.

PRESS: You can attack Clinton. you can't deny it.

HAYWORTH: This is a remake of Gilligan's Island. With Bill Press as the skipper, Bob Wexler as Gilligan and not even a three hour tour, but a fishing expedition of incredible proportions, doing their best to undermine a commander-in-chief in war time. Daschle couldn't do it last week.

PRESS: OK.

HAYWORTH: Ten months away from an election, we understand what's going on. Shame on you.

CARLSON: Mr. Wexler is offended.

WEXLER: Mr. Hayworth with all due respect, I have supported this president from September 11. I applaud his efforts with respect to our fight against international terrorism. But the fact of the matter remains, this president's has never been called on it. He's way too cozy to a whole number of executives, top executives in this country. And when it affects the American people, when people start losing their fortune and when our energy policy is hijacked it's not patriotic.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Nobody is calling you unpatriotic. But I -- you know what, I'm going turn to a source I know you value. Don't take my word for it. Take the word of Eric Holder -- you know the name -- deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration. And here's what he had to say about the Justice Department investigation recently opened. I'm quoting now: It's unusual. In the recent past, I'm hard pressed to come up with another task force looking into a single entity or individual. It's clearly and indication the department is taking this very seriously.

The implication is seriously in a way the previous department would not have under Bill Clinton. But my point is if there's a crime, if there's real wrongdoing, even if there's the appearance of wrongdoing, I wonder why the wrong doers, the Bush administration would be so eager to have this massive investigation of their own wrong doing. Doesn't make sense, does it?

WEXLER: Well, I applaud the Justice Department's investigation.

CARLSON: The Bush justice department, you mean.

WEXLER: Absolutely. But the truth of the matter is there's no way around it. You have one of the biggest corporations in America that went from strength to weakness. And what we will now learn is thousands of people have been hurt in the process. And wouldn't it be interesting to know what did the Enron corporation discuss at the White House with the vice president's task force when they were talking about energy?

CARLSON: But you're missing it. For one thing, we've known for weeks indications of wrongdoing by Enron. There's not a person in America, perhaps apart from Ken Lay, who is not outraged by it. So that's a straw man.

The question you haven't answered, and no Democrat and no one in America has, is is there any connection? And there isn't any.

PRESS: You want me to read the list again?

(CROSSTALK)

HAYWORTH: Do you want me to go through the links with the Clinton administration and the Chinese communists? I mean, come on. Let's face it. This is absurd. You guys are taking something that this administration has taken a hold of to get a reasonable, rational, good look at to find out about the criminal intent, to find out about malfeasance and is working in stark contrast to people who have come before in recent years. And you guys are trying to turn up smoke and fire where there are none.

CARLSON: Isn't that right, Mr. Wexler?

WEXLER: No, it isn't. What we are saying is is that there is too cozy a relationship. Let the investigation work its way and we will find the truth. The vice president, fortunately for months, has stood in the way. He hasn't let out any of the information.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: As the investigation continues.

PRESS: Gentlemen, that, gentlemen, is it. What did the president know? When did he know it? Congressman Wexler, thanks for coming in. Congressman J.D. Hayworth, thank you for being there. Good debate. I think we will be talking about Enron again. I just have a feeling.

But when we come back, we are going from Enron to football. The native Americans want Washington's football team to drop the name Redskins. Are they correct or are they just being too thin-skinned?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PRESS: OK, sport fans, hold on to your beer mugs. The sensitivity police are trying to take away your favorite team. Well, not exactly, but they are trying to take its name away. It's happening all over the country. And here in Washington yesterday, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments voted 11-2 to ask the Washington Redskins to change its name from Redskins to something less offensive to native Americans. Like dolphins maybe?

Are we being too politically correct? And what's wrong with being a Redskin anyway? Lined up in the middle of the field for the kickoff: sports radio talk show host Steak Shapiro joining us from Atlanta; and here in the studio, Carol Schwartz, who is a member of the D.C. City Council and the Metropolitan Council of Governments -- Tucker.

CARLSON: Carol Schwartz, welcome. I was glad to learn that you and other elected officials in Washington have the free time to worry about American Indians. There's a lot to worry about. I just want to read you a few statistics from the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. You've probably familiar of it, second biggest in the country. Life expectancy of 56, suicide rate twice the national average, infant mortality rate the same, epidemic of obesity, of diabetes, of alcoholism, an unemployment rate of 75 percent. It's in tough shape.

And I'm wondering when you're sitting in a meeting with your fellow elected officials, wouldn't they be more effective just to take up a collection from all the rich liberals in the media and just go ahead and send it to the Indian reservation -- they could certainly use it -- rather than passing pointless laws like this?

CAROL SCHWARTZ, D.C. COUNCIL MEMBER: Well, first of all, you're talking to a Republican here.

CARLSON: Oh, I'm fully aware.

SCHWARTZ: And I am the person who introduced the resolution that passed both the D.C. Council on a 12-1 vote and the Washington Area Council of Governments on a 11-2 vote.

CARLSON: Right.

SCHWARTZ: This is an issue I do care about. And I think sensitivity to our fellow human being is an important issue.

CARLSON: I'm sorry. I guess my question is do you think they care about it? And when you're living on a reservation and there's 75 unemployment, I wonder how upset you are about the Washington Redskins.

SCHWARTZ: Listen, I didn't take a poll. This is something I initiated on my own. No group came to me. No individuals came to me. I have lived in this town for 36 years and been a fan, by the way, of our national football franchise league. But yet, that name has bothered me for all those years. And finally I decided it's high time we did something about it. If you look at the dictionary, look at any dictionary. American Heritage Dictionary: offensive slang used as a disparaging term for native American. The Webster Dictionary says usually offensive, American Indian.

CARLSON: OK. Well, I'm glad that you and the dictionaries feel that way, but you haven't -- so you and the dictionaries have the consensus going. My question, and you haven't answered it, is...

SCHWARTZ: So I think it is offensive. It's not...

CARLSON: Well, you think it is.

SCHWARTZ: ... just offensive according to me and the Council of Governments and the D.C. Council. It is offensive.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: You don't seem to care what actual Indians think, the ones living on reservations with 75 percent unemployment. Why don't you send them money?

SCHWARTZ: Have you done a poll? CARLSON: I haven't, but I'm not the one who passed the resolutions. That's my question to you, but you don't seem to care what they think.

SCHWARTZ: I don't know what one has to do with the other. If you could maybe explain to me what one has to do with the other.

CARLSON: The point is it's not the biggest return.

PRESS: Let me -- Steak Shapiro...

SCHWARTZ: Well, listen, I think that concerns are concerns. And I can assure you I work very hard on poverty issues, on emergency preparedness issues and all those other kind of issues in this city. But I also am concerned about my fellow human beings and their having to be offended and hurt.

PRESS: Steak Shapiro, thank you for joining us, too. And it's not just Carol Schwartz who has raised this issue, but it is a lot of native Americans around the country. We want to hear what some Indians think about it. At least, I'd like to quote to you Suzanne Shomharjo (ph), who is a chief, part Cherokee -- part Cheyenne, rather, and part Muskogee, who has said, quote, "It's the most degrading word that's used to refer to us in the English language -- speaking of course of redskins -- it's offensive because it's meant to be. It's mean and it's nasty."

I don't find it nasty, but I'm not a native American. Neither are you. If they do, why not change it?

STEAK SHAPIRO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You're talking about one of the great, you know, franchises in the history of the professional sports. You're talking about great tradition. I mean, let's get off it a second. Let's not be so politically correct and worry so much about, you know -- is it the ideal name? No. But, you know what, the Washington Redskins is heritage.

And the name, by the way, wasn't intended to be derogatory. The fighting Redskins, it suggests courage and fight and a lot of other things. And while we are at it, let's eliminate the Cleveland Indians. Let's get rid of the Atlanta Braves and the tomahawk chop. And by the way, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, is that the ideal picture for Irish-Americans? I mean, let's gets off it. The Redskins are one of the great traditions in sports. You're not going to change the name of the Redskins.

And I agree. Is that what we are wasting time doing, sitting around worrying about, you know, the Washington Redskins and native Americans. I mean, come on. Let's get off this. This is one of the great teams in sports and let's have something better to do than worry about that name.

PRESS: Yes, well, I happen to agree with Carol that offending other human beings is something that's important to talk about, so I think it's important to spend time talking about it. But, you know, you make this sound like this is such a great big deal. This has been happening all over, Steak. You have got to know this. At Stanford University, they used to be the Indians. Now they're the Cardinals (sic). Miami, University of Ohio, used to be the Redskins. Now they're the Red Hawks. Oklahoma City University used to be the Chiefs. Now they're the Stars. This is not an Indian name, but in Washington, we changed the basketball team's name from the Bullets to the Wizards. And guess what, they're all playing well. They're all doing good. What's the big deal?

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ: Actually the life got better. You know, the Washington Bullets didn't have Michael Jordan, the Washington Wizards do.

SHAPIRO: That's a very -- that has a lot of relevancy, I know. But the fact is St. Johns also changed from the Red Men to the Red Storm. That's all well and good.

The Washington Redskins -- don't compare the heritage and the tradition of one of the great franchises -- by the way, maybe the highest valued franchise in sports...

SCHWARTZ: Listen, I love the team.

SHAPIRO: Don't care Miami of Ohio to the Washington Redskins.

SCHWARTZ: I love the team. I hate the name.

SHAPIRO: I'm sure you love...

PRESS: Steak, may I point out that the Washington Redskins had a 500-season last year. Don't you think they ought to worry more about how they're playing than what their name is?

SHAPIRO: Well, I can tell you this: The karma of the name of the team doesn't have anything to do with their 8 and 8 record or anything to do with that. This is one of the great traditions of the National Football League. Is it an ideal name? Should we be sensitive to native Americans? Sure, you should be. And maybe what you do is you get rid of that logo with the profile of an American Indian and you just, you know, you change some of the design of it. But you don't change the name of the Redskins.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: So, you have got to admit that the term -- maybe it's offensive to some -- you and the dictionary are offended by it, but it wasn't meant that way. It was meant to reflect honor and bravery and toughness -- true?

SCHWARTZ: I'm not talking about its origins. In 19 -- the name came to this team in 1933 when it was in Boston. And it moved to Washington in 1937. I'm certain that no one meant to offend anybody at the time. But it now is considered offensive. And why do we have to continue it? I mean, these names change all the time.

CARLSON: Well, that's the question you've raised.

SCHWARTZ: You can continue to root for the team. You don't have to have and be tied up in a racist name.

CARLSON: Well, good luck to the next game you go to. Now, Carol Schwartz, thank you both very much. Carol Schwartz, Steak Shapiro -- I love your name, Steak -- Steak away.

OK. When we return, a thousand words? We believe the pictures we are going to show you are worth at least 2,000. Our picture of the day, the next king of England caught on film. We'll be right back on CROSSFIRE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It's time for our picture of the day. We're all about pictures here at CROSSFIRE. Some of them more unusual than others. This is pretty unusual.

"British Vogue" recently asked the next king of England, Prince Charles, for his portrait. He could pick anywhere he wanted. He chose to be photographed with chickens. He could have chosen to be photographed by the pool, standing next to a tank, playing with his kids. But he chose to be photographed with chickens. What does this tell us, Bill?

PRESS: First of all, what it tells us is I hope -- if you notice that photograph, he we was wearing a Pakistani wool coat.

CARLSON: Yes.

PRESS: ... while he's kneeling down alongside the chickens. Now I did not grow up on the farm, but I've been around a lot of farms. You don't wear Pakistani wool coats when you go out to feed the chickens. If you're going fake it, you have got to know how to fake it.

CARLSON: And I will tell you, the headline here, Bill, eccentricity. This is the same man who once gave a speech urging hotel guests not to wash their linen, to flush the toilet less often. This is a man with concerns and attitudes not prevalent.

PRESS: And I will just add that Princess Di tried to be a poster child. And of course she had the body for it and the face for it. Prince Charles has neither. I suggest he stay out of the fashion magazines.

But the other thing I like to point out, Tucker, is it is in this case, like mother, like son, or maybe like son, like mother, because Queen Elizabeth just recently had her official portrait painted. It's a disaster. I want you to see it. There she is, Queen Elizabeth. Now tell me, is this not Richard Nixon in drag?

CARLSON: I have to say, Bill, the one thing I will not do -- I'm laying down the line here -- I will not attack an elderly woman. I believe that is savage of you. I think she looks delightful. Very, very handsome woman and I don't see anything wrong with that picture at all.

PRESS: Richard Nixon in drag, she is. But I didn't attack her.

CARLSON: You absolutely did. You just said it was...

PRESS: No, Tucker, listen, listen, the portrait painter attacked her. I think the portrait painter should be hung, the painting should not be hung. Hang the painter.

CARLSON: I'm nearsighted. I can't really see it and I think she looks wonderful.

PRESS: Hey, folks, you know New Jersey apparently is still upset because of all the things we said about having five governor's in one week, how silly it is. Well, tomorrow night, one of those five governors, we don't know which one, is going to join us on CROSSFIRE and try to defend such silliness. That's worth tuning in for.

For tonight, I'm Bill Press. Good night.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night, governor night, here on CROSSFIRE.

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