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CNN CROSSFIRE

What Is Next for James Traficant? Can Colin Powell Succeed in the Middle East?

Aired April 12, 2002 - 19:00   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.
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight -- after a day of deadly violence in Israel, is Yasser Arafat a terrorist? And should the Secretary of State meet with him?

The week in politics, including a priceless moment with James Traficant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JAMES TRAFICANT (D), OHIO: Yeah, I was trying to kick their ass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The lawnmower leftie and the bow-tie brawler are about to come to blows.

All tonight on CROSSFIRE.

From the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Good evening, and welcome to the new CROSSFIRE, coming to you live from the George Washington University here in downtown Washington, D.C.

Tonight, what does a congressman do after being convicted of 10 felonies?

We'll look at what's next, if anything, for Ohio's Jim Traficant.

Plus, two of our favorite political consultants are here for a political roundup.

But first, a day of deadly developments in the Middle East.

A suicide bomber killed herself and six others at a crowded Jerusalem marketplace today. More than 60 people were injured, many severely.

The attack happened not long after Secretary of State Colin Powell finished a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Now, Powell was scheduled to meet tomorrow with Yasser Arafat, but that has been postponed until Sunday.

Here's what the White House had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president, as I indicated earlier, believes that Yasser Arafat -- and he's publicly come out and condemned today's attack -- that this is terrorism. This is murder. And Yasser Arafat needs to renounce it, and renounce it soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Before we bring on our first guest, we want to get more detail and perspective from CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who joins us live from Jerusalem.

Wolf, you've been covering the Middle East for 20 years. Do you see any hope at this point, at least in the near future, of bridging the gap?

Or does it seem increasingly hopeless there?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It seems right now very, very hopeless. But there's always a little bit of hope that there could be a cease-fire arranged.

Remember, both the Israelis as well as the Palestinians have enormous stakes involved, first and foremost their very existence in large respects.

And they both depend a great deal on the goodwill of the United States.

Neither side wants to see Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has now invested a great deal of his prestige, his own credibility, leave here empty-handed, without even a cease-fire.

So, there's still some hope. And even as things look rather bleak, there's a little opening left for some sort of cease-fire.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Wolf, it's Paul Begala. I'm curious, also as somebody -- you've probably spent as much time in that region as anybody.

You just got there today, just before the bombing occurred.

Just what was the feel on the streets of Jerusalem today?

BLITZER: Very sad, very eerie. It was supposed to be bustling.

Late Friday afternoon just before the Sabbath, people are normally getting their work done, moving on, getting ready for a day of rest here in Jerusalem.

But right after that bombing occurred, around 4:15 local time in the afternoon, the streets got really, really empty.

And people are afraid. They're afraid to go out. They're afraid to go to malls, the restaurants, the coffee shops.

They want to stay in their homes.

I was only here for a little while and somebody told me that the video rental shops are doing gangbuster business, because people just are afraid to go outside. It's a nerve-wracking ordeal.

BEGALA: CNN's Wolf Blitzer, thank you for that report, and take good care.

Tucker, this morning I woke up thinking that Colin Powell was doing the right thing by meeting with Yasser Arafat. And it's a controversial decision. I think he made the right decision.

After this bombing today, I don't know what he gains by meeting with this terrorist.

CARLSON: Well, you're a fickle guy, Paul, as we know, but look ...

BEGALA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a new round of terrorism.

CARLSON: ... nobody is defending Yasser Arafat. But the question is, did he himself launch this new round of terrorism?

It's -- he's not above it, it goes without saying. But the question is, does he benefit from it? No, he doesn't.

So that may mean that Yasser Arafat is not in control of his own supporters. That's probably true.

But the question still remains, if not Yasser Arafat, who else? You can't have a dialog with one person.

BEGALA: Well, first off, let's put the blame where it belongs. There's an organization called Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. It is affiliated with Fatah, which is Arafat's wing of the Palestinian movement.

He ought to be held accountable for it. Either he did order it, in which case he's continuing his history as a terrorist, or he's not in control, and so why negotiate with somebody who's not in control?

CARLSON: Because there is no one else. And he is ...

BEGALA: Well, we could negotiate with nobody then.

CARLSON: ... the only person you can negotiate with at this point, horrible and homicidal as he is and has been.

But anyway, we will have a full debate on the turmoil in the Middle East a bit later in the program.

But first, it's Friday. That, of course, means it's time for "Pol Pot," our political potpourri segment.

Joining us, two of our favorite battle-scarred political consultants -- on the left, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn, and on the right, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.

CARLSON: It's been an enormous news week, as you know, but lost -- we hope not -- in the shuffle of all that's going on in the Middle East, there was the Jim Traficant trial.

PETER FENN, POLITICAL ANALYST: Who? No ...

CARLSON: Now, in addition to being a convicted felon, he's a...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... Democrat. He was also a long-time fixture of, guest on CROSSFIRE.

We dug up in the archives an exchange we had with him lately, sort of telling now, looking back at it.

Here it is. This is Congressman Jim Traficant of Ohio, Democrat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Now, Mr. Traficant, be honest here. What do you think the odds are you'd (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

TRAFICANT: What do you mean, be honest?

CARLSON: ... all my life ...

TRAFICANT: If you're going to talk to me, you're going to be honest. What the hell are you saying be honest for?

CARLSON: I want you to be candid in response to the following question. What do you think ...

TRAFICANT: I've been candid enough, quite frankly.

CARLSON: ... what do you think the odds are that you'll wind up in an orange jump-suit behind bars? Do you think you're going to go to jail?

TRAFICANT: Well, most of the TV and analysts say I have about a one in 20 million shot.

CARLSON: What do you think?

TRAFICANT: I'll tell you what I think. I think my shot's better than that, and all I know is this.

I'm going to get in their face. I don't like them. I don't like what they've done to our country. I don't like how they scare people. I don't like how they intimidate people.

Judges appointed to a life-time term are scared to death of these people.

These bureaucrats run America. And Congress better take America back for the American people.

So I'm just a son of a truck driver, and I'm going to try and kick their ass.

That's candid as I could be.

CARLSON: Well, that is very candid, and ...

TRAFICANT: That's candid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Well, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you can see why we liked Congressman Traficant as CROSSFIRE guest.

It's a little more confusing why the Democratic Party liked him for nine terms.

Now, yesterday, Gephardt comes out and says it's time to resign from the house.

But the question is, after lo these many years of evidence defending Nazi war criminals, wearing a jump-suit like that on television for another, why did the Democratic Party keep this guy so long?

FENN: I can tell you ...

CARLSON: You know the answer. Be honest.

FENN: ... we campaigned against him in the last election, and the primary challenged him, and did not win, unfortunately. We may have been able to escape some of this mess.

But I'll tell you, he came in as a corrupt clown, and he's going out as a corrupt clown.

CARLSON: But you're one of those who (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

FENN: And you know something, here is a guy who was never part ...

CARLSON: ... leadership say that?

FENN: ... look. He was never part and parcel of the Democratic Party. He didn't vote with us. He voted for the other speaker, Mr. Hastert last time. So he's in your lap, now, baby.

Now, he who laughs last is the way I look at this. BEGALA: Jim Traficant joins Gary Condit as the other favorite Bush Democrat. The two guys who voted with Bush more than anybody else in my party -- Gary Condit and Jim Traficant.

So you're welcome to him.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think there's no doubt, first of all, that he's going to get elected prison president ...

(LAUGHTER)

CASTELLANOS: ... that's what he can do there.

But look, the only crime that Traficant has committed that Gephardt can't forgive, is that he voted for Hastert. He voted for a Republican.

It -- the same Traficant for years, and the Democrats had no problem with him all that time. But now it's all about politics. It's about control of the House.

So finally the Democrats have the courage to do the right thing when it helps them politically.

BEGALA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) report that they ran somebody against him in the primary, and he tried to join your party. He went and voted for Hastert. He voted for all of Bush's agenda, so he's a Republican.

CASTELLANOS: Well, I think we all agree, it's time for him to go.

But it's interesting that the Democrats only find their voice when it's politically beneficial for them.

FENN: No, now Alex.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: That's the biggest bunch of nonsense.

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck. It's a Republican duck.

But here ...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Democrat for 19 years.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: ... great news for all of us. He has announced today that he is going to run again.

CARLSON: Well, he'll run with his orange jumpsuit and he'll call himself an independent.

CASTELLANOS: It wasn't about right and wrong when Bill Clinton got his law license yanked. It wasn't about right and wrong when Traficant was up there for 10 years doing the same thing.

But it happens to be about right and wrong now, when he votes for a Republican for speaker of the House.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: This segment, though, is about ...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... it's about right and left. And we just got a new poll back from CNN-USA Today. And I want you to take a look at it, Alex.

This is what you do for a living, paying millions to win elections for these Republicans. But even you, skilled as you are, I think is going to see your party go down this year in November.

The USA Today-CNN Gallop poll -- let me put it up here -- the election for Congress, Democrats 50, Republicans 43. That is a seven point margin of victory, meaning the Democrats stand to retake the House.

Welcome, Speaker Gephardt. Start sucking up.

CASTELLANOS: I'd like you to put that poll a little, up a little more, because we're going to look so smart when we keep control of the House.

Actually, as you know, Paul, there isn't one national election for the House. It happens in little districts all around the country.

And what's happened, as we all know, is that in Rust Belt states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, Democrat seats have been lost, while Republicans are gaining seat in the sunbelt.

So that's where the real shift is, ...

BEGALA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), how did they go in the presidential elections?

CASTELLANOS: That's with Democratic members of Congress, though. You know that delegation makeup in those states, though, right. They are Democratic states, basically, when it comes to running for Congress, and they're losing seats and we're gaining them in the sunbelt.

FENN: Now, Republic spin here -- look. You know, six months ago, the Republicans said, oh, we're going to clean their clock in redistricting. We're going to pick up 10 or 12 seats. We're not even going to get six, baby. I mean, you know, you thought you were going to make it in Pennsylvania. Funny thing, the courts didn't like it. You think you're going to make it in Texas -- Texas, the president's home state. Big win for the Republicans. Oops! Courts didn't like it. Sorry. Bye-bye.

CARLSON: Wait, can I just -- I'm sorry. Now that we're whipping out our polls, Paul was a little bit misleading in only putting up part of that, see.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: There was a ...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Let's put them up on the screen. This is the president's number.

BEGALA: Nice smile, too. Look at that.

CARLSON: Seventy-six percent of Americans think Bush is marvelous, 60 percent of Democrats do.

Now Alex is right. This is not going to be a national election. A few mid-terms are, except '94 when Clinton -- there's a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Clinton.

But to the extent it's a national election in a midterm, it's going to be about the president, correct?

And the president looks pretty great.

FENN: You know, your logic is amazing, Tucker.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: First of all, he's down from his 88 popularity to 76, so the trend for us is right.

But second point is ...

CARLSON: Down to 76 percent. Whoo!

FENN: ... look. You think the president's going to be at 76 percent in November. Doubt it.

CARLSON: If you ...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... say 76 is part of a losing trend, ...

FENN: Look, if the numbers are so bad for you right now in a match-up in the House of Representatives, think of what they're going to be like in November, when his numbers aren't in the 80s or upper 70s.

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) let me ask you the question before you give me the answer.

FENN: ... issues, that's the problem (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

BEGALA: In the "Wall Street Journal" today, in the Washington Wire, my pal, Matthew Dowd, he's the head of polling for Bush, those of you who believe those lies and said Bush in the polls should know Bush spends about a million bucks a year polling, and that's fine.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: The guy who coordinates it is Matthew Dowd.

CASTELLANOS: We're just listening to the people.

BEGALA: Absolutely.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: I'm all for it. I'm just not for lying about it. Sorry.

Matthew was spinning "The Wall Street Journal" today saying, well we expect to come down far lower than 76. He said, we'll be at 60, maybe better than the 50, where we were when September 11th happened.

But he thinks that Bush is going to continue to trend down.

Now he's preparing the terrain so that it doesn't look like the collapse that we know is coming, right?

CASTELLANOS: Well, compared to where President Clinton was, say two years into his term, the only state he could go back to was Arkansas at that point.

I think President Bush's numbers are holding up pretty well.

I think the country sees that it's -- you know, politics aside for two seconds -- President Bush is doing a pretty good job, and he is kind of necessary to our national security right now.

And we've seen a preview of the election. It happened in New York City where a strong leader, tough leader, got on TV and endorsed a candidate, and that Republican became mayor of New York.

If President Bush does the same thing in this election, I think Republicans have a lot to look forward to.

BEGALA: Seriously, now come on. We know that ...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... actually coat-tails don't work, popular or not, but you really want Bush ... CASTELLANOS: And they didn't work in New York? I'm sorry. So Bloomberg lost? I missed that.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: We're going to have to take a break.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we'll come right back to you. We're going to take a break.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: We will take a break and argue about many more states and then also -- I love this -- just ahead, is Gore a snore? Or do Dems want more?

A favorite pick in 2004, and a look at more polling data when we come back.

And a bit later, our quote of the day. Here's your first hint. Get out your pens.

This lady of the house is known for both her barbs and her brains.

CROSSFIRE will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: We are talking politics with two of the best political minds around -- Republic strategist Alejandro Castellanos, and Democratic strategist, Peter Fenn.

And I can't really dress that up too much.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Now Peter Fenn, ...

BEGALA: Pietro!

CASTELLANOS: Well, maybe, ...

CARLSON: We were talking a minute ago about Jim Traficant.

I want to switch gears here and talk about another disgraced Democrat we might not hear from in the near future. That, of course, is Al Gore.

FENN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the one that won that presidency by 550,000 votes.

CARLSON: Is that -- see now, ...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... you and, like nine of your friends believe that. But let me ...

FENN: Well, a few more, a few more.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: We would have got five votes on the Supreme Court. That's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

CARLSON: Well, all nine of them happen to be in the audience tonight.

But I want to clue you into what some other Democrats are thinking.

"USA Today" and Gallop did a poll on asking that very question, and here are the results.

Amazing. Should Al Gore run again? Yes, 43 percent. No, 48 percent.

Now, speak honestly here. The guy has universal name recognition. This is among Democrats. This is an appalling, dangerous showing, isn't it? Shouldn't he just get out right now?

FENN: Well, I think you'll find that there is a guy named Richard Nixon, who after 1962, a lot of folks thought he shouldn't run. He ended up president of the United States.

CARLSON: So Gore has Nixon as your defense?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: You're (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for Richard Nixon?

FENN: I'm talking about this shift in ...

CARLSON: You (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

FENN: ... political. I'm talking about the shift ...

CARLSON: That is a different move, Peter.

FENN: ... in political ...

CARLSON: Oh, OK.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: It's a metaphor.

FENN: I thought I'd pick someone you love. So, I thought I'd pick a kindred soul for you to make you feel better.

The endpoint I want to make about this is, it is very, very early in this whole process.

You know, he can sit back. He can relax, he can have a good time. He can go out and campaign for candidates all around this country. He can raise money for folks.

CARLSON: Remember what he did for Bill Bradley. Remember when he called Bill Bradley a racist? He was going to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I want to talk about the guy who got fewer votes than Al Gore, and his name is George W. Bush. Because we both know, on September 11th -- on September 11th, he gained 30 popularity points, but not 30 IQ points. And that's why the Republican National Committee is preparing us.

He was no better after nine months in office than he was on the day he stole the election, and you and I both know that popularity is actually Osama bin Laden's unpopularity.

That's all it is, is we're saying we hate the terrorists ...

CARLSON: But that is ...

BEGALA: ... and so we will rally ...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... you don't think it's real, do you?

CARLSON: That's an outrageous question.

BEGALA: You think it's real?

CASTELLANOS: I love your strategy for the next election, which is, you know, let's prove to America that George Bush is the wrong guy to have in the White House right now.

I mean, 80 percent, 70 percent of the American people think that's -- if you keep trying to rerun the last election instead of looking ahead. But go right ahead.

Look, Al Gore is robo-candidate. He's never done anything but run for president. There's nothing else he knows how to do, so of course he's going to run ...

BEGALA: Oh, so, because he didn't spend time ...

CASTELLANOS: ... but I'm sure you're hoping he's going to say ...

BEGALA: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) House?

CASTELLANOS: ... like Richard Nixon, that won't have Al Gore to kick around any more.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: ... as we roll ...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: ... back environmental regulations, as we forget about superfund, as we ...

CARLSON: Are you going to give us the argument (UNINTELLIGIBLE) again, Peter, come on.

FENN: ... as we give 48 hours to environmentalists to come in from the Department of Energy ...

CARLSON: Let me ask you ...

FENN: ... with some kind of plan, ...

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: ... then, and you're saying Al Gore has no substance? Al Gore has not done anything?

CARLSON: You know what he's very good at? And please answer this honestly -- he's very good at attacking people in debates.

This is going to be a real -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- real problem for Democrats if he gets into the primary and starts savaging ...

FENN: He just learned from you, Tucker ...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... words and some of these other real candidates.

FENN: Look.

CARLSON: You're not worried?

FENN: No, I'm not worried one bit. I don't know whether he's going to run. I don't know, you know, what his plans are.

I hope he does go out and campaign for candidates, because we're going to take the House, and we're going to increase our margin in the Senate. And Al Gore can help do that.

So ...

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: Here's how good Al Gore's political judgment is.

He's going to a political convention where another speaker is Alec Baldwin, the man who said that President Bush being elected was worse than the terrorist attack on the World Trade center.

Gore should say that Baldwin should be banned from the convention.

Second thing is, ...

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: ... second thing ...

(CROSSTALK)

CASTELLANOS: ... second thing, he's going down there to elevate all the other candidates.

The only guy who can make those other candidates legitimate is Al Gore. And guess what he's going down there to do?

He's basically making that the Florida primary.

CARLSON: Sadly, we're going to have to end it on that very high note. Thank you, Alex.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Peter Fenn, thank you.

Jerry Falwell wants to super-size his church, but an old Virginia law says no dice. Find out what he's done.

Next, in our CROSSFIRE police blotter.

Plus, our quote of the day. Here's hint number two. Maybe the only person in America who criticized Rudy Giuliani after September 11.

This time she's setting her sights a little higher and a shade crazier.

CROSSFIRE will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: You're a public official and you're in trouble with the law. Look out. It's time for the CROSSFIRE police blotter.

I love that music.

Lawyers for accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui have asked a federal court to grant Moussaoui the following items -- a roomier prison cell, a table and chairs, a laptop computer, a printer, more telephone time, and the right to meet with people other than his lawyer.

Federal officials had no immediate response except to request that if Moussaoui is convicted, he receive a nice new chair complete with a helmet, strapped, and 10,000 volts.

CARLSON: And in hair-related scandals, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has taken a news organization to court for libel. The offense -- the DDP news agency suggested that Schroeder dies his hair.

Schroeder, who is 58 and proud of his mostly brown mane, says he does not -- and he has a barber to prove it. His stylist Udo Walz has sworn under oath that Schroeder's hair is not died.

"The Chancellor has a few gray hairs," Walz said, "but they're hardly noticeable."

Walz is expected to testify next week that Schroeder also has great skin and surprisingly firm abs.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Tuck, I think you go to Udo's, ...

CARLSON: Yeah, you know it.

BEGALA: The Reverend Jerry Falwell has filed a lawsuit to overturn a 200-year-old Virginia law that limits how much property a church can own.

The law says that no church in Virginia can own more than 15 acres of land in any one city, or 250 acres in a county.

Now I never thought I'd say this, but Reverend Falwell, you're right. Your church ought to have the right to own as much land as it wants or needs.

My God, I hope it's the last time I ever agree with Jerry Falwell.

CARLSON: Thanks for defending the Constitution, Paul.

And now, time to reveal our quote of the day. Buckle your seat belts.

This Congresswoman is a Democrat from the Atlanta area. She last made national headlines when she criticized Rudy Giuliani for refusing a $10 million Saudi donation for victims of September 11th, and said, U.S. Middle East policy was partly to blame for the attacks.

She is Cynthia McKinney. And she has a conspiracy theory you won't believe -- hopefully.

Here's what she told a Berkeley, California radio station.

"What did this administration know, and when did it know it, about the events of September 11th? Who else knew? And why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered? What do they have to hide?"

This is how the White House reacted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: All I can tell you is the congresswoman must be running for the Hall of Fame of the Grassy Knoll Society.

I really don't have anything to say that would lend any credibility to what she said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Now, Paul, here you have Cynthia McKinney accusing, essentially, the president of being an accessory to mass murder, and doing it for profit.

Now, I can't imagine a more revolting public statement, and I hope that you'll right now on this show disavow her as a fellow Democrat.

BEGALA: Here. Sometimes you just have to get under the table, so -- duck and cover. Yeah, that was nuts, come on, ...

CARLSON: Well, you win (UNINTELLIGIBLE) points.

BEGALA: ... Cynthia McKinney ought to know better.

CARLSON: But, here it is.

BEGALA: Shame on her, come on, ...

CARLSON: When we had our staff check in on April 15th, 2000, Clinton did a fund-raiser for her, raised $300,000 ...

BEGALA: Oh, give me a break.

CARLSON: It's true. She's a mainstream Democrat, and I hope everyone in your party will admit that she does not belong there.

BEGALA: Give me a break. George W. Bush has raised money for every bad Republican in America. You can't blame Clinton (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: More Clinton still ahead.

And also still ahead, is Yasser Arafat a terrorist? And should Colin Powell meet with him?

Well, that debate and a CNN NEWS ALERT, which will answer the question, what can you do with egg whites and a crop duster?

How about an unusual test of homeland security. We're confused, but we'll also get details, straight ahead in a CNN NEWS ALERT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Now we turn our attention once again to the Middle East, where the already tragic situation grew even more so today with another suicide bombing. What should and what can the United States do? Joining to us debate these questions, Jim Zogby, he's the founder and president of the Arab-American Institute, a nonprofit organization that represents Arab-American interests in both politics and government; and Congressman Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat who represents Brooklyn and Queens -- Tucker.

CARLSON: Thanks for joining us. This administration and every American administration going back to Harry Truman has supported Israel across the board and asked very little in return for $3 billion a year in aid. This administration asked Ariel Sharon very simple fact -- withdraw. And he refused. And in so doing, undermined the secretary of state's trip over to the Middle East and essentially stuck a thumb in the eye of the United States, its greatest benefactor. Why should the United States government continue to subsidize a government that shows this level of disrespect?

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Far from sticking a finger in anyone's eye; they are the foremost practitioners of the Bush doctrine. Bush said, don't let them hide, do go to great lengths to find them. It might take a while. If you fund them, if you support them, if you shelter them...

CARLSON: Wait, Bush said: Withdraw from the occupied territories right now.

WEINER: Look, he also said you have got to go get terrorists. That's exactly what Israel is doing, and they're doing it successfully. President Bush said for the first 13, 14 months of his administration, we're going to crack down on terrorists. And in the last couple of weeks, he said, well, we don't want to really crack down on them.

CARLSON: I think we're having -- we're talking past each other. The president was talking about the Bush doctrine, which applies to the United States of America.

WEINER: Wait, no.

CARLSON: Wait, hold on.

WEINER: He said it applies to every country on earth.

CARLSON: He asked Israel something very specific, withdraw now, and Ariel Sharon said no. And in doing so, undermined the secretary of state's trip. How is that (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

WEINER: How is it that going after terrorists house by house, just like we went cave by cave in Afghanistan, is undermining the administration? Quite the opposite. It's Yasser Arafat that's undermining the administration. He's funding the terrorists, he's paying benefits to suicide or homicide bombers. He's shielding them. And for years and years he's been doing this. Who is the person -- who is the agent in that part of the world that's on the side of terrorism? Is it the democracy, or is it the radical suicide bombers?

BEGALA: Let me bring Jim Zogby into this. Jim, as you know, we heard the report, six killed, 60 injured today in another suicide bombing, just as Secretary of State Colin Powell has gone to the region. As someone who supports Israel strongly but also thought it was right for Powell to meet with Arafat, I have to say I question that now. What good does it do Colin Powell now to meet with Yasser Arafat when it was his faction that took credit for this bombing today? The only thing that I can see good coming out of this is if Powell goes and arrests him. Why should Secretary Powell meet Arafat?

JAMES ZOGBY, ARAB-AMERICAN INSTITUTE: You leave me speechless, that's such a dumb thing to say. Listen, Paul...

BEGALA: You know, excuse me if I get angry when they strap explosives to themselves and blow themselves apart.

ZOGBY: You want to know who's angry? You want to know who's angry? I watched that today, too. I saw six people shattered, their lives destroyed, and I cried for those victims. But you know what else happened today, Paul? Hundreds of people were buried in Jenin, and you have no cameras in Jenin, you have no cameras in Nablus and you have no cameras in Ramallah. And your own colleagues, CNN in Ramallah, are being shot at by Israeli snipers. I'll tell you what...

(CROSSTALK)

ZOGBY: Let me finish, Paul.

(CROSSTALK)

ZOGBY: Because I've watched crying Israelis running through the streets. I haven't seen crying Palestinians running in Jenin, because the Israelis won't let cameras there to show you.

BEGALA: I agree they should put cameras there, but I am asking you...

ZOGBY: So Americans conclude that there's only one side that's human in this conflict, and there are two sides that are human. And Powell has to meet with Arafat, he has to meet with Arafat, because we have enemies at war, and America needs to make peace because it's in our national security interests to stabilize that conflict, because we have beyond Israel and the Palestinians, we have many other allies, many other interests and many other concerns in that region. And American leadership is at stake. If we fail, we fail at our own risk.

CARLSON: Congressman, I think Mr. Zogby raises a fascinating question. And that is there are allegations there are massacres in Jenin. I don't know if that's true or not. I do know the government of Israel will not allow film crews in there. And I also know the government has shot a number of reporters. I know it put a bullet through the windshield of a CNN van and rammed it with a tank. Now, that suggests they may have something to hide.

WEINER: Let me tell you something, you know, it was very difficult and sometimes it was necessary to keep the media out in Afghanistan. In zones of war, when you're trying to get terrorists, house by house, and they're getting them, hundreds of them every day, including the guy who was responsible for the Passover massacre, they caught in these sweeps, it ain't pretty. You know, sometimes... CARLSON: Wait, you're not answering my question. Comparing Israel to the United States is not a helpful line of argument. My question is why they won't let cameras in.

WEINER: This might be difficult for you to understand. Sometimes strong language, firm negotiations doesn't work. Sometimes you got to go get the guys who are killing your people before they do.

(CROSSTALK)

ZOGBY: And you shoot American journalists, congressman?

WEINER: Sometimes it is not pretty business. And I'm sorry, sometimes it's not pretty in Afghanistan. I know it wasn't pretty when 2,000 of my neighbors in the United States were attacked by terrorists.

ZOGBY: You are an American citizen and an American congressman and you are defending the shooting of American citizens and journalists? Ridiculous.

(CROSSTALK)

WEINER: Here's what I'm defending. I'm defending the right of a country to defend itself.

ZOGBY: Against your own citizens?

WEINER: And excuse me, if someone at CNN gets their hair ruffled or their makeup a little smudged. The first and foremost...

CARLSON: You ought to be ashamed of yourself, congressman.

(CROSSTALK)

WEINER: First and foremost they have to defend. You know, it's very interesting. Are you concerned about people that are sitting in hospitals right now with shrapnel...

CARLSON: We're talking about journalists now who have been shot and the fact that you're apologizing for shooting them.

WEINER: You know what I think? I think that's a secondary concern to stopping the next Passover massacre from happening.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Let me get back to this question of Arafat, though, right? An organization affiliated with him took credit and boasted about the slaughter today. Do you think Arafat approved that attack?

ZOGBY: I don't.

BEGALA: Why didn't he stop it, then?

ZOGBY: I don't think he was able to stop it. BEGALA: Why the hell should he be a commander of a state, then?

ZOGBY: I will tell you why. Because ever since Ariel Sharon was elected, he was elected to do one job: Delegitimatize, demonize, weaken Arafat, destroy police headquarters all over the country, as they have systematically been doing with helicopter gunship attacks for the last almost year, and then finally do what he's doing right now. This man has lost control precisely because the infrastructure of control has been destroyed systematically.

(CROSSTALK)

ZOGBY: If you want -- if you want to -- just wait, congressman, we listened to you and I was not impressed. But I want to just go on and suggest to you that the fact is that we have enemies at war, and America has a leadership role.

WEINER: No, we have one friend at war with an enemy.

ZOGBY: And we have friends in that region, in Jordan and in Egypt and in Saudi Arabia who are asking...

(CROSSTALK)

ZOGBY: ... us to help make peace, because Ariel Sharon is undercutting all of the infrastructure of peace that was erected over the last two decades. And it is dangerous for America to let this fail.

So we have enemies at war. Ariel Sharon has committed massacres and has committed atrocities against Arabs, and Arabs don't like him. And you know what, Israelis don't like Yasser Arafat, but you know what? They have to make peace, and America is the only country in the world that can bring them together, and I believe the American people want Colin Powell to succeed.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... and when we come back, we'll have a whole lot more. You are not going to miss a minute of this debate. So please stay with us.

And then we're going to turn to what we like to call "Round 6," which is still to come up, but up next, more on the crisis in the Middle East. What should we do, what can we do? And we'll put that question to our guests next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: We are back, talking about today's turmoil in the Middle East with James Zogby of the Arab-American Institute and Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York. Gentlemen, you've been kind enough to also entertain questions from our audience. So let's turn to this audience member right here; this young man who has a question for you. BEN COHEN: Hi, I'm Ben Cohen (ph) from Seattle, Washington. And my question is, should President Bush send ex-President Bill Clinton to Israel to help start negotiations and to be part of the negotiations?

BEGALA: Jim Zogby?

ZOGBY: Well, let me tell you, I think President Clinton did a remarkable job as a negotiator and as attempting to resolve this, and I believe that if the Clinton plan had been offered instead of the last two weeks of his administration, if he had offered it a year earlier and sold it to the Israeli and Palestinian people, it would have worked.

But I have full confidence in Colin Powell. I think he's a remarkable human being, very respected and very intelligent. And frankly, right now he's a member of this administration. I hope he has the ear and the respect of the president, and I think Colin Powell right now is the best man to do the job, but I'd like him to work from the Clinton plan.

WEINER: Let me just say, Clinton negotiated the Camp David plan, Palestinians rejected it. Tenet has since been rejected by the Palestinians, Mitchell rejected by the Palestinians. We've had Cheney to get them to Mitchell, that's been rejected. And I'm sure we'll have the Powell plan to get to Tenet to get to Cheney -- frankly, the Palestinians don't want peace. So what we have to do is take this by force.

CARLSON: And we have another question from the audience. Sir, you have a question?

DEPAUL SADUALL: DePaul Saduall (ph) from Richmond, Virginia. My question to you gentlemen is: Did President Bush send Colin Powell too late to make a difference?

WEINER: Well, I happen to believe he sent him at the wrong time. I think that you don't reward violence by sending in our big star to go there simply to have more violence. Let's remember, both times Zinni went in, violence spiked up. I happen to think that this is a reward for the terrorists who want to internationalize this dispute.

CARLSON: Let me just ask you one question that I think is on the minds of a lot of people who are watching this unfold. The situation at the Church of the Nativity, surrounded by Israeli troops who have shot a monk, as you know, apparently set the building on fire. It's one of the holiest places in the world for Christians. And I'm wondering why the government of Israel, the people inside so valuable to the government of Israeli that that government should continue to put this building and the people in it at risk?

WEINER: What kind of respect for the Christian holy sites are the Palestinians terrorists showing?

CARLSON: Zero. But that's not my question.

WEINER: ... by using that site?

CARLSON: Well, I absolutely agree with you.

WEINER: But to ignore that element of this is to ignore the fundamental question.

CARLSON: I'm ask you do you think the Israeli army should continue to surround this building?

WEINER: I think we should -- I think the Israeli government has shown the utmost respect for Christian holy sites and I think they should continue to do so.

(CROSSTALK)

WEINER: However, however, if you are a terrorist, if you're bin Laden or you're Mullah Omar or you're Arafat and you're in a Christian holy site, we're going to go get you. Period.

ZOGBY: Congressman, I thought that was interesting. Wait. He said "we." One side of the flag is Israel, the other is the United States. You've got to make up your mind who you represent.

WEINER: We're those on the side of democracy and freedom and against terrorism.

ZOGBY: Congressman, give me a break.

WEINER: It's us against you.

ZOGBY: Me?

WEINER: It's against people who...

ZOGBY: You're going to storm my house, too?

WEINER: No, you know what I'm going to say? I think that George Bush was right, you're either with the terrorists or with us.

ZOGBY: I'm against the terrorists and I'm with us, and I believe in peace in the Middle East, and that leads me to support Colin Powell's mission, because I think it did come too late, but nevertheless it came. We've got to support it and we've got to make it work. We have to have an independent Palestinian state, an independent Israel, and we may need international peacekeepers to separate the two.

BEGALA: As a patriotic American, you did support America in the war in Afghanistan, and Congressman Weiner is drawing a lot of parallels. When suicide bombers attacked the United States, we didn't just go house to house with guns and even helicopters. We went in with B-52s, aircraft carriers, cruise missiles, everything we had, and we leveled whole areas of that country as we had to do to stop terrorism. How is that not different from what Sharon is doing?

ZOGBY: My friend, number one, I don't think we did stop terrorism in Afghanistan, and that is a big problem because we're still sorting that one out now.

BEGALA: But we had to use violence.

ZOGBY: Number two -- let me make a point.

BEGALA: And we used more violence than Sharon.

ZOGBY: Let me make a point. There's a fundamental difference. We weren't occupying Afghanistan when those people bombed us. Israel is occupying the West Bank and Gaza, and this story didn't start on Passover and it didn't start the day before or the week before. The fact is that Palestinians have been living under a brutal occupation for 35 years now. Their land has been taken from them, they've been corralled into little towns and villages...

BEGALA: None of that justifies killing...

(CROSSTALK)

ZOGBY: It does not justify it, but neither does the occupation, and neither can it be justified by anything.

CARLSON: The last word, thank you very much, Jim Zogby, Congressman Weiner, thank you.

"Fireback" is still ahead. Our viewers have the chance to take us to task. Good luck, by the way. And coming up, "Round 6," when I subject Paul to some very vigorous and much-needed discipline. You don't want to miss this. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: It's CROSSFIRE "Round 6!" Carlson versus Begala. No guests, no holds barred. Topic number one, smoke and mirrors. A study just released by the Centers for Disease Control says smoking costs the U.S. $150 billion each year in heath costs and lost productivity, a total they say comes out to $7.18 a pack. So there you have it, Paul Begala. The geniuses at the CDC has discovered smoking is bad for you.

Why don't they spend their time working on a cure for cancer instead of coming up with these phony, meaningless statistics that add nothing to the national dialogue or -- we're happy we have it for our segment, but other than that it's pointless.

BEGALA: Actually, I'll give you a few more: 440,000 Americans every year die from cigarette smoking.

CARLSON: I knew that. I knew that.

BEGALA: Average woman who smokes loses 13 years of her life.

CARLSON: I knew that.

BEGALA: The average man 14.5.

CARLSON: Yes, I knew that too. But I guess...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: We're coming back to the baseline. Smoking is bad for you, and you should know it, buddy!

BEGALA: Smoking is not just bad for the smokers; it's bad for the taxpayers. My view, smoke if you want, kill yourself if you want, but don't ask me to pay for your funeral.

CARLSON: There's the big lie. Do you drink beer, Paul? I know you do. I wonder what the cost per beer is if you were to measure it in accidents, drunk driving, wife beating.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... tobacco is the only product when use as directed kills you. It kills you.

CARLSON: That's a nice talking point. If you were to average out the cost to society per beer, absolutely, it would be more than cigarettes. It absolutely would. And how about Snickers bars? Diabetes, obesity. I think we ought to tax them.

BEGALA: What you're talking about are other legal products that are sometimes abused. Tobacco when used as directed kills your body.

CARLSON: That, as you're fully aware, is a phony statistic. Most people pay their own health insurance.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... $7.18 a pack, take the money, put it into health care. By the way...

CARLSON: But the states are already doing that! And you know what they do?

BEGALA: It will stop kids from smoking.

CARLSON: No, it doesn't stop kids from smoking.

BEGALA: If you raise it to $7 a pack, it will price them out of the market.

BEGALA: All it does is keep poor people from smoking decent cigarettes; they have to smoke generics. It doesn't cause people to quit smoking. It's ridiculous. But there is a principle here...

BEGALA: Cigarette companies hire lawyers like Kenneth Starr who argue their cases...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: If the cigarette companies are so effective, then why do cigarettes cost $7 a pack? BEGALA: They don't. They ought to, but they don't.

CARLSON: They don't.

BEGALA: And I'll tell you what, they ought to.

CARLSON: There's a principle that you as a budding civil libertarian, I want to help you on this show. It's part of the progress you and I are working toward here. I want to recognize the principle here, though, that is first they came for my Camels. What next? It will be your beer.

BEGALA: No, it will be your casket, and don't ask me to pay for the funeral.

CARLSON: I won't.

BEGALA: Ready, aim and "fireback." CROSSFIRE viewers are going to take their best shots at Tucker and me when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It's time for our "Fireback" segment, when we invite our studio audience and our viewers to fire back. It turns out they do. They take us at our word.

E-mails first. The first from Paula Zelinski of Evanston, Illinois. "What Bush should have been doing about the Palestinian- Israeli conflict the last 15 months, I don't know. But you don't put out a fire by watching it burn."

BEGALA: Amen.

CARLSON: Well, Paula, I don't know. You're in good company. No one else knows either, but thanks for the good advice.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... and gone to see our so-called Arab allies and tell them to put the pressure on Arafat to come back to the table for peace. That's what he should have done.

CARLSON: That's funny; I guess nobody thought of that.

BEGALA: No, he didn't have the guts to do it.

CARLSON: Really? You have a brand new career as an international negotiator.

BEGALA: Here's number two -- you know, I used to do this for a living. "Isn't negotiating with Arafat the same as negotiating with the Taliban? I mean, neither are them are an official government, are they?" Mary Coleman in Rolla, Missouri. Rolla being the home town of (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARLSON: Hey, there's one I like. Jane Burdick of North Carolina writes: "The new CROSSFIRE is the best thing on television since the original show 'The Family Feud.'" That would make you Richard Dawson, so assume a Cockney accent.

BEGALA: Survey says. Mae from San Diego, California sends us our next e-mail: "Someone needs to take that "time-out" bell away from Tucker, until he learns some manners and lets his opponent gets a word in edgewise."

From Mae way out West.

CARLSON: Hey, you wouldn't want my opponents to get a word in edgewise. I'm doing you a favor. Thanks. And we have audience questions.

BEGALA: Audience questions. Yes, sir.

CARLSON: Your name.

JUSTIN: I'm Justin from Houston, Texas, and I had a question for both of you all: I was wondering do you think the crisis in the Middle East will help push the Alaskan oil drilling bill through the Senate, or how it will effect it?

CARLSON: I hope so. I mean, it makes more and more sense when the oil in Alaska and ANWR could account for 30 years of oil from Saudi Arabia, it's sort of hard to argue against it, except on the grounds it might hurt the musk oxen. And so you were deeply indebted to the musk oxen in some way, you're against it; otherwise you're for it.

BEGALA: It is actually a six-month supply of oil, and it will take us seven years to get it. I hardly think that the fact that the Middle East is in flames this week means we should be drilling six months worth of oil.

CARLSON: All of it false, but a nice comeback. And another question.

BOB: Hi, I'm Bob from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And my question is: Is anything going to be voted on in the Senate this year, or is an election year starting now?

CARLSON: Boy, I hope not. I mean, I like gridlock and paralysis in the Senate. That means no more laws are passed. It's a good thing. That's actually the one issue on which we agree. You're for Democratic obstructionism, and so am I.

BEGALA: One of the things that the Democrats killed was a $254 million taxpayer bail-out for Enron, and God bless Tom Daschle for killing that.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Go ahead, sir, what's your question.

JOHN CARROLL: Hi, I'm John Carroll from Southern California. It seems to me that there's a double standard for liberal and conservative Democrats. Clinton was never asked to resign after he lied under oath, and it took Gephardt months to ask Condit to resign. Yet he immediately asked Traficant to resign. Is there a double standard?

CARLSON: That's not true. I actually asked Clinton to resign immediately.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: The House of Representatives is shredding the constitution trying to impeach him, and even the Republican Senate found him not guilty. But by the way, George W. Bush lied under oath in a civil lawsuit; I didn't hear Republicans asking him to step down.

CARLSON: This is called finding the last word. But you know...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: If there is proof, unlike you I will accept it, if it is absolutely...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... which just shows how cheap you are, pal.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: So keep talking about the Supreme Court stealing the election from the American people.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: From the left, I'm Paul Begala. Good night for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again Monday for a whole new week, a brand new week of an all-new CROSSFIRE. See you then.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



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