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Interview with John McCain; Elections are Closing in

Aired April 24, 2002 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE, on the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson. In the CROSSFIRE tonight, he's the ultimate maverick, never shy about straying from the party line and always quick with a quip. Senator John McCain joins us in the CROSSFIRE.

Extend the tax cut? Rework Social Security? Those are just some of the issues generating heat on Capitol Hill. We'll take the temperature and find out where lawmakers are fanning the flames.

As the ragin' cagun and the bow tie brawler come out swinging, in tonight's CROSSFIRE. From the George Washington University, James Carville and Tucker Carlson.

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN SO-HOST: Good evening and welcome to CROSSFIRE. We are coming to you live from the George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C. Tonight we're proud to announce a full hour of pure politics, our specialty.

Later in the show we'll ask two of Washington's savviest members of Congress about the other war, the one raging on Capitol Hill for hearts and minds of mid-term voters. The election may be six months off, but it feels like tomorrow. At least here it does.

But first Senator John McCain of Arizona. The war, the president, campaign finance reform, his future with the Republican party. The move now being made of his life. We'll ask him about that and much more. Here he is. Please welcome him, Senator John McCain.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: James, how are you? How are you doing?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CO-HOST: You are looking good, Senator McCain.

MCCAIN: Thank you. Congratulations to both of you. Condolences to the viewers of CNN.


CARVILLE: Goes to show you in America, anybody --

MCCAIN: Anything can happen.

CARVILLE: Yogi Berra they told him in Dublin, Ireland he was Jewish. And Yogi said only in America.


MCCAIN: He said to his wife, what's wrong with you now after she told him she been to see "Dr. Zhivago." Get it?


Too old -- too young to know what Dr. Zhivago is.

CARLSON: Not a physician, is that the point?

CARVILLE: You're a man that knows quite a bit, little bit, quite a bit about war and we're in a time of war right now. Other than you and President Clinton's passion for national service, what sacrifices has President Bush called on us Americans to make during this time of war?

MCCAIN: President Bush has spoken frequently and loudly about the need for what he calls Freedom Corps USA, and he has traveled around the country speaking loudly in favor of it. I think we are going to, thanks to his support, I think we're going to get a real good national service program to give all young Americans an opportunity to serve in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, 18 months in the military and 18 months reserve. I think --

CARVILLE: And that has been a long time passion of your's, as it was former President Clinton. But other than that, we have not been called as a nation to sacrifice, have we?

MCCAIN: No, and I can readily understand when Americans said, what can I do after September 11, and they said, take a trip go shopping. That's not exactly what we had hoped for now, but now the president is fully supportive of this national service idea. And I think it's going to be a wonderful thing.

CARVILLE: Did the president calling for additional tax cuts in a time of war, do you think you'll be supporting these tax cuts?

MCCAIN: I would probably not, and it's not so much as the time of war, although that's a reason for drastically increased spending, including by the way a lot of war profiteering going on in Congress. But I also think that if we're going to take care of Social Security, we are going to have to have some money to put into Social Security to balance it out so that people will be able to receive their benefits.

Look, Medicare is spiraling out of control. Health care costs are spiraling out of control. Calpers, the health care HMO for the state of California, the largest HMO, just announced a 25 percent increase in premiums, the largest in history. Health care and Social Security costs, both demographics and costs are going to -- the longer we weight to address these, the worst this crisis is going to be. CARLSON: Senator McCain, from the future of America to your future. Now if there's one group able to recognize a Democrat, it's the guys at the "New Republic."

MCCAIN: Great Americans.

CARLSON: Great Americans. One of them, Jonathan Chate, wrote a piece that described you as a Democrat. I just want to read one quote to from it -- quote -- "it's easy to forget that the Arizona senator," you, "is not in fact a Democrat. In the past year he has stood against his party on so many prominent and contentious issues that his concurrences with the GOP dogma have become more of an exception than a rule. It is no exaggeration to say he has co-sponsored virtually the entire domestic agenda of the Democratic party." That's true. Why don't you switch?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, in all due respect, if you look at my rankings by the differentiating organizations, I still have very high rankings from the Chamber of Commerce, those that grade Republican and Democrats and very low from a lot of the Democratic organizations.

Look, I cause a lot of problem from my dear friends in the Republican leadership. I admit that. I would also cause a whole lot of problems for my friends in the Democratic leadership, probably more, if I were... Look, I'm a Theodore -- Teddy Roosevelt Republican. I am unabashed and unabought. And if any of you want to read a good book read "Theodore Rex," and you'll see that he was a conservationist, he believed in the greatness of America, and he believed in a very strong role for the federal government in some areas.

CARLSON: But Senator McCain it's not as if you have taken exception to a couple of parts of the Republican agenda. I want to read you a partial list of the issues on which you've diverged from your party: Campaign finance reform, tobacco, Bush's tax cut, drilling in ANWR, patients' bill of rights, prescription drugs, airport security, the Kyoto Treaty, emission standards, gun control. My hand got tired so I stopped. But I could probably go on.

You have had more problems with your party than Jim Jeffords did, and he switched. Why are you still there?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, by the way, many of you don't know, a couple of years ago I went with a group of people to Hanoi. Tucker was one of them. At the airport he was held up because of a paperwork problem. I should have exercised my influence then and asked them to keep him.


CARLSON: But you didn't. So you have to answer the question.


MCCAIN: Look, I've supported the president on education and on national defense. I've supported the Republican on a broad variety of issues. Everybody knows we need a patients' bill of rights. Everybody knows that we need to -- I'll be glad to go through that list.

CARLSON: But my point is these are -- you are on the Democratic side. Why not --


MCCAIN: ... National defense -- national defense. I can give you a bigger laundry list of issues that I think, but I also think one other thing. If I can mention it, I was elected by the people of Arizona to represent them first and then the Republican second. But I believe that my records, of almost 20 years now in the Congress shows that I am a right of center conservative, small government, et cetera, et cetera Republican. And as I say, a proud Teddy Roosevelt Republican.

CARVILLE: Looks like he's being attacked for something we can't stand in Washington, that is common sense. Because all these things that you do, seem to me --

CARLSON: The Kyoto Treaty -- common sense.

CARVILLE: We're talking about your friends in the Democratic leadership. I'd assume that you'd consider Senator Daschle a friend of yours.


CARVILLE: Have a good relationship with him?

MCCAIN: Yes. And I have a good -- and friends with Senator Lott.

CARVILLE: Right. They ran a spot in South Dakota comparing Senator Daschle to Saddam Hussein. You'd agree there's no place in politics for that kind of thing?

MCCAIN: I didn't see it, but I certainly wouldn't agree if that's the accurate depiction of it.

Kyoto Treaty, of course we should not have withdrawn. We should have stayed in it and gotten it changed, because all the other countries in the world are now on it. And we should have changed it so it's --


CARLSON: Does it apply to China equally, though -- or to India?

MCCAIN: We should have made it -- by staying in it, we could have, I think, brought about beneficial changes to, which would make it acceptable.

CARLSON: But couldn't you do the same thing in the Democratic party, work from within to make it more sensible?

MCCAIN: I think that there are a whole lot of environmentalists that think it was a mistake for us to unilaterally withdrawal. A whole lot of environmentalists, Republican and Democrat.

CARVILLE: I want to go back to this thing on Senator Daschle. Because when you ran for president, and correct me if I am wrong, you were accused of being mentally unstable, unpatriotic?


CARVILLE: You adopted a --

MCCAIN: An enemy of veterans.

CARVILLE: You and your wife adopted a child from Bangladesh and were accused of having -- quote -- "a black baby." That is a favorite right-wing charge. Because there are two things they hate the most, black people and sex. Your wife was attacked.


CARLSON: That's so outrageous, James.


CARVILLE: I am just saying --

CARLSON: It's a slander and a lie, but say it again.

CARVILLE: Your wife was attacked, too.

MCCAIN: Yes. But let me say that was a small minority. When you get into hot campaigns, and it was a very heated campaign, you are going to have a -- this kind of thing.

CARVILLE: Were these kind of attacks decried by the Bush camp? Didn't the man that attacked your patriotism stand right next to then candidate Bush when he attacked your patriotism?

MCCAIN: That happened. But the fact is the president and I have a very good relationship. I think that Karen Hughes is going to be missed.

CARVILLE: Will you be as close to Karl Rove as you were to Karen Hughes?



MCCAIN: No, but, look, I don't think, and I've got to stand up for the president here. I don't think the president or the people around him had anything to do with those attacks that you described.

CARVILLE: I don't think they had anything to do -- I can't prove they had anything to do with comparing Daschle to Saddam Hussein, but shouldn't they have decried it and said there's no place for this kind of thing particularly in a time of war when Senator and the Democrats are supporting us?

MCCAIN: I can't say that there hasn't been attacks from the other side as well that have been very vicious. One reason why I was so much in favor of campaign finance reform is it's easy to launch an anonymous attack rather than the person or group responsible for it. You see Americans for better government attack ads that are terrible and drives people out of American politics.

CARLSON: We're going to take a quick break. James, I hope by that standard you'll disavow the entire career of Cynthia McKinney. We'll wait for that when we come back.

Ahead on CROSSFIRE, Senator McCain returns and our quote of the day. Our one and only hint, it comes from a Republican who is not here and who may never be again. Back in a moment.


CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. With us, the United States senator from the great state of Arizona, Republican Senator John McCain. Senator McCain, I want to read to you our quote of the day. This is from the chairman of your political party, Mark Racicot, former governor of Montana, quote, "I want" -- speaking of CROSSFIRE -- "I want to know that you're not going to be a prop for theatrical demonstrations of someone else," unquote. And Governor Racicot, now chairman Racicot, was speaking of yours truly, James Carville.

I want to show you the clip which precipitated this great outcry here, Senator McCain.


Do you hope the courts uphold McCain/Fine Feingold or would you like to see it overturned?

MARC RACICOT, RNC CHAIRMAN: I have all along had concerns about whether or not McCain/Feingold actually will do what it represents itself to do.

CARVILLE: Would you like to see the courts uphold it?

RACICOT: Well, you must make absolutely certain that all of its provisions are constitutional. Clearly some of them are. The restrictions on free speech I think are going to be a matter of some scrutiny.

CARVILLE: But what do you as chairman of the party, would you like to see -- would you like the court uphold this? Are you fer 'dir, or are you again' it? I know in Montana you talk real plain? Are you for this or against it?

RACICOT: This is not my original version of the bill. I don't think it can do what it has represented to the American people to the American people to be able to do. It is going to diminish the importance of the parties. And I think the parties are very important.

CARVILLE: So you are against it.


CARLSON: What do you think of those glasses? Are those the ugliest things you've ever seen in your life?


CARVILLE: By standards of cable TV, I hardly think that was a withering cross examination.

MCCAIN: I think that was vicious.

CARVILLE: Vicious.

MCCAIN: Terribly vicious. I think that's just unacceptable. Totally unacceptable.

CARVILLE: I hear that. Senator, you offered this legislation. A Republican president signed it.


CARVILLE: Are you pleased that your national committee has taken a position against it?

MCCAIN: I'm not pleased, but I'm not surprised. Many made their views very well known about the bill, and so there were -- they were very clear. Many Republicans were opposed to the legislation.

CARVILLE: Why would the chairman of the Republican party be attacking a bill that his own president signed? It looks like he said we are neutral, but many Republican congressman against this and President Bush for it. The best thing to do is to be neutral, right?

MCCAIN: I think the Governor Racicot felt as others in his position do, that this inhibits their ability to pursue their political agenda. And I think he has a right to that opinion. I think he, after a while, that's what he expressed.

MCINTYRE: After being paraded by the strange looking guy in dark shades. Now Senator McCain, Israel, you are a long-time supporter of Israel in the United States for good reason. I'm a supporter of Israel. Don't you think that our strategic interest, the U.S. interest and Israeli interest diverged recently when President Bush said to Ariel Sharon, please withdrawal, and he didn't? Don't you think that weakened American influence in the region?

MCCAIN: Yes, because when the United States of America says that a country has to do something and they don't, it weakens credibility. But the president did recover from that. Now he's seeking withdrawal. They are withdrawing. They are our closest ally and I believe that the president and Secretary Powell are doing a good job trying to work through this most difficult time.

CARLSON: The president, he recovered from it by pretending the nonwithdrawal was a withdrawal. With all due respect to the president and Israel and you, isn't that what happened?

MCCAIN: I believe the president may have made a mistake by demanding a, quote, "immediate withdrawal." All of us make mistakes. I've made many, many.

CARVILLE: Speak for yourself, senator.

MCCAIN: But I do believe that the president and Secretary Powell, we just attended a briefing, are doing a good job trying to get through an incredibly difficult situation.

CARVILLE: We have an audience question out there that everybody wanted to do this. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening, gentlemen. My name is Chad Davis from Orange County, California. Senator McCain, do you believe that president George W. Bush is beatable in 2004?

MCCAIN: I don't think he is if the election were today. A lot of things happen. I remember that George Bush Sr. was in very good shape, so it's -- at this time in the cycle, but I think that the president is in very strong position and he has the support of the American people, and I think he's doing a good job.

CARLSON: Who is his strongest challenger. You are not a Democrat, as you established, but if you were, who would you vote for among the Democratic field?

MCCAIN: Again, I think it's too earl to tell. That's why we have campaigns and particularly New Hampshire so you can judge people by the way they perform in these campaigns. And I am serious when I say that. That's why we make them go to New Hampshire and press the flesh and meet people. Governor Bill Clinton at this time in the '92 cycle was an also run that nobody paid any attention to. But he's shown in the primary process. And by the way, from Orange County, give us back our water. They have stolen Arizona's water in case you didn't know.

CARVILLE: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kiersten, and I'm from Austin, Texas. My question is for Senator McCain. Do you think that the detainees in Cuba should receive P.O.W. status?

MCCAIN: I do not. Because they are not in the armed forces of any nation. They are terrorists and from a terrorist organization. But I do believe there are certain standards that need to be maintained, and everything that I've seen, I have not been down there myself, but everything I've seen and heard of, they are well treated.

In a follow-up, yes, the administration will have to just figure out a way to handle them as far as trials or nontrial, and what form of detention. So far, frankly, these prisoners have been better off physically than if they had been left in Afghanistan.

CARLSON: They got Fruit Loops, literally.

MCCAIN: Well, something that is pretty outrageous, they are only given warm tea and not hot tea. That's pretty vicious.

CARVILLE: Did they treat you like that in North Vietnam?


MCCAIN: Thanks very much and congratulations, guys.

CARLSON: We appreciate it.

When we return, a native son takes aim at the Aggies of Texas A&M and the Bears of Baylor. The scoop in the CROSSFIRE news alert.


CARLSON: Welcome back. It's the newsiest moment of the day. It's the CROSSFIRE News Alert. Police in Atlanta, Georgia, have a new vehicle to add to their fleet of motorcycles, bicycles, horses and patrol cars. It's the Segue. It's a scooter, the two-wheel battery powered machine cost $9,000 apiece. That's about $8950 more than an ordinary foot-powered scooter and are a whole lot slower.

It tops out at about 12-mile-per-hour, 15 with the help of a special "turbo" key. The average mugger by contrast can reach speeds of 20 or more over the length of a city block. The segway, in other words, is both overpriced and sluggish, not to mention weird-looking. But it does have one advantage at least for cops. Atlanta policeman Jennings Killgore (ph) spoke for donut connoisseurs everywhere when he noted, quote, "it's much easier to ride this than walk."

CARVILLE: Remember that country western tune "Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys?" Well, Republican congressman Tom Delay, native son of the state is singing a slightly different version. Don't let you babies to Baylor or Texas A&M Universities. Delay's daughter attended Texas A&M, and she told her daddy that students were having sex in the dorm. The House majority whip told a Baptist that he found that, quote, "just unbelievable," unquote.

Of course here at the campus of the George Washington University there's no sex in the dorms, so -- or anywhere else. So, Tom, send your kids here to The George Washington University. Can you imagine that? Kids in college.

CARLSON: That was their welcome. The question is, James, why is everybody clapping?

And in News from Nowhere tonight, a recent survey by the Intel Computer Corporation found that almost half of all laptop computer users surf the Internet while naked or in their underwear. A whopping 81 percent use their laptops while watching television. None of them, incidentally, are CROSSFIRE viewers; 60 percent logon while in bed and 54 percent while eating. People report having used laptops in coal mines, atop grain silos, at weddings, during funerals at sea, in planes, trains and automobiles. Even while on horseback. Americans, it turns out, use their laptops while doing just about everything. One question they didn't ask, and frankly it's just as well. Some facts are too depressing to know.

CARVILLE: Tucker, were they clapping for G.W. or sex? I don't know which one it was.

How many clapping for G.W.?


CARLSON: Take it to the people, James.

CARVILLE: Turning to a more serious topic, Republican Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina may have to undergo surgery to replace a heart valve. Helms, who is 80, announced that he will not seek re- election this year, entered Bethesda Naval Medical Center on Monday. Helms chief of staff says Helms may need a new microvalve to replace the one that was implanted in 1992. A decision is expected after tests are completed today. Senator Helms, as you well know, you are not my favorite senator, but I wish you all the best to you and Mrs. Helms as you go through this ordeal.

CARLSON: You know, Jessie Helms was always the Rorshach blot of Washington. People who attacked him as a mean guy personally obviously didn't live here, because even if you disagree with him, and apparently you do, if you live here you know that he has this reputation for being one of the nicest members of Congress.

CARVILLE: I disagree with that, but I certainly hope that he gets through this procedure. One of the things is, I really admire him. He came around on Aids funds in Africa and admitted his mistake. And it takes a big man to do that and I appreciate that.

CARLSON: That's maybe the least admirable. But still he's a thoroughly decent guy.

Coming up on CROSSFIRE the American cardinals speak out from the Vatican on the churches sex scandal. Details in the CNN news alert, the real one. And the fight on Capitol Hill, what President Bush wants to do with the tax cut. And guess who is back? Harry and Louise. We will be back with our guests in just a moment.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Live from the George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C.

The election is coming, six months away and closing like a bad storm. Ordinary people may be headed for the basement, but here in Washington, members of Congress are behaving like Dan Rather in hurricane season. Quivering with adrenaline, bursting with dire predictions, they are live on the scene way ahead of time, which in political terms means they are raising a ton of money and campaigning hard.

We have two of the best with us tonight. Please give a warm welcome to Congressman Jim Moran, Democrat of Virginia, and California Republican Congressman David Dreier. OK, here we go.

The head rub? I'm not sure I want to touch your hand after that.

CARVILLE: OK, Congressman Dreier, your party chairman in the paper this morning, Governor -- former Governor Marc Racicot of Montana and now Chairman of the Republican party, urged the Congress to take up Social Security in this session. Said the president was anxious to get on with it and so am I. You're a chairman of a powerful rules committee, I might add. Are you going to push for this Congress to take up Social Security?

REP DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: We very much want to work in a bipartisan way to bring up Social Security. And I doubt that it'll be done in a bipartisan way in this session of Congress because frankly, we have yet to come together. But we as Republicans want to work with Democrats. Democrats and Republicans alike recognize that if nothing is done, Jim, the system...

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) session, I understand.

DREIER: I think I said probably not. And the fact is -- the fact is if nothing is done, the American people understand that the system is going to go broke. And we want to ensure that the baby boomers have Social Security.

CARVILLE: If I said that the Republicans were going to cut Social Security benefits, you'd say I'm a demagogue, right?

DREIER: You think Republicans are going to cut Social Security benefits for retirees? You think they're going to throw senior citizens out in the street and see them starve?

CARVILLE: OK. Now let me get this straight. What the president has proposed...

DREIER: The answer is yes.

CARVILLE: ...what the president has proposed. So they're -- OK, the Republican party will say right now, we're not cutting benefits for Social Security. But yet, you are going to propose the president favors cutting the amount that young people pay into the system by 25 percent.

DREIER: No. What we -- let me tell you what it is. We've seen the report of a bipartisan commission that former Democratic Senator Patrick Moynihan and Mr. Parsons, whom you know.

CARVILLE: I know. Also, you know, and misrepresented a lot of things. BUt I'll get into that...

DREIER: Well, what do you want me to say? They have come up with some recommendations. And the Congress has not acted. And we are going to look closely at those. And that's going to happen. But I mean, the question, James, is the system headed for being broke?

CARVILLE: Mr. Parsons says we're not going to cut benefits, but yet we're going to cut payments to the system by 25 percent.

DREIER: Mr. Parsons isn't going to make the decision. The United States Congress is. And I will tell you, the United States Congress...


DREIER: Yes. I mean, yes.


CARVILLE: Had all this business before the government and went down, did President Bush's bidding. All these people were put on there.

DREIER: Just like the (UNINTELLIGIBLE), James? Just like Patrick Moynihan did.

CARVILLE: Senator Moynihan has always been for doing this. They were put on there for a reason.

REP JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA: They already made the decision. It'll cost $1 trillion to reform Social Security and set up private accounts. And so, when they made permanent the tax cut, they precluded any Social Security reform, at least for the next 20 years. There's no money. Where will you get a trillion dollars?


DREIER: Tax cuts don't cost revenues. Tax cuts generate revenues in the Treasury. It's happened every single time, James, and you know that.


CARLSON: Congressman Moran, I know that -- and we'll get to Social Security in just a minute. I know you want to run this next election on some vision of the future, but there's a problem for the Democratic party. And that is, you're mired in the past. You're addicted to the past. You're addicted by name to Bill Clinton, who this very night at 8:00 is heading up this fundraiser. At 10:00 p.m., he'll be introducing Michael Jackson. Maybe after he plays a little saxophone with Tony Bennett. The fact is the Democratic party cannot get away from this guy. You need him, don't you? And it's kind of sad.

MORAN: Here's a guy that created 22 million new jobs during the eight years of his administration, 22 million new jobs were created. Since President Bush took office, one million jobs have been lost. He left a $5.6 trillion surplus and now it's gone.


MORAN: Why are we supposed to be defensive? This is a guy that kept us at peace for eight years.

[ringing bell]

CARLSON: Congressman Moran, you know that that is totally unfair. It borders on -- the idea that somehow President Bush is responsible for the war and the economic downturn, which as you well know are...


CARLSON: But you know that's untrue.

MORAN: Facts are facts.


CARVILLE: Congressman Moran, if I said when this crowd came into office, there was $2 trillion in the Social Security surplus, and if I said it ain't there anymore, would I be a demagogue or would I be telling the truth?

MORAN: You'd be telling the truth.


CARVILLE: Thank you. I appreciate that. It's gone!

CARLSON: Now wait, can I does you a quick. Whatever happened to curing AIDS in Africa? Because I remember went out. He gave this long speech about well, now I'm free to solve the world's problems. The very few -- hold on Mr. Demagogue -- that I couldn't solve while I was president. But instead, he spent the last year butt-breaking, giving $200,000 speeches and raising money for your party.

CARVILLE: Do you what they're doing in Harlem?


CARVILLE: They're trying to register people to vote. I know you hate that, because you don't like elections. Is there something wrong with what Michael Jackson...


CARVILLE: ..trying to register black people, God forbid anybody should try to do that.


DREIER: You know that we've had a party outrage that's been going on in Harlem.

CARVILLE: Send some money up there to have a voter registration drive in Harlem, have a voter registration drive in Watts, have a voter register drive on the south side of Chicago. How much money have you put into black registration? DREIER: We're doing an awful lot. And I will tell you...

CARLSON: Is that what he's doing up there, registering black people to vote? I don't think so. Not that he even qualifies.

CARVILLE: I know you don't.

DREIER: We are all for encouraging voter participation. You know that.

CARVILLE: Back to you, Congressman Moran. By the way, you know you're a [inaudible] congressman?

MORAN: And I'm proud of it.

CARLSON: And you're doing a heck of a job. I have to say you all will survive.

Then let me ask you this, Congressman Moran. Speaking of just desperate, kind of pathetic moves, Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt wrote letters to cable executives recently. Both of them complained we're not on television enough. We're not getting enough exposure. People aren't paying enough attention to us. And the press is, in fact, biased in favor of President Bush.

MORAN: Well, of course that's doctored up by showing the number of times that Democratic spokespeople have been on television compared to Republican spokespeople.

CARLSON: So you think there's a conspiracy, too?

MORAN: Well, I just think that the statistics that were brought to them by the staff were pretty compelling. And they thought they ought to raise it to television executives.

CARLSON: Where do you think -- Who's running this conspiracy? Do you think that the networks are run by right wingers who seek intentionally to keep Democrats off? And who's behind it?

MORAN: No, I'm not prepared to say that. I don't think CNN is run by ideologues. I think they present fair...

DREIER: Maybe by demagogues.


CARLSON: Don't you think, honestly, that's a sign they have nothing to say. People not paying attention. Tom Daschle complained that people weren't covering the Farm bill?

MORAN: YOu know, our democracy is best served When you have an exchange of views, just like this, when you have debate, when you have people with different points of view.


DREIER: Congressman Tucker, you know, he may vote for you if you're nice, Jim.

CARLSON: I mean, when people who have potential influence over those cable networks essentially imply threats.

MORAN: They're hardly in a position, nor do they want to believe the media. But when they show that Republican spokespeople are on considerably more often than Democrats, it's a fair thing for them to do. I don't see anything wrong with that. And you know, the only time we've been getting much balance lately is when James and Mary Matalin are on at the same time. Otherwise, you tend to get a pretty biased...

DREIER: No, no, no, that is totally lopsided. He loses battle when Mary Matalin is on.


CARLSON: We're going to have to take a quick break. Straight ahead, no relief for our congressional guests. [Inaudible]. This time the couple have taken a stand on human cloning, like my actors that are versatile.

And then "round 6," former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are desperate for work. James defends them. Back in a minute.


CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

They're back. Harry and Louise. Last time they tackled healthcare. This time, they're taking on cloning. That's just one of the topics we're talking about with our guests, Republican Congressman David Dreier of California and Democratic Congressman Jim Moran of the great Commonwealth of Virginia.

CARLSON: Congressman Moran, I'm hoping for one just direct honest answer from you. And I think this is going to be the question that elicits it. Al Gore.

DREIER: Be patient.

CARLSON: I don't know a single Democrat who's happy about his apparent run for the presidency again. All Democrats I know are unhappy about it. And you've got to see him for what he is, a guaranteed loser, don't you?

MORAN: No. Gee, not one single Democrat is happy about the results of the presidential election, because they feel that the president was selected by the Supreme Court, instead of elected by the American people. But...

DREIER: Oh, my gosh, we're still on that one?

MORAN: But notwithstanding that, they feel that Al Gore really should have won. He did win. And nobody, and not even the most partisan Republican can claim that he didn't win the electoral vote. He won the majority of Americans that voted, voted for Al Gore.

DREIER: Nominate him again.

MORAN: No, he's a very decent person. He's intelligent. He's honest. He's hardworking. And I think he deserves certainly a shot to be one of the most...

CARLSON: But congressman, you know as well as I do that he's not good at politics. The latest CNN poll, vast majority, [inaudible] of Democrats said our candidates ought not to criticize the president on the war. That's what Democrats say. He goes out and savages the president. A real candidate...

DREIER: I think he's great at politics. I think he'd be a wonderful nominee, and great standard bearer for the party.


CARVILLE: So I can get a poll and show you anything.

CARLSON: But you believe you'd like it see Al Gore get the nomination, honestly?


MORAN: I certainly want him to be one of the contenders. It's certainly premature.

CARLSON: And then lose and go away?


CARVILLE: He's already won one. Why shouldn't he try again?

DREIER: He's the heir apparent.

MORAN: We're 2.5 years out. It's premature to say who is going to be the Democratic nominee, but he certainly deserves a shot. And when he won the presidential popular vote last time, he certainly deserves a shot. He's a good person. And he is -- how many politicians rise to the point of being the Democratic nominee for president?

CARLSON: I love that. He's got a lost of extracurriculars. He's a good cook.

CARVILLE: He's a darned good person and he's a good vice president. Damn right he's a great person.


CARVILLE: He served his country greatly. He is a very able guy. He won the election. And if he decides to run again, he'll win again.

DREIER: Best qualified of any Democrat who might be...


CARVILLE: We have to go. I'm sorry we have to go from former Vice President Al Gore to Harry and Louise. They're back and they're on TV. Do we have Harry and Louise?


LOUISE One bill puts scientists in jail for working to cure our niece's diabetes.

HARRY: So cure cancer, go to jail.

LOUISE: Alzheimer's, heart disease, you take your pick.

HARRY: Cloning?

LOUISE: No, it uses an unfertilized egg and a skin cell.

HARRY: So it's not making babies?

LOUISE: Just life-saving cures.


CARVILLE: Congressman Dreier, last night I co-chaired a fundraiser for juvenile diabetes in Congressman Moran's district out in Tyson's Corner, at the Palm Steakhouse. And there must have been 150 people there, almos to a person. They had a family [inaudible] juvenile diabetes. And I think almost to a person that they very much want to have this so-called cloning. What would you tell these parents of these children with juvenile diabetes why they shouldn't have this kind of research?

DREIER: Well, James, first of all, thank you very much for doing that. I've worked very closely with a number of families who have children with juvenile diabetes. And I know a number of adults with juvenile diabetes. And I'm a strong proponent of embryonic stem cell research. And I believe that we need to continue to pursue that because it's not just juvenile diabetes, but a wide range of other cancers that I believe can be cured.

But the issue of human cloning is one that is, to me, very troubling. And we're going to have a rigorous debate that will proceed on that. And it's my hope that without moving in the direction of human cloning, we'll be able to have the stem cell research that'll be necessary to find a cure for people like Tessa Wick, whose father Doug Wick was the -- my friend and the Academy award winning produceor of "Gladiator" who worked hard on this.

CARLSON: Congressman, I mean this is really -- I mean, the idea that we're this close to curing juvenile diabetes, but some meanies in Congress are preventing it because for their weird creepy religious reasons, scientists are going to go to prison if they cure cancer. I mean, that is really over the top. That is demagoguery, isn't it?

MORAN: I don't know that they're mean, but they're ideological. And I think what we should be looking to the scientists on this issue. And the bill we had banned human cloning, but it allowed the kind of stem cell research that in fact we're confident will produce a cure for juvenile diabetes. And we ought not let human beings suffer if we can...

CARLSON: But Songress ought to...

MORAN: There are scientific advances that will relieve pain and suffering.

CARLSON: You as a congressman ought not to raise hopes beyond where they should be legitimately. The idea that we're right on the cusp of solving juvenile diabetes or any other...

MORAN: It's fair to say this may be...

CARLSON: ...disease, is outrageous.

MORAN: This may simplify the issue. But what ad doesn't? Every single ad...

CARLSON: Simplify the issue? They're going to put doctors in jail for curing cancer? It's a lie.

CARVILLE: I think -- if I remember correctly, we're putting $150 million in Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. And enormous progress has been made against this disease in the last seven years. And I tell you what, I hope that if you send...


CARVILLE: You kno what, if you start this goofy right wing, trying bring the abortion debate into science, there's no telling what you are going to do.


CARLSON: Nobody is going to prison.

DREIER: Mary has continually told me that there's some good in you. And the fact that you're working on this juvenile diabetes shows that there is a little evidence of it. I wish there were a little more.

MORAN: But all the doctors that have devoted their lives to finding a cure invariably will tell you they need to be able to move forward with the stem cell research. And this legislation that prevented them was wrong.

CARLSON: OK. Well, if that's the way you're going to sell human cloning to the American public, I have to say, it's better than just saying it straightforwardly. But thank you very much, Congressman Moran, Congressman Dreier. We appreciate having you both on. Thank you.

Later on CROSSFIRE, your chance to fire back at us. But first, "round 6." James Carville and I bat around two former presidents who want to stick their hands in the Mid East mess. We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back. It's time for "round 6." You'll notice there are no guests present here. Just James and me. And it's a particularly poignant round 6 tonight, James. I think you're ready to spring. But you know what? You know what's sad about it? This a tale of two older men unemployed, nothing to do. Feeling a little restless. They both happen to be former presidents, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton. And both have expressed interest in getting involved in the mess in the Middle East.

And the sad part is these are just the two guys you wouldn't want involved in any foreign policy. Carter, great job with the hostages I have to say. The guy who announced we're going to pull our troops out of Korea and thereby encourage the Soviets to take over Afghanistan. And then you have Bill clinton, who did this great peacemaking deal between the Tutsis and the Hutus in Rwanda. Marvelous job in Somalia, asking to wade into the middle of this. And I find it kind of pathetic, if it wasn't so amusing.

CARVILLE: First of all, if -- well, I think that president Carter at Camp David has secured a peace on the Israeli/Egyptian border that lasted over 20 years.

CARLSON: Yes, I would say Sadat and Begin had something to do with that.

CARVILLE: He was in the middle of that. Let me read to you what President Clinton said, because -- this is what he said. "With America so heavily involved, whatever is done has to be done through the government and the negotiation of details for a cease-fire. But I don't, and I can't and I shouldn't have a direct role, unless at some future time the U.S. government asks me to do something specifically."

Well let me tell you, this administration has so botched up this thing and...

CARLSON: That is so pathetic.

CARVILLE: Let me finish. I did not interrupt you!

CARLSON: Well, you should have.

CARVILLE: They went over there. They had the Secretary of State over there. They tried to undercut him when he was over there. They ought to be down on their knees, begging Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, George Mitchell and anybody to go over there and try to unscrew their mess.

CARLSON: Bill Clinton? This is pathetic.

CARVILLE: These people don't know whether to wind their (UNINTELLGIBLE) when it comes...

CARLSON: He did not achieve peace in the Middle East. He did not make...

CARVILLE: You know, but he tried.

CARLSON: Oh, he tried.

CARVILLE: He achieved it in northern Ireland. He got the nukes out of the Ukraine.

CARLSON: He did not get the nukes out of the Ukraine. That's ridiculous.

CARVILLE: You're doggone right. He's one of the most successful presidents since Franklin Roosevelt. Get over it. You didn't win the election. He was the best president we had.

CARLSON: James, you can say it all you want, but nobody believes it.

CARVILLE: When we come back, the chance you've been waiting for, to feed back at us. We'll be right back.


CARVILLE: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. This is round 6 -- round 7 where we have "fireback" where we read your e-mails and comment on them. And let's go to the board here, big Tucker Carlson, the first one. "James Carville calls other people nincompoops. He ought to look at himself. He's obnoxious. He has a strategy of monopolizing the conversation, rudely interrupting and getting louder and more boisterous." E.Roemer, Winslow Township, New Jersey. How dare you, you little nincompoop, to attack me like that. I'll come up to New Jersey and choke you, boy.

CARLSON: It's probably a girl. But you know, E. Roemer, I can't answer that. You said it all.

OK. "Tucker Carlson is my favorite as he remains calm and can manage to smile when the others make themselves look ridiculous." Wanda Brieger from Jackson, Michigan. And you know, actually, Wanda Grieger, to be fair, James and Paul do most of the work. It's very time consuming to look ridiculous.

CARVILLE: Great, insightful American. "Could you please give James Carville an hour of his own? He knows more than any of the others and never gets a chance to let the public know everything we should know." Ellen Boreneman of Astoria, Oregon. I tell you, these Oregonians are brilliant. Man, this young woman has got a great future.

CARLSON: That's so sad. It's rainy in the pacific northwest, I'll give you that. "It would be great to see Sen. McCain run as a Democrat for 2004. His views are more in line with the Democratic agenda for the working middle class who want a fiscally responsible government, not directed by special interests. Please, John, come on over to the 'right' party!!" B. Hill of Daphne, Alabama. As you know better than anybody, James, Democrats are annoying. And I think after the first meeting, I think he'd leave the party.

CARVILLE: From the left, I'm James Carville. Good night for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: And from the opposite of where James Carville sits, from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow for another edition of CROSSFIRE. See you then.




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